Monday, 15 November 2010

Friend or Foe?

Do you have one of those friends who you get on with pretty well and they’re supportive but there’s just something about them that you’re not quite sure you can trust? And you can never quite put your finger on it until they suddenly sweep the rug out from under your feet and reveal their true colours?

Me too. Except the friend I’m talking about is Weightwatchers.

Weightwatchers and I have been pretty good friends for the past 6 months. We got off to a rocky start, counting Points was incredibly irritating and frustrating at times, but mostly the journey has been good. Since the beginning of May there have been 2 weeks where I have put weight on and I think my weight loss averages out at about 1.6lbs a week, so just below the recommended 2lbs of weekly weight loss. I think that’s kind of good going to be honest with you.

Once the initial Points counting annoyance was out of the way I seemed to slip effortlessly into a new routine and a new way of living. I say “effortless” simply because I didn’t realise I’d changed until the change was already upon me and I saw that I was eating better, eating less crap and exercising more. I was happy and more than that I was rather bloody proud of myself – I didn’t think it would work to be honest and I’m impressed that I managed to prove my negative little head (along with all those people who have been dying for me to fail at this) wrong.

Me and Weightwatchers were buddies. We were pals. I thought that Weightwatchers was probably proud of me too. After all I have to be a great statistic for them – steadily losing weight, following the Points system at the beginning, and learning a new way of eating and living which is healthy. Isn’t that what Weightwatchers is all about?

My concerns about my friendship with Weightwatchers first materialised when I got to my 3 stone landmark. I don’t usually stay for the meetings (I find them incredibly irritating, not the content of them, but the people that attend) but decided that I would to see what was going on. I got my Silver 7 and an embarrassing round of applause and my leader asked me if I had any tips to share that had helped me on my journey. I explained that sticking with it in the first couple of weeks and persevering with the Points counting was really really worth it to get you thinking about portion size and what you’re eating and that it had become so ingrained in me that I hadn’t actually tracked in months.

I realised I’d said the wrong thing. I didn’t understand what I’d done wrong and yet I had the distinct impression that Weightwatchers had fallen out with me a little bit. Surely this was the goal though? The point is that they show you a new way to look at what you’re eating, you make changes and these changes set you up for life so you can maintain your weight – isn’t it?

Now I’m beginning to wonder.

You may, or may not, know that Weightwatchers introduced a new plan last week. I was a naive soul who didn’t realise they did this quite regularly, silly little me thought that the Plan when I joined was just the general Weightwatchers Plan but apparently not.

Now. Before I begin I would like you to pay very close attention to what I’m about to say. I think the new Propoints Plan is VERY GOOD. Instead of just counting calories and fat you’re asked to know look at carbohydrates, protein and fibre into the balance – a much healthier way of looking at things. I AM NOT KNOCKING THE NEW PLAN. Are we clear? Good. I shall continue.

I stayed for the meeting to learn more about the new ProPoints plan. There is a new Points-finder which is almost comically difficult to navigate. I think I’m a pretty bright person but I struggled with this one – a cynical person might say that what they really want you to do is spend £7-odd on a new ProPoints calculator.....

One of the ‘helpers’ came to show a few of us how to work the wheel and I said “To be honest I think I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing.” The helped looked at me as if I’d spit on her “But this is really good, you have to do this one.” I was a little puzzled and actually more than a little bit riled up.

I think that this was the moment that Weightwatchers and I fell out. Weightwatchers appears to be telling me that everything I’ve done up to this point in time is wrong. “Forget everything you know about the Points system because this is all completely different” said my Leader. Right. So this Plan that you’ve been championing up until last week you’re now saying is completely rubbish and you have to forget about it.

I was actually genuinely hurt. Weightwatchers hurt me. I felt that they were trying to take away from me all the successes I’ve achieved up to date. I felt like they were saying that my weight loss was down to doing the “wrong” thing. I went from feeling incredibly proud of my weight loss to feeling a little unbalanced and a little crappy. I felt that was mean – don’t take away from me what I’ve achieved – I’ve lost nearly 3.5 stone in 6 months, don’t tell me that’s rubbish because I didn’t do it according to your latest plan.

And then it hit me. Weightwatchers isn’t really my friend. I don’t think it wants me to succeed. It doesn’t want me to change my habits sufficiently so that I stop tracking and don’t need them anymore. It doesn’t want me to not be reliant on buying all of their products. Weightwatchers wants me to need it. It wants me to track for the rest of my life so that I’m scared of stopping and continue to give them my hard-earned cash each month. It was an unsettling realisation.

I could destruct my friendship immediately and never go back again but I don’t think there’s any need for rash decisions like that. I’m only 11lbs away from goal and I don’t own scales at home, I still like that weekly weigh-in and want to keep on doing it.

But, like that friend who stabs you in the back just that once, the friendship will never be the same again, there’ll always be a hint of mistrust. And I find that very sad.


  1. Don't let this take away from everything you've achieved. Weightwatchers isn't a friend, it is a tool. And it is one that you've used brilliantly to achieve huge changes. But it was you that made the changes. And you that did all the exercise and healthy shopping and cooking and eating. It's not about Weightwatchers. It is about you being ace!!

    And the diet industry really doesn't want you to lose weight. But you will. Cos you're ace!

  2. And this is why I chose to go it my own way when it came to weightloss. Your third last paragraph says it all. All of these companies are in it to make money and it's in their best interests to keep changing plans and making people buy more products. I'm not knocking Weightwatchers because I really do think they're the healthiest, best intentioned company out there (don't get me started on Cambridge Diet etc) but it would have annoyed the crap out of me to suddenly be told that something I'd bought into and done well on just wasn't any good anymore.

    I preferred to just take on board what I knew needed to be done (eat more healthily, stop the snacking, check calories on things, exercise) rather than paying someone for the priviledge. Also I'm not at all good with public discussions about weight and general whooping and clapping so the meetings were not for me!

    You've done SO well though. Keep on feeling proud of it - you've not only lost the weight, you've done it sensibly and changed your eating habits as well. Bravo you.

  3. Frankly I think 3.5 stone is bloody amazing! Well done!! I think you've hit the nail on the head though, weight watchers aren't in business to help you they're in business to make money - and if they don't keep reinventing new plans, people like you won't need them anymore and they'll become extinct.

  4. You have hit the nail on the head. Weight Watchers is a business and it wants your money plain and simple.

    My first experience with WWs was when the plan was called Pure Points and that was all there was to it. 'Here you are, you have 22 points to spend, here's the book, away you go'. Then it became Time to Eat which was straightforward too but with an emphasis on seasonal foods. After that they added a 'No Count' system where you could eat from a list of foods you didn't need to count until you were satisfied (not stuffed). Then they scrapped that and introduced the Discovery Plan and now you say they've done it again. I am not at all surprised but I'm shocked that a WWs leader can tell you that what worked for you a week ago is not going to work anymore. Are the leaders stupid or do WWs think their customers are stupid?

    Just keep on doing what you are doing and save your money. I have nothing but admiration for you for being able to stick to counting points and for losing so much weight. I've only been able to do it for short bursts.

  5. I too feel a little unsettled by the changes. The new points system is insanely complicated. However I also think it is a good change. I list fives stone first time round on Weightwatchers and when I lost that I was happy with my weight but I was no where near my "goal weight" so I stopped going. I stopped tracking but continued to stay at a stable weight. I then put on weight with a new medication so I've gone back and they've changed it all on me. But I'm sure it will help me reset my eating habits again and I'll lose weight and I will stop tracking again. If you have good habits you really don't need to track. So I'll stick in there with the fiddly new calculator until I learn all the new values. I know I'll get there eventually. I'm sure you will too.

  6. Don't give up now! WW is a good system, and perhaps this ProPoints diet is better (because it takes everything into account) but that doesn't mean that what you've been doing is wrong (and you have the weight loss to prove it).
    To be honest, I think I would have slapped that brainwashed, patronising helper! Grrr, now I'm all annoyed with WW too!

  7. Aha I've just had a falling out with Slimming World!
    I can't get my head around a banana being classed as a 'syn' in the same way a bag of crisps or a cake is..everyone knows bananas are big yellow things full of goodness and energy, like everyone knows crisps and cakes are mostly crap!
    Also...(and maybe I'm just a tight fisted misery) I hate the meetings because it costs me £5 a week to get weighed and sit for 2 and a half hours clapping at other peoples weight losses and have them clap at mine...hardly an ideal way to spend a monday evening.
    So now I go to my doctors once a month, get weighed and discuss any other health issues I might have all for free and all in about 10 minutes time!

    Congrats on your weight loss, I'm betting if you need to lose more you can do it on your own now.

    Em xxxx

  8. Three and a half stone?! Well done!

    I agree it sounds a bit suspect though - like when Daz brings out a new 'whiter than ever before' formula every six months...

    Are you going to stick with what you've been doing then? I think if you're not even tracking any more it sounds as though you've already changed your habits and lifestyle. Well done again - it's amazing! x

  9. I was going to say....why stay with it if you know what you need to do, but you answered me that in your next to the last paragraph. Good for you for losing the weight you have. You're better than me, I think I've found on me the weight you've lost! (I just need to get my fat arse up and exercise!)

  10. I'm a WW but I haven't been to a class in about 10 years, like you I don't keep track all the time of what I'm eating but that's because the early years when I did used to weigh in everything became ingrained.

    What you're doing works for you and keep with it! Don't be swayed by the classes.

    Victoria xx

  11. I've done everything over the years! My WW books and calculator are ready and waiting for when the baby is born. If you like, understand and enjoy what you have been doing (and you have done fabulously well!) then carry on just tell them you have done the new plan (and don't bother staying for class ha ha!)
    You don't have far to go now!!!

  12. Hi, I live in France where we've been using the ProPoints system since September 2009. It is such a good system! I also rebelled against it when it first came out, because it made empty calories so much more expensive. All of a sudden the little "cheap treats" I gave myself (air-popped popcorn, rice cakes, a box of Cantuccini biscuits which went from 5 points to 12) to keep me motivated were exposed for the poor nutrition that they were.

    This being said, I have been on WW for years without ever making it to goal. WW is an excellent system, but it can't help you if your problem isn't what you eat but the reason why you are eating it.

    And I too think they are awfully two-faced by touting their products full of chemicals and such. But the cookbooks are fantastic!

    WW is not your friend, you do not pay your friends. But as mooncalf says, it is a damn fine tool.

  13. Well done for losing so much weight and sticking to your original WW plan! I admire your determination because I would never be able to stick to something that hard for so long!

    On a totally different note, I notice you've read Man and Boy by Tony Parsons this year. Did you know it is a roman a clef and so it's pretty much a true story of Tony Parsons' life but he's written it as fiction? I didn't know that when I read it and am not sure how/when I found it out by it changed my perception of the book. Just though you might be interested (though of course you may already know!) It was one of the books that inspired me to write my own story as fiction. Somehow it's easier to write about my own life as if it were someone else's! I'm only at page 20 but I am hoping to get a few hundred more done by the end of this academic year!

    Best wishes,
    Blue Eyes xx

  14. I don't do WW so I only have a vague idea of how their points system works, but surely for those people who the old plan worked well there's not really much need to push them into the new plan if they were quite happy to carry on paying for the old one.
    Do they track your points and things at meetings? If not then if I was in your shoes I would just stick with the plan I'd already been using. As long as you're losing weight and eating healthily then surely that's all that matters. You don't want to quit, so WW will still be getting what they want (your money) regardless of what plan you're on.
    Stick with it, don't give up now while you're so close to your goal!

  15. I'd stick with what you're doing hon and not worry about their 'new' plan.
    I do Scottish Slimmers and it's the easiest plan ever as I don't have to fork out on a special calculator. My class manager used to work for WW and even she said WW are only interested in money, their management meetings were not about how to motivate their class but how to sell stuff to them.
    Be proud of yourself cos you are doing amazing! xx

  16. Hmmm I can't say I'm too surprised really, they're a company, not a charity, and that's what companies do, try and make money!!

    Anyway, congrats on the weight loss, it's bloody amazing!!! Stuff them, you're on the right track!

  17. I am so proud of you for losing all that weight! Well done you. They are just after your money kiddo! xxxxx

  18. Oh this is all so true.

    Keep doing what you have been and be proud as punch for all you have acheived what you set out to do in a healthy, straight forward and logical way.

    Why start messing with it now?

    take care and have a fabulous weekend,

    Nina xxx

    ps. mitts off my scarf - it's too warm to let out of my sight. N xxx ")

  19. I've been a big support of WW for years, but your post really hit home for me.

    Here in the US the new program came out just this week. I kinda knew what to expect since my Mother-in-law lives in Cornwall and passed along all the UK info.

    Well guess what? You have no need to feel cynical about them wanting you to buy the calculator: here in the states they don't even give us the cardboard wheel!! You basically HAVE to buy the calculator, or you're stuck with relying on etools or the mere 600 foods they've pointed for you in the main book.

    It's ridiculous and I'm outraged. I didn't buy the calculator (Oh, and get this - they'll sell us the first one for their "cost" of $5 something, but a second one is $11 something.) I'm not going to buy their calculator. It's bullshit given that I pay $40 a month for the monthly pass + etools.

    I'm hoping to get my hands on a UK wheel so I can bring it to my class and ask why the hell we can't get them.

    Anyway - thanks for letting me rant. And congrats on such a fab weight loss! Keep it up no matter which plan you eventually sick with!



Go on. Say something. You know you want to...