90 Days of WW (formerly Weight Watchers) Update

I’ve been trying to lose 15 pounds for the past ten years. I’ve tried everything – NutriSystem, juice cleanses, diet pills, religious use of the MyFitnessPal app, training for seven half-marathons, Kimberly Snyder’s The Beauty Detox Solution (actually my favorite to date, but more on that later) – you name it.

But with PCOS, Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, and two pregnancies in five years, my weight hasn’t dropped more than 5-10 pounds, despite my best efforts. Sure, some might say, Oh, your metabolic set point just won’t let you get any lower, or, Hey, your BMI is 22-23, you’re still in the “healthy” range, but truth be told, I like to be thinner, and my Type A personality won’t let it go.

So enter WW. The WW PersonalPoints system appealed to me, because it’s based in science (points take into account calories, saturated fat, sugar, protein, AND fiber AND unsaturated fats), proven, and flexible (I’m a full-time working mom of two, taking care of my aging parents, and reading/running/this site take up my spare time… I don’t have time to follow a strict meal plan). So here are my thoughts:

90 Days of WW Update

I Haven’t Stuck to the Program… But I’m Improving, and Down 4 Pounds

I started the program in January, and altogether, I’m still down only a total of four pounds. I’m also half marathon training, but, truth be told, I’ve never been able not to eat over my total points for the week.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • January: over 148 points, on average, per week
  • February: over 102 points, on average, per week
  • March: over 87 points, on average, per week

That sounds like a lot. In fact, I posted about it on the WW app in their WW Connect section, and I got some really negative and discouraging comments.

But it’s actually not a lot. I haven’t found the WW PersonalPoints equation, but I did find the WW SmartPoints equation, which is the same, except it doesn’t include fiber and unsaturated fats. But using the old equation, it seems like 1 point is about 50 calories or 12 grams of fat, give or take:

SmartPoints = (cal/50) + (fat/12) – (fiber/5)

So, this is actually what I’m looking at:

  • January: over 148 points, on average, per week = 7400 calories, on average, per week over, or 1057 calories per day over
  • February: over 102 points, on average, per week = 5100 calories, on average, per week over, or 728 calories per day over
  • March: over 87 points, on average, per week = 4350 calories, on average, per week over, or 621 calories per day over

Since I’m simultaneously tracking in MyFitnessPal, this is what this looks like:

  • January: 2200 calories per day, on average (WW says 1057 over)
  • February: 2000 calories per day, on average (WW says 728 over)
  • March: 1800 calories per day, on average (WW says 621 over)
90 Days of WW (formerly Weight Watchers) Update

During my WW journey, I’m running about 20-30 miles per week as a part of half marathon training (burning 300-600 calories a day), which is why I found it to be important to keep my calories higher. However, as I’ve covered in a past blog post, it’s not as important to “eat back” exercise calories as I once believed.

It seems like, for a woman my size (5’4”, small frame) running 20-30 miles a week, WW wants for me to average 1200-1300 calories per day to lose 2 pounds/week. (Yes, that’s not taking fat, sugars, or fiber into the equation, but bear with me here for a rough estimate). That’s not going to happen. What I am willing to do is get down to 1500-1600 calories/day, which should keep me close to not “going over” on points, depending on the nature of the calories, and to continue running the way I do.

Note: I realize the above estimates don’t include fat grams. If fat is high, say, 120 grams/day, and reduced to 20 grams/day, I would have an additional 8 points, or 400 calories/day, to contend with. The above estimates are assuming all points come from calories and not a combination of calories, fat grams, and sugar grams.

Fast Food Has Become Nearly Impossible to Eat

We all know that fast food isn’t good for us, for a myriad of reasons, but cutting it out completely for me has been difficult. Yet having fast food on the WW program is nearly impossible without going over on points.

For instance, I get 16-34 points a day, with more added in for vegetables, 64 oz of water consumption, and exercise. A Big Mac is 19 points. A medium french fry from McDonald’s is 9 points; a small is 6 points. So, basically, I can eat an entire day’s points in one meal.

People who succeed on the program say to balance that with other meals around it – say, zero point eggs for breakfast, and a 5-point salad for lunch – and that’s fine. That works, and keeps you on the program. I’m just not sure it’s worth it, which I guess is the entire point of making fast food so many points on WW in the first place.

Every Calorie, Fat Gram, and Sugar Gram Matters

I think the biggest change in my diet has been realizing how much, say, 100 calories matters. It’s 2 points on WW, which is 6-14% of my daily total. It’s a lot. Considering I grew up in the age of the “100 calorie pack,” and my level of exercise, I never really questioned going from 1300 to 1500 calories in a day.

Yet, according to WW, that’s why I’m not losing weight. It’s easy to eat 100 extra calories, but it’s hard to add on 2 points every time I want a snack.

And that makes sense: If 3500 calories equals a pound, and you eat 100 extra calories every day for a year (365 days), that’s 36500 calories, or 10 extra pounds. (!!) Right there is my extra 10 pounds!

90 Days of WW (formerly Weight Watchers) Update

Bottom Line

WW has made me face the harsh reality of my diet:

I can either eat a lot healthier (“clean”), and eat up to 1600 calories/day and about 30 grams of fat/day, and still lose weight;

OR I can continue to eat fast food, processed food, and restaurant food a fair amount of the time, and eat up to 1300 calories/day and about 60 grams of fat/day and about 30 grams of sugar/day, and still lose weight.

In essence, the program has made me question every calorie, to the point I’m realizing 100 calories is not a snack, but an extra 10 pounds I have to carry around if I repeat the behavior every day for a year. And that’s harsh.

I’ve finally succumbed to the fact that I stick to the program on days I do green juices or smoothies for breakfast, a large vegan salad for lunch, and a portion-controlled, carefully measured, otherwise “whatever I want” for dinner. I’ve also bought the WW snacks for nighttime.

It’s not fun or easy, but after four months on the program, I haven’t gained weight, and I am technically losing, even if only at a rate of 0.25 pounds/week. More importantly, I feel like I’m on the right track, and like my next update I’ll be applying more of what I’ve learned, staying within my Points range, and losing weight faster.

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