Weight Watchers re-invents themselves -- and stays Cutting Edge
Some of us are er..mature enough (ha ha) to remember Weight Watchers from the Jean Nidetch days. I read Jean Nidetch's book in 1971 and was intrigued! I first joined in 1972 just after they had dropped parts of the original "New York Obesity diet" which had helped the founder to lose a lot of weight. The original Weight Watchers diet included liver once a week, fish 3-5 times a week, all the veggies you could eat (as long as they were not on the forbidden list), fruits and a longer list of foods you COULDN'T eat than those foods you could eat. Offering accountability as well as support in meetings, it remained state of the art for the 1970's as it went.
The first time around, I lost 35 lbs. I kept off my weight for a year with the help of 8 cans of diet cola a day and the inspiration of being a clerk-weigher for meetings, but when I had to give up cola because I developed an allergy to it and started to feel serious fatigue, I dropped off, and re-gained 90 lbs. Much later, I found out the fatigue was due to an inherited vitamin B12 deficiency. Taking sub lingual B12's twice a day have done away with fatigue completely! But I digress...
Weight Watchers has not stood still. It is a multi million dollar corporation today, (until recently was owned by the Heinz companies but now is an international corporation separate from the Heinz companies). Weight Watchers has a scientific advisory committee which includes some respected authorities in dieting and obesity, including Dr. Stanley Heshka, Dr Julie Stern and Dr. Xavier Pi-Sunyer.
Weight Watchers offers 2 programs - one which is similar to the old CORE program - you only count points plus for foods not on the list of allowed foods, and the other program - the Points Plus program which I prefer because you can have any food you want and even a treat every so often - but you do count points plus. Points Plus are not only easier to count than calories because you are working with 2 digits instead of 1000's like with calories, but a much more accurate measurement of the energy in foods because it takes into consideration a lot more factors than do calories.
Weight Watchers is the only diet which was proven effective at all in any studies. A Weight Watchers financed study by Stanley Heshka suggested that the average net weight loss over a 2 year period was only 11 lbs which is less than impressive. But one of their studies of people in their computers, found that among Lifetime members who attended meetings at least once a month, 80 percent had kept most of their excess weight off. A Study in 2012 found that people lose more weight on the Weight Watchers program and tend to stay with the program longer than other programs. Another recent study found that in comparing Weight Watchers to a clinically led weight loss program, people lost as much or more weight on Weight Watchers and stayed with it longer. Weight Watchers was also less expensive than the clinically led program.
As for me, I re-joined in 1975, went to several meetings, lost a few pounds and dropped out again.
In 2002 when I again rejoined, the current program was called Winning Points (one of the early versions of the Points Plus program). I ended up losing 27 lbs but then, starting to cheat a bit and even while exercising every day, ended up regaining 60 lbs putting me at my highest weight ever. One thing which hurt my program was that I started feeling that fatigue again (the B12 shortage) and another thing was that those in the family who had regained were definitely nicer to me when I was eating more than when I was trying to stay on program - and they are important to me - besides I got tired of getting the cold shoulder from my friends who had regained.
Finally, I rejoined in 2009 after having experienced some success with program as an online member. Hubby and I have been going ever since. I am keeping off 90 lbs using the Weight Watchers program and have kept it off for over 3 years.
In 2012, Weight Watchers rolled out the Points Plus program. They now tell new people up front, that if they want to keep the weight off, they will have to stay on program. "It's a lifestyle, not a diet" they remind them.
One of the great parts of the program are the "tools for living", cognitive therapeutic techniques for dealing with emotional eating. If your leader doesn't teach these, you can learn it from the website. It's really worth learning!
When I eat my Daily Points Plus allotment, I don't have any GERD or reflux (I have a hiatal hernia and have suffered with this all my life. Even on a low fat diet, I would be awakened several times a night with a throatful of stomach acid.). Although I didn't do too well the first three times around, this time, journaling my food intake, I ended up losing 110 lbs to the lowest weight I'd been in 35 years - I've managed to keep off 90 lbs for over 3 years, the most I've ever kept off in my life!
"If it goes internal, it must go in the journal!" "If you bite it, you write it!" :)
Because Weight Watchers has a very strong support system and offers a healthy program, many medical providers feel Weight Watchers is the best way to go. When a person is a lifetime member, at or below goal, s/he doesn't have to pay for meetings!
Hubby and I attend once a month (required to keep current on Lifetime membership) - he still has to pay because he's about 18 lbs over goal - it's coming off slowly but most important, by staying on Program, he keeps his blood sugar levels down i.e. despite the fact he was DXed diabetes in 1994, (it really runs in his family!) he is still able to maintain normal sugar levels using oral medications because of staying on Program. We have a great leader who is very beautiful as well as having kept off 55 lbs for 6 years!
For legal reasons, if you have your leader set your goal, it will set be according to the BMI charts (which are underweight for most folks). So it's best to have your doctor set a healthy and reasonable weight for you, have him/her write this on a RX form - hand this to the leader to set your goal weight. (You should always meet with your medical provider before starting any weight loss program).
Although Weight Watchers encourages folks to give away their "fat" clothing, this time, I decided to save mine, just in case I might need it. That almost ensures I won't need it of course, which is fine with me. :)
One leader told me "if Weight Watchers really worked for most people, they would go out of business (i.e. everyone would be at goal and a lifetime member and not paying for meetings" -- that leader was later 'released' for gaining weight). Truth be known, Weight Watchers 360 which is the current program, works very well if one follows it and attends meetings! That some folks regain is likely, more due to drifting off program rather than the program not working. On this program, you can eat any food you want but learn to control portions. Trust me, if I can stay on Program, it's very doable! :) If you follow program carefully (including the Weight Watchers Healthy Food Guidelines), you won't be hungry, a huge factor in keeping on program (at least to me).
But staying on any program, even an excellent one, takes diligence on a daily basis and basically depends on how much you need it. WW solves many health issues for me.
There is a really nice web site - you can join Weight Watchers on line. I do both - attend my meetings and enjoy the website also. We have a great community on the Weight Watchers website which combines social networking and sharing with folks who also follow program although to participate in the community, it's not required to be a member of Weight Watchers.