Weight Watchers was founded by Jean Nidetch in the early 1960's. In the beginning it was just a group of friends getting together every week to discuss how to lose weight. Since then it has grown considerably and now over 3.4 million people (as of 2018) are currently subscribed and actively using the weight loss system from all over the world.
Weight Watchers helps people lose weight by providing information, tools and motivation. This popular program is not just about losing weight though, it is also about keeping the weight off. This requires positive behavioral changes in your life which Weight Watcher meetings and their online content and tools provide. Weight Watchers OnlinePlus is ideal for people who cannot attend meetings. Here you will learn how to lose weight with the WW Freestyle Program, and you'll be able to use their state-of-the-art online and mobile tools that help you achieve your goals.
The weight loss system at Weight Watchers is called Freestyle and is developed by a scientific advisory board. This board is made up of a number of credentialed scientists with research experience and knowledge in weight management. The Freestyle program uses SmartPoints and FitPoints. It is designed for a safe rate of weight loss which is up to two pounds per week after the first three weeks. Weight Watchers takes a holistic lifestyle approach to losing weight championing a healthy diet and exercise routines for long-term health.
WW Freestyle Program
The original Points program was launched in 1997 and PointsPlus in 2010 (with ActivePoints a few years later). Since then the research Weight Watchers has done into weight loss has greatly enhanced their understanding on how the whole process of losing weight works. The SmartPoint system was launched in 2015 and updated late in 2017 and is now called the WW Freestyle Program. It takes into account this ongoing research. For example, every calorie is not considered the same. The food source the calorie came from is also important (protein, carbohydrates, fats, etc.). You wouldn't consider the same calorie serving of carrots equal to the same calorie serving of chocolate would you? How it works is every food and drink is assigned a point value and every person is assigned a daily SmartPoints budget which is based on their gender, age, height, and weight. SmartPoints is calculated using calories (kilojoules), saturated fat, sugar and protein. No food is off-limits, but the plan assigns higher points values to foods higher in sugar or saturated fat, and lower points values to lean proteins. Most fruits and vegetables are zero points so there is no need to track these. In fact the new Freestyle program has added to the list of zero points food. These include skinless chicken breast, fish, eggs, bean, corn, and others. You can also now roll over up to 4 unused SmartPoints each day and have them to use later for a special occasion, restaurant meal, etc.
Once you sign up for Weight Watchers you will be asked to complete your online personal assessment. One of the objectives of this assessment is to determine your SmartPoints budget. It is calculated to ensure you lose weight safely. Your SmartPoints budget will change over time as you loose weight so it is important to track your daily SmartPoints number and to record your weight weekly. To track your points you can log into the Weight Watchers website and visit the "My Day" page and enter the food name in the "Track Food or Activities" field along with the portion size. This tracking can also be done via the Weight Watchers phone app. The phone app also allows you to scan food barcodes to make tracking even faster.
Overall this system is designed for you to meet your weight goals (based on your height and weight) as easily and safely as possible. This involves learning which foods to choose, the correct portions you should eat and how much you will need to exercise.
FitPoints is a way of measuring activity and "goes beyond the scale". When you join Weight Watchers and fill in your online personal assessment, you will also get a FitPoints goal to aim for each week. To reach this goal you will earn FitPoints for all of the activities you do.
Your FitPoints goal is bases on your current weight and how active you are. FitPoints takes your weight, activities, intensity and duration into account. You can earn FitPoints toward your weekly goal with most activities including walking, cleaning, dancing, and about anything else you can think of.
FitPoints goals do change overtime. Every 2 weeks you are prompted to revise your goal. If you are hitting your target it may ask you to increase your goal, or down a bit if your are not. Also your FitPoints goal can be adjusted manually anytime by visiting the online settings.
To track FitPoints you can use an activity tracker like a FitBit. All you need to do is synchronize the device with your Weight Watchers account and the app or website will automatically take care of the rest. If you don't have an activity tracker you can use a health app on your phone with a pedometer (iPhone or Android) to track your daily steps. You would then enter your daily steps into the Weight Watchers My Day tracker found on the website or app. For any additional activities like yoga or swimming you would enter them in manually. For those who don't have a FitBit or compatible phone it is recommend to enter a baseline of 3000 steps each day into the Weight Watchers My Day activity tracker.
You can swap FitPoints for food, but it is not usually recommended since moving shouldn't be an excuse to eat more. However if you are training for a marathon or some other intense activity several times a week, you can swap FitPoints for food.
Weight Watchers OnlinePlus
With OnlinePlus you get a number of interactive tools that allow you to learn how to lose weight with the SmartPoints Weight-Loss System, keep track of your goals, and monitor your daily food intake and exercise. This can be done online with your laptop or, on your mobile phone (Android and iPhone supported).
- Personalize your goals
- Track your SmartPoints budget and FitPoints (includes syncing with fitness trackers)
- Track your weight-loss progress each week with graphs and charts
- Hundreds of recipes and meal ideas (make your own recipes even healthier)
- Workout and exercise demonstrations (for beginners and advance)
- Answers to common problems and challenges people have when losing weight
- Access to the Weight Watchers online community
How it Works
- Visit the Weight Watchers website to subscribe and create your account.
- Take the Beyond the Scale personal assessment which gathers information about your lifestyle, goals and challenges. This information is used to determine your SmartPoints budget and FitPoints goal.
- Schedule Your Free Getting Started Call. All new members get one (even if you’ve joined before). On the call you will talk to a trained coach who will explain the program and answer any questions you have.
- Find some SmartPoints plan friendly meals that work for your lifestyle. Weight Watchers has many menus and recipes to help get you started (breakfast, lunch and dinner). There are recipes for everyone, from carb lovers to gluten-free foodies.
- Tracking your meals and activities. The Weight Watchers app and website will give you SmartPoint values for everything you eat.
Weight Watchers Meetings
Weight Watchers meetings offer a supportive environment. One of the first things you will do at your first meeting is be introduced to your Leader. A Leader is someone who started out as a member who has lost weight and has also kept off the weight through the Weight Watchers program. The Leaders are trained in the program and are there to guide members by offering their experiences and expertise. At each meeting the Leader will discuss different topics related to weight loss. This can range from meal ideas to what triggers bad eating habits. These discussions offer support and guidance and for those who want to, they can join in as well and talk about what works for them.
At the Weight Watchers website it is easy to find a meeting that is convenient and located near you. All you need to do is enter your Zip Code to bring up a map which shows all the meeting locations within the vicinity. Along with the meeting locations a weekly schedule is also displayed for each location showing when meetings take place. Meetings are run in the mornings, afternoons and evenings. Once you have found a location and time that fits your schedule you can then go ahead and signup online. Guidebooks and printed materials are included with Weight Watcher meetings.
When attending meetings new and existing members are asked to arrive 30 minutes early for registration and so you can be weighted privately and in confidence. New members will also be asked to stay for about 30 minutes after their first meeting so leaders can go over the SmartPoints program and how to best get started. Weight Watcher Meetings also includes OnlinePlus.
Weight Watchers Coaching
With Weight Watchers Personal Coaching you get a dedicated coach that you choose. The Weight Watchers-certified personal coaches are all successful Weight Watchers participants who have lost weight, and have maintained their new weight. Once you subscribed you can go through the coaches profiles and find one you relate too. The coach profiles includes information about the coaches lives including a picture, their gender, age, if they have a family, and how much weight they have lost.
Once you pick a coach you then schedule your first phone call (lasts about 30 minutes). On this call the coach will review with you how everything works and answer any questions you may have. You will also discuss any challenges you are facing. Finally the coach will help you create an action plan for the first week. With Weight Watchers Coaching you get unlimited 1-to-1 phone sessions which includes phone calls and texting. In future calls you will continue to refine and personalize your action plan and start including fitness routines. Overall coaches work with members to develop individual goals and strategies that match the member’s lifestyle. They offer motivation and tips on how to succeed with Weight Watchers.
Weight Watcher Personal Coaching also includes OnlinePlus. Coaching is not available in all countries.
Weight Watchers is subscription based and has several types of plans for you to choose from. Multi month plans will save you over the regular standard monthly plan. Subscriptions will be automatically renewed at the end of your plan period at the standard monthly rate until you cancel.
With Weight Watchers Meetings you can check out your first meeting for free (does not include program materials). They are only available in participating areas and prices may differ depending on location. You can choose from either a subscription based model or pay as you go (prices not shown).
|Plans||Includes||Subscription Lengths & Costs|
|OnlinePlus||Digital tracking tools and reports, recipes, and access to the online community.|| |
|Meetings||Face to face support with fellow members and OnlinePlus.|| |
|Coaching||Personal Coaching over the phone and OnlinePlus.|| |
* Prices based on a monthly subscription. Prices can increase/decrease depending on subscription length and/or location. All prices in USD unless specified other wise. Costs and features offered last checked January 02, 2018.
Currently the $20 starter fee included on all plans and subscription lengths is being waived. There is a $50 cancellation fee if you cancel anytime with the 12 month and 6 month plan periods.
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