What To Do If You Hate SmartPoints

As of Saturday, all Weight Watchers members are on the new Beyond the Scale Program.

Plan Materials

And, some find that they hate SmartPoints. Other former members may have been considering rejoining Weight Watchers and are now giving that a second thought.

Before I go on, I want to make clear that I don’t believe that everyone has to pick the same plan for weight loss. We are all different. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa. I know that I would be miserable on certain types of plans, so they aren’t for me. Choosing to go to a different plan if you hate Beyond the Scale is an entirely valid choice. For people who have historically liked Weight Watchers, however, I think that choosing a different plan might be better seen as the last choice to be made after working through the options.

If you hate SmartPoints, what to do? What to do?

Think About Why You Hate SmartPoints

The first step is to really examine what it is you hate about SmartPoints. If you don’t know why you hate it, it becomes hard to move forward.

Common reasons that I see for people not liking SmartPoints is that they hate the new website and mobile app, the program feels more restrictive, they run out of SmartPoints too quickly, and they don’t want to have to change how they eat.   Personally, I think the website/app problems will eventually get solved. I think the program is a bit more restrictive, but not unduly so. I run out of SmartPoints more quickly, but still have some left at the end of the week. And, I have only had to make fairly minor changes in how I eat. For me, SmartPoints align very closely with how I personally approached eating before SmartPoints. So, the changes have been relatively easy for me to adjust to.

But, I also know that I am not everyone. So, let’s look at these points.

You are frustrated by the ongoing website and mobile app problems.

It appears that some people hate SmartPoints mostly because they are having problems with the Weight Watchers website or the mobile app.  There is absolutely no question that Weight Watchers has had a lot of technological problems with the website and the mobile apps. To be blunt, I think the rollout of the changes to the website and apps has been horrible.

I understand those problems causing huge frustration. I have had some of those problems myself and so has my husband.  Some things still don’t work properly.  I still get sent to the wrong page, or get error messages, quite often.  Entering food data into the online tracker is tedious and slow.  In fact, everything seems so, so slow. And, I’ve seen reports from others of worse problems.  I do not in any way minimize the seriousness of these problems.  Weight Watchers needs to fix it and should be crediting people for the time it hasn’t been working right.

The important thing to realize, though, is that hating the website and app is not the same thing as hating SmartPoints or the entire Beyond the Scale program. I’m not saying that you are wrong to leave Weight Watchers over the technology problems, particularly if you feel you are not getting what you are paying for. I am just saying that the actual content of the new program is a different issue. While I have had a lot of issues with the new dashboard and mobile app, I try to separate my feelings on that from my feelings about the actual weight loss program.

The new program feels more restrictive.

That would be because it is a bit more restrictive. A point to think about, though, is how much that restrictiveness actually affects how you eat on a day to day basis and whether it is something you can adjust to.   There are still no forbidden foods on Weight Watchers. I have seen some members say that they don’t like the new program because they can’t ever eat [insert food of choice here]. If that is how you are feeling, I would examine that thought for whether it is too extreme a statement. That is, if I suddenly see that a food has doubled in points from PointsPlus to SmartPoints, the immediate thought may be that I can never eat that food again. In reality, it may be that I can eat it, but (1) I will eat less of other foods so I can fit that food into my eating, (2) I will eat a smaller portion size, or (3) I will eat it less often.

I know that when I first saw how much nonfat frozen yogurt went up in points, I immediately thought that I could never eat it again. When I looked at it closely, though, I realized I could still eat it. My husband still eats Healthy Choice frozen yogurt several nights a week. I recognized that I could still go to TuttiFrutti occasionally, but would have a smaller portion. So, yes, the program is a bit more restrictive in that choices have to be made. The week I go to TuttiFrutti might not be the same week that I have a large piece of chocolate cake, but I could certainly fit in one of those choices in one week and then do the other the following week.

Perhaps this is easier for me because I originally got to lifetime on Weight Watchers exchange program.  I had to fit stuff like cake, ice cream, cookies, and candy into something like 750 optional calories a week.  If I had a large piece of chocolate cake, I wasn’t eating much other junk for the rest of the week.  And, strangely enough, at the time I didn’t feel deprived.  In fact, I was thrilled that Weight Watchers allowed the cake at all when many weight loss plans at the time wouldn’t allow foods like that.  One of the problems on PointsPlus, in my mind, is that it allowed many of us to get used to being able to use most of our points on food that is isn’t the healthiest.  Being restricted in how much we can eat junk and be on program can be considered by some to be a feature and not a bug. (And, yes, I eat my share of junk).

Fine, but I still run out of my SmartPoints too quickly, and I’m eating healthy foods.

Some foods went up in points, but they aren’t the foods we think of as being high in sugar or saturated fat. I’ve seen some people saying they are running out of points, but it isn’t because of eating junk food. I believe them.

I’ve noticed this with some days. There are times that I eat 3 or 4 things and each one of them has gone up a point or two. In isolation, each increase is not a big deal. A food that was 5 PointsPlus is now 6 SmartPoints. The increase seems small. The food isn’t terribly unhealthy, but has gone up just a little bit. The Indonesian Peanut Saute with Chicken that was a total 15 PointsPlus is now 16 SmartPoints. The potstickers appetizer went from 5 PointsPlus to 6 SmartPoints. The Kind Bar I ate went from 6 PointsPlus to 7 SmartPoints. A turkey Subway sandwich went from 7 PointsPlus to 8 SmartPoints. Chicken sausage went from 5 PointsPlus to 6 SmartPoints. And, on and on. Each small increase isn’t much, but if every food you eat during the day goes up one point, then it adds up quickly.

This is an area where learning the new point counts helps a lot and doing some planning to mitigate the increase can make a big difference. For example, the Indonesian Peanut Saute with Chicken went up 1 SmartPoint. But, it could have been worse, The noodles and sauce, without the chicken, actually went up 3 points! But, the chicken went down 2 points. So, the net increase was only 1 point. Had I picked another protein that simply stayed the same, the net increase would have been 3 points. By choosing chicken, I cushioned the blow.

The problem of running out of SmartPoints quickly, while eating regular foods that aren’t junk, is one that can be largely solved through planning and making tweaks to food choices. I’ve found that this is often a matter of making relatively small changes. For example, I went out to lunch at The Counter the other day, which is a place I consider a SmartPoints bargain.

My husband beforehand told me he wasn’t sure we could go because he had calculated his meal would be 31 SmartPoints! I had calculated mine and it was 16 SmartPoints. We were both having a chicken burger in a bowl with a side of turkey chili, but his points for his meal were almost twice that of mine. So, I started looking at his meal closely. There were just lots of little ways that his meal was more than mine. One example was that I had 0 SmartPoints sliced red onions on mine. He had the grilled red onions for 3 SmartPoints! And, it sort of went like that throughout the entire meal.  He kept his chicken at half a pound (I ate 1/3 pound), but he changed the sauce he was eating and ditched the grilled onions.  By the time he was done, his meal was only a few points more than mine.

Those of on Weight Watchers using PointsPlus mostly knew the points structure backwards and forwards.  We knew what was a good use of points and what wasn’t. Now, a lot of those numbers have changed. There is a learning curve, but once that has been mastered I think most of us will find that we don’t run out of our SmartPoints too quickly.

I keep seeing reports of people saying that they have run out of daily points early in the day.  I find that on days I don’t eat out, I struggle to get to 30 SmartPoints.  Part of that is the face that I carefully plan what I am going to eat and try to make changes that really don’t make much difference in the meal (giving up grilled onions to save 3 SmartPoints is a little change and one that I wouldn’t even really notice).  The other part, though, is that I don’t eat a lot of high sugar or high saturated fat.  So, the points I eat under SmartPoints is only a little higher than what I ate under PointsPlus.

If you do eat a lot of high sugar/high saturated fat, then you may run out of points quickly even if you try to make small adjustments as you go along.  For you, large adjustments may be needed to stay within your SmartPoints goal.

I don’t care. I don’t want to make any changes to what I eat. I don’t like change. And, one of the things I liked about Weight Watchers is that I could eat whatever I wanted to (healthy or not) and would lose weight if I stayed within my points.

This is a fair point. If you are happy with what you are eating and you are losing weight (or maintaining your goal weight), then it is perfectly natural to not want to change. To you, nothing was broke so Weight Watchers didn’t need to fix anything. You may justifiably feel that Weight Watchers is imposing on you a different way of eating that you didn’t sign onto when you joined Weight Watchers.

The reality is that change can be tough for anyone.  But, Weight Watchers does have reasons that it changes it program.  And, part of that reason is to keep up with the science on weight loss and healthy eating.

Nonetheless, if Weight Watchers has changed the plan enough that it no longer fits into how you can eat and be happy, then it is totally reasonable to look around and see if there is another weight loss method that you would like better. Put it this way: If Weight Watchers had come out with a plan that required me to eat a diet of no more than 10% fat, I would be looking elsewhere. I don’t want to eat that kind of diet, and I wouldn’t feel compelled to do it just because Weight Watchers was using the plan.  And, I have researched enough about healthy eating that I personally feel that I can be healthy eating more than 10% fat.  Obviously, each of us has to figure out what works for us, both from a weight and a health standpoint.

At the same time, if the problem with the new plan is that lots of foods you were eating almost doubled in points or went up by a lot (more than 1 or 2 points), then that may be a sign that you are eating a lot of added sugar and perhaps a lot of saturated fat. If so, then it may be worth looking at why Weight Watchers might want to discourage those foods.

If you hate SmartPoints because it is new and different and you haven’t learned it yet, that is different than if you, to be blunt, just want to lose weight by cutting calories while using most of your points to eat a lot of added sugar or junk food. On the other hand, maybe you feel that you are eating in a healthy way, but you still feel the new plan is too restrictive.

What you decide to do about hating SmartPoints may really depend on what it is you don’t like about it.  Once you have seriously thought about why you hate SmartPoints, an option would be to:

Try SmartPoints for awhile

Most Weight Watchers like something about Weight Watchers. For me, I think the meetings are what make Weight Watchers special.   I would want to try almost any plan for awhile to see if I could adjust to it. I would personally be inclined to try it for about 4 weeks. I think it would take me that long to really learn a new plan and to get a good feel for the results that you can expect. The problem with trying it for only a week or two is that I don’t feel I would really get a good picture of how I would do on the plan. The scale does not always cooperate. Sometimes, a loss shows up a week or two later than you expect. Sometimes, you have a good loss and then stall out. Trying it for 4 weeks gives me time to really learn the plan. (Even though I like the plan so far, I consider myself still in the trial stage).

During this 4 weeks, I would follow the plan really strictly. I’ve heard some people say they will try out the plan by eating like they used to eat on PointsPlus and seeing what the results will be. I think that may be OK for the first few days, but not longer than that. I feel I get the most value by trying to learn the plan and adjusting my eating to the plan. In other words, I want to give a good and sincere effort.

If it will make it easier, I don’t think there is anything wrong with eating some of my FitPoints. I caution that FitPoints are easily earned so I personally am not likely to eat more than about 1/3 of them (if I need them at all).  I suspect that as people transition to the new plan and get used to it, they may find less and less need to use them.

Modify the Program to Work for You

Some people won’t like what I am going to say here. They are Weight Watchers purists and think that any deviation from the plan means that you aren’t following Weight Watchers. I, on the other hand, see Weight Watchers as a tool to help me manage my weight. There is no Weight Watchers police that will come to my house if I deviate from the program.

I think it is OK to make some modifications to the program to make it work better for me. So, on PointsPlus, I often didn’t meet the Good Health Guideline for dairy.   Drinking milk or even the Weight Watchers Smoothies tended to disagree with me. I could eat some cheese and I did that but usually not enough to get to the required servings. I went and read about dairy and researched it enough to feel that – for me – that was not a guideline that I needed to meet every day. So, I didn’t. Others may feel it is important to have that dairy everyday, but I felt OK dialing it back a bit.  That was a modification to the program that it more livable for me.  And, I lost 61 pounds and got back to goal weight.

My husband is lifetime at goal. He enjoys the Weight Watchers meetings a lot. Even though we don’t have to go to a meeting every week, we usually do. But, he did not track for the first 68 pounds or so of his weight loss. He kinda, sorta loosely counted his PointsPlus in his head. However, he did pay a lot of attention to what he was learning about healthy eating in the meetings and he applied that to his diet. He only really tracked when he got stuck on a plateau 4.4 pounds away from goal. That got him off his plateau and he made it to goal. Some people might say that he didn’t follow Weight Watchers at all. I would say that he followed it in his own way.

Of course, I don’t think we should kid ourselves when we modify the program. The area that I don’t ever modify is how many points a food has. Doing that can result in seriously overeating. The SmartPoints value of our food and our daily and weekly SmartPoints goal are meant to work together as a whole. If you decide that what is now a 12 point frozen yogurt should be counted as 6 points like it was on PointsPlus, then you may end up seriously overeating if you still want to count 3 ounces of chicken breast as the 1 point that it is on SmartPoints.

In modifying, I let my weight loss and my health be my guide. Both of these are important to me. If I am losing the weight I want to lose with my modification, then I know that I’m not using the modification simply to eat more calories. But, I also look at health. This is somewhat more difficult to do. Eating in a way that is bad for my health may not show up as quickly or easily as gained weight shows up. This is where I need to look at nutrition, look my health, consult with my doctor, and take care that I am eating in a way that enhances health rather than hurting it. If am uncertain if a change is healthy, then I am more likely to simply not modify the program.  The decision as to what is healthy for you should be based upon your personal health and consultation with your own doctor.

OK, you’ve done all the above and still hate SmartPoints. At that point, then I think one of the two options below makes sense.

Change How You Think About the Program

You’ve tried the program. You still miss being able to eat the way you ate before. None of the modifications you make to the program solve that problem. You still want to count that frozen yogurt as 6 points and not 12. You liked being able to indulge on Weight Watchers and think you can’t indulge often enough on the new program. Leaving Weight Watchers for something else looks like a real option.

And, it is. But, another option is to change how you think about the program.  More to the point, it may mean changing how you think about food and, thereby, changing how you eat. I know this can be done because I did it.

When I went back to Weight Watchers 5 years ago and seriously committed to it again, I honestly didn’t really want to change what I ate. I mostly just wanted to lose weight by eating less of those foods. I knew that I would need to do that forever, but I really didn’t plan to make major changes in what I ate. Five years later, I’ve really changed what I eat.

I was going through the mobile app the other day checking the foods I entered before. I either needed to delete the foods or put in the missing nutritional information to get the SmartPoints value. What I found out doing this was that there were so many foods that 4 or 5 years ago I ate all the time, that I now no longer eat at all or eat very rarely. This is mostly because I got more interested in nutrition and I wanted to eat healthier. I also realized that for true maintenance for the long term it would be so much easier to do it if I quit eating so much junk food. I am still not perfect at this (by far, I’m not), but I have gotten so much better.

This is why SmartPoints has not been that big an adjustment to me. I reduced my consumption of high sugar a long time ago. Rarely do I ever eat more than 30g of a sugar in a day. Often, I am at less than 20g. I am almost always under 20g when I don’t include the sugar in fruits and vegetables. Yesterday I ate 37 SmartPoints. I ate a total of 25g of sugar and some of that was from vegetables as I had a large salad at Panera.  There was time that I ate way, way, way more sugar.

To be blunt: If you are eating a lot of added sugar or a lot of junk food or a lot of saturated fat, then it might worth thinking about whether Weight Watchers might have a good reason for wanting to discourage that kind of eating. And, if you do that, then maybe you will make the choice to think that the new program is meant to encourage healthier eating and will embrace the opportunity to learn how to make that change.

I know. I know. You don’t have to. But, it is an option.

(To be clear, I am not saying that everyone who hates the program eats high sugar or junk…the above is meant to be an extreme example.  I know that there are many people who hate SmartPoints and don’t eat high sugar or high saturated fat.  The above is directed to people who are more like I used to be.  I did used to eat a lot of sugar and I was resistant to changing it.  I have totally been there.  I just want to put out there that changing one’s way of thinking is an option).

Quitting Weight Watchers

Quitting Weight Watchers, or not rejoining, is an option. For Weight Watchers members, I think that trying the program and trying to make it work for you is perhaps worth doing if you have had success with Weight Watchers in the past. Change is always difficult. And, I really do think this program is a major change. Adjusting to that change takes time. I think that if you’ve loved Weight Watchers before, particularly if you like the meetings and the accountability from the meetings, it makes sense to try to navigate the changes and make it work.

But, if you have done that or don’t want to do that, then it makes sense to go elsewhere. There are a lot of weight loss options out there. To be clear, there are a lot of healthy weight loss options out there.  For long time weight loss and successful maintenance, we are unlikely to succeed if we are miserable with what we are eating. If following Weight Watchers really makes you miserable, then you are unlikely to be successful for the long haul, no matter how good the program is. In that case, it is perfectly reasonable to find another way of weight loss that you can follow and maintain on.

My personal caution is to think about not only short term weight loss, but to really look at the health and nutrition aspect and maintaining for the long term. Even so, Weight Watchers is not the only healthy weight loss plan out there.  If Weight Watchers no longer meets your needs, it is totally reasonable to find another option that you like better and that works better for you.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. shari says

    I have found this week that eating healthy from home, getting four extra smart points over my points plus per day (26 to 30 now) and ditching the GHG (no more 2 servings per day but one per day, no more 2 tsp. evoo per day religiously), I have found I have plenty of wiggle room and not necessarily reaching my 30 per day. GHG’s took up many points that I did not necessarily enjoy or think was useful in my weight loss journey so I am glad to not budget for those points. It is enough to have a cup of unsweetened almond milk per day for 1SP and call it a day for the dairy and use the smart points elsewhere. Same with the EVOO, 2 sp’s. I was never a fan of points plus and am very happy to try something that may work for me.
    Thank you for your updates on smart points and weight watchers, I look forward to reading your posts.

  2. says

    I am not convinced about Smart Points right now, but I think this is totally the wrong time of year for me to swap to them. I’m sticking with what I know which is ProPoints (that’s what we call PointsPlus in the UK) over the Christmas season as I know I’ll just get frustrated with the new system and give up tracking altogether, whereas with PPs I can at least attempt some tracking around the main days of the holidays and reign myself in a bit. I intend to give Smart Points a proper go in January.

    • says

      Yes, I so much agree with your comment about switching plans during this busy time of year. I tried SP for a few days but didn’t really have the time to spend figuring it out, became frustrated and now not doing anything. I wish I had been wiser just to stick with PP until the first of the year.

      • says

        It is not too late to simply stick with PP for the rest of the year. SmartPoints has a real learning curve so waiting until after the first of the year to start it seems entirely reasonable.

    • Sam says

      I am hating smart points. I have been following it religious for 3 weeks and haven’t lost a pound. With points plus I always lost a ton of weight. I wish I could go back to that.

      • says

        Do you have any idea what in the program is causing the lack of weight loss? Do you count calories also? It might help to record your calories for a week or so (including zero point foods) to see if you can figure where the issue is. And, of course, you can do PointsPlus if you want. There are plenty of PointsPlus calculator out there, even though WW doesn’t support it any more.

  3. Darlene says

    Thank you for your very thoughtful analysis. I am going to stick with the program for 4 weeks before I make any decisions. Do you have any thoughts on how many calories, and how much sugar and saturated fat (approximately) the new plan is allotting? For instance I am also allowed 30 points a day. I try to roughly tally it up (including fruit and vegs) – I think I’m around 1200-1500 calories per day. I have only used a few weekly points. Thanks.

    • says

      It is really hard to do a calories per point because it varies so much. I’ve averaged about 37 to 38 calories per each point eaten, not including 0 point foods. 30 points for me is usually between 1100 and 1150 calories, and then there are the 0 points fruits and veggies on top of that. Of course, it varies with what I eat.

  4. Beth S says

    Wow this is such a detailed and informative post! I have a few comments…
    1. In beginning of week I was having a very hard time hitting my 30 minimum – one night I had 14 left and had two cookies – I didn’t even necessarily want the cookies.
    2. As the week has gone on I’ve been doing much better with using all or close to all of my points
    3. I haven’t used any of my weeklies this week (the next 2 weeks starts winter break so that will not be the case moving forward
    4. I’m actually excited for my first weigh in tomorrow!

      • Beth S says

        I had tuna for dinner – 8 oz was 3 pts. A salad with chicken for lunch. An egg white omelet for breakfast .Yogurt for snack. On a day that I’m not eating out for dinner I think it’s really hard for me to hit because the protein points got much lower and I don’t eat packaged snacked stuff which was increased. Now I’m having a glass of wine since I have so many extra (I would never do that on a Wednesday!)

    • says

      Good luck on the weigh in! I have struggled to get 30 some days that I don’t eat out. Other days it is not hard. I sort of feel like if I would have met 26 on PointsPlus I won’t worry too much about it. But, if I’m way below I try to get much closer to the 30. I think I am less hungry.

  5. Carol says

    What a great well thought out post! I’m in the camp that didn’t do so well on Pointsplus (lost all my weight on Momentum) and I’m excited about the changes. I am finding that 30 points works really well for me on days that I don’t eat out and that I can use a few weeklies on the days that I do eat out. I had gotten into a really bad habit of having something sweet (chocolate, cookies) every day on pointsplus and I think it hurt my weight loss efforts. Now the sweet treats will be one or two times a week.

  6. says

    I’m curious if you have a good opinion on what to look for when it comes to saturated fat and sugars. Obviously, the less the better but I’m used to being able to eye up a nutritional label before even putting it into my calculator and knowing based on high carbs/low fiber it would be high. I’ve gone through my freezer and most of my pantry to recalculate the points with my new calculator but I’m still questioning what “good numbers” are. Like it 0.5 or 1.0 grams of saturated fat bad or is that considered a good choice? Same with sugars – 5 grams of sugar – I don’t know if that’s good or bad 🙂 Thanks!!

    • says

      That is an interesting question. I don’t know if it is a hard and fast line and it depends on the food quality and the total calories of the food. That is a snack that is 50 calories and 7 grams of sugar is “worse” to me than an entree that has 400 calories and 7 grams of sugar.

      Personally, I keep track of how many grams of sugar I eat and try to keep added sugars under 30g for the day. In the US, added sugar isn’t on the label so it includes natural sugars from things like fruits and vegetables. I don’t worry that much about those sugars. So I tend to not really like snacks that have more than 5 grams of added sugar. And, I would usually only have one snack like that in a day. Most snacks I want to have no more than 2, maybe 3. For a meal, I might allow a little more leeway particularly if some of those grams of sugar are not added sugar and are because of veggies in the meal.

      The American Heart Association recommends that no more than 5% to 6% of calories eaten per day should be saturated fat. For me, eating about 1200 calories a day that would be 7 or 8 grams which isn’t much. I don’t eat a lot of saturated fat (especially since I don’t eat beef), but I find it hard to stay at that level. I try to want for most of my saturated fat to come from food with protein in it. So, I will occasionally eat an ounce of full fat cheese. But, then I would try to limit saturated fat the rest of the day. I get a little of it even in lean protein like chicken. What I really watch out for are foods that have a lot of sugar and a lot of saturated fat, but don’t have much protein. I was eating some chocolate drizzled popcorn the other day and it really went up in points after SmartPoints game out. That was because it had 11g of sugar and 4g of saturated fat in a cup and a half serving. I realized it just wasn’t worth it. (Personally, for me, I think .5 to 1g of saturated fat is pretty low, but I would still keep in mind how much I’ve eaten overall during the day).

  7. Brisa1355 says

    Thank you for an excellent article. So far, I am mostly happy with BTS and SmartPoints. I do like sugar and saturated fat but I know they are not good for me, and that I need to be mindful of reducing them in my diet. I am unhappy with the removal of the GHGs which were there before PointsPlus and which helped me to lose and maintain very successfully. Change is always difficult. 🙂

    • says

      That is a good point. The one concern I have about that is that people who run out of points on SmartPoints may have trouble with Simply Filling because their weekly points have gone down. But it is definitely an option working trying out.

  8. roger says

    I for one will be quitting WWs because of the terrible web site. The Smart Points program may be good, but navigating and tracking via the WWs web site is horrible. There are many other tracking sites out there that will accomplish your desired results of weight loss and healthy living without the frustration and agony of using the WWs site. As for the comment that they will eventually fix it, well I doubt it. I don’t need the meeting support. Others may need it, for those, WWs might be a right choice.

    • says

      I can’t defend the website at all. I am truly amazed by how bad it is and don’t really understand why they have all these missing functions that we used to be able to do and now we can’t. Why they didn’t put those in from the get go I don’t understand. I hope that is going to get fixed soon, but I may indeed be over optimistic.

  9. Panglain says

    I don’t like that WW continues to push low calorie sweeteners and still claims to be a “healthy diet”. I believe that natural sugars and non-processed sugars are far superior to artificial sweeteners and even the “natural” low calorie sweeteners. I am thinking of sticking with Points+ because it allows me more freedom to make healthy vs less healthy choices. I also feel that by discouraging the use of fitpoints, WW is discouraging people to get more than the minimum. I know you cannot use all of your fit points because they really are too easy to get (this is something that should be adjusted IMO – I currently have 98 on the week), and although they claim that fitbit points are not counted twice when you do activity, they currently are.

    • says

      I do think they need to work on FitPoints. I sort of understand making them a little easier to earn, but not so hard to earn. But, I think they have gone too far by getting rid of the baseline. Maybe keep them a bit easier to earn and encourage eating them but only letting you trade 2 FP for one SP or something. I’ve also found that if I make a mistake on an activity that I enter on Fitbit and need to delete and reenter it that WW double counts it.

  10. Charlotte says

    How do you all handle it as far as calculating SP when the saturated fats and sugars information is not readily available. I’m having trouble figuring it out especially for restaurants (like for those not in the Eating Out guide). Sometimes I just guess but that’s not at all accurate. I suppose as time goes by that information will be available but it would be nice to have a bit of a handle on it now.

    • says

      I would look up something similar at another restaurant and scale it to the calories. For example, a Mexican food restaurant I go to does not publish nutritional information. But, their fajitas look very similar to those at Chili’s which does publish such information so I use that one. I wouldn’t use homemade fajitas to compare to restaurant fajitas. (I often use the database at MyFitnessPal since it is very extensive). If I had calories and protein then I would just use the sat. fat and sugar from a similar place or see if WW has a generic item in its database.

  11. Mr.Milo says

    I just thought I would chime in here. For perspective, I have been a WW member for 24 years and worked for them for 13 of those years. As both a member and more precisely as a staff member, I definitely saw the food abuse that went on with both points and points plus. Healthy guidelines were routinely ignored as if they were not part of the program. People under ate their point, over ate their points, or filled their day with poor quality food and of course it was the “programs fault”. Two years ago, for other health considerations (my own as well as various family members) by “healthy eating” began to change. Ironically, I have had to change almost nothing in the change over to sp. With that said, you might assume I love the program but I am going to have to give it time.

    What do I love and dislike? I am happy they finally got rid of the benefits of fiber. The original purpose of the fiber benefit in the points plus equation made sense, then the abuse began. Yogurt and ice cream treats with fiber in them. WW was as guilty as all the other manufacturers for taking advantage of the P+ math. Now with smart points, they have gotten rid to that and this program addresses the newer research with keeps pointing towards the dangers of excessive carbohydrates to our health. So that is a love.

    I am not happy how broadly they are going after the fats. Yes, fats are calorie dense and each one has good or bad qualities. I am not happy that there is an assault on saturated fat. Who else besides me has been hearing of the benefits of fats like coconut oil? The approach WW has gone with is solely in the direction of the heart association. Where is some of the newest studies on brain health and fats represented in this “cutting edge” program?

    I also am not certain that I like that there are no healthy guidelines. I have seen how much people can avoid eating a diverse selection of foods even when it was required. Now skim milk is up to 3 sp and a glass of wine is 4 sp. I know what members will be picking.

    • says

      Excellent comments. And, I think it does make a lot of sense. I agree with you on the fiber and how it was used to game the system. I am glad that non-saturated fat is treated neutrally by the program which is better than the past, which demonized all fats, I do feel, from what I’ve read, that not all saturated fats are the same. But, I am also mindful that WW has to consider practicality in setting up a program. That is, if they want to have a program that is relatively simple to use the points formula has to use the numbers that are on the nutrition label and that doesn’t differentiate between types of saturated fat. So, I understand why they have to treat all saturated fats the same in their formula even though they may not all the same in how we eat.

      I am one of those who is glad to see the GHGs go. I have trouble with having a lot of dairy so that was a GHG I couldn’t really meet and it bothered me. But, I would like to see them do more nutrition education and suggestions that don’t quite rise to the level of GHGs. Perhaps that will be addressed in the meetings.

      • Mr.Milo says

        I agree with you that I hope some nutritional advice is added to the program. I get the feeling that those of us December members are somewhat being used as test subjects, but of course I do not know that as a fact. I do find that staff are ducking important questions when asked. I don’t know if that is because that is how they are being instructed or if there are truly some missing pieces in this program and therefore the staff are at a loss as to how to handle these questions. Could I ask my ex-coworkers? Yes, but I don’t want to put them in the situation of compromising their work ethics.

        I certainly saw many other members with dairy issues and the dairy GHG was certainly a problem for them. But, again, I had members show me their tracker and their meal was crackers, pretzels and booze with a few m&m’s thrown in and they believed they were following PointPlus. So actually, maybe being dinged for all those carbs will naturally shift members to the healthy foods. Be interesting to watch.

        I agree with your assessment that WW had to put together a system to be followed and how would they differentiate between saturated fats, but I was kind of hoping for a perfect miracle. 🙂 Given my own feelings on healthy saturated fats, I have already decided how I will be gaming the system. Those fats will be tracked as EVOO when I choose to consume them, but I do that at my own risk.

        Lastly, I am annoyed with the new website. I cannot find the old forum. I think “connect” in the APP is the replacement. That means all old conversations are gone (I had some valuable ones there) and it would have been nice if we were given the chance to know they were going to go and could have reviewed them in the weeks preceding. Also, only offering “connect” neglects those members who don’t own smart devices. I am not comfortable with that decision. Next, the recipe builder does not work. It does not update for the number of servings and the “total” points caps out at two digits which when it does not divide by servings runs a problem doing larger holiday recipes. Can’t find a place to search on recipes. All my old recipes I liked, I cannot find. And the recipes I do find through food search, are not printable. I am hoping one of your write me back and tell me I am mistaken and what I am doing wrong. Fingers crossed. 🙂

        • says

          The website and app are a mess. Some of the errors are better than they were, but there is still missing functionality. Some of it is coming back, but it isn’t here yet.

          I do have one bit of good news. The message boards are still there! It is just the links to them aren’t working. You can find them by searching on Google. I did that and bookmarked this direct link.

          • Mr.Milo says

            Kitty, Thanks for the link to the message boards. It does seem to think that I have not written anything, but I will admit that it had been a very long time so that is pretty close to never. 🙂

  12. Pam says

    Thank you for such an informative post. I read with interest your thoughts on why people might choose to leave Weight Watchers, and found that my reason must be different than most. To me, the new SmartPoints program is attempting to use social engineering to make Weight Watchers members eat the way WW executives think we should eat. I know that the idea is to “nudge” us into making healthier choices, but to be blunt – that’s not why I joined Weight Watchers. I joined simply to lose weight. I sort of fell into healthy eating along the way, and my doctor is ecstatic with the results, both on the scale and with my blood work. I find that I am just too resentful now that the points value of some foods have been arbitrarily raised or lowered simply because they are either on WW’s naughty or nice list. It makes no sense to me that a Weight Watchers mini bar that was 2 points on Wednesday suddenly becomes 4 points the next day. That’s not nutritional science to me…it’s just the diet equivalent of someone prodding me with a cattle prod to tread the path THEY want me to take.

    • says

      Thank you for explaining your perspective. You are right…that is one I haven’t see before. But, I understand your point. The fact is that WW is moving from being simply a weight loss program to focusing more on what it sees as healthy living. For me, I’m OK with that perhaps because what they are doing with SmartPoints aligns with what I consider healthy for me in eating. I might feel differently if it didn’t align or if I didn’t want WW to have input into that part at all.

    • Megan says

      Pam–THANK YOU! Those are my exact thoughts. I have lost a great deal of weight and have reaped the benefits–as well as my Dr’s praise. I feel like WW just took away my tool for success in the interest of wanting us all to eat however their personal nutritionists say we should. Instead of a learning tool about sustainable lifestyle changes and portion control, I feel Smart Points are a restrictive fad diet akin to all the stupid unsustainable plans I have dismissed out of hand, like Paleo or macrobiotic or South Beach or Atkins. That isn’t useful for me. I was willing, when I began, to just eat less of the crap I had been eating, and came to healthier eating naturally as I learned. Smart Points feels like it doesn’t want me to learn–it wants us to obey.

      • says

        I do think that one of the things that makes the new program hard if you already aren’t eating that way is that the change was very abrupt. This is not an issue for absolutely new members as they are signing up for a new program and know it. For existing members, the change is so abrupt that I could feel like being whiplashed. I did pretty already eat the SmartPoints way before it came out so it wasn’t an abrupt change for me. But, it took years for me to get to that point of eating. It would have been very hard for me to just switch to it between one day and the next. For those who are willing to ultimately move to eating that way, it may make sense to modify the program so that the switch is not so abrupt.
        Kitty recently posted…January Weigh InMy Profile

  13. Sean says

    I want to continue eating whole milk, yogurt and real cheese. Cheerios 1 cup, whole milk 1 cup, coffee w sugar is 14 or maybe 15 smart points . My daily smart points are 30. So the new program doesn’t work for me. I lost 19 pounds eating whole milk dairy products… So, the new program is very, very restrictive for me. The online coaches suggested that I divide my weekly points by 7 days and up my daily smart points to 36… Crazy! Why should I go into negative daily points every day?

    Under points plus, I had 33 points per day. This worked for me.

    • says

      In your case, I probably would eat my weekly points dividing them out over the week. I think that one of the differences with SmartPoints is that WW very clearly wants us to eat our weekly points. Also, you might think about eating some of your FitPoints. But, yes, the new program is not real friendly to eating a lot of whole milk dairy products. Some, yes, but not as much as before.

  14. Kerri says

    I recently rejoined Weight Watchers, and I am really missing PointsPlus. I think especially at the beginning we should be able to create a calorie deficit in any way that we can. Eating less of the normal things we eat is a valid way to start trying to lose. I don’t like feeling like a have to drastically change the way I am eating right from the get go. Healthier eating is definitely a good long-term goal, but can’t we get there over time?

    My other gripe is that I feel like it is hard for vegetarians like myself. I do get plant-based protein and occasionally will eat fish and seafood, but I am never going to get a very large amount of protein. I don’t get to benefit from the reduction in points for lean meats, but I do have to pay for the extra carbs.

    For now, I have been eating all (yes all) of my weekly points and daily fit points. Based on my size and activity, my Fitbit typically tells me that I burn between 3200 and 3500 calories per day. If this is true, then I want my calories to be no lower than 2200. I believe that daily plus weekly divided up for me (49 points per day) comes out to about 1800 calories? I do not need to be on an 1800 calorie/day diet right now…that can happen later as my weight goes down. I know myself too well to know that if I restrict too much I will respond by bingeing in a major way. I also think that it hurts metabolism to go too low.

    • says

      I agree with you that it is easier to change eating habits for time. That is how I did it. At the same time, I’m not sure how WW can do that. That is they can’t have your points be X the first Month you eat and then the calculator works differently the next. I do think the abrupt change is really difficult even though I do think WW is overall right in what it is trying to do with SP.

      I do think that it is a bit harder for vegetarians because you don’t get the benefit of low points for chicken breast (although you will get it when you choose to eat fish). I was a vegetarian for a couple of years in the past, and I ate a lot of legumes. Many of them have not changed in points although some have gone up a little. It does pay to check different brands and varities.

      On the Fitbit thing, this may not apply to you, but I had my resting metabolic rate tested. Because of my high body fat, my actual RMR rate was over a 100 calories a day less than that what Fitbit was estimating. Basically I actually burn about 200 calories a day less than Fitbit estimates. Check to see if your losses are in line with what your calories deficit was on Fitbit. If you aren’t losing that much then Fitbit may be overestimating calories burn.

      For me, 49 points in a day would end up at about 1800 calories (for me a SP is about 36 to 37 calories). But, that is without counting 0 point fruit and veggies. Once you add in 0 point fruits and veggies (depending on how much you eat and what you eat) you may be much closer to the 2200 calories want. It might pay to count calories for a few weeks so you can refine this to where you want to be.

      • Kerri says

        Thanks for your reply. Yes, I think
        I may use both WW and a calorie counter for at least a few days and see what happens. I typically eat the same things for breakfast and lunch every day, and those total 660 calories and are 18 SPs. However, I need to fit 2 snacks and a dinner in there, and as far as dinner goes I need to have flexibility to be able to eat out several times a week and have a small treat at least a few times a week.

        If I eat all of my fit points it is enough, but the psychology behind going over your daily allotment every day, eating all of your weekly points by day 2, and earning and spending big totals of fit points makes me feel like I am always over/working from a disadvantage and cheating! So when I look at my food log, I am always at 0 points remaining but I am still hungry…it just makes me feel like I might as well eat whatever I have ruined everything anyway.

        There is someone on another site who got 25 calories per SP as an average…that would work out to only 1200 calories for me if you divide the weeklies and still only 1700 if I eat all my fit points.

        • says

          This is why it entirely depends on how you eat. I get 36 or 37 calories per SP on average not including 0 point foods. Even if I didn’t include the chicken I eat (I eat no beef, basically chicken/turkey breast and fish only), I would probably be right at 35 calories a SP. One thing that helps me I often eat a large salad for lunch and most of it is 0 points so it is really low points but is very filling.

  15. Missy says

    I lost weight on Flex Points. It was awesome! I hated PP. Since its debut, I lost (and gained) the same 5 pounds. This past summer, I decided to attend meetings and follow Flex. I lost 14 pounds. I was exercising and felt great! Smart Points…hate it. Maybe I do eat too much sugar. Overall, it might be healthier. But, I think it is more important to lose the weight than anything else. On Flex, I felt freedom. PP felt like a diet. Smart Points are torture. 😉

    • says

      Ideally, I know that for me I ultimately wanted to do both: lose weight and eat healthier. And, for those who can do both at the same time I think that is the best course. At the same time, I know that I have difficulty changing too many things at one time. So, it can make a lot of sense to work on one thing at a time if it is just too much to change everything at once (and it sounds like Flex worked well for you). At the same time, for me personally, when I just worked on eating less of the same food I lost weight…but regained. I had to change how I ate, to sustain weight loss. But, that is me and we all have to find what works for us. Weight loss programs aren’t one size fits all.

  16. Diane McClure says

    Long time member, have lost 120 lbs. After careful analysis and giving the new plan a fair shake, I’m deactivating and moving on to MFP. My points did not increase and 30 SO everyday with the new plan doesn’t cut it. Plus, the assault on saturated fat isn’t worth it to me. Fats actually help my health due to inflammation. And I can’t justify having to pay money for technological ineptness. No other major company would offer such a debacle of a rollout to their consumers and expect to stay in business. The bottom line…WW has worked for me because of the flexibility. I could make it work in whatever environment in which I found myself. The other night, I worked late, it was unplanned, I had no access to dinner except the vending machine. Peanut M&m’s were my best option, as I am also gluten free. 250 calories translated into 11 SP, which means WW is advocating me eating less than 750 calories per day. Yes, this is the literal calculation. And no I don’t eat sugar everyday and realize I am to supplement with F & V’s, and use my bonus points on a daily basis. But I can’t live with a plan who has decided to handcuff me with this stringent & unreasonable methodology. Not eating out and having to micromanage are not options for this consumer. Still, it is a very good plan for some. However, I have decided MFP better fits my lifestyle and I’m ready for non-manipulated calorie/nutrition tracking. And I can’t help but wonder why MFP is able to provide workable technology to their consumers at an affordable $10 a month, while WW can’t seem to manage to save my basic recipe data during an update??

    • says

      I do like MFP a lot. I have a premium membership and use it every day. I think it is a great option for calorie counting. My main frustration with MFP deals with why you can do certain things with the mobile app that you can’t do with using the browser on a computer. It is a constant annoyance for me that when I’m using my computer at MFP, I often have to stop and go get my phone to do some things. But, nothing is perfect and that is a minor point to me.

      I do think that different plans work for different people. I just was looking at my summary of what I ate in 2015 (using the data from MFP) and found that I ate 11% of my calories from saturated fat for the year and 10% of my calories from sugar (including natural sugar). But, I’m not a low fat eater. 44% of my total calories were from fat. So, for me, SP really does work well. But, you have tried the plan and really don’t like it and I can totally understand that you have concluded doesn’t work for you. Calorie counting is a very viable option. (And, why WW has had such difficulty with the technology is beyond me. It does seem to be getting better, but I can totally understand the frustration with it).

  17. says

    I’m still trying to decide if I should take advantage of SmartPoints. I have to admit, all the technical issues I’ve been hearing about has played a big part in my hesitation. Of course, there’s also the part about needing to meet a certain number of points in a day. I don’t quite understand that part. I mean, what if I don’t want to eat any more?

    • says

      The technical issues are better now, for me. Those seemed to be more sporadic now. I’m able to track everything fine right now both on the browser and my iPhone.

      The idea of meeting minimum points is that we all need a certain number of calories each for good nutrition. So, WW selects a daily minimum for you based upon your height, age, weight and gender. There are times that I don’t quite get to my 30 SmartPoints daily minimum and if I’m close I don’t stress about it. For instance, I ended up at 29 daily SmartPoints a few days this week and I didn’t worry about it. I wasn’t going to just eat something when I wasn’t hungry. On the other hand, if I wanted to stop at 15 SmartPoints then that would be way too low and wouldn’t be a good and healthy way for me to be eating.

  18. says

    I dislike the smartpoints plus compared to the points plus. A few years back I was thrown for a loop being diagnosed as Celiac. It threw me for a loop and still does, but I have found products, like Amy’s Bowls/meals that are gluten free and satisfying. Being Celiac, I had to get rid of all my staple recipes for pizza, sandwiches, pasta, tortillas, and etc. Now that WW has switched from points plus to smart points, I cannot enjoy the few gluten free meals that I have found because they are almost double the points and I cannot afford them, including milk in my coffee!! I feel like I am suffocating! I don’t want to be stuck just eating damn boring salads without a reasonably tasty salad dressing. I think smart points has made my options more limited and is closing in on the light at the end of the tunnel that I began to see as a Celiac. HELP!!! Who cares about the unhealthy WW treats that are gluten free. I’d rather have my coffee with milk but it cost 6 points!!!

    • says

      Some options might be meals with lean protein (chicken, fish) with vegetables. Maybe some things with legumes. Also, would Simply Filling be an option?

  19. Michelle says

    I just joined WW because I had heard (in the past) that it was so easy and doable. I was shocked at the restrictiveness of the new program. This is not the same program that my mother lives and lost lots of weight on.

    I guess my problem here is that you’ve had years to adjust to your low-sugar healthier lifestyle. I’ve just begun and I’m not there yet. And if I had the willpower to make healthy choices already I wouldn’t be overweight to begin with. I need a gentler approach… And now I wish I had my $115 back.

    • says

      You make a good point. I do think this is a much healthier way of eating and think it is better for me. At the same time, you are right I didn’t turn on a dime to start eating that way. I spent several years slowly adjusting. It would have been much harder to do it quickly.

      I do think for those transitioning to this way of eating, it may really help to have more cushion by eating both FitPoints (above the baseline) and Weekly SmartPoints. Then, let amount of weight loss help in guiding how much of that you can afford to do from a weight loss perspective.

  20. Tamera Noll says

    Thank you so much for this wonderful piece of information 🙂 I have been off and on WW for years..my last great experience being with WW Points plus and lost 30 lbs in 2 1/2 months…I LOVED it. When I read tons of stuff on SP I was VERY deterred to NOT rejoin especially with LONG time WW goers were not happy…I know PP VERY well, and I could see how I wouldn’t like certain things as well. However after reading your article, I realized being an AVID gym goer currently for the last 2 months, I go 4 to 6 times a WEEK I have lost about 7 pounds in 2 months, which I know has been slow due to eating and mainly weight lifting and minimal cardio. In any case I am a believe in the more “healthy” Clean eating way which I am working on. So this will probably be good for me. So I just left and went and signed up and went to a meeting during lunch. So again thank you 🙂 you helped a lot. I signed up for a MONTH we shall see how it goes!

  21. Mary Rose says

    Hi there. Enjoy your blog thank you for the great information and your experiences.
    Weight watchers…..I return often, I am unsuccessful because I do not follow. I was successful before points, Imagine how I, and pre points ww’s think when considering the plans since 1996!
    We have been there for points, points plus and smart points.
    There are dietitians and their plans, Atkins, counting calories, jenny craig, food in the mail or office plans. Din’t forget Tops and hypnosis.
    Sadly I can pass a guess the points and calories test.
    Sadly I decided at age 63 to consider bariatruc surgery, Sadly in 6 months I gained 6 pounds rather than lose 30 Percent of my total weight to even be considered for wls! Yikes!
    The wls program handed me many weight loss paperwork, lists if calories and fat, try meal replacements..the plate method.
    Enough! You say, so do I.
    I paid for SP from Dec thru June 11, 2016 without putting in one day never mind a week or longer.
    So what is this all about?
    We all know exactly what to do and how.
    We all know we need support.
    We all know we need to eat better and healthier whether we live alone or with others.
    What is true, is support, meetings, eating well and losing the crap not the diet the us, the stick to it, the word, No, the points, the calories, the packaged food all good, none and I mean not one other plan even knew my name…at meetings there are others, there is paper and pencil and accountability.
    What the Receptionist saud when I caught my first meeting after telling her I was there to lose enough weight for surgery, “Why don’t you just give this a chance for a little while first”
    She was, and is correct, I have yet to catch up with getting my crap together and as ww’s say, “Stay on plan”.
    My point is when you study the plans you clearly see that no matter what the plan, all depend on less food. Does not matter pp, points plus, smart points or the abive mentioned all is up to what each individual needs to succeed.
    I have not met that plan or mindset yet maybe soon🍀
    A very successful Weight Watcher once taught me, while I was agonizing over data entry into my ww app…..he reminded me that he used a paper tracker, his small plan starter booklet and weekly meetings…Nice😃.
    Many thanks.

  22. donia says

    can anyone help to get the app for pro point the smart points dose not agree with me with the other pro points I lost all my baby weight close of given up

  23. Julie Harrell says

    I was on Smart points for 1 year religiously and only lost 12 pounds. I went back to the original points program and started losing weight again. I don’t think the Smart points plan is too restrictive. I think it allows too many calories and fat.

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