Are you recently back from a cruise and ready to lose some of that cruise weight, or are you like me and have been gradually putting weight on over the last few years, and all that delicious food on the the last cruise didn’t help? While there are strategies for not gaining weight on a cruise, the fact is that most of us tend to over eat a bit and put on a little extra weight during a cruise. It was no different for me this year. I tried to start the new year off right with a low carb diet, but when that didn’t work, I decided to try something with more flexibility and a pretty good track record, Weight Watchers.
For those of you not familiar with Weight Watchers, it is diet program that emphasizes healthy choices and portion control by assigning every food a points value based on the fat, protein, carbohydrates and fiber content of the food. No food is restricted, but users are limited to a number of points per day based on their current height and weight. As a person looses weight their total number of points allowed in a day goes down. I am on the low end of the daily points with 29 points, but a large man might have nearly twice as many points in a day. As he looses weight the allowed number of points goes down. No food or food group is restricted, but dieters are encouraged to eat lots of fruit and vegetables (as they are generally free foods), lean protein, and whole grain. Healthy oils like olive oil are encouraged in moderation. Program users can use company provided recipes or their own recipes and calculate the values. Weight Watchers endorsed foods are available at most grocery stores with the points value on the packaging, but user don’t have to buy or use them, as they can simply do their on calculations using a points calculator with any food. The system is probably the most flexible of all the nationally available program.
I had utilized Weight Watchers a few years ago but struggled with being hungry most of the time and having to stay under daily points values of around 22. I did loose a little weight, but because I was already well within the guidelines for my height and age, I got tired of attending meetings and paying the weekly fees and gave up before reaching my goal weight. This time things are different. First, Weight Watchers has a new system, called “Points Plus”, which among other changes, allows me 29 points a day and permits fresh fruit as a free food. In addition, this time I am using the online program rather than driving into town and attending meetings. So far I have lost 8 lbs in about 5 weeks and I haven’t really struggled to keep to my 29 points the way I did when I was only allotted 22 points.
I have recommended the online program to friends and family for several different reasons. First, I really like the online tracking tools. I can look up points values and log them at he same time. I can also use weight measurements of food items like meat and cheese rather than less exact measurements like “a slice” when slice thickness can vary so much. When preparing food I simply weigh items on an electronic scale and then select “ounces” as my measurement when log those items. I have found it much easier to stick with the program using the online tools rather than manual tracking that goes along with the meetings. Several other members of my family are also using the program, so we have our own support system in each-other. The cost of the monthly online program is significantly less expensive than the meetings, at around $18 a month. Meetings are around $50 a month. Finally, with the change in the program to allow fresh fruit, in addition to most vegetables, as a free food has really made a difference in my ability to stick with the program. I can now grab an apple or banana to hold me over till my next meal. The points values have changed for many foods and recipes, which accounts for my being able to loose weight with 29 total points rather than 22. However, I think the allocation of points seems to favor more satisfying nutrition rich foods than their previous points systems. For long time Weight Watchers, they have published updated points values for their old cookbooks online. For example, I have an two or three year old Momentum cookbook, and some of recipes points values have gone up from 7 total points to now 8 total points. Like recent previous versions of the program, users get extra points to use through out the week for splurges and users can log their activity to add even more points to their daily total.
Disadvantages of the online program are mostly continuing costs and related to the limitations of my mobile phone. With the meetings program, once members lose the weight and maintain that weight loss for a period of time, they then become lifetime members and can attend the program for free. The online program does not have a free component, so users will need to continue to pay the monthly fee to use the online tracking system even while maintaining their weight. However, online users could move to a manual tracking system utilizing tools like points values books and points calculating scales. The new points calculating formula is too complex to use the old slide rule calculator, so users need either a published points reference or points calculator when they are not using the online system. Second, my mobile phone doesn’t have very good web browsing capabilities, so I’m not able to enter my points on the go, but other family members have better phones and have been able to easily do this on the go.
My goal is to loose about 10 more pounds and then maintain that weight for the rest of my life. We at Cruise Talk invite our readers to share their weight loss struggles and successes as well as their strategies for not gaining weight while cruising. Though I do plan to indulge a bit even when cruising, I also plan to continue with my Weight Wachers program and strategies even while cruising.