* Prices may differ from that shown
Many years ago I joined up to Weight Watchers and paid the fees, got weighed, attended the classes and heard the talks. Been there done that. Then I realised that actually, slimming was jolly expensive and, could I afford to slim? That was when I tried the D.I.Y. approach and it really works for a tiny fraction of the cost.
Like many people I have dipped in and out of many diets over the years, but the easiest and least painful by far, in my opinion, is the Propoint system, where each foodstuff has a point. For example a regular slice of bread is 2 points. Once you have established how many points’ worth of food you are allowed each day according to factors such as weight, age, gender, activity levels and height, you plan your meals accordingly. Also, juggling 20-25 points is so much easier than trying to add up lists of calories (not great at maths) and, you are allowed ALL foods – just smaller quantities.
Knowing I can have potato every day, or pasta or chocolate for that matter, helps me keep going and I’m less inclined to cheat in a big way. With Weight watchers, if you exercise more you can eat more of the foods that are high in points. It’s that simple.
How do you go about it D.I.Y style? Simply buy the necessary paraphernalia on line, and you don’t need much at all to set yourself up! The barest minimum is the points calculator wheel, and a recent ProPoint Shop Guide that lists all the points of the latest foodstuffs by name, brand or by supermarket (in the case of shop’s own brands). You can buy these two items on ebay for about £12-18 all in. The most important part is the manual wheel as with this you don’t really need the most up to date ProPoint Shop Guide. Otherwise, you can buy a ProPoint calculator, which looks like a mini battery-operated calculator and replaces the wheel – it’s up to you! Personally I use all the calorie info listed on the back of food packets, such as Carbohydrates, Fat, Potein and Fibre to work out points myself using the wheel. Easy.
After a while when you know what you tend to eat most often, you can make up a quick-reference list to save time. The formula to work out your point allowance for your dimensions is available free on line, if Googled.
I would also give most of the Weight Watchers branded slimming foods a miss, too. They are expensive for what they are and they aren’t really leaner on fat – just smaller portions!
The official Weight Watchers Journal by which dieters are encouraged to keep track of their daily eating habits - failures and successes – can easily be replaced by your own notebook or computer notes, further saving on costs.
So, go ahead and enjoy dieting knowing you can do so without spending more of your hard-earned cash!
My review of Weight Watchers.
Last year I joined Weight Watchers as I desperately needed to lose weight, as recommended by my GP. I was given three months of tokens by the practice and I went to my nearest class.
It was a bit daunting at first as I didn't know anyone, but I knew I was in the right place for my weight loss journey to begin. The class leader, Jayne, made us all feel welcome by telling jokes and stories about food. The class leader took all the beginners to one side after I had sat through the main class. She gave us the booklets for the weight loss programmes and described how to mix and match your meals if you preferred to use that particular book. We were given a book for our weight loss or gain to be recorded every week.
Because I have a lot of weight to lose, Jayne recommended I concentrate on losing a half stone at a time, before continuing onto the next. In my first week, I lost 8lb, which I was absolutely delighted with!
Every week I handed in a token and members could buy Weight Wa
tchers products including scales, cookbooks which include the pro points of recipes, sweets, crisps, cookies and breads.
I enjoyed all the classes as the members are chatty and friendly.
We would talk a lot about making our meals where there are loads of varieties of foods to choose from.
In three months of joining the class, I lost two and a half stones. Very worth while going!
I joined in group on a monthly pass and liked the plan. Unfortunately, two weeks after joined it was announced the class I had joined was ending. Obviously, it would have been sensible for Weight Watchers to wind this down with a bit more notice so people didn't join and end up with passes they couldn't use.
Never mind, I thought, I'll convert to online membership, which was only £6.95 a month for existing members. I emailed to ask to do this, and to get a refund for the unused week of pass I couldn't use due to there not being a class to go to.
Unfortunately, at this point Weight Watchers managed to steal my money, instantly end my membership and generally repeatedly balls things up.
After totally stressing me out and making me write numerous, numerous emails, they offered me a 2 week extension on my monthly pass for free as a 'gesture of goodwill' so that I could convert to online membership after this.
That'gesture of goodwill' was revoked two days later, ending my pass on it's original date and once again returning me to the original situation of being a week out of pocket.
At this point I gave up and cancelled entirely.
So Weight Watchers may have managed to steal a week's worth of membership from me (worth around £3) but have lost months' worth of online membership - bravo!
WW began in America by Jean Nidetch in 1963 and is a form of dieting/healthy eating based around the "points" range. It has since grown to become a well known brand in over 30 countries and used by many men and women.
Basic idea to WW
WW is a points based system which gives the user a certain amount of points per day/week to consume with any food or drink they please. The allocation of points is based on height/weight, job activity level, sex and will most likely change as the person loses weight. Currently in the UK WW operates 2 types of WW following, the Pro-Points which means all food is pointed or the Filling and Healthy which is a slightly more relaxed approach with "free" items allowed until the user is full with a weekly allowance for non pointed items. The user will track what they eat/drink during the week using a diary and will get weighed once a week. In the UK users can be a member by signing up online and tracking everything online or become a meeting member and attend weekly meetings, you can also do both if you wish. Meetings usually take place in a school or community centre at various locations during the week and take about an hour if you stay for the whole time, first you get weighed then you can sit and listen to the leader discuss hints and tips. The leaders themselves are usually members who have used WW to lose weight so they are very knowledgable on the WW system.
To sign up online currently it's £29.85 for the first 3 months then £11.95 per month, this allows access to their members log in page, diary, recipes, community boards, articles etc and is paid via direct debit. To attend meetings only you can join free then pay I think £5 per week which is paid once you are weighed, I've never done this option but it is useful to some. If you want both online and meetings you can do a monthly pass for £20 per month and I used to pay mine by direct debit but I think you can do this by cash at meetings.
On the Pro-Points plan the minimum amount you can consume is 26 per day and 49 per week. Now points will vary per person but the minimum amount you must have is 26 per day and you must use your daily points that day or lose them. Me personally I currently have 30 points but some members can have 40-50 depending on their statistics. The weekly allowance of 49 can be split over the 7 days or used in one go although I personally would recommend using all your weeklies the evening before a weigh in! The points system is as a whole quite easy to understand, once you begin to "know" what something is "worth" it gets easier. As an online member I think it's so easy to use the system and diary to add in my food/drink and it does offer a good database for well known brands. The meetings, although I was a monthly pass member for 2 months, is very helpful to attend and worth the visit if you like having a chat or need a boost of self esteem, the members and leaders are on the whole great people.
How you plan this will depend on what's best for you but I personally begin the day (or even the night before) by adding in the meals I know I am eating, so my dinner for example us almost always planned in advance so once this is added I can see what I have left for lunch and breakfast. As a rough guide my points allocation is normally -
Breakfast 0-5 points
Lunch 5-10 points
Dinner 10-15 points
Snacks 0-5 points
Normally I only have pointed snacks if I have any left as I prefer to have a good size meal for breakfast/lunch/dinner but again this will depend on each members needs
WW is a great depth of knowledge, both the website and the meetings give good healthy eating and fitness tips as well as recipes, meal ideas and healthy swaps. If ever I am stuck for an idea there is always guidance there if you need it. I also find the WW branded products in the shop are as a whole good but I will cover this later.
Done once a week either at home or at a meeting you keep a record of your losses (and gains) once you hit your first 7lb off you get a silver 7, then special milestone awards for every 7lb off and 10% weight loss total.
Foods on WW
Points are based on their fat, fibre, protein and carbohydrate content and will vary per item. The thing I like about WW is that no food is off limits just as long as you are within your points range. Most fruit and veg on WW is "free" in that they are 0 point items (I think only peas, sweetcorn and potatoes is pointed) but you must exercise some caution with this, fruit and veg still has energy in it so eat it within means but do not over indulge as it will impact on your weight loss. If you follow the Pro-Points plan then eat fruit and veg for free along side pointed items like pasta, potatoes, rice, meat etc which you must weigh. Now the weighing side can seem daunting but once you get the gang of it and knowing what grams is in points allowance it soon becomes second nature to do it. If you are following the Filling and Healthy fruit, veg, lean meats and other items can be consumed until you are full but again exercise some caution, if you do follow this you can get a list of the Filling and Healthy items to eat. Every food and drink has a point allocation, by searching you can find this and as you can use your points as you wish treats like crisps and chocolate can be enjoyed as part of the plan. I am a massive chocolate fan and I use some of my points for it every week, I think it's important to enjoy abit of what you fancy else you'd fail eating celery all day! Some items are higher in points than others but you will soon learn how to have a treat without blowing to many points.
WW also do their own branded items in the shops/supermarkets. I've tried numerous over the years and some are better than others, it is mainly convenience items like ready meals but they do have some selected pasta sauces, breads, cakes etc which are all useful and all clearly pointed. The only thing I don't like about the range is the cost, I do think it is slightly overpriced, especially when most supermarkets sell their own "healthy" range for cheaper however WW is often stocked in Poundland so it's worth looking in there. Taste wise some of it is nice, others not so, my personal favourite is the frozen pepperoni pizza and the crisps but this will depend on personal taste
Things to remember
They are a business! Yes they do want you to lose weight but meetings are known to try and get members buying certain WW items, it's not forced upon you but items are mentioned. I know some people have had a bad experience with this side but I never have.
The plan is for life and in life you will get bad days, all members do so don't be too hard on yourself when it happens, I do genuinely think the member community is a great thing and I've had great support off many members. WW was recently shown to be the most effective weight loss plan and it does work, if you stick to it but it's not for everybody.
I like the plan, it's easy for me to follow at home and about. The mobile app is helpful if I'm in a supermarket and need to point an item but you can buy special WW calculators if your phone doesn't allow apps. I keep track online and I do find that if I stick to the plan I do lose weight. Well worth the cost in my eyes
I have been a weight watcher for almost 20 years when I oiginally joined to lose my baby weight. I successfully reached goal and became a gold member after losing almost two stone. However, I have struggled to keep the weight off and have-yo-yo'd a stone or so on and off. Every year for the past 20 years I have faithfully returned to Weight Watchers to lose this stone in weight and follow their latest diets. However, if I havent attended a meeting for a few weeks I have rarely ever had a letter or a text from a leader saying 'come back to weight watchers' or 'we have missed you at weight watchers' I have found this even more so since they have introduced the monthly pass. I sighed up to the Monthly pass over a year ago as I thought it would work out cheaper and I would get lots of online support as well as support from my leader. When I havent been able to attend the meetings for any reason I have never had a letter from Weight Watchers or from my leader saying 'we have missed you at the meetings' Also, I feel after being a faithful member of WW for 20 years, and never trying any other slimming club, Weight Watchers would recognise me as a long term Member and acknowledge this by saying 'Thank you for staying with weight watchers for the past 20 years'. But they have never acknowledged me as an individual member. I only have the same stone in weight to lose year in year out, but I have probably spent more money than most women. I have written to them recently expressing my dis satisfaction and lack of support and advised them that I feel like cancelling my monthly pass. I have just had a standard ish letter back basically saying 'bye bye nice knowing you!'My experience with Weight Watchers (and I do have a lot after 20 years) Is if you are a new member with a lot of weight to lose, and dont mind going online to get support from the online app they will love you. If you are like me, and prefer the old fashioned approach, not classically over weight, but struggle to stay at gold and return year in year out then they are not interested.
Like many women these days, I've struggled with my weight on and off over the years. With all the tempting food around us, the social occasions that revolve around food and the time pressures we all face I think its a rare woman who hasn't gained at least a few extra pounds every now and then!
I first tried Weight Watchers 5 years ago and got to my goal weight, which I managed to maintain for several years. Then a change in circumstances led to me slipping up and falling into old habits, I put a lot of weight back on so now I'm back at Weight Watchers classes counting points and watching the scales go down, 16.5lbs so far this time and counting!
The basic principle of Weight Watchers is to count your food carefully so that you eat less energy than you burn. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Rather than a simple calorie counting diet though Weight Watchers has a few subtleties that differ a bit. You count 'ProPoints' with each food having a different value, and each member having a tailored amount of ProPoints that they can eat each day plus a weekly allowance of 49 that they can spread out however they choose. The vast majority of fruit and vegetables are 'free', to encourage people to start making healthier choices. Some foods are classed as 'filling and healthy' and you can have days where you just eat un-measured amounts of these good foods.
You can follow Weight Watchers either online through the website and mobile app or by attending weekly classes. Online membership is cheaper, and you have access to all the tools you need to follow the plan successfully, including a thriving online community with message boards and facebook style 'social network' element. With the meetings you can also access all the online elements but you have the added support of a face to face weigh-in with a leader each week and a class where a different topic is covered each time.
There are lots of Weight Watchers products available both in supermarkets and from the meetings/website and some people seem to be under the mistaken impression that you need to buy a lot of these products in order to follow the plan, this is not the case at all! The plan encourages you to eat healthy, fresh ingredients and to cook from scratch (there are hundreds of low ProPoint recipes available on the website as well as in the various cookbooks) but the products are there for those who want them, and some of them can be worth buying depending on your lifestyle and food preferences.
A monthly pass that allows you to attend any meeting and to access all the online content currently costs just over £20 a month. It sounds like a lot but you do get quite a lot for your money. The online tools alone are invaluable, and the mobile app is a huge help when out and about, or when life springs a surprise on you but you still want to stick to the plan. You can work out the ProPoints for pretty much any food anywhere in a few seconds if you have a smartphone. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's stood in the supermarket aisle using the ProPoint calculator before adding something to my trolley!
Meetings vary, this is to be expected because they are all run by different leaders who will all have different personalities and styles. The basic format is the same everywhere, the first half an hour is spent weighing everybody (this is done discreetly, nobody except you and your leader need to know your weight) and the second 20-30 minutes is spent in a group discussion led by the leader, loosely based around a theme decided by Weight Watchers for that week. The meetings also run a little 'shop' where you can buy products that are exclusively available there if you so wish.
Weight Watchers works for me in a way that no other weight loss plan ever has, its the only thing I've ever been able to stick to long term and the only thing I don't get fed up after a while and start craving massive pizzas and chocolate bars the size of a door! The beauty of Weight Watchers is that nothing is forbidden. While it is strict in the sense that you need to limit your portions and stick within your ProPoint limit, there are no rules on what you 'spend' those propoints on. It makes sense obviously to try and have healthy, balanced foods and lots of fruit and veg, but its wonderful to have the flexibility that if you really fancy something a bit naughty, or if you have a social occasion or are stuck somewhere without many options, then you don't need to cheat and feel disappointed about it.
Lots of people think its silly to pay for something that technically you can do yourself, but the fact is that lots of us can't do it ourselves, not for our whole lives anyway. There's nothing wrong with getting a bit of outside help when you need it! When you reach your goal weight you become a 'gold member' and can then attend meetings for free as long as you don't go more than 5lbs over your goal. The support is there for life if you need it.
Lots of people end up joining Weight Watchers every January and never losing very much, but that's the same with every weight loss plan, gym membership etc. This plan works if you are willing to stick to it and put the effort in.
How I found the propoints.........I followed the plan, not strictly but generally. A plus is that whatever daily points you are allocated you also get another 49 per week to use as you wish. I stuck to my points each day avoiding going over but couldnt be bothered calculating odd bits like a tsp of sugar in the odd coffee, a small knob of butter/oil when cooking something and presumed my extra 49 covered those.....
Extra changes I made..........I am generally a lazy person, drive everywhere and go exactly where I need to go and straight home. I decided I would go for a walk every day if poss. Mostly I walked to the shops (about 30 mins there and back) and bought the meal I would cook for my tea. Sometimes I would walk a longer way back if I felt in the mood or visit other shops just browsing and walk for around an hour to two extra. If I did not go out I forced myself to do Zumba on the Wii. I say forced as I found trying to do any exercise at home a chore, so used it as a bit of an incentive and made myself feel guilty for not doing any 'exercise'. This encouraged me to even walk in the freezing snowy weather and rain. I always felt better after a walk anyway so I eventually built it into my routine as I felt a bit bored and lazier if I stayed at home. I also strolled/walked. I do not do fast paced.
The meetings.........Good to keep you going so as I would have felt embarrassed and much more upset if I put on than if I did it myself at home. Its also nice as the weigher is really nice and encouraging to share the weight loss with and make you feel even better. I found the selection of WW items on sale there Fab and promised myself something each time I lost. The leader led meeting is a bit too cheesy for me, I dont get much out of them apart from the same people commenting and offering common sense advice.
The app and website......... ok when they work. Both great for looking up food points quickly (like I say when it works). The App doesnt seem to put your correct weight in so for example I type 12st 5.5lbs and it registers it as 12st 5.2lbs which is really annoying. You dont get full features on the app like you do on the website, for example tracking your measurements. I also find the online tools crash a lot. The app tells me i'm not connected to the net when I am. So technology needs a lot of work in my opinion.
Extras........ theres loads and you could spend a fortune. Electronics are very good quality and most foods/cakes/choc bars are tasty. Most of the recipe books or meal ideas and resources dont appeal to me, as I find that they can be odd combinations and it makes it seem like you are dieting. E.g. crumpet with honey and banana, salmon kebabs, ginger and carrot salad. But there are some nice ones.
I like it, its helping me lose weight. It makes you choose something better and plan your meals. For example if I want a steak pie and oven chips for tea which I know will take up a large amount of my points, I choose to have a 0 point soup with a piece of unbuttered bread for 2 points. I snack on fruit (0 points) instead of crap. I cook all my own food from scratch now as it tastes nicer anyway, its less points than a bought in one.
I have lost or stayed the same and not put on anything so far... so it must work.
I think its very overpriced though as the website and app dont work all that well, the leader led meetings are just ok so I feel i'm paying £6ish a week to step on a scale for 5 seconds to be told if I have lost or gained. My advice would be once you have the hang of it, perhaps if you have friends/family doing it also, leave WW and set up your own weigh in going between each others houses, so you still have the motivation to do well in front of others and maybe have treats for those that lose or stay the same and forfeits for those that gain!!
Ok so this is a review based more on Weight Watcher's customer service rather than their diet plan.
I thought I'd give this a try and signed up to the Weight Watcher's Monthly pass as this suited my busy schedule. I joined up on 26th November and was billed £21.95 for the month (to last until 26th December).... However, by the time it was 12th December I had a nasty shock and found out that they taken another £21.95 payment 2 weeks BEFORE your next month starts.
Even though this wasn't clearly stated on their website, it was not a problem until I tried cancelling my subscription. On 17th Jan I decided that Weight Watchers was not for me and sent them an email requesting a cancellation. However, as they had already taken a payment in advance for February on 12th January, I thought I would request a refund from them for the month of February. Their response was that they cannot issue me a refund as they don't have any way of monitoring whether I will use my February monthly pass or not. At this point i'm fuming because I haven't even received my monthly pass for February.
I sent them another email suggesting that they did not read my email properly. I told them I did NOT want them to send me a monthly pass for February and to make sure that one was not posted out to me. I simply wanted a refund for the fee they took in advance from me for a service that I was not going to use. Weight Watchers has refused to issue me with a refund and I can't seem to speak to anyone who understands my point of view. They are not willing to budge on this which is disgusting really, considering that they have billed me in advance for a month I already told them I was not going to use!
Now I am out of pocket by £21.95 for nothing! They know this and they are still not willing to refund me.
Also it may be worth mentioning that I found the app did not work properly. There were weeks when my weight stayed the same, but every time I tried entering my weight as the same on the app, it kept jumping up by 0.5lbs and kept telling me I'd gained weight when I hadn't!! I also complained about this and again the customer service was shocking. Their basic response was "Well why not go to meetings instead of using the app??"
The most frustrating organisation I have ever had contact with!!
I joined weight watchers in an attempt to lose 7kg and within 2 weeks I gained 2kg even though i was following the programme to the point. I also did regular exercise.
Weight watchers also deducted a 2nd months membership fees from my account without my knowledge. I appreciate that i should have read the terms and conditions, but I didn't. I believe Weight Watchers are not treating their customers ethically correct and thus not following the corporate and social responsibility.
The only option i had to join was to sign up to this long term commitment. This does not make sense if the concept works why tie your customers in for an unlimited period. I don't normally check my bank account and it was only by chance i noticed another payment going out. I further also did not receive any renewal documents confirming another months membership, which i would expect to receive.
I was told by the customer service team that they will not give me a refund and they are a very successful company when i explained that their concept didn't work for me. I can clearly see why they are successful as they are taking people's money in this way.
When i attended the one meeting there was another member who had gained weight on more than one week when using her propoints. The leader then tried to explain it away as our bodies are different all the time. My weight was consistent before i joined and as a result of joining Weight Watchers I quickly gained weight.
I will definitely not encourage anyone to join as I strongly believe they are not ethical and use a form of brainwashing to make members believe they cannot lose weight without being a member.
In 2002 when I started University I was comfortably a size 12. I didn't feel self conscious really, despite having quite big legs I had a toned, flat tummy and slender arms. When I quit University a year later after partying and blowing my money I had crept up to a size 14. I was still squashing myself in to my size 12 stuff (denial phase) and in 2003 I started a job in an office where the canteen had the best fry up going - at only a £1 for the full works I was having one every couple of days. Money was tight and at home we'd just eat whatever was on offer at the Supermarket, so things like family bags of Chicken Nuggets, Oven Chips, Pasta, Sausages, etc plus anything our parents put in the little food hampers they made for us whilst we were starting out.
One morning I was getting ready and my jeans wouldn't fasten. I remember because they were Diesel and had cost me £100 the summer before I started at University. I was shocked and pulled out another pair, this time from Oasis, and they wouldn't fasten either. I just started crying, the realisation that I'd grown in to a size 14/16 hit me hard and I rang my Mam in tears; she told me that she would buy me a couple of new bits and pieces of clothing, provided I joined Weight Watchers and did something about my spiralling eating habits.
That was the very beginning of 2004 and I had a holiday coming up in the July and I was also set to be a Bridesmaid for my Dad a few days before jetting off to Zakynthos - when we were measured for our Bridesmaid dresses I had to get an 18, my sister got an 8. I joined Weight Watchers and my Mam came along with me for moral support. She'd almost reached goal in the late 80s after having my sister and she raved about how great it was. We both lost weight, I lost 17lb which took me back down to a 'real' size 14 and I went off on my holiday. For a fortnight, we ate out 3 meals a day (an all you can eat buffet every single morning and evening) and drank so many cocktails that I had a permanent hangover; when I got back to Weight Watchers after the holiday I had unsurprisingly put on 12lb out of the 17lb I'd lost. I kept on going to classes, but then I missed a couple or didn't stay for the meeting, then I would put on ½ lb, lose a ½ lb and then eventually, I decided to give it up.
Following on from that, I ballooned, I since joined Weight Watchers 5 other times, which including my first, is 6 different classes - there was always an excuse, the time of the class was an issue, I didn't like the leader, I hated the class 'cliques', etc. In between times I had tried Cabbage Soup, Atkins, South Beach, Dukan, Blood Group, Maple Syrup, Celebrity Slim, Slim-Fast and many, many other faddy diets. Then, in 2011 two things happened; I quit smoking with the assistance of Nicorette which I'd tried a bunch of times before - but this time it worked, and, I had to buy a pair of size 20 jeans. As a result of the 20 jeans I decided that 2012 would be the year I lost weight and I'd give Weight Watchers its 7th chance, now that I finally felt I capable of mustering the appropriate amount of willpower to support it, as I had done with quitting smoking.
I didn't let go entirely over Christmas, but I did have plenty of festive goodies when I went back to work I felt the pinch in my previously comfortable work clothes. I told my Sister I was thinking of joining and she said she would come along too, partly for moral support, partly to lose 2 stone of baby weight before her holidays. We chose a meeting we could both get to by going on the Weight Watchers website and searching by our postcode and the days we could make it. It was quite simple to find a meeting and once we set a date for the Friday evening at 5.15pm at the pub literally over the road from my work, I put it to the back of my mind.
I have got to say, joining up and going along to your first meeting is one of the biggest steps. I like to think of it as a club for addicts (OA - Obese Anonymous?); admitting you have a problem is the first and biggest step - the next is walking through the door into your first meeting. You don't know what to expect (unless you've haphazardly joined a previous 6 times...) and you feel embarrassed, nervous, like everyone will look at you, etc. It's like a first day at school, or at a new job - particularly when you are already self conscious about yourself. It's at this point you'll usually be surprised because there are women AND MEN, of ALL shapes, sizes, heights and weights. I felt instantly at ease when I was welcomed to the class by the leader and her manager (it was a brand new class, just setting up for the first meeting). Plus, I kind of had that 'I am the big sister; I'll lead the way' thing going on, looking after my little sis. Anyway, we joined up, filling out a really simple form, then we took off our shoes and stepped on the scales.
My first weigh in was probably key to my success so far. I was horrified by the weight I saw, they weighed at least 6lb more than my scales at home and like my leader told me, the scales at Weight Watchers costs thousands of pounds and get calibrated regularly. I'd been kidding myself, I was at least 3 stone heavier than I was in 2002; 10 years of yo-yo dieting had really taken their toll. My new leader worked out my daily pro-points allowance along with my 5% and 10% goals for me, then off I went to have a look at the 'shop'. The shop happens after weigh in usually and is a big stall filled with things to help your weight loss including foods, recipe books, the Weight Watchers magazine and tools like the calculator. Everything at the meetings is exclusive to the meetings and although it can be bought on eBay, you don't get the guarantee that you do with the shop. I bought myself a 'Starter Pack' which contained a shopping guide (a book filled with the pro-points values for all of the major supermarkets, along with basic food like fish, meat and vegetables), an eating out guide (pro-points for all major restaurants and styles of cuisine) and a journal. It cost £9.95 - roughly the equivalent of 33p a day over a month and it was my best investment yet.
When you initially go to the meeting you might think it feels like one big selling scam. You may have to pay to join, then there's usually a cash raffle (normally £1 a ticket and the winner gets all of the money to spend on goodies from the shop), the shop and then a clerk at the end telling you to join up for the monthly pass. Here's my recommendation: look for coupons for a free first meeting and registration - you can get these in the papers, on line at the Weight Watchers website, or if you know a friend who already goes, get them to recommend you. Buy the raffle ticket; I've won about £30 of shop stuff with those tickets and I have only been going 17 weeks (£1 per week x 17 = £17 speculated to accumulate £30 = £13 profit, ha!). Don't spend too much on the shop, lots of the foods Weight Watchers do are fabulous for lazy people, I prefer to hunt down the supermarket equivalent and save some money, or make up my own recipes. But there's some of the food which is ok, particularly the chocolate bars, yum! Finally, invest in the monthly pass. It's cheaper than paying as you go (£19.95 every 4 weeks rather than £5.99 a class = £4.01 cheaper), you get online access to e-source too and access to the app on your phone (iPhone) AND if that's not enough, it gives you mass amounts of motivation to go to every class and stay for the full meeting which is imperative if you want to succeed.
I also recommend getting the deluxe starter pack. It's £19.95 which may seem like a hoard of money, but trust me, when you get on the scales every week and see a change you'll be happy you did invest it. Plus in addition to what I got in my starter kit it has a calculator to work out pro-points for everything that isn't included in one of the books.
Of course, when you join you get enough information free to get you started including some suggested food plans and a pro-point guide, but seriously, when you compare different brands of foods the pro-points values differ greatly.
The meeting is split in to two parts, the weighing in and the 'class' or 'meeting'. People who stay for the class are, on average, 50% more successful than those who don't. Usually, the leader will ask if anyone has had a particularly good week and wants to share. You do not have to share your weight loss / gain and this is one key difference to some other slimming clubs. There's no naming and shaming, but I generally do share when I've had a good OR bad week as it helps me to understand maybe where I've gone wrong, or what other people are doing which could help me. Some people choose not to speak and that's ok too. Then, there is a focused talk on 'tracking' or 'weighing' or 'exercising', etc. Members get to share their stories too which is fun, particularly when it's about mistakes they've made guessing portion sizes or pro-points values. I've made quite a few friends at Weight Watchers, in fact a couple of girls who've given up are still in touch regularly by phone which is really nice and they still support me.
This is one method of Weight loss that works, is sustainable and really does give results. Basically, it centres on a structure called 'Pro-Points', which I have mentioned a couple of times. Each food has a pro-points value and you have a pro-points allowance which you can use on food items. For instance, the minimum amount of pro-points per day is currently 26 and a rasher of bacon is 1 pro-point. Depending on the fat, protein, carbohydrate and fibre content every item of food (and drink) has a value. As well as daily pro-points you also can eat as much fruit and vegetables as you need to make you full and you get 49 weekly pro-points which can be used for treats or split between the 7 days to bump up your daily pro-points. But seriously, the daily allowances are generous enough that you can afford to use your weeklies purely for treats. A bottle of wine is 18 pro-points and a Mushroom Chow Mein is 6 pro-points for instance. You can also 'earn' pro-points by doing activities which can be as simple as walking the dog, or running up and down the stairs.
The key to following the system is to 'track' and there are various methods. You can track on an iPhone app (there's no app for Blackberry, Android, Nokia users), you can track online via e-source or you can track using good old fashioned pen and paper. I chose the latter from the beginning so that if I lost my way I would have a permanent record of what I did to succeed. I like the look and feel of the Journal I got in my starter pack and am now on my second (they last 12 weeks and cost £4.50). I like to write my feelings down and de-brief each week summing up what went well and what didn't. I have also tracked my measurements as some people tend to lose inches (particularly those who exercise alongside their weight loss journey) instead of, or as well as, pounds.
When I started I was nervous. I got home and I read everything, every page of every book and my first 'goal' was just to learn some pro-points values. I knew that when I had done Weight Watchers in the past I'd lost between 5 and 7lb in my first week, so my second goal was to have a big weight loss. My third goal was to track religiously and I did, measuring everything out and my Sister and I text each other every day to support each other and to come up with ideas for meals and lunches. We were asked by our leader to help out with the class, running the shop and performing administrative duties, welcoming new starters and helping weigh if necessary. When my first week was done we got weighed. My sister lost 5.5lb, I was so happy for her; then I got on and only lost 2lb and I was absolutely gutted. Really expected something more and I was disappointed. We got on learning what we needed to do with the shop and stuff and then we settled down for the class. Our leader got out some big blocks of lard wrapped in cling film and asked if anyone wanted to share how well / not well they'd done that week. I said I was gutted I'd only lost 2lb. So she handed me a big block of lard and I just rolled my eyes (inside, not outwardly!) and then she told me that was half a pound, she kept on adding blocks of lard and when she got to 2lb I was horrified, it was such a large amount. It made me really think about what the fat looked like on my body and how I was going to do anything to lose it.
The next week I went and I lost another pound, then slowly but surely I got to my 'silver seven', it wasn't easy. I don't really drink, I quit smoking, food is like my best friend, love and family all wrapped in to one. I cried loads to begin with, especially when I was hormonal or I didn't get the result I expected at the scales which if I thought hard enough about were always explainable (hormones, misjudged portions, wrong pro-points values, etc). But, I persevered. My next goal was '5%', which as the name suggests (!) is the point at which you've lost 5% of your total start weight. I got my 5% and I was elated, I'd never reached any sort of goal before doing Weight Watchers and something inside me just clicked, I knew this time was forever. I got to my 5% without lifting a finger physically. But then the weight loss seemed to slow slightly, though it was still moving in the right direction. I am such an exercise-phobe, but I ventured to the gym and got on the exercise bike, the only gym based exercise I really like. I went once a week to begin with and I soon hit my 10% goal. I then ramped up to two or three gym sessions a week (though I am not a religious gym bunny by any stretch of the imagination) and I have noticed that I now have a little muscle definition and shape in my previously flabby cottage cheese cankles (calves and ankles in one!). I then got my 'blue star' online which means I'd lost 25lb and I am now just 1lb away from having lost 2 stone. Though I am still 33lb away from goal, I can taste it, I know by the end of this year I will almost be there, if I haven't hit it by then!
My Top Tips:
- Small is Beautiful - make tiny goals, rather than disappointing yourself
- Preparation is Key - I actually have a list in my handbag of choices I can make in restaurants and even in sandwich counters which will not deviate from my pro-points plan
- Weigh to Weigh Less - Weigh all your foods which are not pre-weighed by virtue of packaging / portion size. Seriously, go weigh out 60g dried rice / pasta. That's 6 pro-points worth, I mean, really, I'd have triple that!
- Track your Journey - by this I mean both write EVERYTHING you eat down, even if it's a huge kebab which you don't know the value of. Just looking at it written down will make you realise why you put on weight in the first place. AND track your clothes size, your weight on a graph and pin it up, put your 'fat' pictures in your journal or folder and all of your fabulous progress
- Enlist support - explain to your partner how much they're damaging your self confidence by telling you they miss the old you, who'd share a take away or eat loads or drink loads. Tell them you need them to support you and if they love you, they will. Even if it takes them some time. When you stand in your size down jeans, smiling from ear to ear, walking on sunshine, they will realise how much they've contributed to your success. Trust me.
- DON'T QUIT - quitting gets you no where, except putting on a bit more weight, feeling a bit more miserable, looking for another quick fix solution (oh I forgot the TUC biscuit diet from my list...), stick with it, keep your chin up and get your leaders phone number for the times when you feel down. Don't be shy about ringing. That's what they are there for.
- Don't scrimp - you might think that it's expensive, that you can join and get the stuff and do it yourself, or worse, but it off eBay. You can, but you're taking a risk, depending on what type of person you are, if you need support and help and have failed in the past, you need to go to the classes and take everything you can from them.
Some of the worst things about Weight Watchers for me are:
- The fact the business cancelled the class I originally signed up to, I had to change classes and there was only one other class we could attend together
- The way in which you feel when you put on weight; no matter what your leader says about forgetting what's happened and moving on, it's nigh on impossible to do
- Feeling as though you're missing out on your very favourite food (look through the eating out guide at some burger chains, pizza restaurants, etc - urgh, 40+ pro-points!)
- Negative people, who say it doesn't work
- That exercise (in whatever form it takes) isn't necessary, but really pushes your body results down the right track
Some of the better things about Weight Watchers for me are:
- That my new Sunday morning class is fabulous, our leader is down to earth and inspiring and we've made a bunch more friends
- That I've almost completely learned that when the chips are down, I can look back through my journal and figure out what went wrong and how I can pull my weight loss back on track the next week
- Compromising - all of the time - I now make educated swaps, like Leggera Pizza at Pizza Express instead of large stuffed crust at Pizza Hut. I occasionally go wild and have something really naughty, but I work it off in the gym or I use my weekly pro-points plus some daily and some activity pro-points!
- Positive support networks. My Mam, Sister and Partner are now all following Weight Watchers and two of my friends from work are too. It's fabulous - we all have Weight Watcher friendly snacks in our drawers at work to share!
- That I've actually learned to love 'some' exercise. I have discovered that I don't just like cycling I love it, I want to do a cycling challenge at some point in the future and I LOVE Rollerskating, an hour and a half generates 17 pro-points for me, which equates to a Nando's Chicken Burger and fries. Yum! (actually, a couple of days ago in Nando's the girl on the next table to me had her Weight Watchers books out, with the menu, working out what she could / couldn't have. It stopped me feeling so daft when I got mine out!
By far the best thing though, is that I've dropped a dress size (maybe two). I comfortably fit in to a size 16 now and could probably do with a size 14 in a couple of things I've bought lately. I get loads of compliments at work and I feel a million dollars, even though I am no where near goal! I can't recommend it enough. You won't get quick results, this is not drop a dress size in a fortnight, or lost a stone in a day, but it is a sustainable, realistic option which eventually will become a way of eating well, for life, rather than constantly feeling like you are on a 'diet'.
Thank you for reading, I hope I've covered everything you'd like to know, but if you have any more questions, message me, or go online and drop Weight Watchers a line, they are really helpful and friendly.
I'm writing this as tonight, for the third time, I joined Weightwatchers.
I first joined Weightwatchers in 2003 and lost around 1 and a half stones. Then I stopped going. I put it all back on, and then some.
In summer 2007 I joined again. This time, I stuck at it for around 2 years. I lost almost 4 and a half stones, and went from a size 16-18, to size 10-12. I felt fantastic when I lost all that weight.
Unfortunately I moved jobs, and went from a job in the city centre that involved a lot of activity and walking, to an office job with a car park right at the front door. It also took me out of the area where my meeting was, and gradually I stopped going. I thought that I would be able to go it alone and keep the weight off.
In early 2009 I moved into my own home and found that shopping and cooking for one meant that my portion sizes went out of control. This, combined with a very stressful year this year, meant that I found myself comfort eating a lot. And so here we are again.
At my meeting tonight I discovered I have put on just over half of all the weight I lost back in 2007/8. I'm back up to a large size 14 now, and so enough is enough.
Weightwatchers has changed since I was last there. The plan I lost all the weight on, the Core Plan, is no more. This was a very strict plan that didn't allow bread - but unlimited veggies etc. It was hardcore, but it worked, and I found that the weight dropped off me. I found it quite easy to stick to at the time.
Now, the Weightwatchers system is based on ProPoints. ProPoints are calculated on the kcal, fat, and fibre in foods. Most people are allocated 29 ProPoints per day. When you join, you are given a small blue folder with booklets inside. The booklet contains recipes, information on what the ProPoints plan is and how it works, tips for exercise etc.
You also get a weekly tracker, which is a small booklet for you to fill in every day with what you eat. This means that you can keep track of every single thing you eat, and makes you aware of any random snacking that you might not even realise you're doing!
The folder also contains a circular piece of card. It comes in 3 sections - calories, fat, and fibre. When you eat anything, you can find how much it contains by looking at the packet. Using the card, you can then work out how much ProPoints it contains. I know I'm not explaining it very well but I would say that you don't even really need it if you have a smartphone - there are several apps which work out the ProPoints for you - all you have to do is enter how many calories, grams of fat, and grams of fibre are in the food. I can see that apps like that are going to become invaluable for me.
At the meeting, you queue up with the plastic Weightwatchers card you will be given when you join. This card has a chip which contains all the details on your weight, how much you have lost, how much you have to lose, etc. The leader will put this into the machine when you stand on the scales, then you get told how much you have lost/gained since the previous week.
Every time you lose half a stone, you get a 'silver 7'. This is simply a silver sticker in the shape of a 7, however it is very motivating to get one.
After the weigh-in, you have a meeting with your leader which lasts for around half an hour. During the meeting you can discuss healthy eating tips, eating out, exercise - any topic relevant to weight loss. I will be honest and say I find the meetings pretty dull - HOWEVER for some reason, they work. They seem to help spur you on and feel up for the week ahead. The leaders do encourage you to attend the meetings every week; you don't have to, however as you are paying £5.99 per week to get weighed, you might as well stay for the meeting. It's half an hour out of your life and it will help.
I find the best thing to help your weight loss is to put the effort in and plan your menus a week ahead. That way you know how many points you're eating every day, and will stop you edging over the 29 point daily limit. Fruit is free, so you can gorge yourself of bananas and apples and keep yourself feeling full.
I am not sure if this new ProPoints system will be as good for my weight loss as the Core Plan is. However, I am going to stick at it, attend meetings every week and see how I get on. I have size 10 and 12 clothes hanging in my wardrobe and I am damn well going to fit into them again!
I have been a weight watchers attendee over the many years that I have been overweight and have seen many of their different plans come and go. I had to join again this year in August 2011 to avert health problems due to being in the Obese range!! The new plan is different from anything they have done before and from their own blurb is very scientifically designed. I had also seen many comments from existing members who were struggling with the new Pro Points as it is called. I was apprehensive and worried that it seemed complicated. You cannot now carry over daily points and as well as daily points to keep track of (36 for me) there are now 49 weekly points. The tracker card was so small I could not read it. However I went home and made my plans that evening on how to plan my eating for the next week and read and reread the literature till I was sure I had it all down pat. I religiously that first week recorded everything in the tracker keeping as close to my daily points as I could. I actually struggled to eat all of my points each day and was feeling nice and full and not having problems with cheating at all. On the monday before weigh in ( I weigh in on a tuesday) I still had my 49 weekly points left, so my Husband said lets go out for an Indian. Indian food is a dieters nightmare especially as my fav curry is a Tikka Massal at a whopping 24 points just for the curry (boiled rice is 12 and pilau is 16 and Naan breads are about 18 and onion bahjees are about 8 or 9 each). However I had what I wanted and I still had most of my daily points left and the weekly points. The total for my food came to a whopping 72 points, but I wrote it all down and still had a few left over for a shared ice cream. I was so stuffed and I felt so guilty, even though I had kept to the points. The next day I almost did not want to go to Weight watchers as I was sure that I would have put on weight. When I got on the scales I had lost 7 lb!!! It was amazing, the plan really did work.
That was just over 10 weeks ago. So far I have lost 24 1/2 lbs. I have lost weight each week (except for one week where I stayed the same). On the weeks were I eat all my daily points and all my weekly points I have lost more weight - 3 1/2 lbs, 4 lbs and even 4 1/2 lbs one week. The other thing that this plan has helped me to do is to re-evaluate what I eat and how I eat. Although I was able to lose so much in the first week despite having an Indian, I have not had Indian food since that night, because now I would rather look for options that give me healthier food, such as currys I make from scratch at home which contain more vegetables and less meat and fat. I eat at least 3 portions of fruit each day and at least 2 or 3 portions of vegetables each day. I drink 2 litres of water a day and have cut down dramatically on bread. I no longer buy bread from the supermarket, but make my own. Although you can "cheat" with Weight Watchers and eat unhealthily if you want to by cutting down on the amout of food to try to fit in the bad stuff, you will stick to the plan far more easily if you start to cut out the high pro point foods and look at those that are lower and therefore are more geared towards a healthy diet. I am not on a diet, this is a plan that will last the rest of my life. It is healthy eating made easy.
There is no calorie counting, just the point counting. Of course you still have to weigh food, but then I think that this is always essential, because our eyes always weigh far more generously than our scales do. Once you have weighed things for a while you get used to portion sizes very quickly. You do need to make sure that you have the shopping book from Weight Watchers that lists all the food that we buy with their points and you do need to track every day, but this is so easy.
It works by looking at the Protien,Carbohydrate, Fat and Fibre in the food. The calculation of the pro points for a particular food uses a combination of the four figures in such a way that weighting is placed on those foods that are higher in refined carbs and fat and those foods that are high in protein and fibre tend to be lower in points than they would have been under the older WW systems. The encouragement to make sure that you eat the right quantity of protein in your food stops the weight loss occuring from muscle and redirects it to a weight loss from burning fat. This in turn leads to a slower weight loss that is proved to be the best way to keep the lost weight off. Fat is about a third of the weight of muscle tissue and that is why the loss tends to be slower.
If I have to raise a downside, it is the cost of membership and the cost of some of the foods. I think that £6 every week is expensive especially in the current credit crunch. Many people may struggle to find the money. Also the chocolate bars that I have found invaluable are pricey and only available at the meetings. You can get lost of WW food from the Pound Shops, but not the chocy bars. The cheaper alternative for membership is the monthly membership where you have access to the esouce on line and can go to meeting to weigh in. This is £19.00 a month which makes it £10 cheaper per month to do it this way. Be careful not to confuse it with the Monthly on line membership at £10 per month as this does not allow you to go to meetings, only to do this on your own.
I cannot reccomend this plan for highly. If you have had problems losing weight before then give this a try and don't delay, do it today.
I have been overweight for aslong as i can remember. Never hugely overweight (or so i thought) i was about a size 16 when i fell pregnant with my first baby. After my daughter was born a size 18 was snug on me. I tried to diet at home but invariably fell off the wagon at some point soon or later(usually sooner). So come New Year and my standard new years resolution to lose weight i decided this time i was actually going to do it. So i headed off to my first weight watchers meeting on the 3rd January.
Im not a confident person and can honestly say i was so terrified of joining. Fortunately being the beginning of the year it seemed there were lots of new members just like me. My leader was brilliant and very welcoming, she put my mind at rest and i soon felt alot more comfortable. I left that first meeting full of motivation and laden down with lots of information about their new "propoints system".
Joining weight watchers can be expensive. Usually there are vouchers in local papers or online for "free registration" and then its simply paying £5.99 per week for aslong as you go. Its worth remembering that they charge you even for missed weeks. Another option (the one i chose) is the monthly pass. There is no registration fee and your first month is £12.99. After that each month is £19.99 by direct debit. This works out slightly cheaper. The best part about this option is that you get access to the weight watchers online forums and weight tracking tools. I found this invaluable - the people on their are full of great ideas and motivation to help you reach your goal. It also allows you to have access to the IPhone/IPod App for those who use it.
Propoints consists of 2 main elements. Firstly everyone gets a daily allowance of points. This is worked out using your age/weight/height and sex. The minimum number of daily points you will get is 29. When i started my journey i had quite a bit to lose and so i was on 34 points. The second element is that you also get a weekly points allowance which is 49 points - this is the same for everyone. You can use these weekly points however you like. Some people chose to use them all on one day and have a "naughties day" and others would split them and have another 7 points per day. Some people used all of them, some people refused to use any of them. Its all your choice.
The weight watchers program is designed to help you lose between 1lb and 2lb per week (apart from your first 2 weeks where it is normal to lose more) even if you eat all of your weekly points. There are lots of extras that you can buy when joining weight watchers and typically these are vbery expensive (e.g scales - £30ish, cook books £10+ each). I didnt buy any of these. I used normal kitchen scales - a little more time consuming but cheaper and managed to get some great recipes online.
The way propoints works is that each food/drink is assigned a points value. This points value is based on how your body uses that food. So for example a slice of toast is 2propoints, low fat butter is 1 propoint and Black Coffee is 0 propoints. The idea is simple you "spend" you allowance of points on whatever foods and drinks you want but make sure you dont go over your daily or weekly allowances. Aslong as you are good with tracking EVERYTHING then you should lose the weight slowly and steadily.
To start with the plan can be confusing but as you go through the weeks you will find your own tricks and lower point versions of your favourite foods. I have been going for around 15 weeks now and have lost 35lbs. I need to lose another 5lbs to get to my goal weight but i am confident i will do it this time around.
Have lost 6 pounds in my first week , despite loving a beer and a bacon sandwich in the morning .My Fiancé has a lot less points to play with . I am eating alot more fruit and veg and generally appreciate my food alot more instead of before when I would put 100s of points away without knowing it .
In September 2010, I decided it was high time I lost weight!! I decided to 'go it alone' to save myself some money...
In October 2010 I had put on a further 1/2 stone and decided that I really did need some help with this. Having tried Slimming World in the past (and failing) I decided to give weight watchers a chance... I googled weightwatchers and entered my post code. A list of possible meetings appeared, so I braced myself and turned up to my first meeting one Tuesday night!
I was made to feel extremelly welcome when I met my Group leader, who explained the whole plan to me well. (Since joinign Weight watchers, the points system has changed, so I will review the new ProPoints)
I have 30 ProPoints every day which I can use on anything that I would like; a bowl of cereal is 3 ProPoints, a piece of toast is 2 ProPoints, 100g pasta is 7 ProPoints etc...
Every week you also have 49 week ProPoints which you do not have to use, but are there as like a safety net if you want to use them (eg for the 19ProPoints that you want extra on a Friday night for a bottle of wine)
I find the plan really easy to follow, as I purchased the calculator which works points out for me. You get a "Your Week" magazine every week with delicious recipes and inspirational stories (for free), you get your weekly weigh in, with milestones celebrated. If you pay monthly (like I do) you also have access to the weightwatchers online, which tells you how many ProPoints different foods are worth, recipes and a chart which tracks your weight and measurements:
On that first meeting I was 14 stone and 2lb. Since then I have received 3 silver 7's (1/2 pound stickers), my 5% award and my 10% keyring... My next huge milestone will be my next silver 7, when I will have lost 2 stone. Not bad for 5 months!