Day Seventy-six (R, 110317) — Honesty, New Resources, and Program Review: Weight Watchers


  1. I updated my 4HB Cheat Day Cheat Sheet. Just a minor change (v. 2.1) to include a logo and my full blog URL in the header.
  2. I added a new website to my blogroll: Four Hour Body Aaron offers his thoughts on different aspects of the 4 Hour Body program as well as links to products that you may find useful in your pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. Check him out. =)
  3. Another new resource is Brian’s 4 Hour Body Food Matrix over at the 4 Hour Body Zone.  A great way to help you think about all the possible combinations of foods that are consistent with 4HB principles.


Yesterday, I posted a graph showing the tale of the tape (scale, actually) in three full years of tracking my weight.  During that time I have tried several programs to get my weight under control and each has been successful at some point and not-so-successful at others.  For the most part, it was me that failed the program rather than the other way around.  I would stop following the rules and – voilà! – the weight would reappear.

It is possible to lay some of the blame for this relapse on the program itself.  “It’s too complicated.” “There wasn’t enough support.”  “They only wanted to sell me stuff.” “It was too restrictive.” etc. etc. etc.

If I wanted to give myself an out, I could latch on to any of these and run with it.  The problem is that I would be lying to myself.

  • I stopped doing the program for one reason or another.
  • Before stopping, I gamed the system and created the plateau which sapped my determination.
  • During all of this, I let other things in my life preempt my dedication to becoming healthier.

One the primary purposes of this blog is to let me work out my thoughts as I go through this program.  It is an outlet which allows me to hold myself accountable, make myself available to public feedback on what I am doing, and to, most importantly, keep myself honest about what I am doing and why.

By giving all this, this blog has helped me experiment with the program to better my results. It has also helped me fight through times which might have otherwise derailed my continued efforts to lose weight and become fit.

This morning, I found a great blog post which related to these purposes.  It is about Being Honest with Yourself.  Read it.  It’s worth it.

So let me be honest

I abuse food. It’s my drug of choice. Everything I have learned in the past fifty-seven years tells me what is good for my body and what will ultimately harm it. I choose to ignore those warnings. I’d rather dwell on how difficult it is and give myself a pass. . . . Honesty drives everything about us. Only I know when I’m not telling you the truth but in short order it begins to show. When I am not honest with myself I get results because I can adjust the way I live to help me reach my goals and objectives. When I tell myself ‘it’s okay to cheat,’ then as my trainer told me once when I wouldn’t hold a plank correctly, ‘The only person you are cheating is yourself, John.’ Amen.

I think he uses cheat in his post in two different way.  The first is how 4HB uses cheating — doing things which are not part of the rules of the system you are using.  The nice thing about 4HB is that this is not cheating if built into the program as intended.  It’s only cheating if you are doing it regularly or outside of deliberate Cheat Meals or Days.

The second way he uses cheat is what I would call gaming the system — finding ways to short-circuit your success by doing things which, while technically allowed on the program, follow the letter of the law but deliberately flout the spirit of the law.

Speaking of gaming the system…now let’s get on to the reviews of the Weight Watchers, Atkins, and 4 Hour Body programs.  Today is about . . .

Weight Watchers

Bottom line up front:

  • PROS
    • It works if you do it
    • I learned good habits and information
    • I could eat almost anything (in [excessive] moderation)
    • It forced me to acknowledge in public how I was doing (analogous to what this blog does for me now)
  • CONS
    • I was almost always hungry
    • The learning curve may be steep for some
    • WW products are expensive if you don’t learn how to cook the WW way

I started WW in early March, 2008.  It cost about $35 / month when I did it.

On WW, we had the choice of two programs:

  1. Points ← this is the one I did
  2. Core

Under the Points plan, you could eat anything you wanted so long as you counted the calories, fat, and fiber.  Calculated together, they would allow you to come up with a Points value for the food and portion you were eating.  Simply eat as many or fewer than your daily allotted Points and you would lose weight.

If you exercised you were granted more Points to spend that day.  Also, you had 35 Points to spend weekly.

Under the Core plan, you got a list of foods.  You were allowed to eat as much food as you wanted without regard to calories or other nutrition, so long as you only ate the food on the list.

Some things I learned from WW:

  • Portion sizes and control – the amount of food you eat matters and it is easy to find massive amounts of food for relatively little money in our society
  • Take your time – I eat too quickly pretty much every time I eat.  I have to consciously slow down and think about the taste of the food I put in my mouth.  (I’ll say more about this on Saturday when I talk about the 4 Hour Body program.)  A trick to help slow down: put your fork/spoon down between bites.
  • Sometimes you’re thirsty, not hungry – drink some water and sometimes that will stop the urge to go eat
  • Go do something that’s not food-related – when I am tempted to eat, sometimes the reality is that I’m bored.  If I found something to occupy myself for a little while, I sometimes found that the urge to eat passed until my next mealtime.
  • Fiber make you feel full – go for the food with the fiber
  • Be careful at restaurants – there are many tricks (e.g. adding extra sugar to pizza dough) that make their food taste good but which can harm your diet.  Want that healthy wrap?  Did you know it has twice as much dressing on it as the sandwich version does?  etc.

There are probably other principles but I think those were the big ones.

Some people have had really bad experiences with WW. (You must have a FB account to view this note.)

This includes having meeting leaders who denigrated members for being overweight and whose sole interest seemed to be selling WW food and merchandise.

My experience was not like that at all.  In fact, my time in WW was almost 100% positive: I learned good things; I got encouragement and support; I was motivated to work out more and ride my bike more; I ate better; and I lost more than 40 pounds in about a year.

The problems started when, after about a year, I became complacent.  I stopped being strict about the rules and allowed myself cheats on a fairly regular basis.  I’d say that a day with some sort of cheat was slightly more common than a day in which I did what I was supposed to do.

I learned to game the system.  Dishonestly telling myself that my exercise allowed me to add more points than I probably should have. I started eating WW-approved snacks constantly.  Every day would see me eating something I had figured out was technically allowed but which thwarted my dieting goals.

I plateaued, more or less, for a year with my weight fluctuating at about 212 pounds, +/- 6 pounds.  From Oct. ’08 to Oct. ’09 there were some times when my weight went a little lower, but then it would come right back up again.

In a silver-lining sort of way, this could be taken as proof that I could maintain my weight on WW.  The problem is that I prevented myself from attaining my desired weight on the program.

After a year of no progress, and in conjunction with some other things going on in life, I got pissed off and quit in August of 2009.  My weight worked its way back up to 228 pounds by 11/11/2009.  That’s when I decided to go back on Atkins.

Tomorrow I’ll present a program review of my (second) experience on the Atkins plan.


Breakfast: scrambled eggs, refried beans, sausage, bacon, AGG, multi-green supplement, cinnamon, kombucha

Lunch: Freebirds! AGG, multigreen supplement

Lunch 110317

Mmmm. Deliciousness in all it's Freebirds' wonder.....

Dinner: Pork chops and green beans, protein drink, water

Other food throughout the day: black coffee, kombucha (a second one)


7 responses to “Day Seventy-six (R, 110317) — Honesty, New Resources, and Program Review: Weight Watchers

  1. Pingback: Day Seventy-seven (F, 110318) — Program Review: Atkins | New John for a New Year·

  2. Pingback: Day Seventy-eight (Sa, 110319) — Program Review: 4 Hour Body | New John for a New Year·

  3. Amen to Honesty!

    It’s the first step to really taking charge of our lives, not only in weight and health, but for everything else eh?

    I believe it’s really the start to self improvement, humbleness and gratitude.

  4. Pingback: Day Seventy-eight (Sa, 110319) — Another Lost Week? Results for Week 11; Program Review: 4 Hour Body | New John for a New Year·

  5. Pingback: Day Ninety (R, 110331) — Three Months In, New John and His Amazing Diet Contortions | New John for a New Year·

  6. Pingback: Day 147 (F, 110527) — Cissus and Gaming the System | New John for a New Year·

  7. Pingback: Day 166 (W, 110615) — Crutches; Max Capacity Training Day 14 | New John for a New Year·

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