Since starting Weight Watchers almost three years ago (about the time I moved to Tallahassee), I’ve been hyper-aware of what’s said about the program by both the media and people who know a little about it but have never actually worked the program. Last week, I read another blog that talked about Weight Watchers. The author was someone who had never done it, and asked her readers to clarify her misconceptions, which I happily did. But I thought this subject deserved a little more, so decided (obviously) to do my own blog post about it.
One of the biggest misconceptions I’ve read and heard is that Weight Watchers is a low-fat diet. Weight Watchers is a low-calorie diet. Period. Counting points for food is similar to counting calories. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will not lose weight. The low-fat or not low-fat part comes in how an individual uses those points.
One question I often see on the Weight Watchers message board is some variation of, “What is the lowest point peanut butter?” First, I’ll say that if you want to eat real peanut butter that doesn’t come in powdered form, they’re pretty much all the same points. But here’s the thing about peanut butter: It’s a healthy fat that will keep you satiated for a long period of time. And the points aren’t that bad when you look at it in context. I eat Skippy Natural. It isn’t the best of the natural peanut butters in terms of ingredients, but it’s better than many other peanut butters (no trans fats and not as much sugar) and tastes like heaven. I also will eat Peanut Butter & Company’s Dark Chocolate Dreams, which has no added sugar and is all natural. I like that in my smoothies or on a spoon. It’s yummy! For two points, I can have one tablespoon and for five points, I can have two. A tablespoon and a half spread on a slice of Arnold’s Double Fiber whole wheat will fuel a two-hour workout and I won’t need to eat again until lunch if I have it first thing in the morning.
Additionally, one of the nine Good Health Guidelines is to ingest two teaspoons of a healthy oil daily. How’s that for a low-fat diet?
Second, I often hear people advise against Weight Watchers as a diet plan if you don’t like the group setting. I know that this is a person uneducated on the program when I hear that because Weight Watchers can be done without ever attending a single meeting. You can sign up online and use the company’s database and online calculator to figure points. You can buy the at-home kit, which comes with all the tools given out at meetings and do it computerless. I did online for a long time. Now I pretty much have it down, so I bought an electronic tracker, which I use to figure my points and I don’t need my online subscription anymore. I weigh myself on my own scale in my bathroom at home.
And, finally, there was the misconception put forth in the blog post I read: That Weight Watchers doesn’t teach its members healthy eating.
Like anything, Weight Watchers is what the individual makes of it. Weight Watchers offers the following Nine Good Health Guidelines that followers are supposed to incorporate daily into their diets (these are minimums, not maximums):
1. Five servings of fruits and veggies
2. Two dairy servings (3 if you’re nursing, older than 55 or above 250 pounds)
3. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day.
4. Limit sugar and alcohol
5. Eat whole grains whenever possible (over white bread, pasta, etc.)
6. Take a multivitamin daily
7. Two teaspoons of a healthy oil (3 if nursing)
8. Six 8-ounce glasses of liquid (except alcohol) daily
9. Eat lean protein
I’m “endorsing” Weight Watchers because it worked well for me. I lost 36 pounds altogether and three dress sizes. I got over my guilt at having a “bad” eating day. I got over feeling like I had to not eat the day after I had too much chocolate or a greasy cheeseburger. I’ve learned that I will make mistakes and fall off the wagon, but it’s always there waiting for me to jump back on.
Most of my life, I was able to eat anything I wanted in unlimited quantities, not exercise and maintain a low weight and small size. When my metabolism rebelled and I gained weight, I didn’t know what to do to get rid of it because I’d never had to before. Now I know. And I know it works.
But, like any weight loss program, it works if you work it. When I do, I lose weight. When I don’t, I don’t lose weight. I usually don’t gain, though, because the healthy habits are ingrained now. And I became vegetarian, which keeps me away from fast food for the most part and, of course, those greasy burgers.
One last comment I want to address: Someone posted a comment after mine on the aforementioned blog asking if a person could live the rest of his or her life counting points and following Weight Watchers. I think I’ve been on it long enough to answer emphatically: yes.
I eat real food. I don’t even own a Weight Watchers cookbook or ever buy the frozen entrees or any other food with the Weight Watchers name on it. The food I eat is tasty and healthy and as unprocessed as possible. And it doesn’t cost me any more to follow Weight Watchers than it would to not follow it.