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Confessions of a Weight Watcher Rejoiner

I’ve gained a lot of weight lately, so several weeks ago, I  rejoined Weight Watchers. I haven’t been a member for awhile, and I feel the need to get the structure and discipline of a healthy and sensible program back.  As I enter the large and airy room, I am immediately at home. I recognize the faces of the staff from when I stood on one of those lines waiting to get weighed back in the old days. Then, I look around.

First, I see green chairs; they used to be hot pink. Oh no. I depend on that hot pink to be the one consistent thing in my life during weight loss. But now they are a distinct green. An apple green.  My environment is different from what I expected. I’m feeling edgy.

Next, I notice the myriad signs all over the room. Diagrams, pie charts, motivating slogans.  Very nice, but it kind of feels like school. So much to learn. I tell myself to relax.

I’m taken out of my dreaminess when I hear, “Next!” I walk to one of the stations and I say hi. I take off my shoes, jewelry, sweater and even socks, while a smiling fellow  stands there patiently. He takes out a white card,  writes my name on it and asks me to stand on the scale. I know the drill; the numbers are zero and I’m already stepping on that scale. I watch as the numbers bounce around and then land on a number that is not surprisingly higher than what my precocious four year old grandson can count to.

And I suddenly have this weird thought that I’ve been through so many successively climbing starting weights over the year. It’s scary when I think that my  original starting weight from when I first joined WW as an adult, is probably now my Goal weight. I step off the scale and the guy is pasting a sticker neatly on the card. He then hands me a packet of stuff in a binder. If the bulletin boards all over reminded me of elementary school, this trapper-folder full of things that I don’t know if I’ll have time or patience to get through, let alone read, reminds me of high school. No. College. He puts everything in a plastic bag and wishes me luck.

I walk away from the weighing station, with a mixture of hope and frustration. Hope because I’m doing something good for myself. And frustration because I’m wondering if I will be successful on the program.

I go to the meeting area, to settle in  amongst the sea of green.  The back seats are all taken. The middle row has some empty seats and the front row is all free. I take a seat in the front. I’m playing the role of  good student. That’s what I know how to do in these green chairs. I  plunk my bag of school supplies on the chair next to me, and take a deep breath. There are still another 10 minutes before the meeting will begin, so I decide to use the time to go through the material.

A notebook for tracking. A small book of foods and point values. Nice. A two page “weekly” that has some recipes and smiling faces with skinny bodies making everything look so easy. Not so nice anymore. I flip through a long foldable card stock page that has some information about “etools.” I remember that from the past. E-tools. Yeah. Tracking food online and all that fun stuff.  I make up my mind to follow the directions on that e-tools-card when I get home. I also see an exercise tracker. Oh. It needs batteries. Another thing to remember when I get home.

Don’t they know that Weight Watcher Rejoiners are organizationally challenged?

I’m pulled out of my reverie by Lynn, the leader who is standing at the front and talking to us.  “People, we’re starting.”  She’s funny. I start to relax. She’s talking about how we don’t have to be perfect on this program. Some of the members are nodding in agreement. I’m thinking: Yeah, right. I wonder what is called  “not perfect.” I’m reminded of the time I drank 6 cups of water after a particular binge and still lost weight. Is that what she means?

Lynn’s using some new terms and concepts, ones I don’t recognize. Fruit are zero points? Points Plus? What’s all that? She explains that  we can have 49 extra points during the week on top of the amount we have per day. I do the math and realize that’s 7 extra points per day. Not so much. But still something. And if we don’t have to be perfect, can we make it 10 per day? I put my hand up to ask and then change my mind.

Now Lynn is asking the group a question: What can we do to stay on track?  Someone says to write every morsel that we put in their mouth. Someone else suggests keeping the food interesting.  I’m suddenly craving my regular and comfort food of tuna fish with mayo on rye bread. To me, interesting means ice cream and I don’t want to go there. Not on my first day of Weight Watchers. No way.

As my mind wanders, I wonder what happened to the old terms of core and regular points and exchanges. Hello, can’t we go back to the old days of simple rules of the program? Weight Watchers seems to be about changes. I wonder if these outer changes of the green chairs and bulky information booklets will motivate me to make the inner changes I need  to lose the weight. Time will tell.

The meeting is over. I stay for the short session for new members, which confuses me more. I drive home.  I want to track my foods online. I sign up for the e-tools and type in my log-in and password. Authentication failed. Error message. And then my computer freezes.

I call the weight watchers hotline. They help me through it. Tracking online seems like a lot. I’ll go for the paper way for now.

Back to the old drawing board. I take out the trusty book of points (which is green. Surprise!), and my tracker and write down my lunch, with all its ingredients. 4-oz tuna. 1 teasp mayo. 2 slices rye bread. And lettuce and tomatoes. Just like I’ve eaten for the past 50 years when trying to lose weight. Old habits die hard. I find the ingredients in my pantry and fridge, sit down to eat it and then put everything away.

Weight Watchers can make their changes to intice people to start over again. But me, I’ll stick to what works. For now.

Now, excuse me for a minute while I go check if I have enough cans of tuna in my pantry.

Future Bath Tubs and Playgrounds


Yes – Grandma is always available whenever we want.  Hmmm.

I was thinking along those lines the other day and I suddenly had a fantasy. Right now, we grandmothers are able thank G-d to care for our grandchildren when they need us. We are there for them, as long as we want to (and have the strength)  and then we go home (or send them home, if they are at our house).  Unlike the kids’ perception in which they – the children – are done having us so we leave…we know the truth. Right?

But never mind all that. What if it came a time when G-d forbid, we couldn’t care for our kids? We couldn’t care for them – not because we didn’t have the energy – but simply because the stuff they had around their house, and the technology that they used, were way too advanced for our Baby Boomer Generation minds.

So here goes my fantasy. Imagine in the year 2020, I want to give my little grandson – (or grand-daughter!) born in the year 2018 a bath. So I go take the kid to the bathroom, get him or her undressed, and lo and behold I look at the bathtub and it does not resemble the one I have at home – in my circa 1990-2000 remodeled home. Instead the bathtub is suspended up high, and there is a staircase to get there. The knobs are not the usual – left for hot, and right for cold – but they are buttons on the wall which I have no clue how to use.

Another fantasy: Imagine in the year 2025, I want to take my grandkids to the park. I walk with them to the park, and we find the playground equipment, but somehow nothing looks the same as how I remembered swings back in the olden days of the 1980’s or even in the times of my older grandsons – born in the 2010’s.

What is a grandmother to do? Is she to ask a kid nearby to help her? (in the case of the park?)

Is she supposed to risk G-d forbid burning the 2-year old, by using the wrong temperature of water, and/or not being able to climb the steps to the raised tub?

I really don’t know what I’m going to do. I tell you – I’m pretty grateful that right now I’m kind of savvy and know how to use a computer, how to do things that are similar to the skill set of my grandkids.

But when I think of the future, I tell you – I’m pretty scared.

I guess this is where faith and trust really kick in. Because when it comes down to it, if we can’t give our grandchildren baths and take them to the park, what is left to the grandmother-grandchild relationship?

Trust in G-d, and all my scary science fiction fantasies will either not materialize in a negative way, or my grandchildren will patiently teach me the ins and the outs of the skills.  I will march along to the tunes of the new inventions.

Otherwise, I will be sent home by the kids on the first plane (rocket ship by then?) out of their hometown.  What use will the kids have for us if we can’t even keep up with their technology?

Back to Bubby Basics

When it comes down to it, simple is often best. When things get broken down to manageable steps, life is so much easier. My friend shared that with me the other day. She told me how she had babysat her grandchildren and found that life has become so complicated these days. My friend felt that she couldn’t help her grandkids with the math homework, because the “new” math has concepts that are so foreign to us Bubbies. Similarly, this friend noted that Hebrew words are so different than the traditional Hebrew language that we remember growing up with in our Hebrew day schools. Today’s modern Hebrew has become more of an imitation English, that my friend felt that the Hebrew homework was also too complex for her to oversee her grandkids completing.

My friend confessed that the only thing she was able to handle when her grandkids were over at her house, was giving them baths, reading books to them, and taking them to the park.

That’s it. Well, to me that was great news. At least some things never change. I mean, here we are in the 21st century, using computers, blackberries, I-phones, DVD’s, and so much technology that our children’s day-to-day activities barely resemble that of our own childhood. And if we are to care of our children and grandchildren, we need to relate to their world.

So thank goodness that parks are still around, bathtubs more or less operate the same way, and books are still around. If nothing else, how are we to preserve a Bubby/grandchild relationship with such a large gap in technology, education, and language?

Here’s to bathtime, rubber duckies, shovels and pails and The Cat in the Hat. — all skills that a bubby from any century can handle.

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