The most important thing to do on that list was to recommit to Weight Watchers.
It's no secret I haven't been at my goal weight since early 2011 - and that's because I haven't tracked (at all), haven't been to meetings and haven't made all of my healthy lifestyle changes a priority for a long time. Fortunately, I remained physically active, but my food choices and behaviors have been far from ideal. I've been aware of everything I was doing but I did it anyway.
When my meeting on Park Ave closed about 2 years ago (the one where I reached goal), I never found a new meeting that I stuck with. I tried a few but none were the right fit for me. I always said - because I know - that if I don't go to meetings, I don't stick with the program and am prone to gaining weight. Of course in theory I shouldn't 'need' the meetings. I "know" the program. I know what to do. But if I don't go to meetings, I just don't do it. I need that weekly meeting to hold me accountable and to refocus myself. I like the support aspect even though I don't talk much. I like to listen. I always get ideas from the leader or members, or hear something that helps or inspires me. When I don't go to meetings, many of my old unhealthy behaviors resurface, and I let them.
I know this pattern about me and I also know I do not want to ever go back to anywhere near my heaviest weight (or higher!). I know I don't want to undo all the physical, mental & emotional progress I've made over the years. And I don't want poor eating to affect my health.
I've known for a long time that I needed to get back on track. And last night I went to my first meeting since April.
As I was waiting to check in, I thought about how being in this particular meeting for the first time felt so different than other first times I've been to a Weight Watchers meeting. It didn't feel like I was rejoining and starting from scratch because I hadn't let myself gain back most or all of the weight as I did all the other times. It just felt like I was recommitting, which I was.
That made me think back to the very first time I joined Weight Watchers ever - in January 1989, on a Friday night, at the center in Cross County Mall in Yonkers (also now closed). My leader was Terri, a blonde woman. I was 17 years old and a senior in high school. I hadn't weighed myself in years and told the woman weighing me that I was "around 160". It was one of those old doctor scales with the sliding weight. I remember she kept sliding and sliding and sliding that thing until it reached 185 - a full 25 pounds more than I had convinced myself I weighed. I remember being shocked and disappointed that I weighed that much. I hadn't weighed that much since I was 13 years old (I was 180) and in 1985, I had managed to get down to 150 on my own (just by cutting out candy & soda, I was a vegetarian but didn't incorporate any sort of balance or healthy eating). Now it was 1989 and I was back at that weight.
Since 1989, I had been on and off program, rejoining probably 12 - 15 times. At my lowest I was 140 in 1992 and at my heaviest I was 208 in 2004. And in the years between 1989 and 2005, I was up and down in that 68 pound range repeatedly.
In all those times at Weight Watchers, I never reached goal because I never really changed my thoughts or my behaviors. I just cut back on calories. I didn't change how I ate (I continued eating a lot of candy, garbage, processed foods - living on mostly empty calories). I didn't think differently. I didn't act differently. And one other thing was consistent: In all of those years on and off program - from 1989 to 2005 - I never once worked out. Not even one time. Not one minute. I absolutely totally stubbornly refused to even consider the dreaded E word. (Exercise)
Then in September of 2006, just 10 months after moving to Brooklyn, I found myself at 35 years old and 200 pounds again. Again!! I vowed it would never happen again! So I joined my first NYC meeting. I was thankful to be attending a whole new meeting in a whole new city where I didn't know ANYONE (as opposed to joining and rejoining at that same Yonkers Center for 15 years).
I remember walking into that church basement in Williamsburg so vividly - down to what I was wearing that night and the sweet older Italian lady who helped me find it (Josephine!). I remember weighing in at 196 that night (despite my own scale at home registering a 200 the day before). I remember feeling so tired of everything - tired of being so big, tired of being uncomfortable in my own body, tired that I was missing out on my life because of food. Of course that would be the first night of the time I truly changed my life - my behaviors, my thoughts, the food I ate and of course I began to exercise. That would be the beginning of the journey when I made it to goal for the first time in my life in July 2010.
I thought about both of those last night - my 2 strongest 'joining Weight Watchers' memories. And I thought about how I don't ever want to feel like I did on either of those nights.
I'm glad to say I didn't feel that way at the meeting last night. But also I know that if I waited any longer, I could have easily been back in that same situation where I was in 1989 or 2006. I don't ever want to get to that point again. I don't ever want to feel that way again. And fortunately I know I don't have to. I know it's all in my control and I'm finally ready to gain control again.
I know there will be a short adjustment period while I get used to eating properly again. I have to relearn Points+ values and start cooking again. But I'm actually looking forward to it. I miss how good I felt when I was eating right and I remember how that feeling spilled over into everything else, making every aspect of life more pleasant and more manageable. I'm looking forward to that. I know it takes about a week of eating well and being on plan for me to feel completely different. It's one of those feelings that are difficult to describe, but when you feel it, you don't ever want to not feel that way. And I want to feel that way again. I'm ready to feel that way again. And I will feel that way again soon.