Who Needs Weight Watchers - Grab an App, Cut Your Portions

by Laura Heffner

Dieters spend millions of dollars each each on programs such as Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Atkins as well as diet aids, magic pills, diet books, whatever they think might fix their problem.  As someone who has had weight issues most of her adult life, it's frustrating as heck to figure all this out.  I'm a stress and emotional eater so let's throw in another level of frustration on top of it.  

Back in mid October of last year, I signed up with Weight Watchers at Work against my better judgment and my blog entries at Random Thoughts swearing off diets.  My attitude was that maybe this program can help me learn to eat healthier.  I had been suffering from what I later discovered to be IBS and a bile duct issue from a gall bladder surgery, plus my knees hurt from my weight, etc. I won't bore you with the list. 

In late September, my GI specialist finally sat me down with a big textbook on nutrition and explained to me how I was taxing my body and I should lose weight very slowly to make it stick.  I walked out of there at one of my highest lifetime body weights newly determined to make my doctor and myself proud.  

First thing was to cut out most fast food, cut down portion sizes, eat more fruits and veggies, add more exercise.  Nothing drastic.  I didn't own a scale at that time (having thrown about one a year away in the trash) and I only took measurements or the fact that all my pants for work were threatening to split at the seat from the strain of my girth from a year of lethargic lounging.  But when the WW at Work came out and I found the program only cost $6 with my insurance benefit, how could I pass it up even after all my ranting in my blog?  

My first weigh in I was delighted to find I had lost 9 lbs since my dr's visit which was a few weeks before.  I tempered it to 5 lbs as I know there is differences in scales.  It was great the first few weeks.  Tracking points and such wasn't so bad until I started to panic about what am I going to eat because I ate too many points to start the day.  Then the progress stopped.  My weight started to go up.  I skipped the last 4 meetings of the 12 week program and gained back several pounds.  The Monday after Thanksgiving I visited my GI doctor again who noticed the fast drop in my weight (this was prior to my regain) and lectured me "Too fast, Laura!".  Is the man never happy, I wondered.  

I finally gave up and returned to my eating and exercising plan prior to WW.  In February, my husband had his yearly medical exam and his doctor recommended gastric bypass surgery.  He came home stunned and determined to do something about his weight.  He did not want the surgery.  He did some research and found an app for his iPad through Livestrong called My Plate.  It takes down profile information like height, gender, weight as well as activity level and gives you a daily calorie goal depending on if you want to lose 1 or 2 lbs a week.  Trying to be supportive I downloaded the same app and we both started this journey together the first of March.  

At first, my rebellious side kicked it but it was better than points from WW which seemed to be so restrictive for me.  I found that if I ate too little I get migraines so I can't just starve myself without suffering.  And I also discovered with the app that adding exercise meant I could eat well and never feel deprived.  

Now in mid July, my husband has lost over 55 lbs and I've lost a total of 23 lbs overall from my late September weigh in.  He is more restrictive in what he eats and I am less so.  But I figure slow progress is better than none.  I feel amazing and when I eat poorly, I really feel it.  I use the app tracking a little less now than every day.  Usually 1 or 2 days to keep in check or if we go out to eat to help determine what is a good choice.  

Yesterday at work I noticed 2 co-workers who had lost significant weight and I asked them each what they used.  One lady used halving her portion sizes and walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes every other day.  She had lost 50 lbs in 6 months.  The gentleman used another app called My Fitness Pal and lost over 80lbs in 7 months.  He does as I do, a tracking day once or twice a week.  He said it was really much easier than he thought.  Which made me think, with apps for our phones and devices or something so simple as cutting portion sizes in half, why do we waste so much money of diet programs?  My app cost $2.99. I can use it on my computer, my phone, my iPod Touch or my iPad.  

There is no magic pill it seems.  A little common sense perhaps and a bit of awareness and no excuses, maybe... 

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