During my little hiatus from writing, I decided that enough was enough: I decided I was tired of my pants fitting tight, feeling uncomfortable in my own skin and that the path to happiness was named Weight Watchers. I had repeatedly seen the new WW commercials on t.v. and though “I should do that again”. I’ve done Weight Watchers before, many years ago (when I was in my early twenties) and had success; I lost about 50 pounds over the course of several months. And then, when I stopped following the plan because I got fed up, I gained it all back (and then some).
Anyway, I started this new weight loss venture toward the middle of February and I started out strong. I believed I could do it! If only I follow the plan to a perfect T, eat only the minimum number of points per diem that the plan allotted and come up with an arsenal of WW friendly meals and snacks, I could do this!
Guess what? That enthusiasm wore of quickly. In fact, I became “hangry” more often than not. Hangry is a term that I’ve adopted from a co-worker of mine; it’s a mix between hungry and angry. And it fits my mental state about 70% of the time.
For any of you that have been readers of my writing endeavor, you know that I love cooking. I not only do I love cooking, I savor cooking. It’s an experience that becomes richer the more you do it, the more spices you add, the more items you have to chop, the more you add to the pot, bowl or pan. I. Love. Cooking. And thanks to go ol’ Weight Watchers, I haven’t really cooked much (with the exception of simple chicken, tomato, garlic one-pot dinners) over the past six weeks or so. And that just makes me angry. I feel like something that I love has been taken away from me. I love to cook; it brings me happiness to make food that other people can enjoy. You want roast chicken, you say? Leave it to me: give me some butter and herbs and an oven and I’ll make you a roast chicken so delectable you’ll want to lick your plate. You want some mashed potatoes? No worries, I’ll whip up the fluffiest, buttery dream that you’ll ever taste. Beef stew is your thang? I got it; I’ll add the herbs, wine and browned beef that’ll make your mouth water as it simmers. As I’m writing this, I’m getting hangry. I’m getting angry because during this venture into weight loss, I’ve lived primarily on Healthy Choice meals, Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches, a never ending supply of bananas, apples and strawberries and no butter.
Hello, my name is Alexis and I like butter. And bread. Oh my holy hell, how I love bread. And guess what? With the new Points Plus system of Weight Watchers, all foods are designated points based on their fat content, carbohydrate count, protein and fiber values. Breads are essentially what I would deem a “waste of points”. I mean, I can eat a Hawaiin sweet roll for 3 WW points, or I can eat an entire Healthy Choice meal for about 6 WW points. Which should I go for?
As you can see, this entire process of weighing my options and missing out on things that I love (Italian food, Mexican food, the occasional cheeseburger) can drive one to want to drink. And that brings me to another point: booze has such high WW point values that it makes you think twice before pouring a half a glass of wine that you will sip on and down 4 WW points. Grrr. Hate. It. Hateitsomuch!
The upside to my angst is that thus far, the plan is working. I’ve lost approximately 12 pounds in about 6 weeks. All while depriving myself of my joy of cooking (and butter). I know, I know that there are “Weight Watcher friendly” recipes out there. Believe me, I’ve tried them. I made the most tasteless Weight Watchers friendly Tex-Mex Chicken Salad that you’ll ever taste (…or not taste) a couple of weeks ago that contained (and I say this with disdain) fat free mayo and fat free sour cream. I tasted the finished product, looked at my mom and said, “It’s missing something but I can’t tell what.” Do you know what my wise mother said in reply? She said, “Fat.” Dang right! That’s exactly what it was missing! No fat, no flavor!
Now, I definitely don’t subscribe to the theory that every dish has to be laden with butter or oil or mayo or sour cream to have flavor. Absolutely not. But to use fat free versions of something that is meant to have fat just seems wrong to me.
I had a little melt down just last week when I calculated my points and decided I had enough to have dinner out with my best friend (and occasional hiking partner) Christina. I’d chosen the restaurant, I’d looked up point values, I’d decided what I was going to have. And then it happened: at the last minute, Christina’s daughter (my neice) decided that she didn’t want to go where I had decided to go. She wanted to go to Chilis. That was when it happened. I was so irritated that I actually had to expend more energy on figuring out what I “could eat” to fit into my little (very) calculated plan that I probably had smoke and steam coming out of both of my ears and my nose. Christina, being the good friend that she is told me to calm the hell down, it wasn’t that big a deal, and that I could find something. After I took a big, deep, hangry breath I looked at her and the steam and smoke stopped billowing from my head. And then she asked a very important question that I am still pondering to this day: Are you going to keep doing this for the next five years of your life?
My answer flew out of my mouth faster than I thought it could. It was a resounding NO. Or rather, I believe that I said “God, no.” And then I questioned myself: How was I going to keep off the weight that I’ve dropped or would drop as long as I continue doing this plan, once I stopped being “on the plan”? Would this be another failed attempt? One where I would feel all at the same time noble and hangry for a short period of time until I threw in the towel with a very loud exclamation of “fuck this!” I believe that is what happened the last time, or something very close to that happened last time.
I know that people who have never experienced issues with weight or self image may have a hard time having any sympathy for myplight or will understand the woes described above when they read this. I truly believe that anyone who has had issues with weight or self image who read this may want to tell me to suck it up and keep on keepin’ on. And both ends of the spectrum are ok.
Because you see, I know exactly what I “should” be doing. I “should” try to eat healthy and allow myself the goodie here or there that satisfies me so that I won’t binge on a bag of cookies or an entire pizza (yep, I’m guilty. I’ve done both. And I hope I gain some points from you for the simple fact that it’s humiliating to put that fact out there for all to read.) But I have an issue with moderation.
Moderation (I know) is the key to happiness. And is the key to a long-lasting healthy relationship with food. Deprivation only leads to that hangry feeling and makes you want to bight anyone who comes into your path. Some of you who do Weight Watchers will probably think, “But with WW, you can have anything you want! In moderation.” And to that logic I call bullshit. Sure, you can have it, but when you only get 30 points a day are you really going to blow 3 of those points on a roll? I think not. Are you going to cash in 4 of those points to have half a cup of carefully measured wine? Not me. This leads me to believe that I need to try something different. I need to be able to continue to practice what I love: cooking and still incorporate health eating habits. I believe that I can do this; I also believe that it’ll be hard to do this, but I think it’ll be worth the fight to eat homemade non-processed foods that I enjoy in moderation. And to cook with butter again.
Now all I have to do is not buy into the Weight Watchers, NutriSystem and MediFast commercials when they come on t.v.