Why You Can’t Choose Your Favorite Weight Watchers Program

October 21, 2018   39 Comments

Every couple of years when WW makes its changes, many people ask me the same thing. Why has WW stopped supporting the program that is working for me?

WW Program Choice

UPDATE WW CHANGES 2020: New WW Changes 2020

Why can't I choose my favorite WW program and follow it? Doesn't it seem like a better idea for WW to offer a choice? These are excellent questions. It seems like a company selling a service would want all its members to be happy.

I have been writing about Weight Watchers (now WW) for a long time and it is a major frustration for the members when changes are rolled out and systems that are working for some literally disappear.

WW has gone from Points to PointsPlus to SmartPoints and now Freestyle. They added Wellness Wins and have some WW Changes in 2019

First of all, why make these changes? Is it simply to make everyone buy new books and calculators? No, I actually believe that they are trying to make the program better for everyone.

When I asked WW corporate why they don’t support the old programs (that were working for some) this is what they said:

As WW is rooted at the intersection of science and consumer insight, we are committed to making improvements to our program that reflects the latest in science and changing consumer preferences.

We tested and refined the WW Freestyle program through pilots in the U.S., Germany and UK, and, in a six-month clinical trial of the new WW program, participants experienced clinically significant benefits both on and off the scale, with participants experiencing an average weight loss of 7.9 percent after six months as well as increases in stamina and flexibility, decreases in hunger and food craving, and improved quality of life such as better sleep and more happiness.

We understand that a change in the plan is an adjustment for members, but we’re confident the freedom and flexibility of the WW Freestyle program will serve members at every stage of their journey.  

This makes sense of course unless you loved SmartPoints and were losing weight on it and are now not losing on Freestyle - which is going to happen to some of their members! Why? Because WW isn’t working only for YOU - they are working with thousands of people and trying to sell a program that will work for most of them.


What do you do when they change your beloved program? My thinking is that it is totally up to you. Some members love the changes and embrace them - others keep all their old materials and follow the program that was working for them.

You can find old materials on EBAY as well as join Facebook groups that continue to follow the old programs without WW support.

The best idea is not to get too attached to any one approach and take what works for YOU. I happen to think Freestyle is pretty smart because it seems to do more than simply help you lose weight. The emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and lean meats is great as well as getting you to cut the added sugar.

WW finally admitted that all food is not created equal.

Are you energized by new program changes or discouraged? Please share.

Other posts you might like:

Wellness Wins

Wellness Wins: New for WW

Wellness Wins is a program by WW (formerly Weight Watchers) to help you instill new good habits.....

Weight Watchers Changes 2019

Weight Watchers Changes 2019 - No Longer Weight Watchers!

Here we go again. For Weight Watchers members it is time to start wondering what is up the sleeves at Weight Watchers corporate.....

Get Free Email Updates! Yes please!

First 20 Comments: ( See all 39 )

I respectfully disagree with you on the reasoning for Weight Watchers constantly changing their diet emphasis. I fully believe it's to gain more members. I read in comments to a previous post about Freestyle that the "science" that they talked about in their response to you consisted of a study of 180 people. Their "study" methods are suspicious. Now I read that their new CEO used to be the CEO of The Shopping Network. How does she know anything about nutrition? I feel the new emphasis will be on gathering paying members and not about diet and exercise. If Weight Watchers really wanted what's best for everyone, they would support their former programs along with their new one. The poor founder is probably spinning in her grave.

I have been a WW member off and on for (I hate to admit this!)50 years...OMG I'm so old!!

At any rate, if you think about it WW is a business with stockholders. They have to make a profit. So if you look at their business model it's similar to our Social Security system; there are more people who are Lifetime Members than are full paying members (SS is having the same situation; more people are retired and collecting full benefits than ever before - the working population contributing to the SS system is smaller than ever before).

So when the paying base is smaller than the 'free LTM's' someone has to come up with a better idea to bring those new people in - even if they only sign up for a short time and pay the full prices (Etools, meetings, etc.) that is a huge influx of $$$. I'm getting the feeling that more members being 'happy' and feeling good may not equal reaching the all coveted goal of Lifetime member - and hence - not reaching the 'free' status. It's a fine thing for the members - but not so good for the bottom line of a for-profit business to have so many people who are not paying.

Here's an example - yesterday at my WW meeting - with fewer and fewer attendees every week (we keep asking 'where is everyone?')...our 'coach' asked how many here are Lifetime - 80% of the group raised their hands - so all of us LTM's are sitting there without having paid a cent to WW for the privilege. Anyone who's taken Econ 101 knows that a business cannot sustain itself for long if everyone who attends isn't paying - or at least buying something. I didn't buy anything nor did any of the group of acquaintances I was it's something to think about...

I for one will continue to attend WW - take from it what I will - try to focus on the basics that I've learned over the years - and hopefully stay in the LTM category - occasionally I do have to pay...uh oh...time to get back to those WW basics; tracking, weighing, water, exercise..

Disclaimer, I haven't done watcheres for years and years so I don't claim to be an expert. That said, WW is, at the core, a business like any other and has evolved over the years to try to keep in step with what they think will continue to attract new members. I'm guessing they also know that members may choose to stay on their old plan. If you want to lose or maintain weight I'm a firm believer in doing what works for you, understanding it may not work for everyone. I think the newest plan is the healthiest so far with the emphasis on whole and healthy foods but that's just what I believe. It's hard to change our way of eating no matter what it is. Ultimately a personal decision.

“A 6 month clinical trial”?

This is a red flag for me. Weight loss and healthy habits require a lifetime of practice. I wonder what their data would look like after a year... two years... five years. Would you take a medication that had only been studied for 6 months? Snack Girl, can you post a copy of this supposed research? Average 7.9% loss over 6 months doesn’t seem to reconcile with the *ounces* real people are reporting losing every week. Hopefully their study is ongoing. I would love to see the long term data here. Then again, I guess WW has data from every customer (think about it... not only your weight but literally every thing you put into their app)... that would be the compelling data to see.

As others have said, WW is a business and stands to profit the most from people losing small amounts of weight over the long term.

I too have been a member for nearly as long as you, Sue, and still wonder where that cute little 26 year old is when I look in the mirror!

I agree with your analysis of the new business model but had decided at the Smart Points stage that WW was no longer for me.

I have a lot of old WW program cookbooks and information from the past and have decided to go back to one of the older programs - the quick start/quick success which used food exchanges as the basis. It worked for me - I sort of went astray when the more "sophisticated" plans were introduced and have decided that "old school" is the way for me to go now.

I really love when you post about WW or Weight Watchers. I love the discussions that always come after it. I started with Momentum. It did work for me, but was I eating healthily? Not really. I would choose a 100 calorie snack for two points over an apple or a banana for the same points. That's not healthy. I don't think WW changes the program to make us buy new things. Most members probably don't buy a lot unless they are brand new. I think they need to keep up with the times and right now, clean eating and whole foods are what seems to be popular and healthier. Even though I'm over goal weight, if WW gave us an option to go back to Smart Points, I don't think I'd go back. I love eating eggs, beans, and tofu for 0 points. I think all programs will work if you work it, but they may not work for everybody. People need to pick what they can do for the long term. Whatever works for them. :)

There is an app caked iTrackBites that follows the Ww point tracking method, and you can pick from Classic, Plus or Smart.

I used it a few years ago and the app works almost the same. The app is free, and you can pay one time for some premium add ons, but it's still less than a monthly membership. No meetings or materials but... I think it's worth it.

I stopped using it out of laziness, then rejoined weight watchers about the time they brought in smart points. I hated it, as well as freestyle. It looks great on paper but found myself deprived if things I was able to enjoy in the PP+ systen that helped once lose over 50lbs.

but I think I need to get my butt back in gear and will use this app again.

My very favorite was Smartpoints. I lost 20 pounds, but then gained half back while doing Freestyle. I needed to do something different exercise wise I decided, so then then started lifting weights at the gym. My weight never did go all the way back down, but the trainer told me muscle weighs more than fat so that was to be expected. My clothes are lose, and I feel great NOW on Freestyle. It was just the weight I was watching on the scale that was clouding my perception. I guess that all I’m trying to say is everyone’s wellness journey is different, and where I appreciate WW efforts, they should not forcibly take away what works, they should let members choose.

PointsPlus was my favorite, I had lost 100+ pounds over 4 years ago. However, I was eating junk food for dinner, having a daily craving for sugar and salty junk foods (chips, chocolate bars, donuts) but still losing weight because I tracked. The truth is, in the long run, I had not developed healthy habits for a lifetime.

I was so reluctant when SmartPoints came along. I didn't want to give up those foods. So after following it for a few months, I fell off again on the holidays and became addicted to sugar foods again. I ended up gaining 54 pounds over the past 4 years, only recently realizing that I had never addressed the REAL problem for me, that was dealing with my feelings while NOT depending on sugar or salty foods.

WW Freestyle is helping me work on this. The focus is on the whole foods, I am depending on these fruits, proteins, and vegetables moving forward. Yes there are times when I track a portioned bag of chips. There are moments for a tracked portion of candy. But these foods are no longer my everyday. WW Freestyle helps me steer away from these junk foods (points are so much higher, low and 0sp foods are more "affordable"). In the long run, these are the lifelong habits I have to learn in order to keep the weight off, not diet approaches.

I know part of the changes are not fair for longtime members. They did have more for the meetings only population, such as 6 week rewards, raffles, journals, even a sticker board for us to put our names on every week. I miss these incentives. They should have rewards for everyone. I hope they add to and not take away member satisfaction.

I totally agree with Ariana. I lost 50lbs on PP but gained 5 back since SP and freestyle but am still a paying member. The only reason i am still on WW is because of the accountability and hope to regain my motiviation back.

I tried the itrackbites app but its not really as user friendly and it does not pull your activity data from apple watch. now they added a payment possibility to link your fitbit tracker.

Most probably i will stay with WW in hope that they will change their program again.

I too agree with Brittany and some others here, not all. This go around I’ve been a consistent member for 13 years, reached Lifetime almost 5 years ago and am trying to not gain the weight back! If it wasn’t for the meetings I’m sure my 126 lb weight loss would be toast by now. I lost most of it on PPlus but I too didn’t always eat the best. S Points and Freestyle have changed that now I only eat a little bit of those carbs foods. I do miss the fun we seemed to have had years ago with incentives that seemed to have disappeared. It motivated me. But as I get older it gets seemingly more difficult, as I am less able to do the activity I used to do. Now it’s all about what I put in my mouth! Yes, I winch every time they change the plan again but I know it’s the science changing, not the stockholders. Yes I realize it’s a business too. I have one of my own. But I will remain here, as this is where my help came from 13 years ago to get healthier and without this “lighthouse” I’m sure the ground I’ve gained would slowly disappear!

I think Freestyle works great for new members. Many of us who are lifetime? Not so much. Glad I saved all my old materials. I like having 30 SP. Too many fruits and veggies during the week cause me to gain. I find it disheartening that one weight watchers is touting a new program, they swear by it,have us enjoying it, and then they decide to change it, as if the old program they instilled in us wasn’t so great after all. Give us a darn choice. SP got me to Lifetime. I gained on Freestyle and had GI issues. Back on SP and not having to pay.

Like others that have commented, I have been a "weight watcher" for many years. Got to my goal in 2004 but then only came once a month for weigh ins and gained about 20lbs back from the 35lb I had lost. Proud to say I reached my goal again in 2015 and now I go consistently to the weekly meetings. I have found it is the only way to keep me accountable plus I enjoy meeting up with friends who I have met along the way. I really did not like the change to SP and bucked the system but then I grew to love it. I had reached my goal when "free style" was introduced and did really try to embrace it but to no avail. I felt very restricted and found I ran out of points more quickly. I went back to the SP and have found that other members have also. If you want to consistently eat "clean" then may be this is the program for you. But for me you can't tell a "foodoholic" that they can eat as much as they want cause it is free or tell me to eat until I am satisfied. It's just not going to happen.

I don't need WW now... I got an upper denture about 4 months ago, and I have since lost about 35 lbs. All my food tastes like plastic, or else it sticks to the upper plate and makes me gag....I have no apetite left... it works like magic!! Not that I advocate pulling out perfectly good teeth to lose weight... a friend told me this about her denture, too... has anyone else found this to be true?? Just curious!!

I just have to say. I am absolutely LOVING Freestyle! I've lost about 6 or 7 lbs. in a month and a half. I have not been hungry! I can eat what I want including a treat here and there. Thank you Snack Girl I love your articles and information.

It’s all about money, period.

Consider a diabetic diet or even Paleo. Both are low in carbs which put on weight and absolutely no simple sugars. There are plenty of recipes online.

I wish I could believe that WW changes constantly to reflect the latest science, but honestly, science doesn't change all that quickly.

I do think that WW changes constantly to reflect the latest trends, so they can sell the program to new young members.

It's painful to say, but WW knows that baby boomers like me are on our way out.

It's our kids -- our replacements -- that they're trying to reach, so they can breed the same kind of brand loyalty that, in the past, they bred in us.


It is just a way to make everyone buy new books and calculators. They are a business trying to make money and the bottom line is the final decision maker. I am over it. I do PointsPlus on my own very successfully. I DO NOT have to pay WW for the privilege of sitting in a hard seat for 30 -40 minutes listening to a coach who does not have to pay anymore. Thanks but no thanks.

I’m not saying WW doesn’t have good motives with developing these new plans but make no mistake they are a “for profit” business. If WW was not in it “mainly” for the profit they would introduce their new programs while supporting the old ones as well.

See all 39 Comments

Add a comment:


(required, never published)

© 2024