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Weight Watchers: PointsPlus Info and Reviews

Find Out What You Can Expect on Points Plus and Read Reviews

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Updated March 24, 2014

Weight Watchers is one of the world's largest weight management providers. Recently, the company updated their popular PointsPlus 2012 program to make it more flexible and easier for clients to use. This weight management plan, most people commonly refer to as simply Points Plus, has worked for many. But is right for you?

To find the best weight loss program for you, first ask yourself key questions about your health, your budget and about your dieting history.

By taking the time to evaluate the answers to these questions, you'll be able to find a program that is tailored to your specific needs. Then evaluate the PointsPlus 2012 program to see if this program is right for you.

How Weight Watchers PointsPlus 2012 Works

According to the Points Plus program there are four pillars of healthy weight loss: eat smarter, move more, maintain healthful habits and get support. The program is designed to provide services either online or at face-to-face meetings that reach each of those goals.

To achieve weight loss, clients count food and activity points each day to reach a target point total. Point values are assigned to foods based on a formula that considers each item's mix of protein, fiber, carbohydrates and fat. Points Plus clients are not required to eat any particular foods and recipes are provided for a wide range of snacks and entrées. A serving of Chocolate Marshmallow Fudge, for example has a PointsPlus value of three.

On days when it is not possible to track food values, clients can opt for the more flexible Simply Filling technique to bridge the gap until they can get back on to the points tracking plan. This option was added recently based on feedback from clients.

Weight Watchers PointsPlus 2012 Costs

As a Points Plus client, you pay for either face-to-face meetings or online access to eTools. You cook and prepare your own food according to recipes and suggestions provided at meetings and online. So if you are considering the Weight Watchers program, you should factor in the cost of food in addition to the monthly fees.

There are different prices for the online and face-to-face program. Costs vary depending on the time of year (special offers) and your location. A typical Monthly Pass that gives you access to face-to-face meetings costs approximately $43 and includes access to online eTools. Online-only access is priced at approximately $19 per month. You may also need to pay a sign-up fee, roughly $30. Visit WeightWatchers.com to get specific prices in your location.

General exercise guidance is provided online at no additional cost. Videos, message boards and introductory articles are provided so that clients can learn how to get started with an exercise program.

Weight Watchers PointsPlus 2012 Food

The Points Plus program is a good choice for dieters who have time to shop and prepare meals. Participants generally cook their own food using recipes and guidance from the website and face-to-face meetings. While this takes more time at the beginning of the program, the cooking skills and portion control that you learn in this stage will help with weight maintenance over the long haul.

To help with food prep and shopping, you'll also get access to iPad, iPhone and Android apps that will help you make healthier choices on the go. The organization is also introducing a barcode scan app that will allow shoppers to scan a food with their smart phone, get its PointsPlus value and add it to the tracking system.

For clients with certain health conditions, some helpful guidance is provided. Points Plus focuses on fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products as well as foods that are less processed and therefore prepared with less sodium. Dieters who have high blood pressure may benefit from a reduced salt intake when following the plan. There is also online information tailored specifically for clients with type 2 diabetes.

Weight Watchers PointsPlus 2012 Support

Face-to-face meetings are led by former clients who have maintained their weight loss and remain within two pounds of their healthy body mass index range. No specific academic background is required to apply to become a meeting leader, but they must complete training through the organization.

Leaders guide meetings according to the comfort level of the Points Plus participants. Weigh-ins are private and members are not required to speak. Because leaders have been through the process themselves, they are likely to provide some help with the weight loss challenges that attendees are trying to manage. But leaders are not required to have formal training as dietitians and are not likely to be able to provide specific nutritional or medical guidance.

The online-only option might be the best option for you if meetings are difficult to attend. The Weight Watchers website provides a great volume of information about nutrition, exercise and cooking. Members can take part in message boards or blog as part of the online community.

Pros and Cons of Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers is consistently ranked well in reviews of popular diets. U.S. News and World Report recently ranked it as the best commercial diet plan and as the best weight loss diet. But that doesn’t mean the weight loss program will work for everyone.

Pros:

  • Based on real food. Weight Watchers clients learn to choose and prepare their own foods. This means that no foods are off-limits and dieters learn portion control and preparation skills that they will use for a lifetime, even after they have lost the weight.
  • Support. Motivational support is built into the Weight Watchers through weekly face-to-face meetings. There are also easy-to-use apps, and online tools for clients who need quick advice or education on the go.

Cons:

  • Difficulty. The Weight Watchers program requires some hard work. Measuring foods and adding up points can be too tedious for some clients who simply need an easier path to weight loss. These skills will, however, be useful when the dieter transitions into the weight maintenance phase.
  • Unclear costs. Determining the cost of the Weight Watchers plan can be tricky because the membership fee does not include food. It could take a few weeks of shopping and preparing foods on Weight Watchers before you get a real sense of the total cost of your weight loss plan.
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