What is the “Wendie Plan?”
First of all, let it be known that the Wendie Plan is NOT something different than good old Weight Watchers. Most of the people who regularly visit here are following the WW plan. However, this does not mean that the Wendie Plan can not be easily adapted for people who are using Richard Simmons, and/or counting calories. I suppose even people following a plan such as Atkins could adapt this to their program, however I do not recommend it. The reason is simple. I do not recommend the Atkins program or any other low/no-carb program like that. Why? Because it is not (or SHOULD not) be a lifestyle change, and because it is very dangerous to your health. I cannot advocate any program that would put your health at risk.
The Wendie Plan is very simple. You follow a simple plan of eating. You eat your regular foods that you have on WW. You work within your point range. You drink the water, get some exercise, etc., etc., etc. What is different? You alternate the amount of points you use each day. What could be more simple?
Let us assume for a moment that your point range falls between 22-29 points per day. (This is based on the original 123 plan, not the “Winning Points” plan) WW says that you can eat up to 29 points every day, and still lose weight. Do you? Maybe. Maybe not. Ever notice that on some days you aren’t very hungry and on other days you feel you could eat all the points in the universe? After doing extensive research, I have discovered several things that don’t always ring true.
At this point, if you are someone who has been doing the program and losing a steady 2+ pounds per week, you don’t have to read on any further. Your body is doing what it needs to for you to lose weight. If you are struggling to drop a pound, and no matter how hard you have tried the pounds won’t shake lose – read on – this is for you.
First of all, just because you eat within the points you have been assigned, drink all of your water, exercise at least 20 minutes every day, journal till the cows come home... does not mean that you will lose weight. I don’t mean to depress you, but it is the truth. We have countless people here, myself included, who can attest to this. They try really hard, but week after week they are struggling to even lose part of a pound. I see it all the time. So... what are they doing wrong?
Oddly enough, they are doing one tiny little thing wrong. It is one tiny, insignificant thing, but it is keeping them from losing weight faster and at a steady rate. The secret to The Wendie Plan is simple. Alternate your points daily. At the start of your week, alternate the number of points you eat daily. Your rhythm of your week should look like this: low/high/low/very high/very low/high/med. high.
For example. If your range allows you to eat between 22-29 points per day:
Day 1 - 22 points
Day 2 - 28 points
Day 3 - 23 points
Day 4 - 36-39 points
Day 5 - 22 points
Day 6 - 29 points
Day 7 - 27 points
On the WW plan, 22-29 points per day, you will eat between 154 points (low end) – 203 points (high end) during the course of the week. On the Wendie Plan, you will eat 190 points during the course of the week. Which falls towards the high end of the range, but not the highest. (Adjust the points to fit your current range).
We have already seen some amazing results using the Wendie Plan. I developed this plan out of sheer frustration. After being on WW for 17 months, and having lost no weight in the last 9 months of program, but being too stubborn to actually quit, I found myself pouring over 17 months of anally kept journals, trying to find the one key which would unlock my door to success. In the first 8 months I was successful. I lost 40 pounds. What happened then to impede my progress? I was still following the program in every way. I was doing everything right, but experiencing no weight loss. Why?
Why, indeed? The most interesting aspect of my journey came at the end of May, 2000. I weighed in on WW and had reached a 40 pound loss. I decided I was close enough to a 50 pound loss and I wanted to reach it by the 4th of July. That was a reachable goal. So I worked even harder. I dropped my points down to 25 per day, and began exercising more. Everyday I was outside walking through parks or in the fitness center hitting the treadmill. At the end of 5 weeks, I had a net gain of 1.2 pounds! Muscle? To some degree, yes. But, as I never began to look like Arnold Schwarztenager, I realized that something had gone terribly wrong. I had “shrunk “ a bit, which was to be expected, but still, at the end of 5 weeks, I was heavier. I continued. I worked out everyday, and kept my points down. This has got to work, right? Not necessarily. At the end of the next 5 weeks, I was down exactly 1.2 pounds. So my net loss for the 10 weeks after Memorial Day was zero!
I continued to work very hard, and by September, I had played around with the same 3 pounds all summer. Up, down, up, down – but never gone for good. In October, I celebrated 1 year of WW, by maintaining my 40 pound loss for four months! What was up with this?
I stopped attending WW meetings in October, because first, I was making no headway, and I became so depressed at Monday’s weigh-ins that it took until Tuesday afternoon to snap back out of it; and second, I did not get the support I needed through WW. They simply had no answers as to why I was not losing weight even though I was working the program very conscientiously. At the last couple of weigh-ins, when I was going up a pound each week, I got the general impression that my leader felt that I was not really working the program. At that point, I walked out for good.
I tried several things between Halloween and Christmas to shake some pounds loose, but to no avail. I then went back to WW the day after Christmas. It is interesting to note what happened. First, I didn’t start the program that first week. I weighed in on Tuesday, and then rather half-heartedly began the program on Friday. When I weighed in on Tuesday, I was down 3.5 pounds! I buckled down and worked very hard on program the next week. I measured everything, exercised, drank my water, and journaled every bite. The following Monday I weighed in and I had GAINED 2 pounds! What is up with that?
It didn’t take very long for me to see that going to WW was not going to help me. My body was being incredibly stubborn and was not going to let me lose this weight. Do you see a pattern forming here?
In addition to having 17 months of journals, I also have kept a spreadsheet of my weight losses. I began pouring over my journals and comparing what I did on certain weeks to the amount of weight I lost at the end of that particular week.
I made an astonishing discovery.
I have always been a moderate loser. Meaning, I usually lost about a pound a week. Other people may lose 3 pounds a week, but I usually lost a pound, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. But I was very consistent in losing. There were some weeks, however, when I did lose more than a pound per week. Interestingly, the weeks I had my biggest losses were weeks when I overate! The weeks were Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years! Christmas Day I ate 43 points! I lost 4.75 pounds that week! Upon further studies, I discovered something else. Every week that I overate one day, I had larger than average losses! How can that be?
It has long been thought that you have use 3500 calories less than you need in order to lose one pound. I simply don’t believe it. I know it is mathematical, and mathematics was never my strongest subject, but science has always been an area in which I have excelled. I believe that our bodies are far more complicated than a simple mathematical formula can describe. The body is like a fireplace. If you build a fire, at first it takes awhile to warm up. You add more fuel and it burns more efficiently. The more fuel you add to it, the hotter it burns. Add less fuel, and it begins to cool down.
Our bodies were built for survival. If you go on a “diet” the body can become uncomfortable. This is especially true if you take so much food away from it that it feels as if it is going to starve. There is a lot of talk about not eating too little – your body will go into “starvation mode” and you won’t lose any weight. Well, to a point, this is true. Your body will lose weight if you starve it, but it won’t want to, and it will take the weight from places you don’t necessarily want to lose it from. That is why some people who lose a lot of weight look “gaunt”, and is far more likely to hear comments like “Have you been sick?” as opposed to “You look good!”
Why does “The Wendie Plan” work?
Your body has this wonderful little thermostat inside of it. It regulates everything you do. If you feed it lots of food, it turns the thermostat up and burns it as efficiently as possible. This is why you have been able to eat as much fast food before WW and didn’t gain the amount of weight that you should have. Your body became more efficient and was able to burn off much of the excess amount of calories. Otherwise, with the amount of food we porked in pre-WW, we should have been gaining 2-3 pounds per day!
When you go on a “diet” where you dramatically decrease the amount of calories that you consume, your body thinks “Oh-oh, we’re going to starve to death here!” and immediately turns the thermostat down to conserve energy. After all, your body will do whatever it has to do to ensure that you stay alive. It doesn’t know that you don’t want to carry those extra pounds around. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to convince my body that I really do want to shed those extra pounds through talking to it.
That is where The Wendie Plan comes in. If I can’t get my body to shed the extra pounds by talking to it, then I have to trick it in to letting them go! The Wendie Plan is the trick.
If you are on WW, or even just counting calories, and you stick with a set amount of calories per day, such as 1400 or say, 27 points per day, your body will adjust to that. It will become extremely efficient at using just the amount of calories (energy) that you are giving it. You may lose fairly well at first, but after the first week or so, you will find that your losses may slow ... way... down, and even stop. Isn’t it nice to have such an energy efficient body? However, the body isn’t extremely fast. If you give it the same amount of food every day, it will adjust itself. But if you change the amount of food it gets every day, it doesn’t have time to adjust itself! Which means on that day that you eat 10 points over your highest, it tries to adjust by turning up your thermostat, but it is unable to turn it down for the low points the next day. What you are doing, in essence, is keeping your body guessing. It doesn’t have time to adjust the thermostat down, before it needs to turn it back up. What eventually happens is your body will never again feel as though it is going to starve to death, and it will never again try to shut down the thermostat, so you will continue to lose at a more rapid loss. This also means fewer plateaus.
Some people are aghast at the thought of actually eating 10 points over their maximum. I know, its the hardest part for me, too. Again, I just have to plan higher point meals for those days and make sure I actually follow through. If the huge point day isn’t done, then the body will not turn the thermostat up high enough. It is all a formula which has to be adhered to – high points, as well as low point days.
What about exercise points? What about them? I never use them. I just know that I don’t plan any big exercise on my low points days. If I am going on an 8 mile hike, I will probably do it on my high or super-high day, so that I can take advantage of the extra fuel to get me through the exercise. I think WW was using the activity points as a carrot to get people to exercise. More activity, more food. I don’t believe in that. Eat what your body needs. Exercise plays a good role in this plan, because exercising increases your metabolic rate. (Which turns up the thermostat even more!) So does increased muscle. Arrange your days on the days that you exercise. Or better yet, arrange your exercise around your high point days. My high point days usually fall mid-week. But why? It makes more sense to me to have my highest point day fall on Saturday. That is the most likely day that I will be doing an 8 mile hike. Fit this plan into your lifestyle.
My WW leader told us that it isn’t what you do for one meal that causes you to gain or lose – it’s what you do for 21 meals that makes a difference. What this is telling me is that I have 7 days, 21 meals, and 217 points to use. How I choose to use them over the course of a week is totally up to me. If I choose to have 42 points on Sunday and 24 points on Monday... I am still on program. Even better – I will probably lose some weight. Do not be afraid to have that one high point day. Just as you shouldn’t be afraid to have the low point ones. At the end of the week, you will have lost weight.