February 3, 2006
[Wendy attends a Weight Watchers meeting just before Thanksgiving.] Walking through the parking lot I am chilly and wet and tired, I wish I had a big warm loaf of bread the size of a Honda Civic, so that I could chew my way inside and fall asleep in it.
— Wendy McClure, b. 1972
American writer and children’s book editor
from I’m Not the New Me
I fell into Pound, Wendy McClure’s online journal, in about 2003, probably from a link in somebody else’s journal to the Weight Watchers recipe cards from 1974 she posted on her site. She found them among her grandmother’s things in 2003. She thought they were hilarious (they are), and a little scary (they’re that, too).
Wendy is, like me, a perennial on again/off again Weight Watchers member. She was born the year I joined Weight Watchers for the first time (1972), and to her the recipe cards represent the ancient history of The Plan (we must never call it a diet), reflecting now-outdated ideas about nutrition and food consumption, with their labeling of certain foods as “legal” or “illegal,” their requirement that you eat liver once a week, and their fake foods. (I once made a “pancake” out of a slice of white bread soaked in a solution of skim milk and imitation maple extract, fried in pan spray, then sprinkled with sugar substitute.) I, on the other hand, actually received them as part of my membership materials.
I’d heard that she got a book deal, and last summer I saw I’m Not The New Me, billed as a memoir of her “weight loss journey,” (a phrase both she and I abhor) on the front table at Borders. I bought it right away, but only this week started actually reading it.
It’s terrific. It has a hip, funny, ironic tone. The chapters are short, like a 2-point Weight Watchers snack. When I read some with my morning coffee and then go directly to writing in my journal, I sound like her for a few pages (not a bad thing).
I missed my Weight Watchers meeting tonight, and could hear myself composing a Wendy-like piece about why. I had every intention of going to the 5:30 meeting and then to the gym afterwards. I started out with plenty of time, I thought. I had a few places to stop, but every place I went I seemed to get behind someone who had multiple complicated transactions involving special codes that only the managers who carry a zillion keys on curly cord bracelets can be trusted with. By the time I’d finished my errands I was falling over from hunger and I had only six minutes to navigate the congestion across town to the meeting site. I’d weighed in yesterday, but still, I’d be arriving ten minutes into the meeting. Sandra is a popular leader (she’s the only one whose meetings I’ll go to), and there’d only be seats here and there, mostly in the front. And then I’d have to drive all the way back to the north side of town to go to the gym and then home.
I should have eaten something out of my special snack bag (a collection of packaged crackers and cookies and juice boxes and stuff, with the points all calculated and noted on a list in my datebook — Wendy travels with one too!) and gone to the meeting anyway. But when the light changed it was easier to cross Route 22 and pull into the Arby’s parking lot than to turn left and head the other way toward more lights.
So I had a regular roast beef sandwich and (yes) fries, and then had to drive around in the deepening dusk letting it settle and digest a bit before I hit the gym. Tonight, after my workout (which takes only half an hour, plus the warmup time on the treadmill) I tried the whirlpool and then a shower, thinking I could make this a routine. Hit the gym after dinner instead of watching reruns of Friends or Seinfeld while I clip coupons or surf the Web.
I can’t. It’s a first-rate gym, well-maintained, and the whirlpool is warm and bubbly, but the showers are awful. They’re clean and all, but the water isn’t hot enough and the angle and intensity of the flow is not adjustable, and there’s no place to put your things down and I forgot clean underwear and felt oogie all the way home until I could take a proper shower and change.
I know. Whine whine whine.
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