And now, a Weight Watchers rant
Keep in mind that this is to be taken with a giant grain of salt, and based upon my experiences. I lost 60 pounds on the WW Flexpoints system, but it also caused me to lose my mind a bit. Your milage, as they say, may vary.
First and foremost, the WW thing with the SCALE UBER ALLES infuriates me. Seriously, this is the thing that mindfucked me the most, and for many reasons. First of all, while there's a lot of "oh, it's okay, you're probably just building muscle/retaining water/growing an extra spleen", the point remains at the end of the day that what you are, essentially, "graded" on every week is your weight. Not your choices, not your lean muscle mass, not your education, not your fitness: YOUR WEIGHT. The one thing that you have zero direct control over. I can't even begin to explain how angry this makes me.
I cannot even begin to count the number of times that I have heard (or seen online) conversations about what people do pre- and/or post-weigh in. The most common tendency is to be very, very, very good before weigh-in, and then splurge all those FlexPoints right after. There are all sorts of things that people talk about for their pre-weigh-in rituals, and all the criteria that must be met for them to dare to weigh themselves. Folks, this is screwed up.
There's a focus on food, and not on a balance of food + fitness. Yes, fitness is part of it, but I gotta tell you that the main reason I ever saw for working out was to "earn" more Points. That takes it out of the "thing that is good to do just in and of itself" and makes it part of the food thing. Yet another thing that fed into my obsessive nature.
Baby steps are talked about, but for the most part, when you start WW, you fuckin' START. There is no way of edging in. There is no baseline established except for the weight (SCALE UBER ALLES), so you are either on-Plan or you are off-Plan. Dudes, switching gears in a big hurry is difficult. It gets you started, yes, but for pity's sake think about it in terms of what you're looking at if you fall off and have to get started again-- it becomes intimidating as hell.
Oh, and I have ranted in the past about the mythical fairyland of MAINTANANCE. I have a bit of a grudge against WW for leading me to believe that I only had to push as hard as I was until I got down to a certain weight, and then I could find a holding pattern. Because it's all about the scale, of course. Without the scale moving, suddenly all motivation has to come from something else, and, really, there's not much to fall back on. I am still so angry about this that I could spit. For all the talk about "it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle!", WW is not a lifestyle. The things I do and the choices I make and the habits I have: those are a lifestyle. Adhering to a system is not.
Here's the main thing: counting and tracking are not the way people actually live their lives. Life is made out of habit and choices, not counting and tracking. Tracking Points is an artificial lifestyle; you aren't making your choices based on a firm knowledge of what will be good for you, but on how many Points you have left in the day. Which is great, if everything is about food intake, but it's not taking into account a lot of other things-- such as what will fill you up in a healthy way. Which means that there's nothing to encourage people to eat two Points worth of bean salad or fruit instead of one of those 100-calorie snack packs, and frankly either the beans or fruit will burn a lot slower and longer than the snack pack.
The Core Plan on WW is a lot better-- a LOT better-- in terms of learning to make choices, but again there aren't baby steps leading you in. You're either on-Plan or off-Plan. It's still all about the scale. Exercise is still a means to an end. Maintenance leaves people without a goal and without their previous form of encouragement. These are all serious flaws, from my point of view, in the Weight Watchers system.
If it was up to me... wow, I would completely re-do this. Whole different story.
For starters, this would be a weekly class that you sign up for and commit to for six months, at least. Baselines would be taken at the beginning for things that can be improved via fitness and good food choices (heart rate when doing something like walking up a flight of stairs, blood pressure, cholesterol), and then not checked again for three months. Everything measured on a daily and weekly basis would be about something controllable, and all of these would focus on choices and habits. Also, they would start based on where you are right now, and improve slowly. (No, this wouldn't make you drop twenty pounds in time for swimsuit season, but FUCK SWIMSUIT SEASON, we are talking about making habits for life, here.)
Baby steps would be instituted one by one. Drinking water; cutting out regular soda; working down to skim milk; adding a serving of vegetables to each meal; eating breakfast every day; cutting out sweets and junk food. Every week people would learn to cook something new that they would be working in for their baby step that week. Beans. Fish. Whole grains. Lots of education would be in this, including how to prep "kit meals" for nights when cooking is so far down the top of your list you could just kill someone.
A pedometer would be part of the program from day one. First the baseline, then trying to do better than that on a regular basis, all week. Pedometer numbers and goals would be talked about and praised. Another part of the class would be an introduction to other forms of exercise-- lifting weights, yoga, stretches, aerobics, Pilates, spinning, whatever-- so that you get a low-key introduction to it among a lot of other people who've never tried this before.
Nutrition and the "whys" and "hows" of things would be discussed. Stress-reduction techniques would be learned and practiced. How to listen to your body would be a big one-- finding the point where you're comfortably full without being stuffed, for example.
Okay, so, yeah, pipe dream. On the other hand, these are all things that I've had to learn myself and patch together from various sources, many of which I learned from other places while I was paying WW so that I could track my meals and get weighed and discuss my flabbitude. In the long term, all the things that I learned myself are doing me more good than six months of tracking my food and weighing myself. And really, the long term is the whole point here, isn't it?
So. Anyway. That's my rant. I need to go think about something else now.