Here is a summary of my Weight Watchers meeting November 30, 2010. I will be posting more of my own thoughts about the new program this coming Monday.
5 To-Dos to help you get started on the PointsPlus
1. Understand your new PointsPlus Target
Because there is a new formula for calculating PointsPlus values for food, you also have a new daily PointsPlus Target and weekly PointsPlus Allowance. Don’t spend any time trying to wrap your brain around how your old daily POINTS® Target relates to your new daily PointsPlus Target. The way that PointsPlus values are calculated is completely different to the old POINTS values calculation, so don’t even try to guesstimate.
Everyone will find that they have a higher number to work with every day. A lot of foods have also got a higher number of PointsPlus values attached to them — but not all! Stay tuned for some happy surprises.
2. Take stock in the kitchen
Go through your cupboards and fridge at home, and recalculate the PointsPlus values for foods that you eat often. You can either look on the product’s nutritional labels and use the PointsPlus calculator, or look in Find and Explore for the items by name. Don’t be afraid to deface food packaging with a big ol’ Sharpie — better to have graffiti in your pantry than anxiety in your meal planning.
If you’ve got any food items in the PointsPlus Tracker that you’d created previously, but didn’t need to convert straightaway (they'll have a red exclamation point next to them), now’s a great time to go back and either delete them if you don’t use them anymore, or re-enter the nutritional info so they’re ready to track next time you eat them. If you don’t have the package handy, and if the item isn’t in our Food Tracker, remember that many manufacturers put nutritional info right on their websites.
You’ll find that some of the items in your kitchen — like pasta, rice, beans, starchy vegetables like potatoes, and many packaged foods — have a higher PointsPlus value than POINTS value. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat these foods! Don’t forget that your new, higher daily PointsPlus Target is also higher.
That said, you’ll also find that some other items — yogurt, most meats and fish, and cheese — actually have the same number of PointsPlus values as POINTS values. A 3oz. serving of grilled chicken breast has 3 PointsPlus values — that’s how many POINTS values it was, but it’ll eat into your daily Target less! Foods that are higher in protein and fiber, and lower in carbohydrates and fat, will often turn out to be real bargains.
3. Hit the stores
You will likely have learned by now that Weight Watchers Power Foods are nutritious and satisfying foods that work hard to help you lose weight. Foods that are marked with a green triangle are Weight Watchers Power Foods, and you can see the full list of them in Find and Explore.
But don’t just sit there and read it: Go shopping! Load up your cart with these foods — try some new ones, and find some Weight Watchers recipes to make use of them here. As well as the new food items you might try, you may also be pleasantly surprised by some of the items that make their way into your cart: Bread (reduced-calorie, whole-grain is best), fat-free luncheon meats, and light yogurt are all Weight Watchers Power Foods, even though they weren’t Filling Foods.
(On that note, though, do note that a few of the Filling Foods, such as avocados and certain soups, are not Weight Watchers Power Foods.)
4. Buy a new fruit bowl
You’ll need it! All fresh fruit — apples, oranges, strawberries, even bananas and mangoes (yes! Even bananas and mangoes!) — have 0 PointsPlus values. They’re Weight Watchers Power Foods, and they help you meet your Good Health Guidelines. (And most vegetables still have 0 PointsPlus values.)
Yes, fruit contains calories and sugar, but trust us: provided you listen to your hunger signals (and forgo the banana-eating contests), you can eat it and still lose weight.
The key is to use fruit as a particularly delicious “tool.” Eat a filling banana to keep you away from the vending machine between breakfast and lunch. Add some grapes to your salad to bulk it up and add a juicy sweetness for 0 PointsPlus values. Roast some plums or peaches with your chicken for a tangy accompaniment. Have some mango with plain Greek yogurt and honey for a creamy and delicious low PointsPlus values dessert. Or stash an apple in your purse to munch while you rush from place to place. Zero PointsPlus value fruit is, quite simply, awesome.
5. Know where your tools are
Your getting started book, pocket guide, and weekly contain all the tools to discover the PointsPlus values of the food you want to eat, plus they even offer a full database of activities that can earn you extra PointsPlus values.
Don’t forget about how important the meeting room can be to your success. We are all learning together so let’s help support this transition!
5 Things NOT To-Do on the PointsPlus
1. Don’t combine programs
This is No. 1 for a reason; it’s the single, most important thing to remember. The new program, including a higher daily PointsPlus Target, higher weekly PointsPlus Allowance and 0 PointsPlus values fruits, only works if you follow every part of it. If you attempt to stick to the old POINTS® program, raise your daily Target and don’t count fruit, the program will not work.
Your new daily PointsPlus Target has been calculated for you, and everyone gets a weekly PointsPlus Allowance of 49. As you track your food in the Plan Manager and calculate the PointsPlus values of foods you have in your cupboards and fridge, we’re confident that you’ll enjoy having more PointsPlus values to play around with every day and that you will quickly become more and more fluent in the “new numbers.”
2. Don't guess at PointsPlus values
The new calculation that gives you the PointsPlus values of any food or drink is a lot more complicated than the previous POINTS values calculation. On the old Plan, lots of people had figured out a "cheat" that worked at a pinch if you had the food label at hand (or even just the calorie count), but no POINTS calculator.
But PointsPlus values go beyond calories. The calorie count you see on nutrition labels reflects the amount of energy in a food before you eat it. But once it’s down the hatch, your body has to process it. In that processing, some of the food’s calories are used. PointsPlus values reflect the energy that’s available after you’ve processed a food. Your body works harder to process protein and fiber than it does to process fat and carbs. Protein and fiber are also more filling than non-fiber containing carbohydrates and fat so the new PointsPlus calculation is designed to guide you towards filling choices as you’re working to lose weight. Therefore, your food choices — even between two that have the same number of calories — matter a lot more than they did on the old program.
All of this means that you can't just look at a food label and guesstimate the number of PointsPlus values. You will over time, of course, learn the numbers for your favorite foods. But until then, use all the tools you have available to get to the proper number.
3. Don’t “eyeball” measurements
Just as we advise you not to guess at PointsPlus values, we also advise not guessing at portions. For many foods, each PointsPlus value represents a smaller amount of food, so you’re more likely to fall foul of “portion distortion.” A little extra rounding on a 1-cup measure might bump your serving up by whole PointsPlus values.
Keep in mind, too, that because of the complexity of the new calculation, PointsPlus math doesn’t necessarily follow that 1 + 1 = 2; it’s entirely possible that while one serving is 1 PointsPlus values, two servings may be 3 PointsPlus values. Don’t let portion creep derail your efforts.
4. Don’t stuff yourself with fruit
Fresh fruits are free because we want to encourage you to eat them. They’re filling and nutritious and we’ve factored the caloric impact of even the highest-calorie fruits into our calculations of your daily PointsPlus Target. So go for it! Just make sure to eat until you’re satisfied, not stuffed.
Be particularly aware of day-long grazing. It’s a great habit to have a fruit bowl on your desk or somewhere equally accessible, but be mindful of your portions. While you’ll hear a lot of people saying, “Yeah, I’m not doing Weight Watchers because I ate too much fruit!” there is still a possibility that not listening to your hunger signals can scupper your efforts. If you really think you’re doing everything else right while eating a lot of fruit and you’re still not losing weight, then examine the amount of fruit you’re eating, and why.
5. Don’t panic if you don’t lose weight
First of all, re-read the four pitfalls above, and make sure you haven’t become a victim to them. It’s never a bad idea to reread your starting materials again; go to weightwatchers.com for ideas and motivation.
And look at the big picture: On the old plan you probably still had weeks when you thought you’d lose and you didn’t. Check the “usual suspects,” especially if you haven’t lost weight for a few weeks. Are your portions creeping up? Have you been honest with your tracking? Are you gorging yourself on multiple portions of 0 PointsPlus values foods? It’s tempting to attribute a period of no weight loss to a big change, like a new Plan, but it’s important to work to find the areas where you might not be using it to your best advantage. Remember: If you rock the Plan, the Plan will rock you.