It is safe to say that virtually everyone has been on a diet at some point in their lifetime. Most people have tried numerous diet and weight loss programs, and have been successful in reaching their weight loss goals, but this tends to be where the success ends. The problem with many of the popular weight loss programs marketed today is that they do not teach people how to eat. They simply provide pre-packaged foods, meal replacement shakes, bars and snacks that tell them exactly what to eat and how much of it to consume at each meal. When that individual completes the program and returns to eating regular meals cooked at home or out at restaurants, it can be difficult to gauge what a healthy meal and portion size is, thus causing the weight lost to creep back on again.
This is where the Weight Watchers program comes in. Weight Watchers helps people lose weight by eating food right out of their refrigerator, at their favorite restaurants and without having to purchase pre-packaged meals and snacks. Weight Watchers promotes the philosophy of making weight loss as effortless as possible.
Weight Watchers has been around for 50 years and is one of the most popular weight loss programs worldwide. It was founded by a housewife named Jean Nidetch from Brooklyn, New York. She was overweight and decided to meet with friends in order to try and figure out a solution to help win their weight loss war. Her doctor prescribed a weight loss plan for her, and her friends followed it along with her. They began meeting weekly to discuss their successes, struggles and progress, and this is where the idea of the weekly Weight Watchers meetings began. Since it began, Weight Watchers has expanded to over 30 countries around the world. Although it is an international company, its headquarters are based in the United States, and that is where it has become the most popular.
Touted by some of the most well-known celebrities in the world as their go-to diet plan, Weight Watchers’ philosophy has always been to help teach individuals how to eat smarter, make nutritious choices and incorporate healthy habits for an all around better you.
One of the main differences between Weight Watchers and most other weight loss programs is that Weight Watchers does not restrict dieters by making certain foods off limits. On the Weight Watchers plan, no food is meant to be avoided. Instead, individuals on the Weight Watchers plan must use a point system to determine what to eat and how much of it they can eat without going over their point limit. The goal is to create a point deficit which, after time, leads to weight loss. More nutritious foods, such as fruits, vegetables and lean meats, have fewer points, and thus can be enjoyed in abundance. Desserts and fast food, on the other hand, have much higher point values and are discouraged but not banned.
How the Weight Watchers Plan Works
The latest plan to be released by Weight Watchers is the Simple Start plan. Simple Start aims to introduce you to a whole new way of eating appetizing, nutritious food without having to watch portions and count calories. While this may sound too good to be true, it really is not. It is a way for Weight Watchers to help begin teaching you how to eat and make healthier food choices. After you complete the Simple Start plan, you move onto the ProPoints system. This part of the plan allows for much more flexibility, begins teaching you how to eat and shows you what correct portion sizes are comprised of. One other aspect unique to Weight Watchers is the weekly meeting participants attend while following the program. If you decide to embark on the Weight Watchers program, you can opt to attend meetings on site at a local Weight Watchers location near you or attend online from the convenience of your own home.
The Simple Start plan begins by providing you with a food list of items that can be enjoyed without limits. It lasts for two weeks and does not include any calorie counting or portion control. While on the plan, you simply eat the foods on the list provided and/or use them as ingredients to make your meals. There is no limit as to how much of these foods can be eaten, and Weight Watchers encourages you to eat until you feel full and satisfied.
At first glance, many assume this initial list of foods is filled with boring, bland foods lacking flavor. Eating as much as you want seems too good to be true. What Weight Watchers’ Simple Start does to make these foods more appealing is allow for unlimited use of “Flavour Boosters” to improve taste. It also allows for two “Extra Treats” to add some flavor and texture to meals. All of the Simple Start meals are intended to be easy to make and fit easily into your lifestyle and that of your family’s. The last thing anyone wants to do is have to make two separate meals, so Weight Watchers makes sure that the meals you enjoy on the plan will be meals that your family will love as well.
While on the Simple Start portion of the Weight Watchers Plan, you can also take advantage of the Simple Start App. It helps you keep details of the plan with you at all times and eliminate the guess work. It includes the list of foods allowed, a tracker to help monitor what and how much you are eating and the ability to check in when using the app to be rewarded with special badges and messages. The app can also help give you plenty of ideas to avoid repetition and boredom while on the diet.
One of the perks of the newly introduced two week Simple Start plan is that it kick starts weight loss and helps you see results almost immediately. When it comes to dieting, people have little patience and, if some progress is not immediate, they tend to get discouraged and give up. Simple Start helps prevent that by ensuring you can eat until you are satisfied and provides a money back guarantee if results are not what were expected.
Once the two weeks on the Simple Start plan have been completed and some progress has already been made, you move onto the ProPoints system phase of the Weight Watchers plan.
After you have completed your first two weeks with the Simple Start, you should be ready to embark onto the next phase of the Weight Watchers plan known as ProPoints. ProPoints gives you the liberty to eat anything you want, including hamburgers, cake, pie and virtually any favorite food treat imaginable. The ProPoints plan is completely adaptable to any lifestyle and any special diet, and this is the main reason that so many follow this plan worldwide.
With ProPoints, you will enjoy your favorite foods, but you will learn to do so in moderation. Propoints will teach you how to count points and eat proportioned, well-balanced meals. The ProPoints system is similar to counting calories, but incorporates much more than simply the caloric value when determining each food’s point amount.
According to Weight Watchers, the ProPoints plan is based wholly on nutritional science. Points are determined by calculating a food’s protein, carbohydrate, fat and fiber content. Foods lower on the glycemic index and containing more protein, more fiber and less saturated fats will have less points than foods with the same caloric value, but containing less protein, more fat and more sugars. Some foods, such as leafy greens and other vegetables, are zero points and can be eaten in abundance until you feel full. Of course, water is also a zero point beverage and is highly encouraged while on the Weight Watchers program. It helps improve digestion and rid the body of any excess water it may be retaining due to dehydration or high sodium diet.
In order to help you determine the point value in virtually any food you can imagine, you will receive a free Points finder at the first meeting you attend. Online members will receive it in the mail, and it can also be purchased on the Weight Watchers website.
ProPoints Daily Allowance
Each person participating in the Weight Watchers plan has his or her own specific ProPoints daily allowance. This allowance is based on your height, weight, age and gender. By adding physical activity to your day, you can increase your ProPoints daily allowance and enjoy even more of your favorite treats. When you attend your first weekly meeting, either in person or online, you will be given a set number of points. If you attend online, you will get your assigned point allowance by entering your information online in a thorough assessment. The assessment asks about your stature, activity level, gender and several other physical characteristics. If you attend meetings in person, a group leader will assess you and assign a given point value for you. For the most part, the larger you are, the more points you will be able to eat. This is because your body requires more calories to move around and sustain it. Throughout your weight loss journey with Weight Watchers, your assigned point value may change in order to help you continue to see progress. As you shrink, so will your daily allowed total points and the amount you can eat.
Meetings are an integral part of the Weight Watchers plan. They provide support, encouragement, motivation and an opportunity to share your success with others embarking on the same journey. Meetings are held weekly at local Weight Watchers facilities and online for those that cannot attend in person. Meetings are led by a leader who has previously fought the weight loss battle and won by using the Weight Watchers plan. At the meetings, participants share weight loss strategies, exercise tips, recipes, snack ideas and much more. At the beginning of the meeting, the leader will explain that week’s topic of discussion, and participants will be encouraged to share and interact.
Weight Watchers Online
If you are eager to try Weight Watchers but are either too intimidated to attend a meeting or do not live close to a Weight Watchers location, you can still follow the plan and do it entirely online. The Weight Watchers Online plan guides provide countless online tools to help track you food intake, activity level and progress in general. On the Weight Watchers online interface, you will have access to a database of over 25,000 foods and over 1,000 recipes. The Recipe Builder will allow you to cook your family’s favorite dishes in a healthier way, and track every morsel that you put into your mouth with your online points calculator.
Weight Watchers App
If your life is so busy that you do not even have a spare second to log into your Weight Watchers account online, you can still participate in the program through the Weight Watchers mobile app. This is ideal if you are busy taking your kids to and from activities or if your job requires you to be on the road and out of the office most of the day. The Weight Watchers mobile app allows you to access many of the powerful tools available on the desktop site directly from your mobile phone or tablet.
Before you begin, you will be encouraged to take Weight Watcher’s free health assessment. It is available online and helps you determine what a healthy weight loss goal should be for someone of your stature and activity level. Many dieters set goals that fall far below their target Body Mass Index (BMI). Trying to lose more weight than is natural for your frame and stature can not only be dangerous, but also very difficult to accomplish unless drastic calorie reductions are made. At Weight Watchers, you will be encouraged to set healthy, realistic weight loss goals by calculating your BMI and finding a number to reach within the normal range for your frame and size.
After determining your BMI during the health assessment, you will also be asked about your lifestyle and any issues that may be hindering your ability to shed weight. Weight Watchers will help you make changes to your life and routine in order to make the plan work for you and finally help you shed the extra weight you have been trying to get rid of.
Additional Online Resources
Whether you opt to do the program online or attend meetings near you, the amenities available on the Weight Watchers website are available to all. Some of the many features on the Weight Watchers site that dieters can benefit from include:
- Shopping lists & basic ingredient suggestions
- Recipes & cooking ideas
- Tips on eating out at your favorite restaurants and making healthy choices
- Seasonal spotlights with recipes for specific times of year
- Fitness and health tips including demos for specific exercises and ways to implement fitness into your schedule
- Science information including new findings and science based approaches and research on weight loss
- Success stories
- Community section with an online forum for online discussions with other users
- Online store to purchase Weight Watchers food, beverages, publications and other products
- Link to find a meeting near you
Although your diet accounts for at least 80 percent of your weight loss, fitness is important as well, not only for weight loss, but for overall health. Weight Watchers encourages all of its members to incorporate fitness into their schedules on most days of the week. This can mean squeezing in a short workout before leaving for work, taking a walk at lunch and going for another walk after dinner. As long as you are moving for 30 to 45 minutes per day, it does not matter what you do. Of course, how much you do will reflect in your weight loss results so Weight Watchers tries to motivate you to move by providing sample demos on popular exercises you can do at home. They also feature many tips on training to increase your fitness level and help you lose more weight than you would from simply dieting alone. Weight Watchers reminds you that the key to making sure you get your workouts most days of the week is to plan ahead. Decide when you are going to do your workout during each given day of the week, and write it in a day planner or calendar on your mobile device. Set an alarm and have it remind you ahead of time. If you will be going after work, keep your workout bag in your car so you do not get home and decide to skip the gym at the last minute. In addition to putting it on your calendar, try and pick workouts that you enjoy and that are fun to do. Some people prefer Zumba because it is more like dancing with a group of friends, others prefer going for a hike or a walk and some just prefer the gym. Regardless of what you choose for your daily form of exercise, you must make it a priority and a significant part of your diet and weight loss program with Weight Watchers.
Weight Watchers Cost
When you sign up for the Weight Watchers plan, you will be presented with a variety of options. You can sign up for the online version or the plan that requires you to attend meetings near your home or place of business. The online plan includes access to Weight Watchers on the internet from your computer and your mobile phone. The online plan includes weekly meetings in person, as well as access to Weight Watchers online via your computer and mobile device.
The Weight Watchers online plan is currently offering a few specials for those that sign up before March 23, 2014. Members that sign up for a three month period on the online plan can receive up to 50 percent off and those that opt for the on-site meetings can get the first month for only £10. The typical price for the Weight Watchers online plan is £29.95 for the sign-up fee and £11.95 for the monthly fee. By signing up prior to March 23, 2014, Weight Watchers will waive the sign-up fee, and all you will have to pay is the £11.95 for the first month.
How Much Weight Will I Lose on Weight Watchers?
On average, Weight Watchers participants who have followed the Simple Start and ProPoints plans lose anywhere from one to two pounds per week. This is considered a gradual, healthy way to shed weight as opposed to a drastic weight loss in a short period of time. Weigh that is lost over time as opposed to quickly leads to a higher likelihood of keeping the weight off long term.
The program has not only been praised by celebrities and users around the globe, it has also been studied and proven to be an effective method for weight loss. Consumer Reports discovered that women who followed the program lost approximately 20 percent more weight than those who dieted on their own. Another study funded by the National Institutes of Health showed that those who participated in weight loss programs that involved group support, such as the weekly meetings offered with Weight Watchers, lost significantly more weight than those trying to lose weight on their own.
So, the question is, will you lose weight on the Weight Watchers plan? Your success depends on how dedicated you are and how strict you are with your points. It is important that you keep track of your points daily and do not overeat one day because you had a few points left over the previous day. Fitness is an integral part of the plan as well. It is necessary to improve your overall health, and also allows for a few extra points per day. What is important is not using your extra fitness points as an excuse to over-indulge. This could impede your weight loss and discourage you from continuing with the plan. If you are ready to learn healthy eating habits, proper portion size and nutritious options for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, then Weight Watchers is a plan that can work for you. If you are shy, opt for the online version so you do not have to attend weekly meetings and endure a weigh in in front of a group of strangers. If you are not shy, the weekly meetings are encouraged since they are a significant reason why the plan is so successful. It keeps you accountable each day because you know you will be facing a weigh in each week and everyone will know whether you followed the plan or not.
Weight Watchers Pre-Packaged Foods
Although Weight Watchers does not expect you to purchase their foods and eat it regularly during your time on the plan, it does offer a wide variety of options if you choose to go that route. Buying Weight Watchers foods can make it easier to follow the plan because the points for each food item are written directly on the package and it takes the guess work out of figuring how many are in each meal you are eating. Weight Watchers foods are available for purchase online and at your local grocery store as well. Some of the foods available by Weight Watchers include:
- Frozen meals
o Pastas, personal pizzas, soups, etc.
o Ice cream, cake, cookies, etc
o Crackers, string cheese, chips, candy, cereal, nuts, etc.
o Drink mix, meal replacement shakes, etc.
- All foods are allowed on the plan.
- Encourages healthy, clean eating.
- Teaches you how to make healthy choices while eating out.
- Teaches proper portion control with point system.
- Weight loss is slow and gradual, which is easier to maintain in the long run.
- Weekly meetings and weight ins keep you accountable with others.
- New health and fitness topics are discussed at meetings, teaching you about nutrition and fitness.
- Ability to eat out at any restaurant while still on the plan.
- The plan can be expensive week.
- Some may be embarrassed or intimidated at meetings and weigh ins.
- Calculating points can be difficult at first.
- If you have difficulty controlling your food intake with desserts, alcohol, fried foods and other non-diet foods, you may have difficulty losing weight and may prefer a more structured weight loss program.
I have tried the Weight Watchers plan several times in the last ten years. Initially, I tried it after college when I gained a substantial amount of weight studying late into the night and enjoying one too many pizzas. I loved the plan because I could still enjoy the foods my friends and family ate and not have to deprive myself. When I tried it after college, I attended weekly meetings near my apartment and I felt the accountability of getting weighed in each week is what really helped. Five years later, I was married and a new mum. I gained a lot of weight during my pregnancy and decided to try Weight Watchers once again to lose the baby weight. This time I did the online plan since it was difficult for me to make weekly meetings with a newborn at home. Babies are welcome at most meeting locations, but I did not feel comfortable going with my son and preferred to do the plan from the comfort of home. This time I lost weight on Weight Watchers as well but, I have to admit, it was nowhere near the amount I lose after college when I attended the meetings in person each week. After two months on the online plan after baby, I decided to sign up and attend the meetings in person and see if it improved my results. It definitely did and I lost the remainder of my baby weight in two months. Overall, I have to say that I love Weight Watchers. Yes, it is costly, but it is worth it. It is extremely beneficial to someone that does not know how to make healthy choices and substitute bad foods with healthier options. My advice to anyone that tries it is to attend the weekly meetings and, once you are used to the plan and can keep yourself accountable, then switch to the online plan if its easier.
I did Weight Watchers along with my best friend in order to lose weight before going on holiday. We both decided to do the online program and got off to a very good start. I liked that I could eat anything I wanted and there was no such thing banned as food. This ended up to be my downfall, though. I tend to have a problem with self control, especially when it comes to sweets. In the beginning, I stuck to my points and only ate a portion of the cookie, cake or cupcake. I lost one stone and was so happy. After a while, however, I started craving my desserts so much that I could not stop at just one or a few bites and gained some of the weight I lost back. I am the type of person that is all of nothing. I need a list of foods that I cannot eat in order to succeed with a program. It has to be black or white. I also need someone to keep me in check. This is when I decided to make the switch and attend the meetings in person instead. This helped tremendously. Having so much support from total strangers and knowing that I would have to step on a scale in front of them every week truly helped. I lost 3 stone and got my life back!
As a man, weight loss programs were not my thing. I went to the gym and worked out every once in a while but dieting was something I had never done. I never really had problems with my weight so I never really had to worry about my eating habits or losing weight. That was until I got married, stopped going to the gym as much and began enjoying beer on the weekends with family and friends a little more than I should have. Over the last several years, the weight has crept on and my beer belly was bigger than my wife’s at seven months pregnant. My wife and friends joked about it, but I knew it was serious. My father died of a heart attack, and I did not want the same for myself. After my wife had the baby, she joined Weight Watchers and asked me to do it with her. I figured it was the perfect opportunity, so we decided to do it as a team. We did the online program since I travel often and cannot attend meetings due to a hectic job schedule. It was an easy program to do even while traveling because I could eat anything I wanted in moderation according to my point allowance. My absolute favorite part was that I did not have to give up beer. I definitely drank less, but I could still enjoy a glass here and there. After a few weeks on the plan I could not believe the results. I lost weight, felt so much better about myself and became a wealth of knowledge about food and nutrition in general. My health improved too. I used to snore like a bear and get horrible heartburn after meals. After doing the plan and losing the weight, these symptoms disappeared. Thank you Weight Watchers!