Right after Thanksgiving, as an incentive to stick with our programs, Weight Watchers rolled out their new Points Plus program. The idea was, apparently, that we would be so jazzed by the changes, and so busy learning the new points values, that we would easily make it through the holiday “eating” season. And — at least for me — it’s working.
First, the Points Plus program retains many of the best aspects of all the programs that preceded it: flexibility; guides to ethnic foods and restaurant dining; a huge database with the points values of all kinds of foods and beverages; meetings all over the country (and some other parts of the world); and tools to get you through the difficult parts of your journey.
Second, there is no forbidden food on this program. Yes, some choices are wiser than others, but Weight Watchers has always acknowledged that there are times when it is more appropriate to eat, say a small slice of wedding cake, than to sit there feeling deprived.
Third, the new points formula is based on how food’s nutrients work in combination in the body, so instead of just counting calories, fat, and fiber, they now note the values for protein, fat, fiber, and carbohydrates. Making wise choices according to this calculation has, in my experience, left me feeling more satisfied and less hungry.
Fourth, there is still an emphasis on using the tools (which are drawn from behavior modification), as opposed to buying branded foods (although those are, without doubt, available). This has been the biggest part of my progress, enabling me to reframe being on a long plateau, and to survive a period of going off program with minimal damage, and no self-loathing which, in turn, enabled me to get back on program relatively easily.
As always, Weight Watchers presents its new program as a lifestyle rather than a diet. In my experience, this is one of the major advantages. Too many of us go on a diet, lose the weight, and go right back to eating the way we did before, and are then surprised when we gain back the weight.
The changes we make on Weight Watchers are for life. Yes, the first four times I did the program, I didn’t accept that, and I gained back the weight. This time around, I do accept that this is a program for the rest of my life, and that it is highly sustainable. I have made changes to my eating habits, and my living habits, that support my weight loss, and will continue to support me in maintaining it once I hit goal.
The new program has some things to learn, of course. As always, Weight Watchers does try to make that process as painless as possible. They have several options for their new membership kits, one of which includes a free points calculator that you can take to the supermarket with you to determine the points value of various packaged goods. There are the two basic books, one of which is your standard food database, the other of which is your dining out guide. You can track in a tracker (provided weekly for free); buy a three-month journal to track in; use a notebook from any stationery shop; or track on the computer, an iPhone, or a Blackberry.
The website and mobile applications allow you to easily track your activity (and the resulting points) and your healthy guidelines. They also give you access to articles, forums, testimonials, and challenges designed to help you make wiser choices and support your journey.
I heartily support the new Points Plus system, and I believe that if you give it a fair trial, you will, too.