Should I Eat My FitPoints?

With Weight Watchers Beyond the Scale program, one of the first decisions to be made is whether you will eat your FitPoints.  Or, to put it in Weight Watchers language, whether you swap your earned FitPoints for SmartPoints, thereby giving you more SmartPoints to eat.  The way it works is this.  The activity we engage in earns us FitPoints.  If we choose to, we can trade 1 FitPoint for 1 SmartPoint allowing us to effectively eat that FitPoint.  The default online setting is that you do not swap FitPoints for SmartPoints.  But you can, in fact, go to your settings and flip that choice on.  You can either swap FitPoints before Weekly Points or after them.  I swap them after.


So, should we be swapping FitPoints?  For once, I am going to give a clear and direct answer.  Maybe.

The point is that there is no one size fits all answer.  I like that we have the choice to do what works best for each of us.  Some of us will do best swapping all FitPoints, some will do best swapping none of them, and some will do best swapping some of them.

Is it Against Weight Watchers to Eat FitPoints? Aren’t We Supposed to not Eat Them?

Shortly after Beyond the Scale came out, I did a post about earning FitPoints.  Most of what I said there is still the case, so I suggest reading that post and then coming back here.  However, a month and a half later there are some things that have changed. The biggest area of change is in what Weight Watchers in the United States says about swapping FitPoints.  Back then, Weight Watchers was discouraging the eating of FitPoints. Now?  Not so much. [Read more…]

Oprah’s Call with Weight Watchers Members

Last night, Oprah Winfrey had a live call with Weight Watchers members.  Questions could be submitted in advance, and a few members were able to ask questions live to Oprah.  I didn’t listen to the call live, but did listen to it today.  For U.S. Weight Watchers members, you can listen to Oprah’s call at Weight Watchers online.

I was surprised today by how much I enjoyed the call.  Ever since Oprah invested in Weight Watchers, I’ve seen some very pro and con views of her.  I’ve been more in the middle.  I have nothing against Oprah, but have never been a huge fan.  When she had her TV show I didn’t watch it.  It wasn’t anything against her, but I was working full-time and had kids and didn’t watch much TV.  Maybe I watched it a few scattered times or would see clips of it at times.  But, that was all.   I did, years ago, read the book she did with Bob Greene about her weight loss.  And, I have always felt bad for her with her weight loss maintenance struggles.  She always seemed to be able to lose when she set her mind to it.  But, like many of us (including me), maintaining that loss was a struggle.

When she joined Weight Watchers and invested, I was surprised in a way that so many seemed so hostile to her.  I never felt hostile to her.  I just don’t really get that invested in many celebrities.  I did hope that her investment would be good for Weight Watchers and that her following Weight Watchers would be good for her.

Anyway, the call was interesting.  In many ways, she sounded like any other Weight Watchers member, with many similar struggles. She was on there with the Weight Watchers leader who is her coach.  I liked that Oprah started out talking about what she likes about the Weight Watchers community and how she acknowledged the long-time members.  I think she did a good job of being an advocate for the Weight Watchers way while being careful not to act like she is a big expert on Weight Watchers. [Read more…]

Great Weigh In (And a Few Thoughts on Added Sugar)

I had a great weigh in this Saturday.

1-23-16 Weigh InI was down 2.6 pounds to 143.6 pounds.  That was exciting to me because it puts me 2.4 pounds below my Weight Watchers goal weight of 146 pounds.  Now, this covers 3 weeks since my January weigh in, but it is a new low weight for me (in the last 25 years anyway).  In truth, I ate a bit lower carb for the latter part of the week (although my average carbs per day over the week was 106g) so some of this may be loss of water that occurs when carbs are restricted.  Still, I think most of it is “real” weight loss.

It was a really good week on eating. I ate some, but not all, of my Weekly Points.  One thing that helped was that we only ate out once during the week (last Saturday which is when I ate the weekly points). And, I ate low sugar during the week.  I averaged 21g of sugar per day which includes natural sugars.

And, that ties into something from the meeting I went to today.  The leader had a poster where she says she laid out how she felt in her early weeks of using SmartPoints:

Drawing 1-23

And, she talked about going through the process from wondering why the program was changed, to not liking it, to thinking it was too hard, then way too hard and then wanting to quit.  But then she came through that and went on the upswing and used various strategies ending up at being glad she didn’t quit.

In some ways, I found this hard to relate to with regard to SmartPoints. I never felt any of those things.   I’ve liked it from the start and never felt it was too hard.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t had to change some things or that I haven’t had to adjust how I do some stuff.  I have.  It is just that it hasn’t been a big change for me since I already ate mostly that way.

When I was looking at this, and listening to some members who really were some way along the path in the picture, I thought about some comments I had seen recently.  The basic gist of them was along these lines:  This program is not sustainable because it is impossible for anyone to eat like this.  To do this, I would have to entirely give up sugar and saturated fat and no one can do that.  It is not a way that anyone can sustain for a lifetime.

I always felt funny when I read that.  Because, I’ve been eating that way for awhile.  And, I do still eat sugar and saturated fat, just not much of them.  But, here’s the thing.  I don’t find it impossible to sustain because I have changed my food preferences.  I am not white knuckling my way through it.  I like how I eat now.

I feel that I eat a lot of snack foods and I eat plenty of sweet food.  I started going back through my records for last week and tried to figure out how many grams of added sugar I ate each day (I don’t worry about natural sugar).  Here is what I found for last week. Note that if a food has both added and natural sugar I am counting all of it as added.  If I don’t know I figure it is added sugar. Sugar is shown in grams:

Saturday – 30g – Indonesian Peanut Saute (14), Potstickers (5), Cherry Tango Dark Chocolate Square (5), Kay’s Cinnamon Toast Pretzel Sticks (3), True Lemonade (2), Reduced Fat Ranch Salad Dressing (1)

Sunday – 10g – Cherry Tango Dark Chocolate Square (5), Kay’s Cinnamon Toast Pretzel Sticks (3), Quest Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bar (1), Tortilla Crusted Tilapia (1)

Monday – 12g – Cherry Tango Dark Chocolate Square (5), Kay’s Cinnamon Toast Pretzel Sticks (6), Quest Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar (1),

Tuesday – 11g – Frial Green Beans (6 – some of this is natural, but some is not), Kay’s Cinnamon Toast Pretzel Sticks (3), Quest Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bar (1), True Lemonade (1)

Wednesday – 13g -Dark Chocolate with Cinnamon, Cayenne & Cherries (4), Kay’s Cinnamon Toast Pretzel Sticks (3), Quest Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bar (1), Kay’s Honey Almond Cookie Bites (3)

Thursday – 7g – Luvo Chicken Chili Verde with Polenta & Black Beans (5 – some of this is natural, but not all), Quest Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bar (1), True Lemonade (1)

Friday – 8g – Dark Chocolate with Cinnamon, Cayenne & Cherries (4), Quest Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bar (1), Kay’s Honey Almond Cookie Bites (3)

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough bars do have artificial sweetener in them. I don’t think anything else does although they may have some non-sugar natural sweeteners such as stevia.

I averaged 13g of added sugar a day. I was under the 6% a day of added sugar recommended for a woman by the American Heart Association.  Now, you might think I was miserable and barely hanging on.  Or that I would be on the verge of blowing it because I would be feeling so deprived.

But, honestly, this was a pretty lavish week for added sugar for me.  I ate way more than usual last Saturday. For that day, about 9 1/2 % of my calories were added sugar which is huge for me.  I had chocolate on 5 days of the week!  And, I had a ton of stuff that had at least a little sugar in it.  Yes, the Chocolate Chip Cookie dough bars have some artificial sweetener in them.  And, I could certainly avoid those if I wanted.  On the other hand, the Quest Chocolate Peanut Butter bars don’t have artificial sweetener. So, I could substitute those if I didn’t want any artificial sweetener at all.

I don’t see what I ate as being “never” eating sugar.  Let me put it this way.  I ate all the added sugar that I wanted to eat.  My servings of chocolate were small, but I could have eaten more if I wanted it. I ended the week with 18 Weekly Points.  So if I had really wanted more I could have had it.  It is just that over the past few years, I’ve changed.

Some might think that, well, I’m different from other people and that I just never liked sugar.  Well, no.  Back when I was still in school I remember going to the grocery store every day and being half a dozen cinnamon sugar donuts and eating them all when I got home. In the summer of 2013, my tracker shows days where I had multiple servings of cookies from HEB (one day I had 9 serving of one flavor and a couple of more of another flavor).  And, there was a time that I bought a Snickers bar every afternoon from the vending machine at work.

So, yes, I used to love sugar. This is why it bothers me so much when I see someone say that SmartPoints is not sustainable for anyone.  I totally get it that there are many reasons not to like SmartPoints and some people will be happier and will do better long term on another program.  There is nothing wrong with that.  There are many ways to eat and many ways to get to goal and maintain it. We all have to find what works best for us.  So, it bothers me not at all if someone chooses a different way of losing weight.

But, that is not the same as saying the program is not sustainable for anyone.  Sometimes what I see is someone saying that it is not sustainable because the program does not allow the eating of enough sugary treats.  There are two problems with that.  First, it may not be sustainable to that person.  That does not mean it isn’t sustainable for me.  I was perfectly happy with what I ate last week.  I had Weekly Points left over and could have had a 17 SmartPoint Cinnamon Crunch bagel if I really wanted it.  I remember how it tastes and, yes, it was good.  But, I no longer had a driving desire or need to have it.  There were other things I wanted more and I got enough of that food.  I didn’t want to eat more. Maybe I will have one sometime.  But, in truth, I liked my Antep Pistachios last week more than I would have liked the bagel.

The second problem with rejecting the program because it doesn’t allow eating enough sugar is that it basically rejects the notion that we can change our food preferences.  There is an assumption that not eating those things must engender feelings of deprivation.  If we couldn’t change over time that would be true.  There was a time that a week without a full-size candy bar and without cookies would have felt like deprivation to me.  But, I changed.  And, now, I don’t feel deprived not to have those things all the time.  I occasionally might have them in a small portion, but they are simply another food.

At one time I couldn’t imagine not regularly eating high sugar foods.  I would have thought I would be miserable and unhappy if I didn’t have them.  But, by changing how I ate over time, I truly and honestly changed.  I used to hate salads.  Now, I have one almost every day and and I truly love it.  The choice of salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette or a piece of candy is now one that requires some thought.  The candy doesn’t usually win. And, when it does, I eat it happily and am satisfied with very little.  There was a time when I couldn’t understand that way of thinking.  But, I changed because I was open to the possibility of change.



Should I Eat My Weekly SmartPoints?

This is the first of three posts about how many SmartPoints to eat.  This post will mostly discuss Weekly SmartPoints, the next will be about FitPoints, and the third will be about those who find it hard to reach their minimum Daily SmartPoints.

Ever since Weight Watchers went to a points system, I have seen and heard Weight Watchers members who said they only ate their daily points.  They didn’t eat weekly points at all (or activity points when those were available).  And, if they did somehow eat some of their weekly points during the week, they seemed to feel that they had “gone over” on their points and had somehow done something that they shouldn’t do.

Almost two years ago, I made this post where I pointed out that daily points are the minimum that Weight Watchers want you to eat daily.  They decidedly are not the maximum points that we should eat.

But, that was then.  And, now Weight Watchers has a new Beyond the Scale program, and members are eating SmartPoints not PointsPlus.  Does what I said about PointsPlus and weekly points still apply?  At that time, I discussed in my post why I always did eat some of my weekly points.  In fact, there were times I ate every last one of them.

I had three basic points that I made in that post.  And, I think that those three points still apply.  However, because of how SmartPoints distributes points, I think it is easier now to eat Daily Points only on some days, while reserving Weekly Points to only limited days during the week. [Read more…]

How to Estimate SmartPoints in Food

Sometimes I just need to know how to quickly estimate the number of SmartPoints in food based upon the available nutritional information. Of course, I can get an exact calculation of SmartPoints a variety of ways.  I can go to the Weight Watchers site on my browser and use the calculator there.  I can use the calculator on my phone. I can even use the handy handheld calculator.  Even though I mostly do stuff online or on my phone, I find it very handy to have a low tech handheld calculator.

Despite all of this, I sometimes don’t have any of that at hand.  I’m at the grocery store and didn’t bring my phone in with me or I don’t have two hands free to use it or the handheld calculator.  In that case, I just want to estimate the number of SmartPoints in something. Or I am at a restaurant and have the nutritional information on my phone and don’t want to switch back and forth to the calculator on the phone.  I just want to look at the information and make a reasonable estimate.

I don’t have to be exactly accurate.  If it is within a point or so of accuracy, I’m good.  And, I want something I can easily do in my head with as little dividing and multiplying as possible.  I have previously posted about this article conjecturing as to the Weight Watchers SmartPoints formula.  While I don’t know for sure that is exactly accurate, it seems to work.  The article has a version of a simpler estimator, which also works.  But, it has too much dividing for me and isn’t easy for me to actually remember there in the store or restaurant.  What I use is a variation of that estimator that I find easier to use out in the field, so to speak. This is my SmartPoints Estimator:


While this isn’t exact and you have to pay attention to rounding it works remarkably well for me. [Read more…]