Pros: Great results! You get to go to meetings at work!
Cons: Cost, being hungry at the beginning, WW products are expensive
The Bottom Line:
WW 4 Life!
Last fall, I noticed that my work pants were starting to get tight, and the numbers on the scale were creeping up. I was going to the gym regularly and was in pretty good shape (I ran a 10k about a week before joining Weight Watchers), but I was clearly eating too much. On the other hand, I felt that I didn't have the discipline to follow a diet. I convinced myself that my "curvy" body shape was just genetic. My grandmothers were overweight and so is my mother. Plus, I told myself, "I just don't have good willpower."
But something had to be done. I was unhappy with my weight, and it was affecting my self-esteem and every aspect of my life. I was not obese, but my weight definitely fell into the clinically overweight side of the Body Mass Index (BMI) scale. Some women in my department at work had started Weight Watchers over the summer and had had some success, so when the next session began, I went to the information session and decided to sign up.
Cost I am fortunate that my company subsidizes some of the cost of Weight Watchers at Work, so it only cost me about $90 for a 17-week session. The session ended up being 20 weeks because the holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's) interfered.
Geting Started As I said, my confidence was pretty low when I first started Weight Watchers, and I didn't think that I would be successful. I had never paid all that much attention to what I was eating, so I was scared that it would be difficult to track when I was eating. For the first two or three weeks, I wasn't sleeping well, and I kept having nightmares about gorging myself on fattening foods. I think the Leader thought I was a little bit crazy. No one else seemed to be having as much anxiety about WW as I was.
Once I got used to tracking what I was eating and making smart choices, I realized that it really wasn't that difficult. WW gives members a book that lists how many POINTS (that's a WW trademark) are in common foods. By following logic and accurately tracking what you are eating, you are pretty much guaranteed to lose weight. They estimate that it will be 0.5 to 2 pounds per week.
You determine how many POINTS you can eat per day based on your gender, height, weight, and activity level. The first couple of weeks were very difficult for me. Even with the 35 bonus POINTS per week (everyone gets the same number of bonus POINTS), I went to bed hungry most nights. But I saw results almost immediately (lost about 5 pounds in the first two weeks), so that kept me motivated and determined to lose more. And soon enough, I got used to my daily POINTS allowance. Now that I have been doing WW for about four and a half months, I am satisfied with the amount of food I'm allowed each day except during the weeks when I have PMS and I become ravenous (TMI!)
To determine how many POINTS are in what you are eating, you can look them up on WeightWatchers.com (if 20 people at your work sign up, you get a free membership on WW e-tools) or the book that comes with your membership. If the food you are eating isn't listed, you can look online for information. The easiest way to keep track of POINTS is by eating packaged foods that contain nutritional information. Then you use the POINTS slider to determine the value based on calories, fat, and fiber.
Example: One piece of white bread with 100 calories is 2 points; One piece of whole-grain bread with 100 calories is 1 point because it contains fiber.
Exercise If you do exercise (and you really should!), you can eat extra POINTS. You determine the activity POINTS using a sliding scale in the back of your WW book. It is based on weight, duration of exercise, and intensity of exercise. I find that working out improves my mood immensely. Plus, it enables me to eat more! You just have to be careful not to over-estimate how much exercise you are doing. A veteran WW member told me to never add more than four activity POINTS per day. So I have stuck to that even on days when I have run 8 or 9 miles on the treadmill. For an hour on the elliptical, I will add two POINTS.
WW Products Weight Watchers sells various products from smoothies to granola bars to fudgicles. You can buy them at meetings or the grocery store. Other products such as Progresso Soups are branded with the WW logo and POINTS information. I tend to stay away from WW products (except the yogurt, which is quite good) because it is expensive and contains various chemicals and fake ingredients. Also, I have read that eating too much fake sugar (Splenda, Equal, etc.) can cause your body to get use to the sweet taste and then you'll end up binging on sweets that contain real sugar. You can calculate POINTS values of any food using the nutritional information on the container and the points sliding scale that comes with your WW membership.
Motivation The Leader and other WW members were invaluable to me in terms of staying motivated and losing weight. While the Leader never judged me if I gained a pound instead of losing a pound in a given week, knowing that I had to be weighed in every Thursday kept me from reaching for a cookie at 10:00 at night. The people in my meeting shared helpful tips on what kept their cravings at bay. And every week, we got a Weight Watchers newsletter with recipes and helpful tips.
Results All in all, Weight Watchers at Work has been a lot more successful than I thought it would be. I lost 30 pounds in about 18 weeks and have reached my official goal. I am officially at a healthy weight for my height and am not clinically overweight. Now I just have to maintain this weight for six weeks and I can become a Lifetime Member, which means that I can attend meetings for free for the rest of my life as long as I stay within two pounds of my goal (you get weighed in once a month). Ironically, I joined WW because I didn't want to buy bigger pants, but now I have to buy an entirely new wardrobe because all of my clothes are too big. I am down two pants sizes (and the the original pants size was getting tight, so maybe even three pants sizes!) and have given away most of my sweaters because I was swimming in them. Thankfully, I work about a mile from a GAP Outlet.
Tips I have found that the key to WW is finding foods that take up a lot of space but don't have a lot of POINTS. The ultimate example of this would be something like celery, which has zero POINTS but is bulky and takes a while to chew. So I eat a lot of salad. No foods are expressly forbidden on Weight Watchers, but I have found that certain foods are just not worth the POINTS. And little changes make all the difference. For instance, I used to put cheese or mayo on my turkey sandwiches (2+ POINTS), but now I use tabasco sauce (ZERO POINTS). I even often put hot sauce on salad instead of dressing now! And instead of using two separate pieces of bread (1 POINT each), I make my sandwiches on Sandwich Thins or Deli Flats, which are 1 POINT total.
Another key is planning ahead. If I am somewhere that has lots of tempting foods and I haven't eaten lunch or a snack, it is easy to fall into the trap of picking up something unhealthy (think: the mall foodcourt). So now I try to bring healthy, low-POINT snacks wherever I go. I even smuggle fruit and/or baby carrots into Celtics games now!
I'm in a Cult Surprisingly, I haven't missed the high-fat, high-calorie foods I used to eat before joining WW. I thought I would be really jealous of my friends eating French fries, but I'm really not. Parties and going out to dinner definitely test my willpower, so it's important to plan ahead. In the first few weeks of WW, I found myself being somewhat antisocial and telling people that I couldn't go out to eat with them because of WW. But after a while, it becomes a way of life. I plan to keep this up for years to come. I feel so much better now! I picture myself walking around carrying a 30-pound backpack and can't believe that was me five months ago.
On my way back to my desk just now, a coworker said to me, "You're wasting away!" Yeah, when you're only 5'2", losing 30 pounds makes a big difference.
Approximate Monthly Cost (US$) 15 Food Variety Restrictions You eat any food you want Restrictiveness of Portions Satisfying
Many At Work meetings take place during lunch hours, freeing up time for other activities before and after business hours. It's convenient and easy, and may be subsidized by your health care company or employer. As part of your Weight Watchers At Work mem