How I Make Weight Watchers Work for Me

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I have followed the Weight Watchers program in its many forms for over 25 years. When I first started out they were using Exchanges, e.g. Fruits, Breads, Milks, Fats, Protein, Vegetables. I had success with that program several times but I never managed to keep the weight off. I started my final weight loss journey with Smart Points – Beyond the Scale on January 21, 2017 and it was a perfect fit for me and how I eat. You were assigned a certain number of Daily Smart Points based on height, weight, gender, and age. You were also allotted Weekly Smart Points that could be used in addition to your Daily Smart Points throughout the week. Fruits and most vegetables were “free”, i.e. zero Smart Points.

In previous iterations of the Weight Watchers program fruit was never “free”, only most vegetables were free. Fruit being free was a game changer for me because when I wanted to snack, fruit was always an option. I got down to my Weight Watchers goal weight using Smart Points and was cruising along with the program. In December 2017, Weight Watchers unveiled a new program called Freestyle and everything changed.

Freestyle had a larger list of “free” or zero point foods that included things like chicken, turkey, eggs, tofu, beans, lentils, and edamame. The Daily Smart Points dropped to a lower number based on height, weight, gender, and age. Previously I had been allowed 30 Daily Smart Points but now I was down to 23 per day. Given that I don’t eat meat, the “free” foods weren’t that great for me. I found myself eating a lot of eggs which can get old after a while. I’m not a fan of beans (it’s a texture thing) but I loved edamame. I was also a big fan of tofu but didn’t want to eat it every day. I wasn’t sure how I was going to make this new Weight Watchers program work for me.

I tried different things – tried eating within the 23 points and was starving by the end of the day. I tried switching to “Maintenance Mode” where I could pick how many points I wanted to eat in a day and set that to 30. The only problem there was I had to go into the Weight Watchers application and create Points listings for foods that were now deemed zero Points. I finally settled on

morphing the two methods together to make it work for me. Like anything in life, weight loss is about what works for you personally. Anything can be retrofitted to work for you.

How I follow the plan now is I start out the day aiming for 23 Smart Points. If I get through breakfast and lunch only eating foods with Smart Points assigned, i.e. no “free” foods, I can opt to utilize those 7 Points for dinner unless it’s going to be made up of a lot of “free” foods. Basically I track the “free” foods and adjust accordingly so that I utilize what would have been 30 Smart Points under the Beyond the Scale plan. While this may be more complicated than it should be, it’s what helps keep me on track while still enjoying the foods I love.

Below are two daily menu examples of typical foods I eat. These show how I make the program work for me and my regular eating habits using the methods I described above:

“Good” Freestyle Day/”Good” Beyond the Scale Day

Breakfast: 12 Smart Points

Salt Bagel – 8 Smart Points

Chive Cream Cheese – 2 Smart Points

Skim Milk for coffee – 2 Smart Points

Lunch: 3 Smart Points

Cooked Shrimp – 0 Smart Points (BTS: 3 Smart Points)

Cocktail sauce – 1 Smart Point

Dannon Yogurt – 2 Smart Points

Fruit – 0 Smart Points

Snack: 0 Smart Points

Scrambled Eggs – 0 Smart Points (BTS: 4 Smart Points)

Dinner: 8 Smart Points

Homemade Lasagna – 6 Smart Points

Salad with Dressing – 2 Smart Points

Total for the Day: 23 Freestyle Smart Points/30 Beyond the Scale Smart Points

“Bad” Freestyle Day/”Good” Beyond the Scale Day

Breakfast: 12 Smart Points

Salt Bagel – 8 Smart Points

Chive Cream Cheese – 2 Smart Points

Skim Milk for coffee – 2 Smart Points

Lunch: 8 Smart Points

Leftover Lasagna – 6 Smart Points

Yogurt – 2 Smart Points

Fruit – 0 Smart Points

Snack: 3 Smart Points

Low-fat Chips – 3 Smart Points

Salsa – 0 Smart Points

Dinner: 7 Smart Points

Boca Spicy Chik’N Patty – 3 Smart Points

Italian Dressing – 2 Smart Points

Wonton Strips – 2 Smart Points

Salad – 0 Smart Points

Total: 30 Freestyle Smart Points (23 Daily + 7 Weekly)/30 Beyond the Scale Smart Points

You might be asking why I do it this way, why not just do the maintenance method workaround I talked about above. I tried that but it was a mindset thing for me. I don’t consider myself in Maintenance so I didn’t want to “mark” myself as Maintenance even though I only do Weight Watchers Online. For me it’s all part of the little games I play in my own head to make it work. It may sound silly but given how important mindset is to this process, it’s the method that works for me.  You may find that another way works best for you – that’s okay. Your weight loss journey is yours alone and you should do whatever it takes to make a program work for you.

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