Thursday, March 21, 2013

Lose It! or Weight Watchers?

Kay asked in a comment on my last post if I like counting calories or Weight Watchers better.  I would say that for me, calorie counting with Lose It! (MyFitnessPal is another, similar app, and a lot of people love that one too) is better for me now.

The first reason is that Weight Watchers has changed. Weight Watchers was great for me when I first joined. I was pretty clueless about portion sizes, calories, etc., and I was not about to do all the math necessary to count calories. This was in the olden days (2002) when we didn't have so many great calorie-counting apps available. Weight Watchers also was a different plan then, Winning Points, which I loved because it was simple. There were no Weekly Points -- each day was a new day.  If you missed your target one day, you turned a page and started over the next day.  I learned to love vegetables, since they were free. I loved the cookbooks, and still use them quite frequently.

I never did as well when Weekly Points were added in, because half the time, I'd use up my weeklies in a few days and then be panicking about how to get through the rest of the week without them.  I also didn't like the switch to PointsPlus -- it was no longer simple. I couldn't just take my slider to the grocery store, I had to have a gadget. And the shift in the way that points were calculated made it even harder for me to stick to the plan. The "free" fruit did not make up for the fact that everything with carbs in it suddenly cost a lot more points.

I think the number of calories Weight Watchers allows is too low for a very active person like me with less than 30 pounds to lose, because I made Lifetime in record time (I think I dropped 20 pounds in 16 weeks, or something crazy like that), but never got the hang of maintenance. I just couldn't stick to the plan long-term.  I tried a lot of times, but I never had the same success as in the early days. I hated weighing in in front of a receptionist, too. Most of them were nice, but every now and then I got a mean one who smirked when I gained.  Meetings also got more formulaic and dull.  I had fallen out of love with Weight Watchers, and it was time for me to move on. I still recommend it to people who are new to weight loss, especially people with a lot to lose, but I find that most people end up wanting to move on to something else when they are in maintenance mode.

What I like about Lose It is that I'm in control. I bought the premium version, which is $39.99 for a year, less than one WW Monthly Pass.  I can set my own goals and personalize my plan so that it works for me.  If I don't like the calorie goals that the app sets for me, I can change them. With the premium version, I can also add goals for other things, like fiber or hydration.  I don't feel any less accountable weighing in solo than I do weighing in front of someone else -- I just don't feel humiliated if I have an up day. Because I'm not paying by the week, I don't feel a rush to hurry up and get to goal so I can stop paying, either, which I always did with Weight Watchers. Joining the DietBet actually has added in a little extra fire to my motivation, and that has been fun. I had to ante up $25, but I have a chance to win it back, maybe with interest. I also feel like I get more support from the blog community now than I used to get in most meetings. 

I guess for me, the difference is that a corporation is no longer in charge of my weight loss, I am.  I don't say that this solution is best for everyone, but it's best for me. I understand what Kay is saying about feeling "like a WW failure," because at one point I loved Weight Watchers and really wanted to get back to Lifetime so I could attend meetings for free forever.  I don't feel like a failure, I just feel like I have moved on. 


  1. 11:53 AM

    Over the years, reading a lot of weight loss blogs, it has always seemed (to me) that WW does people a real disservice with the free foods thing. I understand that they were trying to promote healthier eating and move people off processed food (I think). But all veggies are not created equal. Fruit and veggies are not equal. It does not take balance into account (from what I can see). I think this is part of why WW people seem to have a hard time in maintenance (unless they move on from WW).

    Worded another way: most of us do very well in the beginning if we reign in our portions and clean up our food in anyway at all. I have often said, I suspect I could have eaten a plate full of anything, in the beginning, and lost, if it was one plate full, three times a day. But what is true at the beginning is not true at the other end of the scale (in my opinion, especially if insulin resistant and I suppose other issues), and is not true for maintenance either. Has to be a progression of learning and applying that knowledge.

    I think you are right that we also have to learn to be 100% accountable to ourselves also.

    1. 12:42 PM

      I went in and out of WW for years and the program was always changing, but always right. If you didn't follow it exactly as written, it was hard to get any help from your leader -- like a religion, I guess. I tried to make it work but struggled, and saw other people with similar lifestyles struggling too. It is a very low-calorie program, around 1250 for someone like me. The Activity Points are set up so that you earn 50 more calories for every 100 calories of exercise. If you are training for a big event, it is very hard to make it work. I am now consistently losing with an average calorie intake closer to 2000. I would get too hungry and go completely off the rails on WW. Then I would not be able to force myself to start again. I'm doing better without the wild ups and downs. Other people may have different experiences, but that was mine.

  • 9:16 PM

    I am sure you have heard me say this before, but it is little talked about, I think it is smart to lose at the highest calorie level possible. Healthy food, smart choices, balanced, but as high as possible with consistent (slow but steady) progress so you have somewhere to go at the end (if you need it) and then are still left with a high enough calorie level for maintenance.

    1. 8:26 AM

      Yes, this seems really sensible. Cutting calories too drastically at first also means it's harder to stick to the plan.

  • 6:20 AM

    I joined WW waaaaaay back when it was brand-spankin' new. I lost 38 pounds and kept it off for three years, became a WW leader and then, when I had to get a full-time job, stopped working for them and started gaining weight again. I've rejoined several times over the years, but never got back to goal. As I've said about WW on my blog, the program makes me think about food All. The. Time. I don't get that same feeling with LoseIt. It's just a way to keep track. Perhaps the new iteration of WW would be different, but I'm not willing to make that kind of investment (it would be a LONG drive to get to a meeting, so I'd have to add hours and fuel to the meeting fee). I appreciate your assessment of LoseIt Premium. I've been considering it, but I think some of the features still aren't available on an Android.

    1. 8:22 AM

      The free version of LoseIt is still a great product. The features that Premium added that I use:

      Track body fat % (though I have another app for this too)
      Track hydration
      Track fiber
      Track sodium (though I don't focus on this much)

      I wish that I could track sugar, vs. carbohydrates.

  • 9:42 AM

    Thank you for all the information. I've been toying with the idea of buying a heart rate monitor and joining something like MyFittnessPal. It seems much more doable for the long term. I don't know that I want to be counting points for the rest of my life and calories consumed vs. calories burned is the most logical to me. I do however enjoy the fact that I know at the end of the week I'm going to have to weigh in in front of a group of people (and they've been very encouraging no matter what). And I like the sense of community, however I am beginning to get that here. I think I may use up the rest of my tickets then give it a try from at home.

    1. 8:25 AM

      I definitely wouldn't discourage anyone who loves the WW meetings to leave them. I have been in ones I really loved. I do sometimes still miss that weekly chargeup time.

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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07