Okay, okay. I’ll admit it. I have been really struggling with the food thing lately. I haven’t been avoiding wheat and yeast entirely, and I haven’t been avoiding sugar much at all. When sugar calls, I answer the phone on the first ring, and I don’t even bother to pretend I was about to call someone else. I’m not good at being coy. I have a weakness for chocolate, and birthday cake, and wine, and beer, and ice cream, and beer-flavored ice cream. Also cheese. And cheese flavored with beer. When it comes to dieting, my weaknesses are starting to outnumber my strengths. Hey, wait — this armor isn’t armor at all! It’s just silver body paint!
Reminding me of this every day, without fail, is my Weight Watchers app. For the last three weeks, I have been planning to start tracking my food again tomorrow. If I can’t control myself by eliminating certain kinds of foods or just eating healthy on my own, I know that tracking and limiting the number of points will help. I know this because it’s worked before. Often it’s the only thing that really works for me. So I have the convenient WW app on my phone, ready to go, no excuses.
Except I seem to have an awful lot of excuses. What can I say? I’m creative.
So I have the WW app programmed to ping me with little reminders on days when I don’t track. At first, these were friendly and cute. “Don’t forget to track your food!” and “A full tracker is a happy tracker!” There was also something about a penguin and the refrigerator that I couldn’t read because it scrolled by too quickly. (When you open the app, the cutesy messages aren’t there: it just goes straight to the tracking page. You know, they should put the opening to a joke on the reminder and not give you the punchline until you’ve tracked your food for the day — THAT would work for me. Weight Watchers, if you’re reading this, you’re welcome!)
After a few days of neglect, however, the messages have become less cutesy and perky. No mention of penguins. Now they are more sedate and resigned, like Weight Watchers is tired of being so up all the time when I’m not doing my part. All I get now is, “You haven’t tracked any food today.” And then, “You haven’t tracked for several days.”
I’m waiting for it to get more and more passive-aggressive, to adopt more of a stereotypical Jewish mother* tone. “Oh, I see. You had time to open the Facebook app three times today, but you can’t make time to track your food.” Or maybe, “Don’t mind me. I’ll just sit here with no one paying any attention to me at all.” And eventually, “That cake looks delicious. Maybe next time you’ll think about sharing it with me.”
Perhaps this is the logical next step of artificial intelligence – programming technologies that will intentionally irritate us on a psychological level as motivation. You could set up your own psychological profile to find the irritants that most closely mirror the triggers from your childhood. I can’t decide if this would encourage me to stay on task or to throw my phone in a dumpster.
But I guess if I spent my lunch break fishing the phone out of a dumpster instead of eating, that would be a win.
*I know many Jewish mothers and of course not one of us fits this silly stereotype. We’re all level-headed, sane people who would never manipulate our children emotionally or become over-involved in their lives. Obviously.
I’m M.J. (Manda) Pullen, an author and mom in the Atlanta, Georgia area. When I’m not promising Weight Watchers I will almost certainly check in tomorrow, I blog about writing, publishing, motherhood, health, psychology and whatever else strikes me in the moment.
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My current roster of books includes The Marriage Pact series, a trilogy of Contemporary Romance/Women’s Fiction novels. You can find them for all eBook formats and in paperback here.
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