Our leader posed a great question during my recent WW meeting:
What advice would you give a friend who just joined Weight Watchers?
Great question, right?
Many great thoughts and ideas were shared....
- Be patient.
- Track everything you eat.
- Use the tools (trackers, guides, etc.)
- It's okay to make mistakes.
- Don't get overwhelmed and try to change everything all at once. Start with small changes that you feel you can be successful with.
- Out of sight, out of mind. Remove your red light or trigger foods. The foods you lose control over.
- Ask for help.
- Go to your meetings. Losing weight takes support.
All great points to keep in mind wherever we are in our weight loss journey.
It reminded me of this post, where behavioral psychology expert, BJ Fogg, shared his advice for people doing Weight Watchers.
In the article, BJ explained that it took him seven months to earn "Lifetime Membership." You become "Lifetime" when you reach your goal weight and stay there six weeks.
His goal was to prove that it's possible to lose weight slowly and steadily without any real pain or deprivation:
Many people have the wrong idea about getting in shape. They believe they must suffer to lose weight or to build fitness. This idea is damaging because the pain approach stops people from continuing (Seriously . . . who wants to endure pain?). And the idea of "no pain, no gain" stops many people from even trying in the first place.
He concluded that the WW Program clearly works and that there's nothing gimmicky about it:
The program is not so much about motivation. The focus is on "how to." You learn a bunch of skills and you change a bunch of habits.
The key, I believe, is to look at Weight Watchers as a long-term change in your life. You will be following this path for the rest of your life. It's not a diet. It's a permanent change in how you eat.
I've made this change, and I don't feel deprived. I've learned to make some yummy food that has replaced food that wasn't so healthy. But that's not all. The program teaches you about portion control, what to do at parties, and on and on. You won't learn it all at once.
I think it's so cool that even a behavior expert found it helpful to use Weight Watchers to support himself in his desire to lose weight. His post went on to provide much useful advice...
Advice to Weight Watchers from Behavioral Psychology Expert, BJ Fogg:
- When you start Weight Watchers, don't overdo it.
- Just change a few things the first week.
- Then change a few more things in your life the next week. And on and on.
- Take a slow and steady step-by-step approach.
- Be persistent and take a long-term view.
My belief is this: "The slower the change, the longer it lasts."
1. Go to weekly meetings/workshops
The weekly meetings/workshops are fascinating. You'll learn a bunch of tips and tricks from others who attend. The meeting leader has a short lesson each week. Participate in the lesson, with questions and comments.
I admire people who come to meetings. They are the ones -- the few -- who are really trying to improve their lives. As I see it, those who go to Weight Watchers are top-notch people. I made some great friends at the meetings.
I couldn't agree more. WW Meetings keep me grounded in reality. I call them 30 minutes of sanity in an insane food world. I've made some great friends too.
2. Learn Points and track
Tracking your food and activity is the hardest part of Weight Watchers. Why? Because it takes persistence. The good news: You don't have to track food for the rest of your life. However, I strongly advise you to learn the system early (in the first few weeks) and to track until you really know how much you should eat each day.
The importance of tracking/journaling, at least in the beginning is undeniable and the #1 rule for Weight Watchers if you want to be successful.
3. Never be hungry -- eat all your points
Each day I can eat 42 points worth of food (plus 0 points veggies and fruits). The obvious idea is to not exceed your points for the day or the week. But for me the real breakthrough idea was this: I should be eating 42 points each day. Eating just 32 is a mistake. In other words, you *should* eat all your points.
You can eat anything you want and not feel guilty.
Want ice cream? That's fine.
Just mind your points.
On days I was hungry and near my point limit, I learned what to do: I would eat veggies, plain yogurt, fruit, more veggies . . . and it worked. The hunger went away, and I felt successful.
I think this is critical to remember and why WW is the only plan I've ever been able to stick to. I can have whatever I want. Nothing is off limits as long as I plan for it. As soon as I tell myself I can't have chocolate or sugar or pizza, it's all I can think about.
4. Just aim to lose a bit of weight each week
It's not impossible to lose two pounds each week on Weight Watchers. But for me, that was too extreme. I didn't want to suffer, because I know that humans will work to avoid suffering. So I took it at my own pace. I learned eventually this meant I would lose about ½ pound a week. That was fine with me.
My goal each week when I weighed in was to just weigh less than the previous week. That's all. Even if it was one ounce less. And when I didn't lose weight, I went back to tracking and careful monitoring of my food. (Note: I didn't step up exercise. But that's the next point)
I would add that it's important to accept that there will be ups and downs and to accept it as part of the journey. Most people's longterm weight loss trackers look more like an ekg report than a ski slope.
5. Do strength training, but don't punish yourself with too much cardio
Surprise: You don't have to exercise to lose weight. In fact, over the last 7 months I've exercised *less* than ever before in my life (I've been busy). But I did a good job of strength work, especially pushups and quads. I did all this mostly at home in short bursts (tiny habits for the win!)
I did cardio maybe once a week. That's all.
From what I can tell, most people think you must do hours of cardio to lose weight. That's a bad idea. It's punishment -- you huff and puff and you sweat. I know people will criticize me for this view, but I say cardio is the wrong place to focus if you want weight loss. Instead, use your time and energy to learn to eat differently. And build strength (pushups eventually get fun). And don't make any of it too painful.
I couldn't agree more, which is why exercise alone is a terrible weight loss strategy. After years of punishing myself with grueling exercise that I could never stick to, I found my happy healthy balance with walks and gentle yoga.
6. Follow directions from WW
The WW program works if you adhere to it. So just follow directions. Do what they suggest except don't buy or eat their food. (Sorry WW Execs, but you already know my view: I think you should get out of the food business completely. Selling food detracts from the real genius of your program.)
I agree. I buy very little WW food. What I love about the plan is that it's not necessary to buy any specific "diet" foods to succeed on the plan. In fact the fewer "diet" foods I buy the better off I am. I feel less deprived somehow. Of course, this is a personal choice.
7. Forgive failures and keep going
You won't learn how to change all of your eating behaviors in a few weeks. You probably have lots of old habits you'll need to replace. Do this little by little. Along the way, you'll make mistakes. But just don't take it too personally. Never feel guilty. Just keep going.
As long as you persist, you'll reach your goal.
Realize that your real goal isn't hitting an ideal weight. Instead, your real goal is to create a new set of eating habits that will benefit you for a lifetime.
I really couldn't have said it better myself. I loved coming across this objective review of Weight Watchers from an expert in the field of behavior change, who is also a Lifetime member. I also loved what he said about admiring people who come to meetings. That they are top notch people who are really trying to improve their lives. Reading this review was like getting a big hug. It made me feel happy and warm all over.
Source: BJ Fogg
More Advice for Weight Watchers from Readers...
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My 28-Day Smart Start Weight Loss eCourse and eBook may be just what you are looking for. Over four weeks, you'll begin establishing habits and routines that you can stick with forever. Customer Testimonials... "Hi Martha - I purchased your 28-Day Smart Start Challenge and I love it!!" I don't know how to thank you." ~ Debra S. "Hi Martha, I bought your Slow Cooker eBook Bundle today... I have been skimming through them and it comes to me just how much work you have put into this and just what a bargain I got!! I want to thank you for all you do and I am excited to begin your 28-Day Smart Start - Day 1 is tomorrow! " "Martha - My biggest a-ha moment was when I joined your 28-Day Smart Start Weight Loss Challenge. It helped me look at life and weight loss realistically! " ~ Cathy "I know you are very busy, but I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your encouraging emails. I am really inspired again to eat healthy and lose some weight. I love your 28-day course and all your recipes, tips and hints. My husband loves everything we have tried so far. A big thank you!! " ~ Sandy M.
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My 28-Day Smart Start Weight Loss eCourse and eBook may be just what you are looking for.
Over four weeks, you'll begin establishing habits and routines that you can stick with forever.You'll lay the groundwork to create a health promoting empowering lifestyle that supports you in being the best version of you without guilt, shame or deprivation.
"Hi Martha - I purchased your 28-Day Smart Start Challenge and I love it!!" I don't know how to thank you." ~ Debra S.
"Hi Martha, I bought your Slow Cooker eBook Bundle today... I have been skimming through them and it comes to me just how much work you have put into this and just what a bargain I got!! I want to thank you for all you do and I am excited to begin your 28-Day Smart Start - Day 1 is tomorrow! "
"Martha - My biggest a-ha moment was when I joined your 28-Day Smart Start Weight Loss Challenge. It helped me look at life and weight loss realistically! " ~ Cathy
"I know you are very busy, but I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your encouraging emails. I am really inspired again to eat healthy and lose some weight. I love your 28-day course and all your recipes, tips and hints. My husband loves everything we have tried so far. A big thank you!! " ~ Sandy M.
Martha is the founder and main content writer for Simple-Nourished-Living.
A longtime lifetime WW at goal, she is committed to balancing her love of food and desire to stay slim while savoring life and helping others do the same.
She is the author of the Smart Start 28-Day Weight Loss Challenge.
A huge fan of the slow cooker and confessed cookbook addict, when she's not experimenting in the kitchen, you're likely to find Martha on her yoga mat.
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Updated with new text and photos 1/2023
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Great article! 7 months to lifetime is very quick. I've been 3 years and I haven't gotten there yet. 10 pounds to go. The time is really irrelevant since this is a healthy lifestyle and that much won't change even at lifetime.
Hi Rhonda, Thanks and congratulations on being so close to goal! You are right, it doesn't really matter how long it takes or even if you get there. What's important is finding a healthy lifestyle that works for you.
Can Weight Watchers help someone who has type 2 diabete
Hi Patsi, yes absolutely, Weight Watchers can help folks with type 2 diabetes!
I found that if I looked at my weight loss on a monthly basis vs. week to week, I always had a loss. I would have a large loss one month and a more moderate one the next month. I was able to lose 47 lbs and have kept it off for more than a year. I have NEVER been able to do maintenance..... Planning what I am going to eat and eating anything that I want while tracking points has been the major difference this time.
I am learning a lot this time around. My advice is to just keep going even when it's one step forward, two steps back. My progress has also been an average of 1/2 pound a week. I am a type 2 diabetic and my blood sugar is under awesome control on weight watchers.
This is advice from my first WW leader Judy. "If you kinda of do it, it kinda works....If you really do it, it really works". She said this 8 yrs ago, I will soon be a 8 yr lifetime member, I have weighed it at goal every month of those years.
Hi Sheila, thanks for sharing such great words of wisdom and congratulations on your 8 years of successful lifetime! That's terrific 🙂
Is there a place on your site where you have recipes for three or less?
Track, drink water, eat all of your points don't beat yourself up if you make a mistake and go to the meetings. I have lost 61 pounds and feel fantastic and look great too. Still wanting to lose another 10#.
Hi, I am peri-menopausal and can't seem to lose weight to save my life! I'm 51, and if I could lose 10 pounds I could wear everything in my closet. But my belly just will not flatten! If I joined Weight Watchers and followed the program, would it work against the hormones? My doctor said that's what I'm fighting now.
Gail L Bienstock
I'm most successful when I break my goals down into very small steps, calendar steps and have a plan for celebrating success as well as for losing the weight. As in any project, the goals and calendar are there as a form of accountability, not as a mandate. When things come up I change the goal rather than beating on myself as I've done so often.
This is advice from Reader Donna Marie Hayes...
Not sure if i am writing this in the correct spot. If I were to give advice to a New WW I would tell them to question someone that is doing well on the program. get their tips and ideas on products to purchase. My words of wisdom would be to not be afraid to speak up. Remember, it is the squeaky wheel that gets greased. Ask questions, eat all your points and exercise as much as you are able. best of luck with this wonderful program. I truly love it. Donna Marie
Jeannie M Bush
Advice to new WW: Change the verbiage . . . instead of saying "I am ON Weight Watchers, say I AM a Weight Watcher." Saying I am ON means I can go OFF. This is a change I am making for the rest of my life. Inaddition, except for extreme athletes, no amount of exercise will make up for what I put in my mouth; hence, track, track, track. Don't deprive yourself. Long term deprivation leads to anger. Have wine, chocolate, or whatever your pleasure is, but watch the potion. This is for the long haul. Enjoy life and the food you love. A slow loss is better than a quick loss and regain!
How do you get 42pts. If you go free style you get 23 and 35extra for the week.
Hi Louise, the number of points is dependent on your age, height, weight, gender and activity level. Hope this helps. ~Martha
Track before you eat it. For example, we had ribs, potato salad, and a green salad for dinner this evening. I cut back on the potato salad to 1/3 cup and salad dressing to 1 tablespoon from 2 (or I could have used a lower point dressing) to be within my daily points. I would have been over if I had tracked after eating.
Good article! I lost almost 200 pounds over a period of years and have kept it off for over two years! I did it myself as I refused the idea of surgery after my poor health landed me in the hospital twice! I started on my own and after 50-60 pounds found a free online group to check in to Dailey with others doing the same. I learned a lot from many people! BUT the ONE thing that was a key for me was that this is not a diet, it must be a lifestyle! There is no end, just constant movement to health, changing bad habits, gathering information to continually improve and change in a positive direction! I stopped blood pressure medicine, all my medications for diabetes and no longer have severe breathing problems that required me to be on oxygen 24/7! I am an older adult and it took me this long to realize it's a lifestyle you need for the rest of your life...not go on and back to eating another way! I hope this has helps someone else to make the change and see things differently!Oh,I still keep a food journal as it keeps thing clear in my mind and I find it helpful! I also weigh no more than monthly! I focus on how I feel and look!
Hi Mary, Congratulations on your 200 pound weight loss! Would love for you to share the details of your success with us here: https://simple-nourished-living.com/submit-your-weight-loss-success-story/ Thanks~ ~Martha
Because so many of us are desperate when we finally show up, there's one critical piece we don't talk about nearly enough. We need to practce seeing ourslves succeeding, imagine ourselves on an obstacle course where we get slowed down or even briefly stymied by one of those obstacles, but finish the course triumphant. In short, we need to move beyond seeing (and believing) ourselves as healthy weight failures.
Betty Ann Lee
Stick with it, it works!