How Church is Like Weight Watchers
By The Rev. Leslie D. Scanlon
I have been a Weight Watcher on and off for a number of years. During my internship year in Ohio, I lost 40 lbs. Although I have gained some of that back, I find that the Weight Watchers works for me better than any other program or diet I have tried. However, it occurred to me recently that it not only works for me (when I stay on plan), but also has a lot in common with another big part of my life—the church.
One hour helps prepare you for the rest of the week. Weekly Weight Watchers meetings carry different themes. Some discussions are more helpful for some than others, but every week the real goal is to find a little inspiration or a new strategy to get through one more week and continue to strive for success.
It is less about achieving a goal, than it is about adopting a different lifestyle and embracing a new identity. We could crash diet to lose weight, but the goal is to maintain a healthy lifestyle long term. We already have God’s love and do not need to earn it, but living into our identity as “Child of God” does require changes in our lives, as does eating and living a healthier life.
Even when you become a “lifetime member,” there is still work to do. Weight Watchers might not have to track weight watchers points 24-7-365 or attend weekly meetings for the rest of our lives, but sometimes we have to do it for a couple weeks to re-center and get back on track. Maintaining a healthy relationship with God is like maintaining “lifetime member” status—it takes work (prayer, study, worship, community, service, etc).
What works for each individual is different. Weight Watchers, like church, is not one size fits all. There is a general program, but choices with in it. It is about figuring out what works for you and then sticking with it, and then if that gets stale, shaking it up and trying something new.
We are not in this alone. Community is an important part of the program. Some can succeed in Weight Watchers just by using the online tool, but many find the weekly in-person meetings invaluable. We celebrate each other in our successes and hold each other when we stumble. We share strategies for success and are reassured that we are not alone in our hardships.
Our leaders are in the same boat as everyone else. The above also applies to the Weight Watchers Leaders and Pastors alike. We might tend to guide the conversation, but we also have our own struggles and questions. However there is something about our experience that has driven us to share with others and try to inspire success.
This article is not meant as an advertisement for Weight Watchers and should not be read or used that way.