For the past 30 years, I’ve jumped on and off the Weight Watchers bandwagon three times, each time reaching goal weight and once becoming a weigher. I first joined in the late ’80s with our older daughter and lost 25 pounds. In those days, the center was on Post Road above what is now Subway. I continued as a weigher during the time when Weight Watchers moved to Black Rock Turnpike and was promoting its new line of food. We all had to sell as well as weigh.

Sadly, the food was discontinued and so was I. When our location and others faced layoffs, I was suddenly out of a job. I have told friends I was so devastated by this layoff I went on a nonstop eating binge and gained back all the weight I lost and then some. My inspirational leader, Anne, could barely recognize me when I stopped in one morning.

Since then, I have returned twice to the warm, supportive Weight Watchers environment, nearly reaching goal again, only to drop out again and gain heavily. I’ve never been able to explain what triggered my slides into the blubber abyss. Perhaps I was depressed over something at work or stressing over money, frustrated at reaching a plateau or skipping meetings. Whatever the causes, the effects were never pretty.

The last time I became a member in 2013, the points program was just coming in. I was down nearly 20 pounds and there was every justification for continuing my road to success. Not!

Instead, when I was close to goal again, I mistakenly decided I could manage on my own without the meetings by just continuing to watch my portions and track. That didn’t happen, and I watched my hard work and discipline evaporate as I gained back the 20 pounds I’d lost and a few more. One night a few months later, as I was stuffing my chubby face, I just lamented, “All that work again and I’ve thrown it away.”

Three years later, my wife, whose earlier experiences with the program were not always the greatest, decided to join in late March and she finally seemed comfortable with how she was losing. She looked great and felt much better. By the time I rejoined at the end of April this year, my wife was down nearly 10 pounds and was attending meetings regularly.

This third time, I was committed to making the program work for me. And it has. I love the points plan and the opportunity to use extra points when I wobble past my 30 allotted points per day. I still track the old-fashioned way, but I am finally learning how to use the app on my phone.

I faithfully attend the 8 a.m. meetings on Saturday mornings at the Hawley Lane center, and my leader, Josette, is great. She makes the meetings fun, and she is a warm and caring leader. But Josette is no-nonsense. She really wants members to succeed and encourages us to stay on track and tell those very important personal stories at our meetings. There’s a woman in our group who has lost more than 80 pounds, and a guy who lost 125 pounds. There are other success stories too.

When I’ve had unusual spikes in weight, she’s checked my tracker and made excellent suggestions about bringing the weight under control. And she points out when I’ve been too punitive about my points and talks about how to handle my addictions to cheese and sweets.

I’ve been amazed over the past few weeks about how many people at my two jobs have noticed my weight loss. But the loss of inches has definitely been the key to looking thinner. The only irony with those lost inches was that I’d paid a chunk of money about a month before I rejoined Weight Watchers to have seven to eight pairs of pants let out. I’m definitely not taking those pants back to the tailor until I’m absolutely convinced the weight is staying off.

Josette asked me a few weeks ago if I had a goal weight in mind. I chuckled and said 165 pounds (my goal weight from 30 years ago) would be great, but hardly possible at my doddering old age of 73. She laughed and said nothing is impossible. I said I just wanted to take this effort one step at a time. “I haven’t exactly been a poster child for Weight Watchers,” I told her.

“But I came back and that’s what is important. I definitely want to give this my best shot.”

Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at