Weight Watchers has been around for nearly five decades and had over 10 million dieters through their doors in the past ten years alone, so they must be doing something right! In addition, they continue to innovate and lead the way in the slimming "industry" with new techniques and the best support of any weight loss programme. If you don't want to go to meetings, you can follow an online, customised diet programme, with support and online message boards to help you meet your goals.
Weight Watchers' philosophy is that healthy, long-term weight loss in in everyone's reach, and this can include your favourite foods. This is not a strict diet, but then again you probably won't get the dramatic initial loss from an unsustainable, extreme diet. Of course, the difference is this leads to gradual, steady weight loss--the best and healthiest kind, and the easiest to maintain.
Weight Watchers is ideal for individuals who fall off diets because they can't resist having a little bit of something, or because they miss certain foods too much. There are many diets out there which promise quick weight loss, but so few people can stick with their very stringent requirements--this is where Weight Watchers wins out. Granted, you may be hardcore about losing lots of weight and start on something drastic like the Cambridge Diet, but most people will come back to a more moderate system like Weight Watchers, as it's something you can live with--something that doesn't make dieting the focus of your life, and where you can have little treats along the way so you don't feel like you're depriving yourself.
Menu: There are two main diets on Weight Watchers, The POINTS Plan and the Core Plan:
- The POINTS Plan is based on making better food choices by tracking POINTS values. Each food has a value (in POINTS) which Weight Watchers calculates based on calories and saturated fat content. You are assigned a personalised, daily POINTS target based on your gender, height, weight, and other factors. So, you can have a 100g punnet of mixed berries (weighing in at 1 POINT), or occasionally splurge on something like a slice of pizza (6 POINTS), and keep in mind very healthy things like a 250g tossed salad weigh in at zero POINTS. This programme is so widespread that many food manufacturers print the POINTS in a serving of their food right on the label--what could be simpler?
- The Core Plan focuses on eating nutritious, satisfying food without counting or tracking. It is based on the science of energy density, and contains foods with a large volume, but few calories, so you feel satisfied and full while eating fewer calories--and there's no counting of calories or points in this version. You can mix and match these low energy density foods as you like, but they cleverly also give you a small "Weekly Allowance" of POINTS for foods that aren't on the core plan, so you can indulge once in a while. In our experience, diets that don't have a "safety valve" like this simply don't work long-term, and we applaud Weight Watchers for this inclusion.
Weight Watchers Online takes full advantage of the internet with many Esource weight loss resources, over 1,000 recipes with point values, interactive software to chart your progress etc. The forum and message boards are very useful--especially if you're not attending meetings, as if you're having a bad week or problems shifting the pounds, other members always seem ready to cheer you up and lend encouragement with their own success stories. Many people prefer the online-only nature of this program, especially if they have alot of weight to lose and are self-conscious about being weighed in front of a group.
Prices: Weight Watchers Online (no meetings) costs £39.80 to register, which covers the first three months, then is only £9.95 per month thereafter. This might sound like a steep initial fee (and it is)--but it actually makes great psychological sense, as commits you for three months which you've already paid for. If you can stick with it for that long, you can probably go the distance and reach your ultimate target weight.
If you think you do need the added motivation of a face-to-face meeting, there is a slightly more expensive Monthly Pass option which combines Online with meetings (there are over 6,000 Weight Watchers groups in the UK, so you're sure to find someplace close). Local meetings are good for inspiration and support and--it must be said--are particularly useful if feeling guilty keeps you on track. Weight Watchers Monthly Pass is £17.95 and includes free admission to weekly meetings. Statistics show that those who both attend meetings and use eSource online resources average an extra 50% extra weight loss over those who attend meetings alone.