#FridayFive: 5 Things Every Runner Should Know Before Joining “WW” (Weight Watchers)

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Let me begin by making it clear that I DID lost weight using WW, so it’s not that you won’t lose weight on it. But you might be direly miserable in the process.

I found both good and bad with WW. Several runners ask me, “can you do WW while running?” When I was all cheerleader-ish about it, I’m like, “YES YES you can omg it’s so great do it!” However, that was during the honeymoon phrase of a weight loss program – I could have been losing weight eating cat puke and raved about it at that point.

Anyway…yes, you can lose weight. Yes, you can try WW as a runner. But before you do, read this.

1) You are not the typical WW client. Weight Watchers is, quite honestly, designed for people who are mostly sedentary. Did you know you can forgo all exercise and STILL lose 1-2 lbs per week on the WW program…? The calorie deficit associated with that kind of weight loss – WITHOUT exercise – makes me nervous.

Keep in mind that there are two different types of running: running for weight loss OR running to perform/compete (against yourself or others). I’m not a dietician or nutritionist, but I have experienced the “low calorie and low carb fog” on WW when running over 15 miles per week. So, I’m going to say that you’re probably not getting enough calories OR carbs when on this program. It wasn’t designed for athletes. It’s designed for people who aren’t moving or are moving very little.

2) Understand that it can be a detriment to your health to start associating food with “points.” Running is a mathematical sport, if you think about it: meters, miles, kilometers, pace – so many EXACT numbers. So, when I began WW a few months back, it fit right in with my way of life and way of thinking. WW assigns each food a “SmartPoints” value. No one is entirely sure how WW calculates these points, but I read somewhere that it’s got a lot more to do with factors beyond the number of calories.

We are runners. We feel like a winner or loser based on numbers. See where I’m headed with this? It’s super easy to fall into the mindset of “I’m over my points” just like we fall into the mindset of “I’m over my time goal” followed by perpetually beating ourselves up for it.

If you choose WW, you will lost weight – but you better be prepared to stick to it because girlfran, you will be counting points even when you are done counting points (it will stick in your head FOREVER).

3) WW is about losing weight, not necessarily about being healthy – and the foods with the lowest points prove it. There’s a difference between “thin” and “healthy.” There’s a difference between losing weight and gaining muscle.

Disclaimer: I am closet Diet Coke addict and I use Splenda and Stevia. Sue me.

Moving along. WW has over 200 “0 points” foods on its list. Some of these are fantastic: grilled boneless/skinless chicken breast, 99% fat free ground turkey, all fruits, all veggies (plain). But let me tell you what: don’t touch pure maple syrup or you are using about half of your SmartPoints for the day. Throw that shit out along with EVOO and organic coconut oil. If you want to succeed in WW, you cannot use half or more of your points on those kinds of things. You will be bound to using fat free EVOO cooking spray and sugar free syrup (which still costs you 2+ points).

And speaking of sugar free – yep, most sugar free foods are zero or low points on WW. Sugar free pudding (I eat it sometimes), any diet soda (love my Diet Coke!), sugar free jellies and jams (yuck). You will nearly HAVE to work sucralose, aspartame, etc. into your diet unless you want to use all your points within the two hours you wake up for the day.

This is where a lot of people begin to take issue with WW, especially athletes. Healthy fats are an integral part of any athlete’s diet (again, not a dietician – just an athlete myself). Eating some healthy fats signals your brain to think “I’m full.” Most athletes want to avoid artificial sweeteners, and with good reason.

A fat-free smoked white turkey hot dog is worth 9 points less than an unprocessed, real form of sugar. Let that sink in.

4) Be prepared to associate running with a “food allowance.” Back to the points – but this time, “Fit Points.” WW will “give back” points when you work out or track enough steps. In the WW app settings, you can opt to swap weeklies (an extra number of points given to you in case you “mess up” and eat something you enjoy) or fit points. WW deducts the first three fit points you earn (whatever – I don’t get that). So, if you earn six points, you’re only getting three added to your daily/weekly points bank.

This is a huge problem. Huge. All of a sudden, you’re running an extra mile to eat cake at your niece’s birthday party. Not because it’s part of your training plan or because you feel great and want to keep going – but so you can “earn” cake without having to take the f*cking icing off of it.

It’s INSANE to start associating miles with a “food allowance.” Food is fuel. It’s that simple. If you want to lose weight, can you eat cake and pizza daily? Maybe, if you don’t go overboard (true story!). But mostly, you should eat whole foods that satisfy you. You will, without a doubt, start to hate the sport you love if your miles are equated with points for foods you enjoy. DO NOT DO IT!

5) Whether or not you attend meetings, you will weigh yourself weeklyDo you know how much of a mind-fuck it is when my pants fit better, but the scale is up a pound? Personal Trainer student and run coach Courtney knows that this is called turning fat into muscle. Obsessive and perfectionist Courtney can’t let go of the “I gained a pound” mentality all damn day.

Ever heard of water weight? Of course you have. At one point, I lost three pounds after a long run in humidity and 80s. OF COURSE I DID. It was hot as balls and I lost a bunch of water weight through sweating!

The scale is stupid. Period. You may gain weight but look hot as hell in the same jeans you couldn’t button a few months ago. Runners who engage in fast speed intervals (sprinting) and strength training WILL GAIN MUSCLE, not lose weight – and this is a GOOD THING!

WW’s anchor is the scale. If you hate the scale, do not start WW. It’s that simple.

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Disclaimer: I am not associated with WW and this blog post is not associated with WW. This is my personal experience. Always work with a physician or registered dietician before beginning or discontinuing any type of nutrition and weight loss plan. I am not a registered dietician or medical professional.

I am, however, a running coach! Interested in hitting your best paces yet? Contact me here and let’s discuss.

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