Now that Wife has written about Weight Watchers, it wouldn’t be inappropriate to put down a few thoughts on the subject.
At home, weight is a weighty matter. We have a fair amount of diet related books that leave little shelf space for my literary tastes; the weighing machine is probably the most used – and cursed – device in the house; a number of weight-reduction schemes have been launched over the years (with limited success, as the shrinking waistlines of Wife’s jeans suggest).
So when a few weeks back Wife mentioned that she was registering at the Weight Watchers website, I groaned. “Not another scheme! And what’s this, you have to pay them for watching your weight?!”
She wasn’t asking me, and she registered anyway. Then began endless hours of meticulously recording how many “Points” (a registered trademark, apparently) she had consumed each day. The scheme, I learned, relies on quantifying the amount of food a person consumes and it tries to establish control over intake through a “points allowance” policy. Each day one is allowed 18 Points. The website offers a comprehensive service that maps foodstuffs to Points; even items like Idly and Masala Dosa have been covered.
An innovative idea for business, I thought. All they had to do was set up a website that offered users an interface to enter their daily intake and, on the click of a button, generate a chart showing total consumption over a certain period. The climbing consumption curve would serve as a watchdog: women would cut down their intake, reduce weight, and gladly offer a testimonial on how useful a service it was.
But Weight Watchers was more pervasive than I had assumed. Last week, at the food section of the local super market, I spotted small and neatly packaged boxes bearing the Weight Watchers trademark, and each item had a number highlighted in a corner: its value in Points. What next, I wondered? I imagined stickers on tomatoes bearing their Points value; ads like: “Buy 50 Points and take 5 free!”; an additional column in menus displaying Points for each dish… the possibilities were endless. Forget the Dollar – this was currency that would rule the world. Or at least half of it.
“Can you deduct Points as well?” I asked Wife. “By going to the gym, for example?”
“Yes,” she replied, “different activities have different Point values. A 4 km walk means something like 2 points less.”
I spotted an opportunity here. “And how many Points can you deduct for… well… you know what?”
“What?” She asked, absent-mindedly.
She shot me a strict glance. “No Points.” she replied.
“But you didn’t even check!” I protested.
“It isn’t listed.” There was a finality in her tone; the topic was closed.
These days Wife’s phone conversations – with her Mother and my Sister – are dominated by Points: how much was consumed, how much is left, what a pity Chocolate and Cheese are so Pointsy while Bread and Banana aren’t. A good amount of competition – healthy, fortunately – has sprung between Wife and Sister: the success of one (in reducing Points consumption) inspires the other to scale new heights.
Points, of course, are only a means to an end: less weight. And weight tracking is no less frequent in the daily routine. Wife and Sister constantly update each other on the latest figure revealed by the (mostly-untruthful) weighing machine. So on a recent weekend visit when Sister heard Wife’s voice from another room exclaim in an elated tone that “it has touched 55”, she was struck with disbelief.
“How did you manage to lose so much weight so soon?! Tell me – what did you do?!!”
“Weight?” Wife replied. “That wasn’t my weight. It was today’s Euro to Rupee conversion rate.”