Sunday, August 21, 2011

Week 26: Losing, and losing.

Joan says goodbye.
First, the good news ...

For my weekly meeting weigh-in on Saturday I tipped the scales at 160.8: a frustratingly 0.02 pounds away (relatively speaking, of course) from the 75-pound, trinket-level milestone  and 0.08 from my goal weight of 160 pounds.

It was the usual nutsy Saturday morning on the scale: Despite a very tame Friday and not eating terribly late the night before, my wake-up weight was 164.8 — more than two pounds above my previous weigh-in despite an entire week of behaving myself, and nearly four above my best weight during the previous seven days.

With my usual morning workout, perhaps a bit heavier on the cardio, I shed four pounds of what I can only assume was water weight. Sheesh.

This means that I am likely to hit my goal next week about six months after I started Weight Watchers in as winter waned. It marks the end of a beginning in what our leader describes, without a hint of the schmaltziness it must seem in print, a "journey."

And now, the bad news ...

Our leader, Joan, has been re-assigned to a different location, and won't be my leader anymore. This has had an impact on my mood and behavior for the past 24 hours. I hope it reinforces the positive, but so far it has proved negative.

Saturday was unusual for other reasons too, which played into things. Nancy and I spontaneously went out for breakfast with another Weight Watchers meeting attendee, so I had the fruit portion of my first meal, but no protein. When we got home, we had to turn around quickly and I forgot to take a Clif Builders bar (20g of protein, 7 PointsPlus). By late afternoon I was feeling undernourished and woozy and tired, setting up an evening where I could be tempted by sub-optimal choices.

The choices I did make were not absolutely terrible. I has my usual crudité combo of tomatoes, crimini mushrooms and shallots. I had hummus and some lentils. But I did go over points for the day, eating into my daily activity points wallet -- no biggie, because that are what they are for. And I had more carbs than I've been allowing myself lately, mostly from a variety of chips and raw peas.

And then, late in the evening, I got an enormous sweet tooth and thought it would be great to satisfy that and get some needed protein with an aforementioned Builders bar. Or, as the case may be, three of them ...

On Saturday, which is the one day I'll allow myself much latitude from Weight Watchers tracking, I often eat more than on the other six days of the week. But it's usually by design, with something -- one thing -- special: an Indian meal, a footlong Subway sandwich and chips, a real treat like Jolo's Kitchen.

Yesterday was, relatively speaking, chaos. Joan's sudden announcement got me in the gut, literally and figuratively. It's difficult to convey the importance of the leader; she is part therapist, part confessor, part AA-like buddy. Weight Watcher leaders are members who entered the program as customers and are lifetime members who have kept the weight off for many years, and the also have the certain-something motivational air about them.

And WW leaders have real skin in the game: When they gain weight, they lose their jobs.

But all leaders are not created equal. I was in Weight Watchers once before, less than half-heartedly, about 20 years ago. I recall that the leader was listless, and I attended no meetings, lost no weight and gave up within weeks. That was entirely my doing, because I had no real desire to be there, unlike now. But an engaging leader might have at least made it much more difficult for me to decide to shut down.

Joan -- we only know our leaders by first name -- was a draw. A big draw. I learned yesterday, as we commiserated with others, that some had been with her for as many as 10 years. She had personal friends in the room, coming to her meetings. She was being reassigned as a business decision by corporate, and the reason she did not exactly share was inescapable:

Joan is a star, a rainmaker, and was needed in another parish.

Today I am already back on track, starting slowly with just some coffee to continue to continue to digest the fruits of yesterday's debauchery. I am about to begin my workout, and then there will be a fruit salad and one (1) Builder's bar. And life will go on. (Update: post-workout, I am a pound up from Saturday's weigh-in, which is normal for me).

I have lost about 75 pounds, and Joan was a huge part of the reason that was possible for me. But the lesson is, staying on track is on you — not your family, your friends, the world, or your Weight Watchers leader. In a way, continuing this journey without Joan is a poetic reinforcement of this underlying truth that Joan herself stressed.

It's a lovely thought, and I will cling to it. But, of course, the best poetry ever written was — Greek tragedy.

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