UPDATE: January 1, 2016 – This review was posted in December 2013 and is for the old PointsPlus/Simple Start version of the Weight Watchers program which is no longer being used. If you are interested in details about the new program for 2016, please visit my Beyond the Scale page for links to my six-part series where I review the new program in detail.
In case you haven’t heard, the new Weight Watchers Simple Start plan was unveiled to members this week at Weight Watchers centers and to online subscribers. If, like me, you have been following the Weight Watchers program for a while and are worried about a new program, you can relax and take a breath. For us, the plan isn’t changing.
The Simple Start plan is designed to get new members started on the program without having to learn too much all at once. It’s two weeks of meals that can be mixed and matched without having to do any weighing, measuring, or PointsPlus counting. The Simple Start plan is basically a variation on the Simply Filling plan that is already part of the program with a few tweaks here and there. At the end of the two weeks, the new member will then be introduced to the full Weight Watchers program. They can elect to either move on to the full Simply Filling plan on which Simple Start is based, or they can switch to the more traditional PointsPlus tracking method that has been the cornerstone of the Weight Watchers program for many years.
To make it even easier for new members, Weight Watchers also introduced a new Simple Start smartphone app that is available to U.S. members for both iOS and Android phones. The app includes the same information and recipes found in the Simple Start booklet members receive at the meetings. The app also has some fun badges that members can earn and share on Facebook. Note: the app does require a valid Weight Watchers member login just like the Weight Watchers Mobile app.
Of course, the Simple Start plan isn’t exclusively for new members. It’s also something that existing members can follow if they choose. It’s a great tool that members can use if they find their motivation slipping and/or want to take a little break from weighing, measuring, and counting PointsPlus values.
Of course, there are also updated products available for sell in meetings rooms, too. There were definitely several things that interested me, but I couldn’t buy everything at once. Here are some of the new/updated items that I can remember off the top of my head:
- “Under 20″ cookbook which includes 200 recipes that can be prepared in 20 minutes or less, 70 of which can also be used on the Simple Start plan.
- Updated Shop and Eat Out food list books.
- Collapsible measuring cup set – these are the same measuring cups that were available last year exclusively in the 2013 Success Kit. They are now offering them as an individual purchase for $4.95 which I think is brilliant. I keep a set in my desk at my office and love them!
- Updated gourmet measure serving spoon set – these have been available at my local center since early Fall, but I’ve heard from members in other parts of the country that they’re just now starting to see them. I’m so happy to see they replaced the old 1-cup spoon with a 1/2 cup slotted spoon in this updated set!
- Updated electronic food scale – this was really more of a cosmetic change than anything since the basic functionality of the scale is the same. There is a built-in database of over 500 commonly eaten foods to make calculating the PointsPlus value quicker & easier and you can store up to 10 additional items as favorites. I’m planning a video review of this scale soon, so stay tuned for that!
Let’s move on now to one item that I did take advantage of on Sunday when I attended my meeting. I picked up the new 2014 Success Kit. Here’s a pic of all the goodies that came with it followed by a detailed listing of everything includes:
- Multipurpose expandable tote – can be used as a lunch bag, tote for your materials, or even as a tote for your netbook or tablet. Available in three different prints — the pink funky print I got, a cowhide print, and a blue plaid that would work well for men or those wanting something a bit more conservative.
- Find Your Fingerprint book – personalized strategies, hints, and workseets to help tap into your strengths, manage temptations, and stay motivated and on track.
- Portable collapsible microwave steamer bowl – used for steaming, storing, or taking food on the go.
- Master Your Meals and Snacks cookbook – contains 150 recipes, 50 of which can be used for Simple Start.
- Plan & Track – 12-week planning and tracking companion.
- PointsPlus value and Power Food stickers
- Mix & Flip exercise cards – portable deck of exercise cards to help you incorporate activity whenever, wherever. Sounds perfect for the #wycwyc (what you can, when you can) hashtag started by Roni!
- Coupon sheet – $45 in savings including a free PointsPlus Calculator and skin or box of mini snack bars.
The Success Kit will regularly sell for $39.95, but it’s currently available for $34.95 through the end of January. I thought it was a pretty good value for the money given all the tools included in it. I’ve used the steamer a couple of times already this week. I love having an option to steam in my microwave rather than using the stove top!
Even though I primarily track using either my iPhone or eTools on my computer, I have to say that I’m really impressed with the layout design of the new Plan & Track journal. It’s basically laid out exactly how I would have done it had I been designing it.
Each week starts with the “My Week at a Glance” section. Since it’s a two-page spread, it’s perfect for pre-planning your menu and workouts. There’s even a section at the top of each day to write down any events/occasions that might be going on so you can plan for those. Here’s a pic of half of the week at a glance spread:
Next up is the “My Weekly To Do List” and shopping list spread. This is a place designed for jotting down the names of recipes you plan to make and where to find it (cookbook name, website, etc.). As you’re jotting them all down, the opposite side of the spread has the grocery list sheet which makes it very handy to write down any ingredients you might need to purchase to prepare the recipes.
After this, it moves into the daily tracking pages. There are 17 lines per page, so there’s plenty of room for eating all the foods you might consume throughout the day. Naturally, there are areas for also tracking your daily Activity PointsPlus and the check boxes for the daily Good Health Guidelines.
Lastly, at the end of the seven daily tracking pages, there is a Weekly Wrap-up page. You can track your weight change for the week, any notes from the meeting you might want to remember, any lessons learned for the week, as well as a place to track your weekly PointsPlus allowance and total Activity PointsPlus values for the week.
At the end of the 12 weeks of tracking pages, there are a few additional pages for Notes available in the back of the book. Isn’t that such a nice design?! Honestly, the only thing I think I would have included that isn’t there already is a place to track monthly body measurements over the course of the 12 weeks. Of course, that could easily be done in the Notes section at the back of the journal, but it would’ve been nice to have a printed page for it, in my opinion.
Ok, that brings me to the end of this review, although it’s really more of just a recap, I suppose. As I mentioned at the beginning, there really aren’t any changes for those of us who have already been on the program. Since I was already doing Simply Filling, I did decide to give the Simple Start program a try after spotting the app available in the App Store on my iPhone last week. I’m at the halfway point thus far and it’s been fine. It has been a bit of an adjustment breaking my typical 49 Weekly PointsPlus Allowance (WPA) out as 7 PointsPlus value per day, but that’s how it works in Simple Start now. It doesn’t impact the regular Simply Filling Technique plan though once a member moves on to it. On Simply Filling, members can spread their 49 WPAs out any way they like.
What are your thoughts on the small tweaks at Weight Watchers for 2014? Will you be giving the Simple Start two-week plan a try or will you just stick with either the Tracking method or Simply Filling Technique that you’ve already been doing. If you aren’t currently a Weight Watchers member, what are your thoughts on Simple Start? Do you like the idea of having two weeks of meals pretty much planned out for you so that you don’t have to do a lot of planning, weighing, or measuring when you’re just getting started? Please share your thoughts in the comments.