- Earn activity points. If I could share only one tip, it would be to exercise. With Weight Watchers, you earn "activity points," which means you can eat that much more on the days you exercise. I love it, because on days when I work out long and hard, I can easily earn an extra four to six points, enough for a whole extra meal.
- Think long term. It's nice to see that Weight Watchers' "it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle" motto is more than just lip service. At my last meeting, one of the women, A., mentioned that she leaves herself about three points for dinner, and ends up having tomato sauce with shirataki noodles.* Our leader, W., asked if A. could keep that up in the long run, to which A. replied that she figured it would be different once she was in maintenance. W. was obviously perturbed, and emphasized that the maintenance phase isn't that different from the losing phase. She impressed upon us that now is the time to cultivate a lifestyle that we can live with forever. It made a lot of sense to me, since I am in this for the long haul - this will be the last "diet" I'm ever on. I have no intention of gaining any of the weight back and every intention of keeping it off forever. I have visions of taking "active" vacations when the boys are old enough, and watching the men's marathon at the Olympics has even got me thinking, "I think I can do that!" (Although it would take me a heck of a lot longer than two hours to run 26.2 miles.)
- Allow for "failure." Weight Watchers' Flex Plan comes with a daily points allowance and a weekly points allowance. I always eat all of my daily points, because I don't want to send my body into starvation mode, and in fact, I usually eat more than that, since I almost always earn at least some activity points. But I save my weekly points for those "moments of weakness" - like when the kids are throwing extra-vigorous tantrums, my blood pressure is soaring, and those cookies on the counter look particularly tempting. Or when I have a PMS-induced craving for chocolate cake. I know these moments are going to happen each week, and by saving my weekly points for them, I can indulge without any guilt.
- Prepare for the unexpected. This goes along with the previous tip and saving weekly points. There have been a couple of times when I didn't really have an ideal low-point option, and had to settle for a food that contained more points than I had planned for. But again, I didn't stress about it too much because I knew I had room in my "points budget" because I hadn't eaten my weekly points yet.
- Don't eat all of your weekly points. Even though I save my weekly points for unexpected temptations, I have never eaten all of them. Not only will I lose weight faster because I'm taking in fewer calories, it also helps make up for any underestimating I may have done with my tracking during the week. Maybe there was a day when I actually ate 26 points but only tracked 24 because I underestimated a portion or forgot about the bite I took off of one of the kids' plates.
- Have a contingency plan. I keep a few favorite low-point foods around for unplanned moments. For instance, on Saturday, Alex wanted hot dogs. I'm not crazy about hot dogs, though, and I didn't want to waste points on them. So I made hot dogs for the rest of the family and pulled a four-point frozen Smart Ones dinner out of the freezer for myself. I like to keep a few of these on hand at all times just for such occasions, and I've found that my meeting leader has booklets containing coupons for Weight Watchers products so I can easily combine sales and coupons. Other foods I like to keep on hand are Special K cereal, rice cakes, and Laughing Cow Light cheese.
*I just have to mention how that grosses me out. I love shirataki, but can't imagine eating them with a bolognese.