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Ask Roni: Should I Join Weight Watchers?

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I know you’ve probably gotten asked this question a lot of times but I’m really, really struggling on the eating front. Somehow I feel I can manage to do the exercising but the eating right is really, really hard. I’m so low on motivation and feel so disgusted with myself, I just hate it. What I want to know is if I should join Weight Watchers. I just wanted your opinion on it and if it is good enough to just give me a push and a start. Appreciate the advice greatly!
-Preeti

Hi Preeti!

Boy do I feel you! Eating, for me, has always been the bigger struggle as well. I definitely go through periods with it too. Sometimes it’s effortless, easy, almost intuitive. I don’t feel that invisible force attracting me to the things I don’t want to eat. I don’t have the desire to gorge myself on junk and eat for eating’s sake.

Other times every meal feels like a struggle. I want to eat when I’m not hungry. Eat when I’m sad. Eat when I’m happy. I just want to eat!

Weight Watchers for sure was a big part of my success in the beginning. I loved the community. I learned about portions and making better choices. Having a points goal for the day helped me figure out balance. Having the weekly points helped teach me it wasn’t the end of the world if I “messed up” one day because I wanted a cookie. Overall I found it intuitive, easy and a good first step.

Unfortunately, they changed the program since I started and I’m not sure I can recommend it the way I used to. I checked it out when they launched the new program and even gave it a shot after but a few months later I walked away and honestly, I never looked back — this post explains why. 

Honestly, I feel like I can’t really answer your question since I’ve been out of the Weight Watchers game too long so I’m going to “ask the audience” as I know lots of folks have strong opinions on the new program.

I will say, if the Weight Watchers plan resonates with you then by all means do it.  I really understand your need to have “a push and a start” but I will warn you that Weight Watchers (or any reputable program) only works if you are going in with the right mindset. YOU have to put on your big girl panties and not let yourself walk away. YOU have to do the prep work and cooking and experimentation. YOU have to be open to trying new things, not only with what you eat but how you deal. And most importantly, YOU have to approach whatever you do as long term plan for permanent change not a short-term fix.

The plan you go with is just a plan, a framework, an approach. It doesn’t work unless you do.

I’m throwing your question out to the comments…

Any current Weight Watchers members have advice for Preeti? Has Weight Watchers changed the plan at all since the release of PointsPlus? Do you like it? Would you recommend it? Why? Why Not?



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Discussion

There are 22 comments so far.

    Laura Melville

    November 3, 2014

    I totally agree with Roni that your mindset has to be right to have successful weight loss. If it isn’t there, it won’t happen. As far as Weight Watchers I lost 1/2 my weight on the old point system and the rest on points plus. I like Weight Watchers and I prefer Points Plus to the old system. Weight Watchers offers two plans: Points Plus and Simply Filling. Simply Filling is a list of “filling” foods that will keep you full longer-no point counting for any of them, if you eat something not on the list, you have weekly points to deduct from. Points Plus is counting points for all foods up to an allotted amount. They now do a 2 week Simple Start to get you started which is similar to Simply Filling. After 2 weeks, you can continue with Simple Start, go onto Simply Filling or start with Points Plus. Weight Watchers is the only plan that has ever worked for me; though I have taken a break just for the fact that I was getting “pointed out” (tired of counting pts and therefore getting lazy). But I’m going back the first of the year. Right now I’m just measuring and writing it down without counting anything (why trade in points for calories?) and I’m managing to maintain mostly because I’m tracking what I’m eating.

      Dana

      November 3, 2014

      Laura – that is a good explanation. I have followed WW on and off for several years and been thru several plans. The big plus for me is that no food is off limits. The downside for me is the cost. However, they do run price specials occasionally.

      There are several WW groups on Facebook that give great support along with joining WW’s.

    Ana

    November 3, 2014

    I am a life-long (read – NOT lifetime member of Weight Watchers). I have been a member on and off since I was 15 until about 27. So, although I am not familiar with the latest details I feel like I can give you a fairly informed opinion.

    My experience with Weight Watchers was super positive the first time I joined. Subsequent experiences were less positive each time. If you have never tried it – I would say give it a go. The accountability (getting on the scale, food journaling, and let’s be honest paying $$) give you a good push. For me when the program was new to me it provided good motivation. It also helped me be successful in 2 specific times where I was at a super low point and just needed someone to tell me what to do. I had zero energy to put together a plan for myself and was just looking for something – anything that could work. Like Roni said though ultimately it’s your hard work that matters with WW or any other.

      Louise

      November 5, 2014

      I am a Lifetime member of WW. It is like any program, it works if you work it! I am a person who needs the group atmosphere, I tried unsuccessfully to do it on my own, I guess I need the meetings as much as the meetings sometimes need me. What ever works for you stick with it and you will succeed.

      e

    Kitty

    November 3, 2014

    I am doing Points Plus on WW and have no real issues with it. There is also the Simply Filing Plan that works for some (that isn’t a good plan for me but others love it).

    Truthfully, there is no magic in the WW plan. It is a fine plan and you can lose weight on it if you follow it. That is true of many weight loss plans. I wouldn’t join WW just because of the food plan.

    I go to WW for 2 reasons (I am a lifetime member of WW who regained and have now lost 48 pounds and have 14 more to go).

    (1) The meetings. I don’t learn anything new there any more. But going to a meeting every week where everyone is focused on weight loss and talking about that subject helps me to focus on weight loss and stay in the right frame of mind for weight loss. Simply put, when I’m in the frame of mind I’m more likely to lose weight. If I miss too many meetings I lose that focus.

    (2) The accountability of the weigh in and how it structures my week. My goal each week is to have a loss at weigh in. Period. And, 7 days is a nice manageable time to work on. When I needed to lose over 60 pounds I couldn’t focus on that. Too long a time period. But, I could focus on weighing in every 7 days and wanting to have a loss at weigh in.

    Those two things are the key to me. I did WW Online once and that didn’t have those things and it didn’t work well. But, the weekly meetings structure my week in a way so that I can focus on my short term goal and really, really want to have a loss when I weigh in each week. Through doing that each week I’ve lost 48 pounds and it has worked well for me.

    Some people though don’t need that structure and can do fine on their own.

    I will say that motivation has to come from within. After I regained weight, I sporadically went back for years and it didn’t do anything. Truthfully, I wasn’t really motivated at that time to do what I had to do to lose weight. Without that motivation and commitment to doing what needed to be done to lose weight, I wasn’t going to lose. That part had to come from me, not from WW.

    Eileen

    November 3, 2014

    In 2012 I lost 45 pounds using the Points Plus program. I didn’t always go to weekly meetings (though I always found them helpful when I did). I found the accountability in the form of weekly weigh ins was very key, and I found the points tracking and format helpful. Ive gained a little back since my low point and am planning to return to weigh ins (instead of doing online tracking only).

    I know food journals tend to get old, but it’s key IMO. I also found the program really good about encouraging better (and more healthy) snacking.

    I would whole heartedly recommend.

    Joy @ WhatIWeighToday.com

    November 3, 2014

    I have been on and off weight watchers many times. I think one of the main arguments against it is the very nature of the points system–it’s a made up way to encode calories, protein, fat, and fiber. It’s a veil between you and the plain information. I think it’s easier to directly look at the nutritional profile of what you are eating via a free food journal such as My Fitness Pal. I prefer the community online over the in-person meetings I’ve been to through weight watchers. There are a lot of great blogs, instagrams, twitter feeds, facebook pages etc. that help you feel like you aren’t at it alone. So basically I think my advice would be try some the free tools out there while creating a tailored-to-you support system via blogs and social media. If that doesn’t help, and Weight Watchers still calls, might as well give it a try at that point.

    Christy

    November 3, 2014

    I am a lifetime member that has used both the traditional plan and the Points Plus program. I prefer Points Plus because it encourages me to eat more fruits, veggies, and “real food” than I did on the traditional plan. For example, under the old plan I could eat a 100 calorie pack for 2 points or a banana for 2 points. I would choose the 100 calorie pack every time. Now, fruits and veggies are free (up to your daily recommendation) so I’m more likely to grab them for a snack than I was in the past. I strongly believe that any plan will be successful if it is something that you can commit to. For me, weight watchers was what I could do long term because no foods are off limits. I lost 65 pounds and continue to go to meetings to help make sure I keep it off.

    Nadine

    November 3, 2014

    I am a lifetime member and former employee of WW. The plan has not changed much at all since the major overhaul to PointsPlus a few years ago and whether you love or hate the Points system there’s a BIG reason people go back to WW over and over again. It is NOT a quick weight loss plan. In my opinion, it is a program that teaches you how to live AND eat. You can have your cake and eat it too, if you follow the plan.

    Everything else you said, Roni, is spot on. The program (and any program) only works if you work it. So I guess the question is not ‘should you’ but ‘why shouldn’t you’?

    Sheri

    November 3, 2014

    Different people are motivated differently and you have to find what motivates you at this time in your life. That being said, if you are thinking about Weight Watchers I say, yes, give it a try! IMO, WW meetings help keep you focused on weight loss and a healthy lifestyle, weigh ins keep you accountable, the program works and points plus does help you eat more real fruits and vegetables. WW also talks a lot about healthy habits and routines and how to incorporate them into your life, which I think is one of the most important things!

    RG

    November 4, 2014

    I know you asked for current weight watchers, and I am not, but I think are only going to hear “why not” from people who choose “not”. My suggestion is that Preeti talk with a nutritionist, who can analyze her current diet and lifestyle to see why she is struggling. Is she under a lot of stress, not sleeping well, aiming for too low a calorie? what about cooking skills, does she need more vegetables or (my personal issue) protein? A lot of insurance companies will pay for classes, I attended one where it was free as long as I made most of the sessions, and the cost to skip the sessions was motivating.

    Christine

    November 4, 2014

    I used to love Weight Watchers – the original POINTS program. I lost weight with that program before getting pregnant with my first son and then it helped me take the weight off post-baby. Fast forward 15 years when I had my second son and again turned to Weight Watchers to help me lose the weight I had gained. With the new program, instead of losing weight, I was hungry all the time and ended up gaining a couple of pounds. I might try the old program again but I’m not a fan of points plus. Everyone is different though and I’m sure it helps plenty of people lose weight. Good luck!

    Sarah

    November 4, 2014

    I lost 50 lbs over the past year on the new Points Plus WW program. I had never tired WW before, but I had yo-yo dieted many times up and down (ugh)… I have maintained this loss now for 5 months and am slowly weaning myself off the points and trying to eat more intuitively, as this has started to feel natural. So far I am three weeks in without tracking and I have maintained! (Small wins!!). I think the WW tools were a fantastic way to take accountability for what was going into my mouth every day, without feeling deprived and miserable or on a “diet”. I feel like I learned about correct portions, what foods made me feel, look and perform best, and which I actually wanted to consume sparingly. I gained a lot of knowledge around building a meal with fruits and veggies, then adding in the protein and carbs instead of the other way around. Also, how to make the best choices when eating out, or at a party. Really, i feel like this was a lifestyle change that i can easily maintain for a lifetime. I am now a believer in the WW program and I would definitely recommend it to anyone, with one caveat – to repeat what Roni said- you have to put your big girl pants on and be real with yourself and stick to the program or it wont work! Good luck!! :)

    Carol

    November 4, 2014

    I’m a Lifetime member of WW who lost 115 lbs on the original points plan. I don’t like the current points plus plan very much and have gained back 30 lbs. I’m still going to meetings (never stopped), but my tracking has really gone out the window. I’ll do it well for a few weeks and then I’ll totally blow it off for a week. The problem with that is that I gain a couple lbs during the “blow off” week and then they don’t come off when I’m following the plan. Then I get frustrated and blow off another week. The is ALL me. I’m not blaming WW for this, but it does illustrate some other posters points that WW is not a magic formula and you have to go in with the right mindset. I’m working on getting that mindset back, but it’s slow going.

    Lindsey W.

    November 4, 2014

    I lost a 50 pounds on the original plan and, as soon as Weight Watchers switched to Points Plus, I started to slowly gain it back. The new program is great if you don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. However, if you eat healthy food (just too much of it), you may end up gaining weight.

    Shelbi

    November 4, 2014

    First thing to remember is that WW is a for-profit, publicly-traded corporation whose obligation is to its shareholders. How does it make money? It relies on repeat members who lose for a while, get off track, drift away, regain, gain a little more, and then re-join. How does it create repeat members? Design a program where you “get to” keep eating all the foods that made you fat in the first place and where you “earn” more junk by doing things like folding laundry or walking the dog. Most people who are overweight got that way because certain foods/experiences/emotions trigger them to binge and/or over-eat. If portion control and moderation were that easy to learn, we would have the ever-more-massive masses we see in society today. How many people do you know who have joined WW once, lost a significant amount of weight, and have kept it off for any period of time? I know of exactly one online (a blogger named Caron, whom I don’t think writes anymore), and ZERO in real life. I can, however, tick off the names of an easy 12-14 women who join WW every Jan 1st, lose 20 pounds by April 30th, start to fall off the wagon when the weather warms up, chow down at cookouts all summer, get the “why bother, the holidays are coming” routine down around Labor Day, and the following April 30 finds them up the original 20 + maybe 10-15 more, and then they re-up with WW because “it works.” They all have their closets divided into “fat clothes” and “thin clothes” (and, mind you, their “thin clothes” nowhere near “thin,” as these women “maintain” around 180-190, bottom out around 165 and top out just over two bills) — and they just repeat the cycle, happily paying WW for the privilege of yo-yo dieting the same 30 pounds every year, destroying their health in the process. Please do yourself a favor and research some successful, long term weight loss maintainers; you’ll find what they all have in common is a consistent diet of whole, non-processed, nutritionally-rich foods, very rare exceptions in their eating plans, and they make time for meaningful exercise 4-7 days per week. These people identify their eating triggers whether it be baked goods, salty foods, certain situations/people, etc. and eliminate them. They make rules and construct a diet whose goal is good health, and weight follows that. No “points,” no meetings, no packaged brand-name junk, and no excuses.

    Preeti

    November 5, 2014

    Thank you Roni for picking my question out of all the ones you get and thanks everyone for taking the time out to reply – pretty over whelmed to see so many honest responses. It definitely did help me a lot. I know that I have to be a big girl and just START – no matter what my situation is. And I admit, guiltily,that I’m one of those people who lost a lot of weight and then gained it on back, in cycles. When my mind is upto it, it’s almost like there is no stopping me – I’m very focused on my workouts, my eating is perfect and I’m not tempted easy. But then when I give up??? I TOTALLY give up. Stress is definitely a big, big factor in my life and I’m trying to work on it slowly but like I said in my question, eating is the hard part.

    I feel like even though I know what to eat and which foods are good etc, when my emotional side kicks in I just eat – no craving needed. That’s why I was looking for something with a certain amount of accountability or rather I would benefit from someone just telling me what to eat, rather than the additional stress of me figuring it out myself. Reading everyone’s responses, it looks like there’s an even balance between those who recommend and those who don’t and ALL of you saying I should just buck up and get into the right mindset. This is what I’m going to do (thinking it out aloud in a forum where people wouldn’t mind to be brutally honest :)) – I have a challenge in my gym coming up for the biggest body fat loser – it’s a 2 month challenge from 11.17.2014 – 01.17.2015 and the winner gets a 1000$! They help with exercises, meal plans, grocery lists etc – I’m going to participate, blog about it here: http://30what30.wordpress.com/and kick some a@@. I’m in a surprisingly good and motivated mood today (rare to come these days so I’m capitalizing) and I feel this is going to be a good start.

    I still think I will join the WW program for the meetings and support system, but after this challenge – it gives me the time to prove to myself how much I want this.

    Thank you everyone!

    Jennifer

    November 5, 2014

    I agree with much of what’s already been said, but one more thing: if you do join WW, my recent realization (after doing the program mostly on and a little off, maintaining 35 lbs off for 10 years) is that it’s easy to get into a mindset where you “deserve” all your daily, weekly, and activity points. You can end up playing tricks, like eating 5 bananas because they’re “free” or doing some light exercise to justify yet another snack. If you eat your max allotment, you also don’t leave yourself any room for errors in calculating points or portions. I love WW and definitely recommend it, but the lesson I’ve learned is that you still have to listen to your body, eat smart portions, avoid emotional eating, and eat the right balance of nutrients and vitamins to get healthy. I would use WW as a guide, but avoid getting sucked into using points like they’re lives in a video game. Good luck!

    Sarah Deman

    November 6, 2014

    The idea of WW is great – and I like the new plans. I am a current member and go to meetings weekly. But, I can tell you that it only works if you work it! Just going to the meetings isnt going to cut it – you have to track your food, count the points, drink the water, etc and put in the work. You can do all of this without WW, but the weekly meetings are the accountability I need to stay on track. My best piece of advice would be to join with a friend!

    Samantha D

    November 6, 2014

    I was on weight watchers for a little while, and I liked the Points system. Eventually, I realized the tracking was the aspect of the program that I liked the most. When I had some financial difficulties, I switched to My Fitness Pal and I love it! If you need to hold yourself accountable, I think My Fitness Pal is great. However, if you’re looking for the community of the meetings and the accountability of having someone else weigh you and being in a group with others than Weight Watchers may be better for you.

    C

    November 7, 2014

    As a life long ED survivor, I got to say Weight Watchers is finally what allowed me to see that it was possible to live in world where food was not the enemy. You would think. that multiple trips to rehab would have taught me but alas no. I grew up with a mom who binged and a sister who binged/purged. I myself spent way too many years dancing between these two hellish existances. Finally after 16 years in obese territory I found a great meeting, a wonderful support group and a truly amazing WW leader. The end result…5-7 servings a day of fruits/vegetables I LOVE, desert when I feel like it and 55 lbs lost. Oh and I am no longer affraid of food and discovered physical acctivity can actually be something for enjoyment rather then a form of punishment for a binge.

    Muhammad Jameel

    December 2, 2014

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