The concept of the Weight Watchers plan came about serendipitously back in 1961. The company’s founder, Jean Nidetch, an overweight homemaker from Queens decided it was time to take back her body and embarked on a grim and lonely diet plan. Although she managed to lose 20 pounds initially, she realized that she needed to lose a lot more – but her motivation was waning. Jean invited some of her overweight friends to her apartment and amid a sea of empathy and understanding confessed that eating cookies was an obsession. And just like that – the first ever Weight Watchers meeting commenced.
Now over fifty years later, Weight Watchers operates in over 30 countries and has helped scores of people lose weight. Here’s how:
- Weight Watchers emphasizes overall health as a part of weight loss. As such, no foods or food groups are forbidden. The emphasis is on balance and moderation and on the preparation and consuming of healthy foods in controlled portions through an elaborate PointsPlus plan.
- The plan doesn’t rely on expensive, pre-packaged foods. The flexibility and variety surrounding food choices serves to mitigate boredom and dissatisfaction with mealtimes. Furthermore, for those cooking for an entire family, everyone in the household stands to benefit somewhat from the diet.
- Participants have online access to thousands of recipes, adding to the program’s variety.
- Motivation and support are plentiful through Weight Watchers. Weekly meetings provide encouragement, advice and compassion – which are helpful to many but not all.
- Weight Watchers encourages physical activity, which is critical to overall health.
- Weight loss is consistent and gradual – for most people, around 2 pounds per week, a much healthier rate than the drastic and rapid weight loss caused by certain crash diets.
- Now featuring Weight Watchers Online, the plan is now more convenient than ever, particularly for those whose schedules make the weekly meetings inaccessible. And there’s also now an online program geared specifically toward men, but without the “touchy-feely” components of the original plan.
While the Weight Watchers plan is one of the most effective diets on the market, it’s not for everyone. In fact, many consider some of the benefits listed above to be drawbacks. For example:
- The endless calculating of Points is tedious for some. And while the Point values of various foods can quickly and conveniently be looked up through handy guides and pocket calculators – there’s even a PointsPlus iPhone app – the emphasis is shifted from the food to the Points and that can get old in a hurry. Eating becomes a chore as opposed to a satisfying and pleasurable activity.
- The weekly meetings aren’t for everyone, particularly for those who are more private and introverted.
- Weekly weigh-ins are mandatory (although participants receive one “by-week” coupon when they register, allowing them to skip one weekly weigh-in). And although the weigh-ins are private, some find them nevertheless stressful and frustrating.
- The fact that the diet is relatively lacking in structure – i.e. no set meal plans – is problematic for those who prefer to be told exactly what and how much to eat, and when.
- The cost may prohibitive for some dieters and includes a registration fee as well as the weekly meeting fees. And of course, food is extra. Participants can also opt for the $39.95 monthly pass which covers the weekly meetings or online eTools.
- The gradualness of weight loss, while very healthy, is discouraging for some dieters, particularly for those who want to lose a set amount of weight quickly.
All things considered, Weight Watchers is one of the most durable and effective weight loss programs on the market because of its emphasis on overall healthy lifestyle components. For more information, or to register for the program, visit Weight Watchers International online and visit your local library or bookstore for these resources: