Confessions of a Cheater

shhhhh

“This Weight Watcher’s point-tracking app is great,” my husband said three days after he’d joined. He walked into the kitchen with his nose buried in his Smartphone. “It even has a scanner.”

“To scan what?” I snorted. “Your weight?”

“No.” He didn’t look up. “Points. On the food packing you can scan the bar codes and get the points.”

“Hmmm. Cool.”

His high interest in tracking and commitment to weight loss made me worry. I’d been on and off the popular plan for close to thirty years. What if he got all skinny and joined Jennifer Hudson as the new spokesperson while I squandered in the background cheating my way through life?

Yes. I’m a cheater. Not the kind who sneaks around with other men, but the kind who lies to herself about what she’s been eating.

In my twenties, I could get away with the lies and still lose weight. My metabolism pumped with the vigor of Jack LaLanne on steroids. To lose weight, all I had to do was eat a little less, crank up the Jane Fonda workout video and “feel the burn.”

The “unrecorded” slice of turkey breast casually popped into my mouth while weighing two ounces, extra knife-dip in the peanut butter jar after carefully measuring a level teaspoon and untracked donut holes from the office break room didn’t sabotage my efforts one bit. For the record, I ate those donut holes as a public service. They’re like broken cookies, right? Why throw them out?

Yet conventional wisdom told me that with age, weight loss would be harder.  And never has that been more obvious to me now, at the age of fifty-three.

Three months ago, I rejoined Weight Watchers again after putting on a few pounds. I again followed my loosey-goosey tracking system. Worked in the past, right?

The results were eye-opening and worse than I’d ever imagined. Not only didn’t I lose anything…I gained. YIKES!

Seemed my old methods of tracking — if you can even call it that — had failed me. What would it take for me to start some honest record keeping?

My husband becoming a member, that’s what.

Shame and a little healthy competition sent me straight to my Smartphone. I immediately downloaded the apps. By the end of day one, I’d learned something. These tools were more fun than tracking on paper.

The first week, I didn’t stress about following the diet plan. But I did track my food. REALLY tracked my food. Donut holes and all. The result: Mindfulness settled in with the hard-core facts. I must’ve eaten less because I dropped half a pound.

The second week I got serious. I tried to stay within my daily food range, give or take a growling stomach moment or two. Going to bed hungry wasn’t an option, but if I went over my daily allowance, I tracked it. The result: Down another 1 ½ pounds.

It’s the end of week four. I’m down about 5 pounds. Not Guinness World Records book weight loss, but better than I was doing before. In the thirty odd years I’ve been in and out of Weight Watchers, the truth is I’ve never tracked my food intake for an entire month straight.

Over all the years that I’ve attended Weight Watchers meetings, one remark heard time and time again from the real “losers” is how they religiously write down what they eat. I failed to understand why it worked, but now I do. I record it, I own it. Guilt disappears, perspective is gained. Indulging in more bad choices doesn’t happen when the actual damage is obvious…and not as bad as I’d thought.

I’m no longer feeling like the adulterous of diets. Hank Williams may have sung that “your cheating heart will make you weep,” but my cheating heart will no longer overeat. But if it does, it’ll make sure to write it down.

Any other tales of cheating out there? What motivates you to eat healthy and exercise?

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18 responses to “Confessions of a Cheater

  1. Congratulations! Five pounds is nothing to sneeze at.

    It’s definitely harder to monitor our weight with modern lifestyles. Exercising has to be a conscious effort. I do little things that I hope add up to a healthier me, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator and parking in the outer reaches of parking lots. Preparing homemade meals instead of consuming processed foods helps as well. I view it as overall health improvement instead of weight loss, because while I doubt I’ll ever be thin I definitely want to be healthy.

    • Thanks, Angela. Yes, five down is way better than where I WAS headed 🙂
      And you are so right…healthy is where it’s at. My only goal is to “Feel” good these days.
      Thanks for posting!
      Sharon

  2. Hello, my name is Ellen Butler and I am a cheater. Yes, I too cheat on my diets.I need to get that app!

  3. Weight Watcher’s is good in the fact that it educates us to portion sizes along with making healthier food choices. Go for the filling power foods to alleviate feelings of hunger which leads to going for a quick fix that usually is not a good choice and does not have any nutritional value. Fill up on fruits, veggies, high fiber foods and lean protein and you are on your way. Find an activity that you like and will stick with and find a way to incorporate it into your daily routine. Eventually, it can become more second nature and you won’t have to over stress with the changes you are trying to make.

    These are the messages I heard at meetings and they do make sense. Tracking is vital when you are in the losing phase of Weight Watchers Program. I am in the Maintenance phase of the Program and following the above got me to this place. I did not have a major weight issue but being a bit overweight for my height did start to give me some health issues over the years. The main message for all of is to not get frustrated and sabotage ourselves and give up. Utilize the many tools the Program offers and individualize them to fit your schedule and personality.

    • You’re sure right about self-sabatoge, Pat. It’s sometimes the hardest thing NOT to do. With tracking, I realized that sometimes what seems like major damage is, in fact, not bad at all.
      Thanks for posting. You sound like a WW leader-trainee!
      Sharon

  4. I’m with you all the way on writing everything down – that’s the only way it’s ever worked for me. Congratulations on the weight loss.

  5. Way to go, Sharon!!! Congratulations! Five pounds is fantastic! If you can maintain that every month, the results will be stupendous. I put about ten pounds back on during my “dark times” of the past few months. I’m sure that not tracking during that time contributed to the gain. Not exercising was the other culprit. But now that things are more or less back to “normal” (whatever that means) I’m tracking again and the first pound has just come off. I’ve started running a little bit again this week so I’m hoping for even more results. I am so so happy for you and the effort you are making. It ain’t easy to change eating habits, but I know you can do it!!!!! 🙂

    • I”m so glad your life is settled and you’re getting back into the routine.
      God knows, exercise is a major factor, too. I love how the app let’s you track that, too.
      I used to ignore it (like everything else I DIDN’T track) But now I feel good to see added points show up from exercise. I may not use them…but I might, too.
      We’ll count points at Maggie McFly’s next week 🙂
      Sharon
      p.s. Your weight loss last year is one that still inspires me!

  6. You better not let you know who beat you. I am an unusual specimen. I do not cheat. My motivation to exercise is the mental clarity and focus it provides(don’t laugh Sharon). I also love the attention of hubby.

  7. I’m glad you’re on the “straight and narrow” again! When I started working out a year ago, my trainer asked me what my goal was. I looked him straight in the face and said, “To bug the crap out of my daughter for as long as possible.” I lost about 40 pounds ten years ago by going to a nutritionist. With “the change” I’ve found that a few pounds have creeped on and my clothes are not fitting as well. So my sister and I are using a free app called “Lose It” to have our own little weight loss club. We just started so I can’t give you any results, but I can say I agree with your observation about how important it is to record everything you eat (and drink- bourbon is not calorie-free after all!). I was surprised at how much fat was in my “healthy” diet. Even healthy fat is, well, fat. Keep up the good work!

    • Hi Jeanne,
      Wow! Forty pounds took some great committment. Kudos to you!
      Keeping it off is always the issue. Yeah, “the change” is adding to my problems, too.
      We’ve gotta find new ways to work around it. That bourbon might be a start…tracking it, of course 🙂
      Thanks for posting!
      Sharon

  8. I laughed while reading your story because we are living parallel lives. From October to January, my husband casually lost 30 pounds. I didn’t hardly even notice he was dieting. He just used a smaller plate and ate salads for lunch at work. Throughout our 18 years of married life we have gained and lost at the same time. We’re both almost the same height, but he’s always been about 20 pounds heavier than me. Well, two weeks ago it finally sunk in that he is smaller than me. Now I’m really determined, exercising everyday and have lost around 5 pounds. Like you, it took him losing weight to give me the extra motivation. Best of luck with your journey!

    • I love how he ‘casually’ lost 18 pounds! How come men diet so quietly and we make big announcements about what we’re doing??? Worse, thirty pounds slithered off without as much as a whimper! I’m glad to know I’m not the only competitive wife out there.
      Thanks for posting, Kristi. Good luck with your journey, too.

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