How to Succeed on Weight Watchers
I’m not usually into writing how-tos but in the past month, I’ve lost 10 pounds while being a part of Weight Watchers online. This is just my take on what it takes to succeed on Weight Watchers.
1. Stay within your daily points as best as you can. It’s OK if you go one or two over and fall back on your weekly points—that’s what they’re there for. But do your best not to blow all your daily points in one shot. (My first week on Weight Watchers I blew through my daily and weekly points in one shot!)
2. Plan ahead. Before going out to a restaurant or while at a restaurant, look up the PointsPlus value of the dish. Often it will be well over 15 points. Try to eat half of the dish and save the rest for later. If you can’t find the exact dish in the Weight Watchers database, find a similar dish or guesstimate the PointsPlus value. (Here’s a tip: When guesstimating points, always overestimate. You probably eat more than you think you do. You do yourself no favors by underestimating a massive double cheeseburger laden with bacon as 10 points.)
3. Exercise. There’s no easy way around this. To give yourself the best chance to succeed on Weight Watchers, you must exercise regularly. This helps give you activity points and accelerates your weight loss. I exercise twice a week for at least 30 minutes. (I try to do more along the lines of 45-60 minutes per session.)
4. Eat salad for at least one meal a day. Whether it’s lunch or dinner, make sure that you have some greens for one meal. It may have protein or a small amount of carbs (like croutons), but it’s got to be primarily greens or vegetables and fruit that are considered 0 points, such as mushrooms, onions, peppers, strawberries, or Mandarin oranges.
5. Snack on foods that are 3 points or less. Bonus points if you can eat things that are 0 points. I’m allergic to apples and pears so I keep 100-calorie snack packs around. Those tend to be around 3 points. They are carbs, but if I wash them down with a bottle of water, I’m usually satisfied for a while.
6. Drink plenty of water during meals. Water can be surprisingly filling.
7. Use Weight Watchers in conjunction with a free health and fitness site like MyFitnessPal.com. MyFitnessPal has a wide database that is even more extensive than Weight Watchers online. I’ve found that also calorie-counting in addition to tracking points gives me a better view of how I’m eating. Sparkpeople.com and Loseit.com are great too.
8. Be vigilant about tracking everything. That scoop of ice cream is probably 4 points. Your coffee with milk and sugar is likely to be anywhere from 3 to 5 points. The cheese on your salad? 2 points. The dressing? (Yes, even the dressing.) 1 point (or more depending on how much you use). I’m not always good about this rule myself (See? I’m not perfect!), but this really goes back to that tip of overestimating rather than underestimating points. If it goes into your stomach, make sure to log it.
9. Eat meals like Smart Ones, Lean Cuisine, or Healthy Choice to give yourself an accurate version of portion size. You’ll eat and think to yourself, “Gee, that wasn’t very filling.” And that’s the point. That’s how much you should be eating. Supplement these meals with a healthy snack, such as a banana or carrots. Or eat a small salad beforehand to help fill yourself up.
10. Weigh yourself weekly before eating or drinking anything. Not daily. Weekly. You could go crazy during the week as the scale teeters up and down. And make sure that you weigh yourself first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything. One, it’s a more accurate result, and two, the number on the scale is likely to make you feel better psychologically than if you weighed yourself after a heavy dinner that included carbs.
11. Get an accountability partner. Weight Watchers online has community forums for users to participate in to get group support. My husband and I are doing Weight Watchers online together and we hold each other accountable.
12. Utilize the Weight Watchers tools that are available to you. I’m doing the online version so I use the mobile app and online program to track my meals daily. There are also online recipes and success stories to inspire and motivate users. (Note: You can’t access the mobile or online features if you do not have a subscription.)
13. Use measuring cups and/or a food scale to help you gauge the amount of food you’re eating. Thus, you’ll have an accurate reading of what you’re eating and what the correct serving size is for each product.
Succeeding on Weight Watchers takes discipline, strength, and willpower. (LOTS of willpower.) Is it true that you can eat anything you want? Yes, but within moderation. You can’t eat everything you want on the same day or even in the same week. Is it true that you may feel deprived? Yes, you may have to pass up that delicious cheeseburger for dinner if you had a large portion of lasagna for lunch. Don’t be fooled: Weight Watchers is a diet plan, and with all diet plans come benefits and drawbacks. But the above tips are what have worked for me so far. Feel free to add tips of your own in the comments below.