SmartPoints – Good or Bad?

It is almost a year since SmartPoints and the entire Beyond the Scale Program debuted.  This is a good time to ask:  Good or Bad?  It is time to assess the new program (well, not so new now).

When the new Beyond the Scale program started I was favorably disposed to it. I liked that SmartPoints discouraged eating sugar.  Lots of people liked the changes. Others hated them.  In fact, during this year one of my post popular posts which has gotten a lot of search traffic is What To Do If You Hate SmartPoints.

During the past year the SmartPoints part of the program has stayed the same, but there were some changes to how FitPoints were used.  Initially, Weight Watchers discouraged swapping FitPoints for food.  You could do it, but the powers that be didn’t really want you to do it.  Then, a few months in they changed to a more neutral position on swapping FitPoints.  They also instituted a baseline before you could swap FitPoints for food.  Basically you were supposed to earn about 3 FitPoints (roughly 3000 steps) in a day before you could swap additional FitPoints for food.

So, 11 months into the new Weight Watchers program – is it good or bad? [Read more…]

Day to Start the Weight Watchers Week

I just went in and changed my Weight Watchers week to start on Monday rather than Saturday.

Weigh In Date

I also did the same thing on MyFitnessPal.  And, I set Fitbit to start on Monday, instead of Sunday (those are the only two options Fitbit gives you).  The choice of which day to start with for all of these services may seem like a choice that doesn’t matter.  But, I think it can be very important both from the mental aspect and for planning.  This change for me is a major change for me since I weigh in on Saturdays.  Before, my weigh in day aligned with the start of my week.  Now, it doesn’t.

I would guess that most Weight Watchers members start their week on their weigh in day, although I have have known members who start on other days.  For example, I have seen a number of members who start their week on the day after their weigh in.  But, for most of the time I’ve been a Weight Watchers members I’ve started my week on the day that I weighed in.  I do have some vague recollection that at one time in the last millennium I started my week on Saturday when I weighed in mid-week.

Since I went back to Weight Watchers several years ago, though, my weigh in day has been on either Friday or Saturday and I have started my week on the same day (with occasional forays to try other options).  I had a few reasons that I aligned the start of my week with my weigh in day.  First, it seemed to emotionally makes sense.  Weighing in could be seen as something that happens after the end of the week to show the result of what I did for that week.  So, if my week ended on Friday, then I would weigh in on Saturday morning and begin anew.  The lining up of ending my week and then weighing in the next day made sense.

It also made sense from a practical standpoint.  By ending my week on Friday, I would weigh in Saturday morning and then have all of my daily and weekly points available.  Like many people, I tended to eat out on the weekend and I liked having all my points available to do that.  I could eat out and use a lot of my weekly points on the weekend and then I went through the week days knowing exactly how many points I had left.  That helped me plan. [Read more…]

Do I Have to Eat All My Daily SmartPoints?

This is the third of a series of posts about points, including whether to eat Weekly SmartPoints and whether to eat FitPoints. While not officially part of the series, I also suggest looking at my recent post about swapping FitPoints and how that is affected by the new baseline.

Some members find that they quickly run out of Daily SmartPoints.  The first two posts in this series basically deal with that situation and discuss eating Weekly SmartPoints and swapping FitPoints for food.

This post deals with the opposite problem — members who find it difficult to reach their Daily SmartPoints Target.  So, is it OK to just not meet the daily Target or must we eat the minimum?  I would say that…it depends.  First, note that members have a wide range of Daily SmartPoints Targets.  The minimum Daily SmartPoints Target is 30 SmartPoints.  But, it can be much more.  Men tend to be larger than women and are usually more muscular and burn more calories.  So, it is more common that men get a higher daily Target.  Those who have lots to lose will also have a higher daily Target.

At times, I personally have struggled to get to my 30 Daily SmartPoints.  Here is an example:

Low SP Day

On the day above, I ate 28 SmartPoints.  Note that I don’t always record zero point foods on Weight Watchers.  I have some listed as part of my salad since I have that saved as a meal.  But, if I had a snack of berries I wouldn’t record that on Weight Watchers. [Read more…]

February Weigh In

I did my official February weigh in this week.  I was up 1 pound to 144.6 pounds.  I am still 1.4 pounds below my goal weight and, frankly, when I weighed in at 143.6 pounds I thought that was low and not all of it was “real” weight loss and thought I might go up.  And, being even more frank, my eating was far less than stellar the last two weeks. Anyway, given how poorly I ate the last two weeks, I am totally happy with this month’s weigh in.

I ate all of my SmartPoints – daily, weekly and FitPoints – and ended in the negative. I was -12 SmartPoints this week and, well, -43 SmartPoints the week before.  So, the fact I went up only 1 pound is amazing to me, particularly when I had just reached a new low weight that I didn’t think was really solid.  Week before last my excuse was going 43 SmartPoints into the hole was that I ate out a lot.  This past week my excuse was…umm…I overate.  Note I realize that the eating out the week I went -43 SmartPoints was just an excuse.  I am perfectly capable of eating out and not going past my SmartPoints.

In fact, today, I went out to lunch after my meeting and went to The Counter.  I had a chicken burger in a bowl.  The entire meal was 525 calories, but due to all the protein, it was only 12 SmartPoints.  I was careful because this is a week when I will be eating out more than usual but I want to do better this week.  My goal is to stay within my SmartPoints.  I’m OK with eating a few of my FitPoints, but not all of them.

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.