Coming Back After Making Goal
Dale and Machrina Leach started at WW the first time in 2006 for different reasons.
“I went for vanity,” Machrina said. “Dale went for health.” What the Glendale couple knows now is that they both went for the same reason. “It’s all about health,” she said. “Food is my addiction, much like alcohol or drugs. The problem with my addiction is that we need food to survive. You don’t need drugs or alcohol.” Dale and Machrina are not unlike thousands of WW members. They love to eat. Particularly potato chips.
“She is a fantastic cook,” Dale said. “When you’re first married, you think every meal needs to be an event: bread and butter and dessert at every meal. And, I love to cook,” Machrina said. “Weight Watchers is not about losing weight fast or getting back to goal. It’s about losing weight, making better choices and feeling better.”
Grasping that principle didn’t come right away. They first joined a WW At-Work program that Machrina helped start at the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, where she still works as a nurse program manager. “We needed 10 people and I told Dale that he could come to the program with me,” she said. They joined because after their 2005 wedding, for which Machrina lost 40 pounds, she put 80 pounds back on. For Dale, about 60 days before the first meeting, he had started a diet based on his doctor’s recommendation. He was carrying 350 pounds on his 6-foot-2-inch frame and suffered from Type 2 diabetes.
“Doing it together makes it incredibly easy.”
They stopped going in 2011. “Like so many others, when you meet goal, you think you’re cured, you’ve solved your problem,” Machrina said. “We walked away from Weight Watchers for about two years.” But, the weight didn’t stay away. Machrina added 37 pounds. Dale put on 50 and, despite “trying everything and all kinds of crazy stuff, we knew it wasn’t working,” she said.
They rejoined a Saturday group at Cactus Corner Shopping Center in Glendale the last week of July in 2013. They’re not planning to leave any time soon, if ever. “I really like our leader, Sue, and that 9 o’clock support group,” said Dale, who retired two years ago as a national service support representative for medical ultrasounds. “They’ve had people come and go, but there’s a core group that has given us lots of support and help.”
He’s lost about 100 pounds from his heaviest and the diabetes is gone. “Weight Watchers is a way of life for us now,” he said. Machrina is nine pounds from her goal weight of 130. She’s nowhere close to the 225 she weighed at her peak.
“No one looks at you like you’re crazy.”
“Doing it together makes it incredibly easy,” Machrina said. “When our group talks about having husbands who can eat anything or don’t care about their weight, I think how lucky I am that we’re in this together. And, I don’t have to cook two meals!”
That comfort level doesn’t just apply to sharing the WW journey. “It’s such a safe place to talk about it,” she said. “When you tell someone you ate an entire bag of Cheetos, they say ‘I’ve been there myself.’ No one looks at you like you’re crazy. They give you support and tell you not to do it again.”
Their commitment to WW goes deeper.
“Before we went back, I realized that I had gotten married later in life and both of my parents had inheritable diseases from colon cancer and heart disease to diabetes,” she said. “I thought ‘I don’t want to go that route.’ I wanted to live and work, so it went from all about vanity to all about health. We also wanted to travel internationally and it’s much more comfortable when you’re not so big.”
“I thought I had this under control and then I fell back into bad habits.”
The decision also was driven by Machrina’s a-ha moment. “When I got to goal the first time, I was so happy. I bought tiny clothes. I thought I had this under control and then I fell back into bad habits. But, I recognized that don’t go from a size 4 to 14 overnight. It’s just one size bigger. That’s the a-ha moment: you’re always going to be one size bigger and before you know it, you’re at size 14.”
Oh, sure, they still love potato chips, but they don’t dwell on not having them, even when they’re tailgating before Arizona Cardinals football games. “What’s helped is the new WW plan,” she said. “We just replace the chips with other healthy foods. We grill a lot more chicken, eat a lot shrimp and we don’t buy or crave those potato chips anymore.”
Even the Cardinals’ difficult season hasn’t pushed them back to the chip aisle at the grocery store. “I realized that no matter how many potato chips I eat, it’s not going to make them play better.”