counting points

Lifetime Weight Watchers Success Story

Hello everyone!  I’m Rizzle and I blog over at Bein’ E-Rizzy. The lovely Lisa asked me talk about Weight Watchers and what the program is like.  As Weight Watchers is a HUGE part of my life, I gladly accepted.  I became a Lifetime Member of Weight Watchers in July of 2010 after losing over 60 pounds and I have kept that weight off ever since!  I’m not employed by Weight Watchers and while I do currently use their product for free, I am not compensated in any way for this promotion of their amazing program.  😉

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Weight Watchers (or WW as I will now be calling it because that’s easier to type) was founding in 1963 by Jean Nidetch a New York house wife who was struggling with weight loss and invited several friends over to her basement once a week to talk about their struggles and support each other.  Over the years these weekly meetings developed into the program that WW is today that spans the globe with meeting centers in 30 countries.  In 2013, WW was ranked #3 in Best Diets Overall, #1 in Best Weight Loss Diets, #1 in Best Commercial Diet Plans, #1 in Easiest Diets to Follow, and #6 in Best Diets for Healthy Eating by US News & World Reports (http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/weight-watchers-diet).  Just so we are clear, WW is not “diet”, it’s a “Lifestyle Change”.

So how does WW work exactly?  

The scientists at WW developed a Points System for foods based on protein, carbohydrates, fat and fiber.  They looked at what the body does with each and with a fancy-pants secret formula they assigned a value to each and every food in existence.  (Not kidding.  If you know those for values for any food, you can calculate the Points instantly with the tools provided when you sign up.)  Foods that are better for a person nutritionally are lower in Points than high fat or sugary items.  Most fruits and vegetables are assigned a Points value of zero and are unlimited for members.  This is my favorite part of the plan.  I am addicted to all fruits and the fact that I can eat them whenever I want in the large quantities that I am prone to with out any worries works great for me.  Besides, name one person who got fat from eating too many grapes.  I mean, really? Come on. (Note: If you are prone to issues with blood sugar an all you can eat buffet of fruit is probably not the right choice so please make wise decisions if this is an issue.)  Zero Point fruits and veggies also works great as a diet filler when things are tight.  

The same scientists then figured out using the same fancy math how many Points a person needs to consume on a daily basis lose weight slowly and safely.  (WW members can expect to lose an average of 1-2 pounds per week.)  What a WW member eats with their Daily Points Allowance is completely up to them since no foods are off limits.  So while a Snickers bar and a cup of brown rice are the same amount of Points, the rice will keep you fuller longer and is overall a better choice than the candy.  But the choice is completely up to you.  There are no rules saying you can’t have the candy.  Want to eat your grandmother’s scratch made mac & cheese but a serving is only 1/4 cup for half your daily Points allowance? No problem, pair it with a large salad, have some fresh fruit for dessert and you are good to go!  A filling and satisfying meal, with no sacrifices, eating what you enjoy and still losing weight!  

Run out of daily Points and still want a slice of your mom’s special apple pie? No problem!  WW also assigns each member a set of Weekly Points that they can use whenever they want during the week on whatever they want.  You don’t have to use them, but they are there if you want them.  (Personally I call them my Alcohol Points).  These Weekly Points reset at the beginning of each week.  (“Week” is determined by your Weigh In day.)

Still not enough Points for you? Okay, well WW has a way for you to earn them!  Activity Points are earned when you get your body moving.  Be it a walk, run, bike, fitness class, or whatever.  You can exchange these Activity Points for food.  I can’t tell you how many nights I have pushed an extra few minutes on the elliptical because I wanted to “earn” myself a second helping of the dinner I had cooking in the oven.

Seems like a lot of Points and math and calculations and stuff, huh?  Well, WW wants to make things easy for it’s members so they have designed a fantastic app and website for members to use to keep track of it all.  There is little to no thinking required!  Just type what you ate, what the quantity was, and viola! You’re good to go!  Thousands of restaurants and brand name foods are already loaded into their tool, but if what you’re looking for isn’t in there just type the nutrition information into the calculator and it will take care of the rest.

There are a plethora of other tools that WW provides their members in order to help them be successful.  Like the Good Health Guidelines which is a check list of things you should be eating every day to make sure you are getting proper nutrition.  (Like servings of fruits and veggies, a daily vitamin, healthy fats like olive oil, and ounces of water).  Their meeting centers are full of cook books, kitchen gadgets, and loads of prepackaged treats and snacks which all fit into the program.  They have a “Recipe Builder” on the website where you type in whatever you are making, select the number of servings and it tells you how many Points are in that recipe.  (I love that tool so much!)

There are 2 ways to participate in the WW Program:  Weekly Meetings or On-line Only.  Regardless of which option you chose, you are provided all the tools and supplies you need to be successful on plan.  With an amazing support system behind you every step of the way.

If you chose to attend the Weekly Meetings (which I highly recommend), you find a WW Center near you, pick a day and time, and show up.  The wonderful staff (who all have lost weight with the program and maintain that loss) will have you weigh in.  This is done privately behind a barrier and the number on the scale is kept completely confidential.  The meeting itself takes about 30-45 minutes and has a different theme each week.  The discussions are fantastic and you can choose to participate or not, based on your comfort level.  The Leader will take time to celebrate the success of their members with rewards such as stickers and keychains.  While this may seem silly as we are all adults, but I have every single one of the ones that were handed to me in meetings.  And I am proud of each accomplishment that earned me those stickers.  The keychain which is given out when the member loses 10 % of their starting weight has additional charms that are added to it at other significant milestones.  My keychain with all of my charms is kept in my purse.  I never leave home without it and it is one of my most prized possessions.

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If attending meetings isn’t your thing, the Online Only option is also fantastic (and cheaper if you’re on a budget).  Their website is amazing with fun message boards to get support from other On-line Only members.  You still weigh in once a week, except you do it in the privacy of your own home.  There are no stickers or key chains awarded at milestones though.  I bounced back and forth between meetings and on-line.  Just depended on what my needs were at the time and what my budget looked like.

Once a member reaches their goal weight they are then transitioned into Maintenance.  The system is exactly the same except the Daily Points Allowance is raised so as to maintain weight instead of lose it.  If a member (who attends meetings) is able to maintain for 6 weeks they are then awarded Lifetime Membership.  As a Lifetime Member the program becomes free as long as you maintain your goal weight and check in monthly.  Yes, you read that right, free.  FREE.  100% all access, free.  What other commercial weight loss plan offers that?  WW knows that as a member you learn to depend on the tools and they really do need them to continue with the healthy lifestyle they have going for them.  Unlike a lot of diet plans, you’re not “done” when you reach goal weight.  There is still work to be done.  I tell people all the time that just because I am “skinny” now, doesn’t mean I am fixed.  I am still a compulsive eater who is addicted to salty snacks with no judgement of portion control.  If I didn’t have WW in my pocket helping me I would be back to my “before” picture status in no time at all.  I’ve been at my goal weight for 3 years.  I track (almost) every day and still attend meetings when I need an extra boost to keep going.   Sure, I mess up and have little gains here and there, but I have all the tools I need to get back to where I need to be.  

So yes, the commercials are all true, Jennifer Hudson doesn’t lie.  Weight Watchers does work.  But you still have to put in the effort.

If you are interested in more information about Weight Watchers feel free to hunt me down and ask, or better yet, just go to www.WeightWatchers.com and play around.  They have a Meeting Locator to help you find a location and time nearest you and the first meeting is always free!

First Weight Watchers Meeting

The other day I wrote a lengthy post about wanting to lose a few more pounds. I decided in the end that instead of denying myself the calories I burn at the gym, I’d try only eating HALF of them back. That way I am still at a deficit of calories just not as drastic.

As a result of my debate about whether or not to eat all of my calories I had a chat with a coworker who is doing the Weight Watchers Points Plus program. She brought in her books and showed me the calculator.


I skimmed through the books and tried the calculator. It does not calculate calories; in fact that’s not even a subject matter in the books. I saw no calorie information listed. Instead you enter: Carbs, Protein, Fat, Fiber.


I guess the calculator is $6. After entering the above info it calculates how many points you get for what you’re eating. While I was flipping through the books I kept trying to calculate the calories of the food listed. Like I would see 1 Point and think “How many calories is that?” I can see that as being a struggle for me.

I went to the lunchtime meeting with some coworkers. It was packed–standing room only. People weighed in when they first got there then sat down and the leader talked for 45 minutes.


First she asked what lessons everyone learned tracking. The answers were pretty much what you’d expect. Most people said they struggled with the new system, but did like that fruits and veggies were “free.”

As they passed out sample candy bars she pointed out success stories for people who weighed in. One girl reached her 50 pound loss mark and everyone clapped at her success.


Another woman reached 40 pounds lost. She said that she started out really well the first 5 months of doing the program but that as the months dragged on she’s now struggling to lose the last bit of weight. Both women said that when they reach their 1 year anniversary on WW they’ll be “Lifetime” and at goal weight, so that’s cool.

The leader talked about Power Foods and what was more filling. She also shared a story about the family pressure she got this week to eat foods she would normally resist–cinnamon buns.  She talked about how she keeps her environment “safe” — free of temptations–but the struggle is when she goes out to other places where the temptations are!

The leader then talked about behaviors and asked the group to share things they learned. For example:

  • Are you eating fast? (She discussed the concept of “sneaky eating”…I know that was one of MY issues when I was growing up and struggling with my weight.)
  • Are you eating at the fridge? (How many times have I stood in front of the fridge and just stuffed cheese in my mouth and not counted it?)

Then she asked people to finish the following sentences:

  1. I’m very satisfied when I eat _______.
  2. I’m NOT very satisfied when I eat _______.

Finally she finished with a discussion on the differences between URGES and CRAVINGS. Urges are when we have the urge to just stuff our face but we don’t know why and we don’t have specific food in mind (i.e. boredom eating, in my opinion). Cravings are when our bodies crave something and it won’t stop craving it until we eat it.

POINTS PLUS

All in all the meeting was good. I can see the benefit in belonging to Weight Watchers. If I had to go back in time and do my weight loss again I think WW would be a good choice if I didn’t count my calories.

The support system and encouragement is good. I think with losing weight you MUST have a support system. I didn’t really have that, I did it all on my own and sometimes it was pretty lonely. One thing I noticed was how many people seemed tortured about their food choices. It really seemed to be a struggle for them and they talked a lot about how they’ve wanted to give up and go back to their old habits. I’m glad that they are sticking with it, but I’m surprised how many people nodded in agreement that they were struggling.

I’m not sure if WW is for me. I don’t feel like I MUST lose 7 pounds for health reasons, like I’ve discussed before. And I don’t want to pay the cost of WW. I left the meeting just as undecided as when I walked in.

QUESTION: How would you answer the above questions? Do you do Weight Watchers? What is your opinion on it and how are you doing?