In last week’s People magazine, Oprah Winfrey announced that she’s lost 40 pounds on Weight Watchers. I’ve always liked Oprah, and I’m happy for her. I, too, had some success with the Weight Watchers program, but here’s why I quit the program and will never go back.
As many of you know, Weight Watchers assigns point values for foods that calculates their fat, fiber, calories, and protein. No food is off-limits, but some foods are a lot higher in points than others. So if you stay within your assigned points for the day, you are likely to eat pretty healthfully and lose weight. One of the keys is tracking what you eat during the day, so you can easily see if you’re staying within your point range. I paid around $40 a month so I could go to my online account, or phone app, and quickly log in what I ate, and have those foods calculated for me. I was able to input my favorite foods and their point values, so tracking was pretty simple. At the supermarket, you could use your phone to scan barcodes of food packages, and see the points value. Often my buying decisions were based on those point values.
I am a slow loser, but I had actually lost about 14 pounds, and was feeling pretty good heading into the 2015 holidays. I usually fall off the wagon during the notorious food-holiday season, beginning with Halloween and ending with New Year’s. But in 2015, I felt confident that I could stay closer to target by continuing to track my points. I had done well during Thanksgiving.
Then with no warning, one morning in early December, I couldn’t get into the Weight Watchers website to log in my breakfast points. My app wasn’t working either. Mystified, I went to my weekly meeting and discovered that Weight Watchers had completely changed their program. The points values for foods had all been re-calculated, based on different criteria. Now they were called SmartPoints.
For me, it wasn’t very “smart” to roll out a new program — supposedly the biggest changes in 50 years — in December. The holidays are NOT the time to try to figure out a whole new points system especially when they can’t access your new website and app.
At the same time, there was a media blitz about Oprah buying into the company and being the new spokesperson. It felt like the WW management was so intent on getting new customers that they forgot about the old ones. They were in such a hurry to roll out a new ad campaign they didn’t care if the websites and apps worked for the current members. And then, there were the WW calculators, cookbooks, and other products that were now obsolete thanks to the Smartpoints revision.
The technical support was an epic fail. Many members — including me — were unable to access the new website and app with all the changed point values. One night I spent several hours taking off the old app and trying to re-load the new one, but I couldn’t get it to work. The local staff weren’t able to help me, either. Frustrated, I decided to simply quit, and wrote the customer service folks an explanation of why — the sudden program changes with no technical support so I couldn’t use my account or app. I was simply told I still had to pay until Jan. 31 because my credit card was charged a month in advance. No apology, no explanations. So I figured since I was paying for it, I might as well keep going to my local meetings, even though I couldn’t track my food points. On Dec. 28, one of the local leaders was able to help me finally download the app on my phone. (Hey, I don’t pretend to be a tech specialist, nor should I have to be in order to install and use a simple phone app!)
In January, I looked on my credit card statement and found WW had already charged me for February, even after I had already canceled back in December!
Weight Watchers, you deserted me when I needed you most. And then you charged me money for it anyway. I felt sabotaged by the company I paid to help me. I know I wasn’t alone, because when I went looking for some help online, I found posts by many frustrated members around the country.
When I saw the charge for February, I contacted their customer service, pointing out I had already canceled my contract in December, and why. I almost laughed out loud when I got a reply offering me a free month if I would consider staying with WW. Had they offered that right at the beginning of my troubles, I might have gone for it. But now — Too little, too late! They did remove the February charge from my credit card, though.
I decided to lose weight on my own, but I didn’t really have a plan in place. A series of injuries and illnesses over 2016 made it hard to keep up my exercise efforts. And, embarrassing to admit, now I’ve gained back the 14 pounds I lost with WW. Sometimes I wondered if quitting WW was simply cutting off my nose to spite my face. It is a good plan, and accountability and food tracking are key factors. But I didn’t leave Weight Watchers, it left me…and still charged me money to do so.
- Follow the MyFitnessPal plan, tracking 6 of 7 days a week
- Exercise 1 hour a day for 6 of 7 days a week
- Eat 5 fruits/veggies every day, 6 of 7 days a week
I plan to report back occasionally on how I’ve been doing. And I encourage those of you who are also working on fitness to share some of your successes in the comments section.