How WeightWatchers® Helped This Mom of Two Avoid Knee Replacement Surgery
*At 6 months, participants in a clinical trial of the WW 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). Georgia lost weight on a prior program and is continuing on WeightWatchers.
As told to Lucy Shanker
Shortly after I gave birth to my second child in the spring 2016, I would be carrying the baby when boom: My body would crash underneath me. At an orthopedic surgeon’s office that summer, I found out I had arthritis in my knees and hips. While my doctor didn’t blame the accompanying pain on my size, he suggested that weight loss wouldn’t hurt.
I'd gained 35 pounds during my first pregnancy in 2013. Three years later, I underwent IVF treatments to help conceive again, which left me with an extra 15 pounds. During my second pregnancy, I gained another 35 pounds.
In 2016, I was at my heaviest when my doctor advised me to stop squatting, jumping, and running—and avoid any other activities that could aggravate my joints—to avoid a knee-replacement surgery. I wasn’t an active person by any means, but the advice felt like a sedentary sentence. I didn’t want to just sit there and watch my family live their lives.
Because I didn’t think that changing my eating habits would be enough to trigger weight loss and relieve my joint pain in the absence of exercise, I felt so helpless that I began to spiral into a depression. While I followed my doctor’s orders to avoid triggering movements, I still suffered from excruciating pain at the end of every day.
In November 2017, a friend mentioned, “I barely work out. I just do WW!” Her approach seemed like a novel idea: Maybe I could lose weight, after all.
Changing things up
That fall I signed up for WW. During my first few weeks as a Digital member, I stopped eating fast food meals for lunch every day, measured the portions of food I was eating, and cut out sugary soda.
What Georgia ate then vs. now
A protein shake blended with powdered peanut butter, a banana, and spinach
A 20-piece box of fast-food chicken nuggets with large French fries and a soda
A salmon omelette made with one egg, four egg whites, and cheese plus a side of sautéed cauliflower rice
Spaghetti with bread; rice and fried chicken
A chicken breast or piece of salmon served with sweet potatoes, salad, and/or spiced cauliflower rice
Regular soda, fruit snacks
Diet soda, protein bars, or Greek yogurt mixed with sugar-free chocolate pudding and a brownie protein bar
Feeling the love
As I altered my eating habits, I began to post about my progress on Connect, WW’s members-only social network. To my surprise, I was overwhelmed by the amount of love and support I received in responses from strangers.
When I shared quotes like, “You can do it, not because I did it, but because you can do it," messages flooded my inbox with replies like, “I needed this today.” I was so inspired that I decided to start documenting my journey on Instagram—follow me at georgia_losing_it_to_live_ww!
Ready to get moving
When the weight started coming off, I realized that nutrition had made a huge difference on my journey. I had always thought that I’d have to be super active to see results, but that wasn’t the case.
What’s more, after years of believing I couldn’t exercise without pain, I was ready to get moving. Although my knees were extremely weak because of how little I had moved in the past few years, five months after I joined WW, I hired a personal trainer.
While she agreed that I should take it easy and listen to my body, she couldn’t believe I’d interpreted my doctor’s warnings as a recommendation avoid activity altogether. I started slow with shallow squats to strengthen the joints. Once I realized I could exercise without debilitating pain, I took off, working up exercising six times a week—three days with my trainer, three lifting weights at the gym. I went from being overwhelmed with pain triggered by mundane tasks to training for my first 5K—and I’m entirely pain-free.
Life in maintenance
WW completely changed my life. While I’d originally set out to lose 100 pounds and return to the weight listed on my driver’s license, once I reached that initial goal in April 2019, I kept going.
WW has helped me to prove that I am capable of doing way more than I thought: I no longer have to sit on the sidelines watching my kids grow up—I can get on the floor with them without worrying about how I’ll get back up.
Thanks to my weight loss, which took some pressure off my knees, my once-pain-ridden joints are stronger than ever, and my arthritis symptoms have disappeared—along with my depression.
I’ve even begun studying to become a certified personal trainer to motivate others. I want everyone to understand how great it feels to say, “I’ve lost 117 pounds*!”
Explore more WW member weight loss transformations.