In the Suburbs: It takes courage to walk through the door

Our new WW (formerly Weight Watchers) leader Beth, said something two weeks ago that really struck a chord for me about this program and how valuable it has been for me. She told us that just having the courage to walk through the door every week, no matter what the scale was going to show is what commitment is all about.

Her comment was part of the topic for the meeting, which involved the daily decisions we make about what we eat, portions, activities and, most importantly, how we feel emotionally everyday. We all know that our leaders repeat these topics or parts of them throughout the year, but there was just something about Beth’s comment this time that I guess I needed to hear.

Beth’s comment resonated for me, because I am approaching my fourth year as a returning WW member (again) in April. I have never been as committed to following the program as I am now.

On my maiden voyage down “blubber highway” in the late 80s, I lost my original 25 pounds and became a lifetime member. Working with the encouragement of Ann Marie, a really great leader, my daughter Stacey, who had gained a lot of weight from medication she was taking for an illness, and I attended faithfully every Saturday.

It was tough to follow the program, which had no points at the time and lots of measuring and seemed to involve much more discipline. Just walking through that door every Saturday, wondering whether we had beaten the scale or succumbed to an overdose of temptation, took commitment and courage, but we both weighed in and stayed for the meeting.

Some of those mornings were tough for me or for both of us. When I stepped off the scale and heard the bad news, I sometimes rationalized that the scale had to be off and I had done everything right. Wrong! At the meeting, as I listened to Ann Marie’s discussion and talked about what I had or had not done, I gradually accepted that the final responsibility for my loss or gain was really mine.

After achieving lifetime, I became a weigher, following a weekly regimen of gaining no more than two pounds. But I knew I had developed the discipline and I knew that every Saturday morning, I maintained the courage to just walk through that door.

Sadly, in a round of layoffs a couple of years later, I and several colleagues lost our weigher’s jobs. That story ended badly — with me about 30 pounds heavier.

Some two years later, the day I attended my comeback meeting, I needed more than courage to walk through that door. A good Scotch and water would have helped. Ann Marie was stunned by the gain, but, as always, she expressed support and compassion about what happened and how we needed to fix it.

As I navigated my second WW journey, the battle was tougher. I was older, my weight came off more slower and I made a new commitment: to join a gym. And every Saturday, I mustered the courage to just walk through that door to the “dreaded” scale.

Happily, I got a good chunk of the 30 new pounds off. That took another two years and was not enough for me to reach lifetime again, but the loss was good enough that I felt better about myself again and certainly looked better. Sadly, despite the new WW things I learned, I just didn’t stay consistent enough to open that door every Saturday

Over the next few years, I faded away from the meetings and as we all know the weight crept back on. The “chub” patrol had swooped in and I gave up. I went to the gym less and less, I made my belt a little looser and, poof, blubber boy had returned.

There was, of course, another return to WW for me and my wife. (She had been a member for awhile when I returned to WW the second time).

We rejoined in Fairfield in 2013 and made a strong effort to get to meetings every Sunday morning. In those days, we were desperately trying to sell our house in Fairfield. We were really stressed about three deals that had fallen through, but we both wanted to follow the program and liked what it was offering. When I joined, I was back up to 199 pounds, but both of us were dogged about walking through that door every Sunday, no matter what.

We really enjoyed our leader and the group and the new program worked well for both us very quickly. But in 2016, barely two years into our weight loss voyage, our house sold and we suddenly got way too busy to attend every week. Remember that drill? Or is it that just another of my excuses?

But when I walked through that door in Fairfield for my last weigh in in May of 2016 — I was down two pounds that day — I told our leader that I was definitely going to continue at the Hawley Lane location near our new house.

Within a year after we moved, my wife had joined again, but it took me a little longer. I joined again, back up to 197 pounds, in late April 2017 with Josette, a wonderful and inspiring leader.

We were planning a huge trip to China with our daughter, who was adopting a little boy. Suddenly, the medicine ball I was carrying around was threatening my energy to chase my new grandson around and be the active grandpa he needed.

That was nearly four years ago. Now, there is nowhere I want to be than at my meetings on Saturday mornings. Yes, there are some mornings I’d rather skip the meeting because I slipped so far off the wagon during the week. But I don’t. On those Saturdays, I summon the courage to walk through the door with my friends — my support group — and face the dreaded scale with a smile. And those mornings when I’ve been so sloppy about tracking or eating the right things that I just know the scale won’t be kind, I simply skip the weigh in.

Am I at goal? No, but I’m less than 10 pounds away from it. But that no longer matters. My friends tell me how great I’m looking, I’m in my third year at the gym, but more than anything, I am not afraid to walk through that WW door.

Even during the pandemic, I remained faithful about attending virtual meetings and weighing on my home scale. My decision has remained to be there every Saturday and I have no intention of walking away.

Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at stevengaynes44@gmail.com.