The Four Pillars: Behavior

How two key skills -- self-monitoring and cognitive skills -- help you make changes that last.
The Four Pillars Behavior
There are two important pieces to self-monitoring — having a way to maintain awareness about what is being done and including a method to assess weight-loss progress. The Weight Watchers approach includes both.

Self monitoring eating behavior is a critical component of the PointsPlus system. Because the food plan requires tracking PointsPlus values to reach the daily PointsPlus Target, the Weight Watchers Tracker was developed and is included in the program materials provided as part of each weekly meeting. This Tracker includes a flexible, easy-to-use log where the specific food choices can be recorded and, if desired, a simple check-off method to identify the Weight Watchers Power Foods as they are used is also provided. Similarly, subscribers to or members using Etools can maintain an online log and use the Plan Manager to search and record the PointsPlus values for specific foods.

Weight and accountability
Fundamental to the Weight Watchers meeting experience is a weekly weigh-in to track members' progress. The weigh-in is confidential and done by a trained Weight Watchers staff member. Weight information is never shared outside the weigh-in. Many people find the accountability of being weighed by another person helpful to their weight-loss efforts and the structure of going to a Weight Watchers meeting each week is a way to keep commitment strong. Online subscribers or members with Etools can chart their progress online with the Weight Tracker feature, which delivers a visual representation of their weight-loss progress and milestones.

Weight Watchers recommends that weight be taken only once a week during the weight-loss process, preferably in a consistent way (time of day, day of week, etc.) to avoid putting too much emphasis on the erratic scale as a measure of progress.

Regular weighing is also a key factor in sustained weight loss. Weight Watchers has a unique system to encourage this behavior for people who have reached their weight goal by attending weekly meetings. Weight Watchers meetings members who reach a healthy body weight (defined as a Body Mass Index between 20 and 25 or a weight goal prescribed by a qualified health professional) and successfully complete the six-week weight maintenance phase of the program become a Lifetime Member (LTM) of Weight Watchers.

People who are LTMs are asked to weigh in once a month at a Weight Watchers meeting. When the LTM weighs in within two pounds of his or her goal weight, he or she can attend Weight Watchers meetings anywhere in the world at no cost for that month. This unique system allows Weight Watchers to provide to its members two of the elements that are predictive of sustained weight loss in the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, including monitoring weight and continued contact with those who were part of the weight-loss process.

In addition to monitoring, a series of specific techniques are taught that enhance cognitive behavior or thinking skills. Called the Healthy Habits and the Weight Watchers Tools for Living, these techniques are proven strategies that restructure internal thought processes in a way that enhances the ability to make long-term positive changes. The techniques enable a person to interact and thrive in the weight-challenging situations and social interactions that make up daily life.