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Weight Watchers vs. Jillian Michael's

It's been a little over 3 years (January 2010) since I started my weight loss journey. I reached my goal weight in May of 2011 (135 lbs). Since then it's been a yoyo and my trend had been going up over the last several months. My current weight is 150 lbs (I was 155 but lost 5lbs over the last few weeks). My goal is to lose the weight I put back on (20 lbs) plus an additional 5 lbs for a weight loss of 25 lbs in total. It's so hard keeping the weight off!!

The strategy I'm now doing this time is different. I've decided to follow Jillian Michael's weight loss program instead of continuing on with Weight Watchers. I lost the 80lbs on Weight Watchers and the program served me well. It forced me to look at portion size, calories (with old points system), fiber, carbs, fat and protein (with the new points plus system).  It changed the way I looked at food. Instead of processed foods I focused on eating a variety of whole fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains and low fat/no fat dairy like greek yogurt. The one fault or problem I had with Weight Watchers is not knowing the amount of calories I was taking in. On the Weight Watchers plan fruits are 'free' meaning they don't count against the daily point allowance. For me that is bad news. I love food and if someone says I can eat as much of something as I want I will :-)  - especially fruit.  I cut back on my fruit intake to no more than 3 pieces of fresh fruit a day. I noticed a difference in not gaining weight and even losing weight but I was still in the dark with my total calorie intake (I'll be explaining the importance of calories in a moment). I tried maintaining two food journals. One for Weight Watchers and one with just basic calorie counting and it was too much for me to handle with being a busy mom, student etc...

While being on Weight Watchers I've trained for various events including a couple half marathons and a marathon along with just wanting to be physically fit. There were times when I felt almost week or tired and it was hard to tell if I was taking in enough or the right ratio of carbs, fat, protein and calories.  Of course I also was eating too many calories (fruit) at times and that slowly only adds more weight. Everything I've studied up to this point in my Health and Exercise Science program (something I'm working on slowly as I'm a busy mom!) all points to calories in vs. calories out. There are no short cuts, or fad diets when it comes to weight loss: Weight Watchers, South Beach, Paleo, Grapefruit diet etc... It all comes down to calories plain and simple. If  you can live on a diet that's strict vegan  or Paleo and it agrees with your body (you feel great) and lifestyle I say go for it! In the end it's all about the calories when it comes to weight loss (as science has proven). 

Who is Weight Watchers good for?
Everyone! I think Weight Watchers is good for anyone who's diet primarily consists of mostly highly processed foods (chips, candy, frozen pizza) and restaurant/fast food fair or someone who doesn't understand portions and has no interest in counting calories. Weight Watchers is simple and easy. I learned how to look at food in a new way (carbs, calories, fat, protein). Weight Watchers changed the way I look at food based on the points system. Food for me was looked at more from a fruit and vegetable stand point, lean meats and low fat dairy than ever before. Can you eat a cheeseburger for lunch? Yes as long as it fits in with your points. I guess being on Weight Watchers, losing 80lbs and starting this blog has led me down the path of studying Health and Exercise Science. Something I am very thankful for!

Some website features: Build your own recipe and much of the tools (points calculator, food database) on the website are also available through the phone application.

Some website cons: Navigation can be a bit confusing sometimes and there seems to be an overload of information everywhere on the website.

Who is Weight Watchers not good for?
I don't think Weight Watchers is good for someone who is a food addict that could go into a fruit binge (fruit is zero points on WW but not zero calories). In my opinion I think Weight Watchers can also be difficult for someone like me who was close to goal weight and exercising a lot. I found it really difficult to figure out just how much I should eat without gaining and still having enough food for my long runs or workouts (even with the activity points). I found this especially difficult when I was training for a marathon (anyone in training for an endurance event should not be trying to lose weight). I felt weak from not eating enough or I would eat too much and gain weight.

Who is Jillian Michael's plan good for?
Everyone! I think Jillian Michael's plan is good for anyone who wants to know the hard numbers of calories in vs. calories out. There is also a tally for how many carbs, protiens, fats, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar displayed next to your calorie total for the day. It's a great tool to see how much I'm eating within each category and if I need to eat more carbs or less protein (based on a persons setting of  balanced, slow or fast oxidizer). Another thing I like about her program is my daily calorie allowance is based on my BMR and is factored into the daily calorie allowance. In addition to calorie counting via an online journal and food database I have a daily workout designed for me. Jillian's workouts have three levels and each one is guaranteed to kick ones butt! What I like about the workouts is that there's both a written explanation and a video clip for how to do each exercise. If there is an exercise that's too difficult you can always do a modification or another exercise that targets that area (abs for example - these modifications are only an option from the website not the phone app as of 5/17/2013). For Jillian's workouts it's based on your own body weight with the use of a step, chair, hand weights, exercise ball, medicine ball and a mat (depending on the exercise or workout - no gym equipment required). I love having a workout schedule figured out for me and it includes a couple days off and a day to do what ever I want for cardio. For Jillian Michael's plan I think it's wonderful. It's a great place for me to start from where I left off on Weight Watchers.

Who is Jillian Michael's plan not good for?
That's a tough one. If you are interested in a weekly support group meeting, Jillian's plan may not be for you. She does offer support online via forums and additional coaching but for some people being in person with others is what they need (face to face contact).  I also envision someone who has never done a push up may need to hire a trainer for a while to be shown form on certain exercises to avoid injury. Jillian does a great job showing what not to do in her video clips however there is no replacement for having a person physically there observing you and helping you. I also think for a first time exerciser her workouts may feel a bit intimidating. However if you've seen the show The Biggest Loser and are ready to get really serious this is for you. Her program is no joke but you get results!

Some website features: Super easy and fast to navigate. Great display of calories consumed, calories left and calories burned during her workouts. Excellent modifications or recommendations for exercises (I've had to modify as I can't do some of the advanced exercises but I'm working on it ). Phone app has an excellent workout program including a video of Jillian demonstrating each exercise. If you can't find a food in the database you can create your own food. If you don't have the time to find an item in the food database you can always quick add the calories you consumed.

Some website cons: The modifications for each exercise can't be seen on the phone app like on the website. Haven't been able to yet figure out how to build my own recipes like on WW website. The food database isn't as big as WW but you will find all your whole foods on the list.

In conclusion......

Having said my opinions would I tell someone not to do one vs. the other?
Absolutely not! Everyone is an individual and needs to do what's right for them. What's a good fit for them may not be a good fit for someone else. Weight Watchers was a great fit for me and I lost 80lbs. Now what works the best for me now is Jillian's program. Something I can see myself sustaining for years to come. I've been on Jillian's plan for a little over a week and I've lost 2 lbs to date. I'm on my way to losing the weight I regained.

No matter what plan you choose the fact that you are making an effort and dedicating real time and effort to better health and fitness is a step in the right direction. Calories in vs. Calories out.


  1. Really good post ! just what i was looking for !

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Replies
    1. Can you do your own cardio without following her workouts?

    2. Why not do your own cardio? However it's up to you to gauge how many calories you are burning during your own cardio. I also would like to add that body weight cardio (walking) is great for bone health and the cardiovascular system. Biking and swimming are great exercises too but aren't weight bearing. That's something to consider based on your age, stage in life and your overall physical condition.


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