OK, so you can't get the WW Freestyle program for free forever, but we have tricks to help you out until you can afford it and what to do in the meantime.
Back in December 2017, one of the oldest, most successful weight loss programs around, Weight Watchers, made some big changes to their SmartPoints program.
For those of you who don't know, Weight Watchers uses a program called SmartPoints, which assigns each person a certain number of points that they are allowed to eat each day and still lose weight safely.
The number of points you are allowed depends on your personal details, such as how much you weigh, your height, activity level, and if you are breastfeeding or not.
Foods are assigned a certain number of points based on calories, sugar, saturated fat and protein. As you can imagine, foods such as an apple, would only have a point value of 1, whereas chocolate cake, 28.
There are no food restrictions, but similar to the way you need to budget money, you need to budget your points!
Pretty much the same way the SmartPoints system works, only better. Weight Watchers rolled out a list of more than 200 foods that contain zero points. Yes, you read that right, ZERO POINTS. That's like eating for free (so to speak).
Sounds great, doesn’t it? It IS great and people are losing tons of weight, even those stubborn last 10 pounds that never seem to go away!
So what's the problem?
IT ISN’T CHEAP.
Well, for most people, anyway. The entire program, including weigh-ins, weekly meetings, support groups, the scanner app, and calculator run about $45 a month. It's worth it for those who can afford it, but what do us poor girls do?
Teenagers in the 13-17 year old range can join WW for free for 6 weeks. While that isn’t everything, it certainly is a start.
For everyone else, let’s find some work-arounds until we can afford to pay for it.
Talk to HR
Your Human Resources department might offer discounts or free WW programs as an incentive because it will lower their insurance costs. It's worth asking about at least. Some companies offer in-house or local meetings for free, especially if several employees will sign up at one time.
Call Your Health Insurance Company
For the same reasons that HR will offer free or discounted programs, some health insurance companies will offer the same for WW. Some have rules, such as you need to lose X number of pounds or percentage of body weight to qualify, but it can't hurt to make a call and find out.
Check the WW Website for Deals
While there are no long term programs making WW free, the company often offers 6 week "trials" or deals such as reimbursement of fees if you lose a certain number of pounds in X number of weeks. This is especially true during peak times, such as right before the holidays, during New Years, and just before summer, when many people are inspired to lose weight.
The company offers a $20 special for those who only want to use their bar-code scanner and online tools. This means you can’t attend meetings or get support, other than what is available online.
We hear you! Sometimes, it can be a struggle just to pay the bills, let alone afford extras like WW. Here is a way you can get almost the same thing for free, however, by taking advantage of the WW trial periods.
Follow these steps;
If what you really want is to use the WW Freestyle program without joining Weight Watchers, there are a few ways you can work around this. They aren’t sponsored by Weight Watchers and might be slightly off, but these are extremely close to their program and should work almost the same.
1. Use THIS Calculator
While this isn't the official Weight Watchers calculator, it’s so close you shouldn’t notice a difference. This calculator will help you to figure out how many points you can eat, your points allowance.
2. Lists of Foods are Every Where if You Know Where to Look
One of the great things about WW is that there are really no forbidden foods. If you want to spend your entire day’s allotment of 23 points on a jelly donut, there is nothing stopping you! You’re going to be really hungry, however.
Every food and recipe has a point allotment. Very much like budgeting your money, you budget your points. Most people try to get as much food as possible with their available points. You can find tons of ideas and recipes online, such as:
Although many of these recipes work out exactly how many points per serving, you can use this Smartpoints Food Calculator here to figure out the points on foods or recipes that don’t have the Weight Watchers point count.
You can also find the full list of all 200 zero point foods here. Weight Watchers says that studies have shown that people eat only so much of these foods and no so much that it would interfere with losing weight, so they don’t have a limit as to how much you can have of the foods on the list of zero point foods. We can’t help but mention that these foods do still have calories, so you should watch the portion size.
One of the big reasons people are so successful on WW is the support community. WW is renowned for their social support program both from life coaches and user groups. Numerous studies indicate that social support is essential for maintaining physical and psychological health (1).
There are meetings where people often make friends, weigh-ins, and a tracking system that work in combination to help people feel accountable, as well as offering ideas and support when you fall on difficult times.
First, tracking your food and exercise is easy with the multitude of free mobile phone apps. You can use Carb Manager, My Fitness Pal, or HealthyWeightCalc.Com to find and track your food consumption and exercise habits.
You can join support groups online as well that are similar to Weight Watchers. However, a great motivator is to find a few friends who also share your diet and exercise goals. You can make a support group on Facebook or Messenger where you can talk to each other and share the meals you ate or do a weekly weigh-in.
You can also use friends to motivate you to exercise. It’s easy to brush off exercise if you aren’t accountable to anyone; however, if you make an appointment to meet someone at a park or the gym, you are much more likely to show up.
Michelle, Harold, and Chris are a good example of using friends as a support group. This trio lost 15 pounds, 23.4 pounds, and 19.4 pounds respectively by encouraging one another to drink more water, have weekly weigh-in contests, and offering support for one another. Read about their Weight Watchers story here.
You don’t need to join Weight Watchers to make your own support group on your own!
While WW doesn’t push exercise, everyone knows about its benefits. You don’t have to run a marathon to get the benefits, either! Some of the best exercise is completely free:
See if your local YMCA or YWCA has free or low cost aerobics classes. Your city might have a sports team or you could start one at work.
Weights cost only a few dollars or you can use bricks or bottles of water as a free alternative. Weight training just twice a week can really boost your metabolism and build muscle, which burns more calories than fat.
There are thousands of exercise videos online. Pick a new one everyday or every week so you don’t become bored.
We love darn near everything about WW except the cost! You can use these substitutes until you have the money to join, or just use them as is and set that money aside for more important things; like a new wardrobe for the new skinny you!