“My negative inner voice was totally wrong about me!”
*People following the WW program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds/week. Danielle lost weight on a prior program and is continuing on myWW™.
As told to Katerina Gkionis
The summer of 2018 was when I felt like my whole life was falling apart. After ending a toxic relationship, I quit my job in St. Louis and moved back in with my parents in New Jersey. I looked to food for comfort, which can turn into a situation quickly when you’re surrounded by the world’s best pizza, bagels, and Chinese takeout. My therapist was also having me try a new medication, which affected my appetite. By fall of 2019, I had gained about 40 pounds and was not in a great place. With the holidays approaching, I got tired of feeling like everything was going wrong and decided to try focusing on something positive. I joined WW as a Digital member in November 2019.
My biggest challenge going in: A huge struggle for me was figuring out how to maintain healthy behaviors over time. I knew from previous weight-loss attempts that I had a tendency to self-sabotage: I'd be really motivated to start and then lose steam and start making excuses, like, “Oh, I can’t cook because of my long commute.” I have to say, when I joined the WW program, I didn’t truly believe I would get to my goal. I still had that voice in the back of my mind telling me that I’d give up and go back to my old ways.
How WW set me up for success: Starting a weight-loss program during the holidays posed its own set of challenges. By then, I was working again and dealing with catered office parties and such. I leaned on the WW app pretty hard. Luckily, tracking was simple. For example, my favorite weekday lunch was a big salad from a fast-casual restaurant near my office, and the app had the SmartPoints® listed for the restaurant and all extras I added in.
It was easy to build momentum and feel like you were getting somewhere—I just took things one meal, one step at a time. After a few weeks, the negative voice in my head was a little quieter. I started following motivating accounts on Instagram and continued to track. I also got my medication issue sorted out and continued with talk therapy.
What Danielle ate then vs. now
|Breakfast||Ham, egg, and cheese on a bagel; coffee with sugar and half-and-half creamer||Avocado toast topped with a sunny-side-up egg; coffee with dairy-free creamer|
|Lunch||Pizza with chips or a cookie||Ham-and-turkey sandwich on whole-wheat toast; pretzels on the side|
|Dinner||Two servings of pasta and 2–3 glasses of wine||Greek-style bowl with air-fried chicken cutlets, cucumber, pickled banana peppers, onion, cherry tomatoes, roasted veggies, feta, and olives; one glass of wine|
|Snacks||Cheese; crackers; pita chips and hummus||Greek yogurt with grapes; jerky and cheese sticks; pineapple with chocolate hummus|
The 2020 mindset shift I needed: Like a lot of people, I was overcome with worry when the pandemic hit in March of 2020. I clung to whatever structure I could find and kind of went overboard, like, “If I don’t walk 10,000 steps every day, my world will spiral out of control.”
I found that what I actually needed most during that time was a spirit of flexibility. Some days, getting outside for a long walk just felt too hard. WW was helpful in allowing space for that. You can learn from your setbacks instead of throwing in the towel. Plus, I could still do plenty of other positive things for myself, like tracking my meals and hitting my water goals. Learning to meet myself in the moment was key during those tough months.
How a test run of “normal life” turned out: I admit, I still had doubts about whether I’d be able to stick with WW once the pandemic passed. During lockdown I built a safe cocoon of healthy habits; by June, I was down almost 40 pounds*. Meanwhile, my calendar was filling up with socially distanced outdoor gatherings. Could I keep up my progress?
A beach day with my girlfriends made me believe it was possible. Usually, one of us would stop at the convenience store and grab breakfast pastries for the group. I volunteered to bring homemade two-ingredient-dough bagels instead. Everyone loved them, and they fit into my Budget. Little moments like these helped confirm that I was creating a lifestyle that could work for me long-term.
Why weight loss isn’t all I’m celebrating: Losing 54 pounds* has been pretty amazing, but I think my most meaningful change on WW is that I ended a pattern of self-sabotage by gaining trust in healthier feedback loops. Now, for instance, I know that if I make a point to get enough sleep, I’ll have more energy to walk, which motivates me to buy nutritious foods while grocery shopping so I can fuel my body in the best way possible. I’m excited to keep going!