Obviously I don't have much to say these days since I missed posting on Tuesday again this week. Not sure when I'll get back to it. Sometimes when I'm driving around I think of half a dozen post ideas, other times my brain is a barren desert. I'm headed to Texas in a couple of weeks for my mom's 80th birthday, maybe that will get me back in writing mode.
The rest of this is about Weight Watchers, now that I've been going for a month. You've been warned. If you're new, you missed all the posts in my old blog about my objections to our culture's obsession with thin-ness, and my absolute conviction that no one except you can tell whether or not your weight is healthy for your body and your life.
I won't re-hash all that right now, I just wanted to make it clear that I'm only doing this because a) I want to be able to keep up with my active family, and b) I'm starting to have some joint problems that I suspect will clear up if I lose a bit of weight. If I hit my goal, I will still be well above the culturally deemed acceptable weight for my height--no worries that I'm going to be fashionably thin, because that's never happening again.
OK. Now that we've got that out of the way.
1. The first question people ask me when I tell them I joined Weight Watchers is if I have to eat their food all the time. The short answer is no. I think you can buy various different snacks that are Weight Watchers brand, but I've never tried any of them. I fix my own food and look things up when I'm at a restaurant.
2. Do I go to the meetings? Yes, I do. The meetings are a mixed bag. On the plus side, they're probably the main reason why I stuck with the plan when I wanted to quit early on. Even though no one would know if I utterly screwed up one week (there is a weigh-in, but it's not public and no one looks at what you ate), still the embarrassment factor of quitting so soon after I started kept me from throwing in the towel. Our leader is upbeat and positive, even a little snarky occasionally, without being overly cheerleader-ish. I have to confess that the meetings can be kind of fun. There's lots of laughter and friendliness and you learn some good tips.
On the negative side, though, it is 45 minutes of listening to talk about food and weight loss and dieting, which is really difficult for me to sit through sometimes. Some of the members are absurdly enthusiastic, which makes me roll my eyes. But in their defense, WW has given them a program that works and some have lost vast quantities of weight using it. I would probably be a bit of a fanatic, too.
3. How does the point system work? You get a certain number of points per day based on your height and weight and how much you want to lose. You also get a set number of weekly points, which you can use for extras. You can divide up the weekly points to get a few extra points each day, or you can save them up and use them to splurge. One woman said that she uses her weekly points for a nightly glass of wine.
You could be extra exemplary and never use your weekly points--apparently that's what a lot of people do-- but that's never going to be me. The second week when I was about to quit, I still had most of my weekly points, so I went to a bakery and bought two 4" peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and ate them both sitting in the car (they were fabulous). I had enough points to do it, it kept me sane, and I still lost a pound that week. That's what keeps me going -- if I keep within my points, so far the system has worked, even if I use my points for stuff that is not at all diet-ish.
4. The good parts about the points system: Pretty much all fruits and vegetables--eaten without added sugar or fat-- are zero points. So if you get hungry, you can have a banana or an apple or a handful of sugar snap peas (or all three) and it doesn't count. The only exception I know of is avocados, which are crazy high points. (Disappointing, because I love avocados.) After a few weeks, you become adept at knowing a handful of low-point foods that work for you so you're rarely without something you can eat, even if you're down to one or two points at the end of the day.
5. The bad part about the points system: You end up chasing after foods that are low points rather than figuring out what you want to eat or what is healthy to eat. For example, there's a powdered de-fatted peanut butter called PB2 that I've been using in smoothies for couple of years now, but I would never have eaten it by itself (you add water to make it into a peanut butter-ish substance). But I do now, because PB2 is 1 point for two tablespoons, and real peanut butter is three points for one tablespoon. Also, many of my favorite go-to quick foods (Kind bars! I miss you, Kind bars!) are off-limits for now because they're so many points. You start choosing your food based on the points rather than any other consideration.
6. But you know what? A few weeks in, once you get the hang of it, you realize that the points sort of make sense. They're based on total calories, with points added for sugar and saturated fat, and points reduced for protein. If you stick to your points, you lose weight. I suppose the literal truth is that for the most part, things are low points because they are low calorie, but while I'm absolutely opposed to counting calories, for some reason this doesn't bother me so much. Maybe because of the freebie fruits and veggies-- there's always something you can eat.
7. The best advice I received (thanks, Mary!) before I joined: when you register, don't set a huge weight-loss goal. First of all, you'll hit your goal sooner, and when you do, you become a "lifetime" member and Weight Watchers is free thereafter. Secondly, the higher the number of pounds you want to lose, the lower your daily points total (I think. I haven't actually researched that, it's just my impression from listening to the talk around me at meetings.) Oprah made a big deal this past week saying that she had lost 26 lbs while eating bread every day, which surprised me. I've eaten bread every day, too, and it never occurred to me that I couldn't, but maybe I have a fairly high points allowance.
So there you go. After only a month, I'm hardly an expert, but I'm starting to feel a tiny bit confident that I can reach my goal, and I was completely demoralized by my weight before I started. That's a plus.
p.s. The point system was completely overhauled a couple of months ago, and many of the people who have been in WW for a long time hate the new system. I can't compare them because I joined after the new system started. The new system is working for me.