I should give some milestones in these posts or you’re never going to keep track as I jump back and forth between subjects and dates. This particular post starts in late 2004. My ex and I separated in May 2003 and reached a custody agreement in September 2003 (about a millenium later). After not being able to sleep, or breathe, or eat, for months, life finally lurched back into motion. I started eating. And I kept eating. There were a lot of other things happening in my life — eventually I’ll cover those in the relationships part of the blog (don’t hold your breath), but this post is about weight. So I’ll just give you a couple of signposts to help you along. I met Rich in January, 2004 (Minneapolis, on the way to an awesome witch’s party), saw him again in May of that year when he came to visit, then we met again in Dallas at a marriage therapists’ convention, and then one last time in November of that year. From then until August of 2005, we were out of contact. Yes of course, there’s a story there. Later, child, later. For now, the story of what happened in the interim.
In early 2005, I started dating a very kind woman named Bea. Among her accomplishments was the loss of a significant amount of weight, which she had done through Weight Watchers. It was part of an intense and really amazing healing journey that she’d been on, recovering from a series of abusive relationships and unhealthy choices that stretched back into her youth. When I knew her, she was living in this little basement apartment, had a wonderful community centered around her church, had decluttered her whole life, and was wonderfully happy. She started telling me a little about how she had, one step at a time, uncovered and unwound some of the complex and difficult things in her life. Looking back on it, I should have listened more closely; I could have made progress in a number of other areas as well.
In any case, she had joined Weight Watchers when she decided that she wanted to lose weight. I didn’t feel that I could afford the expense at the time, nor the time to find a meeting. (They didn’t really do online at that point.) . So I did what I had done in the past and started researching the principles behind it. I found the formulas for the points system of the day (the Weight Watchers structure changes fairly often). I was also familiar with Weight Watchers from grad school, when a professor had used it to lose weight before a milestone birthday.
So I thought I’d try it. I was at 205 pounds, the most I had ever weighed. I didn’t tell her that I was going to try it. I didn’t want to have to admit that it hadn’t worked, because I really though it wasn’t going to.
I didn’t have much money then. I was suddenly single, suddenly paying child support, suddenly re-financing a mortgage I had though two people would pay off together. It wasn’t even the end of going into debt — there was more to come. But it was enough that money was really tight. So I didn’t want to pay the membership fee either. Luckily, the Internet had cracked the Weight Watchers code of the day and I found it. Then it was in geeky research papers. Now it’s in calculators where you can figure out how many points per day you get (I got 26 when I started out) and how many points are in your favorite foods. Luckily, you also got points for activity, and a bonus 35 points to use every week.
This system, while a bit tricky to figure out, seemed to work rather well. I quickly realized that a grande latte and scone (which I’d been eating almost every day) were absolutely FULL of fat and carbs and calories. So I switched to skim milk and gave up the scone. I did similar things at other meals, and what do you know? The weight actually started to come off. I was, frankly, amazed.
Something I see now, which I did not see then, is that that period of my life also marked a very significant reduction in my stress levels. Though there was still a huge amount going on, having someone calm and supportive in my life was a benefit.
However, things with me and Bea were not meant to be. The one thing missing from her life, she thought, was a baby. After much consideration, she had decided to go the artificial insemination route. And I just was not able to coherently consider having a girlfriend of three months have a baby after my partner of 12 years had agreed to have a child together — and then watched that commitment evaporate in a haze of other relationships and stress and post-partum insanity.
So we parted on relatively good terms. Last I heard, she had gotten back together with a previous girlfriend. I never heard whether they had a child in the end or not. I kind of hope they did. She was a really neat person.
So, I dropped down to 185 using the Weight Watchers points. That’s where I was when I got back in contact with Rich the summer of 2005.