Holy sabotage, Weight Watchers! Why did you go and change your points?

There are people who are wondering why Weight Watchers “fixed what wasn’t broken.”

When I ask for a new, healthier way to eat, I don't expect it to actually make me change my food choices!"

“Weight Watchers was working just fine for me. Why did they go change it?”

There are some who openly criticize the new Weight Watchers food plan. They say, “now it’s a diet. I can’t eat what I want without feeling guilty.”

Change is never easy. We ask for something better, and when we get it, we don’t want it. It’s the same old, “be careful what you ask for because you might just get it.” Weight Watchers gave its followers something better because they asked. They’ve been asking for a while, in fact. They’ve been saying, “help me eat more healthfully. Help me lose weight, get/stay healthy, and improve my fitness.”

"I want to eat more healthfully but I don't expect to have to make any changes to my food choices."

“I want to eat more healthfully but I don’t expect to have to make any changes to my food choices.”

the links to healthy weight loss programs are endless on Facebook, but the ones that are scams and fads  look as legit as the ones that really are.

The links to healthy weight loss programs are endless on Facebook, but the ones that are scams and fads look as legit as the ones that really are.

That’s what we say, but what we mean, is “tell me what I’m doing now will improve my weight, health and fitness. I don’t really want to change my habits.”

When Weight Watchers went to work creating a healthier food plan, they put the top experts in the field to work on the project. The program development team is a carefully chosen group of highly respected professionals in human nutrition science, metabolic disease, exercise physiology, and human psychology. To ensure the scientific soundness of the program, Weight Watchers engages a world renowned scientific panel of experts to overlook their work.

The next paragraph asks an important question since many of us are getting our health, fitness, and diet information from Facebook. The posts we see about these topics are endless. It looks credible, but we don’t really know its sources. It may say it comes from doctors and scientists, but there’s no way to be sure. It must be good stuff, though, because we see it on Facebook and thousands of people “like” it! Doesn’t that mean something? The truth is it most certainly doesn’t do a thing to ensure accuracy or integrity.

Dr. Gary Foster, the man behind "Beyond the Scale" and SmartPoints.

Dr. Gary Foster, the man behind “Beyond the Scale” and SmartPoints.

Who is on the Weight Watchers Scientific Panel of Experts and what are their qualifications? In a world flooded with information “from experts” it’s important to know more about the experts upon whose information we rely. That’s why everybody reading this blog should click on the link, above, that introduces Weight Watchers Panel of Experts.

Some people want to lose weight to look better. That was me. I was overweight and very healthy. I wanted to like what I saw in the mirror and I wanted to make it easier for my horse to carry me. I never thought about losing weight to get healthy because I already was healthy. I never thought about how healthy my weight loss method really was.

All I thought about was quick and easy weight loss; healthy wasn’t a consideration. I never thought about health until I had a daughter who asked me questions about what I was doing to lose weight. Her questions made me realize that my weight loss didn’t just affect me; it taught her things that I didn’t want her to learn. I liked my doughnut and hot fudge sundae diet.

It worked like a charm and was built on my favorite food groups – fat and sugar. It required a little bit of sacrifice. I had to skip meals and the variety in my food was severely restricted. It reduced calories, tasted divine, and I lost weight! And I was trying to teach my daughter to eat well to grow big and strong and it negated every word I spoke to her on that topic.

I joined Weight Watchers in 1987. That program was a lot more “like a diet” than SmartPoints. Foods were organized by nutrients and calories per serving. Foods with similar nutrients and calories were categorized by the following lists:

  • Protein (4 daily)
  • Bread (3 daily)
  • Milk (2 daily)
  • Vegetables (3 or more daily)
  • Fruit (2 daily)
  • Fat (2 daily)

Foods that didn’t fit into one of the above could be eaten as “Optional Calories.” I got 500 of them weekly. As you may expect, most of what I liked to eat were “optional calorie kind of foods. That really was a restrictive, inflexible diet when compared to SmartPoints.

As Weight Watchers transformed over the years, the program became more livable and flexible. 10 years after I first joined, Weight Watchers rolled out its original points plan. The food lists were gone! No more dictating of precisely how much to eat from each of the food groups. A formula that combined calories, fat and fiber helped us make food choices that lead to both more healthful food choices and weight management.

As time marches on, research is marching even faster. We’re learning more about how to manage our weight and protect our health. We are learning more about the food we eat and what happens to it after it gets into our bodies. We are moving away from preparing our own food using fresh, whole ingredients and relying more on processed foods kept shelf-stable with preservatives.

More of us are getting diagnosed with metabolic syndrome (heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes) than any other time in history. These diseases, that were once considered adult diseases, are being diagnosed in younger adults and even children. It’s considered by experts to be a warning sign that we’re practicing poor eating and exercising choices. We loved the original points plan, but we’ve learned that we need a little more encouragement eating in a way that contributes to long-lasting good health. Physical activity was part of the plan, but unless we wanted to eat more (swap activity points for food points) a lot of us ignored that part.

Weight Watchers moved towards that goal with the introduction of PointsPlus late in 2010. For 5 years we’ve been living with PointsPlus. It certainly inched us in the direction of better food choices. If we actually followed the Healthy Guidelines that were part of the food plan, it ensured we made the healthiest choicest with our daily and weekly points. Some of us followed them and some of us wholly ignored them!

We ignored the healthy guidelines, while saying, “Weight Watchers, teach me how to eat healthier while I lose weight.” We became concerned with the consequences of an unhealthy diet. We learned that losing weight makes us look better, but when we feel better, looking better becomes looking so much better! 

We got worried a lot about cancer and a little about heart disease. We understand that avoiding these diseases isn’t entirely up to us and how we eat and live. There is also genetics and maybe luck involved. Knowing we’re doing all we can, though, to protect our health is becoming increasingly important to us. We want Weight Watchers to help us do that.

Weight Watchers responded with SmartPoints. We got what we wanted and now to read the comments online about SmartPoints, it looks like we didn’t really want it. There are many people writing, “if I wanted a diet, I would have done Atkins.” Some are saying, “Weight Watchers, I quit! This isn’t a lifestyle change, it’s a restrictive diet.” There are too many people complaining and begging Weight Watchers to “go back to what we loved. Give us back PointsPlus,” not to hear the plea.

Weight Watchers won’t go back and what’s more, the new plan is a healthy lifestyle change! If you don’t believe me, click here to read how the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends Americans eat and exercise to protect their heart! The AHA isn’t a “diet for adults with heart disease.” This isn’t even a weight loss plan. This is a lifestyle that helps protect our hearts and it should also be noted that heart disease kills 6 times more women than all the cancers put together.

Sedentary lifestyle and a diet of too much sugar, fat, and refined carbs puts our hearts in danger.

Sedentary lifestyle and a diet of too much sugar, fat, and refined carbs puts our hearts in danger.

If you read dietary recommendations from other prominent health organizations such as:

you will understand that a lifestyle change is a good idea for a lot of us.

It’s uncomfortable because it involves change. It’s necessary though, because we’re living in a world that encourages us to eat too much of what isn’t good for us and not enough of what is. We’re living in a world that takes away our need to be fit to get our day’s work completed. It’s easy and it tastes good but what are we risking by accepting such a lifestyle?

A healthy way to eat includes eating less of the foods on the left and more of the foods on the right.

A healthy way to eat includes eating less of the foods on the left and more of the foods on the right.

Weight Watchers isn’t trying to sabotage its followers. Weight Watchers is doing its part to help us live long, healthy, productive, happy lives!

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.