By Hannah Reich Berman

For more years than I care to admit, I‘ve been schlepping to Weight Watchers meetings. I go once a week. There are multiple options open to me, as several meetings are held each day, but the meeting I love best is the early Sunday morning meeting. For starters, attending a meeting on a Sunday helps to keep me honest on Shabbos, when I tend to eat more at lunchtime. From Sunday through Friday, lunch might be a salad, a frozen yogurt, or a tuna sandwich, but on Shabbos it’s a four-course event. So I figured that “weighing in” on a Sunday morning would help me to have more control and eat less the day before. So far, that hasn’t worked as I had hoped it would. But I keep trying. So I give myself an A for effort!

The meeting that I attend is run by a gal named Eileen, who stands up front and offers encouragement to a crowd of chubby hopefuls. Intermingled among the hopefuls in the crowd are the success stories–people who have lost weight and managed to keep it off. I belong to the hopeful group! This is in spite of the fact that Eileen often reminds us that “hope” has nothing to do with anything. We’re not supposed to hope to lose weight or to try to lose weight–we’re just supposed to do it! “Follow the program,” Eileen says. She’s right, but some of us take longer than others to get our act together.

I have a Weight Watchers uniform. It is not a uniform in the truest sense of the word, but I refer to it as such since it is something that I wear every single week. It is a thin cotton skirt that is clearly best suited to be worn in hot weather. While it is appropriate attire for the dog days of July and August, it is patently ridiculous for a cold winter day with snow up to my kneecaps. That, however, does not stop me from wearing it every Sunday. I change my clothes when I get home, but I always wear it for the weigh-in. After all, I reason with myself, the fabric is too thin to weigh very much, and it would be foolish to wear anything heavy if I’m stepping on a scale.

It should be noted that all Weight Watchers members consider every ounce important. Hence, as silly as it looks in the cold months of winter, that skirt is what I wear. After all these years, chances are that if I knocked on my closet door on a Sunday, the skirt would march out by itself! Thus far that has not happened, but then again I have never knocked.

Two months ago, on a bitterly cold day in early February, I had to attend a funeral, which was scheduled to be held an hour after my meeting. If I didn’t want to be late arriving to the chapel, I had to go directly there from the meeting. There was not enough time for me to go home to change my skirt. And, as I was not about to wear a thin cotton skirt in 20-something temperatures, I put on a more appropriate skirt–made with a heavy suede fabric–when I left for the meeting that morning.

There isn’t a chance in the world that anyone at the funeral would be looking at my skirt, but I wasn’t going to take that risk. What if I walked into the lobby of the funeral parlor and some of the local fashionistas happened to see me in a summer-weight skirt? I would look foolish. So I bit the bullet. I put on the heavy skirt and trudged off to Weight Watchers. As I was driving to the meeting, a thought occurred to me: wouldn’t it be funny if, after all these years of wearing my thin cotton schmatte skirt, it turns out that it doesn’t weigh much less than the suede one I have on? That didn’t seem likely, but one can never be sure about these things. So I was about to find out. I had a plan.

Inside the meeting room, when I went to step on the scale, located in the privacy of a cubicle, I asked the worker who would be recording my weight that day to please weigh me twice, once with the skirt on and once with it off. The look that she gave me suggested she thought I was a nutcase, but she agreed to do it. So I did something I had never done before in that room: I unzipped my skirt and let it fall to the floor. Modesty wasn’t an issue, since I was wearing a slip. Then I stepped onto the scale for weigh-in number one. After that, I put my skirt back on and got on the scale for weigh-in number two. And, sure enough, there was a difference of two pounds!

I wasn’t thrilled about having to remove my skirt that day, so it appears that I am destined to continue to wear my paper-thin skirt every Sunday morning. It’s either that, or wear a heavy winter-weight skirt and have to repeat my stripping act each week.

The postscript to this experience is that I have been validated. Now I know that I had the right idea. I have been doing the right thing by wearing my schmatte every Sunday for years and years. The clothes matter after all. But the problem right now is less about the weight of what I wear and more about the weight of me! And after Pesach I’ll be lucky if I still fit into my favorite skirt. That’s the way it is. v

Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and is a licensed real-estate broker associated with Marjorie Hausman Realty. She can be reached at or 516-902-3733.


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