I have lifted the weight of my world

I love Weight Watchers. I am not obese by any means, but for a lot of health reasons I have been struggling with an extra 10 to 20 pounds for years.

I always thought I’d be laughed out of a Weight Watchers meeting, although I have been assured by many who have gone through the process that I would not. But since, my day starts very early, around 3 a.m., and ends late, it’s likely I could never make the meetings.

Over the course of my life, I have tried many, many diets. I tried Pritikin, designed by the late Nathan Pritikin. It was a great diet and I lost a ton of weight. I carried on about the diet for years on the radio a very strange event occurred. Pritikin himself came to the Albany Medical Center and committed suicide there. Was God speaking to me? Was he warning me off? Who knows? I fell off the wagon. Later, I tried the Atkins Diet. Atkins is mainly a high-protein diet. A nutritionist, my general practitioner and a kidney doc all warned me away from that.

After ditching Atkins, I reached my all-time peak of 150 pounds. With the extra weight, my acid reflux kicks in and since I have a condition called Barrett’s esophagus, which can be pre-cancerous, I had to find a better way.

That’s when my friend, Selma Kaplan, suggested I try Weight Watchers online.

No meetings. You just check in every day and write in whatever you have eaten. As everyone who has ever been on Weight Watchers knows, the system operates on points. If you join online, Weight Watchers will tell you based on your body size and age, how many points a day you are allowed. As a rule of thumb, every point is close to 50 calories. There are tools on your individual page, which will help you find the points value of everything you eat. I have become fanatical about recording everything and, as my friends, family, associates and listeners know, my favorite question to all of them is, “How many points in ?” If you think in terms of points, you avoid putting some foods in your mouth. You can lose a lot of weight very quickly.

There is a tool on the Weight Watchers website that helps you track your progress. Of course, you have to be vigilant. From time to time, you will get hints and messages like, “Use all you allotted points.” The geniuses who have put this together know how to be quite affirmative. When you reach goals, you get a pat on the back. If you mess up, they give you encouragement to get back on the horse. Obviously, they have seen all the pitfalls and know how to help you not to lose hope. I say “obviously” because they always seem to be one step ahead of you.

I am puzzled about some things. I work out like a demon every day and sure enough, you are encouraged to report every day how much exercising you do.

I faithfully report what I have done. The problem is that the “activity points” you accrue for exercising do not really help you unless you go over your allotted intake points. I have always believed that exercising is good for you but not really all that germane to weight loss. I have always thought that it is all about how many calories you put in your body. Weight Watchers gives you an extra 35 points a week in case you overshoot your daily totals. Since I weigh myself every morning and every evening, I am in a position to tell you that on the very few occasions that I have gone over, those extra 35 points don’t help me a bit.

The whole thing is sort of like growing a garden. If you do the type of work I do, there is nothing like picking a cucumber that you stared from a seed or a tiny plant. Or as we learned in The Fantasticks, “Plant a radish, get a radish.” Very satisfying.

In fact, the whole thing has become a great hobby. I have a friend who went through stomach banding procedure and has come around to doing it my way.

She’s losing weight like an autumn tree loses its leaves. Hey, it works for me.

Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 7/24/10

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