Could Oprah Eventually Doom Weight Watchers?

February 16, 2016

By Karen

In 2012, I followed Weight Watchers® PointsPlus® system and lost about 50 lbs. Four years later, my scale fluctuates 6-8 lb., but I remain slim enough to wear all my skinny-sized clothes. To this day, I still count points and weigh weekly. Maintaining isn’t easy.

Last year, at Weight Watchers’ invitation, Oprah Winfrey agreed to lose poundage — again — in a grand way. For a $43 million investment, she got a seat on the board and became WW’s spokeswoman.

Now WW stock jumps every time Oprah opens her mouth, whether to insert food or not, and she offsets her weight losses with bank account gains.

In her latest ad, Oprah claims to eat bread “every day.” She’s lost 26 lbs. since August 2015, or about  1-2 lb. a week, eating bread. What bothers me is that she’s shown only from the neck up.

Check out this photo of her on CNBC. Unfortunately, it’s undated, so we don’t know which diet deserves credit, but Oprah certainly looks like she’s lost more than 26 lbs.

Oprah is following a new WW plan called Beyond the Scale, which “focuses on you, not just a number on the scale.”

It’s all about SmartPoints™ and FitPoints™. PointsPlus folks are screwed because our overpriced WW calculators and P+ cookbooks are now obsolete.

WW’s website offers nothing but empty tag lines unless you join, but independent bloggers with access explain the difference in plans. Instead of counting fat, carbs, fiber, and protein on PointsPlus, it’s all about calories, saturated fat, sugars, and protein on SmartPoints.

Bottom line, PointsPlus are rough on fat and carbs. SmartPoints slam you on sugar and saturated fat.

P+ works for me so I won’t switch, and I wish Oprah well. But we all know her dieting history.

Weight Watchers is throwing some big dice and obviously hedging their bets by saying SmartPoints isn’t “all about the scale.”

After Oprah loses the weight, makes the talk show rounds to show off her svelteness and sends the stock on one last big spike, will she become another yo-yo case, like most former members?

I’ve been there myself, joining WW twice before, only to regain all the weight and more. They welcome yo-yos back to their meetings like old friends.

Oprah has never before made the lifelong commitment that’s required for WW. Can she do it now? Or in a year or so, will we see her rebloated on an Enquirer front page, trying to elude the paparazzi (you know, like Kirstie Alley)? If we do, that flushing sound you hear will be the Weight Watchers brand going down the toilet, no matter how they try to spin the points next time.


UnFoodie Slings Some Salmon Cakes

July 8, 2013

By Karen

After spending the past year losing 50+ pounds on Weight Watchers®, I’m not about to backslide and regain it all (especially after replacing my whole wardrobe), so healthier eating is here to stay. Salmon cakes are a surprisingly rich, yet PointsPlus-friendly dish I devised, and I wish I’d thought of them years ago because they’re so easy. They’re only 4 PP each, have good flavor, and have enough heft to make a decent meal.

For salmon, I used Costco’s Kirkland canned brand, but any salmon you like would work.

For me, for any recipe to be a keeper, it has to meet several requirements:

  • A few ingredients I would probably have on hand
  • Quick prep that doesn’t destroy the whole kitchen
  • Cooking that doesn’t need constant monitoring
  • Quantity such that you can cook once, but eat twice or more
  • Tasty and filling, but not fattening

Salmon cakes fill the bill on all counts, as opposed to my recent miserable foray into collard chips.

So here are my salmon cakes:

  • 6-oz. can of salmon
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tbsp. skim milk (more OK if the mixture seems too dry to stick together)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of diced onion (I like lots of onion)
  • Liberal sprinkling of Old Bay seasoning (optional)

Using your hands, mix all these ingredients in a bowl,

SalmonCake1

Split the mixture into 2 cakes. You can make 4 smaller cakes, but for me, 2 big cakes make 2 meals.

Spray a heated pan with nonstick cooking spray, then add the cakes and brown them well on both sides.

SalmonCake2

While my cakes cook, I make a topping for them by whipping together:

  • 2 tbsp. light sour cream
  • 2 tbsp. light mayonnaise
  • dill to taste
This makes enough topping for both cakes, so I refrigerate half for the second cake.

This makes enough topping for both cakes, so I refrigerate half for the second cake.

By WW standards, each cake is 4 PointsPlus, and the topping is 1 PP.

Voila! The yellow squash, zucchini, and onion side sautéed in cooking spray is 0 PP.

Voila! The yellow squash, zucchini, and onion side sautéed in cooking spray is 0 PP.


UnFoodie Masters Weight Watchers PointsPlus

July 31, 2012

By Karen

Part 3 – What All the Counting’s About

Weight Watchers® has weathered every dieting fad since the 1960s and is widely recognized as the safest way to lose weight. If you stick to the plan, it does work — but you’ll never eat like a “normal” American again.

Weight Watchers translates calories to “points” based on certain factors, which change as nutritional science evolves. The latest plan is PointsPlus+™ 2012, and P+ values comprise, among other things…

  • Fat
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fiber
  • Protein

The other things are fruits and vegetables which, for the first time, have 0 points.

For the first two weeks, I became semi-anorexic, afraid to eat anything and blow it before I got a handle on points. And I lost 5 lbs.

I get 26 points a day, based on my starting weight of 177. Heavier people will get more points, which get reduced as they lose, but I think 26 is the lowest it goes.

I also get 49 mad points weekly, sort of an overdraft account I can tap when faced with normal food, like burgers and fries and birthday cake.

You can also earn exercise points to exchange for food.

P+ are higher on many foods than previously because WW is back-dooring fruits and vegetables. So even though they say some things are worth 0, there’s no free lunch.

Just to give you some idea of P+, a 3-oz. serving of chicken or shrimp is 3 points, but a 3-oz. steak is 7.

Here’s where it gets tricky: Sometimes when you double the quantity of a food, its P+ value more than doubles.

For example, a teaspoon of canola oil is 1, but a tablespoon (3 teaspoons) is 4.

Kashi Go-Lean Crunch cereal: ½ cup is 2, but a full cup 5.

It also happens with some Light Progresso soups, which bear P+ values on their labels — for half a can. If one serving is 2, the whole can may be only 3 — or 5.

Two Eggo whole-grain blueberry waffles are 5, but one waffle is 2. Two tbsp. Smuckers Blueberry Syrup is 3, but you can hit every waffle dent using only ½ tsp. worth 0.

WW claims you can eat ANYTHING, but you’re punished pretty severely for most carbs, even the healthy ones. A 2-oz. (dry) serving of any whole-grain pasta is 5 — this is maybe 4-5 forkfuls — and that’s before sauce or cheese.

So having embraced PointsPlus, I find myself thinking about food a LOT, and it’s mostly scheming to game the system to survive on the fewest points while avoiding total veganism.

I load a plate with veggies, add a lousy deck-of-cards-sized chicken breast, and my eyes are fooled into thinking I’ve got a huge meal for only 3 points.

It’s impossible to accurately calculate P+ in your head, so WW sells a special calculator for $14.95, which will keep you from making fatal errors at the grocery store. (Tip: Buy it at a local WW chapter and save the outrageous $8.95 shipping the site charges.)

With my calculator, I went through my kitchen with a Sharpie, writing P+ values on everything. When I discovered that one ultra-thin slice of Sargento cheese is 3, I gave it away. Now it’s Laughing Cow wedges for 1.

Next…PointsPlus vs. reality.


Why Stop at Limiting Sugary Drinks?

June 15, 2012

By Karen

I’m with the cats on this one. No human needs more than 16 oz. of any sugar-laced crap drink. Just ask Paula Deen, who credits her recent dramatic weight loss partly to no longer drinking sweet tea every waking moment.

Now they’re saying New York City could take the next step down the “slippery slope” by banning huge milkshakes and ginormous tubs of movie popcorn.

So be it.

Purveyors of unhealthy, oversized foods are just as evil as cigarette manufacturers. They know what they’re pushing can ultimately kill their customers, yet they try to get people hooked anyway.

Ironically, it’s the snack-makers who are on board with limiting size, putting fewer cookies or chips in a bag. But there’s nothing altruistic about it. They just want to screw consumers by charging the same for less product.

I mostly blame the fast food and restaurant industries with totally distorting our perception of a “reasonable portion.” Three weeks ago, I began the Weight Watchers’ regimen (stay tuned, I’m still gathering intel), and it was a needed wake-up call on portion sizes. Here are a few things I’ve learned:

  • 2 tablespoons of oil and vinegar CAN acceptably coat every bite of a pound of salad vegetables.
  • 3 oz. of meat or fish are enough when the rest of the dinner plate holds vegetables (and I’m not talking potatoes or corn).
  • 1/2 cup of JELL-O® fat-free, sugar-free pudding is just enough dessert.

Many of us were raised to clean our plates because “children were starving in China,” or “it’s a sin to waste food.” But as portions have grown and our thinking hasn’t changed, we’ve become chronic overeaters.

When dining out, I personally don’t need a serving that could feed a family of four for a couple of days.

I remember the days long ago, before McDonald’s went nuts with Quarter Pounders and Angus Burgers, when a full meal there was what they now package as a child’s Happy Meal. And I weighed about 90 lbs. soaking wet.

When Anthony Bourdain visits Singapore or Hanoi and orders a bowl of noodles, they don’t roll it out a 50-gallon drum like we would. But as American fast food crosses continents, populations in other countries are getting as fat as we are. It can’t be a coincidence.

So I say, let Bloomberg do his worst. And may it catch on. Many lives depend on it.


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