I did Weight Watchers, many years ago, and recently decided I wanted to try to lose weight again. Looking around I saw lots of noise about trendy diets, most of which seemed unreasonably restrictive. Weight watchers hadn't been bad, but I did it in the old days, and writing a food diary got old fast. These days there are lots of online systems - and I found one which seems to be a good free alternative to Weight Watchers
Free Weight Watchers Alternative
Weight Watchers isn't a bad weight-loss program, and its hugely popular. However there are free alternatives to Weight Watchers - which will help your waistline and your wallet
Weight Watchers is a good program, it is a healthy program to lose weight, but it definitely not free! Indeed even the online version will cost you around US$20/A$30/ month. Its a nice business model, and Weight Watchers have doubled their profit in recent years, business is good in the weight loss industry, even in a recession. Its not without its critics either - you might want to check out Three Problems with Weight Watchers
Fortuntely for those of us who want to lose weight and save money there are plenty of free versions of Weight Watchers online. First though, we need to establish exactly what the Weight Watcher's method is and why it works.
Free Weight Watchers Like Program
Rather than counting calories Weight Watchers uses a "points system" which is formula based on calories. Although proprietary the details are in their patent application - BYO maths skills.
The argument is that counting calories is too complex and onerous for most dieters. Points are easier, you don't need to count most fruit and vegetables, and if you stick the points you will lose weight.
In addition to points Weight Watchers provide group support in regular, paid, meetings with weigh inns, cookbooks.
Before the Internet - Weight Watchers with their easy to understand points, and a book to write it all down in made sense. It worked. For as long as you didn't forget to write down what you ate. And remembered to add it up. And remembered to go to meeting on Saturday morning (I lasted about 3 months, not bad for me).
But we've moved on, we've moved onto iPads, iPhones, and Smartphones which allow you to record anything anywhere. We've moved onto computers that can add calories in an instant, and automatically know exactly how many calories there are in that double-chocolate chip cookie.
Weight Watchers aren't stupid - there is an online version as well - now you can track all those points and record your progress online.
But you don't need to pay Weight Watchers to have exactly the same functions: online diary, tracking progress, support.
Free Weight Watchers Alternatives - What I'm Using
For many of us - we've tried every diet out there. But unfortunately very few of them work, in fact most of us are the weight we are - because of diets. The reality is that it really is a simple equation: calories EATEN must be less than calories USED by the body, for weight loss to occur. But, not too much less, otherwise the body will fight for survival and conserve your calories (in fat), rather than lose them. That's why crash diets don't work, that's why losing anymore than 0.5-1kg (1-2lbs) a week is unsustainable. That's why if you have 25kg to lose it ain't going to happen this month - but you can start this month. There are exactly two ways to lose weight: eat fewer calories (which is not quite the same as eating less) and exercise more. To do either you really need to track your calories. Accurately, you need to get this bit right - being about right won't work. And it needs to be a new way of eating for the rest of your life, not a diet for a few weeks or months. If you can't give up carbs, don't, cut them down. If you like chocolate, like me, eat less, eat high quality, expensive chocolate, don't give it up entirely.
I've been tracking my weight and activity using a website called calorieking.com.au - its free, but its metric - may be a step too far for my American readers! They don't have a smartphone version - but just do it online. Its working for me - in fact in the first week I dropped a kilo and 3cm of my waist - without doing anything too drastic.
Tracking Your Calories Is Critical
With anything in life if you measure and track something - its more likely to happen! Want to save money? Track your spending. What to lose weight? Track your calories!
While I was researching this article I came across the book of someone who was doing exactly what I was: I bought the book (love that about the Kindle) and skim-read it (love that about my mis-spent youth) - and he and I are exactly on the same track - he sounds just like me - likes his food, not an awful diet, but a sweet tooth and eats out a fair bit. Could have been written by me! Well worth a read if you want to deal with your weight for once and for all.
|If I Can Lose It... a middle aged tech-fanatic's extraord...|
American Sites For Free Weight Watcher's Like Programs
Food is very different in the US - even fast food has very different calorie values, and the first thing you will notice if you are serious about tracking your food, is that the detail does matter. I'm using an Australian site because of this - and because I can't be bothered converting pounds etc. Also Americans use a whole different language when it comes to food (what the heck are grits?). For some reason the American version of the site is not free - but the online version of the Australian site is - go figure.
Free Version of Weight Watchers - for Your Phone
Where do you need to record your weight - if you are looking for something that will do it for you on the iPhone - check the app store there are dozens (WeightTrack, DailyBurn, ShapeUp and LoseIt). If you want something that you can use absolutely anywhere consider MyFitnessPal.com - it supports every phone and computer in the known univeres and is free. The Jonathan Ellis, who wrote the recommended book above uses this. Another recommended option is sparkpeople.com - entirely free, because the owners made their fortune with eBay!
I Bought One of These Too!
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Pocket Pedometer with Activity Tracker separately tracks during exercise.