I went to a Weight Watchers meeting this morning to get the official information on the new Beyond the Scale program using SmartPoints. When I went in, staff had on these super cool T-shirts (well, except, for the male staff member who wore a plain black T-Shirt). I loved the shirts and would pay money for one:
Materials were handed out at the end of the meeting in a festive package:
I bought one of the handheld SmartPoints calculators for $9.95. It is always nice to have a calculator in hand in case I’m not near my computer and don’t have my iPhone handy. This is also nice because you can use it to calculate your Daily and Weekly SmartPoint allowances.
There was a starter kit, which I didn’t buy since I didn’t need most of the stuff in it. I think it also has some coupons in it, so it may be worthwhile if you will use the items in it.
But, the main reason I went to the meeting was to find out anything about the program that I didn’t already know and just to hear it all from an official source. It was a fun meeting and Dana did a great job.
I have posted a lot about the new program already. What I want to focus on here is anything new I learned in the meeting and comparing the differences and similarities between the new program and PointsPlus.
As a reminder, the Weight Watchers website and mobile apps won’t change to calculate SmartPoints and to have you go through the assessment until your normal weigh in date this week. So, for me, it won’t change until next Saturday. And, you can’t change your weigh in date during this week.
Both your Daily SmartPoints and your Weekly SmartPoints are personalized to you. I confirmed that both of them are based upon your weight, height, gender and age. You do not need to do the assessment to learn your SmartPoints. You can calculate it using the handheld calculator pictured above (it was $9.95) or scroll through the days on the mobile app to your next weigh in date (
if that still works, which I can’t figure out because the app says I don’t have an internet connection even though I am 18 inches away from my router finally able to log in again and scrolling to my weigh in date does show my new SmartsPoints). Note, that it doesn’t work to do this on the website through the browser as the arrow grays out when I try to scroll to next week. I am still able to get the information and use the calculator by setting my computer date forward to my weigh in date.
I will get 30 daily SmartPoints (the minimum) and 28 weekly SmartPoints if I am set to losing mode. If set on maintenance, I would get 36 daily SmartPoints and 28 weekly Smartpoints. For me, I get a total of 7 SmartPoints more a week than I got on PointsPlus. For my husband, also lifetime at goal, he also gets 30 daily SmartPoints (if set on losing), but he gets 42 weekly SmartPoints. For him, this is 7 SmartPoints less a week than what he got on PointsPlus as he also got 30 daily points on PointsPlus.
As far as I can tell, weekly SmartPoints change from person to person in increments of 7. The lowest I personally know of is 21 and the highest is 42. Playing around with the calculator, though, I was able to get to a minimum of 14 weekly SmartPoints (for someone in her 80s, who was 5′ tall and weighed 105 pounds). The highest I saw was 42, but I haven’t tried all possible combinations. However, even a man weighing 500 pounds only would get 42 weekly SmartPoints (although a lot more daily SmartPoints).
One big difference here between PointsPlus and SmartPoints is that the minimum for both men and women is 30 daily SmartPoints, while my daily PointsPlus was the minimum of 26. The other big difference is that the weekly SmartPoints vary from person to person. For me, a big difference is that my daily minimum is more, so I found it a little difficult on some days to actually get to my minimum on days that I was really eating healthy and not eating out.
I think varying the weekly SmartPoints is a flat out brilliant idea. When I weighed 200 pounds I had the same minimum daily PointsPlus and same 49 weekly PointsPlus as I have when I am at my goal of 146 pounds. In fact, 26 daily PointsPlus and 49 weekly PointsPlus was the minimum for anyone. This could make it really hard on women who were short, older or smaller. The problem was that they couldn’t really reduce the daily points any more, as Weight Watchers tries to set a baseline minimum intake of 1000 calories a day. When the Weekly PointsPlus were the same for everyone, there was no room to maneuver. Now, it is much better. There is a minimum amount of daily SmartPoints which is 30. But, my weekly SmartPoints can still go down. For example, I played around with the calculator. At 135 pounds, I would still get 28 weekly SmartPoints. At 130 pounds, I would get 21 weekly SmartPoints. I think this change will really help some women to lose better.
Calculation of SmartPoints
PointsPlus were based upon total fat, total carbohydrates, fiber and protein. SmartPoints are based upon calories, saturated fat, sugar, and protein. Basically, saturated fat and sugar raise the SmartPoints value, and protein decreases the SmartPoints value. PointsPlus penalized food for total fat and total carbs (mitigated by fiber). The thing is that we now know that not all fat is unhealthy and some carbs are much better for you than others. SmartPoints penalize saturated fat and sugar instead. Both programs give an advantage to protein. Some people have said that this is a minor tweak to the formula. It is not a minor tweak.
Before, the amount that PointsPlus varied based upon these factors was relatively small. Many people, if out and about, would look at total calories of a food and divide it by 40 and would find that they were within a point or two of the actual PointsPlus value. You can’t do that with SmartPoints. The amount that two foods of the same calories will vary on SmartPoints can be dramatic. A turkey breast, without skin, that is 158 calories is 1 SmartPoint. On the other hand, a sugary Coke that is 158 calories is now 10 SmartPoints!
So, using an average calorie per point to do a rough calculation is basically not going to be something which will work very well. It depends so much on what kind of food it is. If you think the average calorie per point is 38 (what mine actually was last week), and you use that to do a rough calculation for sugary foods, then you will be way undercounting your SmartPoints for that food.
I can’t emphasize enough how sugar and saturated fat really increase the SmartsPoint value. Many sugary foods have doubled or almost doubled in points. The non-fat frozen yogurt that I ate for 3 PointsPlus last month is now 6 SmartPoints! Saturated fat doesn’t usually make such a dramatic increase because it is often paired with some protein. Sugar, though, often comes by itself or paired with saturated fat (like in a donut). Still, not every food changes. In the written materials, Weight Watchers says that about 40 percent of foods are unchanged.
Weight Watchers makes it clear in the written materials that one reason to switch to this system is to encourage healthier eating. That said, I really do think this is likely to help weight loss. One of the staff members spoke at the meeting and she talked about starting to use SmartPoints in August. She was at lifetime and had been near the top of her range. She wanted to lose some weight and found that she lost pounds on SmartPoints. She also saw her cholesterol go down 30 points and other health numbers improved as well! She was wearing a pair of jeans that she said fit in her during the summer. At the end of her talk, she pulled off her old jeans (without unzipping them) and had a smaller size pair of jeans on underneath!
So, yes, I think that for many people this program is going to end up encouraging eating healthier foods that happens to be less calories. And, weight loss will improve as a result. I suspect that some members who were successful on Momentum and who struggled with PointsPlus will do very well on this program.
Activity Points are now renamed to FitPoints. On PointsPlus, it was often emphasized how you can swap activity for food. I rarely did so, but it was an option. It is still an option, but is discouraged. The default is to not swap activity for food. You can, however, choose to still set your tracker to swap FitPoints. My take on it is that it is good to swap FitPoints if you are engaging in a lot of really intense activity and need more fuel for your body (no, my hour long walk around the neighborhood doesn’t count as a lot of intense activity). It is OK to swap FitPoints for food if you are running out of weekly SmartPoints and would start overeating if you knew that you were in the hole for the rest of the week. That is, if eating FitPoints keeps you on track better than simply going over SmartPoints for the week, then that may be the better choice at that point. However, it is a really bad idea to eat FitPoints so you can eat more sugary, high saturated fat foods.
One thing that wasn’t talked about in the meeting, but is in the written materials, is that FitPoints are not equal to Activity Points. You earn more FitPoints for the same activity than you would earn Activity Points. For example, yesterday, I earned 2 Activity Points on a 30 minute walk around my hilly neighborhood. With FitPoints I would have earned 3.
Oh, there is going to an app called FitBreak which are short exercises that you can do when you want to take a short fitness break (I think these are a minute or two long, but I’m not sure). The app is supposed to be out in a day or two.
Simply Filling still exists and seems to work pretty much the same way. I don’t follow it so I don’t know all the fine details, but the basic idea works the same. I am not sure how often you can change between Simply Filling and SmartPoints, though. The food list no longer shows Power Foods. For those using Simply Filling, only, you will see a green circle for No Count foods (basically the equivalent of Power Foods). Note that if you used all your weekly points each week on Simply Filling, you may find it more difficult. Your weekly points are less now, so you can’t eat as much of the foods that have to be counted.
Good Health Guidelines
Gone. You no longer track Healthy Checks because the Good Health Guidelines don’t exist. In explaining why you no longer see the Good Health Guidelines (or Power Foods for members who track all their food), Weight Watchers explains:
Because healthy choices are now embedded into the SmartPoints formula, you no longer need to focus on these guidelines or Power Foods. SmartPoints takes care of it!
I think that is basically right. The interesting part to it is that it shows that Weight Watchers is giving up on encouraging consumption of milk (dairy) servings. The one Good Health Guideline that I rarely met was the one on dairy. I tend to have a little bit of lactose intolerance and drinking milk or products made with a lot of milk was difficult for me. I did eat some cheese, but it was hard to eat enough to meet those guidelines (at least hard to do so and stay within my PointsPlus). I was pretty much convinced from other things I read that I really didn’t need to have all that dairy, so I just gave up trying to meet that guideline. I’m glad that Weight Watchers isn’t really forcing the dairy foods on us.
Fruit and Veggies (this section added on the evening of 12/6 based upon questions received)
Zero point fruits and veggies are still zero point. I haven’t check every one of them but that is the general indication. On page 5 of the Weekly, it refers to fruit being 0 points if eaten and in recipes. (Veggies aren’t mentioned there but are treated the same).
In fact, if now used in the recipe builder they are still zero points unless you check the blended box at the bottom. As many know, the old recipe builder added points for fruits and veggies used in a recipe. The new one changes that. They are now zero point if they would be zero point when eaten by themselves. There is one exception. If you check the blended box at the bottom of the recipe builder, then fruits and veggies will be counted in a recipe. You are supposed to check that for anything that been put in a blender or food processor.
Those are the high points from the materials and meeting. If there is anything else you are curious about that I didn’t talk about, please post a question in the comments and I’ll tell what I know (if anything). Also, if you got any additional information in your meeting that I haven’t covered, please share. In a 30 minute meeting, I know there was a lot that just couldn’t be gotten to.