I don’t belong to a gym anymore. As much as I like to run outside, I despise what one of my fellow bloggers refers to as the “dreadmill.” When I had a gym membership I saw too many people simply going through the exercise motions. Perhaps they were on the elliptical but concurrently reading or chatting; needless to say I can’t imagine they were getting much out of these “workouts.” We all know there’s a difference between a good sweat and gym activity where you barely need a deodorant  re-apply. There is a difference between quantity and quality. Weight Watchers, the  well-known weight loss program, is attempting to show their members that this difference applies to food.
The original Weight Watchers Points system pretty much allowed people to fit any food into their repertoire provided they did so in the right quantity. I have had clients, Weight Watcher alums, who joked that they could eat pizza every day using the points. Of course this would mean eating little else to allot for the pizza. Though I’m a nutritionist, I can see the appeal of the pizza diet.  However, you don’t need a degree in dietetics to know this isn’t the best way to eat for health, for energy…even for weight loss.
Kudos to Weight Watchers, with 750,000 members enjoying the points system, for overhauling a successful system.  The day the new PointsPlus system was revealed, I was interviewed for a yahoo story on the changes.  I likened the change to going from PC to Mac, a recent transition I had made. Change, especially when it comes to something you use daily or multiple times a day, isn’t easy. We take the leap hoping that in the long run the change will be worthwhile. One has to think that Weight Watchers wouldn’t have risked all of this if the results will not be the same or better. A side note, never in the 9 years of Foodtrainers, have I received more new client inquires as the day the Weight Watchers story ran. Also interesting is the fact that many of the people curious about our services were surprised they had to pay (at all!).
One of the main changes in PointsPlus is that fruit and vegetables are “free” meaning you can technically eat as many as you want to. When I first heard this I was encouraged as this would nudge people to eat  fruits and vegetables they may have previously passed on as a “waste of points”.  For weight loss though,  I’m curious to see how people fare with unlimited fruits. I’ve always held that it’s possible to “over fruit” or eat a fair amount of calories from fruit and slow weight loss. We’ll have to see if people end up eating a bunch of bananas a day and how this works out.
Another feature of this new system is that a food hierarchy is presented. Foods with the same calories may have different amounts of points based on their ingredients, fiber and how long they will keep you satiated. Again, this is logical and Weight Watchers is moving away from “a calorie is a calorie” fallacy. While it may sound cynical, I am not sure Weight Watchers members will embrace this concept. In a recent New York Times story on the changes, one woman expressed that she was used to eating anything she wanted and now would feel as though she was on a diet. To that I say, Weight Watchers is a diet and as adults we should realize some foods are superior to others.

I tip my invisible hat to Weight Watchers; to me the PointsPlus plan is sound and has the ability to move hundreds of thousands of people in a better food direction. We’ll have to wait and see if people want to stop reading their magazines while working out and really start eating better.
Have you ever done Weight Watchers? What do you think of the new plan? Do you read while working out?


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