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 Sparkpeople.com 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?