In Malka’s words:
Starting in fourth grade in elementary school, I developed a pretty big sweet tooth. My friend Lauren and I would sneak treats before and after school — candy bars, chips, anything unhealthy.
I started to pack on the pounds over the years, but it didn’t really bother me until I was in high school when I started to compare myself to my friends. My weight really escalated in college; Lauren and I were roommates and we’d often eat late-night pizza or split a pint of ice cream. We indulged together, and because of that, we never judged each other.
But I received a shock when I saw a photo of myself from a trip to California. I was on the beach with a towel wrapped around me, and I looked so self-conscious. My friend Lauren had actually already joined Weight Watchers and she was finding success. That photo finally made me decide to walk into a meeting, too.
A healthy environment
Once I was out of college, it was much easier to stay on track. Sure, there was a salad bar on campus, but the pizza and other high-fat options always lured me in. After graduation, I started to plan meals and go food shopping on my own. I vowed to keep unhealthy foods out of the house and that’s eliminated temptation at home.
A smart Shabbat
Lauren and I have managed to work out methods for getting through the Jewish Orthodox weekly Shabbat meals. Shabbat entails sitting down to a large meal on Friday night and Saturday during the day. Before Weight Watchers, I ate piece after piece of challah, many starchy sides and helped myself to multiple servings of dessert. Now I use my weekly PointsPlus Allowance of 49, and I choose what my indulgence will be (it’s usually one piece of challah and one dessert). Since we don’t use electronics on Shabbat, we save our tracking for after sundown on Saturday night. I know I’ve handled it well when I can remember what I had at each meal! Lauren often joins my husband and me for Shabbat, and those are the best Shabbat meals, because we cook healthy food, and we have planned sweets, too. We’ll also try to take a long walk to get in some activity. I’m not always perfect, but I do my best, and that works for me.
My biggest challenge is getting over my food mistakes and forgiving myself for them, whether I’ve eaten too many sweets one night or had a big dinner. Often a quick phone call from Lauren will set me straight, because she’ll be supportive, but firm with me, and my attitude will change right away.
Lean on me
It’s nice to have someone that I can talk to about anything. I tell Lauren my most embarrassing out-of-control binge moments, and she understands because she’s had moments like that herself. I once called Lauren as I was walking into a convenience store. I said, “I had a bad day and I’m buying chocolate.” I remember her response: “What does buying chocolate have to do with your bad day?” I ended up leaving the store without that chocolate — I didn’t plan for it, and I didn’t really want it anyway.
No more fear
For years, we were both so scared of trying new things because we thought we were too heavy and not athletic enough, but now we push ourselves to take risks. Last summer, I went paddleboarding in front of my whole family, and I did a great job. I fought my fears and overcame them, because I’m now able to do that. If Lauren and I hang out, we don’t just go out to dinner for entertainment. We’ll eat if we’re hungry, but we’ll do other things like go indoor rock climbing, go to a concert or plan a weekend hiking trip.
Loving who I am
Weight Watchers isn’t a diet, but a lifestyle for me. This is no longer about losing weight, but about keeping the weight off and staying healthy and active. It’s my new way of life, and I love it. I’m no longer jealous of the girl who never had to exercise and could eat as much as she wants, because I appreciate the skills that I’ve learned—and I know they’ll help me have a healthy and happy future.