As I mentioned yesterday, in order to kick start my weight loss goals for the umpteenth time, I decided to follow my sister’s lead and join Weight Watchers.  Since I’ve been tracking my calories for months now, I have to admit, I was a huge skeptic as to how Weight Watchers would change things, besides the fact that now I’m paying to keep track of what I eat.  So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with what they have to offer.

I joined about a week and a half ago, and was able to take advantage of their “Sign Up For Free” promotion.  I get access to the site and the mobile application for 3 months for $53.85.  The sign-up fee of $29.95 is waived.  After 3 months, each month costs around $18.  My main goal for these first few months was to see if that $18 was worth it to continue.

I’m not much for meetings after work, so the online plan was the best option for me.  When you sign up, it asks you to put in your stats and set goals.  My favorite thing about the goal-setting part was that they encouraged you to lose 10% of your weight to start out, not to focus on what they deem your “healthy range.”  I’m encouraged by their attention to the fact that realistic goals are not only healthy, but also much more motivating.  For me, I had to lose about 9 pounds to lose 10% of my weight.  Since I’ve been struggling the past few years with not being able to break out of a certain 3 pound range, the number seemed impossible.  But, we press on.

To be honest, I had always thought of Weight Watchers as the type of program where they made it easy to track food they endorsed, but not anything else.  I was glad to see I was wrong about that.  While the Points Plus tracker doesn’t have every food I’ve ever eaten, it has a sizeable database, with the option to calculate the points for food it does not have.  That feature, both on the site and on the iPhone application has been extremely helpful for me in balancing following the plan with Jared’s wants and needs.

As everyone knows, Weight Watchers assigns you points for the day in order to help you meet your goals.  I receive 29 points for the day.  It seems like a lot, and it actually has worked out pretty well so far.  Knowing how many points I have for the day has helped me map out my meals first thing in the morning, and then fit in snacks around them so that I never feel so hungry that I overindulge.  The difference between Weight Watchers and just tracking calories is that fruit and vegetables have NO points.  This has really encouraged me to use them a lot more generously throughout the day as snacks and with meals, something I certainly wasn’t doing when tracking with Livestrong.  After all, if I was going to waste 80 calories, I’d rather waste it on something good rather than an apple or a red pepper.  To date, that has been the biggest change I was able to make.

Another change that the points system has helped me to be more aware of is alcohol.  For those that know us, you know that Jared and I appreciate a quality beer and a wonderful wine, and it’s not unusual for us to have a glass with dinner a few times a week.  However, for 6 points for a beer and 4 for wine, I’ve really learned that liquid calories are a great place for me to cut back.  It hasn’t been easy, given how much we really enjoy trying new things, but it’s a necessity that I’m sure will contribute to my success.

In addition to your points, Weight Watchers assigns  a Weekly Allowance that allows you to indulge a bit from time to time in a very structured way.  I have 49 Weekly Points Plus Allowance points.  To me, that seems like too many, so I’m still getting used to how to use them and when to use them.  On a week like today, when I know I’ll be going out all weekend, it helps to have so many, because I can plan around using them.  As I get more used to the plan, I’ll write about how to effectively use these without overindulging.

There’s so much more that I can say about the Weight Watchers plan, but that will have to wait for another week.  For now, after one week, I’m 4 pounds down and about halfway to my first goal.  Something must be working, so I’ll be pushing through to see how far I can make this go!