In my journey of exploration in food, you will often find me noting how many “smartpoints” (sp) a recipe comes out to. For those who are not familiar with the system, smartpoints are Weight Watcher’s current method for tracking what one is eating. On a given plan, you are allowed a certain number of smartpoints per day, and a certain amount of overflow for the week that you can use however you like. Some foods, like vegetables or beans, are usually point-free, so technically you can have as much as you want of those. Other items, like milk and butter, can be 5 to 7 points, and a Dairy Queen ice cream cake is well over thirty.
I started using WW in December of 2017. When I started college in 2012, I ranged between 130 and 140 pounds. But slowly I added on the pounds until, by that December, after a year and a half of a desk job where I sat literally all day, I had reached 172 pounds. My body felt heavy just to move in it, I was exhausted all the time, short of breath frequently, and my blood pressure was bordering on high. My gynecologist was the one who turned me on to Weight Watchers. “I’ve known lots of women who’ve seen great results with it,” she told me. It had always seemed old-fashioned to me, and I was skeptical of pretty much all weight-loss programs (the ketogenic diet, in my experience, was an absolute joke.) But at her recommendation, I gave it a try.
I was given 23 points a day and 30 monthly overflow points in order to reach my goal of 135. I discovered that the wonderful thing about Weight Watchers is that you can still enjoy delicious foods, you just have to pace them appropriately. If you have tiramisu cake on Thursday, don’t go get ice cream the next day. If you have a noodle soup for dinner, have a light lunch of apples, carrot sticks, and white bean hummus to balance the points. I found creative ways to bring down the points: use fat-free Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise, olive oil spray instead of the recommended tablespoon of oil in a recipe, hard-boiled eggs as a snack. But at the same time, I could enjoy delicious foods instead of starving myself and hating life.
After half a year, I had lost 30 pounds and felt really happy with where I was at. At that point, I decided to transition into maintenance mode. The truth is, if I don’t hold myself accountable and eat heavy, rich foods on a regular basis, I put on weight quickly. Being skinny isn’t a priority for me. I feel happy fitting into size 8 jeans and medium tops. It feels healthy, and it feels me. But health is a priority– high blood pressure and heart disease is a genetic possibility for me which I want to avoid if I can. Not wanting to return to the point where moving is a drag (literally), I am trying to continue living by the principles that I know work for me. I calculate the smartpoints of the recipes I try in the WW app and include them, both for myself to know how to balance meals for myself, but also to help others who may be on the same journey as I.
This is not to say that I don’t fall off the bandwagon from time to time. During my recent trip to Washington D.C., I threw smartpoints out the window and gorged myself on the most amazing patisserie experience which is Paul (be still my heart!) But I will tell you all about that another time.