It's always around this time of the year when millions of people like me make a resolution to lose weight, a resolution that usually fizzles out around Martin Luther King day. And some of you reading this have already started Googling around for weight loss programs like Nutrisystem or Weight Watchers, figuring that any problem is easier to solve if you throw some money at it. But, also like me, you probably have very low tolerance for bullshit.
So one thing you'll find out is that, for instance, Weight Watchers has a failure rate of 97 percent over the long term. After five years, only three percent can say they had reached their goal weight and kept it off.
Those stats aren't a discouragement to stubborn types like me -- they're a challenge. I suspect that around 50 percent of the population thinks they're in the smartest, cleverest three percent of the species, and they're totally going to be the ones to beat the system.
So, a while back I signed up for Weight Watchers, even though it seems like the sort of thing cynical types like me should be making fun of instead of joining. Here's what I think you should know before taking the plunge ...
Get Ready for Portion Shock
If you didn't realize it already, you should know that society really, really wants you to be fat. You just have to recognize that right away.
The worst thing Hollywood has ever done to fat people is portray the obese as constantly eating at every single moment. When Friends would flash back to Monica's fat days, the big joke was she always had a huge, sloppy sandwich or chicken leg in her hand. The crime here isn't that it makes fat people look like mindless gluttons, but that it sends the message that you only get fat if you eat huge comedy prop food, all day, every day.
What you find out from a program like Weight Watchers (where you are kept on a strict daily point system) is that you can get sitcom-joke fat purely by eating three meals a day of the kind of portions portrayed as normal in TV commercials and on restaurant menus.
On my first day keeping myself to the Weight Watchers system, I ate the same lunch I normally do, calculated my points, and realized I was basically done for the day. I'm not exaggerating. Under their program, the average person would get a limit of 25 or so "points" a day. A Wendy's cheeseburger is 11 points, a medium order of fries is 9. Throw in a Coke and you're done eating (and over your limit if you ate so much as a plain bagel for breakfast).