Weight Watchers is possibly the most recognised diet program in the world and holds a firm position at the forefront of a highly competitive weight loss market. To do this, it has grown with the times and made a lot of big changes. The newly rebranded WW of today is very different from how it started.
So, what does the modern-day Weight Watchers offer us, and, most importantly, does it work?
I did Weight Watchers in the past when it was all about weight loss and calorie obsession. But, it’s changed so much that you no longer count calories and, big news, you can eat anything you want. To find out more, I gave the recent version a whirl.
Find out everything you need to know about Weight Watchers Australia from a user point-of-view right here. This includes:
- The history
- Overview of Weight Watchers today
- How WW works
- The Weight Watchers app
- Weight Watchers food: What you can and can’t eat
- WW and dietary requirements
- Weight Watchers recipes
- The WW Community: Connect
- The Workshops and coaches
- Weight Watchers Australia price
- WW specials and discounts
- The shop
- Their customer service
- What I like and don’t like about WW
- My personal conclusion about Weight watchers
When I think of Weight Watchers, I think of meetings, weigh-ins, and groups of people getting together to discuss their weight loss. And, that is exactly how it all started.
In the 1960s, when social media was the stuff of sci-fi movies and connecting meant actually meeting in person, mum and housewife, Jean Nidetch, invited friends to her house in Queens, NY to discuss weight loss strategies. She and her mates must have gotten really into it as it led to her founding Weight Watchers in 1963.
Her concept for Weight Watchers was based on the 1941 Prudent Diet by the New York City Board of Health which recommended steering clear of high-fat foods … which is what Weight Watchers was all about in the early days.
Jean remained focused on community and connection and the early program included strict calorie counting, weekly support groups with weigh-ins, and rewards for reaching a target weight.
Overview of Weight Watchers today
Fast forward to today and millions of people around the world use Weight Watchers products and services.
Still based in New York but now serving the entire world and rebranded as WW it is marketed as a science-backed program to help people lose weight and gain healthy habits for life.
WW has had to pivot a lot to stay on track with government guidelines, new research, and changing mindsets (think keto) about what constitutes a healthy diet. Counting calories is a thing of the past and the focus is now on a sustainable health and well-being lifestyle, with no quick fixes.
Throughout these transitions, WW has kept to its roots by encouraging community. As Jean Nidetch and her group of like-minded, diet-conscience friends got together in the 1960s, WW clients today rely on an active community of members as well as professionals for support and coaching online or in-person.
As recently as 2022 WW introduced PersonalPoints which are personalised diet plans with a focus on, you guessed it “points” (more about them is later).
I like the way WW has changed and adapted. However, the jury is out with a lot of people who miss the Weight Watchers of old.
Let’s talk about WW today and how it all works.
How WW works
When you first sign up for WW you chose one of three plans for one, three or six months (details below). You then receive a nutrition plan and a certain number of PersonalPoints (used to be SmartPoints) to spend each day and week. The amount depends on your personal details such as sex, age, weight and height.
WW no longer keeps track of calories, instead you keep track of PersonalPoints. All food and drink have a PersonalPoint value which is based on nutritional content such as the amount of fat, protein, sugar and calories … so in a way, we are still counting calories.
As a user, you must keep track of everything you eat and drink, as well as any exercise you do, and feed it into the WW app or website. Don’t panic! It’s not as hard as it sounds as you get a barcode scanner that you can use from your phone and this does most of the work for you. Once, you’ve done your bit (the eating, drinking, exercising and tracking) WW will let you know how you are travelling and whether you are on track for your goals.
When you go onto the app or website to log your points, you’ll find lots of other resources so you don’t feel alone on your weight loss journey, more about these below.
Something that really helped me at this point was the Kickstart session. I was super motivated and ready to get going but I couldn’t find direction. To be honest, I was a bit overwhelmed by all the features and wasn’t sure where to start. Kickstart is a free online group chat with a WW Coach which gives you a lovely warm welcome, guidance, and a chance to chat with other newbies.
The Weight Watchers app
The WW app is bloody brilliant. The app with the supercool Barcode Scanner is what makes WW work in our crazy busy modern world. Oh, the pleasure of using an app that makes life easier instead of making you want to throw your phone through the nearest window. And it’s not just me who thinks this. The WW app has 5-star reviews from 48,000 users and has won the People’s Choice Webby Award.
Whichever membership option you choose, you’ll get the app … phew.
Alongside tracking your weight (just once a week which I love instead of doing it daily and getting all obsessed), the app will track your sleep, exercise, how much water you drink, and the all-important PersonalPoints.
I get a great sense of achievement using the app and love being able to tick off goals and get a realistic overview of how I am doing rather than relying on my sometimes negative self-talk. An educational experience for me has been understanding how my weight fluctuates with my menstrual cycle even when I stay on track with my weight loss goals. I know I’m on track as the app confirms it but my body has its own ideas and that is something I can’t control. That alone has helped me find peace with my body. The app doesn’t lie!
It is one of those apps that has so many features that you probably won’t get around to using them all, I haven’t … yet. Alongside the tracking and barcode scanner, there are workout videos, recipes, meal planning, audio coaching, meditations, guided walks (not kidding), and of course the all-important member community, called Connect.
One of my favourite features together with the Barcode Scanner is What’s In Your Fridge which recommends meals based on ingredients in your kitchen and how many points you want to use. You don’t even have to use it in line with your WW program. Just last week I was stuck on what to make for dinner. We had one steak and three people to feed. The app suggested beef stroganoff. All I will say is: WIN.
Weight Watchers food: What you can and can’t eat
With the new WW program you can eat anything you like, yay. But you must stay within your PersonalPoint quota. This can take a bit of planning but it does work.
Every other Thursday I meet my friend for a curry at a restaurant in between where we both live. When I’m doing Weight Watchers I don’t have to forgo this treat, but I do have to plan for it and eat low or ZeroPoint™ foods for the rest of the day.
ZeroPoint™ foods are very cool. They are foods you can eat without measuring and tracking, which in itself makes them an attractive choice as measuring and tracking can be laborious and take some of the fun out of eating. And don’t worry, ZeroPoint™ foods are not things like celery and iceberg lettuce leaves which wouldn’t fill you up if you ate a truckload. Your ZeroPoint™ food list will be personalised for you when you join WW. They are surprisingly yummy and filling foods, like yoghurts, eggs, brown rice and avocados.
It’s all a long way from the fad dieting plan that Weight Watchers offered in the 1960s. For me, it works because the more I can’t have something, the more I want it, even fantasise about it, which is all very painful and unpleasant.
This kind of dieting works as it’s not extreme and is sustainable over a long time period. With WW you can have your cake and eat it … but stick to ZeroPoint™ foods for the rest of the day.
WW and dietary requirements
WW doesn’t offer specific plans for people with dietary requirements as the programs are tailored around the foods you already eat. This means it is no problem if you are vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free. They offer lots of recipe ideas in all these categories, and lots of ZeroPoint™ foods are plant-based like nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
I fluctuate between being a vegetarian, a pescatarian, and an occasional meat-eater, so this kind of flexibility works for me, I just need to stay within my PersonalPoint quota.
WW now supports users diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Their PersonalPoints adhere to standards set by the American Diabetes Association and similar organisations, focusing on foods that won’t negatively impact blood sugar levels. See more details here.
Weight Watchers recipes
When I first did the new version of WW, I found it hard to keep within my PersonalPoints quota because the food I was used to cooking was not particularly healthy. It was at this point that I turned to the WW recipe suggestions on the app and website.
There are heaps of them. All of which are healthy and low-fat. I found if I swapped out my old recipe with a WW one, I could eat more. Eating more generally makes me happy.
I’ve had some hit-and-miss attempts and have found a few of the recipes a little bland, such as the Tropical Oats with Chia Seeds and the Chicken and Vegetable Soup, but I get over this by adding extra spices and herbs, all of which are ZeroPoint™ foods. My favourite recipes are the Veggie Hash With Poached Eggs (great for brekkie), the Mini Pear and Chocolate Cupcakes, and the Jerk Chicken Tray Bake – see my version below with yummy leftovers for a salad with ZeroPoint™ foods the following day.
Although WW says you can eat what you want, to make life easier you need to incorporate some of their recipes but that is fine as there are so many to choose from and it’s a great way to develop lower fat, healthy cooking skills to integrate into your own dishes. For example, I used to always leave the skin on chicken for the taste but I have learned from WW how to flavour and cook chicken so it is just as yummy minus the skin.
I will also add here that the WW recipes are oh-so-simple with few ingredients which makes them easy to make. I find them a little too easy but I love to complicate things in the kitchen.
The WW Community: Connect
WW is all about supporting one another to live a healthier life, therefore the community aspect is super important and this comes in the form of Connect.
Connect is a digital community open to all WW members. Think Facebook for diet and healthy living where you can follow, post, react, engage, join groups, and even use hashtags.
I am already overwhelmed by social media so don’t spend much time on Connect unless I have a specific question. Even then, I can usually get away without posting because the community is huge and very active so often my question has already been asked and I can find the answer with a simple search.
A big plus is that you can choose to post publicly or privately i.e. choose who sees your post. There is a big focus on safety and privacy on the app which makes me feel safe using it.
Workshops and coaches for Weight Watchers Australia
WW Coaches are certified coaches who have been through the weight loss journey successfully. If you choose a program with workshops, they will be hosted by a WW host. If you choose a program with a personal coach you contact them by phone, email and text on the member’s schedule for one-on-one support with your WW journey.
WW VIRTUAL WORKSHOPS
In our post covid world most workshops are virtual because … well, meeting real people can feel a bit scary now.
You can find a virtual workshop on Connect via the WW app. The actual workshops themselves are done with Zoom. It’s good that you have to enter your suburb and are still connected with people in your local area and not those 700km away. For me, it opened up an opportunity to meet with a couple of ladies I hit it off with during the workshop and it helps to discuss cafes, restaurants and exercise areas in the local vicinity that we all know. I feel WW sneakily but with good intentions uses their virtual workshops to encourage you to attend in-person workshops, and it kinda works.
Another thing I love about the virtual workshops is that you are not pressured to turn your camera on. This is the equivalent of going to an in-person meeting with a paper bag over your head, but somehow online it is acceptable. Great if you’ve had a bad day or, like me once, didn’t have time to clear away the dirty undies hanging over the end of the bed and clearly in view with my camera on.
Don’t forget to weigh yourself before the workshop starts. Don’t worry you don’t have to tell anyone unless you want to brag.
WW IN PERSON WORKSHOPS
Not sure if I’m missing something here but I have only been able to join the in-person workshops through the website, not the app. Just tap your area into the search bar on the WW website.
The in-person WW workshop is the closest you can get to those original catch-ups in Jean Nidetch’s living room in the 1960s. But don’t worry as you don’t have to be publicly weighed and face possible humiliation. Weighing is optional.
Whether you do the virtual or in-person workshop, they are guided by WW coaches and focus on wellness as opposed to weight loss. I think of them as a great way to widen your scope of friends while meeting and chatting with like-minded people.
Weight Watchers Australia price
You can join WW for different lengths of time on one of three different packages. These are:
- Workshops + Digital
- Personal coaching + Digital
The below table show prices at the time of writing (2o23) for Weight Watchers Australia. Please check for 100% up-to-date prices on the WW website relevant to your area.
WW specials and discounts
Weight Watchers has regular specials and discounts that are ever-changing.
At the time of writing, you can get 50% off the 6 month package and 30% off the 3 month package.
You are encouraged to sign up for longer with attractive discounts for six-month and year plans.
Tip: If you’re in no rush to join, sign up to the WW mail list, sit back and wait for them to bombard your mailbox, because they will. Make sure you open the email as you’ll receive some great specials which seem to improve over time. I think they can detect open emails as a hot potential purchaser and will through you a bone in the form of a 50% discount to get you over the line. Patience and a spammed inbox might pay off in getting a good deal.
As well as the huge array of digital services, with Weight Watchers Australia there is also a good old-fashioned Weight Watchers shop, albeit online.
Everything sold is geared toward living a healthier life. Warning: It’s one of those places you can get a little carried away.
You can find the classic WW ready meals which you pop in the microwave and eat in one fail swoop. I have only ever found these in Woolworths in Australia. Some are bland and tiny but I bulk them out with ZeroPoint™ foods, such as the Mushroom and Pumpkin Risotto below which I topped with salmon.
They also sell book books, kitchenware and scales to accurately weigh yourself. Surely Weight Watchers branded scales make us weigh less?
I’m going to give WW the biggest thumbs ever for selling a range of alcohol-free drinks, including spirits, wine and beer. This a great call by WW for weight loss and health, whilst offering a handy alternative to drinking alcohol at social events.
Their customer service
There are many ways to contact WW if you need to. These are easy to find on both the website and the app.
For Australians, there are:
- Local and 1300 phone numbers are open 9AM – 5PM Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays)
- Instant Live Chat which works: Response time when I used it was under a minute
- Member Chat on the WW app or the member website which is 24/7, pretty cool
- Email: Response time when I used it was just over 3 hours
See the Contact page for more details.
What I like and don’t like about WW
- The new PersonalPoints programs are geared to individual lifestyles and goals which feels (and is) more effective than doing a one-size-fits-all program
- ZeroPoint™ foods make the whole experience more enjoyable and I am rarely hungry
- The app is incredibly user-friendly, especially with the barcode scanner, I honestly don’t think I could do WW without this
- There’s a great focus on community and the original WW meetings still happen but in a different form
- The resources to help you make your health goals happen are endless and can be tapped into at any time
- It can be pricey especially if you want to just try the program short term
- There is no free trial but there is a three-month money-back guarantee which comes with stipulations and a 14-day cooling-off period if you purchased online
- Tracking and recording can get tedious particularly when you first start the program
- If you loved the old-style Weight Watchers program, the new one can take some getting used to
- There are lots of pop-ups on the website
- Some of the WW ready meals are less than average and the packaging is hard to read
My personal conclusion about Weight Watchers
You can probably tell by reading this that I am a fan of Weight Watchers Australia. I haven’t always been though.
For me, the new PersonalPoints system is a game-changer because it tailors the diet to my personal needs. I want to lose a little weight and improve my lifestyle. I also have high cholesterol and a chronic disease affected by the foods I eat. Because WW is so flexible, I can follow the program and get results even with my personal restrictions. Plus, I can still go for a curry with my mate every other Thursday.
WW is great if you’re committed to long-term change. You need this commitment as food tracking will become part of your life, although it does get easier with time as you record your favourite foods and make the most of your ZeroPoint™ foods which don’t need tracking. Alongside the program are the resources to get educated on healthy living and to meet like-minded people who are on the same path.
WW is no longer about short-term weight loss because it has been scientifically proven not to work. Instead, it offers a full lifestyle revamp in which you will lose weight gradually if that is your goal whilst improving your health in many other areas including fitness, sleep, mental health, and even social help i.e. connection.
Think about the results you want from a program and then you will know if WW is right for you.