I Joined Weight Watchers When I Was 10 and WW's New App Kurbo Is A Bad Idea

When I was in third grade, I went to a doctor’s appointment where my mom realized I weighed more than her. I remember it being 176 pounds. There was definitely reason to be concerned about my weight and she wasn’t sure what to do. It was 1999 and doctor’s weren’t used to kids being in the obese category; I weighed over 100 pounds by kindergarten so I was used to discussions about my weight already. My mom asked what she could do to help, and the doctor mentioned that Weight Watchers was a healthy way for me to lose weight.

I remember my first meeting in the strip mall down the street between a grocery store and a pizza place. My aunt and my mom went with me and also joined. I needed a doctor’s note because I was under 18 and they required that I have a specific weight I should aim for. I filled out my own paperwork, and I remember asking my aunt when I saw the question about highest education level, “Am I an undergraduate since I haven’t graduated high school?” She laughed and told me no and said to leave it blank because nothing there applied to me. I was too young to have a category.

At the meetings I was always the youngest one there by at least 10 years. I would weigh in like everyone else, and the woman would either congratulate me on my weight loss or ask me why I thought I hadn’t lost weight that week. She would say things like, “Maybe you had too many snacks” or “You could be carrying water weight if you ate a lot of salt this week.” I would buy WW bars that I loved and WW shakes that I hated in hopes that I could finally stay on-track that week. We would sit in meetings and design our “perfect on-track thanksgiving meal” where I tried to act like I wasn’t going to overeat on Thanksgiving and shared with the meeting (because I was always the overachieving student) how I, a 10 year old, would be a perfect Weight Watcher on the holidays. Two servings of turkey because it’s full of protein, green beans to fill up my stomach, and I could only have stuffing OR mashed potatoes if I still wanted some pie. When the day came, I probably had both, ate seconds, and then had at least three slices of pie.

Since that first try, I’ve probably done Weight Watchers a dozen times. As an adult, I do understand why it’s a successful company. It promotes healthy eating and exercise, but it all went over my head as a child.

A lot of people will blame my parents when they read my story, but I don’t at all.

I was unhealthy not just in weight, and they asked all the right people and provided me all the tools they were told would help. They were good examples; my dad lost almost 100 pounds while I was a preteen by exercising and just eating healthier. At the time, kids and weight loss was a rare discussion, not the norm, and they were struggling to understand what was happening just like I was.

But Weight Watchers messed with my head as a kid. I thought I was the perfect kid in most aspects of my life. I was the helper, I got good grades, I played sports, and was nice to everyone. But I could never master weight loss. And when I couldn’t be perfect at it, I decided not to try.

Weight Watchers didn’t work for me as a kid. I struggled with that and other programs until I was 23. I was 16 the first time a doctor brought up weight loss surgery to me, and I considered it, but ultimately my parents realized it wasn’t the time to have that discussion. I tried Weight Watchers, Nutrisysyem, The Zone, LA Weightloss, P90X, two medical weight loss programs, and seeing a psychologist. At 23, something just clicked and I began eating healthier and exercising. No program, but watching my portions, eating more whole foods, and being more active.

I’ve had success with weight loss since then, leading me to lead a much healthier life, and I tell everyone that running saved my life. But I’m still well above a healthy weight. I try my best to be healthy and weight loss normally comes with that, but there’s still the voice in the back of my head that’s been there since I was kid. The one that says I’ve never been perfect at being healthy and I’ve never once been a healthy weight and I should just give up. That I was a failure at 10 and I was a failure at 20 and I’ll still be a failure at 30.

As a kid, it was impossible to ignore. But now, I know how wrong that voice is. And on my bad days, I go for a run. Something about running faster or farther or longer than I have before makes me realize that I can do anything. And that’s so much more important than losing weight.

This is what strength looks like.