How this Member Dropped 24 pounds* Without Cooking a Single Meal at Home
*People following the WW program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds/week. Neil, who is married to WW's CEO, lost weight on a prior program and is continuing on PersonalPoints™.
As told to Elizabeth Narins
I was bending over to tie my shoes a few years back when I stood up and realized: I was completely out of breath. At 6-foot 3-inches tall, I was active, but had been overweight for quite some time due to a diet made up largely of meat, potatoes, pasta, and bread. And in terms of serving sizes? Well, I was eating enough to stay heavy.Although I worked out with a trainer several times a week, I wasn’t losing weight and felt like it was time to try something else. While I’d attempted to shed pounds in the past, every time I reached my goal, I’d regain what I’d lost. Finally, my wife Mindy, the CEO of WW, looked at me and said, “Don’t you know who I work for? Why don’t you use it?”
At first, I hemmed and hawed. But then I grew vaguely curious about the program that both Mindy and my daughter Lizzy, a WW member and Coach, have long evangelized: I slowly progressed to asking every so often, “So how many PersonalPoints™ are in this?” while gesturing to my plate. I even downloaded the WW app in 2017, but didn’t start poking around until December 2018. By the following March, I'd begun to follow the program. But it was in the fall of 2019, when I officially signed up to try out WW’s new program, which offers a PersonalPoints Budget and over 200 ZeroPoint™ foods, that I first input my starting weight and began to religiously track what I ate using the WW app.
The best thing about the WW app, I quickly realized, is that it forces you to focus on what you’re eating. Just paying attention helps you figure out what to eat in the first place—and that makes everything easier. Most importantly, from day one, I never felt like I was on a diet because I could eat what I wanted.
To that point, it’s worth noting that I eat the majority of my meals at restaurants. (I've only cooked one meal in my life: scrambled eggs.) On WW, I could continue to eat out for most meals. I just began to order differently:
What Neil ate then vs. now
|Coffee with milk, and either no breakfast or omelets or bagels with lox|
Coffee with milk, hard-boiled eggs, steamed spinach, and fruit
A variety of sushi rolls and sashimi with sake
Yogurt or cottage cheese with fresh fruit and raisins
Steak or veal Parmesan plus French fries, pasta, and/or bread and butter plus wine
Seafood with spinach or broccolini plus a glass of wine or vodka
Nuts and raisins plus tiramisu or tartufor (Italian ice cream) for dessert
Nuts and raisins; chocolate for dessert (but only on occasion)
Having the app readily accessible on my phone was helpful since I could track what I ate in real time. Now, when I go to buy something like a protein bar, I use the app’s Barcode Scanner to look up its PersonalPoints value, then ask myself, do I really want to spend 15% of my Daily Budget on this bar? When the answer is no, I put it back; the app empowers me to make smart decisions.
Never not moving
Exercise has also been key for me. Although I used to focus mainly on weight training, around the time I first joined WW, I began rowing 30 minutes—about 7,000 meters—a day in addition to weightlifting 3 to 4 hours a week and walking to and from work. Tracking my activity and earning PersonalPoints has given me a lot of leeway to eat more without gaining weight.
Resetting after setbacks
While there have been days when I’ve eaten a lot more PersonalPoints than I should have, I’ve never let it get out of hand: I just go back to making sure I stay within my Budget for the next couple of days.
On WW, I finally feel comfortable with the habits I'm practicing to lose weight. Rather than rebounding every time I lose a few pounds, I've found that success begets success: Even after I reached my initial goal weight, I wanted to keep going. Now I’m working toward another 7- or 8-pound weight loss to get back to what I weighed when I met Mindy in the 1980s. Don’t get me wrong—I don’t tend to be particularly self-absorbed when it comes to my looks. But now, when I actually pay attention, I’m not embarrassed. The better you look, I've realized, the better you feel, and the more you want to stay focused and follow the plan.
Feeling his best
These days when I tie my shoes, it’s clear that I’m in much better shape. Although the concept of replacing my now-baggy wardrobe isn’t exactly exciting to me, getting my physical health together has been extraordinarily enjoyable. Now that I’m aware of what I’m eating, my diet is much healthier. My doctors were ecstatic to see how significantly my cholesterol has dropped. And as for my wife, my biggest cheerleader? She thinks I look really good.
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