Let’s talk about FOOD, shall we? After all, that’s what this whole Weight-Watchers-Diet thing is all about, right?
For those of you who are not familiar with how Weight Watchers works, let me give you some basics. There are 2 ways to join: Online for about $20/month, or At Weekly Meetings for significantly more $. (The group I am in is through my school. It was $156 for one session of about 4 months, and we are getting a $50 rebate from our insurance company if we attend almost all of the weekly sessions.) It was news to me that it was possible to join online and not attend meetings. I learned that at my first meeting.
For your membership fee you are getting support in several different ways: access to the online food tracker (more about that later), access to recipes and information about healthy eating. Online there is a “helpline” where you can chat with someone at WW and ask questions. The website also has a blog section where members can share their experiences. It was partly because of reading someone else’s blog that I decided to start blogging here about my experience as well. At meetings, you are getting the support of the WW Leader who has a mini-lesson plan for each meeting. (Our last meeting was all about protein and its important role in healthy eating.) You also get the support and comradery of the other members. My group is mostly made up of people who have been members previously, so they have good experiences to share. I am one of the few newbies in the group. I am trying to pick their brains every chance I get. My group leader has lost more than 70 pounds herself, and her history of having been over-weight since about 3rd grade matches mine, so we’ve been able to connect on that. Other members of the group used to be thin and gained after having babies or as they’ve approached middle age. It was interesting to me to hear that different experience.
Before I joined, I used to think this was going to be about deprivation. It’s not. I want to make that very clear. I can eat ANYTHING I want to eat. It’s largely about portion control and about understanding what foods are healthy. For someone who is addicted to food, as I am, it’s important to get the concept of “eating to live” rather than “living to eat”. My group leader likes to say, “No one ever got fat from eating too many fruits and vegetables!” I love that line! When was the last time you pigged-out on a bag of apples? Does this mean I can never eat cookies or cake? Of course not! I just have to be aware of how much I’m eating and strike a balance between those sweet treats and the foods I really need to live on.
To me, the food tracker is the most essential piece of the Weight Watchers puzzle. Consistent and correct use of the food tracker is what is leading my successful weight loss. The food tracker is based on each food being given a point value. It’s now called Points Plus because it isn’t just about calories anymore. They take into consideration the content of food: fat, carbs, fiber and protein, before assigning it a point value. Weight Watchers has invested a lot of time building a bank of information behind its food tracker that makes it an incredibly versatile and useful tool. There are many many brand name items included. For example, if Hubs and I decide we want to have dinner at Panera Bread, I can search the tracker by the Brand Name items and know exactly how much each thing is worth. Most national chain restaurants are listed in the tracker bank. Also, there is a Tracker App for smart phones which includes a bar-code scanner. I can be at the grocery trying to decide between two items, and I can scan the bar-codes and compare the points for each item. (This is great for things like salad dressing.) If I try to scan something that is a local brand and isn’t in the tracker by name, it allows me to input the item by telling it what fat, carbs, fiber and protein content is on the label.
Another great feature of the Food Tracker is the Recipe Builder feature. I have built a collection of recipes that Hubs and I use regularly by putting in all the ingredients and listing how many servings we get out of that recipe - then it gives me a point value per serving. I can tag things as “favorites” making them easy to find as I put in my daily meals.
On the website, when I set up my account, I was asked some basic facts - gender, age, weight - and then I was asked to set a weight loss goal. It then gave me a Points Plus Number. That is the number of points I should have per day in order to reach my goal. Additionally, there is a second number for the week. If I go over my daily allotment, it pulls points from my weekly amount. This is very handy if you go to a party or have a special day when you kind of blow through your daily allotment. WW encourages tracker users to use all their points - both daily and weekly - to maintain a steady weight-loss of about 2 pounds a week. One reason I am averaging 3 pounds a week is because I never use all my weekly points. I almost always use my daily points, and sometimes I go over by a point or two. When I started, I got 33 points a day. After I lost 10 pounds, it went down to 32 points a day and now it is down to 31 points. My weekly allotment is 49, and that hasn’t changed.
The website also keeps track of all your daily info and then it shows fancy graphs and charts so you can analyze your progress. If you want to slow or speed up your progress you can adjust your own point totals. This really could not be any easier. I’ve done the whole calorie-counting, weighing-food thing, and I can’t do that. THIS I can do. Easily.
Another important point to remember here is that ALL fresh fruit and veggies are FREE - no points! NONE! The banana I put on my cereal is free. The grapes and cherry tomatoes that I snack on are free. The apple I eat at lunch is free. AND Weight Watchers sells some great snack foods that have the point values right on the box. They have fabulous ice cream bars that are as good as any other brand of ice cream - 3 points. Did you know that Progresso Soup now puts the WW points ON the can? A cup of soup is 2 points - the whole can is 4. AMAZING!
So, there you have it. The basics of how this whole program works. I never go to bed feeling hungry or deprived. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. I can’t even imagine ever NOT doing this until I get to my goal weight. By then, my lifestyle change will be so ingrained in me that I really don’t think it will be hard to maintain. As a total food addict with a life-long sense of entitlement, I can tell you this works! The “high” I get from seeing my success is better than any high I’ve ever felt from eating any one of the many foods I love. It feels good to finally feel proud of myself instead of going to bed every night thinking about how “bad” I was for over-eating, AGAIN.
Ok - that’s the speech for today. Go have yourself a nice juicy pear and think about how good it feels to eat something healthy!