How the Weight Watchers program works

Sorry about the sudden influx of health and fitness related posts all of a sudden. I fully plan on making up for it with outfit and travel photos, but I just thought you needed a bit of background on the Weight Watches program and how it works before you started reading my weekly food diary entries.

I’m pretty sure everyone on the face of this earth has heard of Weight Watchers at least once in their lives, even if they don’t know how the program works, what it’s all about or if it works. Oprah is one of their brand ambassadors and often quotes how she feels great, gets the results she wants, but never feels deprived. Its been around for ages and they say you are eight times more likely to lose the weight following the WW program than you would on your own.

How To Join

You can either find your local WW meeting and go there weekly, or you could choose to follow the program online. However, I honestly believe that the key to success is the meetings as you get weighed by your coach / leader at the meeting every week when you go back. Although these numbers are not disclosed to anyone but you and the weighing is quite private. You can choose not to be weighed a particular week if you’ve been on holiday or have slipped a little, but for me and many others, the accountability to yourself and to your leader of going in and being weighed means a lot more than if you were doing this by yourself.

What’s more encouraging about the meetings is that not only are they incredibly motivating (your leader talks about really interesting, funny, inspiring new things each week), you start to make friends and don’t feel so alone on your journey to reaching your goal weight. Its fun to discuss how much you’ve lost each week with your friends and sometimes, since you live in the same area, you could meet up with your friends for coffee or do a fun class together at a local gym.

The only reason I’d recommend the online membership is if you don’t have a WW chapter in your town or country.

How It Works – The SmartPoints System

Weight Watchers is a great program for those of you who love your food, because you’re allowed to treat yourself, but in moderation and by balancing it out. Based on your height, weight and age, you are given a certain amount of points to eat everyday. Each WW point (or SmartPoint, as they like to call it) is the equivalent to 30 calories. Since I’m in my twenties, am fairly active and only have a couple of dress sizes to drop, I am allowed to eat 30 SmartPoints a day (the rough equivalent to about 900 calories). This amount will go down a little once I start to plateau a bit or once I reach my goal weight.

However, a lot of the ladies on the program are middle aged, lead sedentary lifestyles and have multiple dress sizes to lose. In which case, they will be allowed a greater number of points which will gradually be reduced.

What you do with your number of daily points is entirely up to you. Whether you want to skip breakfast, eat a salad for lunch and binge on a pizza for dinner or eat 30 points worth of chocolate all day and nothing else or split up your meals evenly to cover your 30 points every day is entirely up to you. Fruits and vegetables count for zero points – you can eat as many of these as you like.

However, it is very important you eat your full daily point requirement every day. I learned this the hard way. I lost 2.5lbs one week so in the second week I thought I’d eat less than my 30pts and get even better results, but that backfired badly as I only lost 0.5lbs that week! As soon as I was back to eating the full 30pts, my body let go of being in starvation mode, believed it was getting the regular nourishment it deserved and lost more weight the next week.

Now, in addition to the 30 points I am allowed daily, I also get an additional 42 points a week. You can use these points for a cheeky cake on a day you’re PMS-ing or an important meal with family or on alcohol on a night out. What you do with them is entirely up to you. You could choose not to use them, but you will still see results if you do and needn’t feel guilty. They are your allotted points and you are allowed to use them.

How Exercise Factors In

The best part about the program is that it doesn’t force you to spend hours on a treadmill. All they try and encourage is that you get moving a little. Even 15-20 minutes of physical exercise a day is better than nothing. I do a fair bit more than this, but more on my exercise habits in another post.

Weight Watchers asks you about your fitness levels and age and allots you a certain FitPoint goal to achieve everyday. When I started the program six months ago, I wasn’t following this system – the coach didn’t bring it to my attention and so I choose not to follow it now. It makes more sense for people who live sedentary lifestyles in my opinion, but I’m fairly active most of the time anyway so just work out 2-3 times a week and try to do at least 7000 steps a day on days when I can’t squeeze a workout in.

The Products

Weight Watchers create their own food products, kitchen accessories, scales, books, etc. which are available to purchase through your weekly meeting, online or often at your local supermarket. I am personally a big fan of their ready meals and was eating them even before I joined Weight Watchers. The Chicken Korma, Thai Curry with Jasmine Rice and Macaroni and Cheese ready meals are my absolute favourites.

I also love their Hazelnut Moments, Chocolate Orange bars and Lemon Meringue bars as snacks (James loves their Rich Toffee bars even though he isn’t following the program.) At only 1 or 2 SmartPoints per bar, these are an absolute life saver when you have a sugar craving or are out and about and hunger strikes.

They also make other products like reduced calorie Danish bread and low fat cheese which I’m quite happy about because I eat ham and cheese on bread every. single. morning for breakfast. Knowing that they’re lower in calorie than what I’d usually buy and have their SmartPoints written on the front makes it easier to stay on track.

I am, however, not a fan of their brand of chips / crisps. But then again, maybe that’s because I’m not really a crisp person anyway and never tend to reach for them as a snack when I’m hungry. I prefer something sweet.

They also have a mobile app, free to purchase from the app store, that helps you keep track of the SmartPoints you’ve consumed and how many FitPoints you’ve done. But most importantly, it has a barcode scanner, so when you’re out doing your weekly food shop, all you need to do is scan the barcode on the bag / box through the app and it tells you how many SmartPoints the item is. Genius!

I think that about sums it up. If you’ve got any questions, write me a comment in the box down below. Anything I can’t answer, I’ll take back to my WW leader on Thursday and include the answer in Friday’s first ever Weight Loss Journal post.

** Oh, and just in case you didn’t read the last post, I thought I’d re-iterate that none of my posts are sponsored by / in affiliation with Weight Watchers. I just genuinely believe it is a great system that delivers results and works well for me. See you at the next post!

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