Celebrating Successes with Weight Watchers at Work

By Mika Ono

Chocolate. Cheese. Potato chips. French fries. Peanut butter. Mood foods that can ruin any diet. That was the theme of a lively and often humorous discussion at last week's Weight Watchers At Work meeting on The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) campus.

The group, which is led by a Weight Watchers instructor, meets every Tuesday at noon to offer support, advice, and resources to those struggling to attain or maintain a healthy weight.

"Nobody is critical of anyone else," says Vivian Lodes of Human Resources, who is the contact person for the group. "We just try to help. The program is not about dieting, it's a common-sense approach to lifestyle change."

The Weight Watchers system is based on assigning a certain number of "points" to each food item, determined by the amount of fiber, fat, and calories (the higher the fat and calorie content and the lower the fiber, the more points the item scores). Participants try to stay within a certain number of points each day, according to their age, weight, and weight-loss goal. The system also encourages increased levels of activity.

In TSRI's meetings, each participant's large and small successes are enthusiastically celebrated. Last Tuesday, the group cheered and applauded one person who reached the 10-pound mark in her weight-loss program and another who had dropped a total of 40 pounds.

Lodes herself met her goal of losing 32 pounds three years ago, and has kept the weight off—which she attributes to her continued attendance of Weight Watchers meetings. "No one should have to do this alone," she comments.

Despite this remarkable success, Lodes's office is full of food—grapes, cucumbers, kettle corn—and even chocolate. "I learned food is fuel," she says. "I don't skimp, but I learned about portion control, how to shop, and how to cook. Would you like to try some kettle corn? It's delicious!"

And what is the answer to those high-calorie mood foods? At last Tuesday's meeting, instructor Ro Keenan suggested finding ways to satisfy the craving without going overboard. Ideas from the group included using low-fat cheese instead of high-calorie Brie, eating salted popcorn instead of greasy potato chips, making a little peanut butter go a long way, sharing a portion of fries rather than eating a whole serving yourself, and buying small, individually wrapped portions of chocolate instead of larger blocks.

The cost of a 10-week session of Weight Watchers meetings is $125 (free for those who reach and maintain their weight-loss goal). TSRI will reimburse $100 per year of these costs. For more information, contact Lodes, x4-8068 or email vlodes@scripps.edu.






Carrie Gabaldon (left) and Vivian Lodes show some of the Weight Watchers ribbons, stars, and stickers they received in recognition of progress toward their weight loss goals. Photo by Kevin Fung.



Resources for participants of Weight Watchers at Work include recipes and advice on healthy eating. Photo by Kevin Fung.