3 pounds gone so far. Yay me!

I’m having way too much fun with this, I think. One of the impromptu group leaders is into eating small amounts of high-point foods (think half a can of full-calorie soup, or a very small serving of lasagna) along with large amounts of the boring kinds of point-less veggies. Another one eats salad all day and supplements it with frozen entrees at mealtimes. And here I am having a portabello sandwich with roasted peppers and goat cheese. (Yeah, it was 7 points, but if my low-point bread hadn’t gone moldy–ONE DAY after buying it–it would only have been 5.)

Hawaii is going to be a challenge, but it’s better than it could be. I’ll be in the land of tropical fruit, after all, and it’s early enough in the plan that there shouldn’t be any willpower issues or getting bored with things. I am NOT going to lose the ground I’ve gained….er, regain the ground I’ve lost….whatever. I wonder if my magic mug will travel well.

The materials from Weight Watchers had an interesting line near the end: “You’ll be amazed at what you learn about yourself when it comes to losing weight.” Well, they might be exaggerating a bit, but there’s at least a grain of truth in it. Looking over my food logs for the last two weeks, I have learned something.

I eat like a hobbit.

Seriously. I have breakfast before I go to work, which usually means I eat around 7 am. By 10, I’m starving, so I have a snack. This tends to be almost as much food as I had for breakfast. If I have lunch at 12:30, like my official schedule says, then no matter how much I eat, I’m ravenous by 5, sometimes even as early as 3. The one exception to this is if I indulge in food that’s really bad, like greasy-spoon Chinese food or a meatball and cheese sandwich. It does me no good to have a snack when I get hungry in the afternoon–it might as well bypass my stomach completely, for all the effect it has. It has to be a full dinner or my body doesn’t acknowledge that I’ve been fed. And once I get that, I’m fine the rest of the night.

So the main thing I have to watch out for is super-sizing my second breakfast. As long as no PHF’s throw chili fries at me, I think that can be done.

Next time salsa marked as “mild” beckons from the shelf at Whole Foods, check to see whether it’s made by a company specializing in vegetarian products. If so, do not buy it thinking the heat level is the same as mainstream food marked as “mild.”

I don’t know what it is with vegetarians and hot peppers, but from what I’ve seen, 95% of people who are vegetarians seem to be unable to eat anything savory that’s not doused liberally with their favorite El Scorcho. Some people have suggested that it’s because vegetarian food has no flavor in and of itself, which I know to be complete bull. (No pun intended.) I order vegetarian food from restaurants and pack it in my lunch for the same reason that I order dishes containing meat–because it tastes good. But I’ve heard that a good number of vegetarians started out finding the taste of meat to be disgusting, so maybe their taste buds are just different. How anybody’s mouth could transmit signals of anything other than pain when chewing on capsaicin-loaded food is a mystery to me, but hey, whatever floats your boat. Just so long as people with high pepper tolerance realize that not everybody floats on nuclear-strength Tapatio.

Katie and I were shopping at Whole Foods yesterday, and I saw a box labeled “Nature’s Burger.” It was a mix for making a vegetarian burger patty.

One of the strangest things I’ve seen in vegetarian/vegan products is the suggestion that somehow meat and dairy products are unnatural, but that processing the hell out of a few dozen vegetable distillates into something that vaguely approximates the experience of ground beef is “natural.”

I mean, I’ve seen slogans like “Nature’s alternative to cheese.” Do they find this mysterious vegetable-based mass lying around somewhere? No? It requires industrial processing? Well it’s not natural, then, is it?

In a similar vein, the abbreviation of organically-grown-and-processed to simply “organic” can make for some rather amusing phrasing. The coffee grinder had a sign explaining that it was used for both organic and conventional coffee beans, and if you wanted to ensure that your coffee “remained organic,” you should grind them at home. And yes, I knew what they meant, but I couldn’t help thinking, “What, they’re suddenly going to become silicon-based?”

There are two things in this world that I can’t stand to eat: blue cheese, and my words. When I arrived in this office, about this time last year, about half the women in the place had just signed up with Weight Watchers. For the next month, just about all I heard, especially in the lunchroom on meeting days, was points this and points that and how many points does that have? One day, a client brought in a huge jar of pretzels (deli pickle-jar size) and nobody would eat them until someone posted a sign on the jar saying “3 = 1 point.” (Over half the jar was gone in 30 minutes.) I couldn’t deny that the program seemed to be working for most of the ones who took it seriously, but the level of obsessive commitment freaked me out. I swore I wouldn’t become one of the herd next time it came around. Then I watched myself pack on 15 pounds over the next year.

Mooooooo.

The whole thing would have to start on a day when we have no groceries in the house and are coming up on a weekend. I ended up with oatmeal for breakfast because there wasn’t anything else in the place I could eat and still have points left for dinner. Especially when there’s a darn good chance that dinner will be eaten somewhere besides home. I can’t believe capellini friggin’ pomodoro is 6 points for half an order while a strip of bacon is only 1 point. (Must be all the olive oil.) At least I’ve found a mug that makes drinking indiscreet amounts of water palatable. (The 9-11 memorial freebie we got from some vendor, of all things. Holds 2 cups!)

What I can’t figure is where they get their daily points ranges. The upper end has been lowered for nearly everybody since the last time the other women did this, so instead of the 22-29 I’d have had then, I have a max of 27. I’m trying to budget for 6 per meal and then add in snacks. I honestly don’t know how people with an 18-23 range can survive on that little. I’ve been hungry all day, and this is with half a bag of baby carrots sitting within arm’s reach (they’re gone now).

And I ran the numbers on what I used to eat in Arroyo Vista, spring quarter of freshman year, when I lost 15 pounds, reached what doctors would just barely call a healthy weight for my height, and felt like crap the entire time. I was eating between 30 and 35 points on the days I followed my formulaic meal algorithm, and I was losing the entire time. So where they get off maxing me out at 27, I have no idea. Maybe they figure 99 percent of people are going to cheat? Maybe if they put the max back at 29, fewer people would.

At least I don’t have to eat blue cheese.