I worked for Weight Watchers and was a horrible employee because I felt good about my body. (You are not supposed to feel good about yourself and trust your own body or doctor if you work there). I also really didn’t like weighing people and would just try to chat with them about their day and their feelings and make them feel a sense of belonging and not shamed before they weighed in - not exactly what I was supposed to do)
I had been on my own journey - well really a life long journey of reclaiming my health, listening to my own body and figuring how what I needed and wanted for my body and life. I liked the community aspect of weight watchers. I liked the part where people sat together and shared how their week was and that they ate ice cream and someone else said ME TOO! and everyone instantly felt less shame. I liked the magic that happens when people come together in community and feel less alone. I wanted to be part of creating that for people. I later learned that I didn’t need to work at WW to do that. I could create my own business and do the same thing. We all start somewhere.
When I was hired I was not in the “correct” BMI range. Fuck, I don’t actually think I have ever been. EVER. Maybe for like 2 minutes when I was 5 years old? People have always been surprised by how much I weighed and I’ve had a lifetime of people telling me how/when/what I need to do with my life. Thank you doctors, teachers, friends, parents, friends parents, magazines, tv, guidance counselors…should I keep going here? I CAN keep going…
I was probably for the first time in my life in a place with my body that I felt good in. It was a new place for me so I was unsteady when speaking about it and it was a process. While I was still focused on a number on the scale (I had been conditioned by society to care about this for my entire life) I started to focus less on it because I even though I was gaining weight, my pants size was going down, I felt more energized and I had a medical check up + blood test that said I was "excellent" (look I was excited that for ONCE someone gave me an "excellent" for something - NOT (!!!) that you need to have any of these things. I'm sharing to set the stage for what my mindset was and where my physical body was at (on the inside at the time) summary = I felt good.
For the first time in my life I was starting to feel comfortable and confident in my body. FULLY comfortable. Then I was told it wasn’t good enough. It didn’t matter that I felt great. I had to change. Those were the rules.
(These are emails from a part of my time there. They are unedited except for the names (hi ___ and when I say "best, kimberly" I don't give her name. It's all there and some of it makes me embarrassed that I said, but it's the truth.)
Middle of January several years ago:
Boss: “Hi Kimberly, You are getting so close to goal - bravo! Can you see yourself 4 pounds less? What is your goal and tell me what you want to have happen with your weight - when do you want to get there?”
Me: "Thank you very much! Happy New Year, by the way. I can definitely see myself 4 pounds less. My goal was 137, but I think 140 might be more realistic. I would like to get there and maintain it. I think the high 130s/low 140s range would be a good place for me. I'm not sure when I want to get here by, but it is my goal - as slow or as fast as it goes. Ideally by late March/Early April based on a healthy weight loss pace."
Boss: "OK – that works! It is important to have a goal so you know where you are going. Are you still thinking you would like to be a leader? I know you are not working at the moment but I could put you to work as a leader anytime! You need to be at goal so you can think about this – no pressure and no rush. "
Me: "Yes, the idea of being a leader still sounds very exciting to me! As I am still on my own weight loss journey I'm not sure that I am quite ready to advise anyone yet. Hopefully I will be there soon!"
As you can, there is still questioning and doubting myself happening. Change doesn’t happen over night - esp. when someone in authority makes you feel like you are wrong. It felt uncomfortable, but I didn’t know what to say. That quickly changed. Her "no rush" comment was BS. I was in one role, but in order to be in another/continue working there, It was mandatory that I be a certain weight.
Beginning of February, about 3 weeks later (I had ignored her “advice”). I was running, doing a bit of strength training and eating what felt good and gave me energy. I felt in sync with my body and what it needed. It felt good to listen to my body.
She was not happy. I received this email:
Boss: "Hi Kimberly, I know you have been traveling which makes the plan harder. As a WW employee you need to demonstrate the success that you are! However, you are not yet at the top of your healthy range. You need to weigh in weekly until you get to the top of the range. Does that feel doable? How can I help? are you attending a meeting?"
Me: “No I have not been going to meetings. I thought it was okay to be within 10 pounds of the top of the healthy weight range in order to be a receptionist? Would it help you if I got a note from my doctor? I had my annual physical a few months back and I was told by my doctor that my weight was great (when it was higher than at the moment) - after doing tests and blood work and everything coming back as either "very good" or "excellent." She actually mentioned that I should ignore the BMI scale. I'm happy to give you a copy of those results if weight watchers needs it.“
—> I was enraged when I received the email. This seemed like a calm way to respond. I thought saying "WELL my doctor says I’m great" would make a difference. I was pissed off that someone was telling me my body wasn’t good enough (yet again).
Boss: “Yes, it is OK to be within 10 pounds to be hired and work. But you need to lose 2 pounds per month until you get to the top of the range and get to LT. I don’t want to stress you and this is not meant to be punitive. I just want to see you keep heading down! Does 2 pounds seem doable? As long as it is OK for you to lose weight I don’t need the MD note. The only reason to get a note is if you want a goal that is over the 25 BMI or you have a reason that weight loss is not healthy for you at this time. I don’t think either apply, right?”
ME: "I am a bit confused - so I can't be 10 pounds above to work? It is mandatory that I reach 2 pounds per month? It does not stress me out at all nor do I feel that it is punitive. I am just comfortable at my current weight, especially since my health overall is great. I have been focusing much more on fitness (training for a half marathon) than weight loss so that is where I am at. I am okay to lose weight, and yes, my ultimate goal is maybe around 140, but I can't be sure of that. I might get to 150 and feel great about that as well. I am not in a rush to get there which is why I mentioned my doctor's visit."
-> I was trying to stay strong in what I said. I was mad because she was telling me how I was feeling. I wasn’t feeling stressed. I never said I was. I hated how she spoke to me. It did make me feel small so I responded and was still trying to proof my worth by siting a specific number to please someone else. (spoiler: NEVER GOT THERE because hello it's nonsense.) I was working out and feeling good, but of course in the back of my head I still had an idea that I was “supposed" to look one way. You can see that it’s a mix of me being self assured but also doubtful. It’s a cycle. I know many of us stay in this headspace for awhile. IT SUCKS. This is the journey. I happen to have my in email. The boss was NOT happy with me saying I felt good or defending myself.
Boss: "I’ll call you tomorrow and we can talk, it 9:15-9:30 AM OK? You have to be LT to work for WW. You can be hired with 10 pounds to go but you need to continue to make progress at a rate of 2 pounds per month to get there. There is flexibility in that but you need to lose. LT for employment purposes means the top of your range. I think you are 5’5”(?) so that means 155. Your actual goal may be 140. Let’s talk and I can make it clear. It is on page 33-35 in the employee handbook for your reference."
That was it. She ignored what I said about me and my doctor and how I felt. She called me the next day. I repeated the same thing and just said things like “ok sounds good” I ignored her advice. I didn't lose the weight I was supposed to lose. I'm pretty sure I gained a few more pounds (see: training for a race. Feeding my body. You know - living...) I stopped working at that location and started working at another location temporarily and then I stopped working there all together.
I’m sharing this because THIS WORK IS FUCKING HARD. There are times when you question yourself and your believes and you are shakeable - especially after a lifelong experience in diet culture and someone in authority telling you what you need to do, what you should do, and how you should look. She was telling me what I should weigh and made me feel my value was directly connected to it.
I know this isn't the worst thing and that many people have to deal with daily commentary about their body - but It was just another thing where I thought FOR FUCKS SAKE. I want you to know that it’s not okay to judge someone based on their weight. You also don’t need to judge yourself. You don’t need to weigh yourself every day, every week, every month or even at ALL. Your value does not come in any WAY/SHAPE/ FORM FROM A NUMBER ON A plastic or glass piece of shit. It’s plastic with a battery covering it. (same goes for your pants size. It doesn't = value). Why are you giving all your power away to these things? I know it's because when you get there then it's when when everything will be good. Then you can start doing all the other things. We are promised that everything will be solved, but even when we get to those places then we usually only stay there for a short time and then feel bad when we leave them. We cycle in and out - often throughout our lives. This sucks.
I gave my power away to a scale and diets and what I thought was right because it felt like the answer. It felt like if you could just get to x number I would feel good. THAT is where I would have no problems. I mean I knew in my head that all my problems wouldn't be solved, but the goal was still there. I thought "well I don’t want to be TOO THIN". I gave up on my original obsession of being 135 pounds because that would be a perfect spot on the BMI scale, but OF COURSE I told myself I still had to be within the range - just at the top. I have no recollection of ever being in that range at any point. I’ve been higher weights of course but I have always been deemed unacceptable by numbers no matter what my body looked like who how "fit" I was/was not. My body settled where it was supposed to be - where it felt good and it’s pretty much been there since. Sure it probably deviates sometimes, but the set range is always the same. I don't obsess about it. I just live my life. It's pretty f*cking great not worrying about it. Does that mean I never had a bad body day? NO, I AM HUMAN. But it means I don't let my life be controlled by other people's expectations or a battery wrapped in plastic.
This is a small example of weight stigma people face every day. I have the privilege of a passable body. Weight stigna and oppression do not help people with their health. They never will help. This is real and it’s part of society. We often don't realize that the comments, commentary and compliments we give people can contribute.
We need to stop valuing bodies that only look one way. Not everyone has the courage to stand up to BS (or a body that would be listened to as easily as mine if they did speak out). It takes time and discomfort. If you need help with it, I am HERE. I didn’t just wake up one day and become the person I am today with courage to speak out. It took a LONG TIME. The above was one of the few breaking points towards the end of my journey where the lights came on and I started to see that I was not the problem. My body was not the problem. Other people’s narrow minded views and expectations were the problem.
The companies and programs that teach you that you are going to change your life and feel good by counting points/macros, cutting out sugar for 21 days, carbs for 30 and whatever else you cut out are part of the problem. These are always based on someone else’s rules for what you should do and what your body and life should look like. (even when these people are trying to help and they say it comes from a "good" place) You are never given the chance to listen to your own body so you default to someone else's food and life rules. They often work short term, but leave you stuck in cycles of good and bad behavior on/off the wagon and result in passing on beauty and body expectations to our daughters, nieces and friends. We say we want to change the world, but then why are we still letting plastic and restriction tell us how to live our lives? Why are we passing these rules onto the next generation? I believe we have the power to change how the game is played.
If you would like additional information on the science of weight, here are a few resources I would suggest as a starting point: