The Weight Watchers Program

This diet raises the phrase counting calories to a whole new level. Foods are categorized under a points system, and you’re free to choose whatever is on the list as long as you stay within a daily points target. It also has FlexPoints, consider it the calorie equivalent of a gift certificate, which you can use on fun food in one go, or spread out over several days.

The system is very flexible and works well for those who tend to rebel against very strict regimens. The only diet rule is that that you religiously keep track of your points (based on a list they provide) and don’t cheat on the portion sizes. You may need a weighing scale or at least be able to gauge its visual equivalents. One serving of meat equals the size of the palm of your hand, while rice is roughly the size of a tennis ball.

Weight Watchers demands the discipline to record everything you eat, as well as the number of pounds you lose, in a journal. If you have trouble even balancing your checkbook, this emphasis on record-keeping may be a bit of a stretch.

Unlike Atkins and South Beach, Weight Watchers makes exercise an integral part of its program. On the third week, the point system expands to include certain activities. The number hours you spend, say, on walking or doing laps in the pool, translates to extra points. You can choose to splurge on a food treat (yeah, ice cream!) or stay on the diet.

Another facet of Weight Watchers is its emphasis on support and encouragement from fellow dieters. You attend a weekly meeting, where you can vent your dieting woes and get pep-talks from leaders people who have been through the program and have successfully kept off the weight for a significant time. Psychologists say that this is one of the biggest keys to its success, especially for people who have had trouble staying on diets in the past. If you know someone else is rooting for you (and will check on your progress at the end of the week) it’s easier to stick to a food routine and exercise program. Plus, there’s bound to be someone in the group with a really good recipe for low-fat cheesecake.

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