Tuesday, May 14, 2019

WW Implementation Tips & Hacks

Choice of Plan

I have used both the Online and Workshops plans. Access to the mobile app and website has been most valuable to me, meetings have been of limited use to me, but each person has a different experience. The meetings I attend are at my workplace, which is convenient and fosters a safe and trusting environment.

I set my goal weight based on the mid-point of the healthy BMI range for my height.

Weighing

My weigh-in day is Monday. I weigh myself every day, and on Mondays I record in WW the average weight of the preceding seven days. This makes my weigh-in more representative of the past week, and less prone to fluctuations due to water retention, etc.
Exercise

I connected my Fitbit (and later my Garmin watch) to track FitPoints. I walk, run, bike, and swim a lot, so I earn a lot of FitPoints (20-25 a day). In settings, I selected a goal of 140 FitPoints (20 x 7). I believe success on a diet is 90% diet, and 10% exercise, so FitPoints does not have an oversized importance in my strategy. Focus strength training on the most effective compound lifts: bench press, squat, and deadlift. I never eat my FitPoints.

Connect

I use Connect (social media for WW) to follow along with other members’ celebrations and successes, and follow some people who post useful content.

Through Connect I have also found a few YouTube and podcast channels from WW "celebrities" that I enjoy listening to: The Skinny on Weight Loss and Whys Advice.

Bingeing

I have accepted that I have binge eating disorder, and will always struggle with my relationship with food. I have definitely had binge eating days while on WW. I have learned when these days happen that I need to follow a set recovery procedure:
disrupt the cycle and stop bingeing;
track everything I ate to be accountable;
do not beat myself up emotionally about what happened;
just get right back on the plan the very next meal.

When I do have binge eating days, I get right back to tracking and staying within my points budget (including weeklies and FitPoints), and I maintained or even lost weight on those weeks when I did have a binge eating day.

Bad eating days can create a negative feedback loop of overeating->restricting->overeating. Break this as soon as it is identified by just resuming the plan of staying within points. Do not restrict. It is important to break negative feedback loops with disruption and immediately resume to the normal plan.

Adopt a positive framework. A binge day (negative) is a spike day (positive). Spike days happen with any diet, and are healthy for metabolism. They key is to be strategic about them, choose food as wisely as possible, and not go hog wild on junk. An example of a strategic spike day is when you go on vacation and know you are going to have a day where you go over points. Plan for it and enjoy the good food without the guilt of points. I have had enough spike days to know that weight loss is still very much possible by resuming the plan immediately.

Maintenance

Once a WW member reaches their goal weight, they enter the maintenance phase. The goal of maintenance is to maintain at goal weight, plus or minus two pounds, for a six week period, at which point the member achieves Lifetime status. The six week maintenance window is designed to learn how many points are needed to maintain weight. The “plus or minus two pounds” test is at the end of the maintenance window at the six week weigh in, in order to achieve Lifetime status.

Switching from a weight loss goal to a maintenance mindset can be a difficult transition because many people feel that losing weight and seeing the scale drop is the reward for the hard work, and in maintenance mode the goal is to maintain weight, and not lose any more.

In the WW account settings, the default Focus is “Weight loss and healthy habits”, which establishes the daily and weekly points for the member. There is another setting, “Healthy habits”, which raises the points slightly to stop weight loss and maintain weight, while encouraging eating healthy foods. The daily and weekly points can be changed by the member (within a range) to accommodate what number of points results in maintaining weight loss for that individual. It is not clear when a member should switch to “Healthy habits”, but my experience, and the experience many have shared on Connect, is that the best time to make this switch is when the member achieves goal and enters maintenance phase. This allows the member to use the six week maintenance window to figure out what number of daily and weekly points best result in maintaining weight. I kept the defaults, but I will evaluate this as I go through maintenance and then into Lifetime.

Lifetime

After maintaining goal weight (plus or minus two pounds) at the end of the six week maintenance window, the member achieves Lifetime status. The main benefit of Lifetime status is not having to pay for WW meetings or eTools. Members do not lose Lifetime status. But members can lose the perks of Lifetime status (free meetings/tools) if they stop weighing in at a meeting at least once per month, or if their weight increases beyond two pounds above their goal weight. Members can go below their goal weight without losing Lifetime status.
Attitude

Even on the days or weeks when my weight loss is not as successful as I would like, I keep in mind the following:

I am eating vastly healthier than before WW. There is almost no comparison of my current healthy food intake vs. what I was eating in the past. More often than not, I *am* achieving my goals. Our bodies do not respond in a linear fashion to calorie restriction. When I do veer off course, refocus on increasing water intake, accurate tracking, and being mindful about what I am eating (hidden oils, etc.).

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