Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Jennifer Hudson: Focusing on HEALTH, not weight … for Weight Watchers

April 1, 2010 by  
Filed under HAES

[Disclaimer: I’ve been on Weight Watchers the past 6 years and whole-heartedly support the program for teaching me portion control and about making better choices. Though my obsession with food and exercise did begin after joining, I don’t fault WW, but rather my own personality traits that led me down a disordered path].

Beautiful and talented Jennifer Hudson, with pipes we could only dream of having, is the new spokeswoman for Weight Watchers!

I have to say, I’m really impressed with the choice of Jennifer — and even moreso encouraged by how she’s handling her role as pitch-woman.

Because although Jennifer is noticeably thinner and more toned now than we’ve ever seen her before, her focus is on HEALTH, not weight.

And to prove she isn’t paying lip service to the “health” message so often tossed around, she isn’t discussing how much weight she lost — AT ALL.

No numbers, period.

Yup, you heard me right: she isn’t discussing how much weight she lost.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is seriously unheard of when it comes to weight-loss programs with celebrity endorsements! Usually somewhere along the line it comes out. (Maybe Queen Latifah is the exception? Not sure).

Jennifer says she signed on because she wanted to take control of her health. “I decided to try Weight Watchers because I wanted to make healthy changes, and I needed a plan that would fit in with my busy life,” she said.

Without coming out and saying it, I think we can infer that, given the tragedies this woman has faced, she wanted to take control of the one thing she actually could control — her health and well-being.

And I applaud her for it.

I also applaud her because, unlike a lot of other celebrities, she isn’t showing off her new body in a bikini (though she’d have every right to if she wanted to) or objectifying herself as a sex symbol.

Instead, though she looks amazing, she seems to be using her voice to empower women to take control of their health — with a focus on balance (i.e., not obsession with weight, numbers, Points, etc.).

And I think that’s a mission we can all support.

Because really, what woman doesn’t deserve the opportunity — or encouragement — to take control of her health?

I say, if Jennifer can inspire even one woman to take that step to get healthier for her family and her future …then she’s done her job. Time will tell!

How about you? What do you think of Jennifer’s new role as pitch woman for Weight Watchers? Is it just hype, or do you think she can encourage women to take control of their health? Finally, in this weight-obsessed society, were you surprised she isn’t discussing how much weight she lost? We welcome your comments.


33 Responses to “Jennifer Hudson: Focusing on HEALTH, not weight … for Weight Watchers”
  1. Shelly says:

    I think weight watchers is a little disordered myself. Not eating disordered, but definitely disordered. A little obsessive with the whole points thing. But then again, I am in recovery from an eating disorder and so I veer toward the obsessive side, so maybe some people can do it without getting obsessed. It just sounds like another restrictive diet to me, which we know dont work and usually (though not always) backfire.

    I would like to see in a few months if her progress actually sticks.

    • lissa10279 says:

      Shelly, I absolutely think you’re right … for some people (like me with a propensity to obsess/have perfectionist tendencies) … or you, coming at it from a ED perspective — certainly, someone could certainly develop disordered eating issues from following any regimen, WW included. That’s my whole thing: success with WW (my first and only “diet”) led to DE issues, but I think most of that is related to being a certain type of person than the actual program.

      I think a balanced approach to these lifestyle changes is the key, and if I knew then what I know now, I wonder if maybe I could have avoided going down the road I did where it was all-consuming? I might have taken a step back and appreciated the journey more — instead of seeking an unattainable goal.

      I know for me, part of my recovery process has meant balancing out — and that has also meant gaining some weight I haven’t been able to lose — which has admittedly been a struggle. But the lessons I learned through WW are life lessons about making better choices and portion control … and eventually, I hope to be able to eat more intuitively as well. So I do think of all the “restrictive” programs out there, WW is one I still stand behind — it’s real food, with an emphasis on whole foods and portion control.

      I hope her progress sticks — I wish her the best of luck. I know from experience, sustainable maintenance is much harder than losing!

    • cggirl says:

      Forget a few months. Try a couple of years. That’s when the weight usually comes back on and then some. Which, some people could argue, is still a worthwhile endeavor – to be thin for a few years. But from what I’ve seen, the up-and-down usually goes on forever, or until the person accepts themselves. But of course everybody is different and even if what I say is true there are always exceptions. We all think we are the exception when we start these things 🙂

  2. Maybe they should change their name to Health Watchers!

    • lissa10279 says:

      That’s actually not a bad idea … !

    • Candice says:

      I love this idea.

    • cggirl says:

      Exactly what I was thinking! 🙂
      Also, instead of weigh-ins, if people could take blood tests and maybe fitness tests. Or at the very LEAST try to focus on body fat percentage, which we can argue whether is a good indicator of health but is certainly more relevant than just weight. (Tiny week-to-week differences in weight can be due to so much random stuff! I think that intensifies the obsession.)

      I think it’s wonderful that she doesn’t discuss her weight. It’s a great little baby step. I just so wish that as a culture we were focusing on directly measuring health-related issues instead of focusing on weight… I mean then people can waste away and lose muscle and think they are “succeeding”, you know? Or have a lot of water on their system when the weigh in and think they are “failing”.

      I do also have the general feeling that WW is rather disordered but it’s nice to see a step in the right direction with the not discussing weight thing. (And they do seem more reasonable at least than plans where they send you prepackaged foods. Yuck, and so unhealthy.)

  3. Cynthia says:

    I was on Weight Watchers for years and lost a lot of weight. Though I didn’t reach the goal weight, I’ve sustained a hundred plus pound loss for over four years using principles I learned through WW. WW is not without its flaws. There are some people both following and leading the program who have disordered attitudes about food, exercise and body image, and you do have to watch out for them affecting you negatively. What I loved about the program is that it helped me quit demonizing certain foods. All foods just became food, not good foods, bad foods or forbidden foods, and I rediscovered what I enjoyed. Eating a wide variety of foods became a pleasure again. It helped me discern between conscious eating and obsessive eating and dieting. The catch, though, was that I had to find those things within me as I worked the structure of the program. WW is a diet, but it’s really just one of the tools I used to work on the thinking that had interfered with my health. As for Jennifer Hudson, WW made a wonderful choice. She simply rocks at everything she does.

    • cggirl says:

      I’m so glad to hear that you found your way to use this program.
      Just goes to show everybody’s different. (Also, maybe “goal weight” is an irrelevant concept and it’s more about finding the weight that’s right for you when you eat in the way that is healthy for you.)

  4. cggirl says:

    “I think we can infer that, given the tragedies this woman has faced, she wanted to take control of the one thing she actually could control — her health and well-being.”

    I’m not saying anything about Jennifer personally – because I don’t know her – but this general description is how people get eating disorders. Except it’s not their health they are taking control of, it’s their weight.
    And is there any evidence the woman was not healthy in the first place?
    Maybe she is just losing weight because she is sad about the tragedies she is dealing with. When I was depressed, I couldn’t eat. I lost some weight. Trust me, every pound that came back afterwards was fine with me, because at least I could enjoy life again.
    It’s great though that she doesn’t seem obsessed with the number on the scale, I do agree with that.

  5. cggirl says:

    I do have to say tho – while I’m happy for any baby step I see, I’m also sometimes annoyed because – here we have a corporate giant feeding off our cultural obsession with losing weight, hijacking slogans of the HAES (health at every size) approach, and pretending they are about health when they are not.

    I read that the average WW customer isn’t even overweight by any sort of health standard, and certainly the “goal weights” they choose are some sort of idealized weight, so that you still have some to lose before you reach it even if you’re not overweight.

    Health has become the excuse so that we can all diet ourselves to death without admitting that we are just silly and vain.

    For the spokesperson to not focus on weight is great, but isn’t that just a big lie if the program revolves around weigh-ins?

    End rant.

    • Simone says:

      “The average WW costumer isn’t even overweight…”

      That’s just the saddest thing. It’s hard to me to see how artificially keeping your body below your set point could be healthy, if your set point is already within the normal range. When will people understand that no everyone is meant to wear a single-digit dress size?

      I can understand wanting to avoid being at the very tip top of the range. I’m usually balanced on the knife edge of normal, which means I fluctuate between normal and overweight. I wouldn’t mind being at a low enough weight that I was still “normal”, even with my hair wet and my shoes on. But something tells me that’s not what’s going on with the normal weight WW customers. Most of them are trying to push themselves down to the lower end of the BMI scale–even though someone with a BMI of 18 (bottom of normal) has a lower life expectance than someone with a BMI of 25 (the place where “normal” tops out).

      • cggirl says:

        Yeah. I should find my source for that to make sure of the details…

        Btw, while of course you have every right to want to be at a lower weight, I doubt your health spikes up and down every time your weight teeters across that limit. Also, the idea of a range is precisely that there are people at the top and bottom of it. AND he notion of a strict one number fits all limit between “normal” and nor – sounds like bull anyway. It’s probably more relevant to test ur blood and fitness
        that to check if you’re one pound “over” or one pound shy of a limit so arbitrary that they have changes it in recent years anyway… But of course I do understand your desire.

        • Simone says:

          Agreed. I’m actually not trying to lose weight, for exactly those reasons. It doesn’t seem worth all the stress, just to chase after some tiny statistical benefit.

    • lissa10279 says:

      –>caution, numbers to follow. Stop reading if this will be triggering.

      At 5’5 1/2, my goal weight turned out to be too low for me to ever achieve or maintain (135). Never having had been thin in my life, I just picked it because it sounded good, not at all taking into account my body type (muscular, broad-shouldered, thick legs). And since I was doing WW online, I didn’t consult with a leader to see if that was tangible.

      8 months in, I’d lost 35 lbs and was stuck at 140. At 140/145, I looked very thin (for me; I realize that we’re all built differently). People were concerned though looking at pics now, I think I actually looked great then (I’d never been thin or that toned!).

      But here’s the thing … my goal of 135 was just impossible for me to get to, let alone maintain — even with my fitness regimen and diligence which led to obsession. I know my comfort zone and it’s not where I am now (I’ve gained a bit) … but I also know my goal was just impossible and there is a happy medium somewhere in between.

      • Cynthia says:

        At 5′ 8″, the top of my recommended weight range was 164. I hadn’t weighed that since I was a young teenager and knew that it wouldn’t be a realistic goal for me as a middle aged woman. I didn’t know what a realistic weight goal for me was, and to be honest, I still don’t if I look at numbers. My goals, now, are the sort that I’ll recognize the right weight when I have the energy level to do all the activities I want to do and joint pain in my ankles and knees is minimal. If I had that energy now, would I still want to lose weight? Yes, because of the pressure on my injured joints. Do I ever think I’ll have a media and culture approved body? No, but that’s okay, even though it’s sometimes annoying. Part of getting healthy is valuing internal qualities more than external qualities.

      • cggirl says:

        Judging by my WW friends, having a group leader wouldn’t matter. I don’t think they are trained to medically assess a good or realistic weight for you, I don’t think they discourage anyone from picking low goals.

        • Cynthia says:

          I think my success and luck with Weight Watchers was because I had a wonderful group leader who had also lost a large amount of weight quite slowly by learning healthy eating habits and rediscovering exercises which she actually enjoyed rather than endured. I had good group leaders in WW and some really poor ones, and it does make a big difference.

  6. McLauren84 says:

    I completely agree with the comments about WW–it’s certainly flawed, and it’s definitely not the right place for anyone with ED tendencies. I’ve lost and kept off 40 pounds on WW and hope to lose 30 more, but I modify the program a bit. In general I think it’s too low calorie and low fat, so I allow myself to eat some fattier items like almonds and olive oil without counting them as their true exorbitant Points values. I also think WW doesn’t emphasize the importance of activity enough. It’s true that eating accounts for a huge chunk of weight loss, but I feel a lot of WW members probably have an issue with maintaining their lower weights because they’ve lost a good chunk of lean muscle, which burns more calories. So even though people are at a lower weight, they’ve lost lean muscle and have a really hard time maintaining at that level because their bodies aren’t optimized to burn calories efficiently.

  7. Shelly says:

    Being completely honest, during the height of my eating disorder, I actually thought about doing weight watchers and not for weight loss benefits. I thought maybe I could learn how to be ok eating healthy meals in healthy portions.

    I never did actually go through with it, but sometimes wonder if it would have had any benefit when I was struggling so hardcore with ED symptoms.

    • lissa10279 says:

      Shelly, that’s really interesting that you thought of it for that … while you wouldn’t be their target audience, the program DOES have merit for teaching how to eat better.

      • cggirl says:

        Of course I am not speaking for the program as a whole, just te specific examples of whoever I know who did it – it taught them to eat less, not better. In a way that only works for brief periods. And it taught them to feel guilty when they stopped being able to eat that little.

        • cggirl says:

          Oh and it taught them to obsess… And it taught them that their bodes and their hunger signals were wrong.

          • cggirl says:

            (sarcasm alert – as I dint believe their
            bodies or hunger signals were wrong)

          • Shelly says:

            cg girl, I believe that, but I doubt at the time, the weight watchers program probably would have provided me with more nutrition that a couple animal cookies or half a power bar would.

            I was already obsessed, so I thought joining WW would provide me with small, healthy meals and because it would be a diet, I was hoping it would make me less scared about eating.

            Obviously, my thinking was scewed and I wasnt cognitively all there, but it seemed like a pretty good idea at the time.

  8. sleepydumpling says:

    Personally I believe the problem lies in the fact that WW don’t care a jot about anyone’s health or wellness… all they care about are the millions of dollars people spend with them every single year.

    Eating healthy shouldn’t require you to fork out wads of cash to “learn” how to do so.

    • Shelly says:

      Eating healthy shouldn’t require you to fork out wads of cash to “learn” how to do so.

      Actually WW is probably a lot cheaper than shelling out money to see a dietician. Most people dont know how to eat healthy because we read so much crap in magazines and there are so many conflicting ideas about what is healthy, how to eat, etc. Factor in the fact that Fast food is abdundunt and even try to trick us and tell us that they have healthier options, which really int always true.

  9. vitty10 says:

    If she was indeed not eating well before and Weight Watchers helped her to eat better that is great. I myself tried Weight Watchers a number of years ago, it was too low calorie for me but it did help me to eat more vegetables and drink enough water. Living in the society that we do, though, it is so hard to tell whether people want to lose weight for their health or because they want to look “better,” I usually assume it’s the latter.

  10. FatNSassy says:

    Susie Orbach has it right. Weight Watchers should be sued. The kind of rapid weight loss they advocate (and it is rapid by Mother Nature’s standards) no matter what bull they tell you, programs your body to be better at storing fat. That is why over 90% of dieters regain their weight and often more. It is not the person that is flawed, it is the premise of the program. I have known many many people who joined Weight Watchers over my life, and only a rare few that did not gain the weight back. One was thin to begin with most of their life and the other got and eating disorder.

  11. Lampdevil says:

    I have mixed feelings about WW. Heck, I have LOTS of feelings about WW, and all of them are complicated. I had come to accept my size and consider myself attractive at the (technically obese) size that I was. And then I found myself in a whole new group of friends. Really genuinely awesome folk. One was a WW meeting leader. Two or three of them attended meetings on and off. And one good friend of mine, a dude wishing to get a grip on some of his health problems, had just joined up. I was skeptical at first. Health At Every Size is something that I’ve lived by. Diets Are Bad! Love Yourself! …but dude-friend-guy really seemed to be benefiting from the meetings and from his efforts. He was looking and feeling healthier. (Genuinely so. In a “my doctor is freakin’ impressed with me” kind of way. In a “stairs are no longer terrifying” kind of way.)

    Well then. I couldn’t keep muttering about the detriments of WW if I didn’t actually KNOW anything about it. I went with dude-friend-guy to a meeting to feel the whole thing out for myself. Why the hell not? I had never actually dieted before. Ever. The meeting was cheerfully noisy and participatory. The walls were lined with questionable crap that they really wanted you to buy. And the actual plan they presented me with seemed… reasonable. Portion sizes were new to me. And their support of understanding your appetite, making sure to eat satisfying food, and how you should make sure to eat ENOUGH really surprised me. Taken for itself, the WW plan is pretty decent.

    Thing is… it’s very rarely taken by itself. Wonky, vaguely ED-supporting behaviors can get get brought up during meetings. A good leader shoots the worst of it down. A bad leader may be tossing out bad suggestions of his/her own. And who knows what people pick up outside of the meeting doors? A “perfectly okay” diet plan is still existing in the context of a society that says Thin Is The Most Important Thing Ever. I may go to a meeting with a “ehn, weight is just a number, I’ll take it as it comes” attitude, but I’m willing to be there are 5 more people getting genuinely upset at the movement or non-movement of that number on the scale.

    Just like Jennifer Hudson, I’m not going to mention what I’ve lost. It’s no one’s business and it’s the reason they put screens ’round the scales. I eat more interesting things, I understand my appetite better, and I’ve got some tools to engage in HAES at my own pace. I’m happy with my WW experience, but there is STILL that prickle on the back of my neck that makes me worry for some of the other members. Am I doing anything to make a difference, when I speak up at a meeting and insist on self-love or that orange juice is not a crime against nature or that no one is perfect? Maybe they all think I’m missing the point. But if people with wonky “I’ve stopped eating white foods” ideas can speak up, then I sure as hell can, too.

    • Jacqueline says:

      Refusing to eat white foods isn’t wonky. It’s wacky.

      If stairs scare your friend that’s not health at any size. I’m glad he’s feeling better now.

      A few years ago, after a weight gain, I thought about going to Weight Watchers and talked to some friends of friends who were going. Their enthusiasm convinced me not to go. I don’t want to have an emotional investment in my weight or the food I eat. It’s good that you speak up. There’s so much psuedo-science involved in dieting, a skeptical attitude is necessary.

      • Lampdevil says:

        We’re all very happy for our friend dude-friend-guy. Weight wasn’t/isn’t the only factor in his health issues, but his health issues plus his batchelor cooking tendancies had him put on some significant weight. WW gave him a context to pay attention to what he ate, and it’s done him a world of good. Health is absolutely his goal, and nutrition/weight loss is just one factor in the big picture of his efforts.

        I like to joke that “I’m going to my Fat Lady Cult Meeting”, and sometimes that’s what it feels like. There are words and concepts and conceits that we ALL SHARE, at the Fat Lady Cult Meeting, and that unites us in our efforts! It’s like a little semi-secret society with yucky little snack bars sold up front! (Y’know, I bet if all of us at the meeting harnessed all this Fat Lady Cult Power for something constructive, we’d change the world. Or at least put a significant dent into it.) I think my joking about it makes it easier for me to discount the weird and the wonk, when it threatens to engulf me or someone else.

        WW is handing you a pretty good toolbox full of useful things. But you can use a hammer to fix a shelf, or you can use a hammer to break someone’s hand. I’d hesitate to ban all toolboxes ever (to keep the analogy going) but I’m certainly for lots of tool-related education and strict monitoring to make sure that the toolboxes people are selling aren’t just full of rusty nails and sledgehammers. Because GEEZ there’s some bad crap out there, when you start reading up on nutrition and fitness and ‘lifestyle changes’.

  12. Adele says:

    If WW is focusing on health as opposed to weight lost in this current advertising campaign, I’m convinced it’s because their marketing surveys have found it to mean more $$$ for the company rather than it being better for the consumer to focus on health vs. weight. This is nothing more than a way to get even more people to join WW and they are trying to capture more women of color, a population for whom weight as an absolute number is less of a motivator. That’s why Jennifer Hudson and Queen Latifah (Jenny Craig) don’t discuss weight. It’s because marketing surveys have found it doesn’t play as well in that demographic. If it did, rest assured Jennifer and Latifah would be hawking numbers up the wazoo.

    Remember the ad campaign a couple of years ago? WW, it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. Well, guess what: WW IS a diet. It’s a low calorie diet engineered to produce enough of a weight loss in a timely enough manner to keep people signing up and coming back for more. It has the same failure rate as any other program, the “healthy” ones and the crackpot ones (i.e. HCG diet).

    There’s plenty of myths about WW. Like the myth that if you lose it slow you won’t rebound, or if you lose it healthfully you’ll maintain, or if you eat the right type of foods and exercise you won’t suffer from rebound hunger leading to regain, or WW teaches you how to eat and once you learn how to eat you will maintain your new low weight. It’s all BS. Same failure rate. 95% regain. 95% of people for whom maintenance is a nightmare and a failure.

    Even if you continue to eat healthy foods and exercise, you can still regain weight if you don’t eat in a restricted manner and for many in maintenance, eating in that restricted of a manner for forever proves exceedingly difficult leading to rebound weight gain. Funny how that’s never in the commercials.

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