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Weight Watchers is the oldest and largest slimming club in the UK. It prides itself on being based on encouraging people to eat sensibly, and it doesn't categorise foods as wicked, or tell you that you can't eat certain foods on certain days.
Currently, the Weight Watchers diet is based on points; briefly, foods have points values, foods with saturated fat in them have higher points values, and you have a certain number of points to eat per day. I've found this makes me think much more carefully before ordering chips. The points you can eat varies according to your weight and sex, and you can earn extra points by exercising.
I have a bit of a chequered career with slimming clubs. I tried a couple that I didn't like, and then lost 3st with Weight Watchers some years ago in Liverpool. Sadly, I lost heart after one Easter weekend when I partied non-stop and discovered I'd gained so much weight I didn't have the courage to go back. And slowly, the weight went back on.
Now in London, I started with Weight Watchers again 18 months ago. I lost about a stone gradually, and then became pregnant with my second baby. So I left the club, rather regretfully, and now he's five months old, I've started again at a Weight Watchers meeting near my home. This second time I've lost 9 1/2 pounds so far (in about six weeks).
If you have health problems, or, like me, are breastfeeding, you are advised to ask your doctor before starting. (Mine thought that it would be a good idea for me).
Like most slimming clubs, you pay a weekly fee (currently £4.50), and you have to pay even if you miss a week. This is designed to encourage people to come along to the meetings, but I've always resented it. The leaders encourage you to ask questions and ring up during the week if you're confused about something.
Winter's always a difficult time to slim. A salad full of 'free' food might be delicious in June, but isn't much fun in February. Weight Watchers sets a lot of store on making the most of 0 point vegetables. I've been cooking lots of 0 point soup and 0 point curries, based on recipes from the booklets they give you each week. The booklets also provide you with set menus for each day if you prefer a structured diet, or space to write down exactly what you eat if, like me, you can't abide being told what to eat.
This is, to be fair, an expensive way of losing weight. Although there are some clever ideas in the Weight Watchers diet, the basics (eat less, eat more vegetables, and reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet) are not exactly rocket science. But I find that going to the meeting, and especially listening to the talk and chatting to other members, provides me with encouragement and inspiration for the following week. When I've just tried dieting at home, it's become very boring after a while.
Which means it's critical that you get on with your leader. They're all different, and it's a matter of personal preference. But in most places there are several different meetings, so it's worth trying them all over the first few weeks to see which leader you like the best.
Finally, of course, points mean prizes. Fabulous little shiny 7 stickers each time you lose half a stone (be still my beating heart!). And I am told that there's a keyring when you lose 10% of your body weight. Which would be a lot for me. When you reach your goal weight, you get a key for the keyring, and become a Gold Member. Gold Members do not have to pay as long as they attend every now and then, and receive a gold star after they've kept their weight off for a year. So there is some support for the endless problem of stopping dieting and putting all the weight back on.
Professional, heavy duty scale with black non-slip rubber platform Large 1.8-inch/48 mm ... more
LCD display with chrome surround Measures body weight. Includes long-life lithium battery Weighs up to 27 st 2 lb/172 kg/380 lb. Choice of measurement in stone/kg/lb Features 3.5 oz/100 g accuracy, 10-year guarantee and optional carpet feet
Accurately measures fitness level, body weight, BMI, body fat and body water to keep you ... more
motivated Clearly displayed colour indicator bars provide instant analysis of low, normal or high readings Easy to use memory function displays readings for up to 10 users on large, multi-info LCD screen Choice of measurement in stone, kilograms or pounds up to maximum of 23 st 8 lb/150 kg/300 lb