“Focusing on Healthy Choices Helped Me Flourish in a Stressful Year.”
*People following the WW program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds/week. Jackie lost weight on a prior program and is continuing on WeightWatchers.
As told to Katerina Gkionis
My WW journey really has two chapters. I first joined in May 2017 after struggling to fit into a dress I had picked out for my best friend’s bridal shower. The dress ended up being so tight on me that my mom had to sew me into it for the party. WW was great in helping me move forward from that. By March 2018, I had reached my goal of losing 61 pounds* thanks to consistent tracking and running several times a week.
Admittedly, once I reached my goal, I started to loosen some of my healthy routines. I was the confident member who went to a Workshop once a month just to weigh in. I tracked my meals less frequently in the app. At a drive-through one morning, I ordered a blueberry muffin for breakfast instead of a doughnut because I assumed the muffin was healthier. Little did I realize, it was 19 WeightWatchers—almost my entire allotment for the day. Moments like these accumulated. By May 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had hit, and my weight was up about 23 pounds. Wanting to get back into a healthy routine, I decided to return to regular Workshops—remotely, of course!
My biggest challenge going in: Between the pandemic, social unrest, and political turmoil, I was experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety when I recommitted to WW that spring. Just watching the news was enough to make me want to order a huge sampler of wings, mozzarella sticks, and potato skins from the diner. I needed tools to help manage that. Plus, my day-to-day life was out of sorts: I was working remotely and missed the structure of going into the office. I was cooking all my meals at home and getting bored with my recipe rotation, which only heightened the urge to order takeout.
How WW set me up for success: When I went to my first Virtual Workshop in May 2020, I felt like I had returned home, in a way. I loved seeing so many familiar faces on my screen, including my WW Coach. I remember thinking, “This is exactly where I need to be right now.” My favorite part of Workshops had always been the celebrations and non-scale victories; hearing from others that day inspired me to jump back in. I committed to tracking again, which felt empowering—awareness helps me make healthy choices.
I was excited to find meditations in the WW app; I knew they’d be helpful for coping with the stress I was feeling. I could see that the app would make my meals less boring, too. My friend had picked up a vintage WW cookbook in a thrift store, and it was fun to plug those dishes into the Recipe Builder tool. I also searched the app for new dishes that sounded good and found a number that became favorites, like chicken marsala.
What Jackie ate then vs. now
|Breakfast||Frozen chocolate chip waffles||Two eggs cooked over medium, topped with pico de gallo over two baked thin tortillas|
|Lunch||Chinese-takeout combo platter of sesame chicken, egg roll, and pork fried rice||Chicken salad made with low-fat mayo on thin wheat bread|
|Dinner||Chicken pot pie||Cider-glazed roast pork with apples, sweet potato, and sage|
|Snacks||Chocolate, chips||WW Nacho Tortilla Chips, WW Fudge Brownie Mug Cake Mix|
Why I rejigged my fitness goals: I’ve been a runner all my life—I was on the track team throughout middle school and high school. For years I had held onto a belief that if I wasn’t running at least 3 miles in a given session, I wasn’t working hard enough.
Setting the bar so high, especially during a stressful time, meant that I often missed the mark and felt like a total failure, or ended up not exercising at all. WW helped me see that this fixed mindset wasn’t doing me much good. I adjusted my thinking and gave myself permission to set realistic goals for my current circumstances. To start, I aimed to run just 1 mile—and felt proud when I was actually able to do it! This motivated me to keep lacing my sneakers and getting out there. When running no longer felt like an impossible task, I ran more often, which only made it easier.
My approach to maintenance mode: By August 2020, I had managed to lose the 23 pounds* I had regained and was thrilled to be back at my goal weight. This time around, I’m staying engaged in the program. I started using the water tracker, tracking my sleep, and listening to the 5-Minute Coaching audios in the app. This has helped me understand that my mind and body work together to make me feel healthier and stronger.
How recommitting to WW changed my life: A big lesson I got from 2020 is that while many things in this world are outside my control, I do have full say over the choices that make me feel good. Today, I feel physically healthier. Mentally, I’m much kinder to myself. I gave myself grace to get through 2020, and the tools I developed along the way will serve me for years to come.