(12/6 – Details on SmartPoints and Beyond the Scale from my meeting on 12/6 and from the program materials.)
(11/30 – More details about my impressions of the new program at Weight Watchers New Program First Impressions.)
Weight Watchers had said that the new program for 2016 was the “biggest change in 50 years.” All right. Finally some information. The new Weight Watchers program coming out in December is called Beyond the Scale TM by Weight Watchers. While I don’t know all the details there are 3 parts to it that I’ve seen.
First, we will be eating what Weight Watchers has trademarked as SmartPointsTM and activity will earn us what Weight Watchers is calling FitPointsTM . SmartPoints are similar to PointsPlus except they also take into account sugar and saturated fat. I played around with the calculator a little bit. I put in a food that was 5 points under PointsPlus and which is 5 SmartPoints. However, that food has low saturated fat and sugar. If, for example, I said all of its fat was saturated fat and all of the carbs were sugar, then the food would be 9 SmartPoints! So, while I haven’t figured out the formula yet it is clear that saturated fat and high sugar will really increase the SmartPoints value of the food.
For me, this probably doesn’t make a whole lot of difference. I don’t eat beef and my saturated food intake is not all that high. I also don’t eat a lot of added sugar any more. But, I can imagine that for some people this will be a huge change. I actually think it is a great change. I’ve long felt that one of the downsides of PointsPlus was that it didn’t do enough to encourage healthy eating and that it disadvantaged even healthy fats. I think SmartPoints is a real step in the right direction. And, it is significantly different from just counting calories since it is a real melding of the concepts of both eating fewer calories, but making sure what you are eating is a healthier food choice
The amount of SmartPoints you are given (both daily and weekly) is based upon
a personalized lifestyle assessment. [Edit: Based upon what is known now after the program is out, SmartPoints are based upon age, gender, height and weight. The lifestyle assessment does have an impact on your FitPoint goals.] It asked various questions about activity and the types of food I ate as well as wanting to know how much weight I wanted to lose. I am on maintenance, but for this I said I wanted to lose 15 pounds.
The result is that it says my Daily Points are 30 (they are currently 26), and my weekly points are now 28 (down from 49)!
I think part of that is based upon the fact that I said I mostly sit during the day. This reminds me a bit of the old days when your points range was based in part on your level of activity. (I don’t know if level of activity is a factor on how many SmartPoints you are alloted, though). [Edit: Nope. Now that the program is out we know that activity has no effect on SmartPoints, but does affect the FitPoints goal]. As to how the daily points equate to calories per point, I can’t tell that yet. Like I say, for a number of foods I eat there is no difference. But, for foods that have high sugar and high saturated fats, I think they will be higher SmartPoints. [Edit: Yep. Sometimes as much as double. Protein will reduce the SmartPoints value.]
The next part is that activity will earn FitPoints. I’m not sure yet whether this is simply Activity Points with a new name. [Edit: Yep. Except they are way easier to earn.] It was indicated that we would receive a FitPoints goal but I don’t seem to have one yet. If I do, I haven’t found it.
The third part of the program is apparently based upon being, well, happy. That is, if you take care of yourself and are happy, then you do better in taking care of yourself. What is being done to help with that is unclear to me.
So, there you have it.
How do I know this?
First, Australian Weight Watchers site has a page talking a little about the new program, entitled “Are you ready for great change?” Basically, it said that there are 3 pillars to the program which are food, fit, and feel. SmartPoints nudge “you toward nutritious foods that are lower in sugar and saturated fat and higher in protein.”
Then, activity earns FitPoints. The site says you get a weekly FitPoints goal.
The third part is Feel and states that “happier people make healthier choices.” It says the program will start next week and that an email will be sent how telling people how to do their personal assessment. (Note that this is in Australia so the procedure may be different in other countries).
I also lurked for info on the Weight Watchers UK board where a member said that their leader had said that fruit was still zero point, but if placed in a smoothie would be counted.
Now, how did I do the assessment and how am I using the calculator? I set my computer’s date for December 12th.
To do this, I right clicked on the clock and selected adjust date/time and then set it for Saturday the 12th. I first tried setting it for 12/6 and that didn’t work. It just called up the calculator we use now. My Weight Watchers week, though, starts on a Saturday. So the first Saturday after 12/6 is 12/12 so I set the clock for that. When I did that and logged in, I got the screen giving me the information about the program and then it asked me to go through the assessment. I did that and then got the screen showing my daily and weekly Smart Points. I then to the calculator and started calculating points.
Lots to be said about the program and my thoughts even at this point. But, I want to get this information out since I know people are interested in it. In brief, I love the idea of SmartPoints and how they are calculated. I love the personalized setting of Weekly Points. I am not sure yet how FitPoints differ from Activity Points. I think having a goal for them is a good idea, but not a huge game changer. The Feel part of the program is something that I agree with (happier …> healthier choices), but not sure how specific this will be in terms of what we will do differently.
Is it the biggest change in 50 years? I’m not sure. On the fitness part, it doesn’t seem like it but there may be stuff I don’t know yet. On the SmartPoints and how they treat sugar and saturated fat? Maybe. For some people it will be a huge change. For me, probably not so much since I already didn’t eat a huge amount of those foods. But, for someone who does…this will be big. I like it so far.
[Edited on 1/14/2016 to point out some things from the vantage of now knowing the program.]