Weight Watchers is one of those diets that never goes away. It has become a familiar beacon in a sea of fad diets and miracle cures. Although Weight Watchers has been around for more than 40 years their weight loss plans are always changing to take advantage of the most current scientific information and research. The lives of millions of people have been changed for the better after they successfully lost weight using this user-friendly weight loss system.
Weight Watchers was founded in 1963 by Jean Nidetch, at the time living in Brooklyn, New York. Like many of us, she found it incredibly hard to lose weight. Just before the birth of what was to become Weight Watchers, Jean managed to lose 20 pounds, but found that she really battled to keep up her motivation levels. In examining her own needs, Jean realized just how important empathy, rapport and mutual understanding are to the whole process of losing and maintaining weight.
By sharing weight loss tips and supporting each other Jean and her group of friends all lost weight, and the word spread quickly. As the group expanded, Jean joined forces with Al Lippert to start up Weight Watchers. True to its humble beginnings the key focus area of the program from the start was the concept of group counseling. The Weight Watcher meetings became the hallmark of the program and today over 1 million people are attending weekly meetings in 30 countries around the world.
The program obviously evolved over time to offer improved programs aimed more specifically at niche markets for example men only. Weight Watchers also took advantage of the emergence of the internet and social networking sites to offers members even more options and support tools. Those who prefer greater anonymity can now attend virtual meetings on a weekly basis. While the virtual meetings are reported to be slightly less effective than regular meetings, good results have been reported from those attending.
Weight Watchers Success Factors.
It is always good to investigate the reasons for success of any diet. You may well find that even if you do not like the program itself, there may well be valuable lessons to learn that can make all the difference if you apply them to your current weight loss program. Some of the main reasons why Weight Watchers continue to be the success story it is can be summarized as follow:
- Weekly progress meetings. The biggest reason for weight loss success has to be the weekly Weight Watchers meetings. Scientific research have proven that people are more likely to lose weight if they receive support from fellow dieters. These meetings actually serve a number of purposes in helping dieters lose and maintain their weight:
- Peer pressure. Peer pressure naturally forces participants to think twice before they cheat during the week. Many feel embarrassed having to explain a weight gain once they get onto the scales.
- Motivation. Members use the weekly meetings to offer each other moral support and motivation. We all have an instinctive need to fit in and connect with other people. For many people the mere fact that they are finally “fitting in” offers great incentive to fully participate in the program.
- Education. The meetings serve as education forums. Participants are taught how to follow the plan, and misunderstandings or problem areas can be quickly identified and addressed.
- Weight tracking. By weighing in every week, Weight Watchers members are provided with regular tracking of progress. Seeing progress on the scales can be a great motivator in itself.
- Points system. On Weight Watchers you can eat whatever you want provided you remain within your “point” limits. Your limit is determined through a proprietary points system. Every food item is allocated a certain number of points depending on the calorie, fiber and fat content of the particular item. The number of points you are allowed on a daily basis is calculated taking into account your height and weight. This proprietary system offers followers many benefits over other diets:
- Foods you like. You can eat what you like, as long as you choose wisely. If you follow Atkins, South Beach, or most of the other popular diets; certain foods may be totally off limits. On Weight Watchers, while they are trying to foster healthy eating habits, you have greater freedom to select your food. With some clever substitution you can create healthy and tasty dishes.
- Variety. Weight Watchers allows for great variety in foods. Most of the other popular diets severely restrict the food choices of participants. Many people then give up on these diets after a while, simply because they get bored with the food and start craving more exciting foods.
- Simple and easy to understand. While many other weight loss problems can be very complex and require you to track calories, count carbs, and so forth; the Weight Watchers system in relatively simple. On Weight Watchers you only have to track your points.
- Lifestyle Changes. Weight Watchers encourages lifestyle changes so that the weight lost can stay off. The maintenance period kicks in when the goal weight is achieved. Food intake is gradually increased until the weight stabilizes. If you remain within 2 pounds of your goal weight during the first 6 weigh-in meetings while on your maintenance phase, you become a “Lifetime” member. Lifetime members may attend meetings free of charge provided they weigh in at least once a month, and do not weigh more than 2 pounds above their original goal weight.
- Busy lifestyle. You can walk into just about any supermarket and will be able to buy plenty of Weight Watchers foods; including breakfasts, meals, desserts, drinks, sauces, spreads and even snacks. All of these products clearly indicate the value of the items in the points system. The ready availability of these foods makes it easier for even the busiest people to follow the diet.
- Eating out. Dining out is always a problem on any diet. In order to offer its members more choices, Weight Watchers teamed up with Applebee’s restaurants a few years ago to create suitable menu choices for Weight Watchers members. Menu items carry the Weight Watchers registered trademark and show the total number of points for the meal. Items include appetizers, entrees and desserts; and are available at most Applebee’s throughout the US.
Most new Weight Watcher dieters experience the first few weeks as the hardest. This is because the food portions are much smaller than they are used to, and it takes time for your body to adjust to the reduced calorie intake. However, the success on the scales made this initial discomfort seem trivial. Most members find the weekly meetings essential for keeping up motivation levels and to help them learn how to make healthier food choices.
Weight Watchers has proven itself to be a sustainable and efficient program for losing weight that follows a holistic approach. The four basic principles supporting Weight Watchers are: eat smarter, move more, get support, and develop healthier habits. From a nutritional perspective they are really not much different from most of the other healthy diets available, but for people that need a very structured approach and the strong support of the regular meetings, this can be a great way to lose weight. If their style appeals to you, go for it. You can get a brand NEW 2009 Weight Watchers Member Kit and Points Calculator here..