Before I roll into this post, you noticed I mentioned Weight Watchers (WW) in the title. This is not a post to dismiss the potential benefits of the WW program. I realize there have been plenty of success stories, yet over the years, I have encountered many men and women who had either no success or very short-lived success with the program. This post is a case study of sorts about Amy. She tried Weight Watchers for several months to lose weight but achieved little progress with the program approach.
A bit more info about Amy from when we first started working together in October 2013:
- age: 48 years
- height: 5’10”, weight: ~200 pounds. She had weighed ~270 pounds about 7 years prior when her doctor diagnosed her with prediabetes.
- also diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome since young adulthood
- mostly exercised for fitness (walking, elliptical, biking) but had taken up running in 2012 and participated in some 5 Km and 10 Km running events, in addition to a half marathon. She was also swimming and doing some strength training a few times per week.
Amy’s primary goal was to reduce her body weight and to improve her running. She also wanted to prevent progression of prediabetes to Type 2 diabetes.
Amy reported her main complaints with the WW program was that she was hungry all of the time. She did implement the counting system as instructed by the program and used her allotted food points hoping that with her dedication to the program and to her daily exercise, she would see changes.
As I initially assessed Amy’s daily nutrition patterns as outlined to her by WW, I found the bulk of her meals to be low-fat, low in protein, and moderate to high in carbohydrate. Here is an example:
- breakfast: peanut butter and apple butter sandwich on barley bread, coffee with nonfat milk
- lunch: beans, rice, cheese, salsa in flour tortilla
- snack: apple and low fat cheese stick
- dinner: meatball sub
Now, I’m sure you readers can pick apart what was “wrong” or “right” with this snapshot of her nutrition. But, in the WW world, this wasn’t too far off from a calorie-controlled, “use your points” kind of day. Why wasn’t she losing weight if she was in a calorie deficit according to WW’s method?
I began teaching Amy how to implement the Metabolic Efficiency nutrition training principles. First and foremost was how to put together foods to control blood sugar… at every single meal, every single snack. Blood sugar control is the at the core of Metabolic Efficiency Training, no matter who you are. We addressed behavioral modification alongside this: why are you eating? how do you know when you are hungry? I gave her tools to re-learn, or even discover, her relationship with food.
Here is a recent snapshot of her daily nutrition:
- breakfast: Fruitless Fun smoothie (from the Smoothie Recipe Book I co-authored with Bob Seebohar), coffee with half and half
- snack: cucumber and hummus
- lunch: roasted chicken, vegetables, cheese, on bed of lettuce
- dinner: chicken piccata, broccoli slaw, guacamole
I convinced Amy to skip her frequent weigh-ins. Instead, we agreed to do measurements and weigh-ins no more than every two weeks. Here is a record of her weigh-ins:
*Note: Amy and I took a break from working together in December so that she could test the waters (so to speak) on her own. She contacted me at the start of the new year with the realization that she needed more time to work together for behavior changes to really “stick” through various life situations. Although it is said that behavior change can happen in as little as 3 weeks, it can take several months for new habits to become second nature. Part of the process of adopting a new habit and sticking to it involves a strong support system, of which I belonged. So, Amy and I resumed our check ins in late January 2014.
Amy has also lost nearly 16 inches from 8 body measurements she has been tracking (chest, waist, hips, thighs, calves, etc.). I am anxiously awaiting new blood work to see how her diabetes biomarkers look.
Aside from her changes in body composition, Amy is also extremely thrilled that her meals keep her quite full (thank you blood sugar control!). She has reported steady energy levels, good sleep quality, and a sense of freedom now that she no longer has to count calories, points, or has to worry about saving her points for an occasional dessert. She feels at ease with her nutrition choices when dining out or in social situations, which is always a concern for classic dieters and contributes to many yo-yo dieting habits.
Amy is now working with a running coach to get her in tiptop shape for several running races this year. So far, she is right on track to be in the best shape she has seen in over 25 years.
A big congrats to Amy for her efforts to live a new nutrition lifestyle. And another example of how Metabolic Efficiency Training can work for all types of individuals!