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Rebellion against WW

I used to hate the WW message boards. While they were a decent place to get information about WW before Facebook groups and Connect were a thing, the people who spent their time posting on the forums weren’t always the nicest. Some were downright bullies (and apparently, telling someone they need a meds adjustment and that’s why they cut themselves did not violate any rules).

There was one unspoken rule in the forums. Thou shalt not question Weight Watchers. The mere suggestion that the plan was imperfect really riled people up. WW Rebels were not welcome. At times, it seemed almost cult-like.

So, I was very pleased when I came across a video on YouTube a couple years ago from someone who flat out said that she did not follow the plan perfectly as written. It was someone who regularly posted WW content who did not bow down to the memory of the great Jean Nidetch. I was hooked. I came back to that video over and over and eventually, I became friends with the creator of that video, Brianna (also known as Diva and the Divine).

The thing I really loved about Brianna’s video was that she didn’t break the rules arbitrarily. It wasn’t like she just didn’t want to track something, so she didn’t. Her reasons all made sense.

Anyway, I thought it would be kind of fun to jump off Brianna’s original video idea here and write about the WW rules that I break- especially since I’ve been rebelling a bit more.

Of course, you should check out both of her WW Rebel videos on her YouTube Channel. Her original one can be found here and her latest one is here. (And while you’re on YouTube, you should check out my new friend, MiRanda’s, own WW Rebel, video here because her “stealing” from Brianna is what inspired me to do the same.)

So, after that painfully long introduction, here are a few of the rules I break on WW.

Blended Fruit

I am #TeamNoCountBlendedFruit all the way. I know. I started off with thing everyone rebels against. I rebelled against counting blended fruit back in 2010 when PointsPlus came out and 0 point fruit became a thing. Back then, all fruits and vegetables in any recipe were supposed to be counted. That’s how the recipe builder worked. Even the infamous Garden Vegetable Soup had a PointsPlus value despite consisting of nothing but 0 point vegetables.

This made absolutely zero sense to me. I understood the logic behind it. It’s easier to overeat carrot cake than raw carrots. I also understood what they’re saying about how it’s easier to drink more fruit than you’d consume if you were eating it whole.

However, back in 2010, the WW Android app was pretty bad. It took up too much phone space and it often just didn’t work. Many people in my meetings didn’t have Etools. If they wanted to track a food, they looked it up in a book they bought in the meeting room or used a little handheld calculator. No Etools meant no Recipe Builder. We were taught to calculate the PointsPlus value of a recipe by adding the total points for the ingredients and dividing that number by the number of servings. So, if you had a smoothie made with half a banana, 3/4 cup of blueberries, a handful of spinach, and a cup of almond milk, you’d add 0+0+0+1 and get a 1 point smoothie. There was no list of PointsPlus values to be used in recipes where produce was supposed to count.

This meant that the PointsPlus values for a recipe made using the recipe builder and one made by someone paper tracking could look significantly different. I didn’t accept that. So, I didn’t count the fruit and veggies in any of my recipes- including smoothies. That hasn’t changed in nearly a decade.

Besides, nobody has been able to explain to me why unsweetened applesauce is a 0 point food.

WW

Ok. I’m actually rebelling against WW in general right now. I know. It’s crazy.

Now, I am still an active, paying member of WW. I attend multiple workshops a week in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Maryland. However, despite having the choice of three different plans to follow, I don’t actually follow any of them.

I love SmartPoints. I really do. The Green Plan was my jam. The problem is, I stopped losing weight on it a few months ago. I talked about it a bit more in a recent blog post, but in short, with the way I was eating and the 0 point foods being what they were, I was eating my maintenance calories most days.

So, while I am still attending WW workshops and working towards lifetime status, I am following the old PointsPlus plan (aka Carb Concious) on the iTrackBites app. I’m about halfway through my second week on the plan and I’m LOVING it. I feel absolutely fantastic. I’ve finally been eating in a way that will allow me to lose weight, but I’m also enjoying a newfound freedom and flexibility in my eating. On Saturday, I had a salad from Chipotle with double the barbacoa, guacamole, and a Confetti Bundtlet from Nothing Bundt Cakes. On SmartPoints, I’d be working my entire day around that dessert.

Plus, I can’t be mad at a plan that got me out of the weight decade I was stuck in for MONTHS.

Collagen (and Multivitamins and Medicine)

Back on SmartPoints, I got into the habit of adding 2 scoops of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides to my water every morning. It’s basically flavorless if you don’t think about it too much. I didn’t think much of it. It was a way to add a few extra grams of protein into my morning and collagen is supposed to have other health benefits as well, right?

Besides, the unflavored version is 0 SmartPoints.

Unfortunately, it clocks in at 2 PointsPlus for the 2 scoop serving.

My collagen was one of the things that was making me question my decision to move forward and try PointsPlus again, so I decided to not track it. After all, I don’t track the gummy vitamins I take every morning. How is this any different? It’s a supplement. I don’t count cough drops or other medicine. I probably wouldn’t count it if I had to take a spoonful of local honey to help with allergies.

I’ll track my food. I don’t count points for medicine.

Coconut Water

This one has the same logic behind it that the previous one does.

I actually hate coconut water. I think it’s disgusting. However, I hate summer more. I don’t do well with the heat and my dad doesn’t believe in air conditioning, so I often get dehydrated during the summer. After all, I spend all night just sweating and it’s very difficult for me to re-hydrate while I’m continually sweating.

So, I’ve decided to allow myself to have coconut water, as-needed when I’m feeling especially run down by the heat. I don’t drink sports drinks like gatorade, so opting for coconut water just seemed like the best choice. I’m not likely to overdo it because I only drink it out of desperation (and it certainly won’t replace my gallon of pure water I drink every day). Why punish myself by counting points for something I’m basically using as medicine?

Cooking Fats

This is fairly new change. I have always been one to measure and count all of the fats used for cooking. After all, fat is the most calorically dense macro nutrient. Over time, I learned to cook all my food dry. I’d toss my vegetables in the oven or air fryer to roast with absolutely nothing on them. I would toss a teaspoon of olive oil on the vegetables after roasting so I’d get the healthy fats in, but the results were always subpar.

Then, a couple months ago, I hit a wall. I’m pretty sure it was plain old WW burnout. I spent some time eating like a complete jerk, but I knew I couldn’t continue down that path for long, so I decided to try something new. I decided to see what would happen if I didn’t count points for cooking fats. After all, back when I was on my Whole30, cooking fat didn’t even count as a fat in a meal because some of it cooked off.

Now, at the time, I was still on SmartPoints, so butter and coconut oil technically are twice as many SmartPoints as olive oil. However, calorie-wise, they’re about the same, so I decided to treat them exactly the same. That has continued into my switch to PointsPlus.

My rule is that I do not count points for fats added to foods before cooking. Now, if I toss vegetables into olive oil before roasting or add a little butter on top of my salmon before sticking under the broiler, I will count the calories (just to keep me in check), but I’ll mark it as a 0 point food. A lot of that fat ends up staying in the pan anyway. [This is likely how I will approach marinades if I cook something using one, though I may also only count a certain amount of the marinade for calorie purposes]. I do not count anything for the fat I use to grease my cast-iron skillets before cooking . Sometimes, it’s a drizzle of olive oil directly into the pan. Other times, I’ll take a stick of butter and rub it on a hot pan. As long as there’s not a visible pool of fat, it doesn’t get counted.

Now, fats that I eat directly- like olive oil in my salad dressing, butter on my toast, or even olive oil in my waffle batter- do get counted appropriately since I know that the fat there isn’t being lost in the cooking process.

Disclaimer

I spent a good 3 months this year not losing weight. If you’re looking at the list of rules I’m breaking and you know this about me, then your conclusion may be that this is probably why I’m not losing weight. That’s a valid assumption. However, when my weight loss stalled, I wasn’t breaking any rules except for the rule about blended fruit (and it’s not like I drink smoothies every day; I only drink them a couple times a week- mostly out of necessity since I don’t get a lunch break at work).

Some of these rules, I’ve only broken for a couple of weeks. Others (like the coconut water rule), I haven’t actually broken yet. However, while I may not be counting Points for these things, I am still logging in their calories. I know that counting a little butter in my pan or blueberries in my smoothie as 0 points isn’t hurting my progress because I’m still primarily eating in a calorie deficit (now that I’ve switched to PointsPlus; the couple rules I broke before my switch were not enough to make a difference).

Since iTrackBites makes tracking a secondary metric so easy, I will continue to keep an eye on my calories- just to make sure that the rules I break aren’t causing an issue. As time goes on, I may start breaking more rules, or I may realize that I’ve been breaking too many. Whatever happens, I am keeping myself in check and it seems to be working so far. We’ll see what happens in the future.

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Sticking to what Works… Until it Doesn’t

I love the WW Green Plan. I lost a bit of weight on it back when it was the new SmartPoints plan a few years back before I put the weight back on when I went on medication to manage my mental health. When I started back on it in September, I spent time modifying the WW app to allow myself to go back to following that plan.

I lost about 30 pounds on SmartPoints.

Last Sunday, I weighed in at 0.2 pounds above what I weighed on March 1. I have been in this same weight decade since December. My only saving grace is that even with some large gains, I haven’t gone up into the higher weight decade.

Now, I haven’t been perfect, but I never have been (and never will be). Still, I’ve had more good days than bad days and that’s always been enough. Lately, however, it hasn’t been enough.

This week, I’ve been doing an experiment inspired by Brianna’s own calorie and point comparison experiment. I decided to switch to tracking on iTrackBites instead of the WW app to take advantage of the secondary metrics. Clearly, something has not been working for me and I need to figure out what it is. I figured the first step would be to look at how many calories I’m eating.

Now, this was a rough week to start an experiment between PMS hunger and eating like a jerk, but the on plan days have been very insightful.

I am still following the Wendie Plan. I do not count points for fruits, vegetables, or the oil I drizzle on my veggies before roasting or air frying (but if I make a salad dressing or something like waffles, I will count points for the oil in that). I am, however, counting calories for those things.

On a “good” day, I’ve been averaging about 1,831 calories per day. According to my Fitbit, my 7 day average calorie burn is about 2,160 calories. [This doesn’t include my “high” point day which would obviously skew my calorie consumption]. It’s no wonder I’m not losing weight.

I’ve looked at the numbers. Obviously, the fruit, veggies, and oil that I don’t count as points still have calories. However, even after subtracting the calories from those foods, I’m still hitting my calorie goal. I know people who, even with 0 point foods, struggle to hit their calorie goals without blowing through their points. I don’t have that problem at all.

If I spend my entire points allowance on chicken breast, that’s over 2,000 calories. On a bundt cake? 640. That’s an average of 75 calories per point vs 21. The problem is, I eat a lot more chicken than I do cake- which is what WW wants me to do.

On PointsPlus, there’s a 10 calorie per point difference between chicken breast and cake.

Most of what I eat on a regular basis is either the same points between SmartPoints and PointsPlus or is fewer points on SmartPoints. I don’t eat a lot of sugary foods. Between daily and weekly points, I have 14 points more on SmartPoints than I do on PointsPlus. If most of my foods are the same on both plans, it means I’m easily overeating on SmartPoints. Take my work lunch for example? The protein powder I use is a point more on PointsPlus than on SmartPoints, but the 1sp fiber powder is 0pp. This means that my smoothie is going to be 9 points on either plan. However, I’m looking at 9 out of 30 points on Green and 9 out of 26 on PointsPlus (which I still think is the “yellow” plan- even if Brianna says it should be the glitter plan). That’s nearly 35% of my daily target vs 30%. Things like that can add up FAST.

One thing that confused me about when SmartPoints first came out was that, even 40+ pounds above my goal weight, I hit my minimum daily and weekly target. It just didn’t make sense. At the point where I hit my minimum of 30 dailies and 35 weeklies on SmartPoints, I was still at about 29 PointsPlus. Right now, I’m at about 26pp. Being at my minimum while I’m around 12 pounds from hitting a healthy weight range makes perfect sense. At 30+ pounds above? Not so much.

So, I’m stepping away from SmartPoints- at least for the time being. Tomorrow, I’m going to switch my tracker on iTrackBites to start tracking PointsPlus values on the Carb Concious plan. I’ll still be double tracking calories- just to keep myself in check and see what other tweaks I need to start making. Other than switching plans, nothing else will be changing. The foods I eat will probably be the same- with a few tweaks here and there. I still plan on following the Wendie Plan guidelines for PointsPlus.

I’m hoping that making a few small tweaks here and there with my diet, in addition to starting a mini fitness challenge for my Birthday (which I’ll announce at some point) in addition to finishing out Liift 4 will be enough to get the scale moving in the right direction.

Now, I will be adding one more food to my list of foods I will NOT be counting as points. Every morning, I add two scoops of unflavored collagen peptides to my water. On SmartPoints, that comes out to 0 points. On PointsPlus, however, that’s 2 points. I still plan on counting the calories for it, but since I’m taking the collagen as a supplement and not as food, I’m going to treat it like I do my vitamins or any medications and not count any points. If I find that I need to start cutting back on some things, I’ll look into counting it in the future, but for now, I’m going to see how not counting it works for me.

I’ve always struggled with “the grass is always greener” syndrome when it comes to diets. No matter how well a plan is working for me, I always look at others and go “I wonder if I should switch.” It’s taken me a long time to reach the point where I’m no longer wanting to make major changes every few weeks. I’ve been staying in my own lane. It’s been working for me, so why change?

Except, it’s clearly not working anymore, so I need to make a change.

I’m nervous. It’s been a while since I’ve been on PointsPlus. I’m used to having 30 points a day that I aim to divide evenly between 3 meals. I’m not used to dividing 26 points up; 26 points don’t even divide up evenly between the meals. I’ve never had anything below 30 points on PointsPlus, so that in itself is going to be a challenge- on top of relearning the points values for foods. I’m going to have to learn how to eat with these changes: figuring out how to divide my points and learning how to enjoy the fact that I don’t have to schedule my entire week around one dessert without using it as an excuse to eat like a jerk.

It’s going to take some time to figure things out, but the best way for me to figure that out is just to get started.