I meant to write this blog a few weeks ago when I infiltrated the Oklahoma Football watch party for the Army versus Oklahoma game (see picture below). A devoted Army fan, I went to the only watch party for the game put on by the Oklahoma Alumni of Austin. I and two other of my West Point alumni joined close to 200 enthusiastic OU fans.
I thought I would leave the game about after 20 minutes since Army was supposed to lose by 30 points. But I ended staying to the end. For those who did not see the game, it went into overtime! Even though Army ultimately lost, they gave the powerhouse Oklahoma team a run for its money. How were they able to do it and go on to have a top 25 season (please, please stay there and Beat Navy!)? There are three characteristics of the Army Football team that lead to success both on the football team and for those trying to get healthy:
Consistency – The Army football team does not have a lot of plays, but what they do have they run in a consistent manner. Each player knows exactly were to block in their Flexbone Triple Option set. This scheme is run only at the Service Academies and it requires discipline and consistency. Each player needs to execute flawlessly due to the smaller size of the players. This type of consistency also served me well as I lost over 170 lbs! I did not have a lot of plays in my weight loss arsenal but what I did have (tracking points, walking, mindfulness), I did on a consistent basis. Each day I tracked my food, walked at least a mile, and spent at least 10 minutes on meditation. Much like Army pounds the football down the field, I pounded away the pounds with consistent execution!
Persistent – The Army football team persistently pursues its playbook even when behind. They do not stop running and driving even if they have to catch-up. Passes are few and far between as they methodically drive down the field. They never stop pursuing their game plan. This persistence is also necessary to successfully restore your health. When I started out, I could barely walk around the block. But little by little, through persistence, I was able to workup to 50 miles in a single day. I did not do it in a week or a month but through persistent exercise over the course of a year and half. Be persistent like the Army Football team and stick to your plan. You will get healthy!
Attitude – The Army Football team stands undaunted against any foe as they demonstrated in the OU game. They stay positive even when facing incredible odds. Also, even when they come up short in the end (like they did in the OU game), they do not let it get them down. They just pick themselves up and win the rest of season, driving into a top 25 spot! You need the same attitude when tackling a weight loss journey. Setbacks will inevitably happen. Like the time you gain 2 lbs in a week because of work demands cut, or eat too much for Thanksgiving (while watching football no less). But at these times, it is important to have a positive attitude and continue marching to your goal, just like the Army football team marches down the field!
I would like to end with a rephrased Army fight song for those driving to their weight loss goals:
On January 9th,2015, I walked into my first Weight Watchers class at Round Rock, Tx and my life was transformed. Back in May 2014, I have made my first steps at getting my health back, but I had been stuck after losing a quick 20 lbs chiefly due to medication. I had started to fall back into my old ways with my weight creeping back due to too much food and too little sleep. So, it was time to do something different.
At first, I contemplated what I had done when I was younger when dealing with my weight. Back in the day I could jump on some fad diet or drink some nutrition shakes and quickly shed some weight. But I was 50 now and had been stuck in this quagmire for a good 10 years. It was time to change.
Luckily, I noticed an email from my company offering a discount to Weight Watchers on January 1st. I will be forever grateful to my company Accenture for that email, the discount, and their internal program Accenture Active. With nothing to lose, I clicked on the link and signed up for my first class at Weight Watchers.
I did not know what to expect initially. I had heard that Weight Watchers was more appealing to women and was a little nervous. I am not the silent, quite type but at times can struggle with my feelings or asking for help. Despite this skepticism, I took the leap and encountered one of the greatest organizations that I have ever known! I don’t throw the word greatest around lightly. I consider Weight Watchers up there with my alma mater West Point and the US Army when it comes to comradery and being a purpose-built organization to accomplish a specific mission. The Army is built to protect our country and battle against our enemies. Weight Watchers is no less purpose-built, designed to protect your health and win the long-term battle against the bulge!
As a guy who lost 170+ lbs. with Weight Watchers, I could write a hundred reasons why Weight Watchers rocks! But I am going to stick to the top ten.
It is evidence based, data driven. As an IT professional, I know that the best systems get better through the proper application of research and data analysis. Amazon uses data to help you find products that appeal to your preferences, Google to find the information you need based on your search patterns, and Weight Watchers to find the combination of food and exercise to restore your health. Since joining Weight Watchers, the company has tweaked their Smart Point algorithm based on data and research. Each time the change pulled me out of a rut and took me to a new level of fitness. I love the fact that you can track your food and activity and then Weight Watchers applies an algorithm to show you where you stand. In addition, its website is a treasure trove on the latest research on losing weight but also on being healthy and happy!
The WW application is top-notch. The latest craze in the IT world is Design Thinking and the Weight Watcher’s online application has it in droves. It is purpose-built with all the tools you need to stay active, fit and lose weight. It has a scanner to tell you when the wrap or other food item you are about to eat has more Smart Points than you might think! I once used it to stop myself from eating a seemingly healthy turkey wrap from a popular restaurant. What I though was a maximum of 8 Smart Points was 19 Smart points (half a day’s allowance) due to being loaded down with cheese and mayo! It also has charts that tracks your weight loss journey, a social media site called Connect with like minded persons with inspirational stories, and a Chat Help feature which allows you to connect with a Weight Watcher’s coach 24*7. I once used it to get someone to talk me down from eating a late-night Quarter Pounder (one of my old habits!)
It’s habit forming! – The only way to beat a bad habit is replace it with new habits that change the direction between stimulus and reward. Through food tracking, journaling, and weekly meetings, Weight Watchers teaches you new habits to replace the old!
The people, the people, the people! I love my Saturday class at Weight Watchers chiefly because of my fellow journeyers. The coaches are great (more on that next) but you learn equally as much from the other people in the class with you. Also, we have our own Facebook group where we share inspiration outside of class (this blog is going up there momentarily). Each person in the group is concerned with sharing and caring. I have formed fast and long-lasting friendships with my team members. We celebrate each other’s successes and we help each other pull through their hardships!
Caring, knowledgeable coaches! The coaches who facilitate the weekly meetings at Weight Watchers and are their throughout for you are true heroes in health. They can quote Smart Points and the latest Weight Loss research like a Pastor can quote Chapter and Verse! But more importantly, they are engaging, humble and inclusive. They strive to pull everyone into the meeting discussion knowing that you learn more through sharing than lecture. I rank my coach Julie Faircloth at Round Rock as one of the top 10 influences in my life. But more on the specifics in a forthcoming blog series Heroes in Health. For now, let me just thank Julie from the bottom of my heart.
The bling! Ok sounds a bit crazy from a guy but I do love the charms that you get after passing each weight loss milestone. Pictured at the top of this blog and here are my rings of honors. And on second thought, maybe it isn’t so strange that a former soldier likes the charms. They are like military awards given for achievement in this case for weight loss and staying with the program. Indeed, one of my favorite awards in my life is my lifetime key that I received by staying at target weight for now over a year.
Balanced approach encapsulating eating right, being active, and feeding your soul. Too many weight loss programs are focused on eating certain foods or the foods that a company is selling. Weight Watchers knows that long term, weight loss and maintenance is based on a tripod of right food, exercise, and the nurturing of your soul and your friends. Some of the best Weight Watcher classes are focused on giving you ideas on how to reduce stress, vision goals, or simply to have fun. You need to transform your thinking just as much your eating in long term weight loss. And Weight Watchers shows you how.
Not a gimmick. Takes weight off slowly with approaches based in medicine! Too many of the weight loss programs and shows like Biggest Loser is focused on rapid weight loss. But that is not health. Extreme Weight Loss even offers excess skin removal as a prize! During my Weight Watchers journey, I lost over 170 lbs. in 2 lbs. increments. Slow and Steady wins the Weight Loss journey and the race.
Not trying to sell you a bunch of proprietary food. Along the same lines, Weight Watchers does not try to sell you a bunch of proprietary food. Too many programs push their products that once you get tired of them or run out of money, you gain the weight back. Weight Watchers has products but that is not their primary or even secondary focus. Instead, the program teaches you to each real food in the real world.
It is located everywhere! Weight Watchers has locations everywhere, so you can keep up with the program. I have been to WW meetings in Houston, New York, Salt Lake City, Denver, Columbus, just to name a few. This is fantastic for those that work (or play) on the road. You keep up with the program and meet new friends!
I said I was going to tell you the ten Why’s of Weight Watchers. Let me add one other. It works! This means both when you are losing the weight and when you are maintaining your new lifestyle! I am prouder of keeping the weight off for over a year now then when I was losing 170 lbs.
And there you have it. I have given you 10 Why’s if you are struggling with Weight Loss to join Weight Watchers. My question to you if you are still contemplating it is Why Not, try? You will not regret it.