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watching and weighting.

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As you may know, Weight Watchers is rolling out a brand-new program called Points Plus.  The idea of assigning point values isn’t new—WW has been doing it for over a decade.  I first tried it when I was in high school, hoping to lose some weight and fit into my snug prom dress.  I’d seen my mom have success with the program, and I was anxious to try it, too.  It worked!

I tried Points again in college when I’d gained the Freshman 15 times two.  Again, it worked.  I think I did the program two more times in the last several years.  I finally lost a good bit of weight by doing old-fashioned calorie-counting.  I signed up for Sparkpeople after hearing so many good things on the Internet.

Weight Watchers began to make me angry due to the emphasis on processed snack bars and 100-calorie packs.  I was paying attention to all the ingredients in food, including sodium and sucralose—interestingly enough, those were found in high contents in WW-approved Progresso soups and Dannon Light & Fit yogurts, respectively.  Why would someone eat a banana when they could have a 100-calorie pack of “Oreos” for the same amount of points?  It didn’t make sense.

When they first announced the new system, I was intrigued.  Jennifer Hudson seduced me with her sassy commercials and slimmed-down curves.   (FTR:  I think she looks too little in some of the magazines.)  My mom had become familiarized with the new program at her meetings and excitedly told me that fruits and most vegetables were free—no points!  I was a little unsure of how it would work, but I wasn’t alone.

I’ve heard that this new plan has met a lot of criticism from people who are stubborn and don’t want to leave the old program.  Others question how you could make a all fruits and most veggies free and still lose weight.  My favorite response?  “Well, none of us are at Weight Watchers because we ate too many fruits and vegetables.”  True!

I know that a lot of healthy living bloggers have criticized WW because they think you’re eating too few calories.  This past, week, I tried a little experiment:  I decided to track my points while tracking my calories on Sparkpeople.  I was surprised at what I found.

I normally eat breakfast in the AM, with a snack at 10am, lunch around noon, snack at 3pm, then dinner at night.  And I usually eat a snack before dinner, maybe a treat after.  Long story short, I have problems with portion control and learning how to listen to my body and what it’s telling me regarding satiety; I eat a lot of times because I feel like I’m supposed, or because it’s routine.  Or because I’m bored, or restless, or sad, or happy…the list goes on.  (Which is why I’m attacking food journaling in a different way in 2011.)  My friend Mandy and her roommate are also using WW to regain portion control.

When I lost weight last year, I was eating between 1200-1600 calories a day, with a little more added in for exercise-heavy days.  This is what I was shooting for.  (Also, please do not judge my calorie intake.  It’s my business, it works for me, and I have discussed my needs with my doctor.)  I used my food journal and points calculator to keep up with my points throughout the day.  Here’s a sample of what I ate in a day last week:

Morning:  Multi-grain Cheerios with almond milk and sliced banana
(was super full all morning and made it to lunch time with no problem)

Lunch:  Wendy’s with my Dad, small hamburger and chili

Afternoon snack:  honey crisp apple
Post-work snack:  two small oranges

Dinner:  pasta with tons of veggies, pesto, Parmesan and some bread, along with a glass of wine

The result, of this day and most of the week?  Right on target with not only my calories, but also my goals (according to Sparkpeople) for protein, fat and carbs.  Not to mention I’m eating even more fruits and veggies than I have in the past.

On one day, I was getting hungry in the afternoon, but I really wanted to save some points for dinner so I could have a beer with my friends.  I solved that problem by eating some red pepper strips with hummus and a banana after work.  I found myself turning to zero-point fruits and veggies to satisfy my hunger and not just because I know I need to eat them.

Another good thing from last week:  I rediscovered how good it feels to plan.  I would often have my whole day planned out, knowing what calories would come from where and when.  And you know what else feels good?  Losing weight:  Afer weighing myself this morning, I’ve lost 4 pounds since starting the plan.  (I typically weigh myself on Fridays, but this I just wanted to see how my little one week experiment went.)

So overall, I feel pretty good about the new Weight Watchers plan.  Check out Mandy’s blog for some good recipes—she makes the most delicious food!  Also check out Beth’s blog, as she writes a lot about her experiences with WW and has some yummy recipes. (Her bf is a chef!  And that rhymes!)  Also, consider joining for not only calorie-tracking (if that’s your thing) but also for an amazing support circle.

Have you ever done any sort of organized weight-loss plan with success?  Have you ever tried Weight Watchers?  Thoughts?  Comments?


14 responses »

  1. Interesting post, Summer! Since one of my January goals was to make sure to eat vegetables with lunch and dinner every day, I’ve definitely found myself leaning toward this method of thinking too. I’ve always been suspicious of WW because of the reliance on packaged foods too, but I’m glad this new plan is working for you!

    • Thank you m’am 🙂 I’m really pleased with the turn the program has taken. I feel as if it’s really in line with the way I used to/need to/desire to eat. It’s actually kinda fun to try new freggies I’ve never eaten before!

  2. I think WW is a great regime to follow, as it doesn’t cut out any food groups, encourages fruit and vegetable consumption, and can be pursued in the long term.

    Having said that, it just wasn’t right for me at the times that I tried it. I guess I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind. I’d have an “oh sod it day” early in the week, and the stress of catching up would mean that I’d comfort eat and the whole week would be written off.

    I’d be keen to try the new programme once I’ve had the baby. It sounds like they’ve finally brought UK and US in line with one another! It makes travelling much easier.

    • I’ve read stuff about the Points program in the UK; I think you’re right about them catching up with one another. I didn’t think about how difficult it might be to do WW while pregnant. You just need to focus on taking care of that baby you’re growing!

  3. I have so much respect for all of you out there that count your calories. I’ve found that my biggest problem is I’m extremely lazy. I’ll get into it for about a week or so, and then I always fall off the wagon. I have nothing to blame for my weight gain except for my laziness.

    • I’m lazy sometimes, too…but my OCD nature outweighs it sometimes, and I just excited about adding all those little numbers up and eating exactly what I’d planned on eating! Do you and Nick cook a lot?

  4. Congrats! I’ve tried (and ranted/dogged/pood-all-over) the previous Points program. I heard about their changes and thought, “they must have read my blog-rant!” I think they are definitely stepping in the right direction with the focus on real foods. I can appreciate that people use WW to regain some perspective on their portions even if I still consider it a “diet” and it’s banned from my life.

    • See, I don’t know that I consider it a diet so much as, “Hey—this is how you’re supposed to eat.” When I think “diet,” I think that there are foods I can’t have. I’ve not felt like anything is “off-limits” to me, but I have stopped to think about those two bowls of cereal I used to consume before I’d even made dinner, or dipping my fingers into the hummus tub just because I’m bored. I love my alcohols and pasta too much to hard-core diet 🙂

  5. Wow! Congrats! Sounds like the plan is really working for you so far 😀

  6. I used to make that same exact sandwich. It’s so yummy!

    Mallory and I both had good weigh ins this week too! Mallory beamed with pride when I asked her.

    I am right with you on the old points system. For the longest time I used to rant and rave about people eating sugar free fat free pudding, almost calorie free bread, and 100 cal packs. Who wants to eat that for the rest of their lives?

    I intially did points, lost 30lbs, and gained it all back. Core, now called Simply Filling, made so much more since. I could eat all the good whole foods and only had to count the points for the processed foods. So the new program takes the best of both, and I really like it.

    And thanks for complimenting my food! Most of them are fairly healthy.

  7. Sounds like you are doing fabulous on the new ww plan. I have been doing it for about a month and i like having the structure back in my life. I also eat so much more fruit!

  8. Great write-up on the new WW plan, girl! I’m considering following your footsteps soon, but right now I’m still liking my calorie-counting plan. It’s good to hear that when you counted calories and points, they were both within your target range. It’s good that WW is embracing fruits and veggies more because I used to be such a sucker for packaged foods. I try not to eat them now, and focus more on good carbs, fruits, veggies, and protein. My downfall is cookies. Whether on WW or counting calories, sometimes you just need a cookie.


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