Thursday, August 2, 2012

Fitness Review: Weight Watchers

Like millions of other women, I am constantly trying to lose weight. I've never been extremely obese, but always 20-30 pounds overweight. My most recent endeavor has been another try on Weight Watchers, so I thought I'd review the program for anyone who was thinking about trying it.

As most people probably know, the premise of the program is that each food has an assigned Points Value based on fat, carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. You can either calculate the points yourself if you have the nutrition label handy, or they assign points for say, a flour tortilla, or a chicken breast. You are given a target point total to shoot for each day, and then you have additional "flex points" for the week, which can be evenly divided to give you more daily points, used for "splurges" occasionally, or not used at all. You can also earn Activity Points to supplement your daily points.

  • It helps me prioritize my eating. I am one of those who LOVE food. Having a set amount of points, rather than restricted foods, means that I need to decide if the food I am craving is really worth the points it will use up. I either have the points, or I don't. And if something is high in points, I need to decide whether I will cut back somewhere else, or do more exercise to make up for it.
  • Structure. For me it's nearly impossible to just say, "I'll eat better." This makes me track and record everything I eat, and make informed decisions about how I am going to allocate the points in my week.
  • No restricted foods. I'm not wanting to give up french fries or chocolate or Chex Mix. With Weight Watchers, I can have them, I just have to be smart about the quantities of my favorite treats.
  • Support network. Weight Watchers is a well-known program. At any given moment, I usually have a few friends and family members on the program, so that we can talk, exchange ideas and recipes, and support each other. There is also a HUGE amount of information online.
  • Online component. I track all my food, my weekly weigh-ins, and my measurements online. This works well for someone like me who is online all the time!
  • Under the newest version of their program, most fruits and vegetables are worth 0 points. This gives me an incentive to choose a healthier option, compared to something that might not be so healthy, but worth the same amount of points under the previous program.
  • Diet soda is 0 points. While right now I'm trying to keep soda consumption to a minimum, I love that there's a 0 point beverage other than water.
  • It's black and white. It leaves no room for emotional eating, or feeling sorry for yourself. You don't earn extra points for a crappy day at work, or a toddler temper tantrum. You can do your comfort eating, but you'll have to adjust for that down the line.
  • The price. I am doing what I believe is the cheapest option, which is only tracking my points online and not attending meetings, and it is still nearly $20/month.
  • Constant calculating. Breakfast and lunch are pretty easy for me, because I don't eat a really varied menu, but it's a hassle to be calculating recipes and food all the time.
  • Eating out. I love eating out, but it's difficult to calculate points. For most mainstream restaurants, you can find the points values of the different foods either in the WW booklets or online somewhere. But for local places, it can be difficult to estimate the points for your meal.
  • Their website, IMO, is horribly designed. I find the main website hard to navigate. I find the online tracker to be annoying, particularly the search function. Tonight I searched for "milk" and the first result was pudding made with skim milk, followed by buttermilk, followed by chocolate milk, before they finally got around to listing the points values of actual milk. This happens frequently.
 Overall, I really enjoy Weight Watchers. It helps me to be structured and accountable, while still giving me the flexibility to enjoy the favorite foods that keep me sane!

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Brianne said...

Totally agree with the above. I would add that as a
Pro, their smart phone apps are awesome and way easier to track things with then going online. Love WW! Wish it was in my budget. :)

Ramsey said...

The forum boards on their website are awful. The women are mean. However, babycenter has a WW group that is super supportive!