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Goldilocks: The Problem with WW

It seems like every few days, someone comes online and posts some rant complaining that WW is too low in calories. People start double tracking on MyFitnessPal or LoseIt, or leave WW and start using iTrackBites with their secondary metric and see that they’re barely eating 1,000 calories a day. They don’t understand why their calories are so low, and they’re quick to blame WW and not their own food choices.

I’ve never had that problem- at least, not on SmartPoints. In fact, even on the Green Plan, where there aren’t as many zero point foods, I’ve struggled with eating too many calories.

That’s where the problem with WW lies.

I’ve talked before about how there’s very little correlation between calories and points on SmartPoints. If I eat 30 points of chicken breast, that’s over 2,000 calories. That same 30 SmartPoints can also give me a 640 calorie Bundtlet from Nothing Bundt Cakes.

Of course, nobody is going to only eat chicken or cake for a day, but it illustrates the root of the problem. It’s possible to be “perfectly” on plan- at least, according to the numbers on your tracker- and be way over or way under a reasonable calorie target.

In the past, this wasn’t as much of an issue (though, I’d say the old Points System teetered on being a little too low in calories). On Points, a point was approximately 50-100 calories. On PointsPlus, it was 40-80. On SmartPoints? I’ve seen as low as 16 calories per point and as high as over 200. That’s a pretty big range.

In WW, we’re taught to trust the plan. Track the food, stay in your points, and trust the plan. After all, WW is based on the latest science when it comes to nutrition and weight loss.

And I’m not denying that- to an extent. After all, most of us could afford to eat more protein and less sugar.

However, at the end of the day, we still have a program where some people are eating too little while being told, “remember that 0 point foods have calories!” Some people are taking full advantage of those same 0 point foods and overeating. It’s Goldilocks. Some are eating too much. Some are eating too little. Some just happen to be eating just the right amount.

SmartPoints isn’t self-regulating. There’s nothing in the app telling members if they’re eating too much or too little beyond the very unreliable SmartPoints system.

This is a problem.

WW has created a system that people trust to help them healthily lose weight, and I believe it can be that system, but not without some changes.

I think WW needs to start incorporating a calorie target into the app. Specifically, it needs to be a reasonable calorie range that considers the member’s age, weight, height, biological sex, and activity level. With WW discouraging the use of FitPoints (which I understand, to an extent), they basically say that I should eat the same amount of food as someone who is a complete badass when it comes to lifting weights and working out. That’s just wrong.

The goal should be to utilize your daily, weekly, and FitPoints (if necessary)- along with your zero point foods- to hit that calorie range. It’ll be up to you to figure out what works best for you (which is the whole point of SmartPoints anyway- this just makes it more transparent).

Will it happen? I doubt it. That’s one of the reasons I love that iTrackBites doesn’t allow you to follow Better Balance (the equivalent to WW Blue) without a Pro Membership. The pro membership also gives you the ability to track a secondary metric: macros or calories. Sure, you can opt-out of using it, but it’s available for everyone on Better Balance.

That’s the first step in improving this major flaw in the WW SmartPoints system. It’s not the only thing that needs to be fixed. People need to be educated on metabolic adaptation. We need to stop pushing this idea that 1,200 calories a day is appropriate for most adults. 

But we can start by fixing the Goldilocks issue with SmartPoints and making people aware of how much they’re eating.

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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.

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Four Weeks of Getting my Crap Together

I don’t like setting monthly goals.

I know. It’s strange, but I’ve never worked well with setting goals that start on the 1st and end on the last day of the month. Rather than set monthly goals based on the calendar month, I prefer to set mine based on any 4 week period that starts on a Sunday and ends on a Saturday.

I did this back in the fall and it worked pretty well for me- until a double dose of the flu, work, a Stepbet, and the holidays brought me down. I was absolutely on fire. I was working out 7 days a week, taking my vitamins, going on walks before sunrise. In comparison, I’ve been dragging lately. My workouts have been virtually non-existent and I seem to only go about two weeks before I stop tracking and start stuffing my face.

So, I’m kicking it into high gear.

Now, I’m not going to share every single one of my goals on here. For one thing, I’m still not sure what all of them are myself. However, I do have some plans in place for the next few weeks.

Getting out of this Weight Decade

I have been playing around in the same weight decade for weeks. Every time I get close, I end up self-sabotaging. That. Needs. To. Stop. Now. Now, my ultimate dream would be to lose about 17 pounds in the next 7-8 weeks, but for now, I’m just hoping for 7 pounds in 4 weeks. Ambitious? Eh. Not really. To be honest, those numbers are based on last week’s weigh in where I was up almost 6 pounds. It’s likely I’ll only have 1-3 pounds to worry about losing over the next 4 weeks.

So, I have a plan in place to help me reach that goal:

  1. Stick to my Wendie Plan Points Target every day
  2. Drink 1 gallon of water daily
  3. Exercise 6 days a week
  4. 10,000 steps daily
  5. Use my Cubii during scheduled virtual WW workshops and Livestreams when I’m usually tied to my desk for 30 minutes to 2 hours
  6. Prepare and drink a Fab 4 smoothie for lunch on work days
  7. Go back to taking my multivitamin and collagen daily
  8. Finish eating before 9pm. (I’m trying to see if I can realistically make this earlier- I probably can, but I’m not sure what a realistic “kitchen close” time for me is quite yet).
  9. Early morning walk (around 5:30-6am start) most days. (This one is also being tweaked a little. I would love to get ahead on my step goal first thing in the morning, but I also want to make sure I’m not sacrificing sleep for the sake of an early morning wake up time.)

Now, for exercise, I actually have a plan in place beyond just “I’ll probably do some kind of Leslie Sansone video.” A few days ago, I made the impulsive decision to try the Liift 4 sample workout after I found it on Vimeo. I needed to see what Brianna has been raving about. I pretty much loved it immediately. Now, I wasn’t super thrilled with the HIIT part of the workout. I found that I wasn’t getting an effective workout there because I was too focused on trying to do the moves. Eventually, I decided to pretty much just do my own thing. I figured, as long as I was moving, that’s really all that mattered.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that workout since. So, I decided that I might as well try doing the program- or at least a very slightly modified version of it. On the days that are interval training or pure circuit training, I’ll do the full workout to the best of my ability. On the 50/50 days, I’m giving myself permission to opt out of the HIIT section. On those days, if I decide not to go with the HIIT, I’ll do a Leslie Sansone workout in its place. I’ll also do a Walk at Home workout Wednesday and Saturday. Sundays, for now, I’m just going to do my walk outside and hit my step goal. I may decide to add in some kind of stretching/yoga type workout in as well, but “officially” Sunday is rest day.

Other Goals:

Now, I’m not going to go into as much detail about these today, but I may do so in the future.

  1. Read Everything is Figueoutable for the Diva and the Divine Book Club.
  2. Finish my rainbow kitten diamond painting
  3. Strip wash my bedding
  4. Keep my bedroom organized
  5. Grow this site
  6. Select colors for my Golden Birthday Temperature Blanket project (and decide on a pattern/temperature scale)
  7. Read at least 1 chapter of a book of my choice every day
  8. Spend some intentional screen-free time each day (and use some of that time to work on personal journaling and/or devotionals)

Now, some of these things are still being tweaked, but this is at least a pretty solid start towards getting my crap together.

From the Scales of Lissa Kristine, WW

Finding Balance: Wendie Plan

When I first tried Weight Watchers back in 2009, I was a Points hoader. I ate extra light during the day so I’d have the points left over at the end of the day for dessert. Usually, it was a tall caramel frappuccino with no whipped cream and extra caramel drizzle in the cup paired with a chocolate covered pretzel from the Barnes and Noble cafe or a 100 Calorie pack (my favorites were the Hostess 100 Calorie Strawberry cupcakes or the Oreo Cakesters).

It goes beyond daily hoarding. I also tried to avoid dipping into my weeklies during the week. Instead, I saved everything for Tuesday night. I’d starve myself all day, weigh in around 6pm at my Weight Watchers meeting, and then celebrate or drown my sorrows with a “cheat meal.” It was a very all-or-nothing way of eating; it might be why I never kept the weight off.

I’ve definitely made a lot of progress towards moderation since my first few years of WW with weekly breaks to eat like a jerk. However, I’m not perfect. In fact, these past few weeks have been rough. While I don’t particularly have weekly cheat meals, I did have somewhat of a routine before COVID-19 turned everything upside down. Meals at home were generally pretty healthy. Desserts were occasional and consisted of things like fruit, yogurt, and protein bars. However, meals outside of the house were different. Whether it was a trip to the buffet with my family, lunch after church on Sunday, or a rare dinner out with friends, my rule was basically “anything goes.” Now, unlike in years past, these meals were not free-for-alls. I still tracked my food and made mostly healthy choices. I just didn’t turn down dessert if I really wanted one. It was a good system, and it worked while it was in place.

Obviously, there haven’t been any social gatherings in a while, and I’ll be surprised if any happen by my birthday at the end of June. This has thrown me off course more than I’d like to admit. Usually, allowing myself an outlet for social gatherings was enough to help me get through the week. I often had at least one opportunity a week where I knew I had a chance of having something with real sugar or white flour. Not having that outlet has led to a bit of a struggle with staying on track.

Last year, I spent a couple months following The Wendie Plan while counting PointsPlus values through iTrackBites. I loved it. As someone who often went through binge and hoard cycles with my points, I struggled with learning how to balance how to spend my weeklies. I needed opportunities to have days where I indulged more combined with some structure to keep me from losing control. While it was not without its downsides, the plan worked very well for me.

So, if it worked so well, why did I stop?

Well, there were two main reasons I decided to stop. First, because I simply didn’t need it anymore. I learned how to eat treats in moderation and work them around my lifestyle. Second, was because my schedule was a bit too unpredictable. I changed my high point day from week to week because I often needed it on different on different days. That was fine.The problem is, I rarely knew when my high point day should be in advance. I wanted to save them for social gatherings, but those have always been fairly last-minute. Eventually, it just caused more stress than it was worth.

I think I need that again. While I had a great system going for me from September to March, it obviously isn’t working anymore. I need to learn how to eat at home. I need to learn how to break my food rules and have treats by myself. I just need a little help.

So, I’m giving myself a challenge. Starting Sunday, May 10, 2020, I am going to give the Wendie Plan another go for at least 5 weeks. Since there are no social gatherings (and every day is more or less the same), I can just pick a day for my high point day and be done with it. Now, I’m not sure what that day will be, but I’m leaning towards Saturday even though my weigh in day is Sunday because that’s what it usually was last year. In June, I’ll reevaluate. If NJ is still mostly shut down (we’re Stay at Home for at least 30 more days), I will probably continue for another 5 weeks.

I am currently on the WW Green Plan with 30 daily points and 35 weeklies. I went ahead and decided to calculate what a week would look like if I choose Saturday as my high point day for the week.


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We’ll see how this experiment will help me deal with my relationship with food. If it can stop this off and on dieting cycle, then it should be worth it.