Wheaton’s Way

Hey-diddly-dee, Weight Watchers life for me

It took COVID to do it. I am on another diet.

Actually, let’s call it a ‘lifestyle plan’, which sounds much better. After years of cabbage soup, intermittent fasting and Atkins fun (I smite thee, rotisserie chicken), I have returned to the world of Weight Watchers.

Back when many of you were young’uns, there was a WW club on the island. Weigh-ins and weekly meetings were part of the package, where people would come together and discuss why cakeliness was next to godliness.

Members carried around a large Filofax full of recipes, tips and an A-Z of foods and their corresponding points. No matter how elegant a folder cover you chose from the WW collection of colours and materials, it was still instantly recognisable; just like those ‘discreet’ plastic tampon holders you can spot from a mile off. Whip one out of your purse at dinner and no one’s saying, “Oh yes, I’d love a cigar!”

It was a great programme, but you’d keep acquiring additional booklets and sections as you went along: addendums, advice, more recipes, etc. Before you knew it, you were carrying around more paperwork than a lawyer suing Big Pharma.

Of course, in 2020, there’s an app for that. Instead of going through the supermarket with a folder in hand, all you need is your smartphone for scanning UPC codes. Don’t want to keep track of your exercise? Pick up a Fitbit or Apple Watch and they’ll sync with the WW app and keep a record for you.

I did notice that they changed the official company name from Weight Watchers to WW – akin to Kentucky Fried Chicken rebranding to KFC; like that makes the chicken any healthier. Maybe ‘Weight’ and ‘Watchers’ are considered trigger words by the experts, and marketing research has proven that… ugh, who has the energy?

Anyway, I signed up about four weeks ago and so far, so good.

In the beginning, it was all a bit confusing. There is a green, blue and purple plan, and you are assigned a colour based on how you answer a brief survey at the beginning – the Sorting Hat of diets, as it were. I guess I got green (Slytherin?) because of my addiction to eating potato crisps at 1am and ticking the ‘sedentary’ box in reply to ‘How much exercise do you presently do per day?’ I only went with that because ‘muscles have atrophied’ wasn’t on the list.

You get so many Smartpoints per day, plus Weekly points that you can spread out when you need a few extra, or bunch together for a heady night of full-fat cream cheese and fruit juice.

One thing I noticed very early on was my ability to cram as much into a measuring cup as possible, leaving not a sliver of air remaining. When you’re only allowed a tablespoon of butter or a 1/8 cup of jam, you want to make sure that you get every bit to which you are entitled.

I got excited about discovering that pita bread was only four points. “… so, I use sour cream instead of mayonnaise, and stuff the pita with veggies, which are zero points, to make a really filling sandwich,” is the kind of fascinating information I now share with subsequently catatonic friends.

You have to be on this kind of programme to understand the joy that comes with finding a tolerable low-fat milk; or realising that Diet Coke has zero points, it mixes with rum (three points), and you can add a lime (zero points). Don’t think I didn’t work my way through the entire booze directory to narrow down the options I could live with.

There have been a couple of missteps. One night, I decided to cook up some ‘zoodles’ (zucchini noodles) using a recipe I found on the WW app. It looked really appetising in the picture and, more importantly, was only two points per serving.

Over half an hour I peeled and chopped garlic and onion, grated parmesan, and slowly felt my lower back give as I tried to whip up the dish. It looked like a lump of tomato sludge at the end. At best, I could say it filled a hole. I actually felt cheated out of two points. It was that disappointing. Back to Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice.

The app is very supportive. When I ate a banana each day for breakfast, it congratulated me on my crowning achievement, calling it a ‘streak’. It’ll probably go into ecstasies when I enter salad territory.

It really hit me it was time to get healthy when I saw my tummy growing (see: gut). My weight has always settled into what I’ll call the Nicki Minaj-areas in the past, but now I can’t deny the protruding bowl of fat out front.

When parts of your lower body are obscured from view, that’s when action must be taken. For example, I can only assume there are feet attached to the toe-tips I can see.

My Apple Watch has been a godsend. It keeps tracks of my steps and other exercise and sets goals for me, encouraging me to go further each day.

A few nights ago, I needed to only do three more minutes of cardio movement to get me to a new record. At 11pm, I stood nude in my bedroom (just the facts, ma’am), ready to do three minutes of jumping jacks to reach that all-important target. One-and-a-half jacks later, I realised the folly of my plan.

Turns out, elephants aren’t the only animals that can’t jump.

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