Last week Weight Watchers® introduced the SmartPoints™ Beyond the Scale program and for anyone on Weight Watchers®, it's likely been a bit of a roller coaster as you learn the new system and find out how it works with your eating style and lifestyle. (Here's my original post highlighting the major changes with SmartPoints™.)
Personally, I have experienced some major ups and downs over my first week trying out the new program. One minute I found myself grinning with excitement when I realized a favorite recipe had significantly less points and the next minute I was extremely frustrated that I once again have to look up the new SmartPoints™ values for everything. And I almost felt like crying when I learned that my favorite dessert has almost double the points.
With that said, I have to say overall I am excited about the new direction of the program. The new focus on healthier choices, lean proteins, healthier carbohydrates, and less "empty" calories really aligns with how I like to eat and what I believe is important when it comes to food. While on the previous program it was possible to make a number of "unhealthy" low point choices and still lose weight, I think that the new program is shifting away from that and focusing more on foods that are good for us. While this can be hard at first, I think its a really positive change for maintaining long term weight loss and health.
With that said, here are some of the pros and cons of the new Weight Watchers® SmartPoints™ program that I experienced during my first week.
What I am loving about SmartPoints™ so far
- Bigger portions of lean proteins: Since lean proteins like chicken breast, pork tenderloin, lean beef, and seafood have decreased in points, that means it is ok to have a larger serving. Many times I struggled with the 4 ounce serving size for many of these proteins so this is a really positive change for me, especially since I already try to watch my overall carbohydrate intake.
- Recipe calculator doesn't include fruits/vegetables: This is another change I love. I always wrestled with the fact that vegetables counted as points in the recipe calculator but didn't count if I ate them on the side. It just didn't make sense to me. This new update makes so much sense. With that said, I am a little nervous that fruit also doesn't count since it can add a significant amount of calories to recipes. (Bananas, I am looking at you!)
- More daily points: My daily points target increased from 26 points to 30 points daily. Even though it's only 4 points, it feels like a lot, especially since some of my guilty pleasures went up in points.
- FitPoints goals: Although I must admit I don't fully understand the new FitPoints yet, I love that there is a weekly goal. This motivates me to get out and move more since I want to try to reach and exceed the target.
- More clean eating focused: As I mentioned before, I love seeing my healthy food choices rewarded in the SmartPoints™ program. It makes it easier to stay focused on making good choices about food instead of mindlessly reaching for 100 calorie/low points snacks.
- More energy: I have had so much more energy on this plan! I know it is because I am eating less processed foods, more lean protein, and more fruits and veggies. Feeling this change in my energy levels is really motivating.
What's been difficult about SmartPoints
- Learning new points values: After years following PointsPlus and knowing most points values by heart, it's been frustrating having to look everything up again. I know eventually I will learn the new values, but it's been time consuming and frustrating to need to check everything.
- Higher points for sweets and convenience foods: Although I try not to depend on too many sweet or snack foods, I have found that almost all of them have increased in points. Most chips, crackers, snack packs, cookies, low fat ice cream, and frozen treats have increased in points. Many have even doubled. It's definitely been an adjustment planning for these.
- High points for frozen/prepared/fast foods: I try to make most of my meals at home but we all need some extra support some times with the help of packaged, frozen, or fast foods. Almost all of these have increased significantly in points. For example, Lean Cuisines that used to have 6-8 points now have 10-14 SmartPoints, Subway sandwiches have increased 1-4 points, and many energy bars (like Luna or Kind bars) have increased by 2-4 points.
- Flavored Yogurts: There has been a lot of talk about how much some yogurts have increased in points. This is mostly or flavored yogurts that use sugar as the sweetener. Just as one example, a cup of nonfat strawberry yogurt now has 12 SmartPoints™! However light, nonfat flavored yogurt and plain yogurt still have reasonable points values and you can also add your own fruit and sweetener to plain nonfat Greek yogurt, which still has 3 SmartPoints.
- Lower weekly points: I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I miss my weekly 49 points. My usual routine was to hoard them for the weekend so I could enjoy a night out without too much guilt. Having less flex points is going to make this more difficult and really force me to make better choices when I am out. However I do think I will see positive scale outcomes from this change, so although it's frustrating now I think I will grow to appreciate it.
- Removal of good health guidelines: I am not sure why Weight Watchers® got rid of the good health guidelines for water intake, dairy, oils, fruits, veggies, etc. As someone who can easy forget to get in my daily dairy or oil, I liked that these reminded me to pay attention to these important food groups. I plan to continue to track these on my own, but wish they were still part of the program.
How are you feeling about the new program so far? What do you love about SmartPoints?™ What's been difficult, challenging, or frustrating?