Losing weight takes hard work and commitment — but you’re kept motivated by the satisfaction of seeing the numbers on the scales get smaller and hearing compliments from friends.
However, keeping up your new lifestyle once you’ve achieved your goal is very different.
Instead of relying on praise from others, or the novelty of the changes you’ve made, you have to switch to an internal reward system. Your motivation must come from feeling more positive, energetic and happier with your life.
Losing weight takes hard work and commitment — but you’re kept motivated by the satisfaction of seeing the numbers on the scales get smaller and hearing compliments from friends
This week, we’ve already mentioned how the brilliant new WW Freestyle programme can help you achieve a healthier lifestyle and lose weight. Today, in the final part of our compelling wellness series, we look at how to maintain your weight loss and make the most of your hard-won new lifestyle, using proven strategies from the science of behaviour change.
‘It’s important to remember to carry on doing the things that helped you to be successful in the first place,’ says Zoe Griffiths, head of programme and public health at WW, formerly Weight Watchers.
‘An eating programme isn’t something you start and stop. Instead, look at this as the way you now live, and commit to making healthy, positive choices in food, and also in your outlook on life in the long term.’
One key way to keep up momentum is to get support from fellow members using the WW Connect social platform to join in discussions and share experiences.
‘Many of our members find this active private social platform a very powerful source of ongoing inspiration, along with following other members’ food and health tips on Instagram,’ says Zoe.
BEAT THE BISCUIT TIN
Planning meals in advance is also useful. We saw on Monday how it helps prevent ‘decision fatigue’, which can see you making poor-quality choices later in the day, such as reaching for the biscuit tin after an otherwise successful day on your WW programme.
Scientists believe this is because reserves of mental stamina become depleted as the day wears on, leaving us prone to making rash, short-term decisions — particularly if our blood glucose levels are low.
This is all the more reason to plan your WW meals in advance. Pack lunches first thing in the morning before you head out, to prevent moments of weakness later on. In today’s pullout, we share a selection of tasty WW recipes that can be assembled in minutes or prepared in advance to help you stick to your new healthy habits and achieve your weight loss goals, or keep unwanted pounds from creeping back on.
Moroccan meatballs with orzo pasta
These Moroccan meatballs with orzo pasta only have 10 SmartPoints per serving
10 SmartPoints per serving
● 300g turkey breast mince
● 200g 10 per cent fat pork mince
● 4½ tsp Moroccan seasoning
● Calorie-controlled cooking spray
● 40g dried apricots, chopped
● 500g passata
● 180g orzo pasta
● 20g mixed fresh herbs (such as flat-leaf parsley and mint)
● Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
● 50g toasted flaked almonds
Combine the turkey and pork in a large bowl with 2½ tsp of the Moroccan seasoning and a little salt and pepper. Use your hands to roll the mixture into 16 small balls.
Mist a large non-stick frying pan with cooking spray and set over a high heat. Fry the meatballs for 5 minutes, turning often, until browned all over — you may need to do this in batches. Transfer the meatballs to a plate.
Mist the pan with more cooking spray and cook the apricots and remaining Moroccan seasoning for 1 minute. Add the passata and bring to a boil. Return the meatballs to the pan, reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the orzo according to pack instructions. Drain, transfer to a bowl, season to taste, and stir through the fresh herbs and lemon zest. Stir the lemon juice into the meatball sauce. Serve with the orzo and the almonds scattered on top.
COOK’S TIP: Prepare the raw meatballs and freeze for up to one month, ensuring to fully defrost before cooking.
How WW freestyle works
The Freestyle programme from WW, formerly Weight Watchers, is based on three elements: healthy eating, fitness and mindset, together combining to guide you towards making long-term positive changes to your lifestyle.
On the WW Freestyle programme all food and drink has a designated SmartPoints value, one easy-to-use number calculated according to three key components:
● Calories establish the baseline for how many SmartPoints the food is worth.
● Saturated fat and sugar increase the SmartPoints value because too much of them is not good for your health.
● Protein lowers the SmartPoints value (the more protein in any food, the fewer its SmartPoints) as protein builds and repairs tissue and helps you feel fuller for longer.
As a general guide, don’t exceed a total of 23 SmartPoints a day, and you will lose weight (a healthy rate of weight loss is ½lb-2lb per week).
When you join WW Freestyle, you get a personalised SmartPoints Budget, calculated according to your age, height, weight and gender to ensure optimum health and steady weight loss. You will also get an extra weekly Budget to use on treats, bigger portions (when you’re really hungry) and nights out.
In addition, you can boost your SmartPoints budget by earning FitPoints for any activity you do.
What you get when you become a WW member
● SmartPoints: Science-backed and simple to use, the SmartPoints system — with more than 200 ZeroPoint foods — guides you to more nutritious eating.
● WW app: With a 4.8-star rating — scan barcodes for quick and simple tracking, meditate with Headspace, access on-demand audio workouts with Aaptiv, and track your wellness journey.
● Recipes: Thousands of quick and easy recipes using simple, nutritious ingredients with SmartPoints already calculated for you.
● Online Coach: Chat to an expert Online Coach for guidance and advice whenever you need it, 24/7.
● Connect: Social community support full of food and fitness inspiration and motivation from fellow WW members.
Slow-cooked pork and beans
9 SmartPoints per serving
● 1 tbsp olive oil
● 450g lean pork leg, fat trimmed, cut into 2cm cubes
● 1 large red onion, finely chopped
● 3 large celery sticks, finely chopped
● 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and finely chopped
● 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
● 2 tsp paprika
● 2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme, plus extra to serve
● 375g passata
● 250ml chicken stock, made with ½ stock cube
● 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
● 1 tsp light brown soft sugar
● 400g tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
The slow-cooked pork and beans has 9 Smart Points per serving
Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole over a medium-high heat. Cook the pork, in batches, for 3 to 4 minutes or until browned. Transfer to a heatproof bowl.
Preheat the oven to 160c/ 140c fan/gas 3.
Cook the onion, celery and fennel in the casserole for six minutes, stirring, until softened. Add the garlic, paprika and thyme, and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Stir in the passata, stock and vinegar and bring to a boil.
Return the pork to the casserole, then cover and cook in the oven for 1 hour.
Stir in the sugar and beans and cook for a further 30 minutes or until the pork is tender. Season to taste and serve garnished with the extra thyme leaves.
Beetroot and mackerel toastie
6 SmartPoints per serving
● 2 mackerel fillets
● 75g half-fat creme fraiche
● 1 tbsp capers in brine
● 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill, plus extra sprigs to garnish
● Grated zest and juice of ½ lemon
● 2 wholemeal sandwich thins
● 250g vacuum-packed cooked beetroot, cut into wedges
The beetroot and mackerel toastie has 6 SmartPoints per serving
Preheat the grill to medium-high. Lightly season the mackerel fillets and grill for 3 to 4 minutes until cooked through. Leave to cool slightly, then flake. In a bowl, combine the creme fraiche, capers, dill and lemon juice. Split and toast the thins. Top with the beetroot, mackerel and creme fraiche mixture. Serve garnished with a few sprigs of dill and the lemon zest.
Turkey-stuffed roasted squash
0 SmartPoints per serving
● 2 x 900g butternut squash,
halved and deseeded
● Calorie-controlled cooking spray
● 300g turkey breast mince
● 6 spring onions, sliced
● 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
● 1 tsp ground cumin
● 1 tbsp chipotle paste
● 400g tin chopped tomatoes
● 400g tin black beans, drained and rinsed
● Small handful fresh coriander, chopped, plus extra leaves, to serve
The turkey-stuffed roasted squash has ZERO SmartPoints per serving
Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan/gas 6. Put the butternut squash halves on a large baking tray, cut-side up. Roast for 45 minutes until tender. Meanwhile, mist a large non-stick frying pan with cooking spray and put over a medium-high heat.
Add the turkey mince and cook for 5 minutes, stirring to break up any lumps. Add the spring onions and garlic and cook for 3 minutes.
Stir in the cumin, chipotle paste, tomatoes and beans and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the coriander and season to taste. Spoon the turkey mix into the squash halves, and serve with coriander on top.
Leek and bacon risotto
9 SmartPoints per serving
● Calorie-controlled cooking spray
● 2 unsmoked bacon medallions, roughly chopped
● 1 leek, trimmed and sliced
● 55g risotto rice
● 350ml hot chicken stock, made with 1 stock cube
● 10g Parmesan, finely grated
● 1 tbsp snipped fresh chives, to serve
Leek and bacon risotto has 9 SmartPoints per serving
Mist a pan with cooking spray and set over a medium-high heat.
Cook the bacon for 4 to 5 minutes, until just golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Add the leek to the pan and cook, stirring, for 6 to 8 minutes until softened. Add the rice and cook for 1 minute. Add the stock, a ladleful at a time, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid before adding more. This should take approximately 15 minutes.
Once the rice is tender and all the stock has been absorbed, season well then stir through half the bacon and half the Parmesan. Serve topped with the remaining bacon and cheese and garnish with the chives.
Pesto fish parcels
0 SmartPoints per serving
● 2 tbsp reduced-fat
● 4 x 100g skinless, boneless cod fillets
● 200g cherry tomatoes, halved
● 2 courgettes, cut into 5mm slices
● 1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into 3cm chunks
● Small handful fresh basil leaves, to serve
● Lemon wedges, to serve
Pesto fish parcels have ZERO SmartPoints per serving and take 25 minutes to bake
Preheat the oven to 190c/170c fan/gas 5. Spread the pesto over the fish and season to taste. Put a 40cm x 30cm rectangle of kitchen foil on your work surface and top with an equal-sized rectangle of baking paper. Pile a quarter of all the vegetables on the paper, leaving a 3cm border at the edges. Season to taste, then top with a piece of fish.Bring the paper up and over the food and scrunch the sides together to seal.
Put the parcel on a baking tray, then repeat to make three more parcels. Bake for 25 minutes, then transfer the parcels to plates. Open them up and scatter over the basil and some freshly ground black pepper. Serve with the lemon wedges for squeezing over.
My big secret is planning ahead
Fiona Dawson, 48, who lives in Oxfordshire, lost almost 4 stone over the past two years
Fiona Dawson, 48, who lives near Faringdon, Oxfordshire, lost nearly 4st (52lb), going from 13st 13lb to 10st 3lb and has kept to her new healthy weight for nearly two years. She works part-time for a supermarket chain and is married to Neil, a parachute training instructor. She says:
We went on holiday to Turkey in October — and I took nine bikinis! I was so proud to wear them that I posted photographs on my social media. If you’d told me I’d be posing in a bikini in 2016, when I was a size 18, I would have laughed. Or cried.
Back then, I was super-stressed and horribly overweight. I loved my high-powered job in marketing, but struggled juggling all the responsibility. Every meal was snatched, and I was too exhausted to exercise.
So I took a part-time job and joined Weight Watchers (as WW was then called), losing 7lb each month.
My secret? I’m super-organised and keep track of my SmartPoints religiously. Each weekend I plan my meals for the week. I love the fact that nothing is off the menu, so I never feel deprived. If we eat out, I can still enjoy a pudding as I log my SmartPoints.
At home I cook a four-portion recipe — I serve myself one, Neil gets two and I freeze the last portion.
Exercise has helped: I run twice a week and do a weekly class.
I feel a different person. I’m relaxed with a confidence I never had before. Neil says it’s like having a new wife. I’m now a healthy-eating specialist at the supermarket where I work.
Howzat! I lost 6st in a year
Junaid Mumtaz, 47, lost 6st in 12 months, dropping from 17st 3lb to 11st 3lb
Junaid Mumtaz, 47, lost 6st in 12 months, dropping from 17st 3lb to 11st 3lb. He works in corporate finance, lives near Abingdon in Oxfordshire, and is the face of WW (formerly Weight Watchers) on TV and digital campaigns. He says:
Cricket is my great passion — which means a delicious cricket tea every weekend in the summer. It’s hardly surprising my waistline expanded.
I knew I had to take drastic action at the end of the 2017 season when the team captain told me he’d be dropping me from the first team.
I’ve tried different diets in the past (Atkins, 5:2, the Hollywood diet, juicing) and spent a fortune on personal trainers. My father died from a heart condition and my mother had heart failure, so I knew I had to take things seriously.
I joined WW online for £12 a month (compared with the £45 an hour I’d been paying my personal trainer).
When I signed up, I weighed 17st 3lb (109kg) and wore jeans with a 40in waist. Looking back at photos of me in my cricket whites, I’m amazed I could run at all!
After three weeks, it was clear I was shrinking. I exercised more, playing squash and going on long walks to earn extra FitPoints. I lost 2½ st quickly, but then plateaued. Then the weight fell again after I gave up drinking.
Tracking your SmartPoints really helps you keep control over your food. But for me this isn’t a diet — it’s a way of life.
I’m much more confident now — on the cricket pitch and at my new job. I’m often asked for health and fitness advice. I don’t want to revert to my old ways.
Last summer, I was again part of the first team, playing great cricket. But now I avoid the cricket tea and bring my own food!
How I lost 6st – even though I’m a chocoholic
Lindsay Pipe, 35, lost 6st four years ago, dropping from 15st 11lb to 9st 11lb and has kept the weight off ever since. She is single, works as an admin assistant, lives near Newmarket, Suffolk, and is now an ambassador and coach for WW (formerly Weight Watchers)
Lindsay Pipe, 35, lost 6st four years ago, dropping from 15st 11lb to 9st 11lb and has kept the weight off ever since. She is single, works as an admin assistant, lives near Newmarket, Suffolk, and is now an ambassador and coach for WW (formerly Weight Watchers). She says:
I’ve always been shy and self-conscious and hated seeing photos of myself. I was 16st and had been big all my life.
The final straw came in January 2011 when I was tagged in some office party photos that made me look so awful, I begged for them to be taken down. Two months later, I plucked up the courage to join Weight Watchers (as WW was then called).
I lost 4st in 15 months, but then I plateaued at 12st for a year, with my weight nudging up and down. My coach suggested I stop skipping breakfast. It seemed crazy to eat more food in the quest to lose weight. But it worked, and my weight fell again, allowing me to reach my goal a year later.
My biggest problem before was that my portion sizes were too big. Now I weigh everything and plan what I’m going to eat every day, and I do batch cooking (making four portions at a time, eating one and freezing the others).
I’m a massive chocoholic and I adore carbs, but WW Freestyle allows me to eat what I love.
Now I’ve lost weight my life has changed so much. I’m still shy, but WW is one subject that I am confident about. I’m now a coach and give three workshops a week, where members share experiences of healthy living.
My dress sense has completely changed. I used to live in leggings and big floaty tops; if I wore jeans, they’d be baggy ‘boyfriend’ style — and everything had to be black. But now I can walk into a shop and know I can slip into any size 10 trousers on the rack.
On holiday, I used to wear a big cover-up swimsuit, usually with a T-shirt over the top to hide my heavy legs. Last summer, I felt so fantastic in my bikini, I posted a picture on social media of me on the beach. These days I don’t think in terms of fat or thin but of how healthy I feel.
I’m planning to climb Machu Picchu in Peru with a friend in October. It’s an arduous four-day trek of nearly 50km, walking for six to eight hours a day, to reach an altitude of 2,430m above sea level. We’re hoping to raise £7,000 for mental health charity Mind.
I was out of breath walking upstairs before, so this is something I would never have contemplated in my old life.
- To see Lindsay’s WW meal plans and tips, follow her on Instagram: @linz_wwgoldmember
7 SmartPoints per serving
● 3 small red apples, 2 peeled and grated (about 170g), one left whole
● Calorie-controlled cooking spray
● 180g soft prunes, roughly chopped
● 2 tsp vanilla extract
● 3 tsp freshly grated ginger
● 6 large eggs, separated
● 250g self-raising flour
● 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
● Pinch of salt
● 280g date syrup
This sticky pudding has only 7 SmartPoints per serving and can feed 12 people
Preheat the oven to 140c/120c fan/gas 1 and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Halve and thinly slice the whole apple, then spread the slices out on the baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes or until crisp.
Increase the oven temperature to 180c/160c fan/gas 4.
Mist a 30cm x 20cm cake tin with cooking spray and line the base and sides with baking paper.
Put the prunes and the 2 grated apples in a pan with 450ml water and bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 5-6 minutes until softened.
Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly, then transfer to a blender, add the vanilla extract and ginger, and blitz to a smooth puree.
Transfer the prune mixture to a mixing bowl and stir in the egg yolks. Sift in the flour, add the bicarbonate of soda and the salt, then stir well to combine.
Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff peaks form, then gently fold into the pudding mixture, ensuring they are fully incorporated.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the pudding comes out clean.
Reserve 2 tablespoons of the date syrup, then put the rest in a small pan and warm over a low heat until runny.
Poke holes all over the pudding with a skewer, then drizzle the warmed syrup all over the top while still warm.
Remove from the tin and cut into 12 squares. Serve topped with the apple crisps and drizzled with the reserved date syrup.