One of the very best things about Weight Watchers is that there truly is no food that is off limits. Since the program is centered around the POINTS system where each food is evaluated by their calorie, fat & fiber content, literally any food you can name can be worked into the plan. And it’s not even cheating!
This flexibility is the reason that WW is the only plan that has ever made sense to me. You see, I refuse to live in a world where a burrito the size of a Chihuahua or a cheeseburger on a grilled buttered bun isn’t an occasional option in my life (the operative word being “occasional”, of course. If anyone tries to sell you a magic pill that allows you to eat these kinds of things every day and still lose weight, prepare for disappointment. Or explosive diarrhea. Probably both!).
The ability to still eat the foods that the typical diet declares forbidden makes Weight Watchers the only plan that I have even a hope of following for a lifetime. If, every once in a while, I want to eat a grilled sourdough melt sandwich, crinkle cut french fries, a couple of fried cheese curds, and then indulge in the world’s finest Turtle Sundae, I CAN. And that’s how I ended up in a booth at Culver’s on Saturday night, wiping ketchup off of my chin with a greasy napkin and engaging in the following exchange with my 15 year old son:
Me: That was delicious. Are you ready to order ice cream?
Son: Nah, I’m not hungry enough.
Me: I didn’t ask if you were hungry, I asked if you wanted ice cream.
Son: What’s the difference?
Me: What’s the diff…who are you, anyway?
Son: I’m your son, Mom.
Me: I HAVE NO SON!
And that isn’t even the first time we’ve had nearly that exact same conversation. It boggles the mind that any child of mine could reject food (especially ICE CREAM) on the basis that he “isn’t hungry”. In my world, whether or not one is hungry has very little (or nothing, even) to do with the decision to eat.
Hunger isn’t a feeling I’ve been terribly well acquainted with in my life. I don’t know if I’m just missing the synapses that appropriately fire the “I’m hungry” message from the stomach to the brain, or if I have too many of them so I always think I’m starving. It could be that for most of my life I just never stopped eating long enough to really BE hungry.
I’m inclined to believe that there’s some truth in that last theory, to be honest. I vividly remember one day early on in my weight loss journey when I was busily working toward a deadline on a work project and I started to feel strange. My stomach began to ache, and as I continued to push on I found myself rubbing at a pain in my temples and getting a little light headed when I went to stand. I worried that I was coming down with something and began to panic, when I glanced over at the clock and realized that it was nearly 2PM and I’d worked straight through lunch. It dawned on me that I wasn’t sick, I was HUNGRY. I took a few minutes to eat the lunch I’d packed, and a la peanut butter sandwiches--I was cured!
There is a school of thought that holds that they key to fighting the obesity epidemic is to learn to eat more intuitively, to let our bodies tell us that we need to eat, and to recognize the clues that reveal when we should stop eating. I’m told that people without food issues do this instinctively, that they listen to their bodies. I listen to my body too, and if you put your ear up to the screen and remain very, very still I bet you can hear it right now saying:
“FEED ME! I WANT CHEETOHS! HEY, GOT ANY MORE STRAWBERRIES? WHAT ARE WE HAVING FOR DINNER? REMEMBER THAT ONE TIME WE HAD CHICKEN FRIED STEAK IN THAT TRUCKSTOP IN ALABAMA? THAT WAS AWESOME. LUNCH WAS LIKE TWO HOURS AGO, IS IT TIME FOR A SNACK YET? CAN I HAVE THE WATERMELON NOW? PLEEEEASE? HELLO UP THERE, PAY ATTENTION TO ME!”
And that’s pretty much what I hear every day. All day. Oh, it changes up the material now and then, sometimes it’s not quite that loud and every once in a while it throws in some stuff about how well I’m controlling myself and how much better life is now. And then there are the days when it speaks in hushed tones, when it hisses that I can try to ignore it, but sooner or later I’ll give it what it wants, that the food will make things right again. The yelling is a pain, but the whispering feels louder sometimes.
I wish that my body was trustworthy enough to listen to. I wish that it was easy for me to instinctively eat just as much as my body needs to function well, and no more. But if wishes were fishes, well let’s face it, I’d eat ‘em. But wishing my obesity away hasn’t been a particularly affective technique for weight loss in the past. I’m not sure my relationship with food will ever be easy or that my instincts where it’s concerned will ever be normal. My body may always speak to me the way it does now, so maybe instead of learning how to listen to it, I need to learn how to talk to it. To reason with it, to cajole and guide it in the direction I need to go to really honor it. How to ignore it if necessary. To give it what it needs instead of what it thinks it wants.
Like a Culver’s turtle sundae, for instance. My body REALLY wanted one the other night. It told me all about the reasons it should have one, it quoted my remaining points for the week and did the math and gave me it’s best “come on, you know you want it!” speech, it pouted and frowned and whined about how I never let it do ANYTHING fun…so I told it to hush. And you know what? It DID. And it turns out that self-control tasted just as good as that sundae might have.
Maybe even better.
Been a long time...
1 week ago