Why I Love WeightWatchers But Would Never Go Back

by | Mar 22, 2010

I used to look like this. Not anymore.

Nothing makes me happier than helping someone discover real food. Not only does their health physically transform, but they learn about a world of tastes and flavors that can be truly life changing.

My friend E began her healthstyle upgrade at the beginning of 2010, and I’m delighted that she agreed to share her story with Summer Tomato readers.

E. Foley is a geek girl extraordinaire. She writes amazing online dating profiles for geeks and non-geeks, helping clients all over the world find love. Her writing can be found at Examiner.com, Dating Sites Reviews, and elsewhere as a ghostwriter. By day, she is the Copywriter at ThinkGeek.

Follow her @geeksdreamgirl on Twitter.

Dating profiles for geeks = http://geeksdreamgirl.com

Why I Love WeightWatchers But Would Never Go Back

By E. Foley

My name is E and in 2003, I became a Lifetime Member of WeightWatchers after losing nearly 50 pounds and reaching my goal weight of 145.

Fast-forward to 2010, and I now weigh over 230 pounds. I’m 5’7″.

I gained back every pound I lost on WeightWatchers and then some. I did try to lose it. Over and over and over again I rejoined WeightWatchers and lost a handful of pounds before slipping back into bad habits and regaining them.

There is so much I love about the WeightWatchers program, but in the end, it’s Darya’s Healthstyle that has been the best choice for me.

Things I Loved About WeightWatchers

Weekly accountability

Knowing that I had to step on the scale in front of a staff member every Saturday motivated me to stay on track.

Group support

It may sound dumb, but it really felt good to have the group applaud for me when I had a good week. Knowing they’d be there to support me on a bad week was also comforting.

Balanced nutrition

I’ll get into this more later, but the WeightWatchers program, if followed to the letter, is nutritionally sound.

Role models

All the staff members are Lifetime Members, and there are always a few Lifetime Members who attend weekly meetings.

Things to ponder

Every meeting gave me something to think about, a food or recipe I wanted to try, or a warm fuzzy feeling that propelled me into the week.

Reasons Why I Can’t Go Back to WeightWatchers

Gaming the System

When I achieved Lifetime status, it was on the Flex plan. This plan allows you a certain budget of Points per day which you can spend on various types of food. The Points value of the food depends on its calories, fat, and fiber. Many vegetables are zero points, which you’d think would encourage their consumption. Not so. When I reached my goal weight, I was burning calories like mad at a gym. Some days I did two cardio classes in a row and then yoga or Pilates. This allowed me to earn Activity Points which I then spent on those tasty (but sugary!) Milk & Cereal bars that are anything but healthy.

When I regained the weight and went back to WeightWatchers, I jumped back into the same Flex program. The game for me was figuring out how to play the numbers so they added up on paper to the magic number. It got to the point where I could be “perfect” on paper but not lose a single pound.

Frustrated, I’d quit.

WeightWatchers’ Attempt at Healthstyle Fails

Later, WeightWatchers rolled out the Core program and I saw success again. Core allowed members to eat lean meats, fat-free dairy, fruits and vegetables “until satisfied.” A weekly Points budget allowed eating things that weren’t Core (namely carbs, sugars, and fats). Also included on the “free to eat” list was your daily serving of heart-healthy oils.

But Core wasn’t popular among the WeightWatchers membership. In my meetings, I’d often be the only person in the room on Core, so advice in the meeting was tailored toward Flex members. Sometimes I’d get lucky and have a leader who was on Core, but not always. Even though I was losing weight regularly on Core, the lack of support for the program made going to meetings not as helpful or motivating. WeightWatchers finally eliminated the Core program, going back to a One-Plan-Fits-All mentality.

Eat Healthy OR Filling

Remember how I said that the plan is nutritionally sound if followed to the letter? The problem with WeightWatchers is that as long as you lose weight, no one questions what you’re eating. I wish I still had my food journals from those days, because I can tell you I went full weeks without consuming a vegetable or fruit.

In the meetings, the leader would talk about getting your heart healthy oil in every day, and inevitably, someone would complain about having to “waste Points” on olive oil, when they could just use a few spritzes of aerosol cooking spray instead. When you’re working with 20 points per day (which is what I was eating when I was close to my goal weight), it does seem like a waste to use 4 of those points for a tablespoon of olive oil. Especially when 4 points could be spent on bread or meat or cheese. Or a Milk & Cereal bar.

Diet For Life?

My biggest problem with WeightWatchers is that it never felt like a way to eat for the rest of my life. Maybe it did for a while, but once hard times hit, I didn’t have the incentive to stick to my guns and eat healthy, mainly because what I ate when I was on program wasn’t all that tasty. (WeightWatchers has tons of recipe books, but all the recipes are pretty bland and uninspired.)

Finding Darya Was The Best Thing That Happened To Me

Dr. Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating, says that “the best diet is the one you don’t know you’re on.” This is exactly how I feel about my new healthstyle.

I don’t feel stressed out about food.

I don’t feel deprived of things I want to eat.

I don’t look forward to the day I get to “eat normal” again.

I don’t feel like the way I am eating is a ball and chain.

I don’t eat food that doesn’t taste delicious.

My Healthstyle

Breakfast: Every other Sunday, I make a giant batch of breakfast hot pockets from scratch. I have played with the dough recipe a bit to decrease the white flour down to 5 cups white, 3.5 cups wheat, 1.5 cups almond meal. Since my boyfriend is vegetarian, we use the sausage substitute. They freeze well and reheat in the microwave in 95 seconds. I love them because I am not a morning person, so I wake up as late as possible and eat on my drive to the gym.

Exercise: I am blessed to have a work schedule that allows me to work out from 8:30-9:45 a.m. just about every day. I do miss the gym from time to time, but I’m there more days than I’m not, which is a great start!

Lunch: I love salad bars, but they’re so expensive. So I started up a Salad Club at my work! We have anywhere from 4 to 6 people who participate each week, pitching in various veggies and fruits and toppings and dressings. If you’re curious, follow me on Twitter and you can see a picture of my Salad Club every weekday. When I’m lunching at home, it’s usually kale with toasted nuts and garlic and whatever leftover grain I have in the fridge.

Snacks: Back in my WeightWatchers days, I avoided nuts. Too high in calories, too high in fat, too many Points! Now, I have a variety of nuts on my desk at work and usually eat an ounce or two of nuts every day. They really help bridge the gap between meals and prevent me from snacking on the junk food in the office kitchen.

Dinner: I make all sorts of great things for dinners now. We still have our old standbys (vegetarian tacos & Annie’s mac n’ cheese), but more often than not, I’m surfing the internet for recipes after buying whatever looks good in the store (Sadly, being on the East Coast makes the farmers market thing a little less feasible in the winter. But spring is almost here!!). I think my favorite so far is the stuffed portobello mushrooms (pictured here).

The Bottom Line

I don’t feel like this is a diet. I feel like I’m eating better and tastier foods than I have in my whole life. I’ve eaten more nuts and olive oil in the past 3 months than I have in 3 years. But I’m losing at a steady rate of about a 1/2 pound per week. No, it’s not fast or impressive. But I’m eating amazing food, I’m never hungry (for long!), and I’m not killing myself at the gym to do it. If it takes me 3 years to get down to 140-150 again, that’s fine by me. The weight loss is just a pleasant side effect of my healthstyle, and I have Darya to thank for all her advice and personal coaching.

If you’ve been lurking on the blog and wondering about working with Darya to get your healthstyle on, take the step and do it. I feel so much better and the weight is melting off while I’m eating the most delicious food of my life. You can do it, too.

What is your healthstyle?

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70 Responses to “Why I Love WeightWatchers But Would Never Go Back”

  1. Michelle says:

    I get that WW is a good plan, but I find it awfully misleading that they market themselves in a way that implies (implicitely) that they’re not a ‘diet’. If I have to track every thing that enters my mouth, calculate points for activities, etc., it’s a diet or a diet plan.

    I think I lost the same 10-15 pounds on WW every other year and always, ALWAYS gained it back as soon as I wasn’t monitoring every food/exercise move I made.

    I finally came to the conclusion that the only thing that was going to work for me was moderation in everything–food, drink, exercise. And it’s worked. I’ve lost 25 pounds since October.* I make it to the gym 3-6 times a week, depending no my work schedule. When I have time to cook, I cook well-rounded healthy foods that leave me enough for left overs or freezeables for crunch times. Sure, I occasionally hit Taco Bell for some Taco Frescos, but at 150 calories each, I don’t feel too guilty about it!

    I think WW is great for someone who doesn’t understand the nutritional values of foods or how to moderate eating, but once a person gets into the swing of things, it can easily become an excuse (as J mentioned) to cover your points but not worry about the value of those points.

    *I did start off taking Phentermine for the first 6 weeks, but when I forgot to take it home with me for Thanksgiving AND Xmas, I realized that I really didn’t need it. If I could moderate myself during the two fattiest food holidays of the year, then I should be ok for a majority of the rest of my days!

    • Michelle – Oy, Taco Bell. I eat there if I want to shed 5 pounds the quick and uncomfortable way. 😉 My boyfriend loves the place, but I can’t manage to eat there without getting sick.

      Of course, since implementing my healthstyle, I’m getting like that with almost all fast food. Pretty crazy!

  2. Beth Lowe says:

    Great post, E! Really compelling. I’ve been following Weight Watchers for over a year and a half, with a fair amount of time off due to illness, and I’ve lost about 22 pounds. Very slow, but fairly steady. However, I use all my daily points, all my weekly points, and many, if not all, of the activity points I get, because I eat what you eat, olive oil, nuts, and all. No Weight Watchers products for me. No aerosol cooking spray. No whipped topping stuffed between fat free fake oreo cookies and called an “ice cream sandwich” (what is that all about?!!). I cannot/will not compromise my health with that stuff.

    I use the plan as a guideline for healthy eating: portion control, tracking (which helps me make sure I’m eating enough fruits and vegetables), support & camaraderie at meetings, etc. I have an unusual WW group — most people eat food (as defined by Michael Pollan) and eschew chemical-laden, processed substances pretending to be food. And I have a leader who is, without a doubt, marvelous, and is now a friend. She also doesn’t push WW products, for which, no doubt, she suffers because the consequence is that she doesn’t sell as much as other leaders.

    You’ve addressed the bottom line so well here. It’s what works for our lifestyles, or healthstyles, as you so aptly put it. I’ve just recently started to dig into all of Darya’s resources, even though I’m ashamed to admit I’ve been following her on twitter for some time. Good luck on your journey, E. And thank you both, E and Darya.

    • Beth – You’re lucky to have such a great meeting. I meeting-hopped quite a bit and always found there to be both members (and sadly, leaders) who promoted all sorts of processed “food” products. Sure, those crisp-things are 1 Point for the bag, but I’d much rather spend those calories on a giant pile of freshly baked kale chips.

      I really miss Core and wish that WeightWatchers could move as a whole toward the real food philosophy. But sadly, what gets people in the door and keeps them there is the Points system, so I doubt it’s going away anytime in the future.

      Maybe we’ll get Darya to start up Healthstyle centers! 😉

    • Rose says:

      Love your blog – I am doing the same. Just joined WW for the accountability and the portion control. I’m all about eating clean and avoiding white breads and pastas, sugars and processed food. I feel if you have weight to lose for whatever reason, the support, accountability, tools and tracking that WW offers is perfect. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing. WW offers a great platform to help one reach their goals.

  3. Beth Lowe says:

    P.S. Darya, you and your blog will be an awesome resource to use alongside the Weight Watchers stuff. Thanks again.

  4. Kim says:

    I’m sorry it hear that Weight Watchers didn’t work out for you. I reached Lifetime 2 years ago and have stopped going to meetings but stayed on the program on my own. I know they’ve changed things around a lot in the last 2 years, and I don’t know that I’d ever want to go back regularly – but it’s all about finding what works for you.

    • Kim – Congrats on keeping it off! You’re right, it’s all about finding what works, and for some folks, WW is the magic bullet and they’re able to keep it off for the long haul. It’s taken me 7 years to realize that while I love WW, it’s just not my magic bullet. I support my friends who are on the program, but for me, I find eating by Darya’s healthstyle guidelines feels much less stressful, more free, and is by all means much tastier! 🙂

  5. My daughter and I have discussed that issue with some choosing an unhealthier choice just because it’s lower in points. If you have veggies as your mainstay there’s less of a chance you’ll go wrong with the system. Great article. Thanks.

    • Laurie – I think there are a lot of leaders who want to be popular with the members and will let members push them in a direction where they’re spending lots of the meeting discussing low-Point “foods” rather than recipes made with real food (that will taste a TON better!). I was in education for 7 years, so I know how hard it is to stick to your guns when your students want something that’s not quite what you want to teach.

      • I didn’t think about the pressure at the meetings. My daughter never felt the pressure just a little frustration that they didn’t spend much time on the really healthy food options. But she’s always had good nutrition throughout her life; some haven’t and I’m sure that makes a difference. Thanks for your reply. Keeping it simple is definitely the best!

  6. Laura says:

    Interesting post, my mom has done weight watchers on and off for years and I’ve observed the same thing – they are way too obsessed with “gaming the system” with diet foods like skinny cow ice cream bars, those salad spritzer things, etc. Naturally thin people NEVER touch that stuff! I think if you truly want to eat healthy you need to eliminate all unhealthy snack foods (like the cereal bars you mentioned) from your house, “diet” or not. I think encouraging people to keep low-fat chips, skinny cow ice cream bars, etc on their grocery list is really counter-productive.

    • Laura – Yep. And I was there with the spray “butter” and the Skinny Cows and the WW bars. Now I’d much rather eat apple slices with cashew butter for dessert and use – *gasp* – a little real butter in things. It’s much more enjoyable and I’m losing weight – so can’t complain!

  7. Lee O says:

    Great post E, and D!!! Very inspiring, which is just what this junk-food junkie needs! 🙂 *hugs*

    • Lee – Thanks! I’ve found that the more vegetables and fruits I eat, the more junk food actually tastes NASTY. I can taste all the fake and processed stuff in it.

      If I want junk food now, I make it from scratch. I made a delicious carrot pie last week (tastes a lot like a pumpkin pie) with cream cheese frosting. Yum. Making stuff from scratch means it’s special and it’s not an every week thing. 🙂

  8. Madison says:

    E. Foley: Great piece you wrote. I can relate to the wonderful feeling of not being a prisoner to food. I’ve been reading Daria’s blog for a while but have only recently started to eat the foods she suggests and it has changed my life. I use to do the same thing with the endless cycle of going to the gym so that I could eat whatever junk I wanted. In the end, I accomplished nothing. I am glad that I am now off that roller coaster. Good luck to you! You will do great.

    • Darya Pino says:

      So great to hear Madison! Email me if you are ever interested in sharing your story here 🙂

    • Madison – Thanks! I do love being free from the prison of constantly worrying about food. Sure, sometimes it’s hard to find good stuff to eat when traveling, but I’m getting better with that, too. I’m heading to a convention this weekend and bringing a backpack full of fresh fruits and nuts. So much tastier and better than convention center food!

    • Misschacha says:

      Madison — I completely agree with you! E’s post today couldn’t have been more timely. After reading Darya’s blog for the past several months, I finally stepped off the diet roller-coaster just about ten days ago, and have already seen significant positive changes in my life, not to mention a 2.5 lbs. drop in pounds. For the first time in my life, I can honestly say that the weight loss is only one of the positive benefits of living this way. I’m thrilled not to be obsessed with food, counting food, thinking about what I can and can’t eat, etc. I am finally seeing how life does not need to be an all-or-nothing teeter-totter. I’m easing into making permanent lifestyle changes, and loving it! Thanks Darya, for your wonderful website. I’m a newbie and learning so much here.

  9. Kirsten says:

    I tried WW on two different occasions, since it’s offered at a great discount through my workplace. I do OK for the first two weeks, then start to resent having to write everything down – then I start to feel like everyone is watching every morsel I put in my mouth, because my coworkers attend meetings too. The thing that made me really quit WW was that while the materials they hand out at meetings focus on real food, they really push the packaged crap. Since I don’t believe in diet junk food, this was a huge turnoff (hey, if you’re going to eat junk, you may as well go all the way with it!)

    I’m working towards a better healthstyle, and I just need to figure out how to make it work with my extreme tendency towards laziness and desire for convenience.

    • Kirsten – I do journal my food, but it’s because I have Darya working with me one-on-one. I journal in Google Wave and she pops in, reads what I’ve eaten and any questions I think of, and gives me advice. Every two weeks, she writes up a report about how I’m doing and suggestions for taking it to the next level. It’s really helpful. 🙂

      But yeah, I did hate it when people knew I was on WW, because they’d always ask, “How many Points is that?” Drove me nuts.

      I am pretty lazy, too! Things that help me:
      1) Making brown rice, quinoa, lentils and beans in large batches, freezing them in baggies to use later.
      2) The breakfast hot pockets!! (Recipe link is in the article.) Sometimes I even eat one for dinner if I’m too lazy to cook. 😉
      3) Making lots of food so I have leftovers to play with later. We make a big batch of vegetarian taco filling for taco night and then I’ll add canned tomatoes and veggies to it and turn it into chili for later in the week.

      I’m also getting fresh fruit delivered by FruitGuys, which motivates me to grab an apple or orange to take to work in the morning. 🙂

  10. Meagan says:

    So true, “diets” are not the answer. Only eat food that tastes really great, savor it and don’t deny yourself a treat on occassion. Moderation and quality are the key.

  11. Great post, E! My husband and I briefly sort-of tried WW a couple years ago (a friend who was a member gave us a points book and some other material so we could check it out before paying to join) and only lasted a few days. I felt seriously deprived because Robert got so many more points per day than I did, and I hated having to measure and count and write everything down. (I should make the disclaimer that I had serious food issues when I was in junior high and a borderline eating disorder, so becoming obsessed with food is a danger for me. I’ve never been able to keep up with any sort of food journal for that very reason – I know it’s a very helpful tool for a lot of people, and that’s great! But for me it’s a bad bad thing.)

    I’m still really working on Darya’s healthstyle. It’s the only thing that’s ever made sense to me, and it actually is pretty much what my doctor has recommended for me – I’m just not quite there yet. I like sweets too much, and while I love veggies, whole grains, legumes, and all the other good things, they don’t do much for me when I need comfort food – though maybe that’s another issue for me entirely. I’m trying though! Cutting out processed crap was easy (we didn’t eat a whole lot of it anyway). I’m hoping the whole thing will get easier when the farmer’s market opens (assuming I manage to get my lazy ass down there on Saturday mornings…).

    I’ve lost 11 1/2 pounds in 7 months without feeling deprived, though, so I guess I’m doing some things right… 😉

    • Connie – Yeah, the eating disorder history definitely makes it tough to do a program like WeightWatchers where you have to journal every “bite, lick and taste.”

      I still get the urge for comfort foods, but it’s less and less these days. If it’s been a rough day, we may make a box of macaroni and cheese, but it’s the organic stuff at least. 😉

      Congrats on your loss – slow and steady wins the race!

    • Darya Pino says:

      I agree completely with E. Losing any weight at all is win win. Especially if you are still eating more sweets than you feel is ideal. Just keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll end up exactly where you belong.

      Also I definitely find my sugar needs are strongly dependent on my recent eating behavior. If I avoid sugars for a few days, I hardly want them at all. But if I eat a big sweet dessert (rare, but it happens), I’ll have cravings for a day or two and have to actively suppress them. Goes away quickly, but only if I get through the rough spell.

  12. Chez Us says:

    Great Post. E, thank you for sharing your story. I have heard so many of the same things about Weight Watchers. I am a firm believe of good healthy food in moderation as well as getting the body moving. Whether it be a class at the gym or going for a long walk every day. I know for me that if I can get a couple spin classes in as well as a couple runs, the weight does come off.

    E. keep up the great job!!

    • Chez – Thanks!! I’ve been thinking about trying spin, but I’m not so great with bikes (my knees don’t like it). The elliptical and I get along great. My gym does a beginner spin class once a month that’s more about getting the right setup for the bike and teaching slowly, so I may stop in for that at some point to give it a shot. I hear spin burns mega calories.

  13. Tina says:

    I’m on WW. The system they have now encourages people to eat at least 5 fruits and veggies per day and at least 2 servings of lean meat and 2 or 3 servigs of milk. I would go days without eating more than 1 or 2 before WW. I guess the program has changed quite a bit since you were on it. I do feel like this isn’t a diet and want to eat these healthy foods for the rest of my life. My family eats the same things I eat, too. I’ve never felt deprived or like I was starving. Anyone who does simply doesn’t understand the program. I’ve also NEVER seen anyone pushing the prepacked foods.
    You are also encouraged to workout by earning more points. I’m doing things I haven’t been able to do in years.
    I guess I’m just having a different experience, but then again, it’s all what you make it.
    I also feel WW isn’t really for people who just want to “tone up” and lose 5-15 pounds. Those people just need to get off the couch and move.
    Anytime you are doing something where you are trying to work the system, things will not go well. Common sense, however, goes a long way. Losing weight by any means doesn’t mean it will stay off. You must do the work needed to keep it off.

    • Tina – I am trying not to take your comment personally. But let me let you know exactly how well I know the WW program: I was being recruited when I was a Lifetime member to become a WW leader. Unfortunately, the market I was in already had too many leaders for the amount of meetings.

      I know the system up, down, and sideways (at least as it was circa 2007, which was the last time I attended meetings).

      The key word you used there is “encourages.” WW “encourages” you to eat more fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean meats. But if you can lose weight eating SmartOnes, you’ll still be applauded. (A lesbian couple in one of my meetings both made Lifetime by eating cereal for breakfast, a SmartOnes for lunch, and a SmartOnes for dinner. Everyone applauded them and was inspired by them. “Food” from a box. I wish I was joking.)

      But the bottom line is this – if it works for you and you can keep it off for the rest of your life – AWESOME. I’m not here to stop you from doing what works for you. I’m just here to say that I’ve found something that works better for me.

    • Betty says:

      Before I went to WW back in March of 2011 I had been losing weight on my own, so I know how to do that without the program. I just feel that they are getting too damn expensive and that happens when companies become too big and concern themselves more with the money and not with helping the people who spend so much money each month to lose weight. I have lost 33 pds. since March and I feel I will continue without WW watching over me and spending my money!

  14. xxlxt says:

    Agree totally with the approach. Although I’ve never been to weight watchers, I’ve gained back every pound I’ve ever lost (and more) on a “diet”. The key is finding that healthy way of eating that’s personally sustainable over time.

  15. sam says:

    Thanks for the post, E. I felt like I was reading my own story. I am also a WW flunkee. I lost close to 40 lbs on WW, but gained back 60. Joy!
    I finally had enough, and decided to go the healthy route. I stumbled across Summer Tomato while looking for recipes, and I am so glad I did! Since I started my new health style (thanks, Darya, for that terminology!) I have lost 38 lbs and am halfway to my goal weight of 148. I still use the WW points system to monitor my daily intake, but all my food choices are based on eating fresh, whole foods. It has taken me a while to cut out the refined carbs, but I am finding easier and easier everyday. Glad to hear it is working for you too.

    • You go, Sam! 🙂 I agree that it’s a little hard at first to eat more veggies and fewer carbs, but it gets easier and now I get totally excited about eating veggies. It’s funny because I’m at the point now where I’ll turn down pizza in favor of salad. I’m a freak! (But I love it.) 🙂

  16. Pam says:

    Wow, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all of your posts. Many different ideas and things to ponder. I am familiar with WW while attempting to help my 17 year old daughter lose some weight and have discovered that we have fallen into the point system trap. Sometimes it’s easier to eat a smart ones where the point value is obvious than constantly trying to figure out the point value of recipes that aren’t WW recipes. I think the basic premise of high fiber/ low fat foods can work, but it’s up to you to make sure you are eating real food and not the fake stuff. I also think that being aware of portion size is helpful . If you don’t measure food at times and see how much you are eating, it’s easy to overeat. I am definately going to try to stay away from the processed choices in leiu of more nutritional healthy foods. Thanks for the eye opener!!

  17. K.M. says:

    This was an interesting read, and I can relate to your desire to eat real food. I have been on WW since early March and have lost 35 pounds. I do it on my own. No meetings. Personally, I love it. (I’m the kind of girl who enjoys Excel documents, so tracking is fun for me.) But I REFUSE to eat fake food. I don’t eat fake sweeteners. I don’t eat their pre-packaged snacks or anything like that. I am with you when it comes to nuts. They are healthy in moderation! I keep them around as well. I’ve been lucky enough to continue to lose without having to compromise my “food ethics” (if that makes any sense!), but I can COMPLETELY see how it could be easy to cheat the system and eat loads of crap with WW. I went into it refusing to do that, and with the main goal of having an easy way to track for a little while until I got tired of it. 🙂 I enjoyed reading your post here. Good insights.

  18. Angie says:

    Dear E.:

    It was really great to read your post. I just recently joined Weight Watchers and started attending the meetings. I have a buddy I enlisted for support. We were roomates freshman year in college and have this one picture from our first day that we always wish we could get back to.

    I did notice upon my first meeting the inrtoduction of all these products they push. WHO KNOWS WHATS IN THOSE!? After watching Food Inc. and reading Michael Pollan’s books and NY Times articles I very rarely buy processed foods. My first meeting they spoke about troubles at supermarkets. Since I was new I didn’t speak up but they all suggested non fat cream cheese and sugar free jelley and diet cheez itz. I know that not everyone has read Michael Pollan or the slew of literature available on eating healthy, sustainable, local foods but I really wish WW would adopt this new style of eating. The friend I joined with has recently purchased fat free margarine spread and a load of fat free cheese. I am going to try and talk her out of eating those things. My problem isn’t necessarily buying gross food but I tend to indulge quite often on pastries from bakeries…my nemesis. I live in NYC and there are tons of amazing places to get homemade goods. I just can’t do it everyday….

    I am hoping the program teaches me portion control and tracking habits. Once I get those down I hope to really be OK on my own continuing to eat what I do. I really enjoyed reading your article and I am happy to know I am not alone!



  19. Gretchen says:

    Love this article. I lost 118 lbs on WW and gained every single pound back. I’m a compulsive overeater, and compulsive in general about food, etc. And you are dead-on about the gaming. I would be great all week, literally starve myself the day before weigh-in, go to my meeting, and then binge all day after that and start the cycle all over again. Yes, I was thinner by the day, but I was unhealthy. My hair was falling out. My skin was always pale.

    And the meetings were hard for me because the focus on that scale was awful for someone like me who tied that NUMBER to my personal worth for so many years.

    And now, I’m ready to lose it again, the right way. But I find myself afraid of what to do…how to do it…about becoming obsessed again. Not sure how to jump back on that bandwagon in a healthy way.

    • Darya Pino says:

      Wow, thanks for sharing your story Gretchen. I think you’ll find that by exploring around this site you’ll find a lot of ways to get healthy and lose weight that you can easily fit into your life. Feel free to ask questions whenever you’re stuck. Sometimes I take awhile to reply but I do read and try to respond to everything.

  20. Chris Halsema says:

    I found this blog/comment trail purely by accident. I can’t wait to read more about your thoughts & ideas.
    That being said, I do want to give my 2 cents about WW. I don’t see it as a “diet” or “diet plan”. To me, a diet/diet plan tells me what I can & can’t havep. While I agree that WW shouldn’t promote all of the processed stuff, it ultimately comes down to the individual making the choices of what to eat, not WW. I don’t always make the best choices, but I don’t blame anyone for that except myself. People are crazy to starve themselves before a weigh in – that, too, is their fault, not WW’s. It’s all in your mind. If you have a bad day, so be it. Get back on the wagon the next meal. Happens to all of us. I’ve never starved myself for a weigh in. The resulting headache isn’t worth it.
    For those that said they lost X lbs & then gained it all back & then some (in some cases), I don’t see how that is the “fault” of WW. The person makes the choice of what to eat and how much, and how much exercise they do (or don’t do). These people gain weight because they are taking in more calories (regardless of what they’re from) than they are burning off – simple as that. If they’re focusing on good food choices (fruits, veggies, whole grains, protein, etc.) & limiting or eliminating processed/fast food/junk food, I just don’t see how a person gains weight on WW. It is a lifestyle change – just focus on eating the right things, portion control and exercising, limit the “crap food” completely or as much as possible.
    As far as the food not being “good/tasty”, it’s all in how it’s prepared – it’s boring if you make it boring – I use lots of fresh spices/seasonings, so I don’t have much “boring” food. I’m eating much better than I used to and enjoying it all and I’m rarely hungry when I eat enough protein & veggies.

    Hoping to find some great ideas here! Thanks for letting me “speak”!

    • amy says:

      I’d personally never blame WW for the fact that I gained some of my weight back, but WW Core was the most amazing plan.

      I am a Lifetime Member who would never go back because I really, really believed in the Core plan, and stayed below my goal weight for 3 years before Core was phased out. I still went to meetings once a month for a bit, but Simply Filling is not the same (besides the fact that the name sounds patently lame).

      There was no support for Core.

      I found it very hard to find as much positive motivation in the meetings where artificial foods and sweeteners were lauded. I stopped going, and I have to say that I need occasional meetings to stay motivated, by following and believing in (on an evangelical level) Core – I was not really following WW. I still feel that Core is the healthiest program WW ever launched and felt abandoned when the plan was scrapped. I’m 6 pounds over my goal weight, something I feel I’d easily be under if I was able to find support for the Core plan in a WW meeting.

      Counting points encourages me to have an unhealthy relationship with food, so I’m destined to go it alone.

  21. Dee says:

    My Healthstyle is still a work in progress …. This is my first attempt at weight loss. Initially, I joined a Weight Loss Class that counts calories and gives guidance on portions etc. that was 10 weeks. Since then (5 months now), I’m on my own. With the info out there and alot of thinking to resolve my weight problem, I invented what works for me and would hopefully be sustainable for the rest of my life and passed on to my kids. Yes, i probably made it into rocket science, but My Healthstyle is about changing my mind about food and metabolism makeover. I…
    1. Penned a nutrition policy
    2. Developed Menu framework
    3. Made up my own food pyramid
    4. Exercise – Devised a weight lift/ resistance training strategy as well as keep up my minimum required cardio.
    5. Scheduled my Feed, Exercise, Water for a ideal typical day (generic)
    6. Identified and use regularly 3 ipad apps for my weight loss
    7. Prepare my own meals at home – I still have to get the menu planning down packed though
    8. Sometimes check calories and monitor macronutrient ratios
    9. Learning to cook high quality/ high palate food

    Success so far ..28lbs lost over 7 months …….15 lbs to go to meet my Goal!

  22. Beverly says:

    My background is that I was obese for 18 years, and I lost 70 lbs on my own (over a 2 year period) by counting calories (~1600 calories/day) and walking 3-6x/week. I kept it off for a year, but I took a medication that made me gain ~10 lbs in 6 weeks and decided to join Weight Watchers for group support and to have a weekly reminder (meetings) that I have a goal.

    I would just like to point out that Weight Watchers changed in 2010 to the “Points Plus” values, which basically gives you a “better deal” on “power foods” (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, non-fat dairy, and lean proteins). You can also opt for the “Simply Filling” option, in which you focus on power foods, and you only need to count non-power food items. I have found that this plan is a massive improvement over the old Weight Watcher’s plans that I encountered 10 years ago.

    I love their on-line PointsPlus tracker and the recipe calculator, which they didn’t have before. They also have an activity monitor that you attach to your clothing; it’s called “ActiveLink”. It’s very motivating.

    I have to say that I love the plan, and the emphasis is on healthy eating and increasing activity, which is the same thing that I did on my own, only with group support. The plan is not for everyone (I’m not discounting anyone’s experience with Weight Watchers), but it’s a good plan for someone who enjoys counting. I’m one of those people who love spreadsheets and keeping a food journal. I have not encountered much of a push to buy the Weight Watchers foods (and I have never bought any), but the leaders do wear the new ActiveLink monitor, which encouraged me to buy one.

  23. Lili says:

    I congratulate you on your progress. I just joined WW online (no meetings) almost two months ago and it has been going great for me. I have tried other diets but this is the plan I can follow the best. I do agree is not for everyone, so I am happy that you found another way of getting a healthy life. WW may be working for me, but it may not work for others, like it happened to me with the other diet plans even though so many people recommended them. The only thing that matters is that you learn how to eat healthy and exercise often. It is hard to keep the weight off when our metabolism is slow, but we can all do it! Thank you for sharing your experience and encouraging those who need support from others!

  24. Tina says:

    I’ve joined weight watchers several times, I’m also a lifetime member. The meetings that I attended focused more on the portions of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and getting in your dairy products not what they could sell. I am not at my goal weight now, but I blame that more on myself than weight watchers. They taught me to balance my meals and to eat healthy. I’m the one who chose to not stand by it, like most of the people who joined weight watchers that keeps going back. I have a very busy life and I choose to eat a lot of fast food because I just didn’t take a few minutes to grab an apple or some almonds for a snack. I no that fast food is not healthy, but it is quick. When I fix meals at home they are healthy. Ive just got to learn to take some time out for myself and do the right thing, and that is to eat healthy.

  25. Maggie says:

    I’m another W.W. fan. I joined in July of this year and have lost 36 lbs. as of Dec. 9th. Since following the plan, I have eaten more veggies and fruits than I have in years. I do buy W.W. foods sometimes to tide me over when my time is short but I can honestly say that no one at my meetings has ever pushed their foods or encouraged eating fast foods. There are healthy, tasty recipes in the weekly that is passed out and sometimes the Leader has a recipe that she has printed out for us. I love how fellow members share what has worked for them and tell you what salad dressing is tasty while still having low points and where to find a whole wheat bread that is also low on points. I’m not familiar with anything but Points Plus so maybe previously, healthy eating has not been stressed but it certainly is now. If, after some time has passed and I gain some of my weight back, I don’t think I’ll blame the plan…I’ll blame myself.

  26. sylvia says:

    I am not a Weight Watchers die heart, but I decided to return in December 2012 just before the Holidays. accountability and friendship support is important to me. i see a difference. I lost 10% of my weight in 20 weeks and am shooting for another 10%. I like your letter.

    I think it is for the same reason they came up with the new 360 program. I think they are on Target to involved our eating habits in routine and make it more a lifestyle.

    But yes, it seems funny to call it a lifestyle when you have to track everything everyday. LOL! But it works for me at this moment.

  27. bebely says:

    its disgusting to read that weight watchers labelled all those healthy oils as too high in calories and built up a mindset to avoid them because in the end they ‘take too many points’. what complete and utter bullshit. eat all the nuts you want and drink olive oil by the cup, as long as they are good oils then your body will thank you for it. just avoid all the bad oils like vegetable oil and seed oils 🙂

  28. J Dub says:

    I agree with much of what has been said. Weight Watchers does work for me, but success seems to come easiest with reliance on processed low point foods. I am a working mom with two young kids so I often fall back on ready-made foods for sheer lack of time. Also, I am out of the routine of cooking healthy dishes from scratch because I am then a short order cook – one and sometimes two different meals for the kids, one for me and one for my husband who does not watch what he eats and doesn’t really like veg. Ugh. Wish I could find an easier way to eat quick and healthy that was also affordable. Until I have more time or win the powerball and hire a personal chef, at least I am not gaining. All suggestions would be appreciated.

  29. Kelly-Jo says:

    This post is what I needed to read. I am a Lifetime member of WW having lost 60 lbs and kept it off for over ten years. I then hit peri-menopause and now am back where I started. I rejoined and started attending meetings as before with little success. Although grateful for learning about healthy portions etc they taught me, I am tossing the points system and following what Darya has taught me in her book Foodist.

  30. Anne says:

    I’m going to be buying your book within the next few days. It’s truly very interesting and makes a ton of sense! I was also a former WW member. Lost weight twice and gained almost al of it back. Done with that. Want to try your way. Was wondering if there is a way to stay in touch with you while trying this new healthy lifestyle? Thanks so much!

  31. Vicki says:

    Weight watchers does not work because they keep changing their plans. I am sorry. Fruits are NOT zero points. I liked their older plans but they keep changing them probably to make more money. The heck with them. When they changed their plan, the weight I kept off for 7 years came back. They also do not have support their articles how older women need to eat less not more. Their one size fits all mentality does not work. We were doing superfood smoothies and my poor husband had two surgeries for kidney stones. WW does not have health issue diets for this or for diverticulosis so for older people, it just does not work.

  32. Laura says:

    I guess I am just doomed to be overweight forever. I just joined WW at work due to it being a program for my insurance incentive and because for a long time now I have been unhappy with my weight. I have always been “chubby” and struggled with my weight but currently I am at my highest ever at 215 and I feel horrible and disgusting. So I thought hey what better time to take that step than right now with this opportunity. I am a week in and I am hungry ALL THE TIME! Its ridiculous. I have no clue what I’m doing with the point counting and when I try to search foods I have to sit there and sift through pages of descriptions of foods! Then when I find what I’m looking for I’m not even sure its accurate for what im actually eating. And I have 16 more weeks of this. Needless to say its not looking very promising. I am not a fruit and veggie person, I absolutely hate water, I have to force myself to drink water throughout the day and I do not care for so called “health foods”. Living on carrot sticks and arugala sprigs is not my idea of a good time. I do however 100% agree with not eating those horrible artificial, processed, chemical things they like to try to pass off as real food. I want more than anything to get away from all that stuff but when I attempt to even research or think about it I get a headache and I feel so overwhelmed. I do not know the first thing to look out for nor do I know where to start. Then, as someone mentioned before, there is the convenience issue. I am a busy person. My husband is a paraplegic and I have to not only get myself ready every morning I have to get him ready for the day as well. I already have to get up an extra hour early just to accomplish that let alone try to get up early enough to make us a “healthy” breakfast. I might as well not sleep if I’m gonna do that. My one day off this week I spent cooking a couple recipes off the WW website and thats pretty much all I got accomplished. I felt like it took me longer to cook the food than eat it and an hour later I was hungry searching for a “point approved” snack that fit into what I had left for the day, which by the way, I did not find. And after reading this, well lets just say it didn’t improve my WW enthusiasm. Let me be clear in that, I thought this article was very helpful and I wish that I had read this a week ago before I signed up. But that doesnt make up much for all my other healthy eating issues. So as I said before I feel like I am just doomed to be fat forever….
    P.S. I apologize for my rant, I just kind of needed to vent my WW frustration. I realize I didn’t really contribute to the conversation but thanks for writing this and for kind of letting me vent.

  33. Shaena says:

    Been on weight watchers off and on for at least 5 years. I have been on it most recently for about 9 months and i am getting really sick of tracking and because I am not tracking im gaining…also I am getting tired of paying 43. a month to pretty much just get weighed in. How can I do your plan of what you did or get more information on how you did it without shelling the cash for the meetings ?

  34. amy says:

    I posted in 2012 about how I wouldn’t go back to WW because they eliminated the Core plan. I decided to get over myself and went back last year and gritted my teeth and started Simply Filling. Is it perfect? Am I perfect?

    I was always a very idealistic person, if it was not perfect, I was out. I have learned to have a bit more tolerance and acceptance since then. What WW does for me is allow me to focus on eating at least 5 servings of fruit/veg per day. I do drink a little milk, but eat a mostly plant-based diet. It also gives me a place once per week to work on my food issues, then put them away, without dwelling on what is not perfect.

    Do I still judge people who make recipes with diet soda? I AM human, so maybe a little, but I know that we’re all on our own journey. To be honest, my vanity is probably a big part of me wanting to stay here at my goal weight, but the healthy lifestyle I wouldn’t follow otherwise is the sneaky benefit WW has given me.

  35. Jane says:

    Hmmm. I’m sorry, but I don’t understand why you couldn’t eat the way you are now, whilst on weight watchers.
    I’ve learnt to moderate my portions, eat more veg to keep me full longer and avoid eating processed foods on my first month of weight watchers.
    We mostly know that we only kid our selves on what’s going to make us fat, that we can’t over eat or we get fatter and that to lose it we need to eat healthy.
    We can eat what we like but will pay for being greedy with the choc and crops. We are free to read the nutrients on the back of a power bar.
    You can’t blame WW for that. Can you?. We can’t give our power away to an organisation and just sit there being spoon fed and expect results fed to us surely, there’s some need for us as individuals to participate in our own health.
    PS. I wrote this before reading that your gone back to WW.
    What happened to make you go back?

    • Jamina says:

      I believe you are right.
      WW gives you advice on how to lose weight, but you still have to do an effort and try new things.
      I also believe that you shouldn’t starve yourself because you are on a diet. When I eat healthier I’m less hungry than when I eat sweets.

  36. JoAnn Heft says:

    I was on Jenny Craig for about a month and I am a type 2 diabetic. I could not have yogurt or much fruit. I ate their food and was not pleased. I went to weight watchers on it for a week now. I don’t mind counting the points and I find I can have just about anything. I don’t like to cook so I do buy their Smart Ones and their Ice cream. I enjoy and food and my diabetes is in perfect control. If it will continue this way we shall see. I feel I have more energy and I can pick what I want to eat and not be told you have to have these items today.

  37. katie says:

    I joined weight watchers a little over a year ago, and for me the results were miraculous. I’d weighed more than I liked since my third child, and while I was able occasionally to lose some of that unwanted wieght, it always crept back up. But a year ago the scale just started to go up and up and I couldn’t change the pattern on my own. I needed the support, period.
    So now, a year later I am at lifetime status, thrilled with my current weight, and wanting to take the next step. That is, healthy eating and finding a fitness regime that will be sustainable, promote muscle building and aerobic fitness. This year weight watchers switched to yet another system, and it relies on smart phones, tracking activities with a fit bit, etc. Basically I’ve stopped tracking (although writing down what I eat has actually been the most important tool for healthy eating–it encourages me to choose whatever I haven’t yet eaten for the day, whether it’s dairy, protein, veggies, or yes, nuts. Or even fresh whole grain bread. It’s just a tool to be more mindful and intentional, especially when I am busy, stressed or distracted. I just forget what I’ve eaten otherwise. )
    So, I don’t want to go back to where I was before Weight Watchers, but am considering whether it is time to move on, since weight loss isn’t the goal anymore and I agree that the products sold , etc don’t interest me. The point is to stay healthy and get the support one needs. It really helped me to have a group that encouraged healthier eating (REALLY) and focussed on the food. I am eating LOTS more fruits and veggies, have cut back on the baked goods, and eating more protein. I think these are habits encouraged by Weight Watchers, and which I plan to continue.
    However following the points plans stopped being as useful once I reached goal, as I was losing too much weight, and became concerned I might in fact lose muscle. It doesn’t seem to be very useful for maintainers. But I am grateful for the help I got during the weight loss.. I hope I don’t have to go backwards, and that I can find a new support for the future which meets my current needs …

  38. Dawn Martin says:

    Even though this thread is super old I wanted to chime in that I’m on WW for accountability but came back to it with a few thoughts (I did it 10 years ago and gained back all of the weight)
    1. I’m going to track and not go crazy
    2. I’m not going to game the system – that makes no sense to me
    3. I’m going to eat healthy but I’m going to have a cheat day and not starve and if that means not losing weight then fine.

    I’ve been super successful in the last year and I can tell that my leader doesn’t like many of the comments that I make.

    I don’t really count the fats i’m using when I cook my eggs or veggies. I cook with a small amount of oil or butter (1 TBS or less) and I’m still losing weight.
    I will have 2% to full fat dairy products
    I stay away from sugar including manufactured fake ones
    When I find myself not losing I look at what I’m doing and realize i’ve subbed out veggies that week to gorge on chips or something else.

    I’ve found it to be a helpful tool to keep me in check but at the same time I can eat over their “points” almost every single week by quite a bit and still lose weight just by trying to eat healthy.

  39. Alison Maleski says:

    The only time that Weight Watchers worked for me was before they introduced the Point System which goes back how many years? The best program(s) were the older version(s) which was(were)the food exchange diet BP (before points). Those worked best for me because they were balanced and kept me more accountable. The Points make no sense whatsoever for me. I know that I need more structure. I like some flexibility but not too much. I also like a bigger food selection so I can live a little. Too much restriction on food selections creates boredom for me. The newest program, Beyond the Scale and showing you how to eat healthier. Just exactly how do they do that? You’re still counting points. But there is no system in showing you just how to eat healthier and how to go about it. Weight Watchers just no longer works. Was able to get older cookbooks of Weight Watchers that had food exchange program and am following that. And that is what really works for me. Was able to take off 100+ pounds with doing WW food exchange diet and am very content with it.

  40. Kandi F says:

    I did Weight Watchers for about a month and it did work for me. I also used the Dr. Max Powers Burn for about 2 weeks and even my friends have really noticed a difference. I am at that age where weight is really hard to budge. The Max Powers Burn combined with Weight Watchers has made a huge difference. Although I also have a load more energy.

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