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Weight Watchers


I went to Weight Watchers as a thirteen year old. A friend of my parents’ was a Weight Watchers leader, and when we spent time at her house she made Weight Watchers recipes, and talked up the meetings, until it became clear that I was her direct target, with my vaguely pudgy body.


“Rude much?”


Unfortunately, that first foray into dieting set me off on the anorexic path: if eating less is better, eating nothing must be perfect. For a year and a half, I ate less and less until I lost my period, and spent a summer fainting. When I started to eat again, and no matter how little I ate, I gained weight. Fast. It turned out that I had burned out my thyroid with my starvation adventures, and I’ve been on synthetic thyroid replacement pills ever since.

In my twenties I did a very simple on-line program, with calorie counting and recipes. And it worked. Except that I, again, reached a point where I thought I should stop eating altogether, and I panicked at every food choice, and lost almost all joy from eating. And then I got very very tired, and short of breath, and no matter how much I exercised, or how little I ate, the weight crept back on. That time, I ended up on pain medication and spent years going to every kind of doctor in the book.


“I’m starving.”

My current attempt at Weight Watchers came from an offhand suggestion from the cardiologist, when he did a work up for my borderline high blood pressure. I pooh pooh-ed it at first, because there are other reasons for my blood pressure to be high, but when I looked up the new version of Weight Watchers it looked manageable. I figured it couldn’t hurt.

At least for now, the list of unlimited foods makes this plan doable, because I don’t have to worry about getting to the end of the day with no calories left in my budget. I’m still overwhelmed by all of the different point values, though, and I am entirely dependent on the Weight Watchers app to tell me what I can and what I can’t eat, and when; but I’m not starving, and that’s a relief.

Except, weight loss is a dangerous thing. It’s like gambling or video games: you can get addicted to the high of success, and lose track of everything else that matters to you. Like staying alive. Chances are high that losing weight won’t improve my health in any significant way (because my health problems caused the weight gain, rather than the other way around), but there’s some relief in being on a plan, and having clear guidelines to follow, instead of having to trust my own judgement all the time. Food has always been stressful for me, and maybe making it simpler will reduce some of my overall anxiety.


I eat a lot of canned peaches (juice drained), and Greek yogurt (plain, nonfat, with Truvia sweetener). I eat a lot of chicken and eggs and veggies and fruit. I’m still trying to get a handle on the Smart points, and how much to budget for things like oatmeal, or whole wheat bread, or sweet potatoes, or, of course, ice cream and cookies.

Cricket thinks the unlimited chicken thing is Nirvana. And she’s sure that I chose this diet plan with her in mind.



You’re welcome, Cricket.

Puppies in Paris

Those puppies really liked me

Those puppies really liked me


            When I was fifteen years old, my mom and I spent two weeks visiting my aunt in Paris. It was August, and my aunt told me that we came at the wrong time of the year, because everyone was away on vacation and there were no kids my age left in all of Paris. I discovered for myself that August was a bad time to visit because the heat is unbearable and my aunt didn’t believe in air-conditioning.

I remember noticing that there were dogs on the subway, but I don’t have a strong memory of the dogs on the streets of Paris. Maybe a lot of the French dogs were in the country for August with their owners.

A few weeks before we left for Paris, my dog, Delilah, died. And I missed her. The hope was that Paris would rejuvenate me, and Mom too. We would see the city of lights and be inspired, and hopeful. I’d spent two years learning French and being indoctrinated into the romance of Paris and cafes and the Seine and the museums. I didn’t know that I could still be depressed in Paris.

I had panic attacks. I was afraid of everything that summer: heights, food, buses. I was dizzy and sick to my stomach and anxious all the time. We found out later that my thyroid had burned out and that a lot of my symptoms were related to not having enough thyroid hormones, but at the time, I just felt awful. I was afraid to walk up the glass steps at a museum, because I could see the floor below me and I could picture myself slipping through the slatted steps to my death, like a long legged Flat Stanley. I kept trying to put my foot up on the next step. But I couldn’t do it.

It was a week and a half of that. Feeling frightened, and guilty for being such a burden, and lonely, and struggling to remember any of my two years of French.

And then we found the puppies. I thought we were just going from one flower shop to another. There are so many outdoor markets in Paris, for cheese and vegetables and flowers. But it never occurred to me there would be a row of puppy stores in the middle of it all.

Everyone in Paris seemed so aloof and sophisticated and cool and hard. And I am none of those things. All of my vulnerable, soft, lonely, hopeless feelings were rising to the surface. And then there were the puppies. And what are puppies but soft and loving and needy and vulnerable and desperate to be held and chosen and taken care of and shown attention.

I wanted to climb into the cage with the puppies and snuggle, but I was too big and the cages were too high off the ground. But I felt better. One nose kiss at a time, I started to feel better.

Poodles! In France!

Poodles! In France!