Friday, January 22, 2010

Weight Watchers - the Good

Weight Watchers is probably one of the biggest weight loss companies in the world. While I don't have any statistics to back that up, I think it's pretty obvious they make a lot of money off the diet industry. As someone that has followed weight watchers in the past and is currently following it, I have seen them change their program a few times. There's good parts and not as good parts to the program. Today, I am going to talk about what I think are the good parts.

The aspects that I think are among the best components of the program are: the points system, the meetings, the filling foods and their tracking papers.

Weight loss happens when you expend more calories then you consume. Weight watchers knows this. They also know that people don't want to do too much math. If they have to add 127, 342 and 94, they are going to get frustrated and stop bothering. So, weight watchers took the numbers and rounded them off. Yes, fat and fiber play a roll, but mainly this is to encourage people to eat less fat and more fiber. The result of the points system is that it makes it very easy to keep track of the amount of food being consumed. It's pretty easy for anyone to add up 2, 6, and 3. (this is just an example, not the actual values of the calories listed above.)

The meetings are the key part of why weight watchers works for me, and for others as well. It's a weekly time to recommit to the program. The topics tend to be well presented and helpful. For instance, so far this year, they've discussed food tracking, filling foods, and the importance of activity. I've gone to enough meetings that I've seen topics repeat over time, but with group discussion, there's always a different spin on it. Even when it's very similar, it's still a good reminder of what I might already know.

Being weighed in by someone else and having them write that number down keeps you from being able to hide from it. Having a room full of people applaud when you hit weight loss milestones gives you positive reinforcement and keeps you coming back.

The Filling Foods category is a new one since I last did weight watchers, and in my opinion, one of the best changes they've made to the program. In the past, the strongest focus always seemed to be on points. Purely points. I recognize that this is the key to weight loss, but it's important to keep health in mind as well. The filling foods list includes foods that are primarily unprocessed, low in fat, high in fibre, and healthy. You're encouraged to eat from this list as much as possible. I think it's great that weight watchers has changed their tune from "eat whatever you want, just count points" to "eat from this list as much as you can".

One aspect that almost every weight loss plan has in common is that they ask you to track your food. Weight watchers is no exception. One of the key to losing weight is being aware of what you put in your mouth and how much. This is another area they've slightly changed since I was last on the program and, in my opinion, for the better. There's space for you to write down all your foods and keep track of points. The addition that I like is the check boxes at the side for all the food groups. These check boxes model Canada's food guide, something that was not well focussed on in previous versions of the program.

The first meeting I was at, my leader told me that before eating any snacky foods, I should make sure that I've fulfilled all the requirements. I haven't read this in any of the paperwork yet, and I wish it was there as well. Good health isn't just about avoiding the wrong foods, it's about eating the right ones. When I'm nearing the end of my day, I look over my tracker, and if I see that I haven't had enough milk, I have yogurt for my evening snack. If fruit/veggies is low, I make sure that's included. (I do eat an evening snack; that no eating after dinner rule has never worked for me or my body.)

Overall, weight watchers is a good program. Obviously I think so, which is the main reason I'm following it. However, lest you think I am paid or employed by them, tune in tommorow for my piece on what I think the negative sides of their program are...

And, in news about me, I had another successful weigh in. This week, I weighed in at 238.6 pounds, giving me a weekly weight loss of 2.8 pounds, and a total loss of 5.2. Yipee! I'm on my way.


  1. I have never been on WW, but I think the staying power of this program is that it is doable in the real world. Not everyone is willing to eat perfectly all the time. This program gives you the option to have what are sometimes considered "forbidden foods" in small portions. I can only imagine that over time this helps you form good habits.

    It is wonderful that you've seen such good results.