Tuesday, July 9, 2013

My Weight Watchers Method

I've mentioned many times that I'm currently following Weight Watchers 360 in order to control my eating and lose weight. What I haven't talked about much -- but love reading from other bloggers -- is how exactly they customize the program to their lifestyle. So, here's a little bit about how I make WW work for me.

DISCLAIMER #1: Weight Watchers isn't sponsoring this post. At all. I just love 'em and want to spread the good word because it's working for me.

DISCLAIMER #2: I realize WW may not work for everyone. My main issues before starting this program were knowing WHAT to eat, and HOW MUCH to eat. Basically, I grossly underestimated the calories I was taking in on a daily basis, which led to rapid weight gain. WW gives me the tools to accurately and consistently track my WHAT and HOW MUCH, but only you can provide the accountability and honesty necessary to stick with the program. Like I said, not for everyone but works for me! 

Daily Allowance
If you're unfamiliar with the program, WW gives you a daily points plus (PP) "allowance," and the foods you eat throughout the day are deducted from that PP allowance. If you're using the app, when you track food it will automatically come our of your daily allowance first. Then, you can customize whether food/drinks beyond your daily allowance are drawn from your weeklies or your APs.

In addition, WW gives you 49 extra weekly points ("weeklies") to use at your own discretion: donuts at work, a dinner out, drinks on the weekend, etc. If you like, you can divide these up evenly and just tack on an extra 7PP to your daily allowance (but I don't do that).

Activity Points (APs)
Workouts are also designated a points value based on duration and intensity. Cardio workouts (swimming, biking, running, dancing) tend to earn the most APs, but how many APs you earn is also dependent on your weight. For example, when I was heavier, I used to earn 7APs for a 31-minute run. Now I only earn 6APs for the same duration run. It's also worth pointing out that running and jogging, although separate "entries" for workouts, are both calculated the same as long as your pace is 12 min/mile or faster. And a 150-lb person will earn just as many points for running an 8 min/mile pace, as they will for running an 11 min/mile pace when the duration is the same. According to WW, people may use all of their weekly APs (in addition to  their dailies and weeklies), and will still be on a track to losing weight.

Here's a hypothetical that will hopefully help illustrate things: If I get 30PP/day, and I earn 35APs throughout the week (which resets on weigh-in day), technically, if I wanted to eat ALL of my points each week (allowance, weekly, and earned), I could eat 42PP/day and still stay within WW's parameters.

30 (daily) + [49/7 = 7 weeklies] + [35/7 = 5 APs] = 42 PP/day

Apples + Cookie Butter = NEW FAVORITE SNACK

My Method - Beginning
When I first began WW (at 5'5.5" and 228lbs), I believe I started at 32-33PP/day. It's weird to think now, but I struggled to stay within that number. It took me a bit of tinkering to figure out how to spread my points throughout the day, and I definitely was hungry a lot for the first few weeks because I'd "overspend" on breakfast/lunch. Once I figured it out, I ended up with something like this:

Breakfast = 7PP
Snack = free (fruit)
Lunch = 10PP
Snack = 2PP
Dinner + Dessert = 13PP

I really enjoyed the program, though, because I can hoard my points for dinner on days that I plan on going out (like for Tuesday Trivia), or eat a bigger brunch and then a reasonable dinner. Personally, I have always used all of my extra 49 PPs each week. I typically spend them on going out to get dinner or drinks.

When I first began WW, I was banking maybe 30APs a week. I have a pedometer in my phone, so I used to input all of my daily "walking" time into the WW app to earn walking APs. I wasn't running very consistently, maybe 2-3x a week at the very most. I did not eat my APs (or if I did, it was just a few).

PRO TIP: Don't think you can just skimp on eating and drink alcohol on your daily allowance points so you can "save" your weekly points for something else. It won't turn out well. Because DUH you're not eating enough. On a night I plan to have drinks, I try to still eat at least 24 of my daily PPs. This was one of the trickiest things for me to figure out how to balance.

8 months of weight loss progress

My Method - Current
I recently dropped to 30 and then 29PP/day in just the past few weeks. There weren't that many pounds between these two PP allowances (no more than 10), so it's been a tricky adjustment. As I did in the beginning, I'm working on figuring out how to best spend my points throughout the day. This is what I've been trying:

Breakfast = 4PP
Snack = free (fruit)
Lunch = 10PP
Snack = 2PP
Dinner + Dessert = 13PP

To be honest, I tend to reserve more points for dinner than many sources (WW included) recommend. But I've always (for as long as I can remember) been a night-time eater. I've tried to concentrate more points on breakfast and lunch, to see if I can stave off the night-time hunger, but it doesn't work. When I've done this, I end up still hungry at night, but with less points to use, so I'll usually go for fruit like cantaloupe or pineapple when I'm hungry after dinner.

I still eat all (or nearly all) of my weeklies every week. Typically on food and drinks out, though I've had to sacrifice some on days that I planned poorly while getting used to my new daily allowance.

Since starting to build my weekly mileage toward the end of April, I've been consistently earning more and more APs each week. I've also added 2-3 days of strength training into the mix each week.

One big change, though, is that I no longer count every minute walked (according to my pedometer) into my daily APs. Because I live in a city. I tend to walk more, just by virtue of public transit and errands and all of that. So now, I only add in my walking points on days that I do more than 60 minutes of walking (example: I walked over 6 miles last Saturday).

Still, I earn at least 55 APs each week. I still do not eat back my APs, and use them as a cushion for foods that I don't measure (like, 1-2 crackers, or a taste of someone else's food), or foods that I may have miscalculated.

Chicken, sauteed peppers, brown rice, and teriyaki sauce. Easy peasy dinner.

Extra Tidbits
Starting around the time I started this blog, I made a conscious effort to drink more water on a daily basis. I used to struggle to get the recommended 64oz/day, but now I generally have no issue hitting 100+ ounces each day. I've found that having a cup with you at all times makes a big difference, and also having a cup you can easily measure with. For example, I have a 24oz cup, and [pre-layoff] I aimed to drink at least four of those bad boys at the office daily. Then, any water intake at home pre/post work pretty easily got me over the 100oz.

Honestly, I've noticed a marked difference in my skin and hair, when I'm consistently getting more water. My hair has felt healthier, and I haven't experienced random dry patches of skin that I used to sometimes get in the past.

Also, I can't emphasize enough the importance of fruits and veggies for keeping me full! Even if I'm having a Smart Ones for lunch, I'll often heat up some type of vegetable to go in the meal, which makes it feel significantly more substantial. Also, fruits and veggies make a really satisfying snack that's low in PPs. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Carrots or broccoli + tzatziki sauce (1PP for a quarter cup, usually)
  • Cucumbers or carrots or green peppers + hummus (usually about 2PP for 3tbs)
  • Apples with Better'N Peanut Butter (2PP for 2tbs)
  • Pineapple (free!)
  • Cantaloupe (free!)

What tips or tricks do you use on your weight loss plan?


  1. Great post, thank you for taking the time to lay it all out. Adding the ways you adapted it to make it work for you was really interesting!
    I am definitely a night eater too.. wish I wasn't though!


  2. When I was doing weight watchers I was really bad at hoarding all my points for supper too!! I can also tell a HUGE difference when I haven't drank enough water!! Ww is an awesome program and I'm glad you're having such great success with it!!

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