With summer approaching, I want to lose about 10 pounds. I decided to try Weight Watchers, because of its television commercials with Oprah Winfrey talking about the success of its new Freestyle plan.
Weight Watchers, now called WW, has a website and apps for iOS, Apple Watch, and Android. For this article, I used a Mac running the latest version of Mojave, an iPhone X running the latest version of iOS 12, and an Apple Watch Series 3 running the latest version of WatchOS 5.
WW considers itself a lifestyle program, rather than a diet. Every food has a SmartPoints value. On this program, each participant is given a certain amount to eat per day and extra points to use throughout the week. There are now over 200 ZeroPoints foods, and that certainly got my attention. You do not need to be a Weight Watchers subscriber to access this link.
WW encourages you to be active and has an extensive list of things to do. You will also have access to a group of audio workouts specifically for WW members created by Aaptiv. You do not need to go to the gym to find an activity.
The WW iOS app makes it easier to keep track of your food intake, physical activity, and weight. Although this can be done on its website, for me, the app is more convenient. There is a watchOS app, but you must have the iOS app installed first.
WW has an accessibility link on its homepage that takes you to information about using various screen readers. For example, it explains how to set tab navigation in Safari.
The homepage also contains a Contact Us link and provides answers to frequently asked questions. There is also a search form for your query. Results display below the search form. WW also has live help that can be reached at 800-651-6000.
Once you have decided to join Weight Watchers, you will choose one of three available plans. Each plan has different features and pricing. I chose the digital plan, where in-person workshops are not included, and you do everything online and on the honor system. (Workshops were formerly called meetings.) The digital plan costs less, but you must be honest with yourself! If you choose one of the other plans, you go to workshops where you will hear presentations, participate in discussions, and get your weight checked privately. If you need a talking scale, they are available through Amazon and other retailers.
You will need to create an account before having access to WW materials. You can sign up through the website or iOS app. If you chose to sign up on the iOS app, WW will be a subscription through your device. You will not have to enter billing information. The app is more accessible than the website.
If you are more comfortable using your computer rather than an app, go to the WW website to select the plan you want.
On the website, although all edit boxes are labeled, I needed to make sure I was in the edit box and not on the label. In addition, if I did not finish typing in a very brief time in each box, I received an error message.
On the form, there were several check boxes. With the VoiceOver rotor set to forms, not all the check boxes could be found. I had to go line-by-line to find some of them.
Once you complete the registration process, you will receive a welcome e-mail and a receipt for your membership. If you have checked the box for receiving WW e-mails, you will receive useful information about the program. E-mail topics include the importance of tracking activity and weight and the list of ZeroPoints foods. The Welcome e-mail suggested that I download the app.
The WW website contains a great deal of information, including articles, recipes, and your stats. The website and app automatically sync. The best way to navigate the website is by links.
Using the WW App
The WW iOS app is free and available for iPhone and iPad. Once the iOS app is on your device, you can download the app for the Apple Watch. Install the Apple Watch app by going to the Watch app on your iPhone or iPad. In the My Watch tab, locate the WW app and select the Install button. Open the WW app on your iPhone or iPad. Both the iOS and watchOS app are discussed in this article.
The easiest way to track your weight, food, and activity is through the WW iOS app. The app is accessible and you can dictate your search queries into the appropriate edit boxes. You can use the website, but you are probably more likely to have your device with you throughout the day.
VoiceOver names the app “WW Mobile” when it is on your device. When you open the app for the first time, you will be asked several questions including your weight and weight goal. Based on the answers to these questions, you will receive a daily Points number and a weekly Points number. These can be used throughout the week.
The WW app has five Tabs at the bottom of the screen: My Day, Journey, Add, Connect, and Coach. When selecting the Add tab, VoiceOver will say, “Tab.” The actual marker for that tab is a plus sign. Many features including your list of favorite foods and an extensive list of activities are found within this tab.
This is the app’s home screen. At the top left corner is an unlabeled button. Activating the button loads a new screen with notifications. The Close button is in the upper left. At the upper right of the screen is a Profile button. In this section, you can set up Siri Short Cuts, create posts, and change settings. The Back button is in the upper left.
If you are swiping right on the screen, VoiceOver will ignore the Notifications and Profile buttons. The first option you will hear is called Food. By default, this is selected. The second button is Activity and the third button is Profile. Next is a search box for searching foods or activities. After the search box is a button for a barcode scanner.
Next is a weekly calendar with the current date highlighted. The first day is your weigh-in day. The calendar and weigh-in day can be changed in the settings section of your profile. Swiping up or down on the calendar will let you check what you ate on a specific date.
Below the calendar are the number of Weekly Points remaining and the number of Daily Points remaining.
Next are foods that you ate for meals and snacks and how many points were used.
Below the tracking portion of the home screen are recipes, articles, meditation activities from Headspace, workout routines from Aaptiv, social media posts, restaurant information, and more.
Searching for Foods
You can either type or dictate your query into the edit box near the top of the screen. A Search button is in the lower right corner. Once the Search button is activated, a list of foods matching your criteria will be displayed. Each result has the name, serving size, and number of points. There is a See More button at the bottom of the list. If activated, more results are displayed. Under the results are WW recipes that are related to your search.
Once a food is selected, a new screen will present an option to add that food to your Favorites. This is a quick way to keep track of foods you eat regularly. The next item on the screen is serving size. You can modify the serving size and unit by double tapping on the serving. Pickers will be available to choose serving size and unit of measure.
Below this is the option to track your food. There are four options: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks. Select the appropriate button and then swipe down to the Track Food button. If you are just checking the points value of a food, once you find your result, activate the Done button in the upper right corner. Under the Track Food button is a form to add a food. There are several edit fields that need to be completed including calories and sugar. Once the form is complete, WW will give you its point value.
Below the tracking portion of the home screen are recipes, articles, meditation activities from Headspace, workout routines from Aaptiv, social media posts and more.
If you select the Activity button, type or dictate your search term into the edit box, and select the Search button. When you find your result, select it and a new screen will load. There is an edit box where you enter the number of minutes you participated in the activity. The app will then tell you how many FitPoints are earned for that activity. You can set a weekly FitPoints goal. You can also use FitPoints as SmartPoints for food. In your profile, go to settings and select Swap. In Swap, there are three options for deciding what to do with your FitPoints.
When I was tracking my activity, an article was displayed on my screen explaining how I could sync my fitness tracker with WW. Potential trackers include Apple Watch and FitBit. For instructions, go to Profile > Settings > Activity Settings and select the Device button. When navigating in the Settings section of your profile, you may need to slide your finger on the screen instead of flicking right.
Once synced, information from your device will appear in the WW app's Activity section.
This is the tab for tracking your progress. WW sends messages and advice.
The heading for this screen is Track. This tab provides convenient ways to keep track of your food, activity, and weight. Some of these features also appear on the Home screen.
There is a search box at the top of the screen that is used for tracking food. The Barcode Scanner follows this. Next is the Favorites button. All foods that you have saved to your Favorites will be here. Favorites provide a quick way to track items that you eat frequently.
The next option is My Food. This is where you can create a recipe, food, or meal. The app walks you through this process. For example, if there is a food combination you eat frequently, you can create a name and number of points for the meal. This makes it easier to track because you do not have to enter each ingredient or food separately.
Activity is the next option. There is a search box at the top of the screen and an extensive list of activities. Not all are standard exercise activities. There are 296 listings including playing with animals, housework, and gardening. Select an activity and a time edit box will appear.
The next option is Track Weight. Enter your weight in the edit box. There is also an edit box for writing notes.
Quick Add is the next option. There are edit boxes for the food’s name and points value. Then select the meal or snack and then activate the track button. I have found this useful if I consume half a serving.
The final option is the Calculator. Enter information about the food including calories, saturated fat, and sugar. The result is near the top of the page.
This is the tab for WW’s social media and where you can create a post. The Groups option displays an extensive list of WW groups. There is a Trending section and more.
This tab lets you chat with a WW coach. Below that is a Get Help link that loads a screen with Frequently Asked Questions.
Apple Watch App
Periodically you will be asked to log into the iOS app to use the Watch version. The home screen has your remaining daily and weekly points along with how many FitPoints you have earned. Double tapping on the screen brings up options to view recent foods and favorites and options to search for foods or activities.
Once you have made your selection, lists are displayed for recently added foods or favorites. If you have searched for food or activities, results are displayed. Either way, once you have made your food or activity selection, a new screen loads where you are given the option to track a food or activity. I was not able to choose whether I wanted to add the food to a meal or snack. The app assumed where I wanted to put it.
The Bottom Line
The WW website contains a lot of useful information. The registration process was not as easy as it should be. Although it was accessible, it needs improvement. The app works well and is very accessible. The Apple Watch app is good for checking how many points are available. I prefer the iOS app. It is nice to see that WW has specific information about accessibility. Overall, WW has done a very good job.
This article is made possible in part by generous funding from the James H. and Alice Teubert Charitable Trust, Huntington, West Virginia.
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