In my dream, I was in a play.

And just before my cue, someone asked me, "You know your lines, right?"

But I didn't. Somehow, I had thought this was some sort of dramatic reading, where we carried our script books with us onstage.

I said, "You mean this is a real play?"

The show must go on. So I grabbed my script and frantically tried to commit my part to memory. But it was only a few seconds before I had to take a deep breath and step into the spotlight.

The first few lines were fine. Then, suddenly, I blanked. I knew where the scene was supposed to end up, but no idea how the script said I needed to get there.

So I winged it. I said and did whatever seemed to make sense, whatever was true to my character, whatever would get me to that endpoint where I knew I was supposed to be.

And you know what? It turned out all right.

I think I even got a laugh from the audience. Hopefully I was supposed to be playing a comedic character. But even if I wasn't, the point is that I was all right.

I'll be all right.


Weight Watchin': Circumstances

You know what's nice about this plan? It's very forgiving of circumstances.

If I know I've got a big party coming up on the weekend, I can conserve my weekly points or rack up some activities to accommodate. If, at this party, I graze on this and that and can't quite recall how much I ate, I can guesstimate the points and quick-enter it ("15 points - party nibbles").

And if, as happened a couple weeks ago, the combination of a road trip, a wedding, and some fabulous dining options makes tracking more trouble than it's worth? I can put down the plan for a few days and know it will be waiting for me when I come home. 

(Have you ever spent four days eating nothing but rich restaurant food, greasy fast food, and cheese? Ever done that after six weeks of leafy greens and lean protein? Going back on plan was kind of a relief.)

I didn't do an official weigh-in after my weekend of debauchery, but an unofficial check showed I gained two pounds. Nothing a week back on the plan couldn't account for, and nothing worth beating myself up over. Weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint. 

Weigh-in: 190.2
Total pounds lost: 14.8


Weight Watchin', week five: Do What You Can

Sometimes life gets in the way of the plan.

Sometimes you get assigned a huge work project that has you working 12- and 13-hour days for nearly two weeks straight. Pizza and bagels are everywhere, and well-meaning co-workers pass baskets of candy to keep spirits high.

So you do what you can. You bring salads, politely decline the candy, and stock the fridge with your own snacks.

Sometimes it's your birthday, and you say, "Just for tonight, I'm not worrying about the plan."

And then morning comes, and you do what you can. You calculate your drinks (because somehow, miraculously, you can remember them all), and you figure your remaining weekly point total will suffice for the food.

Sometimes, the only place you and your friend can find to eat dinner before the movie is a sandwich shop with zero genuinely light options and no nutrition information posted.

So you do what you can. You order the smallest, most veggie-packed sandwich you can and look up the nutrition when you get home. (Turns out: 11 points.) And then at the movie, you order a small popcorn because  it's been a while since you've had popcorn, but you put it down after eating just a few cups, because you don't NEED it. Not really.

You do what you can. And sometimes, it's enough.

Week five weigh-in: 193.8
Total pounds lost: 11.2


Weight Watchin', week four: No Words

Big work project.

Worked 135 of last 228 hours.

All out of wording.

Week 4 thingy: 194.1
Total blah thing: 10.9


Weight Watchin', week three: The Agony of the Scale

When I'm not doing a weight-loss program, I barely step on the scale. Makes sense, right? I might check in every now and then, just to see if my weight is still hovering in the same five-pound-or-so range, or to find out if an illness or a huge meal made any big difference.

Weight Watchers asks you to weigh in once a week; if you're doing the online program, you can log your weight more often, but I've been sticking to once per week for now. Monday is my tracking day (and therefore, my blog posting day).

When you're taking an active interest in your weight, there's a little bit of internal calculus that goes on every time you prepare to step on the scale. Last Monday, my thoughts were on the previous night's Indian takeout, a 17-point indulgence that (combined with Easter dinner and wine with my family) had eaten up most of my remaining weekly points. But balance that against my six-mile run and the entire week of healthy eating before that, but subtract happy hour on Friday, divide by two, carry the one ...

At any rate, I expected a small loss, maybe a pound or even less. I stepped on the scale.

200.0. A tenth of a pound higher than last week.

1.6 ounces made the first number of my weight a 2 instead of a 1.

I know that there are good scale days and bad scale days, but I really, really didn't want to go back to having a 2 in front. So I did a very silly thing. I used the bathroom. And then I weighed myself again.


OK, really?

Finally, I did an even sillier thing. I recalled that the previous week, my bathrobe was hanging on the wall behind the scale instead of in a heap on the bathroom floor. I hung it back up and tried again.

And I must have slightly shifted the way I was standing so as not to wind up with a face full of pink microfiber, because the scale read 199.5.

Eventually, I will see this episode as a pithy reminder that the numbers on the scale really, truly do not matter. Weight Watchers uses those numbers because it's a lot easier to measure your weight than things like "how loose my clothes are" or "how much energy I have" or "whether my knees hurt as much when I run." I know this.

But for now, I think I'm going to buy a thicker robe.

Week 3 weigh-in: 198.6 (no do-overs this week!)
Total pounds lost: 6.4


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


Weight Watchin', week one: Back in the Saddle Again

A certain sister has been on my case to get back into the blogging game. OK, Katie - this one's for you.

I've been on Weight Watchers twice in the past five years or so. The first time I lost around 20 pounds:

Look, Ma, only one chin!
The second time, I didn't take it seriously, and I lost zero pounds:

OK, there probably are pictures, but there just wasn't an easily accessible memory associated with them. "Remember that time you didn't lose all that weight?" doesn't work all that well as a mnemonic.

Anyway, over the past couple of years the numbers on the scale have been creeping up steadily, and the last few months in particular have had me feeling guttular, blorpy, and other adjectives Cute Overload makes up to describe roly-polyness.

So when my mom asked me if I'd like to do Weight Watchers' online program with my dad, I agreed, and I started the program last Sunday.

Doing Weight Watchers online is a big different than the traditional meeting-based program. Essentially, you're on the honor system to weigh yourself in each week. I'm OK with that, though - the meetings never really did all that much for me. I don't need to slay my personal weight-loss demons - I just need the structure of a program and the will to follow it.

You also track your food and fitness activities online - just five years ago, all that was manual. I toted around a little booklet and wrote down everything I ate. Weirdly, the online system might prove to be less convenient in the long run - it's a little tough to track when I'm out and about. There's apparently a sweet app for iPhone, but none for Android, and I haven't been able to load the mobile site on my phone. But so far, I've had access to a computer everywhere I've been, so it's been fine.

More next week!

Starting weight: 205
Week 1 weigh-in: 199.9
Total pounds lost: 5.1