Sunday, June 23, 2013

Why I Use Weight Watchers, But Don't Recommend It

Since October 2012, I have been a Weight Watchers online member.  I have never been a meetings member, nor do I have the intention of ever becoming one.  I appreciate the value of support groups and I know that this format works well for some, but it wouldn't work for me.  There is no need for me to add pressure and have a group of people looking at me and decided how much weight I do or don't need to lose.  I put enough pressure on myself.  I just wanted to be able to pay better attention to what I was putting in my body, and the online services are sufficient for that.

I plan to stay on WW until I am at a healthy BMI and then think about whether I would like to continue.  At this point, it is more a matter of me being determined to use the same product for the entire process than a dedication to the actual WW program.  I could probably track my points very easily at this point without paying for the program because I am so familiar with the point system by now, but I continue to pay $18 per month for the ease.

I also feel that paying for WW gives me a sense of obligation to watch what I eat. It isn't horribly expensive, but I don't have wads of cash to just throw around. I feel like I have to actually pay attention to what I eat because otherwise it would be a complete waste of money.

There are a few things that I appreciate about WW. The points plus program encourages people to eat fruits and veggies with every meal, as most are "free."  Using the program reminds that me that I need to be conscious about every single item that I put into my body.  I also like that the activity points last for the entire week, rather than expiring at the end of the day. If I run 3 miles today, I can save those points and eat a bit more tomorrow, if i so choose. I tend to eat only a few of my activity points anyways, because it increases the weight loss, but still.

That said, there are things that I am definitely not fond of with the program:

- WW does not differentiate between good fat and bad fat.  Nuts are higher in points than chips, which makes choosing the healthy snack a bit harder.
- Since the focus is only on points, I could technically choose to eat all of my 26 daily points in Popchips.  There is no real reminder to eat a well-balanced meal, unless you go to the website and read the articles (which I do on occasion, but not very often at all).
- The focus truly is on the number on the scale rather than on making healthy life choices.
- Since some veggies have points (like avocados), I originally found myself sticking to the "free" kinds, which limits the variety of nutrients my body is getting (and can make for a fairly bland diet).
- The activity points calculator has limited options, which makes it seem like all "moderate" exercise burns the same amount of calories.
- Since the point system rounds, you sometimes get more bang for your points by eating more than a serving.  For example, eating 14 chips might be 3 points, but so might eating 19.  It seems silly to eat a smaller amount when it has the same points value, so I end up choosing the larger amount.  Sure, this would be fine if it only happened once daily, but since this is the case with a lot of different foods, I often find myself making a choice to eat more than a serving of something multiple times a day.

I would recommend the program to someone with terrible eating habits who makes no effort whatsoever to pay attention to what they put in their body (like me 8 months ago). However, if you are already a decently health conscious person with a few pounds to lose, I would not recommend WW.  I feel like it could actually make a healthy minded individual make poor choices. You might find yourself swapping nutrition for junk just because it fits into your daily points.

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