Weight Watchers was founded in 1963 by Brooklyn homemaker Jean Nidetch. Today, it operates in nearly 30 countries and is one of the most successful weight loss companies in the world.
Why is it so successful? There are many reasons but primarily it’s a plan which takes all the worry, fuss and obsessing out of dieting. People who use Weight Watchers can choose from a variety of foods and eat the things they like (in moderation of course).
It is practical for the busy person and works well in everyday life. It is not a fad diet in which you must refrain from certain types of foods, fast or do anything else that is extreme and unlikely to succeed.
When I started Weight Watchers in 2003, I was desperate to lose 15 pounds that had stuck around for about 4 years. I was in my early 40’s and finding that weight was almost impossible to remove no matter what I did.
I had tried every diet except Weight Watchers; in fact, I kind of avoided turning to Weight Watchers because I knew I had to possibly change my lifestyle of eating healthier, etc. I just didn’t want to let go of junk food, comfort food, and overindulgence.
Normally, these small transgressions of gluttony melted away with a week or two of exercise. Now I had to admit I was aging and youth was no longer on my side when dieting.
Weight Watchers Points System
However, what I discovered (even within the first week) was that I was overeating at a tremendous level. The first thing I learned by using Weight Watchers Points System was that I had to record in a food diary how much and how often I was eating.
I could no longer pretend that a few peppermints didn’t count. They did. After a week of recording my food intake I found that while I really didn’t think I was big eater, I was indeed. I would put 3 creamers and 2 sugar-free packets in my six cups of coffees a day.
My total number of points for the condiments were almost 6 and that was too many considering my daily allotment was only 20. Suddenly I started to look at the enemies lurking everywhere: the candy I consumed at work on co-worker’s desks, vending machines, a handful of chips when I felt my blood sugar dropping, etc.
My starting weight was 152 so according to the material provided by Weight Watchers, I was allowed 20 points a day with an additional 35 “flex” points a week. Flex points were for those days where I just needed more food, or a party was coming up and I wanted to “let go”.
I could use five points a day (for a total of 25) or I could use the 35 in one day. There was no set restriction on how or when I used those 35 points; the only limitation was that I could not surpass 35 in a week. Mentally, just knowing I had these extra points took some pressure off me as well.
In addition to the many helpful materials I was provided by joining Weight Watchers and the weekly support meetings, I was also provided with a neat little “slide rule” gadget that helped me calculate the number of points I could deduct from my daily intake by exercising.
By looking at intensity level, number of minutes of exercise and my body weight I was able to slide a card inside another outside card and line the numbers up. What resulted is how many points of value I could deduct from my daily intake of food.
For example, if I walked 3 miles in 45 minutes at a moderate intensity level, I could deduct 2 points from my daily points. Thus, if I ate 22 points worth of food, but exercised as just stated, my daily number of points was 20. This additional tool also removed the pressure of following a strict regimen and guidelines. It also makes the Weight Watchers Points System an even more practical method of losing weight.
I did not lose 15 pounds as I had set out to. After two months, I lost eight pounds and allowed a few events in my life to “rule out” following Weight Watchers, i.e., vacation, graduation for daughter, several big parties, etc.
The bottom line though was that the Weight Watchers Points Program worked and it was worth it! In being forced to look at my level of food intake and recording the intake, I became so much more aware of what I was actually putting into my body.
I learned through this program to find foods I could consume a lot of but not add too many points. I learned that I was eating when I wasn’t hungry and by saving points, I could still indulge from time to time.
Now it’s six years later and I have found that in the past few years when I need to lose weight, the first (and the only) diet program that comes to mind is Weight Watchers. That’s because it works.