Monday, May 05, 2014

Why am I doing Weight Watchers?

Given some of the comments on my last post about Weight Watchers, I thought I should at least outline the reasons I decided to do Weight Watchers.  I appreciate that the comments were made with good intentions, but they can feel a little frustrating.  They are being made by people who, I assume, have already lost weight and have been successfully maintaining for a long time. They can feel a little like Meb Keflezighi saying to a newbie runner, "just go a little faster!"

I understand that not everyone will agree with me. Everything related to weight loss and nutrition is passionately contested. Weight loss has become sort of a substitute for religion, with its own Holy Wars. There are plenty of competing plans out there with their own scientific rationales and their own theories. I'm not saying that this is what is right for anyone but me, but there was one reason and one reason only that I am doing Weight Watchers: 

I am using Weight Watchers as a tool to lose weight.

I'm following the program the way it was created and tested. I am paying fees for Weight Watchers to have access to that program. I have a free app for tracking my calories and am free to make up my own rules. I chose to do Weight Watchers because trying to make up my own plan didn't work for me. 

I wanted a certain amount of structure and some flexibility. The PointsPlus system simplifies food choices and provides a framework for making them.   I have had success with this framework in the past, and it fits with my dietary preferences. There is no way in this framework to "count" vegetables or fruits, even if I wanted to. I don't want to make one up.  It would be like trying to play tennis and golf at the same time.  

There was a time in WW when fruit had points. The points were figured differently then, and they found that people were using those points for things like 100-calorie packs. The program was changed to calculate PointsPlus in a different way and to include "the caloric impact of a reasonable number of servings of even the highest-calorie fruits" (Frequently Asked Questions, p. 4) in the new PointsPlus allowance. That change was tested and proven before it was rolled out to the public.

I suspect that the people who report having trouble controlling the amount of fruit they eat have other problems following the program, too.  I personally find that fruits and vegetables are very bulky and that I fill up faster when eating them than when eating other foods.  I also find it a challenge to stay within my points as the program is written, so I don't feel the need to make it more difficult. 

The program calls for tracking everything, so I will have a record. I'll also have weekly weigh-in records.  These records would allow me to tweak my program if needed.  I haven't even had one official weigh-in since starting, so right now is not the time for tweaks.

I'm not doing this as a way to have the most perfect diet ever, to be smarter than other people, or to be doing things "right." I joined Weight Watchers to have access to a powerful, proven tool to lose weight.  

I know there are other effective ways to lose weight. I have had plenty of doubts and disagreements with specific things in the program -- I'm not sure I agree that so much dairy is really necessary, for example. For now I'm putting those aside and trusting the people I'm paying to help me. 

I'm not worried about how other people might abuse this program and trying to formulate additional rules that would help them -- if I need to make additional rules for myself, I'll do that after I have a few weeks of tracking and weigh-ins under my belt. It has been a few years since I've done this program and I'm trying to approach it as a newbie would.  


  1. I am wondering if you are saying that the program has a guideline for fruits and veggies. So in essence they lowered the points that they gave you, knowing you would be eating X fruit and veggies, so you actually ARE counting them.

    I think it is smart to look at it as a newbie. I also agree there is merit to following as written. Because then you will know exactly what you did. And you will see whether or not it works (as written).

    I am never sure they have taken insulin resistance into account with their plans. It will be interesting to see what happens.

    I stopped ingesting dairy a long time ago (GI and migraines, double whammy). And I know you have to be careful too. There are a lot of people out there that can't do any dairy. Good point.

    Loved the dress yesterday. You are right, it might look dated in a couple years. That was popular cut/color this year.

    1. The program does have a recommendation of 5 fruits/vegetables a day (8 for nursing mothers, or 9 if over 350 pounds).

      Also, WW in determining the amount of daily points you get assumes that you are eating 5 fruits/veggies a day.

    2. I reread my materials and it looks like those are minimums -- any WW leaders care to comment? I know they will suggest dialing back the fruit if everything else is on point and you aren't losing.

    3. All that makes me feel a little better.

      I was thinking about all this and realized part of my thought process is I am never sure if their research is on helping people ls weight and KEEP IT OFF. Or if it is all about selling memberships and keeping members. Because those could be two very different things.

      I have adjusted my thought process to being very interested to see how this goes for you. I think you are really spot on to do it as written so you can think of it as a science experiment and really SEE.

  2. I asked my leader about limiting fruits/vegetables tonight. She said that people should use their common sense -- if their losses are slowing and they think they might be eating too much fruit, they should dial it back.

    Using common sense seems like an excellent idea. She said she had a member who complained about not losing weight, and she was just eating a watermelon every day, nothing else. That seems like a stupendously terrible idea for a lot of reasons. The whole idea is to eat a balanced, sane diet.

    1. I still re beer your WW meeting lady who was eating a Large amount of ice cream too.

  3. I love this -> 'Everything related to weight loss and nutrition is passionately contested'

    Oh so very true.

    You are doing everything exactly right because you are trying to do something that what will work for YOU. That's really the most important thing. You and I could eat the same, exercise the same, sleep the same amount, etc, and have completely different results. Good luck with WW and with how you choose to make it work into your lifestyle :)

  4. I agree with you that everything with weight loss will be passionately contested. People have also become very "food phobic," due to the current diet gurus who promote a certain, often obsessive way of eating, sometimes in an effort to sell their diet books.

    I am also doing WW and have lost more than 30 pounds by having a balanced diet that doesn't exclude any food groups. I was pre-diabetic prior to joining WW, and I am now in the normal range, even though I ate at least three fruits a day, along with grains. This has been approved by my dietician By counting points, we keep our calorie intake in a range that will allow us to lose weight, even though we eat grains, dairy, and fruit. They are all part of a healthy diet, unless a person has some food allergies. As for the hullabaloo about fruit and WW, if one is reasonable, it should not be a problem. You're on the right track, and I personally think it is a healthy way to lose weight, if done as intended.


"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