I’m discovering that one of the pitfalls of being a WW leader is being too heavily (no pun intended) invested in our members’ progress. I now have four regular meetings a week. At one of them, I am “only” a receptionist which I am realizing has become my “relaxing” meeting. I enjoy the members, I like them, but I don’t feel like they are MY RESPONSIBILITY. In the other meetings, I feel uber responsible. I fret if people don’t come. I fret if they don’t lose weight or if they are frustrated. This is all part of my own learning journey, I realize. It’s definitely a pitfall of being a borderline (?) codependent, caregiving, invested kind of person.
All I can say is, it’s a good thing my WW leaders over the past 15 years did not take ME personally, because if they had, they would’ve gone out back and shot themselves. I missed a lot of meetings. I had plateaus that went on for months. Then I quit. Then I rejoined. With a bad attitude. I came to the meetings but sat there with a sucking-lemon face. I did not really listen to what the leaders said. I played games on my cell phone. I rolled my eyes.
Holy toledo. Is this… karma coming back to bite me in the butt? Ha ha ha ha. Maybe it is.
So, in all my meetings, I’d say some members are doing spectacularly well. Others are doing so-so and some are really struggling. Which I guess is probably par for the course. But since *I* am so newly enamored of this program, and feel it works so well for me, I sometimes don’t know what to do when everyone is not on the same page. Or even reading the same book. Or even in the same universe.
I DO feel that I can empathize with their frustration, their disappointment and disgust (with themselves as well as with the program). I can honestly say, I’ve been there. But what would have made a difference to me, during all that time when I was in that place? Anything??
Truly, I had so much of my OWN crap that I was grappling with at the time, I don’t know if any leader could have made a difference. I will say that none of them tried. Nobody reached out to me when I was falling away, when I was missing tons of meetings. When I disappeared (for years). Nobody asked me, what’s going on? Again, I have no idea if it would have made a difference.
I think a lot of it had to do with motivation. I often joined but was not motivated. I didn’t really care. I felt like I was there because someone ELSE thought I should be there. (as untrue as that may have been, it was the way I perceived it) And when someone is in that place, it is really hard to reach them.
But I do notice when people don’t come. I notice when they don’t see what they want on the scale, and then they vanish. How familiar is that? Very familiar.
It’s a humbling experience for me, being on this side of things. I’m learning so much, about myself, about other people, and again and again how we are all connected. Or not. I have to remind myself to breathe, and to just offer what I have to offer. And if people are in a place where they really want to make these changes, they will. And if they’re not, well, maybe they’ll come around again in 5 or 10 years.
December 10, 2009 at 2:52 am
I think of my own weight loss journey and fitness challenges when I teach basic comp–we all struggle with our unique deficits/challenges…and the right support makes ALL the difference. (i.e., being fit is a challenge for me, and I need way more support and followup…just like my students need more support and followup wrt academics).
I wish I had had YOU as a WW leader the one time I joined WW many moons ago!
December 10, 2009 at 2:57 pm
Yes, it’s a lot like teaching writing… or teaching anything, I guess. We all come to it with our own challenges. I just have to struggle against my own desire to Be Everything to my members. It just isn’t possible. I can just be here, and hope it is enough.
December 10, 2009 at 9:12 am
Yes…we all need to make it our own…embrace it and go. I find that hard too but know I ahve struggled and need support…not someone always telling me what to do or how to do it…suggest…not order.
December 10, 2009 at 12:17 pm
Oh gosh… I would never tell people what do to – ordering! Yikes. It’s more.. what to do when someone obviously feels deeply ambivalent about the whole thing. IS there anything one can do, except just be there for them? And if it’s their Time to do it, it will click for them, and if not, well….
December 10, 2009 at 1:56 pm
I can relate in a weird sort of way. Whenever I finally “get” something, I want to tell/teach everyone else too, so they don’t have to struggle like I did.
I bet it’s sort of like raising children: we want to protect them from hurt and life, but we can’t…they have to learn their own lessons, just as we have stubbornly had to learn ours. And we can only learn our lesson when we’re good and ready. Otherwise, it goes right over our heads.
I feel more peaceful now that I am not trying so hard to force feed my “ah-ha” moments on others (not saying that’s what you’re doing ;-).
In any case, I think you provide a more unique perspective and understanding on the whole thing than perhaps many other WW leaders. And the people in your class will see that….it’s because you ARE the change you want to see in the world.
December 10, 2009 at 2:58 pm
Karen, the “raising children” analogy is a perfect one. We do have to be good and ready. And yeah, force feeding the “ah-ha” is not going to help anyone.
Patience, patience… breathing. All around.
December 10, 2009 at 4:50 pm
I think you’re a great leader: you’ve been there and you care!
I recently rejoined WW because we have a new program in Holland: Propoints which really works for me. I do it online because meetings aren’t close to my home. But in the past I’ve been to meetings and had two different leaders and they were both so different. I think it makes a difference how your leader reacts. If you know she cares you go easier when you don’t feel like it or aren’t motivated.
December 10, 2009 at 7:15 pm
Hi! I came to check out your blog since you commented on mine. I love reading your perspective, especially since you are a leader. I really enjoyed this post, I’m going to check out more. (and I replied to your comment in my blog. I’m not a leader. I’m actually 20 pounds from goal, so I can’t be one… yet)
December 10, 2009 at 7:46 pm
I am still at the struggling tocommitt stage of what will be a long weight loss journey. I’ve tried two different slimming organisations, and several groups. I HATE when I start to backslide and noone checks on me – I feel irrelevant to the leader, like all they want is my money. especially when the only contact I DO get is to remind me that I’ll have to pay for any missed weeks! One organisation/leader combination was different – the leader took the time to send me texts or stick a note through my door when I missed a session or hit a rough patch, making me feel like she cared about ME. Her organisation’s diet didn’t suit my life terribly well, but I lost weight anyway – until she left.
Being seen as a person is very important to me, and I’m currently bouncing around from meeting to meeting (giving them a few weeks each) to see if I can find someone else like that.
December 14, 2009 at 9:19 am
It’s also the case with gym classes… I had been so scared of going back so many times in the past, expecting them to say something about my absence, yet every time it was fine and I could have gone back months earlier!