My take on the Weight Watchers Diet ...

ON THE POSITIVE SIDE:



1. Support is the Weight Watchers Diet 's greatest strength...

Having worked as a one-to-one coach for hundreds of dieters, I can safely say that support and coaching is THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT factor in whether you will lose weight and keep it off or not.

You will get good support at Weight Watchers meetings. There are certainly parts of the Weight Watchers' program that I disagree with, but weekly contact with a mentor is something I absolutely endorse.

Finding the right Weight Watchers leader is a key factor in whether you enjoy and get much from the classes. It may take you a couple of goes, but if you feel that you're comfortable using one of the Weight Watchers Diet programs, then it's worth spending time to find the right class leader for you, if you don't click with the first leader you come into contact with.

Age and attitude are probably two good pointers you can start with. If you find someone you can really bond with, they're usually a bit like you, so ask the Weight Watchers' area offices for information about who's leading each class to search for a good match.

Of course there's nothing wrong with deciding after a couple of sessions that you don't get on with the leader and move to another Weight Watchers meeting - it's certainly better to do this and keep your weight loss campaign going by joining another group, rather than get discouraged by a bad rapport with your first leader.


2. Do the Points work?
I've coached and come into contact with literally hundreds of former Weight Watchers' clients and I'd say there's about a 50/50 split on the points system - about half find the points system straightforward and useful. The other half can't get to grips with them, so don't benefit from the fundamentals behind them.

You should certainly expect a learning curve at the beginning of the program, your goal is to be able to look at a food on a supermarket shelf and know how many points are in a portion and how big a standard portion of that food is going to be.

Expect to use your kitchen scales A LOT at the beginning if you like cooking for yourself. To get the points correct, you really have to weigh and measure everything carefully. Some people love to be precise with their cooking, others don't. If you're not this detail-focused, I'd suggest a different program - there are plenty.

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ON THE NEGATIVE SIDE:


3. The points don't reward increased protein intake...

The Weight Watchers Diet points you have for a day can be spent however you like - nowhere is this more important, nutritionally, in my opinion than in the question of whether to choose higher protein foods in place of refined carbs which are just waiting to turn into fat the moment they enter your digestive system. The points system doesn't take this into account.

One of the absolute sure-things of modern nutritional research is that your metabolism is directly in proportion to the amount of firm muscle tissue you have in your body (...to read more about this click here ). Since muscle can only be made out of protein, not carbohydrate, you are way better off to spend your Weight Watchers Diet points allowance on protein foods like lean meat, fish and protein shakes rather than starchy carbohydrate foods like bread, potatoes, pasta and rice.

Choosing what to eat more consistently is like standing at a fork in the road. Choosing to increase healthy protein intake (especially when combined with exercise) gives you a chance of "fixing" your metabolism and becoming a fat burning machine, so that any weight you lose stays gone. If you choose to spend your points on starchy carbs like bread, pasta and potatoes, you will remain "addicted to high blood sugar rushes" (which follow quickly after carbohydrate rich meals) and your body will remain a fat storing machine, instead of becoming a fat burner.

Thankfully this is a flaw in the Weight Watchers Diet that you can solve. >4. Exercise is rewarded by giving you more opportunity to eat... You're going to have to stick with me on this one, because at first glance the reward system in the Weight Watchers Diet (which gives you extra points for the exercise that you do) seems like a good idea.

My problem with it is that you are not breaking the psychological association of food with rewards or treats. When I call them on weekly follow up calls, what I hear all the time from clients who have come to me after failing with the Weight Watchers Diet is that they felt really pleased with themselves for going for a walk or a bike ride or a swim, and so they had a sweet "treat".

Eating "treats" is their form of celebration.

This is dangerous, because until you find another way to celebrate an achievement you will continue to eat "treats", even when you're celebrating things totally unrelated to exercise.

Where do you go when you performed well at work?

Where do you celebrate a triumph in your personal life?

Treating ourselves with food is so entrenched in our lives, that you may well have trouble accepting my suggestion that exercise should not be rewarded with extra food.

But if there's one pattern I've seen consistently in the 1000s of people I've discussed weight problems with since 2003, it's this - people who don't struggle with their weight don't view food as a reward. People who are always overweight do.

5. The culture of the Weight Watchers Diet meetings is one of judgement: good vs. bad
A UK advertising campaign from the 1990s for cream cakes coined the phrase "naughty but nice" which sums up exactly the point I'm trying to make here. Whilst a cream cake might taste nice it's branded as "naughty" and so becomes the forbidden fruit, that everyone actually wants more.

Well I can tell you once and for all that food is neither naughty or nice, good or bad.

It's just food, and it doesn't care what you think about it. The Weight Watchers Diet seems to me to engender a judgement of oneself that is contrary to how permanently slim people think. They don't view food as good or bad, nor do they use it as a reward. I firmly believe you've got to work on caring less about food - taking the emotion out of it, if you like, if you're going to become slim and stay that way.

I've even heard stories on more than one occasion that successful and large weight losers have been victimized by the other members of a Weight Watchers Diet group. This sort of bitching is inevitable to some extent in any group environment and I'm sure each Weight Watchers leader works hard to prevent it from happening. However, it doesn't take many jealous comments to turn the environment around from being supportive to one where participants are concerned about always being top of the class or branded a "teacher's pet".

The only way around this is to be 110% sure of your motivation for wanting to lose weight ( click here for tips on discovering your WHY ). Better still to get your support on a one-to-one basis by working with a personal one-to-one weight coach. This service is offered by some programs.





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