So I finally decided I'd had enough and joined Weight Watchers. Today was a milestone day: 5 weeks as a member and 25 pounds lost. Even so, I'm completely pissed off, but more on that in a bit. First let's talk about points. Weight Watchers uses a points system. Everything you eat or drink, from a Big Mac on down to the half & half in your coffee, has a points value based on the number of calories, amount of fat and amount of fiber. Foods with identical calorie counts may have different points values if one is high in fat (higher points value) or fiber (lower points value). This is working a lot better for me than simply counting calories. First and foremost, the points system guides you - gently - toward healthier eating. If I'm hungry between meals, I'll choose a boiled egg (2 points), cup of fat-free yogurt (1 point) and a banana (2 points) to snack on over a bag of M&Ms (7 points). My 5 point snack is healthier and more filling than the 7 point candy. The flip side of the coin is that the system guides you - again, gently - away from foods that are bad for you. Sure, I'd still love to have that bag of M&Ms but it's just not worth spending 7 points on, especially when I'd only be hungry again in an hour. Another advantage is that the points system is simple, but you can't guess in your head like you can when you're simply counting calories. You have to calculate or look up the values of foods, and that means you know more about what you're eating than if you simply guestimate your calorie intake. Now the real question I had was "how many points can I have every day?" and that number is based on your starting weight, age, activity level and gender. You also get 35 "floater" points each week that you can use if you go over on a particular day, or save them to use for a special occasion (they don't roll over, however). If you hit your daily total, you'll lose weight even if you use all of your floater points. Then there are the weigh-ins and meetings. I wasn't quite on board with the meetings at first - they veered dangerously close to support group meetings for my taste - but each week there has been at least one helpful nugget of information that I can use, even if it's only something small. Tonight, for example, I learned that I'd been figuring the points for 94% fat free microwave popcorn - a twice-daily snack since I began Weight Watchers - incorrectly. That means I was really taking in 5 points every day when I thought I was taking in 2. That may not sound like a big deal, but 21 points could be the difference between an ok week and a good week. I won't lie... I hate having to control what I eat. But the simple truth is that the points system is working, and with some planning I can be, if not exactly full, at least not starving. So why am I pissed? I lost a pound at tonight's weigh in. I figured in a week where I went to a family barbecue, an outdoor festival and a wedding, that's not too bad. Then I stopped myself and realized that the time for excuses, rationalization and equivocating is over. If I'm going to watch everything I eat, and if I'm going to make healthy choices, and if I'm going to attend a meeting every week and if I'm going to pay for the priviledge, why undermine myself and prevent bigger weight loss? Those few brief lapses nearly undid a whole week's worth of work, and that's not how I want it to be. So I'm pissed off, but I'm motivated as well. Next week, my weigh-in will be epic.
UPDATE: well, it was this close to being epic. I had to lose 4.2 pounds to hit 30 total, and I lost 4.0. So my 6 week total is 29.8 pounds. I'll take it!