My friend has joined a Weight Watchers group and was telling me they have a new system which is receiving controversial media coverage. I believe I can understand why. As she explained it to me, Weight Watchers is trying to emphasize higher protein, higher fiber foods that are more satiating (filling). They re-did their “Points” calculations so now a simple slider is not capable of doing the math for you… you have to buy their calculator or use an online app to figure out how many “Points” a given food is. But get this: they also made all fruits and vegetables into “free” foods. That means you don’t count any points for the fruits and veggies you eat. I could understand the non-starchy veggies being free, but fruit? Of course the leader cautioned my friend’s group that they have to only eat until they feel satisfied, not full, in order not to overdo it on bananas, grapes and other higher calorie fruits. And of course she warned them away from starchy veggies. But without a leader’s input, an innocent and unsuspecting Weight Watchers member might be mystified by their lack of weight loss as they overeat by hundreds of calories a day on fruit.
It will be interesting to see if they modify this approach in the future.
I used to be in Weight Watchers. One time I was even quite successful doing that program. Back then it was just simple “Points” (not even “Flex Points”) and I lost 60 pounds. My husband lost 50 some pounds too. (That was when I started at 318 post pregnancy, lost a few pounds on my own, joined Weight Watchers and got down to the 250s). I remember I was really into “Activity Points” back then. I would do my The FIRM workout DVDs (or was it VHS tapes back then?) religiously, and walk to the post office almost every day. (And then I stopped and gained it all back, of course.)
I did try it again in more recent years, though I didn’t stick with it. One thing I would probably try now if I was doing it again (I wouldn’t though), is their “Core Plan.” It is more whole-foods oriented. Though you don’t do much with “Points” on that plan and have to rely on your own appetite to control eating, at least the stuff you eat is low-glycemic. This is a lot healthier than the kind of franken-foods I got into eating when I was in WW… Skinny Cows with fat free cool whip on top, fat free potato chips… bleck. But I would struggle with the Core Plan because you don’t track the calories you’re taking in (as the “Points” system does, or used to, let you keep a handle on your food intake). If I don’t count every little thing, I gradually eat more and more until I’m back to gaining weight.
I will just add that I don’t have anything against Weight Watchers per se, because I know it works for people. It even worked for me at one point, 50 pounds is nothing to sneeze at. I quit, otherwise who knows how far the program would have taken me, perhaps all the way to goal if I would have stuck with it. And I am glad it is motivating my friend and working for her. It is nice to have a friend who is also on the weight loss journey. Instead of sitting around eating snacks and watching movies, we can go for walks together… she gets “Activity Points” and I burn calories. Everybody’s happy.