This week’s series of posts chronicles how I lost 40 lbs. Each day is dedicated to a different aspect of that process. Today’s post is part 2 of 5, and it covers the tool I used to help with my weight loss.
Only one other time in my life have I lost a bunch of weight. The first time was in high school. During my junior year, I lived just outside of Houston and somehow blimped up. It was gross. I remember one day getting ready for school, and I was making my lunch. I looked in one of our drawers, and in it was a wide assortment of Little Debbie cakes – Oatmeal Cream Pies, Nutty Bars, Swiss Cake Rolls – all sorts of shit. It was such a fat kid drawer, I became appalled. None of the boxes were opened as my mom had just gone to the store. I said to her, “Mom, I appreciate you buying all this stuff because I do love it, but can you please take it back? I don’t even want to be around it.” She did, and I started working out 6 days a week and eating more protein and less carbs. By the time I moved back to Denver several months later, I had dropped 20 lbs. and went on to lose 10 more by the end of the school year. I exercised constantly.
I’m 31 years old now, not 17. I don’t have enough hours in the day to exercise as much as I did then, nor would I want to. So I knew this time would be controlled entirely by diet.
Kristin had done Weight Watchers before, liked it, and thought I would take to it.
I was really nervous about it. Since weight loss programs are all marketed toward women, signing up for one of them feels incredibly emasculating. “Only girls go on diets, RIGHT BRO?!”
/high fives nearby douche bag
/eats giant turkey leg
So I swallowed my pride and began my journey in figuring this out and downloaded the Weight Watchers app. I didn’t go to meetings, I just used the app. The biggest lifestyle change that comes with a Weight Watchers program is writing down everything you eat. I had never done this, and undertaking the process is incredibly illuminating.
Weight Watchers is great because you’re assigned, based on your height, weight and goals, a daily number of points. When I started, they gave me 47 daily points. And this is where the brilliance of Weight Watchers really shines. 47 is a number I can contextualize pretty easily, and foods have a value that are easy to put into that context. That chicken breast is 6 points. This string cheese is 1 point. This bell pepper is 0 points. This Dale’s Pale Ale is 5 points. Etc.
Whereas calorie counters make you do math in the hundreds and into the thousands, which is math your brain doesn’t do nearly as frequently, this program keeps your arithmetic simple, which, for me, was much easier to grasp.
In addition to my 47 daily points, I got 49 weekly flex points that could be deployed whenever and for whatever. I could also earn activity points for exercise and moving about and shit. 20 minutes on the elliptical trainer earned 5 points, for example. What I liked so much was that I wasn’t just on some fucking diet, I was forced to make my own decisions which galvanized a whole lifestyle change.
Want to eat that cookie in the middle of day at work? Ok, that’s 7 points. What are you giving up instead to eat this marginally satisfying calorie bomb at your office that you won’t even enjoy all that much? More often than not, I put the cookie down and saved my points for something I really wanted. I edited my diet, and understood that everything I ate counted at the end of the day. Understanding the limited points I had to work with helped me prioritize what I really wanted to eat.
I lost 11 lbs. between Thanksgiving and Christmas, by far the fattest part of the year. I didn’t indulge in the orgiastic excess that is an office during the holidays. If Shirley from HR brings in a giant tray of lemon squares, why the fuck do you have to eat it? You don’t. You have no idea how she made them, hence, you have no way of calculating the points, ergo, you’re dropping an unknown dirty bomb in your day. You don’t even like Shirley, nor particularly lemon squares. So go on your way, save your points, and make green chili wontons with your wife on Christmas and indulge in something you actually like.
The first week on the program I lost 4 lbs. The second week I lost 3 more lbs. I walked around down 7 lbs. feeling like the cock of the walk. “Yep. I’m 7 lbs. lighter, bitches. My gut looks smaller. My belt fits better. You all wish you felt this good.” I was obnoxious as shit in my own head, but the feeling was addictive. I wondered how much I could lose the next week. I didn’t go crazy with my points, but I felt proud when I would only use 32 out of my 47 points.
Having this tool pushed me to be competitive with myself, which is always helpful. I suddenly wanted to be a better version of me than I was the day before. I hadn’t felt that in a long time, and I have the Weight Watchers app to thank. I couldn’t have done it without it. Weight Watchers is the tool by which you can carve your new healthy body. It helps you recontextualize how to eat real food and creates a new universe where you make your own decisions and learn to make them correctly. I cannot sing its praises highly enough.
But it’s only the framework. Everything else is up to you. And that’s the real key.
Tomorrow: A routine, a routine, my kingdom for a routine… And how to break it.