Sarah: I can’t find anything about it online, but Weight Watchers has these new ads all over the New York subways that say things like “Diet is a Four Letter Word” and promoting themselves as the answer. Holy irony?!?! Holy pot calling kettle black?!?! Just wanted to tell you about that.
Weetabix: Wait, Weight Watchers is acting like they aren’t crazy themselves? Hello, I totally develop an eating disorder when I’m on Weight Watchers. I get obsessed with food, how much I can have, how many points are in things, etc. I eat beyond fullness just because something is low in points. I starve so that I can binge on a Big Mac the day after I weigh in. And every time I’ve been in Weight Watchers, I come off and gain more weight than when I started, like, it shoots back up incredibly quickly after I get off the program.
Sarah: Everything you said about WW is exactly my experience as well. It makes my relationship with food MORE fucked up, not better. And yeah, I lose, but it all comes back—and then some—when I go off. Ditto, ditto, ditto.
Weetabix: Here’s what their blurb says: “Weight Watchers isn’t a diet because it helps you eat right and live healthy. It works because you’ll learn how to lose weight and keep it off, in a way that fits your life.” Um, by counting “points” and focusing on what you can eat or can’t eat because you don’t have enough points left in your budget, or eating off of a list of “Core Foods” which means “legal foods,” thus making things like bacon totally illegal. How is that different than a diet?
Sarah: Also, isn’t it a diet if you can “go on it” and “go off it”? Isn’t it a diet if you have to cough up cash to buy materials, member fees, and have some crochety old lady ask you to step on a scale and then say, “good work”?
Weetabix: Yes, suffice to say, it’s a fucking diet. No matter what they say and how much they want to take away some of Jenny Craig’s numbers, it’s a fucking diet in another package. And if that works for you, awesome. But my life? I can’t deal with some old lady making a squinchy face if I only lose 0.2 pounds in a week, and tell me that I must be retaining water. I don’t ever want to feel like I have to explain to someone that I just forgot to change out of jeans or didn’t go to the bathroom before coming to weigh in. I am afraid of any mindset where I feel compelled to make excuses for not pooping!
Sarah: I went in a moment of desperation last year and the meetings actually kind of warmed my heart in an “Ooh, I’m part of a community!” way. But as soon as that community started clapping and saying “bravo” when a woman talked about going to a family party and not having a bite of her very favorite recipe that her mom makes, I just knew it wasn’t for me. Partaking in food is partaking in life, and for a group of people to be sitting in a church basement applauding each other for resistance and abstention, for basically ducking out and huddling together—I don’t know, that’s not the kind of life I want to live.
Weetabix: See, that’s exactly like the meetings I went to! Plus, they spent a lot of time talking about ways to fake your favorite foods with Low Point (TM) alternatives. I spent, like, the entire meeting focusing on what I could eat and what I couldn’t. While Weight Watchers does have one of the lowest recidivism rates among other commercial plans, I know so many people that fall off that wagon.
Sarah: They have a low rate of retention cause keeping up with your points is like a goddamn calculus problem! I was constantly adding, subtracting, dividing, projecting, making averages—enough already! Look, I can’t deny that it works. It works in the sense that you will lose weight on Weight Watchers and it’s a slightly less crazy, more life-friendly way to lose weight than say, eating only cabbage. But will it make you more obsessed with eating, with zero point food, with constantly weighing and keeping track? Yes, definitely, absolutely yes.
Weetabix: The best part on WW’s website is the part where they knock other diet plans by saying “Often, you must buy special foods from a specific diet company.” They’re all like “Ooooooh, Weight Watchers International Inc. doesn’t make a significant portion of its bottom line by selling little red boxed meals in the frozen foods department! Please just pretend that we’re in this for the sheer joy of helping people!” Oh, sorry, tangent. Anyway, Sarah, I applaud you for not putting up with that shit. In fact, I’ll make you a bookmark to commemorate the event.
Sarah: Oh, the bookmarks! And the keychains! And the stickers! It’s like, okay, yes I respond to a reward system, but I’d rather it be, like, a new top at Anthropologie or stickers that I give myself in private, you know what I mean? What do you think, Weet—is there any way to eat and live that doesn’t feel like deprivation?
Weetabix: I guess we have to stop looking to some big corporation to “teach” us the right way to eat. We know what to do. There’s not one of us who doesn’t know the secret to losing weight. Six words: “Move more, eat less, mostly plants.” Repeat it to yourself after you check your weight and you can save yourself an hour meeting wherein they tell you how to make a fake strawberry pie using sugar-free Jell-O that is almost but totally not as good as the real thing.
Sarah: Yeah, we don’t need anyone to teach us anything, like Victoria Moran said: We don’t need any more information about eating right and being healthy. We’re geniuses on this topic. We just have to figure out ways to implement what we know that don’t make us crazy. ‘Cause being crazy myopic about weight and body stuff, it’s really boring and makes you miss out on a lot of life.
Weetabix: Fuck it, I’m totally posting this whole convo on the blog because I’m betting that the commenters are going to nail it with their thoughts on this matter. Waisters, it’s all on you.
Is Weight Watchers just another diet? Or are they really different? Do you get obsessed and stay obsessed in a good way or in a bad way? The comments are all ears.