People that have done Weight Watchers have heard this before. A diet is something you do until you lose the weight you want to lose. A lifestyle is a permanent change that you make in your life. The idea is that you will be active and eat healthy for the rest of your life. This mindset is what helps people keep the weight off once they lose it - after all, it was an unhealthy lifestyle that made them overweight in the first place. If that's what they go back to once they get to goal, the logical result would be that they would gain the weight back.
It was Einstein that defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." If it was your lifestyle that caused you to be overweight, it would be insane to expect to return to that lifestyle and not regain the weight.
I guess that would make me insane, because I've started and stopped Weight Watchers at least 4 times. I don't know the actual number - I went to my first meeting with my mom when I was 16. It always starts really well, I lose 10 to 20 pounds, and then things just kind of fall apart. There usually isn't a specific thing, I just get lazy. I come up with excuses to skip the gym, or to "cheat" and not track. I inevitably end up gaining when I start cheating, and then I throw in the towel and give up altogether. I usually gain the weight back, and then some.
So what's different this time?
I think I finally understand what it means to change my lifestyle. When I did Weight Watchers before, I tried to make it fit my life. I am a stress eater - when life gets stressful, I stuff my face with sugar and carbs. I used to stop by the gas station on the way home from my bar prep class, and load up on 4 or 5 king size candy bars. I might have one left by the time I got home - and it was a 4 block walk.
When I've gone on Weight Watchers in the past, I didn't deal with this. I wouldn't eat 4 candy bars, but I would devour sugar free jello or light cool whip. I made myself sick eating candy with sugar alcohol. I barely tasted it, I just needed to eat it. And eventually I would need to eat something, I wouldn't have access to my "diet" food, I would eat junk food, and start down the slippery slope that lead to me giving up completely.
I don't enjoy fake food. Fake food doesn't satisfy my cravings. If I want chocolate, I can have chocolate. It's just that I choose to have a small piece of good dark chocolate, instead of a King Size Snickers, or a weird, sugar free candy bar. And I track it, and I move on. Or I go for a walk, or have a cup of tea. The truth is, since I stopped eating food like sugar free jello, and I haven't eaten a lot of refined sugar, I don't crave sugar. I do still crave sweetness, but usually something like a piece of fruit or a small piece of dark sugar will satisfy that.
This time, I realized that I deserve healthy, filling, real food, I just deserve it in moderation. Food won't solve my problems. I can eat an entire bag of M&M's, I still have to get my work done.
I know that substitutions work really well for some people, and if they're working for you, I'm certainly not going to second guess that. But I know that I needed to deal will my stress eating, I needed to deal not only with what I was eating, but with the fact that I was eating at all.