Growing up my mother would beseech me to eat more. She complained that I was too skinny; she said I looked like I'd just escaped from a prison. Ironically, I take after her, and had always been tall and scrawny. When I was in fifth grade the boys would tease me, saying I was "so flat the walls were jealous."
My figure remained the same throughout high school, with the addition of some small curves. I ate whatever I wanted, and dinner always included mashed potatoes and dessert. I was also fiercely active: a competitive gymnast until I turned 13, I then became a sprinter. Truthfully, no one at the time -- neither my family, nor my friends -- talked about weight, body image or diet.
Then I went to college. Since I had never worried about what I ate, or really thought about my weight, I continued with my routine, even calling my mom to tell her that I ate eggs and sausage for breakfast, and wasn't she proud of me? (She was.) The difference was that the eating went around the clock: Pizza and beer until the wee morning hours was not out of the ordinary. And gone were the days of exercising, replaced by long hours huddled over my books in the library.
My weight gradually increased, but since I'd never stepped on a scale before, I didn't think to start now. In fact, I didn't notice at all.
Upon graduating, I went off to work in fashion in New York City, where, for the first time ever, I encountered women who were obsessed with their weight. I continued to live in my own bubble, believing that I was still the same size that I had always been. I would shop the sales, and of course, this being New York, the only sizes that were left were the 10s and 12s, which I would then have tailored to fit me, so I never knew my true size -- and I didn't care. Like many 20-year-olds living in the city, I went out to dinner with friends every night, and happily noshed on pasta, burgers and the like.
It wasn't until five years later, when my husband and I had been happily married for a year and had really put on some love weight, that I noticed the difference. We were watching a home video that my father had taken where we were jumping off the dock at my family's Florida home. I took in my "fluffier" shape, and thought, "Wait a minute, that's not what I look like."
The realization sunk in and I decided that if I was going to do something about it, it was going to have to be now. I was 27 and I knew that things were going to go downhill from here. I was teaching first grade at the time, and many of my colleagues raved about Weight Watchers, so I decided to try it. I knew that if I was going to do this, I'd need guidance and support.
I went to my first meeting and weighed in 30lbs heavier than the last time that I had weighed myself -- in high school at the doctor's office. I started on the Points program, and found it enjoyable, in a nerdy sort of way. That feeling of victory when you end the day within your points range, and the blush of pride when you weigh in and discover you've lost four lbs. I ended up losing 14 lbs on the program, and I felt better than ever.
My new-and-improved shape was swimming in my wardrobe. My closet overflowed with designer garments from the likes of Balenciaga, Prada, Louis Vuitton, and more -- all collected over years of sample sales. I took a deep breath and gathered it all up for a trip to the tailor. Over the next month, and many visits, we tailored every garment to fit perfectly. My on-sale designer wardrobe was now bespoke, and I'd be damned if I couldn't fit into it.
Two children later, I still fit into my clothes. I started exercising when I was pregnant with my first child, and I continue to run to this day. But more than anything, I watch what I eat. Weight Watchers taught me that the most inocuous of items (a glass of red wine is 150 calories??), can derail your diet after a while.
Now at 34 years old, my biggest realization is that what I eat affects the way I feel. One delicious bagel, and I am sluggish and ready to crawl under the covers. The chocolate that I devoured in the afternoons to get over that 4PM hump would now send me soaring for a few minutes, and then I'd crash and burn and be ready to fall asleep under my desk.
As happy as I am with the way I look, I am so much happier with the way I feel. The knowledge that I gained from Weight Watchers will keep me feeling good, and keep me fitting into my wardrobe.
I still avoid the scales at all costs -- there is no need for me to obsess about a number. As long as my clothes fit, I'm happy. This may not be a huge weight loss for everyone, but it was for me, and more than anything, it transformed the way I think about food: It is fuel for our bodies, to be enjoyed, but ultimately, to keep our engines performing at top standards.
Click through to see my transformation, as well as seven celebrities who have benefited from the program.