Thursday, October 16, 2014

Linking Weight Watchers and Jawbone UP

When I heard that the Jawbone UP and other activity trackers were now going to be able to be linked to Weight Watchers, I was intrigued.  Weight Watchers had a history of preferring their own proprietary tools (like ActiveLink), and this seemed to be a big change for them. I looked forward to connecting my Jawbone UP to my tracker. 

I was disappointed when I did link it up.  Yesterday's activity earned me 2 points. I had a very normal day, but instead of running or walking, I did a 30-minute swim.  If I had tracked the 30-minute swim on my Points Tracker, it would have earned me 6 points. When I looked up the reason in the FAQ, it had to do with not meeting the activity baseline for the day. The baseline formula is not available, but Weight Watchers seems to have a fairly high standard for a "low-activity day" if 6,000 steps doesn't count. The Activity Points formula was already designed to take into account that people overestimate the calories that they are burning.  Adding in a high baseline seems to be set too high a bar.

True, I didn't have 10,000 steps on top of my 30-minute swim, but if I had done a 30-minute walk instead of the swim, which would have made me exceed the 10,000 steps goal, I wouldn't have burned as many calories as I did in a 30-minute swim. Would I have earned more Points? I haven't used the ActiveLink, but the reviews I read suggested that results were similar. Users doing step-based activity got a lot more points than those doing other types of exercise, even after entering those activities. 

I know this will be controversial, but I disconnected my Jawbone UP after that first day. I'm already finding Weight Watchers hard to stick to because the points allowance seems low for me. I get 26 points a day, plus an average of 7 from the Weekly Points. The approximate value of a point is 35 calories, putting me at just under 1200 calories a day if I used all of those Points (and many people don't use their Weekly Points. Even if I add in a few Points for activity and a reasonable amount of "Free" fruits and vegetables, I should have a sizable deficit.  If I didn't use any APs and stuck to the baseline, I'd feel too tired and hungry and would be more likely to just quit.

I don't want Weight Watchers to be any harder for me to stick to, even if that would make it more "pure" somehow. When I was tracking consistently and swapping my Activity Points for food, I was finding it much easier to stick to, and I was losing weight -- multiple pounds a week.  If my weight loss slows, maybe I'll go back to the "better" way. For now, I'm doing what was working for me.


  1. 10:17 AM

    Do you listen to the half size me podcast? She did a wonderful job documenting how she moved away from weight watchers while still respecting the millions of people who use weight watchers. Thank you for your blog, I not only enjoy it very much but also find your journey an inspiration to continue on my own.

    1. 7:42 PM

      I do! I think maybe that's why I'm committed to not cutting my points too much, since that seemed to be what tripped her up with the program.

  • 1:10 PM

    The ActiveLink is tough! I go through that too, I think I've kicked butt on the activity with 3 miles on the treadmill, vacuuming the house, multiple trips up and down the stairs. At the end of the day, I've earned a whopping 4 points if I'm lucky. I don't usually hit my baseline until 2pm, even if I did the treadmill in the morning. I feel like it keeps me honest though, I think in the past I "gave" myself too many activity points. I now stick with what ActiveLink tells me I've earned, even though I look at it and say, What! Is that all?!?!

    1. 7:43 PM

      I had the same issue when I linked LoseIt with my Jawbone UP. It just seems to set the bar so high.

  • 10:37 PM

    This stuff always seems sooo complicated to me. I know you like the math and gadgets, etc. (I am the person that could not stand tracking after just a few months.) But I get that people love tracking, need it, etc. Not arguing. Just saying I don't think I have enough brains left. . . I never understand half of it.

    Not saying you - at all - but every time I hear "activity points" I think of the women who used to walk out of yoga, walk across the street, eat ice cream sundae disguised as coffee and wonder why they did not lose weight. Yes they must have been the ones over estimating in general. I do not think they were on any kind of plan. They just thought since it was "yoga" they could eat what they wanted, I guess.

    I think having the plans, support tools, etc changing all the time must be (really) tough. Does this drive you crazy on some level? I guess since it is a company, they probably have to have new things to advertise/promote, etc. It makes business sense.

    I agree, if you have found what works, and does not drive you crazy, stick to that and go to the meetings with the leader you like for support.

    1. 7:44 PM

      I sort of like having some new elements added to the program, I just wish they didn't seem determined to cut what already feels like a small calorie allowance even further. I know there will be some changes coming soon -- the leaders are going to training to find out about it.

  • 12:18 AM

    I seem to always be hungry on 26 points, and the tracking makes me too food focused.. I still don't like the new points program as well as the old one, so I'm just doing portion control. I rarely attend meetings, but I do like to go to WW for the group support and the weigh-in. But overall,I have reached a point where WW isn't doing it for me. I'm not sure what I will do next, but I have lost most of my weight (45 pounds) on my own, so that is an answer in itself..

    1. 7:46 PM

      I agree -- the old Points program was easier to follow, and more intuitive. Good for you for being able to do it on your own -- I like the simplicity and support of WW.

  • 9:37 PM

    How do you link the Jawbobe and the WW app?

  • 3:20 PM

    Why do you only have 26 points? Nobody is supposed to get less than 30 smart points per day,

    1. 8:43 PM

      This is an old post.

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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