Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.

Weeknotes #749

So, let’s talk weight management.

The good news is that my current weight is lower than what I weighed this time last year. The bad news is that the difference is not very much, as most of the gains I made between January and June were lost in the upheaval of moving out of Dublin and finding a new routine. No more 45-minute cycles to and fro the office to burn off the excess intake, alas. (Though if I’m really honest, I’ve simply been snacking on too many sweet things to take the edge off.)

But! I’ve still been going to Weight Watchers. My usual meeting is on a Thursday evening now, and after the news from my latest weigh-in that I actually lost half a pound over the Christmas break (a first for me — my previous best was an extra 3lb to shift) it seems I’m in good stead to repeat 2015’s positive start.

Thursday’s meeting also coincided with the introduction of the new SmartPoints plan, which has had a mixed reception among WW members.

Now I’m well aware that the key to success in Weight Watchers or any similar weight management plan is, for most people, all in the head; that beyond the sciencey talk and whatnot, the primary purpose is to steer the plan’s followers away from high-calorie, low-nutrition foods by benign coercion.

That’s never been more clear than with the new SmartPoints method. I’d already set up the new online points calculator on my phone days before, without knowing the details, just to compare what the differences might be, and it was pretty obvious from the few things I checked that while carbs from grain were staying the same (a wholemeal pitta bread from Tesco, say, is 4 ProPoints and 4 SmartPoints), anything with sugar would carry a high penalty. (Two squares of Lidl dark chocolate, my go-to sweet snack, were 4 ProPoints, but are now almost double at 7 SmartPoints. As they say in South Africa, eish.)

From the first meeting under the SmartPoints plan, I also took away that lean protein is a bonus, with lower points than it had under the previous method. So I can eat more of it even with the slightly lower daily and weekly allowances I have, which is great ’cause I love my chicken. (And since I started eating eggs, I could go for an omelette.) Thankfully we’re not talking Atkins diet nonsense here; the idea, as I take it, is that you can fill up on a little more protein so you won’t crave the sugar so much and gorge on sweets and chocolate and ice cream after dinner, and your body will thank you for it later.

Now that all makes complete sense — our bodies need carbohydrates, not specifically sugar, and the less of the latter we consume the better — but weight management isn’t always about sense or reason. It’s emotional, too. I’ve said it here before, I know I don’t have the will power to see it through simply by appealing to reason; I’m happy to suspend my disbelief and go with tracking and counting under the SmartPoints plan to trick myself into a healthier lifestyle. There’s nothing wrong with that on a personal level, especially if it achieves the desired results. That’s kind of the whole point.

So here’s to a month of adjusting to the new plan, making better trade-offs and choices (Do I really want chocolate? Or am I just bored?) and fooling myself into a lighter future on the scales.