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.The first point that I made in 2014 is that to eat exactly at your minimum daily points really promotes rigidity in eating.  Think about it.  It is really hard to eat exactly the same amount of SmartPoints each and every day.  You have to be super rigid about what you eat.  I get 30 Daily SmartPoints (the minimum amount).  What if I have eaten 28 SmartPoints and I get hungry?  I could eat a single bag of Kay’s Cinnamon Almond Cookie Bites (3 SmartPoints), but that would take a Weekly SmartPoint.  If I don’t want to eat any SmartPoints I can’t do that.  Or, worse, I do eat a Weekly SmartPoint and feel like a failure.

Well, I could instead eat a Weight Watchers Jalapeno Cheese Stick.  But, that is 1 SmartPoint so I am still under my Daily SmartPoints (I will talk in a later post about whether it is OK to just eat 29 SmartPoints).  If I want to eat exactly my Daily SmartPoints and not one point more or less, then neither choice works for me.  I have to go find something that is exactly 2 SmartPoints to eat.  That gives me very little flexibility at all.

Which brings up the second point that I raised in when discussing PointsPlus and Weekly Points.  That kind of eating promotes a diet mentality.  That isn’t how real life is.  That is the epitome of a rigid diet.  It would be really difficult to eat the exact same number of SmartPoints each day for a lifetime.  Do I want to try to eat 36 Daily SmartPoints each and every day for the rest of my life (the default I would get on maintenance)?  No.  I want something that is more realistic and flexible.

Which then leads to the third point I made.  When looking at weight loss from a lifetime perspective, it was important for me to learn how vary how much I eat each day.  I needed to learn how to handle it when I have a day that I eat 50 SmartPoints.  I needed to learn how to adjust the rest of my week to allow for that without going off track entirely.  Practicing that skill while losing weight is valuable in learning how to maintain weight loss.

Of course, the argument against eating any Weekly Points is simple.  Over time, I will lose more weight if I eat only my Daily SmartPoints and eat no Weekly SmartPoints.  In general, that is true for many of us.  But, here’s the thing.  Lots of us can do a great job at losing weight.  At least for a while.  But, there tend to be two problem areas.  First, it sometimes doesn’t last.  There comes a time when we overeat and then find it hard to get back on track.  We try and try to get back on track, but fail.  And, before we know it, most or all of what we lost is back on us.  I’ve been through this time and again. What I have learned is that the more I try to eat close to the minimum and the more I make Weight Watchers a rigid diet, the more likely I am to go off track and then to have trouble getting back on track.

Of course, some people don’t have that problem.  They have the second issue.  They get to goal eating little or no Weekly Points by eating in a very rigid fashion.  Then, they realize that they can’t stand doing that forever.  So, they start loosening up.  But, they have no practice in learning how to eat out with a big calorie day and then having to adjust for the rest of the week.  They haven’t learned how to incorporate treats in their eating.  They start trying to learn how to do this on maintenance and, sometimes, the results aren’t what they wanted.

Many of us have gotten to goal or lost a substantial amount of weight, but we regained.  For me, it was important for me to learn how to manage real life eating before I got back to goal.  I had to learn how to manage my weekly points over the course of a week so I could eat in a flexible after I got to goal.  I couldn’t learn how to do that if I never ate any weekly points.

All of that was true with PointsPlus.  It is also true with calorie counting plans.  Most calorie counting sites I’ve seen want to give you a single rigid daily calorie goal (premium MyFitnessPal lets you set daily goals that vary each day. I wish it would let you set an overall weekly goal).  And, it is true with SmartPoints.

But, there are a few things that are different on SmartPoints with regard to Weekly Points.

First, we all get fewer Weekly SmartPoints.  On Points Plus, everyone got 49 weekly points.  Now, the number of Weekly SmartPoints varies, in increments of 7, based upon weight, age, height and gender.  The minimum is 14 and the maximum is 42.  I get 28 Weekly SmartPoints.  I get 4 more daily points than I got on Points Plus, but 21 less weekly points.  The net difference is 7 more points available over the course of the week, but it is distributed differently. So, more of my total points available each week goes to Daily SmartPoints.  This isn’t true for everyone, by the way.  My husband (lifetime, at goal) gets the same number of Daily SmartPoints I do (which seems weird since he is male and much taller than me).  But, he gets 42 Weekly SmartPoints. His net each week is 7 points less than what he got on Points Plus. Of course, SmartPoints are calculated differently from PointsPlus so the two aren’t comparable.

For me, I have in general found that it is far easier to eat only 30 Daily SmartPoints than it was for me to eat only 26 PointsPlus.  On PointsPlus, I rarely had a day that I ate exactly 26 PointsPlus.  However, most days that I didn’t go out to eat, I wasn’t much above that.  It might be 28 PointsPlus or 30, but it usually wasn’t 26. And, frankly, if I tried to eat exactly 26 PointsPlus, I was usually not very happy about it.  It wasn’t enough food for me.

Now, I find that I often can eat 30 SmartPoints and I am very satisfied.  I am currently on Day 6 of my Weight Watchers week.  Here are my SmartPoints recorded to this moment.

Weekly Points

Note that I have 18 of my 28 Weekly SmartPoint left.  I have eaten only 10 of them this week and may not eat any more (or I might).  I ate 7 of them last Saturday, on a day when I ate out.  I ate another 3 on Sunday, when I ate at home.  I have only eaten out the one time this week.

What I find is that on SmartPoints, it is really easy for me to stay within 30 SmartPoints when I don’t go out to eat or don’t decide to have a major treat. In fact, I have the opposite problem. It is sometimes a struggle for me to get to 30 SmartPoints (I will talk about that in another post).  I do have an advantage over many people eating SmartPoints.  As you can see from my SmartPoints estimator, saturated fats and sugar both contribute double their calories to the SmartPoints value, while protein contributes only 20% of its calories to SmartPoints. This works out well for me. I don’t eat beef so that lowers my saturated fat.  I don’t eat much added sugar.  I really pay a lot of attention to nutritional information on the processed foods that I buy.  And, I usually am careful when I eat out (not always, I ate 50 SmartPoints in one day last week).  I also try to eat a fair amount of lean protein since I want to build muscle.  The result is that most foods I eat haven’t gone up in points value from PointsPlus and some have gone down.  On PointsPlus, if I didn’t go out to eat, I usually ate 30 or less PointsPlus in a day.  So, sticking to no more than 30 SmartPoints in a day is not taxing to me.

So, yes, it is easier for some people (depending upon eating style) to stick to their Daily SmartPoints.  On the other hand, I don’t really make that a huge goal for me.  Last Sunday, we didn’t go out and I ate 3 Weekly Points.  Those exactly correspond to the 3 SmartPoints square of dark chocolate that I ate.  I didn’t feel a failure for doing it.  I didn’t think I had gone over my SmartPoints.  I have seen people post on various places that they went over their points, but they weren’t allowing themselves any weekly SmartPoints or FitPoints.  Some of them thought it was OK to eat Weekly SmartPoints while eating out, but it was bad to do it on a day they didn’t eat out.  I don’t think that.  I think it is perfectly fine to eat Weekly SmartPoints on any day of the week.  I don’t aim to not eat them, but I find that I often don’t go above 30 or only go above by a small amount.

Now, there are members who do find it difficult to stay within their Daily SmartPoints allowance.  And, that is fine.  This is why we have Weekly SmartPoints.  It is OK to eat them.  And, it may work out to eat some FitPoints (more on that in a later post).  If you are miserable on a day that you eat whatever your daily minimum is, then it is perfectly fine to eat some of your Weekly SmartPoints.

For me, the time that I almost always want to eat some of my Weekly SmartPoints is when I eat out or when I have a major treat (such as the apple pie I had around Christmas).  Again, this is also part of why we have those Weekly SmartPoints. And, some foods are so high in SmartPoints that it is really impossible to eat them just from Daily SmartPoints while still getting good nutrition from your other foods.  A Cinnamon Crunch Bagel from Panera is 17 SmartPoints.  If I eat that, then I am left only 13 Daily SmartPoints.  If I want to have good healthy meals for the rest of the day, then I probably want that bagel to be largely eaten from Weekly SmartPoints.  It is true that I can’t eat that bagel every day.  I don’t have enough SmartPoints to “afford” that food every day.  But, honestly, it is not a great food for me to be eating all that often.  I can eat it, just like I can eat apple pie, or chocolate cake.  I am limited in how much of them I eat.  And, if I try to do it from Daily SmartPoints only, my nutrition is likely to suffer.  I find it far better to have that kind of treat from Weekly SmartPoints.

Weight Watchers doesn’t require us to eat Weekly SmartPoints, but it does design the program so most us still lose weight even if we eat all of our Weekly SmartPoints.  Remember, we are trying to learn how to eat for a lifetime.  It is OK to eat those Weekly SmartPoints.  You can certainly keep track of your weight loss and you may end up feeling that you don’t want to eat all of them. That is fine.  But, don’t think of it as cheating if you eat the very points that Weight Watchers has given us to eat.

Remember, Daily SmartPoints are meant to be the minimum points to eat each day, not the maximum.

Comments

  1. says

    I know from my last time doing WW and it was PPs that there were some rules a bit different here in Australia than over there with the Simply Filling (Filling & Healthy here in Australia) and assume it still is. I love the new approach WW has since starting SPs. Because I do Filling And Healthy I don’t count SPs but do have Weeklies that I use for eating anything outside of the Filling And Healthy List of foods. Some days I use no Weeklies and some days I might have 2 or 3 and on rare occasions maybe 5-6. Because I can’t keep away from things like cookies I don’t eat them. I just can’t stop at 1 or 2.

    My Weeklies are things like some gravy, or a plate of cereal not on my List for breakfast. I love the concept of Weeklies but I don’t eat them all. In fact I try sometimes to see how many I can NOT eat on a give day and I’ve had a number of 0 Weeklies days. I think WW has come up with a great way of helping people lose weight without it being this rigid overbearing experience. There is so much freedom with the Programs they have. I’ve lost 7.7 pounds in 3 weeks and I feel great; hardly ever hungry, have lost a lot of the cravings for sugary things, the Meetings are very informative, and overall, going back was the best thing I could have done for myself.
    Sharon recently posted…A WordMy Profile

    • says

      Yes, here, if you follow Simply Filling, you eat Weekly Points for things that aren’t the no count food. I do think it may be harder to do for some since there are fewer weekly points. But, I think it is a wonderful plan for those that it works for. I’m glad it is working well for you.
      Kitty recently posted…Should I Eat My Weekly SmartPoints?My Profile

      • says

        My original assessment was 30 SPs and 42 Weeklies, so I have a lot of Weeklies to play with. But I try to keep them to an average of maybe 2 to 3 a day and usually I do it easily and only feel hungry now and then. WW certainly came up with a good formula to make losing weight doable and I’m grateful for that!
        Sharon recently posted…A WordMy Profile

  2. Beth S says

    Hi Kitty – great post. I agree with you – on a day that I’m not eating out for dinner I very rarely use them. And even if we go out during the week I may not use them. It’s the weekend where I do – and if I know we’re going out I usually pretrack 9 points for 2 glasses of wine! When I first started with SmartPoints I really had to figure out how to get closer to the 30 on a daily basis. I tend to eat a more substantial afternoon snack or maybe have a starch with dinner. But I tend to only use the weeklies on the weekend.

  3. Lori McHugh says

    I rarely use them because I follow Simply Filling and am very satisfied with what I eat. The points really add up if you eat processed food, but since I eat pretty “clean” I don’t have that problem. I wouldn’t eat them simply out of a sense of duty, but only if you deliberately want something.

    • says

      I agree with that whether doing Simply Filling or not. I have weeks where I eat all my Weekly Points, but then last week I ate 10 of them. I think Simply Filling is a great option for people who don’t eat a lot of processed food. What caused me not to stay with it when I tried it was that I eat 5 points of nuts every day (which I think are good natural foods) and that would use up more than my weekly SmartPoints! A

  4. Angie says

    Looking forward to the next post on FitPoints. I lost about 50lb on WW 5 years ago – I was sticking to the plan and I was exercising a LOT. I used those activity points very frequently, but between yoga 4 times a week and running a 5k 3 times a week, I had a lot of activity. Then I had my daughter 3 years ago (she is amazing). I was exhausted for the first 3 months of pregnancy, and my activity took a serious hit. I gained all that weight back and more while I was pregnant, and I have just never been able to lose it again. Between working full time and taking care of my daughter, I just can’t find the same amount of time to exercise as I did before. On top of that, I never really committed to WW the way I did that last time. This month I decided it was time to start over. The new program has had its ups and downs for me – I was pretty shocked when I ate a fun size milky bar at work then went to put it in my tracker and saw it was 4 points. Also, 30 Daily Points is what I’ve had the past few years on Points Plus, and I had 49 Weekly Points, now with only 42 – I’ve lost some points. I’m struggling to stay within those. As the weeks go on I am getting better, but it’s still a struggle. I’m working exercise in as much as I can, and right now I am trading in those FitPoints as well. Here’s hoping I can figure this out. :\

  5. Fran says

    Love the blog Kitty. You do a great job of covering a range topics and are very thorough. Thanks! I find i go through phases with weekly points. Sometimes i hardly touch them and other weeks i eat all of them or i even go into what i call negative negative, meaning i eat all my weekly points, daily and then still have foods with points. I try not to get down about it but sometimes it bothers me. Any tips? Thanks!

    • says

      You sound like you do what I do. Last week I ate only 10 of mine. But the week before I ate all of them and about 1/3 of my FitPoints. This week I will have eaten out more times (3 so far and one more to go) so will probably end up eating all of them (or close to it). The main points I think I would make (1) in general, the more often I eat out the more of them I eat — I do eat out places that are fairly points friends (my lunch today at Outback was 12 SmartPoints), (2) don’t make yourself miserable trying to not eat weekly points, and (3) let your weight loss and health be your guide.

  6. Jamie says

    Thanks for this post. I just started WW two weeks ago so my daily allowance of points is pretty high so on ‘normal’ days I barely even use all of them and the thought of using Weekly Points on a weekend night out had me scared that maybe it would impede my ability to even get on track, but reading this post made me re-think my thought process. I like the way that you explained that it’s a learning process for figuring out how to eat responsibly in the ‘real world’.

  7. Emma F says

    This is such an insightful and informative article. I lost a lot of weight with WW eleven years ago, but then fell pregnant. The years in-between have been rough, and culminated in my not being able/not caring about the amount of weight I was piling on. I rejoined WW last week, as I need a medical procedure which requires me to lose weight first. My attitude to food is already changing, and I am now looking at the best ways of budgeting my points to be as healthy as I can whilst being realistic (chocolate!). I am now off to read some more of your very interesting articles, which seem to include more useful information that WW website! Thank you.

    • says

      Good luck. I find that budgeting to have some of the things you really love makes a big difference. I do eat chocolate almost every day but I budget it in so that it is an appropriate amount of my overall eating.

  8. shirley galbrecht says

    Hi, thanks for this information. Maybe I’m not using the WW site right but as a new member, I am finding it really hard to get an overview of the program. I have a question about Simply Filling. I read that if you eat something not on the list, you need to track that. I haven’t tried Simply Filling yet, I’m just trying to learn about it. Where do you track items not on the list? How do you track those items and what is your limit? Is there somewhere on the WW site that explains all about this? Thanks so much for your help. I’m not doing group meetings so I need online help.

    • says

      If you log into the Weight Watchers website, if you go to settings you should see how many weekly points you get. If you eat food that isn’t on the Simply Filling list you have to use your weekly points or your fitpoints to eat it. I’m not sure exactly where that is explained. If you go to My Day, you can track what you eat that isn’t on the Simply Filling list. If you can’t find some of this at the bottom of the screen there is a box to give you the option to chat with someone. I would recommend using that. If that isn’t helpful, then call customer service.

  9. Renee says

    Thank you for this. I just started WW-again. Googled weekly smart points and found your blog post. Very helpful and lots of reassurance.

  10. Laura says

    Thanks for this – I’ve just started and had read about the ‘blue dot challenge’ where you get the blue dot on your day if you’ve used your DP only. I was trying to find info about weekly points and whether I should be using them etc and google lead me to your page. Your post is exactly what my initial thought had been regarding the WPs and I’m glad it has confirmed that I am free to use them without ‘feeling bad’!

    • says

      Simply Filling is a Weight Watchers plan where there are certain foods that you eat and don’t count points for them. You basically eat a reasonable amount of them and don’t count. You do still get Weekly Points and those are used to eat foods that are not on the Simply Filling list.

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