I thought I'd share my thoughts on WeightWatchers. After all, one of the most popular New Year's resolutions is to lose those pounds that have crept on over Christmas. This year, I'm pleased to report that I have ended up back at goal - as I gained about three lbs over Christmas. I know that I can get that back off again easily because I'll just go back to the Weightwatchers plan. Regular readers will know that I lost 30.5lbs in 2013 by following it.
So what is it?
It is something that can be followed in a variety of ways - either through tracking online and being a message board user or through attending meetings. The assertion is that those that attend meetings are much more likely to be successful - with the motivation of the weekly touchpoint with a trained member of the WeightWatchers team and hearing the successes of others around you. I've also experienced a lot of commiseration with those who are struggling.
The leaders are unfailingly positive and will point out where they think you are going wrong, if you are. They'll also make it clear that a day of slip ups does not mean the end of it all - that you can start with a fresh slate if you do fall off the wagon. That attitude has been a bit of a saviour - although there haven't been many slip ups, the idea that it's just a case of getting back to basics is helpful.
The idea behind it is to forget the calories and to consider a variety of features about the foods you eat - the protein, fat, carbs and fibre all add up to give you propoints. There is a huge database for the foods out there - handily available either on the website or on the app - which I found invaluable. If you'd rather track by pen and paper, that's fine too although I'd imagine it's harder. If something you want to eat isn't on the app then if you know the nutritional data you can calculate it. If you don't, guesstimation is the name of the game. It really means that eating at home/making your own lunches is probably the best way forward.
Many restaurants are a lot more open about their nutritional data than they have been in the past. Top places I've found are Zizzi, Yo Sushi and Pizza Express. In the final option, I particularly love the Dolcetti - a little dessert with a coffee. My favourite is the Double Chocolate espresso torta.
All fruit and most vegetables are 'free' on the plan, I particularly made use of this in the beginning and I'm just as likely to munch on a raw carrot as a packet of crisps these days. I also get through a decent amount of bananas and apples.
I beef up all of my soups with these free vegetables and add these to a lot of my old favourite recipes too - including adding cauliflower to your macaroni and making up random pasta recipes that are low on the propoints.
So, have I sold you on the idea? Here are my top tips for success on Weightwatchers.
1. Eat LOTS of vegetables - avoiding the ones that have points values, such as sweetcorn, peas, sweet potato and parsnip. Have some quick cook frozen options in the freezer - I like these grilled vegetables the best. Have different ways of serving vegetables - how about this oven roasted cauli? Or these courgette crisps?
2. Eat lots of fruit. Just don't get caught out by fruit juice of dried fruits - these aren't free.
3. Watch your portions. One of the biggest surprises for me is that 40g of dried rice is more than enough - if I finish when I've had that I feel reasonably full without feeling uncomfortable.
4. Plan in advance. I sit down with my computer on a Thursday night and I plan the next week's meals. I fill in the majority of the tracker, leaving myself a few propoints for flexibility/treats or for when I need them. At the same time, I have the website for the weekly shop up - meaning that we only order what we need.
5. Switch it up. If you stick with the same five or six meals, you'll get bored very quickly. I'm a very fickle cook - have to be making something new every week. While I don't recommend a new meal every day - use some old favourites that you know well to punctuate the new recipes - definitely get some new recipes there. I have a raft of veggie pro point recipes - or search Pinterest. There's a lot of different recipes there. If you're on Pinterest - find me here.
What are your New Year's resolutions?