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Week 6: Welcome to Weight Watchers

Picture 074.jpg Aulds Hawaii Trip 424.jpg

One week after I saw this photo, taken in April 2006, I joined Weight Watchers. In July 2007, I was 25 pounds lighter and finally comfortable enough to pose in a swimsuit, in Hawaii of course. (What a beauty!)

In the two years I’ve attended Weight Watchers (WW from here on out) meetings, I’ve never gone to the message boards. This week I “lurked? for our Media Ethnography assignment and learned for the first time what people are talking about when they say “online communities.?

I’ve never been interested in joining an “online community? for several reasons, one being that I didn’t know what the internet was until I reached college! Even though I now have high speed DSL, I certainly don’t have the time to sit for hours and chat with strangers. However, lots of people do, and thousands of them are WW members!

When WW members post, they choose a made up name, and beneath that they list their start weight, current weight, and “goal? weight. There are rules by which they must abide and WW will delete posts that defy the rules. While there is an air of anonymity, many people freely share personal information, including email addresses and My Space pages, where they can show off photos of themselves and their families. Today, I read a post where two people were talking about buying a dress for an event, and the correspondent left the chat, visited the other’s My Space page to see the dress, then returned to comment on it!

There are 55 different message boards from which to choose! First, I visited the “Newbies? board, where people mostly had questions about how the WW program runs. Today, LIFETIMER4GOOD was upset about her weigh in (WI):

“I don't know exactly why I gained this week, usually I can figure it out and expect it but today I didn't! Maybe it's that I didn't exercise enough, maybe it's that I ate 2 lean quisine meals this week. Not sure! I thought my portions of everything were in check!

I did go to Pizza Hut yesterday w/ MIL and the kids. I had a salad but had 3 slices of med. pizza. Maybe the sodium from that? Would it have showed up today? I should have upped my water yesterday I guess but I didn't! Maybe that would have flushed it out! I even had a light dinner b/c of lunch yesterday. Opps...Forgot to say what my WI was/is.

I gained 1 lb!?

I could relate better to PIGLET16 whose reply made me LOL:

“Really? You had 3 pieces of pizza yesterday and are upset about a fricken pound?

<~~~gained 2.6 this week.

I advise you to shut it.?

So, sometimes the posters aren’t so kind.

I decided to visit different board for 30 year olds, and discovered several groups who knew each other quite well. For instance, MR.BUNDY started a thread this morning “Any one I know…? and the post was “and love around??

One minute later, SJGOODE replied:
“I know you. I am not sure about the love part though. Do all the freaks come out on the weekends or what??

The thread went on for an hour, with the chatters talking about what they were doing over the weekend, whose in-laws were visiting, and what the weather was like in their parts of the country. Not a word was spoken about what they were eating or weighing, which leads me to believe that they have become friends. This must be what “online community? means. I suppose that if were living alone or didn’t have other friends, or just had time to make friends online, this would be an easy and non-intimidating way to do it. I left that thread of friends and read another group’s thread, who call themselves the “YaYa Sisterfriends.? Many of them posted this morning with greetings and hugs, reported their successes and weight losses and cheered each other on. They even included a welcome for other people to join, which made me feel that I wouldn’t be booted or ignored if I chose to post there.

I decided not to post online but to leave my discovery of online communities as it is…a discovery. Now that I have a better idea of what they are and how they work, I will be more likely to use them when there is a time for them in my life. I also understand now why my students are so drawn to them; if you can type, you can make a friend. Before the advent of the internet, typing skills were not necessary for friendships. I can see how message boards may be a useful tool to get my students to write about what they are learning: WW members post about their weight loss lessons every day, all day.