How WeightWatchers® Helped This Member Fulfill Her Dream of Joining the Army
*At 6 months, participants in a clinical trial of the weight-loss program lost an average of 9.7 lbs (5% of body weight). And, people who track their food more often lose more weight. When actual WW members track their food at least two times a week for 6 months they lose on average 16.6 lbs. (7.9% body weight). Alisia lost weight on a prior program and is continuing on WeightWatchers.
As told to Katerina Gkionis
All my life, I wanted to join the U.S. Army. Both my older brother and sister enlisted after college, and I hoped to follow that same path. But at some point during my undergraduate years, I realized I didn’t meet the weight requirements—or have the physical strength needed to pass the fitness test. I didn’t even bother to reach out to a recruiter. I tabled my dream and found a civilian job instead.
The bit of extra weight I had been carrying over the years ballooned after I had my son, in 2013. Those 60 pounds of pregnancy weight just stuck with me. I wasn’t happy about it, but it took a doctor’s appointment in November 2016 for me to really understand the dangers my weight posed. My doctor took blood tests and determined I was prediabetic. Changing my habits was a must, I learned, for stopping the onset of type-2 diabetes.
Later that day, I realized my toddler son had snapped a candid photo of me in the waiting room while he was playing with my phone. I wasn’t smiling or striking a cute pose—and my appearance was shocking to me. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, given my fast-food drive-through habit. I had been eating with abandon, not exercising at all. And it showed.
The whole experience shook me, and I decided it was time to explore some options. I thought back to a professor I had in college who had successfully lost weight on WW—she sometimes talked about the meals she was eating, and it all seemed pretty manageable. I guess the memory stayed with me for some reason. When it was time to start on my own journey, I signed up as a Digital member on WW.
Getting in the groove
I didn’t make huge changes overnight. When I first joined, I browsed the app, looking up a few recipes, trying the barcode scanner, and getting to know Connect. From there, I started to look up the WeightWatchers values of my go-to foods and drinks. At the time, I was drinking soda throughout the day, and that easily took up half my Budget! One of the first changes I made was switching to diet soda, which saved me lots of WeightWatchers values.
One time, while looking up my favorite items from the drive-through, I spotted a great tip on Connect about how one member asked to sub her side of fries for a salad. That made me hopeful: If I could still have the burger I really wanted, the fries seemed easy to replace. I started to understand that small changes like this could lead to big results.
What Alisia ate then vs. now
Fast-food sausage-and-cheese sandwich, hash browns, parfait, and a soda
Hummus and one scrambled egg on a slice of wheat toast, plus a small cup of pineapple in natural juice
Meatloaf, mashed potatoes with gravy, mac and cheese or sweet potato yams, plus two dinner rolls, a large lemonade, and a chocolate chip cookie
Veggie burger on wheat bread with a side salad; sautéed shrimp with a salad of mixed greens, cucumbers, shredded carrots, and grape tomatoes
Five-cheese baked ziti with ground beef, plus two slices of Texas toast
Cookies-and-cream ice cream; honey buns, cupcakes, chips
Chopped pineapple, popcorn, chips with hummus or salsa
Salute to determination
My lifestyle changes were benefiting me tenfold. I loved how I was feeling. I started to see new possibilities for myself: Should I finally take the leap and try for the armed forces, as I had always dreamed of doing?
I was about six months into WW and about 40 pounds* down when I first spoke with a recruiter about my desire to enlist. He was super helpful in outlining the physical requirements. In the months that followed, he checked in with me often to see about my progress. I reached my goal when I was a little over a year into the program. In March 2018, I became a proud member of the United States Army!
The first two weeks were devoted to basic training—the part where you have to pass the physical fitness test. I was the oldest woman in the group, a 30-something surrounded by mostly 18- and 19-year-olds. But age didn’t hold me back: I was the only one in my squad who passed the fitness test on the first try!
This boosted my confidence. Being part of the Army was what I had wanted for years, and now I felt like I really belonged. The other women in the group were looking to me for inspiration. They didn’t know my background. They didn’t know that I had lost 66 pounds* over the past year. Two years prior, I couldn’t run to the mailbox without gasping for air.
Steps to success
I didn’t do anything drastic to work up to my current level of physical fitness. When I first joined WW, I started walking on a treadmill, too nervous to exercise outside because I didn’t want anyone to see me. I’d get off work at 5 p.m. and do at least 30 minutes on the treadmill after that. I treated my activity like a part-time job.
Eventually, I added incline to my treadmill workouts. Then, I began alternating one-minute intervals of running with two-minute intervals of walking. This slowly built up my stamina, and within a year I was running four to five miles every day.
I had setbacks along the way—moments when I’d doubt myself, or days when I’d want to give up tracking entirely. Honestly, I still have those days. So I try to give myself some grace: I’ll declare a “no-calculation day,” a 24-hour period where I won’t track. For me, it’s just enough of a break to let myself go through my feelings. The next day, I get back to the WW basics. It’s what works for me.
Staying on track
I’m the kind of person who wants to count pretty much every bite going into my body. I’m not in a place where I want to rely on my hunger signals to tell me when to stop eating.
As a creature of habit, I love to eat the same foods often. Shrimp, hummus, salmon, veggie burgers, basically anything in the air fryer—those are some of my favorites. They all work with my lifestyle on Green.
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A brave future
Every six months, Army members are weighed to ensure we’re at or below our recommended limit. I see so many people around me going to extreme lengths to make weight. I’m so thankful I don’t need to do any of that, because I’m on WW.
My next goal is to become an officer in the Army; I’ll be starting that process soon. I plan to have a long military career. I’m so grateful I was able to make the changes necessary to serve well and serve proudly.
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