Why Weight Watchers Won’t Watch Me Ever Again


Weight Watchers.  Is there a more familiar or beloved program for losing weight in North America?  The illusion of it’s benign nature is deeply imbedded in our culture.  Even just hinting on my Facebook page this week that I was planning to write this post elicited emotional, sometimes angry feedback.

I’m writing it anyway.

And I’m going to keep writing it, as it turns out.  I’d love for you to be the first to read the next instalment.  Make sure you sign up here so you don’t miss it!

People are attached to the ‘sensible’, ‘balanced’, and ‘sane’ approach to losing weight that Weight Watchers markets as their program.  “The program works” they say.  And it does, for a time.  Weight Watchers helped me lose weight three times in fact, this article is about the first.  The problem is that you can check out any time you like but you can never leave, man.  Once you have had success on the plan you are a lifetime member whether you ever manage to make it official or not.  Weight Watchers is always your friend, it will always take you back when you’ve lost your way.   It forgives you, for failing, every time.

And that is where the problems lies.

It’s insidious.

You didn’t fail, your program did.  <—Click to tweet!

There is nothing sensible, balanced, or sane about this business model that is designed to make you fail, repeatedly, and then upon your failure blame yourself rather than the program.

It’s actually kind of brilliant.  They are in the business of making money and are pretty damn good at it.

The first time I used Weight Watchers to lose weight was in 2002. 

I was 23 years old, and at 5’8” some would say I carried my 145lbs pretty comfortably on my frame. 

At that time in my life unhealthy people surrounded me with a lot of opinions about what I should look like.  I believed I was fat.  Because I was actually quite thin the Points allotment I started with based on the program calculations was already far too low calorically. 

My work and personal life suffered a lot through this time.  From the starving I suppose.

It’s not Weight Watchers’ fault that I had no business being on a diet at all.

At this point in time food quality was not a big consideration in the program, and the lowest fat, lowest calorie option was always considered the best choice.  I was averaging 800-1200 calories a day from all the wrong sources. Vegetables were considered a Points free food at the time but fruit was not, and I didn’t eat much veg ever in my life.  As a kid who didn’t learn to cook from her parents, frozen diet entrées were a staple.    It’s not Weight Watchers’ fault that I made these choices, they only armed me with the  Calories + Fat – Fiber = Happiness equation for success with weight loss.  I was free to do whatever I wanted with the information and my sliders and daily log books (yes, this is before smart phones when we actually had to do math to find the Points value sometimes and needed to carry a pen to track).  That was the beauty of the plan though, right?  That we could have that brownie if we wanted it?

I remember exactly what I ate for breakfast and lunch every day for my first 16 weeks with the program.  Breakfast was one piece of Bowness Bakery Rye toast (1 Point) with a 1/2 teaspoon of Kraft peanut butter (Less than 1 Point), lunch was a can of Campbell’s fat free soup (2 Points) with lots of hot sauce and two saltines (1 Point), or if I knew I was going to be especially “good” at dinner that night a Lean Cuisine frozen entrée (Sweet and Sour Chicken – 4 Points, Three Cheese Ravioli – 6 Points). For dinner I usually ate a cheeseburger and fries (14 Points) or a slice of pizza (8 Points) or some other fast food or take out option.  Why not,  I had only eaten 6-10 Points worth of food all day, I deserved the treat.  And every single night without fail I would have a turtle (3 Points).   If you are keeping track that was 15-21 Points most days.

At the time we were encouraged to “carry over” Points if we managed to get through a day without eating our allotment. 

I got used to the hunger pains.  I started to feel powerful when I could resist them.  And so damn weak if I caved and ate a bite of anything that wasn’t planned in my little book.  A failure.

I often went to sleep hungry, but I had won.  I had saved three more Points for my binge on Wednesday night (immediately after my weigh in and meeting, no matter what the scale said), and it was going to be epic (60ish Points in one sitting.  FULL.  FINALLY).

It’s not Weight Watchers fault that the pressure of having to weigh-in while a room full of other weight loss warriors tried to look ANYWHERE else often caused extreme anxiety and extra purging for days in preparation.

You can opt out of weighing in after all…you don’t HAVE to be watched.

I got really good at eating like someone was watching.

I got REALLY good at carrying over Points.

I got really good at not eating at all most of the time.

I also got really good at consuming 3000 or 4000 calories in one sitting without tasting a thing once a week.

It’s not Weight Watchers’ fault that they taught me how to purge with extreme calorie restriction, and then binge binge binge.  Banked Points were a girl’s best friend.  

It’s not their fault that people on the fringe have experiences like mine.

I lost 17lbs in my first round of 16 weeks with Weight Watchers.   A totally, sane, sensible, balanced amount of weight, right?  At 128lbs I was nearly skeletal.


I was tired all the time and very unhappy.  I thought I was depressed but looking back I think I was just starving.  Wasting away.

Yep. I lost a totally sane, sensible pound of weight loss per week on the program.  I gained an eating disorder that I would flirt with for the next 12 years.

But it was ultimately my fault for the choices I made with the information I was given.  For giving in to my human nature and finding the cracks and holes and cheats in the system, for choosing the frozen convenience food over the salad.  I didn’t yet understand the difference between “can” and “should” and I trusted the guidance I was receiving from this “trusted” source.

I still believed that the laughable number of calories they would have me diligently counting for years to come were enough to sustain my health.  I didn’t yet understand that food quality is so, so important.

I was unhappy and naive.  Just the kind of person that the industry preys on.

I know the program has made changes over the last decade.  I did it two more times, so I know from experience. I will write about those experiences in the weeks to come too.  Make sure you don’t miss an update by Clicking Here.

Thanks for reading.  If you can relate or have someone in your life that you think might, please share this story by clicking here to tweet!


  • Julie

    January 23, 2017

    Weight Watchers was pushed on me when I was 16. I lost weight and learned to binge, purge and eat as a way to smother my inadequate feelings of being over weight at 142 lbs. and 5’7″. I lost weight with one twisted version of their program that limited you to protein, 2 breads, 2 milks and no tools to cope with what everyone else was eating. I became food obsessed and paranoid that there was nothing i could eat at family gatherings or going out to eat. I failed five times but would binge before starting due to the feelings of deprivation and inferiority that would come with every time I tried. It is a bogus way to take your money when they don’t help you figure out what is a normal weight in the first place. They don’t teach you how to manage eating as a source of socializing. WW taught me that I am never good enough. Just when i would get used to the program, they would change it to rebrand. Save your money.

  • Carla McIntosh

    November 7, 2016

    I found this when I typed “Weight Watchers is not working for me anymore” into my browser. I quit a month ago (after doing the “Home” program for several months and losing less than 10 pounds) and was thinking I needed that WW “crutch” again before I turn into a fat pig by winters end, if not before. I still haven’t decided. I like to eat. I eat when I’m stressed. I eat when I’m happy. I eat and eat and eat. I’m only about 20 to 25 pounds over my preference.

    I’ve joined WW several times with and without success. I can say without doubt that they do NOT teach portion control. How could that be when fruits and veggies are free. It’s true, though, it’s on us, not them.

    I think I’ve just decided not to join again…….

  • Dara

    February 19, 2016

    I think WW a tool to guide you. As someone else mentioned above WW isn’t following you around picking and choosing what you eat. Ultimately, weight management comes down to making good food choices and exercising. Success for me happened when I began to change my relationship with food. I had to understand that food was a source of nourishment not love or friendship. WW won’t teach you that. That concept is something you have to figure out yourself. Every diet you embark you on will only be temporary until you learn how to change the relationship you have with food.

  • JB

    January 7, 2015

    So you didn’t really need to lose weight and when you joined Weight Watchers you didn’t follow the program as written and by gosh you felt hungry while you weren’t following it? Okay. That’s quite an indictment of Weight Watchers.

  • robert blanks

    December 29, 2014

    I’m sorry it didn’t work for you. It has worked great for me!!!! Lost 30 pounds with WW and going to the gym. IT DOES teach you about portion control which was crucial for me. Bottom line, at the end of the day ONLY YOU put food in your mouth. There is no such thing as a “program” that makes everything magically happen. But please don’t get on here implying it isn’t a good program for someone else. Please.

    • Amber

      January 2, 2015

      Hey Robert, thanks for the comment. I’m glad you have found something that works for your life, best of luck for continued success!

  • Emma Healey

    June 12, 2014

    I love this post. I drank the WW Kool-Aid, three times in face. It helped me lose weight every single time. But not enough to get to lifetime member status, so when I got pissed at paying the monthly membership fee, I would quit, try it on my own, fail and rejoin. The Weight Watchers business model is based on failure, and all business rely on repeat customers. Try unsubscribing from their emails, what a mission that is! Also looking at that pic reminds me of being at a rave whilst a set change is happening. I have many such pics. Good times!

  • Kelly

    March 21, 2014

    The fact that you are doing Weight Watchers for the 4th time proves that it doesn’t teach people about proper nutrition at all. THAT is the point. If it truly was a great diet program, people could use it once and be equipped with the knowledge moving forward to keep themselves healthy. Sounds like you’ve been drinking the WW Kool-aid, but only have 1 glass. Those are 4 points each!

  • Tracy

    March 20, 2014

    Thank you! It is good to hear someone else feels this way about Weight Watchers!

  • ilana

    March 19, 2014

    I completely agree. My first meeting was when I was 12. I actually was overweight though and could stand to lose some weight. I joined about 6 or 7 other times in my life. It NEVER worked for me. Sheer madness.

  • Kami

    March 19, 2014

    AWESOME. Oh Jackie, bless your heart.

  • Dana

    March 19, 2014

    Weight Watchers isn’t for everyone. And it definitely wasn’t for me or a lot of people I know. When you’re trying to lose weight, it is horrible to obsess about every little piece of food you put in your mouth. It made me insane. And for people who already have eating issues…it just makes you focus on them even more. Kudos to you for writing how you feel!!!

  • Trish

    March 18, 2014

    Jackie, I think that you are missing the point here. The number of calories that they are suggesting is what is the most unhealthy. 1200 calories are the bare minimum required for a female body to function. Not doing anything taxing, just function. Programs like this help perpetuate disordered thinking and eating, especially in young girls. Weight Watchers isn’t alone, it’s just one of the more well known programs.

  • anna

    March 18, 2014

    I love this. So much about this is my same story. I look forward to your next installment!

  • Jackie

    March 12, 2014

    You cant blame weight watchers. You make ALL of your own choices good or bad. Weight watchers does work. Your story shows extremely bad choices on your part. There isn’t someone from weight watchers that follows you around approving these bad choices. They aren’t there to watch you take every bite or non bite in your case. Any diet has to become your new lifestyle or you will be doing it over and over.

    • Christine

      June 20, 2017

      Exactly. WW isn’t forcing to you eat crap. If you follow the program (the healthy guidelines) and exercise, the program works. You also have to have the proper mindset to reach your goal. If you failed, it is due to your own choices, NOT WW. I’ve been on the program a few times, but due to depression etc, and not caring about myself for years, I left WW and gained a lot of weight. I am now back and have lost almost 20 pounds on WW in the last few months and credit WW for teaching me proper eating habits and the activity points are also a motivator. I eat really well, don’t starve and enjoy a glass of wine a few times a week. The program works if you are committed to it. If you didn’t follow the program, and didn’t have success, you only have yourself to blame.

  • dora

    March 8, 2014

    You were spot on. I did weight watchers and made some of the poor eating choices too.

  • Cliff

    March 8, 2014

    Your honesty is awesome!

  • Aly Welkley

    March 8, 2014

    I don’t know what the point of your article is but get over yourself and take responsibility for your own actions and realize that the binging purging is a manifestation of your own issues. You went in when you didn’t need to, the only part of this article that says shame on WW is that they didn’t turn you away, but the rest is on you. And before you think I don’t know what I am talking about, I too have done WW more then once and each time I gained back weight it was all on me. Instead of writing articles like this maybe you should get some counseling to see why you felt the need to take it to such extremes. JMHO!! Signed, Doing WW for the 4th time because no other diet/program teaches you what they do!!

  • Sarah Macpherson

    March 8, 2014

    I have to agree! I have done WW many times in the past and I remember starving all the time so I could bank points for the weekend. Never going back to that again!

  • Kris

    March 7, 2014

    I feel exactly the same way you do and had a very similar experience! Thank goodness I no longer use their ‘method’ and instead eat real, natural food and it’s funny how my weight isn’t an issue anymore.

  • britt

    March 7, 2014

    I just wanted to say thank you! I am glad I’m not the only one out there who feels like it can’t all be my fault that there might be an issue with the plan. I became so obsessive with weighing my self I became co sumed by it… You aren’t alone and thanks again for being brave for us all

  • Wendy

    March 7, 2014

    Thank you! The binge/purge cycle of nearly any program that encourages a ‘cheat’ day has always been troublesome to me in my mind, and sometimes in practice.