Weight Watchers Didn't Work For Me
by Marion Hermannsen
(Listowel, Co. Kerry, Ireland)
I tried Weight Watchers several times and never really had great results with it. I need to lose about 70lbs and WW seemed to have the answer when I first tried them back in the 90s.
They used a traffic light system (red, yellow and green) which was supposed to teach us about proper portion control and being able to swap one green food for another, for example.
I lost about 30lbs but after a few months, got very bored with constantly having to watch my food. The minute I stopped eating according to the plan, the weight crept back on.
I left it for a few years until I couldn't bear being fat anymore. So back I went to WW who had changed their system to counting points. This I found even worse. I would slip into snacking rubbish because the points allowed me to, but then felt hungry for the rest of the day when all my points were used up.
I found it impossible to include meals out - everything tended to throw me off the plan. Once off, it would take me weeks to get back on again. I also started to get obsessed with counting points and exercised excessively to be able to eat a bit more. Not healthy at all.
My final encounter with WW was in 2007 when I rejoined in Ireland. The cost for the group was totally excessive, about 30% more expensive than in the UK. I only stayed for a few months when I felt myself falling into the same pattern again: being "good" and sticking with it while losing weight, then rebelling against the strict regime (my weight loss then stalled) and eventually regaining all the lost weight.
To summarize my experience: on the plus
side, the group environment was very inspiring. I enjoyed the group talk and encouragement I received from members. WW aims to teach its members about portion control and nutritional requirements.
They support their members' efforts with lovely printed brochures to be put into nicely produced folders. There are all kind of gadgets to purchase, such as WW scales that automatically calculate points in food, WW pedometers that convert steps into points earned etc etc.
On the negative side, I found that the constant point counting made me totally obsessive about food. I was either "on the diet" or "off the diet". This attitude is perpetuated by becoming a "life member", therefore suggesting that we always need to follow the path of WeightWatchers (shudder).
One major reason for me to leave WW was the fact that there was no discussion or engagement with current nutritional facts.
For example, we were encouraged to replace fizzy drinks with diet versions. It is now well established that using artificial sweeteners causes sugar cravings because of chemical reactions in the brain, not to mention the damage acidy drinks like Diet Coke cause to the body. Not exactly what you want when trying to lose weight!
WW also encourages the consumption of low-fat products when in fact the fat is replaced with excessive amounts of carbohydrates instead. So low-fat desserts very often are overly sweet and thickened with starch which is then converted as excessive calories to body fat. Well known yet ignored by Weight Watchers.
Personally, I have now lost most of my excess fat through a combination of better food choices, portion control and exercise. Took me ages, but then I didn't get fat overnight!
And while Weight Watchers may suit some people, it caused me more problems than it solved.