How WW is keeping me from gaining quarantine weight
It turns out weight gain can creep up on you during a pandemic.
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I’m just going to say it: The coronavirus pandemic has not made my weight-loss goals easier. As if dropping unwanted pounds wasn’t hard enough, now there are food shortages making it difficult to eat healthy, closed fitness centers, and a constant desire for comfort food.
Prior to March, I had been very focused on improving my health. In fact, I had just reached the milestone of losing 30 pounds using WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers). I was so proud to have accomplished my goal and feeling strong in my workouts and physically lighter in my day-to-day. But then the coronavirus came to town. My weight loss suddenly seemed so trivial compared to the major problems of the world—and with all the limitations that come along with stay-at-home orders, I felt very discouraged. Like probably a lot of people, I mindlessly munched while I worked from home and I didn’t exercise much.
It wasn’t until a few weeks in that it clicked. I started to read the motivational emails that WW sent me every morning, with subject lines like “How to find positivity when you need it most” and “Stay healthy at home.” I realized that even though the world was upside down, WW was sending me solutions to regain control right to my inbox. I had access to this amazing tool (that I was paying for) and that just maybe I shouldn’t give up so easily.
What is WW?
For the unaware, WW, formerly known as Weight Watchers, is a lifestyle-modification program in which you log every food item that you consume into the app or website. Every food has a corresponding point value and you’re allotted a certain point budget each day. If you stay within that budget you should, in theory, lose weight. You may also track all of your exercising, for which you earn more points in your food budget. While it resembles a simplified calorie-counting system, the end result of following WW is that it transforms your mindset towards food.
How WW can help you eat healthy during quarantine
Here I was struggling to come up with ways to make my meals healthier in quarantine, and the folks at WW were doing the legwork the whole time. In addition to the emails, the WW blog—which is free for anyone to read, not just for paying members—is an absolute goldmine of resources. It has everything: healthy quarantine meal ideas, ways to bake nutritious bread, suggestions to prepare your stockpile of canned foods, and easy, low-calorie dessert recipes to satisfy your sweet tooth. With each development in the coronavirus pandemic, WW has been on top of finding ways to overcome the obstacles that quarantining, social distancing, and food shortages have presented to maintaining healthy habits.
In addition, the fundamental design of the program seems tailor-made as a coping tool. The simple act of food tracking can make all the difference in helping you to be intentional about what you eat. Instead of just noshing on whatever is in front of you in whatever portion, knowing you have to record your meals and snacks helps you to exercise some self-discipline.
Once I started tracking again, I found myself making conscious choices between foods that would keep me within my daily points or put me over the edge. In a broader sense, I started to feel more in control during a time where the world is all over the place. The app recently added water tracking, too, as a helpful reminder to stay hydrated while at home.
How WW can help you stay active while quarantined
One of the hardest parts of quarantine is the feeling you must stay inside all the time. If you live in a heavily populated area, chances are you don’t want to go outside more than you have to—and having to wear a mask when you go for a run or bike ride is a pain.
WW offers more than just food guidance on its blog. You can find a wide variety of fitness motivation to help you get your steps in and to inspire you to get moving. In addition, WW has partnerships with several fitness companies to offer you options for finding a new workout to try.
First, WW joined forces with FitOn, an online workout platform that offers free digital workouts through the WW app. You don’t need any equipment. Plus, some of the workouts are taught by celebrities. I knew I liked it when I found out one of my favorite YouTube fitness instructors, Cassie Ho, teaches classes on FitOn.
Another great option offered through WW is a membership to Aaptiv, a separate smartphone app that offers personalized audio-only workouts led by expert trainers. Though it wasn’t deemed our top workout app, our tester enjoyed Aaptiv’s well-designed sessions, which she recommends for anyone who is familiar with fitness but may have fallen off track. Right now, Aaptiv is offering an extended 90-day free trial so you can see if you like it before committing to paying $15 a month for access.
What has been perhaps the biggest game-changer to WW’s fitness offerings is its partnership with Daily Burn, an online workout platform that streams video workouts via computer, TV, or smartphone. Offerings include sculpting and strength conditioning, yoga, dance movement, and more, and you can filter sessions by duration, difficulty level, and pace. Like Aaptiv, Daily Burn has audio-only workouts for guiding outdoor runs, ab workouts, and even meditations. What makes this partnership even more seamless is that your estimated calories burned during your workout ports directly into the WW app. Currently, you can get two months of Daily Burn Premium Access for free with your WW subscription (after that it’s $19.95 a month). Our workout app reviewer highlighted Daily Burn as a good choice for those who prefer to exercise at home—or in this case, if you have to exercise from home.
As mentioned, you earn WW FitPoints by tracking your exercises, which helps you to be more conscious about your physical activity (or lack thereof). You set a goal of how many FitPoints you want to earn each week and adjust your habits accordingly. WW also syncs to your smartphone to automatically keep track of your walking efforts (if you bring your phone along, that is). Though fitness tracking has always been an option with WW, it's more helpful to me now than ever because it opens my eyes to how much more of an effort it is to work out when I'm working from home. Now that commuting is a thing of the past, some days I find myself getting in virtually no steps all day, sitting on my couch for hours, and not even realizing it.
How WW can help you with your mental health during this stressful time
While diet and exercise play important roles in your wellbeing, another huge factor is your mental health. During such a stressful time, it’s important to practice self-care in all forms. The WW platform has a section of its website dedicated to resources for mental health and wellness. There are beginners' guides to meditation, tips on how to take charge of emotional eating, and ways to rid your mind of "toxic thoughts."
Though I have the digital-only plan that gives me access to the tracking platform and all of the digital resources, there are WW plans that include one-on-one phone calls from WW coaches and group workshops. Having a coach can help to hold you accountable, motivate you, and give you a fresh perspective and new ideas. The group workshops help you to feel a sense of community, give you the opportunity to hear about the successes and struggles of others, and show you that you’re not alone in your journey. In light of the pandemic, the in-person workshops have since gone virtual, but they’re still a useful tool to get through this crazy time with the help of others.
How WW is giving back during COVID-19
With every food item you track and every weigh-in that you do, you earn WellnessWins points. After you accumulate a certain amount of them, you can redeem them for things like fun workout gear, fuzzy socks, or WW cookbooks. During the coronavirus pandemic, however, WW has given another option in which you can use your WellnessWins towards donating 10 or 40 servings of fruits and vegetables or 60 meals to a family in need and those affected by COVID-19. You can do it multiple times, provided you have the points to do so. Thanks to the generosity of the WW community, WW has already donated 10 million meals and 3 million pounds of produce.
Tips to make getting started with WW easier
1. Give yourself a break
If you need to eat some comfort food and enjoy a "quarantini," throw out the rulebook for a bit. It’s more important than ever to take care of your mental health and listen to your body, even if that means indulging in some unhealthy habits. But in the long run, I realized the comfort food wasn’t so comforting because it left me feeling gross and even more out of control. Give yourself a break, but when you’ve reached your limit, consider WW as a great tool to get yourself back on track. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that you need to take care of yourself.
2. Start with one thing
A WW coach once shared with me some great wisdom: You don’t need to have a thousand goals right now. You just need to start with one goal that you can attain.
Whatever that thing is, it’s up to you. Whether you make it a point to drink more water or to go on a walk every day, that’s one thing in your life that you’re taking control over. Ease back in at your own pace and once you have one goal down, other goals will start to feel more attainable. Before you know it, you’ll be back in control of your life, despite all of the obstacles that once hindered you.
3. Weigh yourself regularly—or don’t
Weight loss is a positive outcome of using WW, but living a healthy lifestyle and developing healthy patterns is the overall goal. For some, regular weigh-ins provide measurable feedback on their progress. For others, the thought of "weighing in" can be daunting in general, let alone during a pandemic. You do not have to weigh yourself if it’s causing too much stress. Following the WW program will improve your health, independent of the number on a scale.
4. Don’t give up
I can list a million ways that this pandemic is making weight loss more challenging. For starters, we’re stuck inside all the time. Then there’s the fear of going to the grocery store, making it harder to plan meals. And, of course, fitness centers are closed. Need I go on? It’s easy to feel defeated right now and out of control. But at the end of the day, you don’t have to self-sabotage. Your body is an amazing machine that wants to be taken care of. You just need to find a balance that works for you.
If you sign up for an eligible WW plan before June 22, you get three months free.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.