After a long hiatus from using the Weight Watchers program, I am back to using Weight Watchers to help me lose weight I regained during this last year. Going back to using the Weight Watchers system, I discovered some things were like coming back to an old friend while others were a rude –and yes, a bit painful– awaking. Read on for tips I learned and hopefully you can learn from me and not make the same mistakes I did. Here are 10 things I learned during my first week at Weight Watchers.
My Weight Loss Story
Ten years ago, I lost 80 pounds using the Weight Watchers online only program combined with therapy. Then I switched to a Body Bugg and lost 20 more pounds, for a total of a 100 pound weight loss.
Here is a before and after picture:
Click here to read more of my weight loss story: 100 lb Weight Loss: HOW did you DO It?
Click here to read about why I decided to head back to Weight Watchers after all this time: Why I Am Going Back to Weight Watchers
10 Things I Learned During my First Week at Weight Watchers
Here is what I learned during my first week of using the Weight Watchers program.
- Write it before you bite it. I’ve said this in presentations I give about weight loss. I’ve given this advice to my Faithful Finish Lines members. Do I do it myself? Well, mostly. I sat down one evening to a snack of a light yogurt with a handful of nuts and was shocked to discover my snack was 10 points. (I get 30 points for the day.) Lesson learned: Check the points of all foods before you actually consume them.
- Healthy fats will still make you fat. This is probably the most drastic change in my diet in the last week. In the last 10 years I’ve switched to a more whole foods, clean way of eating — which is good! I love nuts, avocado, nut butters, and coconut oil. These are healthy foods but they are also high in calories. Two tablespoons of peanut butter is 6 points. Friends, I can eat 2 T of peanut butter standing at the kitchen counter before I’ve even thought about what I plan to eat yet. And let’s not even discuss the handfuls of nuts I used to consume on a regular basis. These were the pre-snack, the post-snack, and the snack-snack.
- Portion Control. The biggest benefit I learned during my previous time with Weight Watchers is portion control. Eating too much of anything is not healthy, no matter what it is. Weight Watchers has always had a good handle on portion control. I’ll never forget when I was a teenager and my dad and I bought some Weight Watchers frozen desserts at the grocery store. This was back in the 1980s and yes I know I’m dating myself. We laughed ourselves silly when we pulled them out and saw the doll-sized portion in the box. Who would eat that? It would be gone in 2 bites! Sadly, this is a normal portion but I had never learned what a normal portion is.
- SmartPoints is a healthy plan. Weight Watchers is continually revamping their system. Back in the day it was PointsPlus, or when I first started Weight Watchers, we tracked Carbs, Proteins, and Fat servings. Now it’s SmartPoints. Healthy foods like lean proteins are lower in points. Foods with sugar are higher in points. Fruits and vegetables are free foods. This encourages eating more healthy, whole foods. I was greatly saddened to learn my beloved Skinny Cow fudge bars (formerly 1 point) are now 5 points. And for anyone who is curious, a large Dairy Queen Blizzard is 53 points.
- Ways to eat more produce. When I was losing weight, I ate a lot of fruits and veggies because it’s low in calories, good for you, and low in points. I’ve slowly gotten away from some of those healthy habits without even realizing it. The “free fruits and vegetables” aspect of the Weight Watchers plan helped kick-start my healthy eating habits once again. I found myself choosing veggie omelets at breakfast and reaching for a banana or apple for a snack instead of nuts or popcorn in the afternoons.
- Convenience matters. This is my first time using the Weight Watchers app and wow it sure is nice having everything right on my smartphone. Once again I’m dating myself, but back in the day we kept our food journals on little paper trackers or online on a website, but there was no phone app. I love the convenience of being able to carry it with me just about everywhere I go.
- Fitness tracking. I’m still finding my way with the new fitness system of Weight Watchers, called Fitpoints. Generally they are encouraging exercise but discouraging swapping those points for food like in years past, although it is allowable if you really need them. So far in the first week I didn’t need them, but I didn’t have a super-heavy exercise week. I’ll be playing around with that more in weeks to come and let you know how it goes. Although I’m not exercising as much as I did in years past when I was doing long-distance triathlons, I still work out 10-12 sessions per week (some days 2 sessions per day), so I’ll be learning to manage the Weight Watchers program along with getting enough to eat to fit in with my exercise goals.
- Healthy eating can be expensive. Besides the cost of the Weight Watchers program itself, one of my continual challenges is balancing my health food budget with keeping a low family budget. I always ask myself — Why is eating LESS food MORE expensive? Watch for more on this topic on my blog in future posts.
- Food obsession is normal at this stage. Faithful Finish Lines members or people in audiences where I speak sometimes ask me if I think diets lead to too much food obsession. This can certainly happen, but a certain amount of food obsession is normal in the beginning stages and it gradually fades over time, so give yourself allowances here. We all tend to obsess about things when they are new, we are really into it, or we are learning something for the first time.
- Awareness matters. During this first week, I’ve had of a lot of “well no wonder I was overweight” moments when I looked up the points to certain foods that I ate on a regular basis. I also realized how much I snack without even quite realizing food was going into my mouth. Now that I’m honestly tracking — not just saying I’m tracking but actually tracking — I snack less and what I do eat involves healthier choices.
Have you used the Weight Watchers program? What did you learn?
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Jeanette Rorabaugh says
Good for you for going back to WW. I think there’s a typo in the points for Blizzards.
The points in a Blizzard SHOULD be a typo. It feels so wrong.
Sara– your experiences with your return to WW mirror mine exactly. Thanks for sharing! However, I only see 7 of 10 things! I want more! One thing I rediscovered about myself is that I stick food in my mouth without thinking…
Margaret, oh gosh, you are right! Did I get tired while I was writing? I had better write 3 more! 🙂
How on earth did the Skinny Cow bars go from 1 to 5 points! That is so sad. I love those!
Barbie, I know, right? I was sad too. The new SmartPoints is really trying to encourage more whole foods eating and less sugar — which is a good thing.
I’m impressed by what you’re eating–pretty healthy if you ask me! I’ve heard over and over again in meetings to not be afraid to use those flex points for a treat here and there. If you are too rigid, you’re setting yourself up to totally go haywire and eat everything in sight. Also, some people lose more weight if they use some or all of their extra points (not activity points, mind you). As for me, I need to do as I say–not as I do!! Good luck! You’ve done it before, and you can do it again. Oh, and check out “Connect” on the ap–very motivational.
Thanks, Linda. Those are wonderful tips! I agree and yes I do plan to use my flex points. I tend to save them up and use them on the weekends, when we eat out, when I exercise a lot, or for other treat days when I know I’m really going to go over.