Focus On: Weight Watchers

I’m heading back to work this morning, so in the meantime, I wanted to bring you a Focus On post that I didn’t feel quite qualified to write. When I first tried to lose weight, my stint with Weight Watchers was very short-lived, since I really didn’t know how to choose healthy foods at the time. I would blow my points on a few Krispy Kreme donuts 😉 It didn’t work for me, but I know that it’s a sensible plan that has been successful for many people.

Here’s Racheal with the deets and I’ll be back later today! Here’s hoping I remember my Zumba dances 🙂

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Hi Fitnessista Readers!

I’m Racheal from Running with Racheal and I am super pumped / honored / excited to be writing a Fitnessista guest post.

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Just like you, I am inspired daily by Gina’s food and fitness ideas and always look forward to trying one of her new recipes or workouts. In addition to reading healthy living blogs and running, I also follow the Weight Watchers program in an effort to lead a healthier lifestyle.

I have enjoyed reading the recent discussions surrounding other ways of eating and thought it would be interesting to throw Weight Watchers in the mix.

MY OTHER VIDEOS

I know, I know – an image of Jennifer Hudson singing her heart out while calculating how many points are in a sandwich just popped into your head. But, before you write Weight Watchers off as a scheme built for a company to make money, hear me out.

(I should say that I am not in any way affiliated with Weight Watchers. What is written below is a direct result of my personal impression of and experiences with the program.)

The Plan

The current Weight Watchers program is based on three basic principals – staying within your points target, following the good health guidelines, and attending weekly meetings.

1. Points

Simply put every food item is assigned a points value based on its amount of fat, carbohydrate, fiber, and protein, with the exception of fruits and most vegetables, which are 0 points. (You better believe I load up on these – at least 8 servings a day.) (Note from Gina: you can figure out how to calculate the point value of a food by using this formula)

Every day I eat my target points amount, which is calculated based on my height, sex, and weight.

I can earn extra points by physical activity – which is calculated by my body weight, duration of activity, and level of exertion. You are also allowed extra weekly points to use or not use throughout the week, as necessary.

The end of the day should look something like this:

Daily Points + Activity Points – Eating Points = 0

All the calculations may seem a little complicated, but Weight Watchers provides you with multiple resources to make tracking a breeze.

2. Good Health Guidelines – in addition to tracking your points, Weight Watchers encourages a balanced diet by following the following guidelines (source)

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3. I attend weekly meetings to discuss challenges and successes and to encourage others on their weight loss journey. Each meeting also has a focus topic – like staying active, eating out, portion control, etc. This part of the plan is completely optional – Weight Watchers can be followed completely online and there is an enormous virtual support group through their message boards and other websites.

The Good

Weight Watchers is an extremely balanced and flexible plan that allows me to eat whatever I want – just not however much I want. It has taught me portion control and to eat more of the good-for-me things and less of the not-so-good-for-me things.

I realize that their plan isn’t rocket science and that to some, eating less and exercising more is the obvious way to stay healthy. In a perfect world I would just know what I should eat and what I shouldn’t eat, but the world isn’t perfect. I have tried multiple diets on my own only to fail days later. This is simply an area of my life where I need help and this combination of fellowship, accountability, and tracking really works for me. I rarely feel hungry and instead feel completely in control of my health and happiness.

I have also trained for and ran my first half marathon at the Disney Princess Half Marathon while following the Weight Watchers program which allowed me to safely fuel my body during the entire process.

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The Bad

A few complaints I have heard about the program:

· “Calculating the points is always such a hassle.” I agree that punching numbers into the computer can get a bit old, but after a while it is just another part of everyday life. I started to learn how many points values my normal foods were and looked up anything new I thought about buying. Taking the time to meal plan once a week also keeps this stress down to a minimum. If this still isn’t your thing, Weight Watchers also has a plan called Simply Filling which does not require much tracking / calculating and instead focuses on what they call power foods, but that is for another day.

· “I hate paying money to lose weight.” Agreed. Parting with that $40 a month is painful. I hate paying taxes too, but some things must be done. The good news is that once I reach my goal weight I get LifeTime member status and don’t have to give them another cent as long as I stay at goal. I also think of it has spending money now to save money on the high cost of poor health later. Or a bigger jeans size.

· “Talking about my weight loss problems in front of other people is weird.” Although I can’t personally relate to this (for some reason I can’t stop talking about it), I understand how others could be a little shy about the whole meeting process. I think that online is the way to go in that situation

· “This isn’t something I plan on doing for the rest of my life.” This is completely false in my case. I fully intend to follow this plan for the rest of my life – and l look forward to every single flavorful, fun filled day of it.

If you are interested to see how I make the plan work on a day to day basis, check it out over at Running with Racheal.

What do you think?

Have you ever tried Weight Watchers? If so, what did you think?

If you haven’t tried Weight Watchers, do you know someone who has? What did you think about the program before reading this post? After reading this post?

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Thank you for the informative post, Racheal!

For more info on popular eating styles:

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Dukan Diet

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100 Comments

  1. Terran Leigh on April 4, 2012 at 10:51 am

    I personally just started weight watchers and have been amazed in just the two weeks how much more attentive I am to what I am eating. I am trying to get healthy and lose weight for my upcoming wedding and Weight Watchers has truly helped inspire me and start me in the right direction of making healthier eating habits!

    Getting those fruits and veggies in throughout the day though are tough because I tend to get bored eating peppers, apples and strawberry’s day in and day out. Any suggestions on different ways to incorporate veggies/fruits without having to eat the same day in and day out?

    • Racheal @ Running with Racheal on April 4, 2012 at 11:07 am

      That is so awesome Terran! I hope you are as happy with the program as I am!

      That is a really good question. I incorporate my fruits and veggie into everything – but I haven’t met a fruit or vegetable I don’t like. Smoothies are an easy option for fruit and vegetables- I even put spinach in mine. If I am eating any type of meat, I try to put it on top of some greens. I add bananas to my cereal and yogurt. Pretty much anything you eat can be fruit / vegified. I post pictures of what I eat everyday if you want more examples. http://www.runningwithracheal.com

      I also suggest that you branch out. I hadn’t ever tried a mango until a year ago, and now I am obsessed! 😉

  2. Leanne @ The Skinny Architect on April 4, 2012 at 10:54 am

    April 1st was my 4 year Weight Watchers anniversary and in that time I’ve lost 60lbs. I definitely could have done it faster but honestly I would occasionally get weight loss burn out. I know with certainty that the program works but it can get a little overwhelming with the points counting. I still attend meetings and have about 60lbs left until goal, I am ultimately happy with my decision to choose Weight Watchers to help with losing weight. I agree with both the positives and negatives that you wrote, awesome post!

    • Racheal @ Running with Racheal on April 4, 2012 at 11:09 am

      Thanks Leanne! Wowza – good for you on the 60 pounds! If / when I get burnt out on PP counting I plan on switching to Simply Filling for a week or two.

  3. AJ on April 4, 2012 at 10:54 am

    I feel so-so about Weight Watchers. To its credit, I lost 35lbs following the WW Points Plus plan (I did it online–I didn’t want to go to meetings, plus my mom was on it with me, so we had our own meetings!!), which has been great. I’ve kept it off, and though I’m not to my original goal weight (about 10lbs off), I had to get off of the plan, and frankly, off the scale.

    I became obsessed with eating only super low-point foods, to the point where my relationship with food was becoming unhealthy again–just in the opposite direction. Instead of eating my weight in donuts, I was eating only 0 to 1 point foods. Bad news bears. And I was solely focused on what the scale was telling me.

    My mom was able to lose 60lbs on WW and has kept it off. The plan has worked for her tremendously, so I know it can be a good fit for some people. I had my own issues to work out revolving around my relationship with food and body image before it could really help me.

    • Carly on April 4, 2012 at 3:22 pm

      That was my experience with WW too. I started obsessing about the scale and would check the site about a million times per day. I agree that if you have some issues with food/body image, this may not be the plan to go with. I have also seen it work for many people in my life – it just didn’t work for me.

  4. Lena @Fit on the Rocks on April 4, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Great guest post. I have personally never done it, but I have a friend who lost over 50 pounds and another friend who lost over 100 and now coaches at WW sessions. It worked for both of them, and they swear by it whenever the weight starts creeping back up.

  5. Ali @ Peaches and Football on April 4, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Thanks for the WW recap Racheal!

    We have a weight watchers at work program and I’ve been tempted to join but always think I’ll end up using Gina’s approach and spend my points on sugar! 🙂

    I love the chart with suggested servings of fruits, veggies, dairy, etc.

  6. Running Betty on April 4, 2012 at 10:58 am

    My mom put me on WW in 5th grade. She was scared I’d be her size, although I was barely chubby. I remember weighing cereal in the morning and tuna at night. I’m glad they don’t do that anymore!

  7. Christabel on April 4, 2012 at 10:59 am

    I did try Weight Watchers and I found it didn’t work for me. I know several people that were successful with it though. I’m definitely pro-WW, just not for myself. I’m also not a huge fan of the amount of dairy and grains that WW encourages.

    I’ve had much better luck with Livestrong.com. It has nearly every food imaginable (store bought, restaurant, etc.) in the database and I feel like I have a better view of my overall nutrition, not just “points”. It’s also free and I can use it on my phone or anywhere. The one thing missing from Livestrong is the meetings. There’s no human interaction which would be nice. I just blab about it to everyone in my life instead. 🙂

  8. Crystal on April 4, 2012 at 11:01 am

    I believe that formula is the “old” way to calcuate WW points? I think now they use Points Plus, which uses a different calculation…I may be wrong.

    • Fitnessista on April 4, 2012 at 11:05 am

      i have no idea haha. i used to use that formula but it was way, way back in the day

      • Racheal @ Running with Racheal on April 4, 2012 at 11:15 am

        Crystal – you are correct. Sorry, I didn’t specify in the post that I follow PointsPlus, which is different than their own points system. The PointsPlus system is a complicated formula that uses carb, fat, protein, and fiber content. You pretty much have to use the WW calculator.

        • Racheal @ Running with Racheal on April 4, 2012 at 11:19 am

          *old points system

        • mary on April 4, 2012 at 12:53 pm

          ‘=(Protein Grams/10.94)+(Carbs/9.21)+(Fat/3.89)-(Fiber/12.49)+((Alcohol*7)/40)

          That is a good approximation of the Points Plus formula. I use it in a spreadsheet form I made, when I track. Probably only math geeks like me would even bother. I went to buy a new WW calculator when the new program came out and they wanted like $13 here (whereas other states were selling them for $5 at the outset), so I decided to hunt the formula down myself.

  9. Tracey on April 4, 2012 at 11:01 am

    I am a Weight Watcher and I benefit from the accountability. I make better decisions when I know I have to weigh in every week. And even if I have a bad week here or there, it gives me a reason to continuously keep health and fitness a priority. As far as the calculations go, you start to memorize the points after awhile and find yourself to be pretty knowledgeable about making an educated guess when you don’t have your calculator handy or the nutrition content isn’t available. You become such a smart eater once it’s all sunk in! 🙂

  10. tina on April 4, 2012 at 11:04 am

    you get a lifetime membership if you make your goal?!?

  11. melody durham on April 4, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Thank you for this post! I love Weight Watchers in that it has helped me learn portion control, something I’ve never learned on any other way of eating. The feeling of wanting to see a loss at my meeting keeps me accountable. Also, if I do have a bad week, the fact that I can “start over” after each weigh in is helpful-I don’t continue on the downward spiral.

    It has taken me 3 years but on Saturday, I hit the 85 pounds lost mark!

  12. Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat on April 4, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Great topic! I didn’t do Weight Watchers to lose my 70lbs, but I did a similar program that involved calorie counting rather than points. I went to weekly meetings and yes, paid to attend, but I loved the sense of community and the leader of the group was such an inspiration. However, like calorie counting, I imagine that point counting can probably get a bit obsessive depending on how long you do it for, so I suppose that if anyone was thinking about joining, I’d caution them about that. Great post!

  13. Jessie on April 4, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Great post! My mom did WW while I was in high school, and she lost 80 pounds by my graduation- and kept it off!

  14. grace on April 4, 2012 at 11:17 am

    I did WW a few years ago and just started it back up again. I’m so glad you posted this!

  15. Jen@FoodFamilyFitness on April 4, 2012 at 11:19 am

    I’m a WW drop out. While I do believe that WW can work for some people, I don’t believe it’s for everyone. I sat in meeting week after week after week listening to people figure out how to eat the fakest of foods to get to the lowest number of points. I couldn’t take it anymore. That being said, I do miss the accountability portion of the meetings. Knowing someone was going to weigh me in once a week was a huge kick in the ass to keep me on track all week. I was on WW for 12 weeks and lost 11 pounds. At $48 a month the financial burden that it would put on our family for me to reach my goal of 70+ pounds was much too high a cost.

    • lara on April 4, 2012 at 1:41 pm

      Agreed. I follow a lot of WW bloggers that don’t do that and, in fact, eat much like Gina – vegetables, fruits, proteins, and healthy fats. However, at the WW meetings that I went to, all they did was talk about and push artificially sweetened, chemical, fake foods (cake mix with diet coke? ugh). I think that it’s a great starting point for someone who has no idea how to deal with portion control, but I do think it’s easy to abuse the program and not really change the core of your unhealthy eating habits.

    • kimberly b on April 4, 2012 at 3:17 pm

      I agree! I think WW is an excellent accountability tool because of the weigh ins. But the program’s focus is really hard. Sitting in meetings hearing people bash peanut butter because it’s got fat in it after really taking some time to learn about nutrition was really odd. Also all the fat free this and fake food that is really not what I was looking for in my life after a while.

      Also – one note – you cannot mix programs. The link that Gina posted is for an older points program. You can’t mix flex points with winning points with pointsplus. Doing that is just going to make you frustrated when you don’t lose weight as each program has different rules. I think the responsible thing to be done on this post is that the link is updated to reflect that is (1) not official and (2) for an old program. I’m not a fan of WW but it does work for some and I would hate for someone to think ill of the program because of incorrectly distributed information.

  16. Racheal @ Running with Racheal on April 4, 2012 at 11:26 am

    I completely agree with you about the fake foods. I try not to do that for the most part – but see many others doing it. In my opinion, that is not a way of life – or at least a way to a good life. 🙂

    • Heather on April 4, 2012 at 12:38 pm

      I just started WW and that was my first observation…I feel like sometimes they have a mixed message about food. On the one hand, they are encouraging you to eat whole foods (which is great), but then they are pushing their fake food at meetings. It’s very confusing and I hate that so many of their recipes call for “Fat Free” cheese/mayo/etc. Yuck! Luckily I have a grasp on how I want to eat, so I just ignore, but it does get annoying.

      I’d also like to add that just as finding the right workout instructor is key for enjoying group fitness classes, finding the right WW meeting leader means everything. I had to shop around before I found one that shares my same food philosophy and tends to encourage whole foods.

  17. Jennifer on April 4, 2012 at 11:26 am

    I’ve been on Weight Watchers for just over a year now and have lost 25 pounds. I’m now at my goal weight and have kept it off for about 6 months now. It has been an incredible experience for me and my husband. We’ve done the online version which seems to be a little more cost and time effective. I think the thing I love most about WW is the flexibility. I like being able to “splurge” a little on the weekends if I know I’ve had a good week. I also love how you get to start over every day and every week. I used to get caught in the “I’ve already blown it so might as well keep going” rut, but WW has broken me of that!
    Another huge plus is the fact that fruits and veggies are basically free. I’m much better at using fruits and veggies to fill up now.
    It’s a great program and I’m a big believer…(if you can’t tell!) 🙂

  18. Nichelle on April 4, 2012 at 11:30 am

    I love WW! I joined in 2003 and lost 50 pounds in 10 months. I’ve actually kept it off and I still go to Weight Watchers to this day (and work there). I love the community and the accountability. I know that keeping track can be a pain for some because you think about food all the time ( I did that before anyway but it came with a lot of guilt) but it becomes second nature after awhile. I was big all my life and now I can’t imagine life without WW- I think I’d panic if I went off the program. I can live like this for the rest of my life and I love that. I also love how WW doesn’t just focus on the scale or weight but also about changing your mentality and having healthier thoughts about yourself as well. It was like I could finally see the light with WW. 🙂 Great guest post!

  19. Stephanie @ Legally Blinde on April 4, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Good luck back at work, Gina! You’ll do great 🙂 The time flew by!! Can’t believe you’re already working again.

    Great post, Racheal – I had a general idea of what Weight Watchers entailed, but it was nice to learn more about it. I love your perspective on it, too – I can definitely relate to needing more structure in certain areas of my life in order to stay on track, and that seems exactly like what Weight Watchers can do.

  20. Christina Marie on April 4, 2012 at 11:33 am

    I did Weight Watchers at Work last year from January to April and lost 15lbs. I think my goal was 25. I’ve always been an exerciser but never “believed” in diets. That said I didn’t really know how to eat or even how to cook. The company I work for has a wellness reimbursement program where they give full time employees $250 toward their health. I chose to use half of that last year to try out WW.

    Having the meetings at work and a built in support system/accountability system were awesome. A co-worker and I started splitting a Fruit My Cube weekly and there is nothing like getting on the scale and losing weight. I didn’t stick it out after that first session though since I felt like I had a good handle on what I should be eating and have learned how to cook.

    Overall I think it’s a great program, you get out of it what you put in… but that’s with everything isn’t it?

  21. Toni Yates on April 4, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Great article Racheal!! You are absolutely correct on all of your weight watchers “points”. I have tried every weight loss program under the sun and this is by far the most compatible with my lifestyle and have been the most successful with. I read your blog and you are amazing with you exercise and tracking!! I love your creativity!

  22. Nicole G on April 4, 2012 at 11:46 am

    I did WW (old pts system) back in the summer of 2006 and it helped me to lose — and keep off — 50 lbs! I remember my mom and grandmother being on the program when I was a kid and I knew it was a program that allowed you to eat anything in moderation. When I wanted to lose weight I knew I couldn’t be one of those people to completely eliminate a food group (ie carbs) or have a set meal plan (I was in college at the time). I also LOVED the on-line option. I had a great support system through the message boards, but I didn’t have to publicly weigh-in or sit in on meetings with topics that I might not have found 100% useful. Although I am not on WW anymore (due to the cost), I still use the tools I learned there about appropriate portion sizes and eating “better for me” foods versus junk.

    I could see how people might get annoyed by counting points, but it’s really no different than counting calories or micro nutrients, you just have to take that one extra step of “calculating” the pts.

  23. Laura is Undeterrable on April 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    I haven’t done weight watchers, but from what I know I think it is a good program. You still have to put in effort and learn about foods and portion control rather than just open a frozen dinner. I think people can be successful if they understand that it is not a quick fix and is the way they will eat for the rest of their lives.

  24. Lauren on April 4, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    I had about 15 pounds of post-baby weight that I wanted to lose, so I joined Weight Watchers online. I eat pretty healthy, but after being pregnant for 40 weeks and nursing for 8 months I needed to relearn what a normal portion was. My problem was definitely eating larger than normal portions, and also, sugar. WW has been a huge help. It keeps me accountable, it could not be easier, and it gives you some leeway and choice. If you choose blow your points on sugar you can, but you will feel like crap for the rest of the day. Also, there is a points calculator right on the website, so as long as you have internet access you don’t have to mess with formulas.

  25. Susan on April 4, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    I have done Weightwatchers several times and have been successful at all attempts. But each time I went off the program I gained all or most of my weight back. The last time I lost on Weight watchers was after I had my son. I lost 25 pounds. I got tired of counting points and decided once and for all to just try and eat cleaner, less sugar and little or no processed food, and all whole grains. Once I got that as part of my mentality, I gave up Weightwatchers and have managed to maintain my weight loss with eating healthy and exercising 4 times a week. I think Weightwatchers is a great program for losing weight intially but I don’t think its a long term program. I think that once the weight goal is reached, if you don’t have the mindset to keep it off, then you won’t keep it off.( that is, you’ll stop counting points or go off the program entirely, or the money will run out. 🙂 )

  26. Liz @ Tip Top Shape on April 4, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    My mom is on Weight Watchers and it has worked wonderfully for her. It’s really true that it becomes a part of your life. I know it used to take her a long time to compute all the points and such. Now, it’s become second nature to her. I would definitely recommend Weight Watchers to people who have trouble controlling their weight on their own.

  27. Kelli on April 4, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    I am a WW lifetime member. I really like the program as a whole, but as some have mentioned I didn’t ever find a meeting that I enjoyed. I felt that most meetings were spent discussing how sad people were that they couldn’t eat X (w/out portion control) & still lose weight, or people talking about ways they had figured out to scam the system. My mom is also a WW lifetime member though & lives in a different city. She has a leader who she loves, & I think that the tone of the meeting is definitely set by the leader. Hers focuses on whole foods & exercising. Anyway, I ended up just going in to weigh in each week but not staying for the meetings, & then spent time on the online forums for support. I think it helped me re-set my mindset for eating correctly & eating lots of fruits & veggies. Now that I’m pregnant I just try to eat until I’m satisfied & eat lots of fresh produce & lean protein. So far it seems to be working great!
    Thanks for the guest post, Rachael!

  28. Becca on April 4, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    I have never followed the weight watcher program. I know a couple of my family members have done really well learning about healthy options comparing them to points. I think the idea is great for losing weight. However, I also think its important to learn about healthy eating at the same time.
    I just remember being at a wedding and over hearing a girl at the bar say she was not eating because she was using all of her points for alcohol that day. I thought she was joking but clearly she was not. In her mind it was totally ok not to eat as long as she stuck to the point system. I think we would all agree that staying in points by drinking only alcohol all day is not healthy.

  29. Amanda on April 4, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Love the post, Rach! WW is great and the only program that has worked consistantly for me (especially when you have the personal accountability of going to a meeting with your cousin.) Racheal and I have the best leader which definitely helps!

    See ya tomorrow morning at 0’dark fifty! 🙂

  30. Genny on April 4, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    After being overweight (ok ok obese) my ENTIRE LIFE, I joined WW and lost 60 pounds. I hit my goal weight 2 years ago and have kept it off since! I’m now a lifetime member (yay for free WW)! I even ran a marathon in 2011! I absolutely CANNOT say enough good things about this program. The world of nutrition is a crazy mixed up place sending thousands of different messages “low-fat, high protien, low carb, calorie counting, paleo, Mediterranean…what’s a girl to do?!” WW cuts through the crap, and outlines EXACTLY what you need to do to lose weight and get healthy! Some people may not agree with the whole grains or dairy that they recommend, but rest assured, even vegan raw-foodists can utilize WW, because every food has a points value! WW does what most other diets fail to do, which is to EDUCATE people about what they are putting in their mouths. I was blown away by the points values of things that I thought were “healthy” – I will always be grateful to the program for opening my eye!

    P.S. – Gina your block ROCKS! Keep up the good work!

    • Genny on April 4, 2012 at 12:25 pm

      *eyes* I have two 🙂

  31. katie on April 4, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    I started on WW when I was 20 (almost 9 years ago) and lost 60 lbs before a year was up. I didn’t really attend meetings, but always weighed in weekly. I have been at the same weight for close to 9 years (just had my first baby in October!) but don’t follow WW anymore. It was because of WW that I became aware of what I was eating and really tuned into the keys of weight loss success. I’m a fan!! It is a great starting point (and life change) in my opinion!

  32. Shannon on April 4, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    I used to do weight watchers when I was in high school, and would lose a little weight, but ultimately I would spend my points on foods that weren’t as good as I should have been eating and had too many cheat days. It wasn’t really the plan for me, but I do like that it teaches moderation and gives points back for activity.

  33. Rachel on April 4, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    I was inspired by my best friend — who was a WW pro — to join WW for myself in January of 2011, and in the 12 months that followed I lost 83 lbs! And I have been “maintaining” my new weight for two or three months now. My blood pressure and cholesterol are also much improved. 🙂

    WW did help me think more about nutrition in ADDITION to flavor, instead of just thinking about what would taste good. I reflexively prefer smaller portion sizes now. I am also pretty much addicted to fruit. Kind of peckish before bed but don’t know what for, and used up all your dailies? Have a banana! or an apple! or a few baby carrots! Putting fruit in my face is pretty much second nature to me now. I put turkey burgers on beds of greens instead of buns. I never ate asparagus until a couple months ago, now I am convinced it is da bomb and sad I missed out on 27 years of steamed asparagus before now…

    Also, you have to make peace with the fact that vacations, Super Bowl parties, birthdays, New Year’s Eve, and run of the mill bad days will happen, and you’ll splurge every now and then on sweets, or carbs, or something “bad,” but the important thing is to pick yourself up the next morning, re-dedicate yourself to “eating virtuously” — getting complete nutrition, making healthy choices, eating a variety of fruits & veg, lean proteins, not too many carbs, et cetera et cetera — for the rest of the week, and plan an extra activity to make up for it. Ate too many cookies? Atone by taking the dog to the dog park for a couple of hours and walking around in the sunshine in addition to regular planned exercise. Exactly how is this a “lose” situation? Cookies AND sunshine! And a happy, tired out dog! Sounds like a winner all around. 🙂

    I am completely anti-social, so I did the online plan, no meetings whatsoever. I am my own worst critic so I knew if I “slipped up,” I’d be taking myself to task. And my husband was really supportive and even likes some of the WW recipes I discovered, and he lost a few pounds himself! When people ask how much time — or money — I spent at the gym to lose the weight and keep it off, I smugly tell them, “None!” My A-#1 activity for the last year has been walking my dog. Two 30-minute walks a day, with occasional longer walks or even a few hikes for fun. Just in the last couple of months, I’ve started doing new activities in the comfort of my home: Hello, DVD fitness! I know that it will take a little bit more activity to maintain my new weight, but I’m starting to think of it as fun! I do kettlebell a couple times a week for core and resistance, and just this week I started a Bollywood-style dance DVD too! I am totally uncoordinated but whatever, that’s ok. It gets my cardio up. 🙂 Once the weather stays reliably above 65 degrees, I want to get back to Couch-2-5k training! I did the first two days when we had 70 degrees weather, but then the temp plummeted in to the 30s and 40s again, and I have to wait until it warms up or risk respiratory problems.

    Thank you Running with Racheal for this guest post on WW! I’m happy to read all the nice comments people have left, share my own story, and I am excited to be introduced to your blog too. 🙂

    • Racheal @ Running with Racheal on April 4, 2012 at 3:00 pm

      Wow, that is awesome! I love when people can see the blood pressure / cholesterol lowering effects of weights loss and exercise!

      My husband also loves my WW recipes. He might eat a little more, but for the most part he loves the flavor!

  34. Erika on April 4, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Rachel, thank you so much for this post. I lost 60 pounds total, 40 of those pounds on Weight Watchers, and have kept it off for almost a year. While I don’t do the plan anymore (now I just calorie count) it helped me and changed my life, of that I’m sure of.

  35. Emily @ Glitz Glam Granola on April 4, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    I hope you have a great first day back at work Gina!! You are going to rock those Zumba classes! And interesting post on WW! I’ve gone to a few meetings with my mom in the past and I think it really is a great program. It truly teaches you how to eat vs consuming diet food. My only issue are the prepackaged snacks they sell- they seem so great and for so few points but are loaded with yucky stuff and preservatives! But I think following the plan while eating whole foods is a great way to go!

  36. Danielle on April 4, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    I’m a fan of WW and lost more than 50 lbs following the program. As a lifetime member for almost a year now, I still attend weekly meetings, weigh-in monthly, and track daily. It has become a habit for me – a good habit! What I like most about WW and why I think it worked for me was the accountability factor; going to a weekly meeting and getting up on a scale in front of someone was scary at first but I needed it! I also love the support I receive from my fellow meeting members; we cheer for one another, commisserate, share ideas, and laugh a lot. WW has taught me to be more aware of the food I’m eating, has helped me to have a healthier relationship with food and to develop a love for working out, especially running! I’ve learned that it is a lifestyle to eat and live healthfully and everyday (heck, every meal!) is a choice. With WW I feel better equipped to make healthier choices or at least moderate the “bad” choices.
    WW definitely isn’t for everyone, but it is definitely a good option to consider if you are looking to lose weight and maintain that loss.

  37. Jennifer @ Eat With Knowledge on April 4, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    I might not with the majority here but I don’t like Weight Watchers (and I’m a dietitain!!)

    I do think the general guidelines can be healthy- be careful about portion control, exercise, meal plan, etc. And I love the group support aspect- that’s key in overcoming weight issues.

    However, I think it sets people up to “use their brain” way too much with dieting and not listening to their hunger/satiety cues. Basically you have something other than your own body (your “points”) telling you what and how much to eat. When you have something else telling you what to do (which is any diet) it takes away the entire thought process. In order to make lifelong LASTING changes, someone needs to be in tune with their hunger/satiety cues, heal their relationship with food, and make behavior changes- not just food changes. This is intuitive eating at it’s best. Also did you know WW is one of the biggest companies to get “repeat costumers”. Yo-yo dieting just screws up your relationship wih food even more.

    • mary on April 4, 2012 at 6:29 pm

      I totally agree. WW says people learn to eat the right amounts intuitively but that wasn’t what I observed, or experienced. I saw my leaders still tracking every single point, 15 years later, and that just isn’t the way I want to have to do it forever. And I do find the yoyo has messed up my signals.

  38. Courtney on April 4, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    I like WW and am currently following it. Since October, I’ve lost 45 pounds, and I’ve never been able to lose weight with other things. I think WW just keeps me much more accountable than if I try to count calories myself. It has worked for me, and I love its flexibility!

  39. JennP on April 4, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    I’ve never personally tried WW, but I started keeping an online food journal 3 years ago, and it really helped me to become more accountable for portions as well as the little day to day things that I didn’t even realize were tripping me up! It even allows you to log your workouts, which are then subtracted from your overall calories for the day. It’s not WW, but I find that you use a lot of the same principles to stay on track.

    Before, I would start the day with a glass of juice, now it’s sparkling water with a splash of juice. I used to put cream in my coffee, now just skim milk. I used to eat a whole avocado in one sitting, now I eat half and wrap the rest up. It’s also much easier to turn down an extra slice of pizza or another glass of wine when you’re holding yourself accountable. Over time, these things just became part of my lifestyle and I no longer had the need to log my food every single day. I still keep the app on my phone, and I’ll log 2-3 random days a week – just to stay on top of things 😉

  40. mary on April 4, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    I have a love/hate thing with WW. I lost 50 lbs. and gained ‘lifetime’ status about 5 years ago, with zero exercise. I was so tired of tracking so I thought I’d maintain through exercise. Ha. I’ve tried to go back but so far haven’t had success. I did the new PointsPlus program the first two months of last year and only lost a couple pounds. I should’ve ratcheted my daily points allotment down but instead I gave up.

    I hate the meetings, though I do know of one good leader that makes them semi-bearable. But I’m not into the sharing and they really do tend to veer off-track into “the latest diet junk foods” if the leader lets it. So usually I try to do it alone (with my tracker spreadsheet) but the accountability of having pre-paid does make a big difference, when I go that route.

    Maybe I should try it again. I always have rebound gain so I’m trying not to do restrictive diets, but I’m not having much luck. I just don’t know if I can commit to WW for life, and I think for me that’s what it would take. I’m still convinced there’s the right way of eating for ME and it won’t be tedious or inflicted from above, and someday I’ll find it if I keep trying!

  41. Julie on April 4, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Put veggies in an egg white omelett. WW vanilla smoothie made with an added cup of frozen fruit is delicious, just mix up your fruit varieties. I make taco salad a lot, but now I add chopped cucumbers, onions, bell peppers, shredded carrots, spinach, or anything you like! You can roast just about any veggie with a little olive oil and kosher salt is yummy! Google recipes for roasted veggies. Make a dip with Greek yogurt and dry ranch to dip raw veggies in. Make a fruit salad for dessert by just chopping up some of your favorite fruit and topping with a little WW vanilla yogurt. Hope these ideas help. I love the WW plan. Good luck to you and congratulations on your upcoming wedding!

  42. Kimberly A.M on April 4, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    I started weightwatchers about 2 years ago and have lost 140lbs (and kept it off). I definitely think it is a very workable program and can teach you how much you should be eating – instead of just eating until you’re full (which in some cases is way too much food). The only downside I find with the program is the cost. I do not attend meetings and have done it myself by following the online program, so unfortunately I will not get Lifetime member status. I find it depressing that I might have to pay money every month for the rest of my life – but stopping the program and potentially gaining all that weight back isn’t an option. I wish there was someway to make lifetime status for online users, but overall that’s my only complaint with the program.

    • Melissa on April 4, 2012 at 1:43 pm

      Kimberly-

      First, congrats on the amazing weight loss!

      I am shocked that there is no Lifetime for online members. When they updated the program recently, all Lifetime members were given the Online tools free as long as were stayed Lifetime. It might worth a try to call the 800 number and find out if you are able to do something similar? It wouldn’t be fair otherwise!

    • mary on April 4, 2012 at 6:27 pm

      Are you somewhere where there are no meetings? Because you can join for meetings within like 5-10lbs. of goal weight and achieve lifetime from there, or at least it used to be that way.

      But if you’re disciplined enough to do it this far, why would you need to use the online tools the rest of your life? Buy a POINTS calculator and a use some free online food log or a paper one and it’s free from there, right?

      Good job on your loss! Wow!

  43. Melissa on April 4, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Thank you for this post!

    I’m also a WW Lifetime member and have been a member for 5 years! I lost 40lbs to reach my goal (still at my goal), and it is the only thing that worked for me. I need structure and accountability and WW provides that for me. My hubby is thin and can eat whatever he wants so this forced me to pay attention to portions and nutrition.

    I do think it’s important to find a meeting that you vibe with. I am very lucky to have found a great meeting with a wonderful leader. I’ve also made some wonderful friends and we have our own little group that meets before the meeting to have coffee and talk. Do not underestimate the meetings—it is such a relief to be able to talk with fellow members who have reached goal (so you know you can do it), suffered a setback (so you know you’re not alone), share recipes (there are so many good ones) or just had a bad day as we all do. As I stated above, my hubby is thin and eats whatever so he doesn’t understand the whole eating well to lose weight thing.

    When I started WW I wasn’t sure if I could do it, but the online tools made it so easy. No looking up or anything. I still use the online tracker and the one on my phone for when I am out! And I love that no food is forbidden or you are not allowed to have ‘treats’. Treats are very important to me as I hate to feel deprived. It was also important to me to be able to cook my own food and not buy it like on other programs. I don’t feel like I am on a ‘diet’, I feel like I am being healthy.

    I view this plan as my lifestyle and will probably go to meetings forever as it’s the only way for me to stay accountable. For me, WW was a ‘gateway drug’ into the world of better nutrition and eating. Once I realized how much better I felt from eating healthy, I started my journey to eat well and exercise forever.

    I also like that WW finally updated their Points Plus to get people to actually eat better foods. I know people were critical of that (I complained too!) and I am pleased they updated the plan to reflect that.

    I guess I sound like a WW cheerleader but it’s the only thing that I ever tried that has kept the weight off. I would recommend it to anyone.

  44. Amy@healthyhungryhappy.com on April 4, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    ive never tried weight watchers but i remember i had a friend on it for a while. i think it prob makes sense bc at least it gives you some portion control…. but ya paying for it and calculating points would be a big ol’ pain in the ass haha but im sure it works for a lot of people!

  45. Bo on April 4, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    In 2007 I was with in 5 pounds of my goal using WW. Life changed, and the program wasn’t working for me anymore. Too many processed foods, and I found if I ate my activity points I wouldn’t lose. Although it taught me about portion control, counting didn’t work in my brain, and I would hoard points until the end of the day eating about half a days points right before bed. I have mixed feelings about WW. I think it is a good solid program, but if you have food or body issues it can exacerbate any existing issues. I also didn’t find it was supportive of a super active lifestyle. I had a hard time losing or even maintaining while training for my first half marathon, and there were others on the message board with the same experience. If it works for you awesome, but if it doesn’t don’t feel like it’s just you.

  46. Lizzie on April 4, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    I’m so glad to see this post today! I’ve been on WW for about 3 months and have only lost 10 lbs (my goal is about 30). I started out being pretty strict with my points but for about the past month, I’ve been more lax (hence the slow weight loss). I actually love the program – the 49 extra points are such a lifesaver and keep you from feeling deprived. Like other have said, it keeps you very accountable and just allows you to live your life. My only caveat is that I don’t find much value in the meetings and will often just go to weigh in. Everyone is very nice, but I’m one of the smallest people and often feel like people look at me like “why is she there?” I have eaten healthy for years and know how (weight gain was just attributed to TOO much), so I rarely learn anything in my meetings. Maybe it’s my leader? Maybe I’m close minded? Not sure – but I still love the program! Thanks for including this as a Focus On post, Gina!

    • mary on April 4, 2012 at 6:23 pm

      Consumer Reports said Points Plus program users average something like 1800 calories a day. I think that’s why the slow loss like you and I had. I have to admit with 29 daily points and 49 weekly I wasn’t feeling deprived at all, but who would at 1800 calories a day? I would have to ratchet that allowance down. But they’re in the business of keeping people comfortably losing slowly so I see their impetus. And if you’re very large, 1800 is going to get the job done for a while.

      You can go weigh in and leave. I’ve done that, especially at lifetime status.

  47. Ronesha Prioleau on April 4, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    I Love weight watchers, I’ve lost 20lbs with it and decided to go back on it Jan so that I can reach my goal weight. I couldn’t be anymore happier with this program. It helps me take control of what I’m eating and working out. Since joining its made me accountable and take responsibility of my life.

  48. Alison on April 4, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Gina, I think that if you did not feel qualified to write about Weight Watchers then you could have asked someone to write about the Paleo lifestyle as well.

    • Fitnessista on April 4, 2012 at 3:41 pm

      you’re right- sorry about that.

    • mary on April 4, 2012 at 6:37 pm

      Is the paleo lifestyle a copyrighted program only explained to paying members?

  49. Kim on April 4, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Great post, Racheal! I love the flexibility of Weight Watchers. Makes you believe that this lifestyle change is definitely possible for the long haul. You don’t have to deprive yourself because nothing is off limits as long as you stay within your points. My sister is doing Weight Watchers at work and is loving it as well. 🙂

  50. OntarioGirl on April 4, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    I love WW and will probably loosely follow it forever to keep myself on track! I lost 60lbs using WW about 2 years ago and kept it all off. I didn’t go to any of the meetings or pay the weekly fee, I got a friend to get me the calculator and food tracking books (eating out and regular foods) from her meeting and that’s the only money I spent on it. I followed and tracked on my own at home and had great success!
    I’m now 20 weeks pregnant so not using it right now but I will be back on it once baby comes out! Also nursing mothers get 12 extra points…bonus!! 😉 I still know all of the food values (besides new, different things) in my head so I think the counting gets a lot easier and like second nature once you learn it 🙂 It taught me how to make healthier choices and now I love healthy foods and exercising!

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