Weight Watchers 2017 - SmartPoints, FitPoints and Tools

by Valerie Kirk

One of the most popular diet programs in America, Weight Watchers boasts of millions of satisfied members because it’s one of the most flexible diet plans in existence.

The Weight Watchers program emphasizes calorie intake and portion mindfulness, relying on the SmartPoints plan in which all foods are assigned point values, allowing participants to mix and match foods as they please as long as they stay under their daily point allotment.

Activity Points called FitPoints in WW speak, is also a part of the program, though to a lesser degree. I'll discuss both of these in a moment, along with WW's online tools.

Weight Watchers in 2017

2017 marks Weight Watchers’ 54th year of helping clients shed pounds. With Oprah Winfrey as their influential spokesperson, they’ve expanded their famous system and now present the Beyond the Scale program.

This diet program hinges on the SmartPoints plan, which is the new version of their discontinued PointsPlus system. It is still all about tracking food points, but Weight Watchers has updated the science behind it. Without food restrictions, their program tries to teach clients how to make healthier food choices and how to make these choices second nature.

The food point system is still Weight Watchers’ main weight loss method. But aside from focusing on food, the program now also emphasizes fitness through physical activities, and that’s why it also has a new method called FitPoints. It’s a weekly goal system for exercise, featuring a fitness app called FitBreak by Weight Watchers.

Does Weight Watchers work?

Because Weight Watchers isn’t a fad diet and takes a lifestyle-conscious approach to weight loss, members should expect steady, but not dramatic results. A loss of one to two pounds per week is attainable, based on the dedication of the dieter.

The SmartPoints Plan: How It Works

The SmartPoints Plan assigns a numeric value to every food item based on its calories, sugar, saturated fat, and protein content. The more calories, sugar, and saturated fat in the food, the larger its points; protein, on the other hand, lowers it.

No food is forbidden, but every dieter in this program is given a daily points limit, so the goal is to eat healthier, low-point foods. Weight Watchers designed the new point system so its clients would be encouraged to eat more fruits, vegetables, and lean protein, while cutting back on sugar and unhealthy fat.

In other words, if you have a penchant for greasy food or sugar you’ll have to be vigilant about budgeting treats into your plan without blowing past your daily points limit.

Your individual point allowance takes your current weight and goal weight into consideration before it’s assigned. The program also has a tracker (both accessible online and on mobile) so you don’t have to manually calculate points. If you can balance a checkbook, the food math Weight Watchers requires won’t faze you a bit.

The FitPoints System: How It Works

If SmartPoints tracks food, FitPoints tracks activity. In this system, every physical activity – such as walking, cleaning, and dancing – has corresponding points. You then have to keep moving in order to accumulate points and reach the weekly goal.

Weight Watchers has its own fitness tracking app called FitBreak, but the FitPoints system allows you to use your own fitness device to track your activities.

Weight Watchers Tools

WeightWatchers.com offers various online tools to help facilitate weight loss. Clients have access to exclusive online tools to keep track of their goals with online weight, daily food intake, and activity logs. Non-clients can meanwhile access:

  • The Daily Feed, which is a daily blog filled with recipes, ideas, and inspiration for losing weight
  • Meetings finder – anyone may search for meeting locations using their ZIP code but only paying clients may join
  • Message boards (requires signup)
  • Weight Watchers Magazine (requires subscription)
  • Weekly newsletter and offers (requires signup)
  • Success stories
  • News and special offers.

Weight Watchers Meetings

At its most basic, the Weight Watchers program is online only; in-person group meetings come at an additional price.

Social support has been linked to lasting weight loss, and research suggests the more an individual gets, the better the weight-loss results. Attending in-person meetings mean your chances of reaching your goal increase significantly.

A Weight Watchers meeting starts with a private weigh-in for you to see your progress. Then the group convenes to discuss a particular topic relevant to weight loss. Each session usually lasts 30 to 40 minutes, and members are encouraged, but not forced, to talk.

At your first group meeting, your Leader will help you set your initial weight-loss goal. (The program generally recommends that participants aim to lose 5% of their weight as an attainable first step.) Members appreciate that their assigned Leader is an actual Weight Watchers success story — a mentor who has lost a notable amount of weight on the program. And many members look forward to these get-togethers:  In a 2008 survey, more than 90% of Weight Watchers meetings attendees said that they would recommend meetings to a friend.

Weight Watchers Coaching

Another optional service that Weight Watchers provides for an additional price is one-on-one coaching. It is done via phone calls, emails, and texts, and as often as you like.

Before you can get coaching sessions, you will choose a coach first. The coaches in this program have been successful on the weight-loss journey, but they have varied interests, expertise, and reviews, so you have a variety of options. You can then book your chosen coach.

On your first coaching session, you and your coach will create an Action Plan that’s personalized for you. All the subsequent sessions will then be geared towards helping you stick with this plan.

Weight Watchers Online for Men

This online-only diet plan is specially designed for male dieters. Spokesperson Charles Barkley highlights Weight Watchers’ realistic approach to dieting for men. There’s a focus on making comfort/party foods, like pizza and beer, manageable. There’s also a heavy concentration on made-for-men workouts and exercises.

What is the cost of the Weight Watchers program?

Each type of Weight Watchers plan – whether online only, with meetings, or with coaching – has a starter fee of $20. This is outside of the standard price, which is as follows:

  • OnlinePlus (the basic online plan) – $19.95 per month
  • With meetings – Initial enrolment fee and subsequent weekly meetings fee depend on the meeting provider. For instance, Weight Watchers of Maine charges $35.00 for the first week and $13.00 meeting fee for each subsequent week.
  • With coaching – $54.95 per month

Your credit card will be charged every month (or every week, if applicable) unless you decide to cancel.

Some members using the Meetings plan have reported that they get charged twice in one month. This is because Weight Watchers will charge you 15 days in advance for your next month’s meetings fees.

The Meetings plan also has a Monthly Pass option, where you pay for your meetings monthly instead of weekly. It’s best purchasing the Monthly Pass prior to attending your first meeting as you’ll have to flash it each time. You can purchase a Monthly Pass at the meeting but completing signup online is still required. After buying your Monthly Pass online, you’ll get the chance to print a temporary copy until you get the actual card in the mail.

Monthly Pass holders will receive 30 days notice of any price change.

What is Weight Watchers’ Cancellation Policy?

You may cancel membership at any time. Except if you’re a Monthly Pass holder, you may cancel your subscription by contacting Weight Watchers Customer Service, and they will process your request within 72 hours.

If you’re a Monthly Pass holder, you may cancel by contacting the special Customer Service at cancelmonthlypass@weightwatchers.com. You can cancel by writing Weight Watchers as well.

Refunds are not prorated for Monthly Passes and therefore can’t be requested for your current Monthly Pass. This means that if you cancel before the month is over, you can’t be refunded for rest of the month’s meetings that you no longer plan to attend. Because Monthly Passes are valid for the whole month, if you cancel towards the beginning of the month, cancellation goes into effect when the card expires.

Another thing to keep in mind is that, because they automatically mail and charge you 15 days in advance for your next month’s Monthly Pass, you may already have been charged for it while you are trying to cancel. If this happens, you must return the next month’s Monthly Pass within 7 days to get refunded.

Weight Watchers does allow special circumstances refunds due to death, disability, pregnancy, or if you move more than 15 miles away from a location.

Weight Watchers is family-friendly and flexible.

Weight Watchers is a particularly good choice for people with families. Since you don’t have to rely exclusively on prepackaged meals and no foods are exiled, you can still enjoy the same foods as your family (although your portion sizes may need to be significantly modified). You can cook as much or as little as you like. Busy people will appreciate that supermarkets feature an array of the diet’s frozen meals (Smart Ones) and snacks.

Dining out on Weight Watchers.

Dining out is easy, especially with the digital points tracker. Some chain restaurants, such as Applebee’s, even have exclusive Weight Watchers-friendly dishes with points printed on the menu. Alcohol is also permitted on the Weight Watchers program, as long as you factor the drink’s points into your daily allotment.

Who can use Weight Watchers?

Anyone may enroll in membership except individuals who are pregnant, under 18 years of age, are no more than 5 pounds overweight, and have an active medical diagnosis of bulimia nervosa.

Weight Watchers - Things to Keep in Mind

Dieters with a significant amount of weight to lose may become annoyed with the slow, steady approach. And the points from little indulgences (including healthy snacks) can add up fast.

In addition, the group setting in the Meetings plan can be intimidating to introverts.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to flexibility, Weight Watchers is a dieter’s Holy Grail. All your favorite foods are permitted, provided you’re willing to be diligent about tracking them. If you can count, then on this program you can lose.

At a glance: Is Weight Watchers the diet for me?

Yes, if:

  • You don’t want to give up dining out
  • You don’t want to give up alcohol or caffeine
  • You’d prefer to cook when you feel like it and rely on prepackaged foods when you don’t
  • You don’t mind keeping track of everything you eat (including portion sizes)
  • You crave guidance and peer support

No, if:

  • The idea of a public weigh-in makes you break out in a sweat
  • The ongoing cost of meetings and registration don’t fit with your budget
  • You’re an extremely independent person
  • You’re too busy to keep track of every morsel of food that goes into your mouth.
Weight Watchers activity points, fitpoints, smartpoints


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