Living by numbers

23 (6 + 5 + 2 + 2) x 7 + 35 = 10%
45 x 6 = 18 = 12,000
1700 x 30 = ?

These days I’m counting. All of the time. More on the ramifications of that approach to life at the bottom of this post, but first an explanation of the wacky formulas above.

First, I’m back on weight watchers. I lost 40 lbs about 6 years ago on that program but didn’t make the permanent lifestyle changes necessary to keep that weight off. Six years later I’ve got 24 lbs to lose again. So I’m counting “points.” Each day I must consume 23 points worth of food/drink (until I lose some weight and then that number goes down incrementally). I must write down everything I eat and its point value, but I can eat whatever kidn of food I want, as long as I have the points and consume the non-negotiables: I must drink 6 glasses of water a day, and eat 5 servings of fruit and veggies, 2 servings of milk products and 2 servings of healthy oil. I do this for 7 days a week and can eat up to 35 extra points per week, if so inclined. (Tuesday night –Halloween — I consumed, slowly, a fun size peanut M & M package for 2 points, borrowed from this total of 35 available points. And really, that’s all I felt like eating, so I did not feel deprived.) Eventually, following this plan will lead to my losing 10% of my body weight, the first goal of Weight Watchers members. Beyond that I really only need to lose about 8 lbs to be at optimum weight. (If you’re good at math, you could figure out how much I weigh from the info I’ve provided, but that would be cruel of you, woudn’t it?)

Then there’s the exercise numbers. You see, on Weight Watchers you can earn up to 4 points a day for moving and sweating. The longer and more vigorously you move around, the more points you earn. I like walking and hiking, so for me to reach my goal of 18 activity points a week, I need to walk briskly or hike for an average of 45 minutes 6 days a week. In reality, some days I go for longer hikes and earn more points, and other days I walk for only a half hour. I try to make sure and exercise at least 4 times a week. Oh, and the goal of 18 activity points is entirely my own goal. My motivation for this walking plan is two-fold: (1) everyone knows that exercise is a good way to lose weight (muscle burns more calories than fat, plus exercizing burns calories — a double bonus), and (2) I am going to Peru in January and have been horribly out of shape. (Can you imagine how difficult it would be for such a sedentary person as myself to go for a four hour walk through the Andes to a remote village at 12,000 ft.? Hopefully our transportation will not break down as it has in past thus necessitating such a trek! But this summer when I hiked in the Grand Canyon, I saw how far I have to go to be ready for such a contingency.) And I guess there’s a third reason for my plan, also: my dad had a five-way bypass this year and my mom had a stroke, so I guess I am getting serious about health!

And the final formula will prove immediately recognizable to those participating in National Novel Writing Month (see my post from last time). I have pledged to write 1,700 words, on average, each day of this 30-day month in order to complete I’m not sure how many writing project drafts. As promised, I DID write yesterday. I wrote 1,705 words, a rough draft of an introduction for Grandma’s book, an excerpt of which I will post soon. I found the writing very enjoyable! In fact, I was a half-hour late picking up my son from school — oops. Well, the clock was wrong, too, so there’s my excuse. But anyway, I was really enjoying the writing and that made me think that I should do better in future about carving time out for writing rough drafts — which are admittedly a lot more fun than revising, though there are pleasures there, too.


I am not a person who naturally is inclined to count. Maria Montesorri’s research showed that young children go through a phase when everything they do is about quantifying, and her teaching methods are based around using such natural impulses to advantage. No doubt there was a time when I liked to count, but I can say for sure that once I hit junior high, math was over for me. I came into 7th grade at an advanced math level but was told that I could not go into Algebra as a 7th grader becasue then I’d have to take Geometry the next year at the high school. They didn’t want an eighth-grade girl going to the high school! So I suffered through pre-algebra and got a C+ because I decided boys were more interesting than math anyway. Though I took college prep math all the way through high school, I never really understood what I was doing. I got A’s anyway. First semester of college I took basic math for general education and got a C. Fine. Done with that requirement. I never took another math class and went on to earn my PhD in English Literature. But it’s not like I relish my number-phobia/ignorance/incompetence.

Recently, I attended a money conference for women. I went to this event because I am tired of feeling stupid and intimidated about numbers. I feel irresponsible letting my husband do all the household finances. I want to gain better control over money, weight, health, and time. And, as is typical with me, when I decide to do something, I dive right in.

So I am counting. All day long I am counting. And on Tuesday, the scale read minus 1.8. Not bad for a first week’s weight loss. A little disappointing, but it’s a loss at least. And I exercised for a total of 4 hours that week, a welcome change that made me feel empowered. And I am saving receipts and writing down the numbers that represent what we spend. And I wrote six pages of Grandma’s book.

Life is good.


4 Responses

  1. Good luck with the weight loss. And nice work with finishing six pages.

    I’m one who is constantly counting. Seriously, when I wake in the morning I count down from ten to get myself out of bed. Stuff like that. I have a minor in math, so I guess I’m just a number guy.

  2. Guess that’s why you ended up in a techie job, eh? Well, atleast you’re well-suited to the work!

  3. On the second day of NaNo my novel took a weird turn and began to focus on something that didn’t appear in the outline–psychometric calculation. I’m a numbers guy, but this was completely unexpected. Going to be quite a chore making the thing accessible and interesting to folks less numerically inclined.

  4. I’d be happy to read your draft, cave. I’d be a good mathematically-challenged test reader for ya!

    Good luck with NaNo.

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