Monday, October 5, 2009

Eat an entire bag of Oreos? Easy

The first time I tried it was fourth grade. My mom gently suggested that I give it a try, that a program existed for kids. "Really, mom? They have Weight Watchers for kids?"
"Sure," she assured me. "We just need to get you a doctor's note."
"So I'm going to go on a diet?"
"It's not a diet as much as it is a new way of eating the right foods," she continued. "And we're only doing it if you really want to and are determined to give it a shot."
"Okay, let's do it."
As we kick off the month of October, we're also slowly-but-surely immersing ourselves in the yearly season of indulgence, a three month eating fest. I can normally plan to slather on an average of five pounds during this period, which, in turn, conjures up memories of weight struggles past.
I'd been agonizing over my girth the majority of my young life. From the earliest of days, I have enjoyed a love-hate relationship with my murky overlord, the cocoa bean. As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I experienced a fair amount of teasing from other kids, both friends and enemies alike. Mostly, I just didn't like the way I looked and felt, and thus began a journey, which continues to this day, with sporadic rest stops for lard, malted beverages and high fructose corn syrup.
That first stab at weight loss occurred in 1972. Weight Watchers was still in its infancy as my mom and I tentatively entered the Auburn United Methodist Church, home of the Wednesday night WW meeting. The program's basic tenets held true even then: eat lots of fish and vegetables, but weigh everything first on this scale (which just happens to be for sale right here at the sign-in table, for only $9.95).
The woman, whose name I've long since forgotten, ushered me up to the scale.
"Okay, Timothy, let's measure and weigh you. Yes, go ahead and take your shoes off, and yes, the belt, too. No, not the pants. Timothy! Please put your pants back on. They don't weigh that much anyway. Let's see, you're four feet, eight inches tall, and you weigh...let me just keep sliding this hundred and sixteen pounds. We're going to set a goal weight for you of...90 pounds. That means you only have to lose 26 pounds. Good luck, Timothy. "
I wanted to get the hell out of there. A queue of established WW patrons waited mere inches from where this woman yelled out my initial weight as if she were auctioning me off. The word, "humiliated," would pretty much cover my emotion at the time. And if she called me "Timothy" again, I resolved to bring my fancy, new, food scale right down on her skinny, little, Weight-Watcher-alumni-club cranium. I sat down in the back row of folding chairs, awaiting the motivational speaker, while my mom waited in the hallway, reading a book. As the meeting room filled up, I realized that the person closest to my age was probably the newborn baby sleeping a few rows up. Everyone was a least 30, which may as well have been 107 when witnessed from my bespectacled, ten-year-old perspective.
After sitting through that initial meeting and quite a few more weekly gatherings, I had built a little momentum and confidence with this lifestyle change. I wore that first pair of pants to every meeting, and they became ever looser, so that they almost slipped off, this time involuntarily, when standing on the scale. Of course, I couldn't have accomplished anything without my mom's steadfast adherence to the program. If I had a nickel for each cantaloupe she sliced or each chicken breast from which she personally removed the skin, I 'd have...lots of nickels. She faithfully packed my school lunches every day; the pineapple tasted good, but oh, how I lusted for the school lunches of hamburger gravy over mashed potato buds.
After having lost about 20 pounds, I had become a bit of a novelty at the meetings, which were probably 80 percent housewife types. They were incredibly nice, constantly encouraging me to lose that last five pounds, which took a lot longer than I had planned.
But I did it. We did it, my mom and I.
I remember thinking, "I should probably wait a while to ask her about fixing these beaver teeth."

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