You all hear me talk about tracking and staying on program, and know that I am on weight watchers, but not many people know exactly how it works. Also, why it's any different than other weight loss systems. I'm sure most of you have also seen the Jennifer Hudson commercials for weight watchers and the new Points Plus program and you're wondering how it's different. Well I'll tell you.
The weight watchers program is a constantly evolving creature. The Points Plus program is the third time it's switched since I joined over 5 years ago. When I first started in 2006, your points values were determined by your weight and nothing else. The weight classes were every 25lbs and when you shifted into a lower one, you lost 2 points per day. There was also a program called Core, in which there was a list of foods you could eat unlimited quantities of (only until you were satisfied, not until you were stuffed). You also got a weekly points allowance of 35 points to be used at any point during the week (you could use as many as you wanted or not use any), which you got whether you counted points every day or were on Core. The points of foods were calculated by their amount of calories, fat, and fiber. On this program, when I was between 175 and 200lbs, I got 24 points per day, and when I crossed below 175lbs, I got 22 points per day. You could also earn activity points through exercise (the number you got depended on your weight and activity) and those could be eaten if you ran out of daily points.
In December 2006, the program changed. The points you got per day were more tailored to the individual. The formula took into account your age, height, gender, daily activity, and your current weight. This formula gave the men more points for gender and height, and those who were older lost points because their metabolisms are slower. Under this program, you lost 1 point every time you crossed into a new 10lb range (169, 159, etc). You also lost a point when you moved into a new age bracket. The points for food calculation stayed the same and so did the activity points. Core was still in existence. Under this program, I had 23 points in the 160s and 22 points in the 150s, so I got a little relief in the 160s.
In the fall of 2008, they eliminated Core and introduced power foods. These were specific foods that you could eat until you were satisfied and use a set point value instead of measuring. Some of the foods included in this group were whole wheat pasta, beans, and proteins.
In November 2010, the new Points Plus program was introduced. Instead of points for foods, everything was now points plus so we would know the difference. Your daily points plus was still calculated by age, gender, height, and weight, but you could no longer calculate it yourself. The formula is a secret and your daily points plus target is printed out with your weight each week when you weigh-in. The lowest points plus per day you could ever have was 29 and that's what I had at that time weighing 172lbs, so I will never again lose points, which is a huge relief. The weekly points plus target was 49 points. You're probably thinking that this would be better because you'd get more food, but it was just the opposite. You got to eat more points plus than you had when they were plain points, but the calculation for foods' points plus changed as well. The foods were now calculated by fat, fiber, protein, and carbs. Carbs shot the points plus on foods through the roof and foods that were only a few points before, became way too many points plus to consider eating. Since the new Points Plus program has been implemented, the only carbs in house is whole wheat pasta. So with foods being more points plus, you were actually eating less. The only relief is fruit and most veggies are no points plus, so you can eat as much as you want. This has changed my program because before I wouldn't be willing to give up points on fruit and now it's my breakfast every day and my snack when I have low points plus left for the day.
The reason I chose weight watchers over other diet programs is because of it's sustainability and flexibility. It's also the most affordable in the long run. When it comes to diet programs that have you buy their food (Jenny Craig, Nutri-System), which can cost as much as $280 a month, if not more, and once you stop eating their food, the weight comes on as fast as it comes off. It's not something you can do forever. Weight watchers incentivizes you to hit a healthy weight, by offering free membership at that point. I pay $39.95 per month and have access to online tools and an app on my iPhone that I can use to track anywhere. Tracking your points plus is like balancing a checkbook. If you end up with a zero or positive balance at the end of the week, you should lose weight. It's as simple as that. I never feel like I'm deprived and there are days where I have a hard time eating all my daily points plus (crazy since I have the least amount you can ever have). It's all about knowing low points plus foods that are filling. I have pizza at least twice a month and sometimes Chinese food thrown in there. I have no problems eating out or going to parties. You have the freedom to choose your foods and plan ahead for a big event by saving some of your weekly points plus. My PopPop asked if I was still on weight watcher and when I said yes, he asked how long I was going to keep doing it and I replied, forever. He seemed to think I was a sucker, but I know how it works and I am happy with my life on weight watchers.