The start of a new year is a popular time for people to start working toward weight loss goals, or get back on track with the ones they already have. The day after Valentine's Day, with all the cookies and chocolate that comes with it, also isn't a bad time to start.
At Cranberry’s Weight Watchers Center off Freedom Road, leaders are teaching members how to lose weight by making better, healthier eating decisions.
Mary Soroka, a team leader at Cranberry’s Weight Watchers since 2004, said the center gets pretty hectic early in a new year.
“New people are coming who want to learn about the Points Plus program and people are coming back who pushed out Weight Watchers during the holidays,” she said.
Weight Watchers wants their members to feel satisfied after eating a meal. It’s not about depriving yourself from food until you start to lose weight, it’s about making healthier choices that the body can burn off quicker. The Points program, which Weight Watchers used for 13 years, had members keep track mainly of their calorie intake.
But, Soroka said, the program was outdated. Weight Watchers now uses the Points Plus program, which is based on new scientific research observing how the body processes food. The program began in November.
“[The program] focuses not on calories but on nutrients in food, and how hard the body works to process different foods,” Soroka said.
The program also marks some foods, like fruits, at a zero-point value. These foods are called power foods and the more power foods members incorporate into their diets, the more satisfied they feel without having to worry about their weekly point values.
A member at Cranberry’s Weight Watchers, Ellyn Snyder has participated in both Points programs. She began her journey 12 years ago, reached her target goal, and then stopped going to the meetings thinking she could keep down her weight.
“Slowly but surely, I gained all the weight back,” she said.
So on November 10, Snyder started over.
She went back to Weight Watchers and set her target weight at 145 pounds. She is about half way there. The first time she joined Weight Watchers she lost 25 pounds; this time around she already has lost 20.4 pounds.
Quitting Weight Watchers after reaching a target goal is not uncommon.
Even Soroka stopped going to the program at one point. She started the program in 1987 and lost 40 pounds. She stopped going to the meetings soon after that.
But, like Snyder, the weight began to creep back on.
In June of 2002, Soroka returned to Weight Watchers and reached her goal for the second time in July. She is still at her target weight. Both women said at first it was hard to go back because they said they felt embarrassed and like they were admitting a failure.
“I was ashamed to come back because I felt like I had failed,” Soroka said. “But now [as a leader] when a member returns, I’m just excited they return.”
If members stop going to meetings, it is easier to convert back into old eating habits because they no longer are surrounded by people facing the same problems. Soroka and Snyder both attributed this to one of the reasons they gained back the weight they lost.
So now Snyder goes to Weight Watchers with her friend. They keep each other accountable, and they share their successes with a larger group. As a leader, Soroka said, she likes to “pay it forward” by sharing her own weight-loss journey to help members achieve their goals.
“It is about getting [members] to focus on small changes that start to add up,” she said.
Snyder is happy to be where she's at. She plans to continue to lost weight.
“I feel better about myself, have so much more energy and it feels good to be in control,” she said. “It is a lifestyle change.”