Weighty Matters

I used to go to Weight Watchers.

My weight was not, when I started, the heaviest I had ever been, but I was a stone over where I am now. We’d just had our first kid and I’d lost my day job at the time (not related, but the timing was pretty special) and there had been trouble obtaining non-employer health insurance1. Something had to be done.

I liked it. The programme fitted me pretty well and I had good results. Within a year, I was down almost four stone and I made lifetime member.

Even after that achievement, I continued to struggle with fitness and weight. It’s a bit like medicine: if you feel better, you stop taking it. With some medications that is as intended; with others you can make things worse by stopping too soon. For me, I probably should have continued to go to meetings but I wanted my Monday lunchtime back and I was feeling a little resentful towards the programme is it was then constituted.

And so my weight has crept up again — not yo-yoing, at least — to the point where, again, something had to be done because what I was trying to do wasn’t working.

Not Just A River In Egypt

The tenor of this post so far has been that I saw a problem and tried to solve it, but this doesn’t really capture the depths of denial I’ve been going through around this issue.

I like eating. As Matt Lucas said in an interview with The Guardian years ago, “Chocolate is nice2.” So I have been ignoring the signs, including anything which would suggest I not eat whatever the heck I want to eat, and although I had done a lot to stabilise my weight over the last three months (exercising regularly again, reducing snack intake) it wasn’t enough.

Something, I eventually understood, needed to be done. Again.

Why Bother?

Which is where I come to why I care.

I don’t like weight as a measure of fitness and I especially dislike the BMI (body mass index) metric since I have a lot of muscle on my legs that throws that metric off. But being heavier does make me feel worse: it is definitively harder on my joints, I run slower, and I am less flexible. There is also the small matter of fitting into airplane seats: when I travel it tends to be for long distances, and those tiny seats are miserable when I am heavier3.

So I have my reasons for wanting to shed some fat, which is why I’ve started going to Weight Watchers again.

It feels good.

The programme has moved on a bit, but the basic idea is the same: you have a number of points per day and the food you eat uses up those points. Food points are calculated based on calorific value, where added sugars count for more as do some fats. Protein calories count for less because your body has to work harder to extract them.

The biggest innovation since I last followed this programme is the expansion of the zero point foods: things you can eat to satisfaction without having to use any points at all. Last time, only vegetables and some fruit were zero point, but now eggs, beans and tofu are as well – I can eat lunch for zero points!

Anyway, I’m only a week or so in to this round and it’s been good and bad.

The good is that I am already down a bit, and my clothes are fitting better.

The bad is that I am still learning how to distribute my points through the day. I need to have a pretty substantial breakfast to get me through the morning and hence I tried to keep lunch to zero points, but if I do that then I get a hollow feeling: my belly is full, but I am missing something that means I still feel hungry.

So there’s learning to do, but results are encouraging so far.

Onward and downward.

[1] because US health care policy is insane.

[2] this is where I have an advantage over Mr Lucas, in that I no longer live in the UK and I do not enjoy a great deal of American chocolate. Baseline crappy chocolate in Britain is Cadbury’s, which is about 30,000 times nicer than Hershey’s.

[3] there is a specific story here about travelling to my grandfather’s funeral in 2006 and being deeply uncomfortable in the window seat next to another sturdy gentleman. That was a loooong flight.

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