Weighing in on diets

Since the 1960s, Weight Watchers has aimed to prove that dieting doesn’t have to be impossible, and the word “diet” doesn’t have to mean cutting out your favorite foods. 

Weight Watchers believes you can eat whatever you want and still lose weight. It’s all due to its SmartPoints plan, which awards each food item — including fruits, vegetables, meat, bread, desserts and snacks — a certain amount of points. A fixed number of daily points is given to each member to use however he or she would like, with continuous guidance on how to get the most food value for the points allotted. Rather than cutting out all snacks, carbohydrates or fats, Weight Watchers wants you to enjoy them and does all the portioning work for you.

With investor Oprah Winfrey as the new face of the company, Weight Watchers has introduced its Beyond the Scale program, an initiative that aims to put more focus on the individual’s overall well-being. Winfrey has been an integral part of bringing that message to the world. As a public figure with unparalleled star power, she’s always been honest about her struggles with weight management. In Weight Watchers advertisements, she’s forthcoming about how her weight has held her back over the years — how she’s tried to lose it and failed, only to try and fail again. Not only is her struggle with weight relatable, but it makes her a person to look to, a guiding hand of sorts. “Let’s do this together,” she says at the end of the advertisement. And what’s amazing is that she means it.

Since she started her Weight Watchers journey this past summer, Winfrey has lost 26 pounds. “That’s the genius of this program,” she says in a video posted to her Twitter account. “I have lost 26 pounds and I have eaten bread every single day.”

But she has also been upfront about her doubts, telling talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres that she was always a little skeptical of the program and that she never wanted to count points. So when Weight Watchers called asking for her endorsement, she said, “I will have to do the program myself to see if I actually like those points.” More than 25 pounds down, it’s safe to say they’re working well for her.

Doreen Antonaccio, a waitress who lives in Westchester County, has lost 50 pounds using the program. “I joined Weight Watchers four years ago and still go to meetings every Monday evening. The first year I lost 30 (pounds), then stayed the same for a year, then lost 20 and I’m maintaining my loss now.”

Antonaccio was also skeptical of the points system. “I don’t like counting, weighing, measuring, etc.,” she says. “I now follow the Simply Filling option Weight Watchers offers.”

This option provides members with a list of foods for which counting points is unnecessary, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and more. “Simply Filling is no sugar, no fat, basically,” Antonaccio says. As long as you eat exclusively from the list, there are no points to count. However, if you do stray, you can still use points from your daily, allotted allowance. “Weight Watchers is about so much more than weight loss,” Antonaccio says. “It can change your life. It’s not a diet to me. It’s my lifestyle.”

With a mobile app enabling users to log their daily points with OnlinePlus, Beyond the Scale makes losing weight easier, shifting the focus to feeling good and living a healthier lifestyle. The Weight Watchers website provides healthy recipes that fit into the SmartPoints plan, as well as FitPoints that you can earn from more physical activity — all of it tailored to each person’s individual lifestyle and goals.

But if the technology doesn’t appeal to you, Weight Watchers continues to hold local meetings and provide personal coaching for those, like Antonaccio, who prefer an in-person experience. Whatever your preference, Weight Watchers gives each person the tools and support needed to succeed in losing weight. And for Winfrey to invest her time and money into the program, there can be no doubt it only leads to success.

For more, visit weightwatchers.com.

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