“I plateaued in the pandemic—and emerged stronger than ever”
*People following the WW program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week. Brianna lost weight on a prior program.
I moved to New York City from South Florida in 2019. That’s when my weight—always a struggle—became more of a concern. Here I was, living in this new, exciting place. I was going out all the time, enjoying the nightlife, and not always practicing the healthiest habits. It was fun until it wasn’t. One morning late that year, feeling sick from overeating the night before, I stood on the scale, looked at the number, and had a conversation with myself: “OK, it’s time to make a change.” I joined WeightWatchers on New Year’s Eve. It sounds corny, but I was in the mindset of “new year, new me.”
My biggest challenge going in: I had been following a vegan diet for a while, but not the kind most people imagine. I was what I call a “junk-food vegan”: My go-to snacks were cookies and flavored tortilla chips. Dinner was often an entire family-size vegan pizza. Meal prep didn’t come naturally to me. I’m not the biggest fan of leftovers, either—I don’t enjoy having the same dish multiple days in a row. I wanted to eat more healthfully, but I didn’t want to be bored or spend all my time in the kitchen.
What Brianna ate then vs. now
|Breakfast||Chocolate-dipped granola bar; coffee with sugar-sweetened creamer||Tofu scramble with avocado toast; banana; coffee with almond or cashew milk|
|Lunch||Veggie burger with bun and fries||Whole wheat wrap with tofurkey, shredded romaine lettuce, spring mix, sliced red onion, diced tomatoes, yellow mustard, and pickles; side of popcorn|
|Dinner||Family-size vegan pizza||Whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce, plant-based “meatballs,” and nutritional yeast|
|Snacks||Cookies and pretzels||Snack plates of pretzels, carrot sticks, hummus, fresh fruit, and edamame|
The support squad that inspired me: Connecting with other members of the WeightWatchers community was huge for me. I created an Instagram account to document my transformation and was surprised to find so many people my age, in my city. Some were vegan, too! Just being able to see what other vegans are doing on WeightWatchers—like, in terms of recipes, restaurants, and food products—was really cool.
On a deeper level, the virtual community was helpful when the pandemic hit in spring of 2020. My roommate moved out, and I found myself living alone for the first time in my life, like, “What am I doing?” There were so many days I wanted to give up on losing weight or working out. The WeightWatchers community kept me grounded.
How I restarted after a stall: As summer of 2020 approached, I hit a plateau—hard—and sat at the same weight for almost four months. Not gonna lie: It was frustrating. I ended up using the 24/7 Live Chat with a Coach feature in the app to figure out a way forward.
That was the solution I needed. I got over that plateau and continued moving toward my goal, which was a much-needed boost for my health and my self-esteem. Now I know that I'm always going to feel better for doing things that empower my body. I am resilient; I can get through anything. Not every day is going to be perfect, but every day is worth the effort.
The shift I’m carrying forward: At the start of my journey, my "why" wasn’t complicated: Pretty much all I wanted was to not be overweight anymore. Now, having lost 38 pounds* and lived through a pandemic, I have to say it’s become more about living my life in the best way possible. And that starts with showing up for myself.
Lucy Shanker is a Chicago-born, NYC-based food and culture writer, whose work has appeared on Consequence of Sound, The Independent, Spindle Magazine, and more.