Ask Allie: Weight Watchers Advice

Hi Alison-

I decided to (return) to Weight Watchers. While you are doing fabulously on it (YAY YOU!!!), I am not…(BOO ME!!!). I think I am following the plan but nothing is happening. Would you consider sharing some of your habits-maybe even a couple of menu samples-like what you eat in a couple of days? It would be a huge help to me…and probably others.

Warm regards,

Keri

Hi Keri:
I loved your email because I have totally been there. Not sure if I have mentioned this before, but this is my fourth time doing Weight Watchers. Once in high school, once right after college, once about a decade ago and then now. Being with Weight Watchers so often and for so long has taught me some major tips for more success:

1. Drink Water. I know Diet Coke and coffee are 0 PointsPlus but they do affect how your body removes weight on the plan. While I too consume diet sodas, tea, and water, I try to limit it to one (max two on bad days) cups a day, and take a day off once a week where I drink just plain water.

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Not only do I drink water, but I drink a LOT of it. Above is a picture of my work water bottle, recently emptied by moi. It holds 32 ounces and I won’t go home until I have filled and consumed this twice. I find the bite valve on Camelbak bottles helps me drink faster, and benefits the klutz in me from destroying a stack of important work papers. I have another two of these bottles at home, I fill another and consume it during dinner, and fill it again to be beside my bed and I consume half before I go to bed, half once I wake.

I remember Oprah once complaining about having to pee so much when drinking the recommended amount of water, and it’s true… for the first week or so. Then the body seems to get used to it and you don’t have to go to the bathroom quite as often. But drinking this much water and mainly water helps me remove – the weeks where I slack on drinking are the weeks I don’t lose.

2. Track EVERYTHING. I don’t use the paper trackers, I use eTools. I leave a tab with it open all day at work, and I track everything from the spoonful of my daughter’s macaroni and cheese to the Hershey’s Kiss I pilfered from my boss’ candy bowl. If in doubt, I average up with PointsPlus. On weekends, I will note what I ate in my little purse notebook and once at a computer, will log into eTools and jot it down.

3. Don’t Use Your Weekly/Activity Points. I learned this from a Lifetimer at my meeting – she said the weeks where she used those points she wouldn’t lose or even gain. While some weeks I go over my daily allotment (hello date nights and holidays!), usually I pretend that all I have are my daily PointsPlus. If I exercise, that’s just icing on the cake, not an excuse to indulge. If I plan in advance, I will exercise to justify going over, but never use the weekly points allotment.

4. Eat a PointsPlus Breakfast. When I start my day with a banana and a cup of coffee, I am pilfering my boss’ candy dish by 10am. If I eat a smart, slow-burning breakfast I am sated until lunch and have fewer cravings come that time. My two go-to breakfasts are a low-carb tortilla wrap of Egg Beaters, a shmear of Laughing Cow and some fresh spinach, or else a serving of instant oatmeal with a tablespoon of cheese (or a Laughing Cow wedge) and a side of some fruit.

5. Have Meal Staples. I can easily go an entire week having oatmeal for breakfast, Subway 6” turkey with mustard and a bag of Light Lays for lunch, a small can of pineapple for snack, and then whatever my husband made for dinner. It’s not exciting, but I know the PointsPlus in my head, the food tastes good and I am satisfied. When I try to get too creative and I am stressed and short on time I end up eating crap.

6. Get the Family on Board. It’s hard to stick to the plan when your husband wants ribs, your kids want chicken fingers, your besties want an order of mozzarella sticks with their margaritas and your coworkers decide to go to lunch at McDonald’s. Let people know you’re on Weight Watchers, and say if they love you, they will support you.

My Weight Watchers leader regularly says there is no reason why they whole family can’t be on the plan, even if they aren’t dieting and it’s so true. If you love yourself enough to choose healthy food, why are you killing your loved ones with crap?

7. Get Sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep you are more likely to binge, your body doesn’t metabolize things properly, and you get wicked cravings. Do as I say, not as I do because lately I have NOT been getting enough sleep and I can tell not just by yawning and having haggard skin, but having more trouble with dropping weight.

***

As for what I eat, as I mentioned I have two stock breakfasts. I usually drink my coffee on my commute, which I “decorate” with a tablespoon of real cream and one Splenda, though I am slowly weaning myself to black coffee.

The people at Subway near my office know me very well. At Subway I eat the bread I like (they are all pretty much the same PointsPlus value), I get turkey because it’s so low in PointsPlus and I enjoy it, I get mustard, vinegar and almost every single vegetable available. Sometimes I will indulge in a small bit of light mayo, or even will get cheese, but I have learned to adore the sandwich as-is. I also get the Lays Light chips, which is 2 PointsPlus and I usually stick a couple inside the sandwich. When I bring my lunch, it is either leftovers, or else a Lean Cuisine. I usually have a few frozen meals stuck in the work fridge in case I get stuck at work, forget my leftovers, etc.

For dinner, my husband usually is in charge. Once a week we get Chinese, and I get hot and sour soup and steamed rice. My husband finds it disgusting, but I don’t eat the fried noodles, but instead stick the rice in the soup and eat it like a sloppy entrée. My husband and I will share a serving of steamed vegetarian dumplings. This is 14 PointsPlus if I eat it all, but I usually have half the soup mixture left over for lunch the next day. On other days, it’s a real variety, but we eat a LOT of vegetables. The other night, my husband made Shredded Buffalo Crockpot Chicken , which I ate on a bed of shredded iceberg lettuce, with a side of baby carrots, celery sticks, and pepper slices, and I put 2 tablespoons of fat-free ranch dressing on top. My husband ate his on top of rice with a beer and far more dressing, but we were able to eat together and chat about how delicious the chicken turned out and mine was only 13 PointsPlus.

We use the crock pot a lot, and don’t usually eat Weight Watchers recipes, but instead look for low PointsPlus value normal recipes (or lower PointsPlus versions). Lots of seafood, since we love it and it is usually lower PointsPlus value. The fridge always has apples, baby carrots, some sort of leafy green, and crunchy veggies like celery and peppers. I also do a lot with dips – salsa with a bit of fat free sour cream with crudités, ranch dressing on salads or over chicken, we always have several types of vinegars in stock, as well as a variety of hot and Asian sauces. And again the water – making myself consume 22-32 ounces while eating dinner forces me to slow down and I often end up not eating the whole serving on my plate.

I do feel goofy giving advice since I have been so slow with weight removal, and I don’t always follow that which I preach. However when I do everything that is posted above, I do lose, and lose consistently. I hope you find this helpful, and best wished on your journey!

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10 Comments

  1. Christina
    January 15, 2012 / 5:23 pm

    This is exactly the same advice I give when people ask me how to lose on WW.  Most importantly, the water b/c not only is it good for you, it helps fill you up before meals as well, especially as people re-learn portion control; using WP/AP for only special occasions; and eating a filling breakfast. 

    The thing everyone needs to realize is that every body is different and you do have to explore a bit to see what works for you.  For instance, if you eat fruit as your snacks all day b/c they are zero points, you may lose slower b/c they are sugars.  I think if I ate a banana for every snack, I’d be in serious trouble. 

    I also think it’s very important to be active, even if it’s 20 minutes of walking, something to jump start the metabolism.

    Great list Allie.

  2. Eleanorjane
    January 14, 2012 / 9:27 am

    Great advice, particularly about water and breakfast. I have oatmeal every day (thank the good Lord I haven’t gotten sick of it!) cos it’s really filling and low cal and I like it.

  3. Tessa Morales
    January 14, 2012 / 5:00 am

    Eating is a social activity. And if you tried to keep up with your tall husband bite for bite, you’d be in big trouble 🙂  So nice he is supportive and cooks dinner for your family. Sounds like awesome teamwork!

  4. January 14, 2012 / 3:04 am

    now see I gain every week I didnt use at least some of my weeklypoints. My leader is a big advocate of using them. Actually a scientist in my group taught us how you should do different points daily and she had some crazy science reasoning and graphs about your body can’t do the same thing every day. (bonus of at work meetings with a big science program.)

  5. January 13, 2012 / 7:07 pm

    The water vs. soda thing is SO true. Over the holidays I drank a ton of water and even though I wasn’t great with my tracking I lost weight. Then I got home and went back to my soda habit and this past week I didn’t lose, even though I tracked perfectly and exercised like it was my job. So now I’m back to water.

    Low-carb tortillas are my absolute must have on WW. I eat everything on a tortilla and don’t miss bread at all.

    I love the posts Allie, you’re one of the reasons I started WW!

  6. January 13, 2012 / 6:40 pm

    I started with seltzer, it was my drink to get the soda feeling without it. We used to have flavored seltzer in the house all the time but I realize the past few months I just do still. I don’t recall if it made a difference. From what I read, if it’s sodium-free, it should be fine ( http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/571345.html)

    I haven’t even cracked open my latest Real Simple but it’s sitting on my nightstand ready to be read. Will have to check that recipe out!

  7. Bubu
    January 13, 2012 / 5:56 pm

    Thanks so much – I’m trying to get back on WW track after the holidays, these are great tips!  Do you feel there’s any difference between seltzer water and still? I drink a lot of regular water between meals but like flavored seltzer at meals just to shake things up – but have heard this might not work so well.  Thanks. 
    p.s. This month’s Real Simple has a great slow cooker chicken tikka masala recipe – I just left out the cream and it calculated to 10 points per serving (including rice). Delicious and easy to assemble and start on a workday morning – I just chopped the onions the night before.

  8. January 13, 2012 / 4:25 pm

    A few years back I dropped about 15 lbs mostly by drinking so much water I probably sloshed when I walked! I still try to drink as much as possible!!

  9. Keri
    January 13, 2012 / 4:06 pm

    you are wonderful-thank you!

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