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.