Why Support Groups Work

Debby Threadgill

by Debby Threadgill, Weight Watchers
When Peggy asked me to write this article, I wasn’t sure how a weight loss program related to those who are dealing with loss and grief. What I discovered is the common need for help and support. Changing habits is a conscious, often difficult process even if we have made the decision to do so ourselves. Change feels funny, uncomfortable and awkward at first, until time and repetition make it part of our lifestyle. Read more

I see people walk into a Weight Watchers meeting with all kinds of different expectations. Most want to lose weight and feel better. Some come because their doctors advised them to lose weight for health reasons. Still others come to learn what it means to eat healthy. They come ready to change unhealthy habits.

Weight Watchers works for all these people by providing structure and social support. Members attend a weekly meeting which includes a confidential weigh-in, informative literature and a 30 minute discussion. They feel comfortable sharing with each other because they are in the meeting for the same purpose. They share successes as well as setbacks.

As a Weight Watchers leader, I introduce various topics each week that facilitate discussion. These include such food-related topics as healthy food choices, recipes, menu planning and eating out. Other topics involve strategies to make weight-loss a lifestyle change. We discuss how to put ourselves first when we commit to losing weight. We talk about how to encourage support from our family and friends. We encourage each other to be as active as possible.

The Weight Watchers program works by providing structure. All foods have a points plus value and each member has a daily points plus target, along with an extra points plus allowance for the week. There are no banned foods. Each member selects food they like, within their daily target. It is this feeling of autonomy – getting to make choices – that makes it likelier that they will stick to the program.

One of the most important parts of our program is keeping a food journal. This helps control how much we eat. We expand on this by also journaling feelings, activity, weekly goals, successes, setbacks and thoughts at the end of the day. Somehow the act of writing these things down helps us understand ourselves better.

About the Author: Debby Threadgill has been a Weight Watchers leader since 2002.  She is a graduate of Texas Tech University with a BA in English. Debby worked as a computer programmer in San Antonio, Dallas, and New York City for over 20 years. Debby is an avid tennis player. She enjoys tennis so much that she officiates many weekends at tennis tournaments as a certified USTA official.  Debby has lived in Kerrville for 15 years.