Over here in Ireland there was a huge amount of build up to the introduction of Smart Points. In a way I'm really glad they waited until January to introduce it. The few weeks before Christmas to me is not a good time to make such a big change. You need time to invest in learning everything and I know the few weeks before Christmas are always crazy for me. In saying that, with social media, it was hard not to see the post everywhere about Smart Points. And to be hone st there was a lot of negativity towards the program out there and when you don't know much about what you are reading, those are the posts that stand out.
Despite all the negativity I seemed to be seeing everywhere I was excited for the change. I have been struggling since I turned 30, hovering between 7 and 10 pounds above goal and I needed something to shake things up. Weight Watchers has always worked for me, and each time they shake things up it gets better so I had faith in the change and I was ready to get stuck in.
While I ended up not tracking at all over Christmas, I did do a lot of reading. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peak and I wanted to be prepared. The general idea is that we are now taking into account the sugar content of food. We've been hearing for a while now that sugar is really bad for you and Weight Watchers and finally taken this into account. Smart Points take into account 4 nutritional elements: The base value of an item is worked out by the amount of calories, then the amount of sugar and saturated fat in the item increases the smart points and the amount of protein reduces the smart points. So what you are left with for the most part is processed foods being higher in smart points, and fresh natural foods being lower. When I flicked through the books I went straight to the treats section (of course) and was shocked by how high some of my favourite treats now are (curly wurly is 6sp) but on closer inspection I could see the foods I eat on a day to day basis had mostly either stayed the same or gone down so it wasn't all bad.
The allowances are also more personalised. The minimum amount of daily smart points you can have is now 30, but the weeklies are now also calculated depending on things like age, weight and height. On propoints I know a lot of people found it was trial and error as to how many weeklies they could use up to lose weight, so its good this is reflected in the new program.
I love the fact that the program actively encourages me to each less sugar and treats. My treats had gotten out of control, having some sort of chocolate everyday, even if it meant eating less real food just so I had the points left at the end of the day. I've been trying to cut back all year but I always seem to slip back into the habit.
Also protein rich foods have almost halved in smart points. You can have a large chicken breast for just 2 smart point, and a cod fillet for just 1. Protein keeps you fuller for longer, and is great to eat post workout. I always felt like I had to limit my self a bit in my protein during the day to make sure I had enough points for dinner etc but now my lunches and breakfasts have been so filling they really keep me going.
Alcohol has roughly stayed the same which to me is amazing. While I am doing dry january I do enjoy a cheeky gin and tonic at the weekend, and Saturday night dinner with some red wine is usually a must. So knowing I can still work these easily into the program is wonderful.
Now for the negative, the food lists aren't as good as they were before. The main food list seems to be lacking and the layout of the shopping guide is a lot more difficult to navigate. The info is there, it just took me a bit longer to find it all. Also the eating out guide is lacking in my opinion. It no longer gives generic values for the different cuisines. This may be a good thing though as I think it was easy to fool yourself into taking those values as gospel instead of using a bit of common sense (we've all done it). I do think that the fact the books are published in the UK has a lot to do with this. Most of the members in the UK have access to the e-tools and the app which has a full database of foods and so its not as important for the books to be as exhaustive.
Blended fruit is now counted too. So now more free banana 'ice-cream' (edit: this has been confirmed that it is still free on SmartPoints) or pre run smoothies. Also I am a little unsure whether I need to count the mashed banana I put in my porridge, so I haven't been having it this week and will ask my leader next week to be sure. Now don't get me wrong I 100% agree that smoothies are FULL of sugar and its right we should be counting them, but it was nice that they were free for so long!
Food this week has been brilliant. I've really tried to up my protein this intake and started most mornings with eggs. All week before work I've had 2-3 eggs scrambled with a pile of sautéed vegetables and its been great. It does take a tiny bit more time but you could pre chop you veg in the evening to speed things up. My weekend breakfast were a little higher in smart points, using bagel slims and some low fat spread to go with my egg and salmon or a little home made salmon pate on toast with salad.
I was pretty organised on Sunday so managed to get myself lunch for the week made. I have been having puy lentil salad with chicken and weight watchers feta cheese for only 5 smart points. Its such a filling lunch and really tasty. I only made enough for 4 days though so am on soup tomorrow but a packed lunch is definitely the way forward!
Because I have been using so few smart points on breakfast and lunch, and I don't need to save any for treats I am finding I have around 16 smart points left for my dinner each day and its been fantastic. I've had some brilliant dinners this week and a couple of recipes to share in the next few weeks. The highlight this week I think was either the Transylvanian Meatballs from the Hairy Dieters or some amazing homemade falafel!
So all in all I am loving the change. I think I had become too complacent with propoints. I thought I knew it all. Going to back to properly checking everything before I eat it is really making me think a lot about what I am eating and making sure its accurate. I have been tracking everything that goes into my mouth and being very mindful to enjoy every mouthful. While I haven't been back out running in the New Year, my new Fitbit has meant I am pushing myself to get my 10,000 steps a day and have started going for a 30 minute walk at lunch time.
Now the proof will be in the weigh in results on Saturday. I have high hopes for a loss so fingers crossed!!