When I saw myself standing among my kindergarten students in our year-end class photo, I’d never felt so embarrassed: I didn’t realize how much weight I had gained over the past few years I’d spent teaching—it was about 10 pounds a year.
I shouldn’t have been so surprised. After all, I could easily summarize my general food philosophy: I ate whatever I wanted.
I knew I had to do something drastic about my weight, but when I imagined eating out with friends and eyeing the food on their plates while sipping a gross weight-loss shake, I shuttered. I didn’t want to have to give up real food.
Ultimately, in July 2018, I decided to try WW despite my preconceived notions about visiting a Studio: I worried that I’d be forced to step on a scale in front of everyone, or worse, that everyone there would be much thinner than me. The moment I walked into my first WW Workshop, my nervousness subsided: I saw people of all ages, sizes, and backgrounds. Everyone, I realized, had their own reason for joining WW. And although we were all at different places in our journeys, Workshops weren’t a place where people judged each other, but a forum to come together and applaude one anothers’ progress.
I sat in the back of the Workshop absorbing the advice, stories, and celebrations. When I raised my hand to ask what to eat when I felt like Chinese food, members throughout the room chimed in with recipe recommendations and tips on how to find SmartPoints-friendly options on any restaurant menu by browsing within the WW App.
I left that first day feeling confident. The program felt so livable—I knew I could do it.
Finding SmartPoints-friendly foods
On summer break from school, I set out to create healthy routines before heading back to work in September. Determined to get creative in the kitchen—simple grilled chicken with steamed vegetables just wouldn’t cut it for me—I set out to create SmartPoints-friendly versions of the foods I’d always loved. For inspiration, I sifted through the WW app, searched for recipes on WW.com and on the @WW Instagram page, and flipped through WW cookbooks. By the end of the summer, I had recipes for cauliflower crust pizza, mozzarella sticks, breakfast calzones, and smoked salmon and cream cheese English muffins down to a science.
What Christa Ate Then vs. Now
Then: A latte and a scone
Now: Greek yogurt; bagels made from two-ingredient dough; black coffee and a SmartPoints-friendly ham, egg, and cheese fast-food wrap; French toast with strawberry sauce; or a bacon, tomato, and mozzarella omelette
Then: Frozen pizzas or frozen meals
Now: Baked salmon with crispy kale or dinner leftovers
Then: Fast-food chicken sandwiches or nuggets or a chicken panini
Now: Homemade shrimp fried rice; a grilled cheddar sandwich with dill pickles; or a from the pulled-pork sandwich from the WW Cook Up Comfort cookbook
Then: Milkshakes, cookies, and chips
Now: Homemade strawberries and cream chocolate cookie sandwiches, WW Chocolate Marshmallow Puffs, WW Sea Salt Hummus Crisps
When I went back to school in the fall, one of my co-workers noticed my healthier habits. “No more frozen pizza?” she asked, to which I nodded—nope!
Meanwhile, parents of my former students noticed my body changing and asked what I’d been doing.
Saying “yes” to fitness
About a month into my journey, when one of my friends invited me to join her for a workout at the gym she belonged to, I was so self-conscious that I almost declined. I thought the others in the class would look at me and think, “She’s so out of shape—what is she doing here?” Plus I worried I wouldn’t have the energy to make it through the workout. But then I remembered what someone said during my first Workshop: “You’re doing this for you. You have nothing to lose but the weight.”
Motivated by this mantra, I joined the same gym and began walking on the treadmill for 30 minute spurts. After I tried a barre class and loved the way it made me feel long and lean, I’d planned to try yoga, but a mix-up landed me in a high-intensity fitness class. Amazingly, I survived it!
Now I’m more willing than ever to try activities like aerial yoga or kickboxing. On most mornings, I’m at the gym by 6 am and have more energyy than many of my students, who I can now race after at recess. I feel unstoppable.
Since last summer, I’m 55 pounds down and 7 pounds away from my goal. Although I now feel more comfortable in my clothes and much more confident, my journey has led to lots of changes you can’t see in the mirror: When I go bowling with my friends, I don’t sweat as much as I used to, and I can walk my dog uphill without panting. Now that I eat better and work out regularly, I feel calmer and less anxious. I also sleep better at night—the greatest gift!
In the past, if there were say, a bacon festival in my town, that would be my plan for the weekend. Without the extra weight I used to lug around, I find myself leaning toward more active pursuits, like training for a 5K race.
I can’t wait for the class picture at the end of the school year. And while I never thought I’d say it, I can’t wait to get into a swimsuit this summer. After coming this far, I feel like I can accomplish anything.
*People following the WW program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds/week.