Anyone who has ever even thought about dieting has undoubtedly heard of the Weight Watchers plan and it is amazing to see that what began as a get together between a few friends in the house of Jean Nidetch in Queens to discuss dieting ideas and tips has grown into a large publicly quoted company employing nearly 50,000 people and operating in more than 30 countries worldwide.
But just why has Weight Watchers become so successful and why does the company continue to expand after more than 40 years in operation?
The answer lies in the fact that Weight Watchers does not simply offer a diet plan but is based upon the philosophy of dieting as part of an overall plan to set and maintain a healthy lifestyle in term of physical, mental and emotional health.
Consequently Weight Watchers does not just provide you with a diet sheet and tell you what you can and can't eat, but provides you with the information and advice necessary to make the best decisions about your diet.
Further, and very importantly, the Weight Watchers plan gives you a level of support and motivation that is essential to your success and that is lacking in so many other weight loss plans.
Locally held group meetings, which many people who have not benefited from the Weight Watchers experience often dismiss as simply a waste of time, are, in many ways, the key to the Weight Watchers plan. Not only do these meetings provide a wealth of advice, information and tips, but they also allow members to offer each other encouragement and support which is critical to the long-term success of any diet.
Additionally, the fact that you will need to meet with your fellow members on a regular basis and show them your progress, or lack of it, is a very good way of helping you to stay on track as, occasionally, you are tempted to stray from the path of your dieting plan.
Underpinning Weight Watchers philosophy of dieting there is of course a basic diet plan, or to be more precise, two plans - the points plan and the core plan.
The idea behind the points plan will be familiar to anybody who has tried dieting. Members are given a weekly points allocation depending upon their present weight and the weight they are aiming for and are allowed to eat anything they like up to this points allocation.
The strength of the points system is that a points score is given to any food imaginable and there's no limit on the types of food that you are permitted but only on the quantity which you can eat dependent upon that food's points score. This is in sharp contrast to many other diets that ban some foods completely or require that particular foods are included in your diet.
The points plan also provides you with a great deal of flexibility by allocating negative points for exercise. So, if you decide to go over your points allocation you can do so as long as you take enough exercise to compensate for the additional points consumed.
The core plan was created in response to the popularity the South Beach and Atkins plans. Under this plan a wide variety of foods including whole grain foods, lean meats, fat free airy products, lean meats, and whole grain foods are classed as "core" foods and there is no limit on the quantity of these foods that you can eat, other than the provision that you should only eat these foods to satisfy your hunger rather than eat them until you are "full".
Any food item that is not included on the "core" list is then allocated a score in the regular manner and members are given a weekly allowance of 35 points for these foods.
There is nothing new of course in either the points plan or the core plan and many of the hundreds of diets available follow the same sort of pattern. The strength however of the Weight Watchers plan is not to be found in the underpinning diet itself, but in the need that all dieters have for information, advice, help and, above all, support in what is typically a long, and at times difficult, struggle to remove those stubborn pounds.
Operating largely as a "club", Weight Watchers has gone from strength
to strength over the years and, as long as it continues to provide so much
more than just a diet plan, it will doubtless continue to flourish in the
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