|The day I reached my Weight Watchers goal weight|
If you're not familiar with Weight Watchers, here is how the program works (I'm not going to get super detailed, because that would make for a very long post):
*All foods are assigned a PointsPlus (PP) value, based on the carbohydrates, protein, fiber, and fat grams that they contain. For example--an English muffin has 3 PP, two tablespoons of peanut butter has 5 PP, and a cup of skim milk has 2 PP.
*You are given a PP target to aim for each day--for example, my target is 32. That means I can eat 32 PP worth of food each day (I can go over that, which I will explain later...). Your target is personalized to YOU, so yours may be different from mine.
*Healthier foods are usually lower in PP than the junk food, which makes you want to eat healthier so that you can eat more :)
*Weight Watchers does have "Good Health Guidelines" that they like you to follow when you spend your PP (for example, getting two dairy servings a day), but I won't get in-depth about all of that right now. Basically, you can spend your PP however you'd like, as long as you eat your target amount of PP.
*Most fruits and vegetables are 0 PP. The starchy veggies like potatoes, corn, and peas are not 0 PP. I like to use these foods as fillers, to have along with a meal and fill me up.
|I'm pretty sure that my veins are filled with grape juice by now, rather than blood...|
There are two other types of PP that you can spend, however, so you're not confined to your target every single day:
*You are also given a weekly PointsPlus allowance of 49. Those can be used at any time during the week, and you can divide them up however you'd like. You can use them all in one day if you have a special occasion, or you can have seven of them every day.... or you can choose not to use them (I personally recommend that you DO use them).
*You can also "earn" more PP for food by doing activity. For example, when I run 4 miles, I might earn 5 PP. I can use those earned PP however I'd like. You don't have to use them, but again, I personally recommend using them.
|Dessert after a 5K run :)|
Your daily PP target cannot be carried over from day to day. For example, since my target is 32, if I only use 30, I cannot carry over 2 PP to tomorrow. You should try to use all of your target PP each day. Similarly, you cannot carry over your weekly PP. If you don't use all 49, then on the starting day of your week, you automatically get 49 again.
Activity PP can be used any time during the week that they are earned, but cannot be carried over to the next week either. Basically, your slate is wiped clean at the start of each week (my weeks start on Wednesday, my weigh-in day).
Here is a typical day from my Weight Watchers food journal (and I never said my diet was perfect! ;)):
Breakfast--1/3 cup oats (3); 1 tsp. peanut butter (1), 1 tsp. mini chocolate chips (1), 1 tsp. shredded coconut (1), and 2 tsp. fat-free caramel dip (1); grapes (0)
Lunch--English muffin (3) with 1 Tbsp. jelly (1); 1 egg, 1 egg white, scrambled (2) with 2 Tbsp. Hormel crumbled bacon (1), and 1 slice low-fat cheese (1); grapes (0)
Snack--1/2 Clif bar (3) and 1/2 oz. almonds (2)
Dinner--CrockPot chicken chili (10)
Snack--5 oz. wine (4) and 1 Dove Promise (1)
Total for the day: 35 PP (my 32 daily target PP + 3 weekly or activity PP)
Obviously I am lacking in the vegetable department, but this is an honest typical day for me. I tried to pick a day where I ate on the lower side of my target PP (usually, I eat at least 40 PP per day, because I use all of my weekly PP and activity PP every week).
So, those are the basics of the program. Pretty simple!
Now, my thoughts on the program... a lot of people want to know if I think it's worth trying. I don't want to say yes or no to this, because it totally depends on the person. Weight Watchers isn't magical; if you're having a hard time eating healthier, or counting calories, or sticking with any program, then Weight Watchers probably won't be much different. It still requires US to do the work--they just give us the tools to do so. Weight Watchers isn't going to be the one making food decisions, so I can't say whether it's the right program for you or anyone else.
Here is an updated version of the positives and negatives (in MY opinion) about WW. First, the positives:
*I like that the numbers are small--counting PP is MUCH easier to track than counting calories.
*I love that fruits are "free"--I've said it over and over, but grapes definitely helped me get through the first few weeks on plan! With free fruits and veggies, there is no reason to ever be hungry.
*I do tend to make healthier choices, since they are lower in PP values.
*I love that I get extra PP to use after I exercise--it's a big incentive for me to go out for a run! (Yesterday, for example, I earned 15 PP on a long run, and bought an insanely good dessert at Mrs. Fields)
*You don't have to give up any foods--you can eat anything you want, if you just count it. You can fit any food into your plan if you plan for it!
*At the meetings, you get little rewards for milestones, like 5% lost, 10% lost, 10-lbs, 25-lbs, etc. Maybe it sounds lame, but it's kind of exciting to look forward to that reward!
*The meetings are expensive. And even the online program is expensive. (Check with your insurance company, however, because a lot of them pay for it now!). However, if you're frugal like me, then spending that money might actually help you stick with it. I would have quit on Day 1 if I hadn't spend $60-something for the online program.
*It can take a lot of time when you're getting to know the program--calculating the PP values in all of your regular foods, your recipes, totaling everything up and either writing it down or entering it online. Once you get used to it, it's not as time consuming, but it still takes some of your time.
*It's tempting to find ways to bend the rules--like with the free fruit. "Technically", you could eat 10 bananas for breakfast and still be on plan--but we know that 10 bananas contain a LOT of calories! So I think it's important to be honest with myself while following the program. If I swipe a spoonful of peanut butter from the pantry, well, I have to count it.
|That seemingly harmless spoonful has 225 calories!|
Another question I was asked was about the meetings--how public the weigh-in part is. I wouldn't let this intimidate you at all! There is a tall desk, with a few receptionists behind it. On the floor, in front of each receptionist, is a small scale (without numbers on it). You just step on the scale, but the numbers only show behind the counter--so YOU can't even see what your weight is, let alone anyone else in the room.
If you're uncomfortable with anyone knowing your weight, it's very easy to keep it a secret between you and the receptionist. And if you're shy, like I am, you can let the receptionist or leader know that, and they won't (or shouldn't anyway) make you feel uncomfortable at the meeting by asking you questions and all that.
I guess that pretty much sums it up! I didn't intend for this to be so long, but it's hard to fit everything in. I'm not promoting Weight Watchers in any way, because if someone isn't ready to take control of their eating habits, then WW isn't the answer. But if someone is looking for something different to try, and it sounds interesting, then I'd say give it a go and see!
If you're a Weight Watchers member (now or in the past) I'm curious what you think... feel free to weigh in on your likes and dislikes of the program.