Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New Weight Watchers program: Wish list and wild speculation

It's no big secret. Every December, Weight Watchers introduces its new program materials. I think they do this in December, when meeting attendance is generally lower, so that all the leaders have a chance to get any questions or problems figured out before the big January surge. Every now and then, a post comes up on the Weight Watchers boards about it, and everyone basically tells the Original Poster (OP) to shut up and wait until the program rollout. If any real information did leak onto the boards, it would be quickly swept away by the moderators, because what's the point of rolling out a new program if you can't generate some excitement with it?

Sometimes the changes are major, like when the Core option was introduced. Sometimes the changes are minor, like when the Core option was renamed the Simply Filling Technique. Sometimes there are just fiddly bits around the edges, like changing the look of the program materials. Each time, there is an opportunity to buy a whole new Dining Out Guide and Complete Food Companion. I had three or four different versions at one time.

I thought instead of trying to puzzle out what Weight Watchers actually planned to do this year, which would probably be impossible, it might be more fun to say what I would like Weight Watchers to do (short of making chocolate and wine 0 point vegetables):
  • Customizable Weight Loss Goals: It would be nice if you could customize your weight goal and get a corresponding points allowance. With the holidays coming up, it would be nice, for example, to set my goal to just maintain from now to January 1. With a paper tracker and the maintenance booklet, it would be technically possible to do that. You could just follow the recommendations for someone at their weight goal. It would be a really nice option to do this in eTools automatically and/or have an option in the quiz where you set your points target. You could adjust back up at New Year's, when you were feeling motivated. I don't know about others, but once I am over my points, it requires a stronger act of will to keep tracking, as stupid as that is. This option would make it easier for people like me to stay within range.
  • Revisions to the Good Health Guidelines: Are two servings of dairy really necessary for everyone every day? I'd rather up my fruits and veggies and drop my dairy to one a day. And do you really need two teaspoons of liquid oil each day if you also eat foods, like nuts and avocados, that contain healthy fats? Also, how about a little more clarity on the whole grains? Weight Watchers has a good track record of keeping up with new health research, so I think it is possible that we will see some revisions here.
  • Ditch the Weight Watchers Junk Food: The two-point bars, smoothies, and other snacks they sell in meetings have to be designed for superlong shelf lives, so they don't taste all that great and they're full of chemicals. Maybe it would be better for Weight Watchers to get out of the junk food business. It seems to go against their Good Health Guidelines, which focus on whole foods, to sell this garbage at the meetings.
  • More for Maintainers: I think it would be great if Weight Watchers set up once-a-month regional maintainer meetings where people could specifically focus on the challenge of maintaining. The idea now is that maintainers attend regular meetings to serve as a good example for the rest of the members, but what tends to happen is that they either weigh in and leave or they disappear for a few months and reappear 10-20 pounds heavier, like I did. Maintainers could still attend regular meetings but they might feel more motivated if they knew they were going to be meeting with other maintainers instead of sticking out as the only skinny person in the room.
  • Improvements to the iPhone App: I think you should be able to track your Good Health Guidelines on it, and your weekly weight. As it is, it's only a supplement to the website, not a substitute.
I don't have a lot of suggestions because I feel like it's already a solid program. I will go out on a limb and say that I don't expect any major changes this time around. Anyone else care to throw their hat in the ring with some wild speculation? All the cool kids will be doing it.


  1. You have some really good ideas! I think those on maintenance have largely been forgotten (although this year they have done the book mark thing with a correspoding trinket for 10 out of 12 successful months). Of course, I am very interested in maintenance (which is why I am so looking forward to Wed.'s TBL show)!

    The whole thing, losing it, then maintaining it, is such a difficult journey for many of us that ANYTHING that helps us stay on target is great!

  2. I always liked the simple core program when I did weight watchers..the simply filling one just annoyed me for some reason.

  3. I love the idea of the customizable goals! I just recently returned to doing WW Online and also have a BodyBugg that I've been using. One of the things I loved about relying on the Bugg program was just that -- I could tweak from week to week if I knew something was coming up or just didn't think what I was doing was quite working. Sure, we CAN do that with WW as it is now by eating/not eating APs and WPAs ... but it would be nicer to have it your way :)

  4. Those are all things I would get behind. In fact, I'd love to write Weight Watchers an email, as well as bring this up to my leader, if that's ok.

    I know it's a long shot, but maybe if I few of us get opinions in - it could happen.

    I especially think the maintenance meeting is a great idea!

  5. Excellent suggestions. I especially like the customizable goal bit - and getting out of the junk food business. I'll be curious to see what they actually come up with, and to see if this is a "cosmetic change" year or something substantial. It's already a good program.

  6. Love love love this post. I hope Weight Watchers do some self googling! Everything you say makes a lot of sense.

    I wish they would bloody come up with an UK iPhone app already. I don't follow WW but no one makes a calorie counting/pointing app with a UK foods database. I would join WW online just to get that app. All the UK WW members are shirty, 'why do the US members get one and not us'? Get with the NOUGHTIES, WW! that decade is practically over so we're not asking much :P


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07