No, this column hasn’t turned from fitness to politics. I had a conversation recently that I keep thinking about and that is perfectly described by those three words.
I had a doctor visit last week. I’ve been talking to her nurse for ages about weight loss and fitness struggles. Many years ago, she discovered I had been going to Weight Watchers and had met my goal. At that time, she told me that she had been going to Weight Watchers meetings and had had a roller coaster experience, but she was still at it. That was 14 years ago.
At my recent appointment, we got to talking about Weight Watchers again. I haven’t been to a meeting in probably 10 years, but the nurse had been going every week, until just recently. She says she still hasn’t made her goal weight and to change things up, had joined the online meetings rather than going to a physical meeting. She said she hadn’t had any luck with that (and to be honest, neither had I, more on that in a minute) and had decided to go back to a face-to-face meeting, but in a different location. This new meeting, she said, felt like a community to her. The people were very warm and welcoming, she told me, and she had made several new friends. She has joined a water aerobics class with some of them and she looks forward to going to meetings. “I feel like I got a reset,” she said to me. She feels like she’s finally going to be successful.
Earlier in the conversation, she had said that she looked forward to retirement so that she could have time to take better care of herself. “I’m going to join a gym,” she told me. At that, I gave her a piece of unsolicited advice: sign up with a trainer. I told her that working with a trainer not only would give her the benefit of working with a professional, but it also would make her more likely to be successful because she would be accountable to that person to be at her appointments or have to explain to someone why she couldn’t be there. “I don’t feel like coming, today,” says no one to Pritam. How many of us have joined a gym, and after a couple of weeks, started making excuses to not go. “I’ll go tomorrow and work twice as hard,” many of us say to ourselves. But, we don’t. Tomorrow comes and some shiny thing creates another excuse. Boom! No more gym.
When she told me about the new meeting and the aerobics class, I pointed out to her that was what I was talking about. Her new friends are expecting to see her every week at the meetings and in class, and she goes. She feels like she’s accountable to them and she’s feeling better and having better success than she has for a long time.
So, why had neither one of us had good results with online weight management? Accountability. If you’re just interacting with your phone or tablet it’s really easy to tell yourself you’ll log your food and weight later and not do it. I do know people who love using an app and are very successful with them. I just don’t happen to be that type of person. And, apparently, neither is my nurse.
What struck, and inspired, me about our conversation was the fact that after more than a decade, she was still at it. She hadn’t yet had the success that she was working toward, but she is still paying attention to her food intake, still trying to get out and exercise, still going to meetings.
Nevertheless, she persisted.
— By Cheryl Wolotira
This is the latest in a series of fitness columns by Cheryl Wolotira, a retired educational technologist and middle school teacher. She is married, the mother of two adult children and three Labs. Cheryl loves to read, is a keen traveler, an enthusiastic consumer of technology, and is passionate about food and wine, which is why she has to exercise.
Cheryl is working with Pritam Potts, owner of Edmonds-based Advanced Athlete LLC, to reach her fitness goals.