Weight Watchers™ is the best-known and longest-running weight loss program in the world, and according to reviews, there is very good reason for this — it works! And it works because of its flexibility and the personal support it gives you. Here I’ll explain briefly what the program is and then will list points from some of the reviews I found. I can’t really write my own Weight Watcher review at this point, as I have not tried the program. (I am currently doing two other programs online and that’s plenty at one time!) I do know two women who have used it successfully. One tried the online version for a month or so and lost weight; the other one did the meetings approach and went on to become an instructor herself. When I met her, she was glowing with enthusiasm for how it had changed her life.
What is Weight Watchers?
Weight Watchers has two parts:
• Membership meetings take place in cities and towns in over thirty countries around the world. You get support, and beyond that, you get information that makes your success much more likely. Each country has its own plan, tailored to the specifics of that country. This article refers to the U.S. one.
• Weight Watchers Online is a completely online version with lots of information, thousands of recipes, goal setting and progress logging, a free public forum, mobile tracking, and fitness workouts with videos. It includes a specific section called Weight Watchers for Men.
While the two are separate programs, people who take part in membership meetings can also take part in the online program for an additional fee. People who don’t have time for meetings, or dislike meetings, or live a long ways from meetings, will likely prefer the online version.
Weight Watchers began back in the 1960s when Jean Nidetch, an overweight housewife in New York, formed a support group. She and others in the group found that the caring atmosphere they created was essential to their successful weight loss, and through word of mouth, more and more people came to the meetings. They soon outgrew using their homes and had to rent halls to meet in. The methods used have gone through various changes, but now it offers a very flexible approach, so flexible that you can even do it while using another weight loss eating plan to choose what foods you eat.
In a nutshell, there is a PointsPlus™ program, not counting calories as such but evaluating every food in terms of calories, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, and so on. You have a number of points you can eat in a day, plus some extra points you can use any time during a week. If you exercise, you get more points, and fitness is considered important. It is not a program that has forbidden foods and must-eat foods; rather, it guides you to making the best food choices in a supportive atmosphere. You create good habits, including getting more exercise, suitable to your situation. The general food guidelines include plenty of vegetables and fruits, some dairy products and other lean protein, enough liquid, some healthy oils, and the like.
There is a Weight Watchers Magazine, which anyone can subscribe to (Amazon link). It provides recipes, nutritional information, and motivation.
Is this an effective program? Yes. It works if you do, and it gives you the tools and support to make it happen. The support is from other people who are using the program to lose weight themselves and people who have reached their goals and now help others. Here’s a book of stories of people who used Weight Watchers, which I am currently reading on my Kindle: Weight Watchers Start Living, Start Losing: Inspirational Stories That Will Motivate You Now
Weight Watchers Reviews
Overall, reviewers liked this program, though of course some of them preferred other things.
Here are ten of the most useful points I found, in wading through dozens of reviews and online forums:
- The flexibility of this program turned up in many reviews as a PLUS, but in some as a MINUS. In short, this is not a plan for someone who wants to be told exactly what to eat.
- Although you are not counting calories, you are keeping track of everything you eat, and some people don’t like to do this. Others do like it. Feelings were mixed about the PointsPlus method vs. Just counting calories.
- The program for men tailors not only their different nutritional needs but also the ways they like to do things differently from women. (This is the best program I have come across for men.) See http://www.weightwatchers.com/men/
- Users of the online program like being able to login from work, home, or anywhere, to track what they have eaten or to get support.
- It’s a good choice if you have a family, because you can cook meals that everyone can eat. Whoever is on WW eats less.
- Eating out is easier on WW than on many other programs, because of the flexibility and because some chain restaurants provide Weight Watchers information on their menus.
- Since fruits and vegetables have no points, it’s up to you to pay attention to whether you are eating too many avacadoes and not enough lettuce!
- One review felt it was a drawback that Weight Watchers doesn’t encourage fat burning or appetite suppressing supplements. I would have to consider this an advantage. While some of these supplements may be safe and useful, I have my doubts about many of them.
- Several reviews pointed out that WW does cost something to use. There is a sign-up fee (sometimes waived in promotions) and then a monthly fee. Reviewers point out that many of the benefits of the online program can be found elsewhere online for free — things like camaraderie and recipes. But the specific WW approach, with all the PointsPlus data, is really only available there.
- Because the program gives you a lot of freedom of choice in how you eat, they don’t give you a guarantee that you will lose weight.
So In Summary…
Weight Watchers is an excellent, proven program that is well worth doing. If you live near where a meeting takes place, think about trying the meetings version, as the personal support is valuable. If you don’t or would prefer an online program, it is still one of the top choices, as the Weight Watchers reviews proved to me.