Eat your points!

I’m doing Weight Watchers this year. Anybody who knows me knows that there’s probably a little more of me to love than there ought to be, and I could do with better eating habits anyway. This was spurred on by Christine joining a WW competition among photographers; I’m certain I’ll get the details wrong so I’ll let her explain in the comments.

We’ve done WW before, with more success for her than me, as well as a few other programs – we did, for example, South Beach for four or six months a few years ago. (I shudder now to think of that time. I’ve made pizza out of nothing but ground beef and mozzarella. No, really. The meat was the crust. God, I missed bread.) But, nothing like solidarity for support, and me trying to focus on eating classic, from-scratch foods just wasn’t getting the job done on its own.

In a nutshell, the program tries to change your habits both about the makeup of the food on your plate as well as the amount. No surprise there. Points are assigned to foods based on the caloric, fat, and fiber contents of the food (Wikipedia provides some decent background here). Your points allotment takes into account age, gender, weight, and typical daily exertion, as I recall. Track and eat your points every day, and watch the weight disappear at a healthy and safe pace until you reach your goal.

I’ve never been one to do thing by halves. My problem with WW before was that if I had to stay within a certain point range, I made sure to stay WELL within the point range. Overachiever and all that. Problem is, this doesn’t work unless you do eat all your points – you don’t do better by eating less than your points, you just remain heavy and hungry. So, while “diet” to me has meant “eat a bag of carrots for lunch” in the past, I’m having to make sure I eat all of my points each day.

Here’s where my problem comes in. Because I’m fat, reasonably young, and male, I get a good amount of points. Not enough to keep eating like I was, but enough. (39, for those of you keeping score at home.) I am trying to learn better eating habits, so I’m leaving my comfort zone and eating lots more vegetables, less meat, more beans, whole grains, and so forth. I manage to keep my meals to single digit points, occasionally to double digits. This means that, at the end of the day, I find myself playing the game “How much butter does Mike have to eat to cover all his points?”. Oy.

What I’m learning as I track is that by normal behavior, I actually undereat in the day more than I expected. I’m not a big breakfast person on the workdays (caffeine and stress, normally), quick lunch, and dinner. There may have been enough points in those meals to make up the difference, perhaps, but basically I need to pace myself better and start eating more.

Klondike no-sugar-added bars are three points apiece. I’ve got to stop using them to pad my points total for the day.

Expect to see more, healthier foods soon. I’ve been doing whole wheat breads, veggie pizza, and sandwich wraps for lunch. It’s new habits that I’m trying to learn.