Using SmartPoints for a Week: My Thoughts

I have been calculating my points each day for this Weight Watchers week using PointsPlus and then calculating them again using Weight Watchers’ new SmartPoints. And, as usual, I also tracked my food on MyFitnessPal.

Posting MFP image since the totals on the WW app weren't correct.

Posting MFP image since the totals on the WW app weren’t correct.

For SmartPoints, I am using the calculator on the Weight Watchers site (after moving my computer date forward 2 weeks). Bear in mind that until the program is live, which is supposed to be on December 6, things in the calculator can still change. 

I’ve been eating really carefully this week because I have to weigh in for my once monthly weigh in when I go to my next meeting. As I posted before, I overate earlier in the month and was really up on my weight right before Thanksgiving. I know most of it wasn’t a true gain, but some of it was. My goal weight is 146 pounds and I need to weigh in at no more than 148 pounds or I have to pay. So, my goal was to get so that I would less below that. Right now, according to my home scale, I’m would be below 148 pounds if I weighed it. Of course, that can change before I weigh in. I usually weigh in on Saturday and will probably do so tomorrow. I’m also going to a Sunday meeting as well and plan to post about the new plan once I get the information then.

Anyway, about this week. Overall, it has gone well. On PointsPlus I get 26 daily points and the same 49 Weekly Points as everyone else. Usually I eat 30 to 35 of my weekly points, although sometimes it is less and sometimes I eat them all. The last few weeks I ate more than my allotted weekly points (that was the overeating I was talking about).

The assessment for Weight Watchers’ new Beyond the Scale plan said that I will 30 daily points and 28 weekly points. The net is that I get an extra 7 points to use over the course of the week. Note that with more points allocated to daily points than weekly points, I have to eat more evenly than I had to eat under Points Plus. For example, the most SmartPoints I can eat in a day, without eating Activity Points (now called FitPoints) would be 58, if I ate every single Weekly Point in one day. A couple of weeks ago on PointsPlus, I actually did eat 63 points in a day (I know, that was terrible) and I still had weekly points left. The result is that with Smart Points, I eat more on each day since my daily points are higher, but my high days are lower than my high days with PointsPlus because I have fewer weekly points.  That will be an adjustment.

So how was it? It was OK. It is still Friday, but I have my rest of the evening eating planned out and I will end the day with 8 Weekly Points left when I calculate SmartPoints. Using PointsPlus, I end up with 28 Weekly Points left.

The Week: Day by Day

Here is a little more detail on each day:

Saturday – 38 PointsPlus/43 SmartPoints – So, the same food for the day totalled 5 more points using SmartPoints than it did with PointsPlus. I went out to lunch at Chipotle and had a chicken bowl. This meal was 2 points more with SmartPoints.   For dinner I had Thanksgiving leftovers, and it was 2 points more. A small square (60 calories) of dark chocolate was 3 SmartPoints instead of being 2 PointsPlus. The other snacks that I had (pistachios and a Kay’s Natural Protein snack) were unchanged.

Sunday – 28 PointsPlus/30 SmartPoints – More Thanksgiving leftovers at lunch, which were 1 SmartPoint more than PointsPlus. I had a Kind Dark Chocolate Chili Almond Bar and it was 7 SmartPoints, compared to 6 PointsPlus. Everything else was the same.

Monday – 28 PointsPlus/28 SmartPoints – I actually ate 75 more calories on this day, but ate 2 fewer SmartPoints due to the mix of food that I ate. In fact, I did not meet my 30 SmartPoint daily minimum. While the points were the same overall on both plans, there were some individual differences. The high protein Chocolate Brownie Quest bar that I ate was 1 point less on SmartPoints. While 1 ounce of pistachios was the same for me on SmartPoints and PointsPlus, it was 1 point more on SmartPoints when I ate 2 ounces today. I had a salad for dinner (made at home with homemade balsamic vinaigrette) and it was the same on both programs.

Tuesday – 29 PointsPlus/31 SmartPoints – I had lunch at Genghis Grill – chicken bowl, with an egg, brown rice, veggies and the Thai peanut sauce. It was the same total points on both programs. For dinner I had chicken potstickers (mostly whole grain) and that was 8 SmartPoints versus 7 PointsPlus. I had 88 calories worth of dark chocolate which was 4 SmartPoints (ouch!) when it had been 3 PointsPlus.

Wednesday – 31 PointsPlus/33 SmartPoints – Honestly, this was sort of a junky food sort of day. I was busy and out and about a lot, so ate a lot of quick things. I had a Kind bar at breakfast (1 SmartPoint more), then had rotisserie chicken for lunch with potato chips. The chips were actually only 1 SmartPoint more (I ate half of a 3 serving bag of chips). While chips have a lot of fat, very little of it is saturated and they don’t have much sugar. So, this is not a food that is a huge different in points. Everything else I ate that day stayed the same.

Thursday – 30 PointsPlus/33 SmartPoints – I finished off the 3 serving bag of chips for 1 SmartPoint more.  For dinner, I made a frittata. The teaspoon of olive that I use remained 1 point under SmartPoints and the 2 eggs also stayed at 3 SmartPoints. The changes were 1 point more of an 88 calorie piece of dark chocolate and 1 point more for an ounce and a half of pistachios (8 SmartPoints versus 7 PointsPlus).

Friday – 30 PointsPlus/33 SmartPoints – I made tuna salad for lunch. The tuna itself and the reduced fat olive oil mayo stayed the same. However, I used 1/3 of an egg (20 calories) in the tuna salad and that added a point with SmartPoints, but it counted as 0 point under PointsPlus. I calculated it both with the individual items and then calculated the salad as a single item and it pointed out the same both ways. I had some rotisserie chicken breast (no skin) at dinner and it was 1 SmartPoints less. Everything else was the same. I met my 26 minimum daily points on PointsPlus, but was 4 points under my 30 daily SmartPoints. But, I wasn’t hungry and just didn’t feel like eating anything else.

Conclusion

I ate very carefully this week. On my home scale, last Saturday morning, I weighed 147.8 pounds. Since I weigh at home with no clothes I knew I would be over 148 pounds if I weighed in at Weight Watchers (given that I do, of course, wear clothes there). I knew I needed to eat carefully this week to get down about half a pound in order to weigh in at 148 or below. As of this (Friday) morning, I was at 146 pounds on rgw home scale. (Just watch it jump up 2 pounds in the morning. It has been known to do that.) So, the eating carefully helped a lot. I ate a bit less than I typically eat.

I did find that I avoided some foods that I knew would be high in SmartPoints. When we were at the grocery store, my husband (also a lifetime member of Weight Watchers) joked that we should buy a box of cookies as they were “on sale” this week. What he meant was that they would never be lower in points. And, that is very true. I usually eat a small piece of dark chocolate (60 to 100 calories) on several days during the week. I still did that, but it was always 1 point more than it would have been under PointsPlus (it would have been more, of course, with a larger serving). There was one night I considered having a Vitapoint (4 SmartPoints versus 3 PointsPlus) as a snack. I looked at that extra point and ended up having a Weight Watchers jalapeno cheese stick instead (1 point under either program). I was also more careful than usual to make sure I removed the skin on my rotisserie chicken breast.

When I went out to eat during the week, I rejected a couple of restaurants I thought about eating at because I didn’t think they would count out very well using SmartPoints. I would have eaten at them if I really had an urge to eat there, but it wasn’t that important. I was eating out in between appointments and it was a quick meal. Instead, I decided to eat at Genghis Grill where I can control very carefully what I eat and know I could pick the higher protein options.

Trying to eat more evenly each day was different for me. I tend to have a couple of really high point days (the days I go out to eat) and then am really careful the other days. This week that was harder for me as I couldn’t afford to have 2 really high point days without using all my weekly points up very early in the week. That said, I didn’t use a lot of weekly points on the days that I didn’t eat out. In fact, there were two days that I didn’t even get to my 30 daily SmartPoints minimum.

Overall, I ate 14 more points during the week using SmartPoints than what I ate using PointsPlus. But, I got an extra 7 points overall on SmartPoints. Basically I used of more of points.  To put in another way, calculating PointsPlus I used about 91% of my available daily and weekly points.  But, when I calculate SmartPoints I used up 94% of my available daily and weekly SmartPoints.  I was below 100% so it was fine for me. I would reached 100% with SmartPoints (i.e. eaten all my daily and weekly points) before I would have reached a 100% using PointsPlus, but it wasn’t a big deal for me since I still had points left over.

This was not a week when I ate a lot of junk food. And, I didn’t eat a lot of saturated fat either (I don’t eat beef, so I mostly get it from cheese). As I mentioned before, looking back at historical weeks and recalculating them with SmartPoints, I found a week where I had 10 PointsPlus left, but would have been in the hole 38 points with SmartPoints! Another week I had 11 PointsPlus left and would have had a deficit of 33 SmartPoints. But, there was also the week I would have had 19 PointsPlus left and 9 SmartPoints left, or the week I would have 28 PointsPlus left and 4 SmartPoints left. It really does depend a lot on what you eat.

I keep seeing comments at various places by some members who say that this change in how points are calculated is not a big deal and isn’t much of a change. That is going to entirely depend on how you eat. I think that for almost everyone it is going to result in some increased points used. Even on days when I didn’t eat junk food, I found that I often used a couple more SmartPoints than I used PointsPlus. So, at the end of the week I would have fewer points left over with SmartPoints than PointsPlus. For me, that is a big non-event since I still have points left over. Most weeks I had quite a few weekly points left under PointsPlus.  I suspect I will likely have less left each week using SmartPoints.

There are 3 groups of members  for whom I think the new program will be a huge change:

1 -Members who think it is all but cheating to eat any weekly points. I know some members see weekly points as something not to be used. They feel it is all but a failure to “dip into” weekly points. I think there is nothing wrong with eating weekly points. But, many members try to avoid eating any of them. Those members may have a hard time with the new program. Yes, you get more daily points. But, depending on what you eat it may be difficult to never go into weekly points. I think it can be done, but it will require more careful eating. And, I doubt it can be done at all if you eat a lot of foods high in sugar or saturated fat.

2 -Members who eat all their weekly points. I think it is totally fine to do this. When I first got to goal on Weight Watchers back in the 90s I ate every bit of food I was entitled to eat under the program (we had exchanges and optional calories back then). If you can lose weight and can eat all of your points and want to eat them all, it is totally fine in my opinion. I still do it at times. But, you will likely find yourself going over your weekly points if you do that on the new program. I don’t know yet if FitPoints work just like Activity Points. If they do, then maybe you can get by through eating your FitPoints. If not, or if you don’t earn many FitPoints or don’t want to eat them, then you may have to really change what you eat or may have to eat less to stay within your weekly points.

3 – Members who eat a lot of sugar and a lot of saturated fat. The sugar eaters will have the hardest time. A lot of high sugar foods have doubled or almost doubled in points. Spending 13 SmartPoints on a 12 ounce can of Coke really hurts when you only get 30 daily SmartPoints. And, a lot of people drink a 20 ounce bottle instead (22 SmartPoints). A Cinnamon Crunch bagel from Panera at 17 SmartPoints isn’t very appealing when it is more than half your daily SmartPoints. Most of the high saturated fat foods don’t cause that big an increase in points, because saturated fat usually comes with protein. When it doesn’t (a donut, for example), it will also increase points a lot.

To be blunt: If you tended to eat a lot of sugary junk food, or ate a lot of saturated fat, but stayed within your points because your overall calories were low, then you may really have to change what you eat to stay within your SmartPoints. That isn’t to say you won’t be able to eat any of those foods. You will be. I ate dark chocolate on 3 nights this week. But, these were small portions and most of the rest of my eating was mostly healthy (well, there were those potato chips). So, eating a funsize candy bar can fit into SmartPoints just fine. Eating a full size candy bar will hurt. Doing it occasionally will be doable.  Doing it often will be challenging. Having one donut that is high in saturated fat and sugar will be a lot higher in points than under PointsPlus, but could be managed every once in a while. Having several won’t work very well.

For me, I think I’ll be OK on it. It will cause me to rethink eating certain foods at certain times. But, I don’t think I will need to permanently give up any food. It is more a matter of how often and how much. The biggest change will be when I go out to eat and realize that I need to be a bit more careful so I don’t use up almost all of my weekly points in one day. That will be a little bit of an adjustment, but not a major one.

After a week of recording food using the new calculator, I’m still excited about the new program and looking forward to it being officially rolled out.  In the meantime, I’ll weigh in Saturday morning and see if I managed to stay at 148 pounds or under.

Comments

  1. says

    Hello there,

    Love your blog. Your story is so much like mine and I am really going to make the effort once again. I felt encouraged and inspired. I am in the UK (my daughter in law from the US)

    Roz

  2. says

    Loving your posts this week about the new plan, it’s good to glean some information as WW certainly aren’t giving much away! You’re getting a bit of a following from the UK WW message boards as we’re all dying to learn about the new plan. Good luck with your weigh in today.
    Fi recently posted…Throwback ThursdayMy Profile

  3. Sue-Rae says

    Thanks for the update, it was very informative. I eat pretty cleanly, I also know that I lost better when I ate less WP and below my DP a few days a week, I’m at life time, and eating 26 DP and about 25 WP keeps me there, if I eat more than that I will probably see a small gain.
    That said, I think this change will effect me in the same way the switch from Points to Points Plus a few years back did. Get use to the new values, if any, and the way points are calculated. Make think twice about indulging in certain “treats”, that are now higher in pts, but I believe that’s a good thing. It took about 2 weeks the last time. So I think I’ll be fine. I can’t wait to get to my meeting at find out the details, I love the direction the program is taking, Now if only the tech issues would be resolved 🙂

  4. etta vaughan says

    Thanks for this post. I’ve been lifetime for almost 5 years and they rolled out the 2016 Campaign this morning. It will take me a couple days to become familiar with the points conversion, but I’m excited. The past year or so, I’ve struggled to maintain, but in all fairness to WW, it’s been my own fault. We’re retired and travel a lot, so that’s been one excuse. I love to cook and entertain, so that’s been another excuse. I feel the refreshed “Beyond the Scale” is just the kick start I need.

  5. Carol says

    I feel I would have been more open to change if they had not started it during the holidays. I lost 1 and 1/2 pounds my first week on Smart Points..only to regain the exact 1 and 1/2 the following week. I went back to Points Plus and dropped my online subscription. I also track on My Fitness Pal and did not see a big difference in the calorie count.

    But, not all is lost. I am eating more protein and less sugar and carbs, etc.
    I originally started with WW exchange. I earned my lifetime with regular points.

    (I still believe the reason for the change was to sell new program materials.)

    I will continue to track on MFP as well as count some kind of points…for awhile.

    Love this article. Thank you!
    Carol

    • says

      They always start the new plan in December so that current members can learn the plan before the influx of January members. When it is minor change it is no big deal, but when it is a major change like this one it is really tough. I like the plan a lot but I even set myself to maintenance for Christmas week. While the new plan isn’t a big change in eating for me, it is different learning how to navigate having more daily points and less weekly ones. I track on MFP, too, and get value from that as well.

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