The Post-Weigh In "Free For All"

Weight-loss stalled? Maybe you're getting stuck in the post-weigh in "Twilight Zone."

Many members have become rather creative with their weekly calculation of PointsPlus® values, taking periods of time where they "check out" of the program. This strategy may be hurting your success.

It's the "Twilight Zone," a time where a member chooses not to count their PointsPlus values, and instead indulges with reckless abandon in foods that they otherwise might carefully portion control. Sometimes the vacation from counting PointsPlus values is not just between weigh-in and the next morning, but extends to certain holidays, holy days, and full-moon nights.

The first time I became aware of the phenomenon known as "the twilight zone," I was a young, inexperienced Leader. One of my members approached me after a meeting, frustrated by her rate of weight loss. I asked her if there was anything she could pinpoint as a challenge or roadblock. She sheepishly admitted that immediately following the meeting each week, she indulged in a "free period" where, until the next morning, she would eat anything she wanted; she believed her PointsPlus values didn't "reset" until then.

Her argument was that her week ended when she weighed in. The time between stepping on the scale and the next morning didn't really "count." Plus, she had all week to make up for the indulgence, she rationalized. I soon realized that she was not alone; many members were doing the same thing.

The truth is that the week doesn't end at your weekly weigh-in. As the program is written, you follow the program — and consume your allotted PointsPlus values — the full seven days of the week, not six and a half. The number one reason for plateaus is relaxed adherence to the program. So if you're experiencing a plateau or are unhappy with your rate of weight loss, investigate how often you find yourself in the twilight zone.

On certain "magical" days in my meetings,a I will hear rumblings of it. No one really wants to speak of it out loud because admitting it might mean having to give it up. While there seems to be a payoff in indulging, it can stall or even undermine getting to your goal weight.

So, why are we tempted to jeopardize our success? According to Maria Kinirons, Weight Watchers senior manager program development, the twilight zone may originate from too much restriction and deprivation. "Having been 'good' all week could possibly make you feel like you need to reward yourself before you gear back up again for the remainder of the week," she warns.

I must confess that I've experienced my fair share of twilight-zone moments. But five years into the program, my main goal is to incorporate everything I love into my plan, so that I never feel the need to "check out." There's not an overnight cure, but attending meetings, watching my emotional responses and focusing on my true goals have made them happen less and less frequently. I try to remind myself: "If I always do what I always did, I will always get what I always got."

Tips for avoiding the twilight zone
  • Reread program materials to keep the details fresh.
  • Write down your Winning Outcome so that you are in touch with your goals and reasons for following the program.
  • Slowly incorporate foods that you deem as "bad" into your daily routine by carefully planning for and counting them.
  • Take a baby step. This week record everything that you ate during the twilight zone without assigning PointsPlus values to the indulgence. This small step can evolve into full awareness in just a couple of weeks. After a week or two, assign the PointsPlus values, and eventually try to portion control and track.
  • When you feel the urge to "check out," rely on an anchor (a strongly connected object, like a piece of clothing that you would like to fit into) that will remind you of your true goals.