I first went to Weight Watchers in my early twenty’s with my stepmother. I remember feeling like I was in the wrong place because I didn’t see anyone my age at the meetings.
Truth is, my relationship with Weight Watchers didn’t last long. The meetings felt shaming to me, like something was inherently wrong with me. Why couldn’t I just be like my mom and my sister who never dieted (I know, how?), had a normal relationship with all food, didn’t hate their body, and didn’t experience the insane fight with food and their body like I did?
I hated how weak I was and kept letting my disordered relationship with booze fester which only made my food relationship worse due to crazy blood sugar regulation from that lovely hangover and my body only trying to rebalance a lot of systems that were off kilter.
But without a doubt – Weight Watchers, I mean “WW” or “Wellness That Works” – is better than Noom. Don’t get me started about Noon…at least Weight Watchers isn’t trying to gaslight you in the way that Noom does. Noom pretends like it’s the psychology-based program and not a weight loss program which is toxic beyond any justification; Noom is a straight up diet and worse, they don’t employ psychologists OR registered dietitians to help people cultivate a healthier relationship with food
And clients who’ve been on Noom say that the amount of calories they were allowed to consume was far less than their 3-year old child. Hello Noom, that’s a diet – and an unsustainably restrictive one.
Among the issues I have with Noom it starts with it’s founder: a former Google engineer and a serial entrepreneur. Not health care professionals who care about humans, they care about money. They raised a total of $277.5M from 25 different investors from 2012-2019 and to add insult to injury, Noom spent more than $21M (million!) on digital ads from January 1, 2022 to January 31, 2022 which is a significant increase from their previous campaign of $8M in January 2021.
It’s more than the 2022 ad budget of Peleton and iFit combined. Yikes to everyone on social media bombarded with the toxic belief and new year retoric that they “need” to go on a diet to shake off any holiday weight gain.
But ugh the WW rebranding smells like Amway and Facebook changing their name because of public image perception issues and quite honestly, leaves a dishonest taste lingering on my tongue. Eventually Noom is going to have to change their name and business strategy like WW with the rise in people who are sick of yo-yo dieting, who are sick of the narrative that you have to be on a diet. Once you realize that YOU have the power to treat your body how you choose, which may or may not include diets, then you get to make that very personal decision moving forward.
I realized that I didn’t want to be stuck in the oppressive diet mentality – so consumed with my body shape or weight (or WW points!) that once I started working on mindful eating skills and reconnecting with a valuable resource I’ve coined as your “Intelligent Belly Wisdom™” (the rebranded version of the ideal body weight health care providers rely on) I focused on building a trusting relationship with my body and hunger/fullness cues while divorcing myself from diet rhetoric and freed myself from the abusive chains of weight loss obsession.
Weight Watchers, I mean WW at least is evolving but here’s what I DON’T agree with…
WW is, in essence, a profitable example of how dieting ultimately creates a culture of dependency. They are profiting off your weight loss endeavor failures. But wait, how is that possible? Please allow me explain their successful business model…
WW grants you a coveted free “LIfetime Membership” status to WW members who have reached their weight loss goal AND maintained it for more than six weeks.
Addiitonally, in order to maintain your free “honor” membership, you must attend WW meetings and weigh in every single month.
If you miss a month or go a mere two pounds over your goal weight (which can happen from high stress, overhydration, a big meal out with a lot of sodium, dysregulated sleep or hormones or maybe you’re just constipated) then guess what… you start paying the WW month fee again.
Let me point that out again – in order to avoid paying the WW monthly fee, you cannot fluctuate in weight by thirty-two ounces (one pound = 16 ounces).
Let me also point out that it’s NORMAL for your weight to increase and decrease each day. And how and where this WW “rule” that you can’t gain two pounds will absolutely create weight obsession because the female body will normally increase three to five pounds the week before and/or during your period. So good luck with trying to restrict your intake during your cycle when your body are hormones can retain fluids.
BTW this goal to avoid weight gain so that you maintain your status can absolutely cause disordered and dysfunctional eating behaviors.
When you inevitably gain weight, you likely feel like a failure with your free WW status relinquished, and you are punished by having to pay again. Worse is you will view the WW program as your SAVIOR so that you can get back to your goal weight and reclaim your status.
Plain and simple: this creates a cult-like dependency and generated WW $1.9B (that’s billion) in 2019 pre-pandemic (source).
Lord only knows the financial statistics now that Kate Hudson has partnered up with WW to shift the perception over to a “wellness” brand (I’m literally vomiting over here). But when Oprah partnered with then Weight Watchers in 2015, the stock jumped almost 300% in just two years.
They are clearly going after a younger audience with Kate Hudson as their new ambassador and it makes me sick to think of the confusing message our younger women are going to be receiving now. PS: they don’t have dietitians who run the meetings, they are “trained experts of the Weight Watchers program” which is not even a health care professional. Basically if you had success with WW and can keep the weight off (a major caveat), then that qualifies you as an “expert.”
As a registered dietitian nutritionist, the actual expert of food and nutrition, I had to go through a rigorous program: have a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited program, complete a nearly year-long dietetic internship at a hospital (like a doctor’s residency only significantly shorter), pass the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) standardized exam. From there you have to obtain a state license and keep it active by continuing to have a minimum of 75 hours of continued education per registration cycle.
I’d love to know what type of rigorous program WW has their “experts” go through…
The inconvient truth is your weight will fluctuate throughout your life, some of it is genetic, lifestyle, food, stress, sleep, hormones, LIFE.
WEIGHT FLUCTUATIONS ARE NORMAL!
It’s time to normalize this aspect of the human body instead of pathologizing it so readily. It’s unusual that weight, in and of itself, is the problem. Weight is not a behavior but there ARE behaviors that influence our weight.
The reality is I have never worked with a client who had sustainable success on WW. They came to me because they were tired of seeing food, especially carbs, as “points” and felt like they wanted to create a healthier relationship with food.
While WW has some good messages, at the end of the day it’s a business who’s profiting incredible amounts of $ off people failing on their diets. Which is what 99.9% of the people who go on a diet will do.
I realize this is hard to accept but it’s not you, it’s the diet mentality.
If you are ready to undiet and reconnect with the intelligent wisdom tucked inside of your body, I’d love to hear from you HERE.