Just about everyone knows someone who is attempting to lose weight and become healthier by signing up for Weight Watchers, maybe you have yourself.
The problem is, that despite good intentions, Weight Watchers isn’t an effective or healthy approach to weight loss.
It’s hard to get an exact number, but the percentage of people on Weight Watchers who reach their ‘goal weight’ and maintain it is less than 1%.
Do I really have to ask you if you think that’s an acceptable success rate?
Does that mean that 99% of people are doomed to being unhappy with their weight and health?
The answer is no in both cases, and I’m going to break down the problems with Weight Watchers one by one and tell you what the better way is.
Note: Weight Watchers have funded multiple studies themselves that show their failure rate being only around ~65%. These studies have flawed methodologies that I can go into if need be, but first read my article on spotting bullshit science.
1. The meetings are counter-productive
Here’s what happens when you sign up with Weight Watchers. They tell you to count your ‘points’, come to the meetings and you’ll lose weight.
You’ll quickly find those meetings repetitive and boring, so much so that you might want to start skipping them. Once you give up a part of a plan the rest of it usually follows. If you have a job where you often have meetings, you should know how wasteful most of them are.
There might be some therapeutic benefit to venting your problems, but in an unguided meeting, it’s minimal at best. For what you pay for Weight Watchers, you aren’t getting a professional therapist.
At best the meetings are an unproductive use of your time.
2. It over-complicates things
The system is more or less based on ‘points’. Instead of counting calories, you have to calculate and count points.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with counting calories, but now you’re converting them to ‘points’ of little significance. Not only does this take more effort on your point, it’s probably less effective.
As we saw in my case study with Corres, when it comes to weight loss simple works best.
3. It’s a traditional temporary ‘diet’
If someone asked you when you signed up for Weight Watchers if you were willing to count calories for the rest of your life you probably would have told them they must be out of their minds.
Most people who get into Weight Watchers are sold on the premise that once you hit your target weight you’ll be healthy, fit, and awesome.
Once they hit their target weight, not surprisingly, the weight comes back.
In order to enjoy long term health and weight stabilization you need to focus on creating healthy behaviors and habits, not on what the scale says. The name itself, Weight ‘Watchers’ indicates an unhealthy and ineffective take on weight-loss.
If you want to learn more about approaching weight-loss on a healthier and long-term basis, start with my guide to goal setting.
This problem with Weight Watchers leads nicely into my last point…
4. No focus on education
There are 2 types of weight loss journeys:
- Someone tells you exactly what to eat and what to do
- Someone teaches you about eating psychology, nutrition, and health, so that you understand and can apply healthy principles
Which one of these methods do you think is more effective?
This is essentially the same concept of teaching a man to fish as opposed to giving him a fish, but for some reason it is grossly overlooked when it comes to something as important as health.
You’ll notice that I rarely give specific diet plans or exercises to do on this site unless they are examples.
Learning solid principles is what will lead to long-term success.
Where to go from here?
I strongly support anyone trying to improve their health, and I want to see you do it with the highest chance of success – Weight Watchers is not the way.
A successful weight-loss approach will consist of 2 things:
That’s really all there is to it.
We are luckily living in a time where knowledge is at your fingertips on the keyboard, waiting for you to learn it.