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Point-Counting Again

January 24, 2010

Well, since Thanksgiving, when I slowed down my running but refused to slow down my eating, my weight has been up a tick. My stated goal weight when I did Weight Watchers in 2005 was 125, though I really wanted to be closer to 120. Having reached my goal, though, my weight kept dropping seemingly without effort, and I finally seemed settled in somewhere between 112-114.* My weight has stayed there through the last–what? Three years?

But this November, I went from running a steady 40 miles a week to sometimes running only 15. Meanwhile, the typical holiday fare made its way into my kitchen and my stomach, seemingly without portion control. At the same time, I also stopped taking topiramate, the medicine I’d been prescribed as a control to keep my migraines at bay. I was glad to be off the medication–it can do some nasty stuff to your kidneys–but apparently I was experiencing one of its stated side effects, appetite suppression. Because all of a sudden I was eating everything in sight. All the time.

My weight got up to about 118 before I finally decided it was time to start doing something about it. I know, it doesn’t sound like a lot, but I knew it was time to hit the brakes and get back in control of my eating. If the topiramate had something to do with how my eating was under control, then I’m going to have to relearn how much food is enough for me, retraining my body and my eyes about what a healthy portion looks like.

I started counting calories, aided by a nice little app for my iPhone called LoseIt. It was very helpful–I logged my weight, plus any exercise I did, and the application has a great database of foods, which kept me from having to scan every food I put into my mouth for its dietary content.

However, the idea that I had some 1600 calories a day to eat just seemed like a lot–and any of you who have counted calories know that it isn’t, in fact. My weight didn’t come down–because I wasn’t really changing my eating.

So I finally decided to go back to what I know–and yes, that means counting Weight Watchers points. A week into counting points, I’m seeing 114 on the scale again. I’m not totally comfortable yet–not only should I be seeing this number post-dinner and not completely undressed, post-run, in the morning, but I’d actually like to see if I can go down to 110 or just under. For racing purposes, if I can hold that weight, it would be worth it. I’m not going to diet to stay there, though.

But so long, 118. The point-counting has defeated you again.

*Weight Watchers kindly told me I was under their weight guidelines sometime after I dipped under 120, so I can no longer attend their meetings. But trust me, this is a healthy weight for a 60-inch woman–a 112-pound weight would put me at a bmi of 22, and I could hit 109 and still be at 20. I don’t look spindly or unwell.

**I know some people decry Weight Watchers for charging to train people to do something that is, in essence, free to do–to count their calories and make sure they consume less than they expend. This simple formula is, after all, the key to weight loss. And, in the U.S., it’s also fairly simple to do this for free, since nutritional information for food is readily available. But honestly, for me, points are just easier units. I paid about $50 for a six-month membership in 2006, and, having done that, learned a whole new way to look at food–one that, as you can see, I can return to with intentional discipline when I need to. Do I think the cost is worth it? Without a doubt.

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