Yes, I’m doing Weight Watchers. So far, it’s been two fascinating months. Slowly and steadily, I’ve been shedding both fat and bad habits. This is a freakin’ miracle.
This is also not your mother’s Weight Watchers.
The program got its start in the early ’60s with the late Jean Nidetch, a Queens housewife with big blonde hair. She gathered friends to meet for weekly talks about ways they could lose weight.
These days, Weight Watchers says that a million people go to weekly meetings. The sessions are part of a WW empire that includes a food product line and related items. The company is also revamping to attract new customers like me.
I’m one of the people who signed up after seeing one of the endless recent TV commercials featuring Oprah Winfrey. In late 2015, she bought a 10% stake in WW. Now, she’s everywhere, raving about how great it is to eat bread every day and still lose weight.
This is the core Weight Watchers theme: moderation, not deprivation. Instead of dieting, WW sells lifestyle. Enjoy life. Be happy. Eat! But choose your intake thoughtfully.
On Jan. 4, I signed up in desperation. The more I tried to lose a few extra pounds on my own, the more I gained. So I went to my nearest WW location and tried out a meeting for free. A half hour later, it was easy to see why Weight Watchers works.
This is what I’m getting for my $114.85, three-month membership:
- The program is very 21st century digital. The WW website is pretty, polished and user-friendly. It features videos about nutrition, thinking positive, exercising, etc. I can also log my own recipes and special foods, or chat online with a specialist (haven’t tried that yet). Membership includes access to a fabulous, features-rich app for smart phones and iPads, which makes it easy to track food.
- Weight Watchers’ point system for tracking food intake replaces calorie counting. So instead of logging hundreds and thousands of calories, I’ve got 30 food points to play with each day. Most fruits and veggies are zero points! A slice of pizza can cost me up to 14 points. But a serving of broiled fish might be only 1 point.
- Tracking food is so, so easy. It includes points for tons of brand-name supermarket items, including Trader Joe’s. Menu items for many chain restaurants are pointed too. Plus, the smart phone app is able to scan bar code box labels — handy while grocery shopping.
- The point system has just been re-calibrated, much to the annoyance of many longtime Watch Watchers but a joy for me. The new “smart point” (SP) system makes healthy eating a top priority. This is a bid for the aging Baby Boomer market, which gets WW beyond its traditional image as a resource for the obese. So a sugary treat that might’ve been 3 points under the old system now might track at 5 smart points.
- I can attend any of the weekly meetings held at Weight Watcher locations. The 30-minute motivational meetings are led by trained, former fatties who maintain their goal weight. There’s always a useful topic, such as tips for dining out and setting realistic goals. The focus is on treating ourselves well, self-love and enjoying life.
- Members who reach their goal weight are rewarded with free lifetime memberships. (But once you weigh-in at more than 2 lbs. beyond goal weight, you swing back to pay mode until you hit goal weight again.)
Everyone asks me, “Do you have to buy their food?” The answer is, “No.” Contrary to popular belief, there’s no pressure to purchase any WW merch. But I get a kick out of some products. I’m especially partial to the three-piece, stainless steel serving spoon set.
Since Weight Watchers is training me to portion control, I’m constantly measuring what I put on the plate. This set gives me one quarter-cup spoon and two spoons that are each exactly a half-cup (one spoon is slotted for draining off liquids).
The spoons are a bit clunky but I use them all the time. It makes me feel more normal at the table, especially when I’m eating with others. No awkward measuring cups; at the table. (The spoons are available on Amazon for $39.95.)
As for me and Weight Watchers, I joined on Jan. 4. It began with a weigh-in at a new high. I was 5’2″ and 141 lbs. My goal: 125 lbs. That meant losing
14 lbs. 16 lbs. (Ooops, got the subtraction wrong when I originally published this post. Now you can see that I really AM math-challenged. Or maybe, simply in deeper denial than I realized.)
This is what my
14 16 extra pounds looked and felt like:
Every day, I was lugging around this much extra weight! It was putting pressure on my knees and dragging down my energy level. For the story of how I put on the equivalent of a heavy bag of groceries, check out my earlier post, Why Chinese American women gain weight.
The post explains that all women find tremendous health benefits in seeking out social support in the form of classes, groups, good friends and loving family. On that note, WW has been very helpful. Weekly meetings and weigh-ins make me accountable. Daily tracking via my phone app and the WW website keep me engaged 24/7.
Without support, weathering the reality of incremental weight loss would’ve been too frustrating for me. Look how inconsistent progress can be. Here are my numbers:
- Week 2 –> 3.0 lbs.
- Week 3 –> 0.2 lbs.
- Week 4 –> 0.8 lbs.
- Week 5 –> 2.6 lbs.
- Week 6 –> 0.4 lbs.
- Week 7 –> 0.8 lbs.
- Week 8 –> 1.0 lbs.
This is what I look like now:
Based on these early results, I give Weight Watchers five stars! If my experience has you interested in exploring the program, go to WeightWatchers.com. Locate a meeting and try it for free.
Once you join, customize. For instance, I found the first meeting okay. The leader and people were nice. But I wasn’t feeling it enough to go back — to that particular meeting. I’ve since found a meeting with a leader and crowd that I really enjoy. I’m there every Thursday.
So now, I’m chasing more than a summer body. My goal is a healthy, forever body that makes me happy.
If you have questions or experiences, please share. This is a topic worth talking about!