Our leader posed a great question during my recent WW meeting:
What advice would you give a friend who just joined Weight Watchers?
Great question, right?
Many great thoughts and ideas were shared….
Track everything you eat.
Use the tools (trackers, guides, etc.)
It’s okay to make mistakes.
Don’t get overwhelmed and try to change everything all at once. Start with small changes that you feel you can be successful with.
Out of sight, out of mind. Remove your red light or trigger foods. The foods you lose control over.
Ask for help.
Go to your meetings. Losing weight takes support.
All great points to keep in mind wherever we are in our weight loss journey.
It reminded me of this post, where behavioral psychology expert, BJ Fogg, shared his advice for people doing Weight Watchers.
In the article, BJ explained that it took him seven months to earn “Lifetime Membership.” You become “Lifetime” when you reach your goal weight and stay there six weeks.
His goal was to prove that it’s possible to lose weight slowly and steadily without any real pain or deprivation:
Many people have the wrong idea about getting in shape. They believe they must suffer to lose weight or to build fitness. This idea is damaging because the pain approach stops people from continuing (Seriously . . . who wants to endure pain?). And the idea of “no pain, no gain” stops many people from even trying in the first place.
He concluded that the WW Program clearly works and that there’s nothing gimmicky about it:
The key, I believe, is to look at Weight Watchers as a long-term change in your life. You will be following this path for the rest of your life. It’s not a diet. It’s a permanent change in how you eat.
I’ve made this change, and I don’t feel deprived. I’ve learned to make some yummy food that has replaced food that wasn’t so healthy. But that’s not all. The program teaches you about portion control, what to do at parties, and on and on. You won’t learn it all at once.
I think it’s so cool that even a behavior expert found it helpful to use Weight Watchers to support himself in his desire to lose weight. His post went on to provide much useful advice…
Advice to Weight Watchers from Behavioral Psychology Expert, BJ Fogg:
When you start Weight Watchers, don’t overdo it.
Just change a few things the first week.
Then change a few more things in your life the next week. And on and on.
Take a slow and steady step-by-step approach.
Be persistent and take a long-term view.
My belief is this: “The slower the change, the longer it lasts.”
1. Go to weekly meetings/workshops
The weekly meetings/workshops are fascinating. You’ll learn a bunch of tips and tricks from others who attend. The meeting leader has a short lesson each week. Participate in the lesson, with questions and comments.
I admire people who come to meetings. They are the ones — the few — who are really trying to improve their lives. As I see it, those who go to Weight Watchers are top-notch people. I made some great friends at the meetings.
I couldn’t agree more. WW Meetings keep me grounded in reality. I call them 30 minutes of sanity in an insane food world. I’ve made some great friends too.
2. Learn Points and track
Tracking your food and activity is the hardest part of Weight Watchers. Why? Because it takes persistence. The good news: You don’t have to track food for the rest of your life. However, I strongly advise you to learn the system early (in the first few weeks) and to track until you really know how much you should eat each day.
The importance of tracking/journaling, at least in the beginning is undeniable and the #1 rule for Weight Watchers if you want to be successful.
3. Never be hungry — eat all your points
Each day I can eat 42 points worth of food (plus 0 points veggies and fruits). The obvious idea is to not exceed your points for the day or the week. But for me the real breakthrough idea was this: I should be eating 42 points each day. Eating just 32 is a mistake. In other words, you *should* eat all your points.
You can eat anything you want and not feel guilty.
Want ice cream? That’s fine.
Just mind your points.
On days I was hungry and near my point limit, I learned what to do: I would eat veggies, plain yogurt, fruit, more veggies . . . and it worked. The hunger went away, and I felt successful.
I think this is critical to remember and why WW is the only plan I’ve ever been able to stick to. I can have whatever I want. Nothing is off limits as long as I plan for it. As soon as I tell myself I can’t have chocolate or sugar or pizza, it’s all I can think about.
4. Just aim to lose a bit of weight each week
It’s not impossible to lose two pounds each week on Weight Watchers. But for me, that was too extreme. I didn’t want to suffer, because I know that humans will work to avoid suffering. So I took it at my own pace. I learned eventually this meant I would lose about ½ pound a week. That was fine with me.
My goal each week when I weighed in was to just weigh less than the previous week. That’s all. Even if it was one ounce less. And when I didn’t lose weight, I went back to tracking and careful monitoring of my food. (Note: I didn’t step up exercise. But that’s the next point)
I would add that it’s important to accept that there will be ups and downs and to accept it as part of the journey. Most people’s longterm weight loss trackers look more like an ekg report than a ski slope.
5. Do strength training, but don’t punish yourself with too much cardio
Surprise: You don’t have to exercise to lose weight. In fact, over the last 7 months I’ve exercised *less* than ever before in my life (I’ve been busy). But I did a good job of strength work, especially pushups and quads. I did all this mostly at home in short bursts (tiny habits for the win!)
I did cardio maybe once a week. That’s all.
From what I can tell, most people think you must do hours of cardio to lose weight. That’s a bad idea. It’s punishment — you huff and puff and you sweat. I know people will criticize me for this view, but I say cardio is the wrong place to focus if you want weight loss. Instead, use your time and energy to learn to eat differently. And build strength (pushups eventually get fun). And don’t make any of it too painful.
I couldn’t agree more, which is why exercise alone is a terrible weight loss strategy. After years of punishing myself with grueling exercise that I could never stick to, I found my happy healthy balance with walks and gentle yoga.
6. Follow directions from WW
The WW program works if you adhere to it. So just follow directions. Do what they suggest except don’t buy or eat their food. (Sorry WW Execs, but you already know my view: I think you should get out of the food business completely. Selling food detracts from the real genius of your program.)
I agree. I buy very little WW food. What I love about the plan is that it’s not necessary to buy any specific “diet” foods to succeed on the plan. In fact the fewer “diet” foods I buy the better off I am. I feel less deprived somehow. Of course, this is a personal choice.
7. Forgive failures and keep going
You won’t learn how to change all of your eating behaviors in a few weeks. You probably have lots of old habits you’ll need to replace. Do this little by little. Along the way, you’ll make mistakes. But just don’t take it too personally. Never feel guilty. Just keep going.
As long as you persist, you’ll reach your goal.
Realize that your real goal isn’t hitting an ideal weight. Instead, your real goal is to create a new set of eating habits that will benefit you for a lifetime.
I really couldn’t have said it better myself. I loved coming across this objective review of Weight Watchers from an expert in the field of behavior change, who is also a Lifetime member. I also loved what he said about admiring people who come to meetings. That they are top notch people who are really trying to improve their lives. Reading this review was like getting a big hug. It made me feel happy and warm all over.
Source: BJ Fogg
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Martha is the founder and main content writer for Simple-Nourished-Living.
A longtime lifetime WW at goal, she is committed to balancing her love of food and desire to stay slim while savoring life and helping others do the same.
She is the author of the Smart Start 28-Day Weight Loss Challenge.
A huge fan of the slow cooker and confessed cookbook addict, when she’s not experimenting in the kitchen, you’re likely to find Martha on her yoga mat.
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Updated with new text and photos 1/2023