Weight Watchers – My Personal Impression

Well, I joined Weight Watchers last week. And honestly? I’m pretty underwhelmed by their site. I joined with (and because of) a few friends of mine. Now, first, I get that their tracking “philosophy” is based on points. That’s all fine with me. And it’s indirectly tracking calories (because protein, carbs and fat make up calories). I know they try to pretend it’s different than tracking calories, but if you understand a little bit about nutrition, you realize it’s indirectly doing the same thing. And honestly, I don’t care. The end result is less calories, and less weight.

But what does bother me is if you WANTED to, you can’t see number of calories you eat. And ALL fruits seem to be “free” (no points), regardless of how many you eat. I’m the first to admit, I can over-eat fruit. Especially bananas. Well, I know better than to over-eat them, but if I thought a banana is the same as strawberries is the same as an orange, then I might eat too many. Mostly because they fill me up. But I think they fill me up because they’re more calorie-dense. Who knows.  I get that 110 calories on a banana is healthier than any of those 100 calorie snack packs. But maybe a better perspective would be you can have one of each fruit free, then they’re half points? I don’t know.

All I know is I stayed under points for the week, worked out, and GAINED weight. And before you say it could be water weight gain or muscle (two common “it’s OK you didn’t lose” coddling techniques that I hate), let me tell you it isn’t. How do I know? I played volleyball last night, then went for a run. Both were sweaty (sorry, TMI) adventures. I drank about 1 1/2 glasses of water after and felt satisfied, but woke up this morning and without giving TMI again, my pee was VERY dark. So, not water. And I haven’t lifted enough this week to have gained muscle – or, what’s typically called “muscle” is your muscles retaining water as they heal. My last lifting was Tuesday and I’m not sore today.

So, something’s wrong.

The other frustrating thing is I’m trying to go down to no more than 30 grams of carbs per meal to lower my triglycerides. I’ve done research that says low-carb diets are where it’s at, but then read that low-carb is dangerous when you workout. I’ve also seen lots of people (paleo, mostly) who say they workout on low-carb (getting their carbs from fruits and veggies), and it’s the best they’ve ever felt. Then I read that paleo will improve your cholesterol. And then I read that it might lower your triglycerides, but will skyrocket your bad (LDL) cholesterol. So I finally found a few people who said to simply lower your carb intake, and make all of those carbs “healthy” carbs, and then be conscious of higher fat meat options – instead choosing fish and poultry more than things like bacon and high fat red meats. So, that’s what I decided I was comfortable with. Less than 30 carbs per meal, aiming toward mostly fruits and veggies. Paleo, from what I’ve read, is OK with sweet potatoes, but not any type of white potato. So I’m doing all fruits and veggies, including sweet potatoes, but limiting other potatoes. Then after a workout, I’ve read NUMEROUS places, that’s the time to go more on carbs. So I’ll allow myself 1/2 a serving of whole wheat bread with protein and fat after a workout. Mostly I’m doing this because I have been craving bread like crazy! I’d like to someday eliminate bread almost entirely because I’m convinced it (along with pasta and other similar foods) are simply “filler” foods. And they’re good for a cheap way to fill up, especially if you’re raising a family or on limited income. But I’ll be honest, I can afford to eat healthier than that. Not that I’m rolling in dough, but if I can afford to eat out, I can afford to make a meal that’s filling and nutrient-filled. Not filled with fillers.

Filled with fillers. That makes me think of Taco Bell “meat.” Yikes.

So, anyway, here’s what’s annoying. I can track points all day long. And ALL of these points know how many grams of carbs, protein and fat I’m getting, but NOWHERE will it let you see a breakdown of these macronutrients. Nowhere. I mean, as I add the food, if it’s not a food I’ve entered (which, also REQUIRES carbs, fat and protein to input – so that doesn’ tmake sense), I can see the nutrient breakdown. So I can track manually. But when I have this website I’m paying $20 a month to use, that seems a little silly.

But I’m tied in for three months.

Well, it is nice to have a place to “meet” with my friends who are also trying to lose, but getting to that group is also a big pain. We’d be just as well off doing our own things and emailing each other througout the week when we’re frustrated, and to track our progress.

Plus, on My Fitness Pal, I can see all of my calories and the macro-nutrients, which makes it way easier for me to track my carb intake.

So for me? Weight Watchers Online gets a score of C-. They get a passing grade because it’s pretty easy to input foods, if the food’s in their database. My Fitness Pal, BY FAR has a much more extensive database. If you’re looking for an easy way to track your food for free (or even compared to paid sites), My Fitness Pal is it. You can scan barcodes on almost any food. Their database is maintained by users and is so extensive, I don’t think I ever had to enter my own food. As far as user-friendly goes, I personally think the MFP setup is a lot easier to use from a social perspective, too. You are “friends” with people on both sites. But MFP has taken a Facebook/Twitter approach to a live feed, showing when someone has lost weight “Kelly has lost .4 pounds since her last weigh in.” Or it says when you “finish” your day recording and if you were under your goal. And it announces when you’ve worked out, what you did and the calories you’ve burned. It’s a much easier way to see what your friends are doing, and give them praise when they do it (and get praise for your successes, which is really motivating). On the Weight Watchers site, we created a group. But we have to go in there and post (character-limited) as we do stuff. We can’t see what the other is eating, and it doesn’t announce when you’ve lost weight.

Overall, if you’re just trying to track what you’re doing and do it with friends, My Fitness Pal is a lot easier/more friend-friendly than Weight Watchers.

Too bad it took me wasting $60 to figure that out. Sigh.