By Jackie Stinson
The first thing you should know about signing up for Weight Watchers Online is that you’ll need to enter your height, weight, and gender. This is important for several reasons. First, by entering the information, the system calculates whether Weight Watchers is the right program for you. Also, this is how your PointsPlus daily target is calculated (details about that are below). Don’t panic about getting on the scale. For me, it was my first time on a scale in quite a while. Everything is confidential. You’ll be able to track your progress as you go.
I used Weight Watchers online tools to help me lose nearly 70 pounds (People following the Weight Watchers plan can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week). There are almost too many tools and resources to mention, but there are so many of them I used along the way.
If you’re not sure how the program works or are worried that you’ll get lost in calorie counts and carbohydrate deprivation, I assure you it’s much simpler than you think. When you first provide your information (height, weight, gender), you’ll get a PointsPlus target number. Every food you eat has a PointsPlus value. It’s based on the amount of fat, carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. Weight Watchers has done those calculations for you – there are over 40,000 foods listed online with their accompanying PointsPlus values. Your job on this program is to stay within your target PointsPlus budget for the day. Think of it like a bank account. You have a certain amount to spend.
There are perks, of course. You’ll get a weekly allowance to spend as you choose in addition to your daily points. You’ll also rack up Activity Points for the exercise that you do.
The Initial Goal
Right after you sign up and confirm your information, you’ll get your PointsPlus target number. This is what I referred to earlier. You need to stay within your target range each day. You’ll then get your first goal. One of the things that made me successful is that I wasn’t trying to lose 70 pounds in one week or one month. I had a small goal (5% of my weight) to work towards initially. It was not overwhelming, yet it helped give me a purpose and an objective.
I mentioned earlier that there are so many tools that are at your disposal that it seems like a futile effort to explain each one. I will tell you about some of the ones that I used the most and that helped me throughout my journey to success. I highly recommend that you try out every one that interests you or that you think can help you along the way. The worst thing you can discover is that the tool didn’t work as well for your life as you hoped. I used some tools way more than others, but I didn’t find any that I flat out didn’t like. I found value in each that I used. Here are some of my favorite ones:
This is a tool that you will use every single day. Within it, there are a ton of features. I used it as a quick way to look at my day at-a-glance. This is where you’ll enter the foods that you eat. It’s highly convenient. Along the top is where all of your PointsPlus values are found. You’ll easily see how many points you have used for the day and how many you have left, how many weekly allowance points you have, how many activity points you’ve earned or have used. I found it best to log in each time I ate so that I didn’t forget to include everything. You’ll develop your own system for using this tool.
There is way more than tracking on the tracking tool though. Along the side, there’s a quick PointsPlus value calculator. If you have, for example, a can of soup for lunch, rather than looking up the specific foods, you can just enter the required values (fat, carbs, protein, and fiber) into the calculator and get the PointsPlus value for the soup. There are other handy features like the Favorites tab. This allows you to save meals and foods you eat all the time. I love oatmeal and a piece of fruit for breakfast every day. I found it really convenient not to have to enter the same meal every day. You can easily look up foods by brand name or restaurant or search for recipes and meal ideas.
There were two tools that I used all the time within the tracking tool. The first is:
The Recipe Builder. I love to cook (if you don’t, don’t worry, there are plenty of options for you too), so I would often stare into my pantry or fridge and think, “What can I make tonight?” The Recipe Builder allows you to enter in ingredients and it creates a recipe from them. It saved me quite a few times when I didn’t have a chance to go to the grocery store.
The other tool I used constantly was:
Lighten it Up. Again, I love to cook, so I am always searching for ways to be healthier in the foods I prepare. Lighten it Up is a list of fattening or otherwise unhealthy ingredients. When you click on an ingredient, you get a list of healthier alternatives and substitutions to use instead. It probably saved me thousands of calories!
Anyone who’s tried to lose weight knows how important it is to try to control our environments as much as possible. At home, this can be relatively easy. For example, I know that if I have desserts in the house, I will eat them. So I don’t ever buy them. The rest of the world isn’t trying to help me lose weight though, so desserts still exist outside of my home. Weight Watchers has considered this and has created this tool as a way to help prepare yourself and your spaces for success.
As I said, it is probably easiest to start with cleaning up your home space. With the spaces tool you’ll find tips and action plans to put to use right away. I definitely needed help at first with getting my home ready for my success. There can be pitfalls everywhere! Two of my favorite tips included ones on cleaning up my pantry and creating an exercise friendly space in my home. These tips are really practical and you’ll find some that will help you clean up your home environment.
We definitely don’t just live in our homes though. We have to go to work, parties, weddings, restaurants, holiday parties, etc. There are tons of useful tips for these things as well. There are plenty of resources to use for shopping – creating healthy grocery lists and avoiding traps that grocery stores use to get us to buy products that may not be so healthy.
My favorite part of the spaces tool is the tabs (in each section) called “Panic Moments.” Inevitably, when you’re trying to lose weight, you can prepare for everything – until you can’t. You’ll laugh at some of the headings to these panic moments like, “Hungry at the grocery store?” and “Did the boss just order lunch for the whole table?” Don’t let the funny headings fool you. These tips can be priceless for those moments where your space is out of your control. You’ll get immediate actions to take in these situations and lots of others too.
I cannot even express how many times I set myself up for weight loss failure. I tried to change everything at once – the way I ate, the intensity with which I exercised, even the amount of sleep I got each night. What the routines tool allowed me to do is set a few goals and take action to put them into place.
You may be struggling with your own routine. Weight Watchers suggests that you focus on a couple of things, make those changes, let them become routines, then move on to the next routine goals. I started small. I chose to first focus on “Getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night” and “Eating all your meals at a table.” They sound small and they are. But when they are your own routines, you know that they can be hard to change. When you pick your goals, you’ll click on them and get specific insight into the research behind why it is valuable and the steps you can take to create these new routines for yourself. I actually took this concept and applied it not to just weight loss, but everything. Small and permanent change over time is what has led me to success.
Food & Recipes
I’ve already said that I love to cook. I was in here all the time browsing recipes and creating shopping lists and plans for meals I could create. But don’t be intimidated if you don’t love to cook. There are tips and tricks to use for eating out and entertaining around the holidays. Check out a how-to video – there are quite a few. Maybe you don’t love to cook because you fear you don’t know how. You’ll actually watch someone put together a meal, step-by-step. It might inspire you to get out of your comfort zone and try a few new things.
There’s even a section here about dietary considerations. I don’t have any special restrictions, but I am married to a diabetic. Also, my closest friend is a vegetarian. I often had to consider these things when preparing meals for people other than myself. Maybe you’re a vegetarian or are gluten-free. There are many food options and ideas here.
I was a high school athlete. I didn’t think of playing sports as exercise or working out. They were just things I did. Then, when I started college, I did nothing. I stopped playing sports and didn’t exercise – for years! I didn’t know if I’d get anything out of the fitness tool because I had already decided I didn’t like to exercise. I gave it a try and it became one of my favorite places to go on Weight Watchers online. When you first start using the tool, you can enter your current fitness level. You can also search by activity type, location (at home, at the gym, indoors, outside), and the equipment that you have or want to use. There are so many options. I started at the very beginning. I took a quick assessment that gave me a weekly fitness goal. Don’t forget, you’ll also get some Activity Points to use during the week also, so in addition to the health benefits that you’ll get from exercise, you get to eat more also!
It’s also great if you’re already a fan of exercise. Maybe you need to change up your current routine or add different things to make it more fun. There are a lot of articles about different things to try and video demos of fitness routines no matter your level.
It would be a great deal easier to lose weight and get healthy if our brains and bodies were always in synch. Obviously they are not. Just as you need to create a healthy space around you, you’ll need to create a healthy space within you as well. That means learning ways to relax our minds. I didn’t know if I’d use this tool much, but it was a place I went to quite often. I was frequently stressed with work or with school. This tool contains tips and resources to use for not only relaxing your mind and coping strategies for stressful situations, but for things like style and travel too!
There are sections for those in different life stages. Maybe you’re a new mom or you’re over 50. There are resources specifically for you. At the time I began Weight Watchers, I was a college student with a full time job. I found resources that I could relate to with specific tools and actions I could use.
I read these all the time. When you’re feeling down or having a rough week, read a few of these. You will relate to the struggles and marvel in the success of the people in these stories. When you can see yourself in someone else’s story, it is inspirational. It was for me.
Of course, even the success stories you read are customizable to you. Maybe you’re a mother of four who has 50 or more pounds to you. It might not motivate you to learn how a 20 year old man lost 15 pounds. But you can find stories based on age, weight lost, and other things that you can relate to – like people who attend Weight Watchers meetings or who eat out often.
This is the place to go when you’re feeling alone. It’s the place I would go when I started to feel down or resentful that I was the only one in my household trying to lose weight. It’s a place to virtually visit with others who are just like you.
There are recipe exchanges and message boards. I remember I once had a question about yogurt. If you want to feel a sense of community, post a question! I got so many responses and people sharing their stories. I even found a few people in my local area. We started a walking group twice a week. It was a great way to be social and I got to exercise in the process.
Everything you need
When I made the final decision to lose weight and keep it off, I got honest with myself. Diets that promise weight loss without changes to what you’re doing just aren’t for real. I have tried them all – well not all of them, but enough to know that they don’t work. You have to change how you eat. You have to make better choices. You should move more. I knew all of this. But having the tools I needed to put all of these things together is what I was missing. Using these tools and the practically limitless tips and tricks on Weight Watchers online is the reason you’ll succeed and never look back.