Friday, March 12, 2010

Frugal Friday: Weight Loss Doesn't Have to Be Expensive

Weight loss can be perceived as expensive... membership fees for different programs, gym memberships, and last but certainly not least, expensive "special" foods.  It's easy to get sucked in and drop a ton of cash.  And I'm guilty of all of the above, but I try to keep it reasonable.  I'm going to start a Friday post series with ideas for cutting expenses, not only involving weight loss but also peripheral issues.  For example, I'm cooking alot more instead of eating carryout, and it's amazing how making one meal can dirty up the entire kitchen.  Which leads me to frugal cleaning products.  Still with me?

Today I want to talk about my weight loss plan.  If you're a regular reader you know I'm a Weight Watchers member.  On WW you count points instead of calories or carbs or fat.  You don't need to buy special WW food.  The program is designed to work with real foods that you purchase at the grocery store, so you don't have the expense of some programs where you have to buy their products.  Each food has a point value, and when you join you are given a slide rule to help you figure it out.  Just look at the nutritional ingredients on a package, use your slide rule, and you have the points.  It's about one point for 50 calories, more points for higher fat content, fewer points for higher fiber content.  I'm a creature of habit and eat alot of the same things all the time, so once I've figured out the point value of a meal I'm good for a while.  They also provide a little booklet of foods and their point values when you join, and you can purchase more comprehensive booklets at your meeting site.  I bought a point calculator at my meeting site.  It looks alot like a regular calculator, and I keep it in my purse.  It's really handy for when I'm at the store and looking at something new.  I just punch in the nutritional numbers and it tells me the point value of a serving.  I think it was about $15 and totally worth it.

WW also encourages healthy food choices and activity.  It's a sensible plan and the price is sensible as well.  There are weekly meetings where you weigh-in, then attend a 30 minute group with your fellow WW members and a WW leader.  Each week there is a different discussion topic like incorporating new healthy foods into your daily diet, or how to handle setbacks.  I always come out of my meeting pumped up and ready to hit the next week with a vengeance!

WW is pretty reasonable as far as weight loss programs go.  You can pay for your weekly meeting each week, which is $12 or $13.  You can join just online, skipping the meeting component and accessing the resources and online community for $12.95 a month, I think.  Or you can pay $39.99 per month and have both the online tools, and be able to go to as many meetings as you want in a month.  I found the $39.99 to be the best deal; it comes out to $10 or less a week for meetings and I have the option of going to extra meetings if I'm struggling.  And I can use the online tools, as well.  To be honest, since I am active in the weight-loss blogging community I don't go to the online WW community very much.  But I do occasionally use the online resources, such as look for recipe ideas or find the point value of a food or activity.  And even if I never used the online tools, it's still a better deal than paying per meeting.

Alot of the WW information can be found online on sites you do not have to pay to join.  I chose to join and go to meetings because the in-person accountability and support helps me succeed.  But if you want to, you can work the WW program totally cost-free.  Dotti's Weight Loss Zone has oodles and oodles of lists of foods and their point allowances, including restaurant foods, and a fabulous online community.  Her website has recipes also, and if you do a search on WW recipes you will find tons of websites devoted to them.  It can be done without the expense of the program membership, and if you can do it without the meetings, it's a good option.

You don't need to spend a boatload of cash to find the support and resources you need to lose weight.  For me, WW is the most Liz-Friendly program I've looked into, both in the pocketbook and in the support they provide.  What about you?  Have you shopped around and found a reasonable support program for losing weight?  Or are you going it alone, without the expense of a program, and doing just fine?


Cammy said...

Ooh, I'm looking forward to this series!

I chose my own food plan (mainly: eating more nutritious foods), but I did spend money on a personal trainer and a gym membership. And cute workout pants. :)

karen@fitnessjourney said...

Glad that you found a program that works for you and your budget. I'm a big reader and tend to read anything I can get my hands on that is related to nutrition and fitness. With the internet and the public library I don't spend any money educating myself. Also, another great resource-other people. If I meet someone who seems to have a really healthy approach, I ask lots of questions. Often successful people have been my best resource for helpful information.

JourneyBeyondSurvival said...

I'm glad you feel so confident about your choice. It sounds like it's been perfect for you so far. I've done this before and I lived a very healthy life for five years before my most recent demise. I think this time the blog diet and support that follows has been key. In addition to the healthy lifestyle choices I knew from before.

Agnes said...

Yes, weight loss can be perceived as expensive -- but you can't put a price tag on your health. So it's totally worth it.

liz said...

thanks for the comments! i think the post kind of reads more as a commercial for ww and why i chose it rather than as presenting an inexpensive program choice.
i'm envious of those of you who can go this alone.
@cammy, cute workout pants are the best!
@karen, i like the 'other people' resource, too.
@journey, i understand about having achieved the healthy state and maintaining it long enough to beat the odds, and then regaining the weight. my situation regarding the regain was different that yours and i'm so sorry for what you have gone through; i would not compare my situation in that aspect to yours. but i do feel the frustration of having been successful in achieving and maintaining the fitness and weight loss, then derailing and having to start from square one. seven years! can i just say that?! seven years fit and healthy! down the drain. sigh.
@agnes, you are so right, health is priceless.