A few weeks back my wife and I started talking about how we both thought that it was time that we lose some weight. We’ve allowed things to go on for far too long, and we’re both pretty far from our ideal weight. Funny how life can just start flying by you, and before you know it you’ve gained 50 lbs!
We both also wanted to set a good example for our 7 month old son, and be able to run and play with him once he gets to that point in a few months. We’re both so out of shape now that there would be no way that would be possible without some changes.
When we were talking about methods of losing weight, Maria suggested that we both join Weight Watchers weight loss program, and that we attend meetings through a local Weight Watchers location. At first I was hesitant to do that. In fact, I was dead set against it. I think I’ve got an ingrained bias against Weight Watchers, that it’s a program only for women, and that more than anything it’s a group therapy session for folks who need some help in losing weight. I like to think of myself as a self-sufficient kind of guy, and even thinking of going to group meetings made me not want to join. I’ve lost significant weight in the past ( Over 50 lbs back in 2007), and I was sure I could do it again. But then again, I wanted something that could make the weight loss stick – a life change.
After some discussion lengthy discussion I decided to join Weight Watchers and attend meetings with my wife. I did it mainly because she didn’t want to join on her own, and I wanted to encourage her on her weight loss journey. I also realized that I just might learn some things for myself that would help me to lose weight and maintain the weight loss. So two weeks ago yesterday we got a babysitter and went to our first Weight Watchers meeting.
Joining The Weight Watchers Program
We walked into our first Weight Watchers meeting on a Thursday night, and signing up was pretty easy. One of the counselors just gave us the rundown of how the program worked, gave us some materials, and and signed us up. There were a couple of options for signing up. Normally there is a joining fee, but they’re currently running a promotion for the new year where you don’t have to pay that registration fee. To see current options and pricing for signing up, head on over to the Weight Watchers Site.
It should be noted that prices may vary depending upon the location you join.
Before the meeting each week everyone comes in to the front desk, signs in and does a weigh-in. Then the counselor who weighs you in will record your current weight -which they’ll do each successive week as well to mark your progress.
After everyone arrived the meeting starts. There is one group leader that heads the meeting, and there is a topic for discussion every week. For this past week for example they talked about getting active and exercising, and talked about ways that you could do that.
The meetings I’m discovering are a great motivational tool to help keep you focused. They keep you on task, they remind you of what’s important when you’re trying to lose weight, and they give you plenty of ideas when it comes to healthy eating, fitness and weight loss. They are also a good place to get some positive feedback. When you reach your smaller weight loss goals, the group will recognize you, and everyone gives words of encouragement. I can see why some people really enjoy these meetings.
Weight Watchers E-Tools
Part of Weight Watchers strong points that I’ve seen so far is how it changes your views of eating. Already in 2 weeks my eyes have been opened to just how bad my eating habits were, and just how huge my portion sizes were.
I used to think that people who were on the program must drive themselves crazy all the time trying to figure out their Weight Watchers points. They had to figure out how many points individual foods have, how much more they can eat in a day, how many fruits they’ve eaten, etc. I just sounded very frustrating.
What I’ve found so far is that the reality is much different. It really isn’t as hard or as frustrating as you might think to follow the healthy eating plan that they set out for you. When you weigh in at your first meeting they’ll give you a PointsPlus target for the number of PointsPlus values that you can eat every day. They’ll also give you some extra “splurge” PointsPlus values for the week. I’ve found that assigning PointsPlus values to the foods I eat is actually super simple using the eTools. After a while it becomes second nature, and actually doing it will open your eyes to just how much you need to change.
NOTE: Weight Watchers recently changed to their new PointsPlus program from the Momentum program. If you were in the program in the past, the old points values have changed to the PointsPlus values. This is important, especially if you’ve bought Weight Watchers products with the old points values still on them. New PointsPlus values are different, and should be re-calculated using Nutrition information in the calculator.
They have a variety of tools that help you to track your food intake, your weight loss progress, your exercise and more. Here’s a short list of the helpful features within the eTools:
- PointsPlus Tracker: Tracking is the heart of the Weight Watchers program. The tool allows you to track your daily food intake by assigning PointsPlus values to all the foods you eat. It has been extremely helpful to me in realizing how much my portion sizes were out of control.
- PointsPlus Calculator: This tool will help you to calculate the points your foods have if you can’t find it in the system. Just enter fat, protein, carbs and fiber for your food, and it will give you a points plus value.
- Weight Tracker: You’ll weigh in each week at your meeting. You can enter it online to track your progress on your weight loss goals. My first goal was 5% of my starting weight. I’m over half way there already!
- Activity Tracker: This helps you to track the exercise you’re doing during the week. You’ll get extra PointsPlus values for working out, which will allow you to eat a little more -nice if you have a splurge day like Super Bowl Sunday.
- Recipe Builder: If you’re trying to figure out the PointsPlus value of a particular recipe, this tool will help you break it down into it’s parts to figure out the total value.
- Restaurant Finder: Tool to help you find the points value of certain foods at certain restaurants.
- Food Cheat Sheets (beer cheat sheet): They have helpful cheat sheets that will help you to eat healthier and figure out PointsPlus values at popular destinations. They’ve got cheat sheets for beer, for eating at a Chinese buffet, salads, and more.
A good number of the eTools above will be found in your Weight Watchers Plan Manager, shown in the screenshot below. I keep my plan manager open in my browser at work all day to track everything I eat. Very helpful and easy to use!
Calculating your PointsPlus values using the Plan Manager is extremely simple. You can either search for the exact food that you’re eating in the search box, or if you can’t find it there, you can just enter the food’s nutrition information from the label in their PointsPlus calculator. It will give you a PointsPlus value that you can then enter into your daily food log. I don’t think I realized before just how much I was eating every week!
I also like the fact that the eTools are tailored either for men or for women. That means your experience will be better tailored for you!
Weight Watchers Mobile For Iphone, Ipod Touch, Other Mobile
Weight Watchers also now has a helpful mobile tools for folks to use. They’ve got apps for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and for other smartphones like Blackberries. I use the app for iPod touch which allows you to track your PointsPlus values online, and which also syncs with the Plan Manager on the eTools that I talked about above. It makes it easy to track your PointsPlus values even while you’re on the go! If I’m out at a restaurant I’ll track my values on my iPod, which then syncs to my online account. Then when I get back to my desk my values are already entered.
The mobile apps also have plenty of other tools including daily recipes, motivational stories from other folks losing weight, points calculators, cheat sheets and more.
Weight Watchers Meetings
My wife and I have attended 3 meetings now for Weight Watchers. Basically you show up and weigh in for the week to see if your weight is up or down. They record your weight so that you can see your progress, and if you reach one of your weight loss goals, they’ll recognize you in class. Then the class leader will go over the topic for the week, usually having to do with eating, exercise, motivation and so on. You don’t have to talk if you don’t want to, but the leader does encourage engagement in the class.
I wasn’t sure what to expect before I headed to the meetings to be quite honest. I had a pre-conceived notion that they wouldn’t be very helpful for me as I don’t really need a lot of encouragement in my weight loss journey. I’m pretty motivated, and am a self starter in most things. On the other hand, what I’ve found from the meetings is that they are actually pretty informational as well. They help you to change your mindset about eating, give you helpful tips and tricks for eating right and exercising, and of course they are motivational in that others give you praise when you do well, and encouragement when you don’t.
I also thought that the meetings would be all women. I was wrong…. somewhat. In the meetings I’ve attended so far, I was the only guy there in one of them, and was the second guy in the other two. So it is mostly women at our location, but I don’t think that should deter any guys from going.
Weight Watchers Online
While my wife and I are attending local meetings for Weight Watchers, I found that you don’t have to do the program that way. There is an online only version of the program, and I’ve read about a lot of folks doing it that way with good success as well.
I know that some guys who would be hesitant to do the weekly meetings might be more open to doing the weight loss program online. If I wasn’t attending with my wife I’d probably be more likely to do it that way. When joining Weight Watchers Online you would have access to your own full program and tools for tracking your progress.
My Initial Views Of The Weight Watchers Program
So far I have had a pretty positive view of the Weight Watchers program. I think I had a different notion what it would be like going into it, than it actually turned out. I had an image of a bunch of unhappy people who were going to meetings to make each other feel better, but instead I’ve found a motivated group of folks determined to better themselves and encourage each other along the way. I’ve also found the program itself to be much more helpful than I realized – helping me to change how I think about eating, helping me to adjust my portion sizes, and get back into a workout schedule.
So far in only 2 weeks of the program I’ve lost 8 pounds, and I think I’ll be reaching the first 10 lbs lost at this week’s weigh-in. Weight Watchers says that typically people who follow the plan can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week, so I guess I’m not doing too shabby. I have a feeling it will get even better once I start working out more than I currently am.
If you’re looking for an easy to do program that shows results, I’d happily recommend giving Weight Watchers a shot.
Disclaimer: This site is an advertising partner with Weight Watchers. I will receive compensation if a new member signs up through one of the links above. Please know that this review does discuss my true feelings of the program.