You've tracked your food, counted the points and lost the weight you wanted to lose. Now comes what may be the hardest part -- keeping off the pounds. A 2008 Drexel University study published in the "British Journal of Nutrition" found that only half of the people who had lost weight on Weight Watchers maintained at least 5 percent of their weight loss after five years. The percentage of people who were able to stay below their goal weight five years later was just 16.2 percent.
About Weight Watchers
Weight Watchers has been around for 50 years. The program is built around healthy eating, incorporating more fruits and vegetables and leaner proteins into your diet, as well as a support system through weekly meetings or an online program. Regardless of which support system you choose, the program asks you to weigh in each week as a way to not only monitor your weight loss, but also to hold yourself accountable.
About PointsPlus and Tracking
Weight Watchers has made changes to its program over the years in an effort to make it easier for participants to follow. Its new program, Weight Watchers 360В°, still uses the PointsPlus system for food and exercise tracking. You get a set number of points each week, along with 49 Allowance points. The base number is set by weight and activity level; that number decreases as you lose weight. Each exercise also is given a points value, which you can add to your number of points for food. Tracking has long been an important part of Weight Watchers because it makes you more aware of what you are eating. A 2008 Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research study found that people who tracked their food intake lost almost twice the weight as those who didn't track.
Weight Watchers members who hit their weight-loss target and maintain it for six weeks while participating in the program become lifetime members. But to get the benefits of lifetime membership -- free access to weekly meetings or eTools -- you have to keep the weight off and stay within 2 pounds of your weight loss goal at monthly weigh-ins. As the Drexel University study found, keeping the pounds off is not easy. Just a year after completing the program, about 80 percent of those in the study maintained at least 5 percent of their weight loss, but only 26.5 percent stayed below their weight loss goal.
Eating in Maintenance
Once you've reached maintenance, avoid reverting back to your old eating habits. Weight Watchers stresses that maintaining a healthy weight is a lifestyle change. In its new program, Weight Watchers has added a new dimension to help members better manage their food environments to avoid temptations. Keith Ayoob, a nutrition expert at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, told "USA Today" that people have to learn how to keep a healthy eating environment to avoid impulsive food decisions.