Monday, September 3, 2007


My mother joined Weight Watchers the other day, even though she's not at all fat. But I guess she's seen one too many waify models on the cover of Vogue or, uh, Modern Maturity and now she's got to lose ten pounds or start purging. It's a risk factor thing; I'm sure she saw a health segment on the local news, and she's convinced that she's going to get every single Old Lady Disease known to mankind, plus a few the drug companies haven't even made up yet. It's my personal hope that God grants her an ironic death (not anytime soon), like she reaches her target weight of 135 pounds, then gets hit by a very slow-moving car and the coroner's like, "Man, if she just had ten more pounds of fat on her to absorb the impact..."

The Weight Watchers "flex plan" replaced Mom's old all-tofu and (low-fat) cottage cheese diet, but it's really a step down. The flex plan lets you eat whatever you want, as long as you stay within your points allowance, determined by how poor your metabolism is and how generally unhealthy you are. Mom's points are scarce, and she's reduced to eating rabbit food now, and not even a lot of that... pretty much the absolute minimum sustenance that will keep her alive. The good news is she can have all the water she can drink. How about VitaminWater? Nope, that's one point, which means you're not having low-cal dressing on your salad for lunch today.

The other thing about the flex plan is that you have to measure out — literally, with measuring spoons and cups — one serving of everything you eat. Nobody eats one serving. One serving is ten French fries, or a single slice of bread (I don't know how people at the FDA make a sandwich, but I usually require two), or one cup of salad. Not that you have to gorge yourself, but there used to be a time when you could just eat what you wanted, in moderation, till you weren't hungry anymore. What I find sad is that good food is one of the pleasures of life — and, yeah, it's deleterious, just like every other pleasure in life — but if you're gonna be measuring out every last grain of brown rice and parsley, snacking on carrot sticks while the people around you are having double chocolate brownie fudge ice cream, depriving yourself of hollandaise sauce and filet mignon and wasabi mayonnaise... I think it's easier to just be fat. Especially when you're not fat.