Aug 27, 2008

Weight Watchers Week Six: Some Weight Watchers Tips

I'm happy to report that Weight Watchers is really working for me, so I thought it would be a good time to share some details on what I've been doing. Although I offer these tips in relation to Weight Watchers, the general principles are, of course, applicable to any healthy lifestyle.
  • 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.
So those are my tips for succeeding on Weight Watchers. I'd love it if you'd share yours in the comments!

*I just have to mention how that grosses me out. I love shirataki, but can't imagine eating them with a bolognese.


Marcia said...

These are some very good tips. I am a weight watchers devotee - I lost 57 lbs in 2002. Then I used WW to lose the last 20 baby pounds last year (after 2 years of trying it on my own). It's great, and I love the flex plan.

But whether or not to eat all the weekly flex points depends on the person. I lost best when I ate ALL, and I mean ALL of my points. That's dailies, 4-5 AP's per day, and weeklies. And my weight loss went up when I went on maintenance, until I found the right balance. It will depend on muscle mass, level of fitness, age, and activity level. (Sadly, some people can't eat any weeklies...that would be hard for me!)

Anonymous said...

I think you have some great tips, specifically about the exercise. But I don't agree with not eating all of your Flex points. They're there for a reason and should be used. I've been doing weight watchers for a year and two months in hit a point where I wasn't losing. It was because I wasn't eating enough (i.e. my weekly flex points). I started eating them and ended up losing an average of almost 2 pounds per week. Each person is going to be different in how they work in the flex points, but people should really try to work the plan as it was designed - to lose weight WITH the weekly flex points being used.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you are aware, and I might have told you before but and are great resources for a WW girl.

The hardest part for me is drinking all my water so I bought one of those huge gallon H20 things and it seems to help, and I have heard that if you add Benefiber to your foods you can lower the points value by 1.

I also just learned that if you liked soda at all Diet/Caffine free soda counts as one of your waters.


Sharon said...

Great list!
I'm another WW member. (made lifetime in the spring).
I personally need to eat all of my points each week. In fact, most people near their goal weight that I know need to. I'm sure you've already learned that as you lose weight, you lose points, too. When you get to a minimal amount of points, you need them all for your body not to go into starvation mode, as my leader called it. ;)

Probably my biggest tip is menu planning. By planning I stay on program so much better.
I can't imagine only having THREE points for dinner, Truthfully, I save 8-10 points for dinner, then plan the rest of my day accordingly.

If you need any other site suggestions, let me know! ;)

Anonymous said...

dh did WW for men online - it was fabulous for him - he found that saving 8-10 pts for dinner was key (be eating a low point breakfast and reasonable lunch) and then mostly saved flex points for beer and weekends - I am so impressed by how well it has worked and how he has truly learned about which food choices are better for his body. As you said, this is a long term change, not a diet.