Weight Watchin', week two: Points, Glorious Points

If you know anything about Weight Watchers, you probably know that the program works by assigning a point value to various foods. You're allotted a certain number of points per day (I get 33, based on my current weight and lifestyle), plus a weekly points bank that you can dip into if you need it (49). Exercising earns you extra points.

Losing weight is, at its simplest, a math problem. Take in fewer calories than you burn; watch the pounds drop off. The points system just makes the equation a little more explicit.

That's why Weight Watchers is a pretty good system for a nerd. If you like collecting XP, you will probably enjoy figuring out what you can do to have as many extra points as possible. Taking a 20-minute jog means you're rewarded with 5 points. Getting the salad instead of the burrito bol at Chipotle conserves something like 10 points. Skipping their dressing and using a lighter version saves even more. (Dressing is the real X factor when dealing with restaurant salads. I bought a bottle of light vinaigrette and am keeping it in my desk at work in case of any impromptu lunch outings.)

So, in much the same way as another nerd might become obsessed with the details of the Enterprise-D in the HD re-release of Star Trek: The Next Generation, I am now obsessed with points.

My poor friends.

So far, I've been able to keep it down to once every 10 seconds.
Weight Watchers has revamped their points system since the last time I've been on the program. Five years ago, points were calculated based on calories, fat, and fiber. Now calories aren't even accounted for - when I'm adding a food the online tracker hasn't heard of yet, it asks me for fat, fiber, protein, and carbohydrates. Under the new system, it appears carbs are the devil itself. A baked potato (absent any topping) used to be worth two points; it's now five. White rice, brown rice, quinoa - all carbs I've looked up so far are at least five points per serving. It's not a day-ruiner by any means - it just means you get the most food-bang for your point-buck by sticking to lean proteins (low points) and veggies (no points).

Oh, and fruits. Somehow all fruits (even the relatively calorie-packed banana) are zero points. (I told my co-worker Matt, "Apparently I can eat as many bananas as I want." He replied, "Tell that to my intestines.")

Week 2 weigh-in: 199.5 (though not at first; more on that next time)
Total pounds lost: 5.5

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