Weight Watchers Flex
The Belfast Telegraph has teamed up with Weight Watchers to help our readers kick-start the new year on a path of health, happiness and weight loss.
This handy guide will walk you through starting the Weight Watcher Flex program, its recipes and an insight into the success that has been achieved by following this plan.
What is the Weight Watchers flex plan?
Our new program is so flexible and makes deciding what to eat easy. It encourages you to enjoy food with freedom, find what moves you physically and gives you the skills to
shift your mindset. You have a personalised SmartPoints® budget and it's up to you what to spend it on.
By building your meals around delicious, satisfying zero Points® foods and making the most of rollovers, you'll never have to worry about running out of ideas or going hungry.
We've kept what works
The SmartPoints system still works thesame—as long as you have the SmartPoints to spend, you can eat what you like.
We've greatly expanded the list of zero SmartPoints foods, including ones you wouldn’t expect like chicken, fish, eggs,
corn, beans, and more.
You can also use fewer SmartPoints one day and roll over up to four unused SmartPoints into your bank of weeklies for a day when you need them.
When it comes to eating, Mondays are usually pretty different from Saturdays. Rollovers give you the flexibility to use fewer SmartPoints one day and roll over up to four points into your weekly allowance for a day when you need them.
Let's get started!
First to breakfast and three delicious recipes to boost your energy until lunch time.
Egg and ‘Bacon’ Roll
What’s not to like about egg and bacon? This version comes with a twist!
15 minutes in total
4 SmartPoints per serving/recipe
• 1 egg
• 2 turkey rashers
• 1 tomato, quartered, de-seeded and diced
• 1 teaspoon snipped fresh chives
• 1 wholemeal roll
• 1 teaspoon extra light mayonnaise
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the grill to a medium-high. Put the egg in a small saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down slightly and cook over a gentle boil for 8 minutes until hard boiled. Drain and cool under cold running water. Peel the egg and roughly chop into a bowl.
Meanwhile, cook the turkey rashers under the grill for 1 ½ minutes on each side. Leave to cool and cut in half crossways.
Add the tomato and most of the chives to the bowl with the egg and mix them together. Season with salt and pepper.
Split the roll in half and spread with the mayonnaise. Top with the turkey rashers and the egg mixture. Sprinkle with a few extra chives. Top with the second half of the roll, wrap in cling film and chill until ready to serve.
Feeling fancy? Try something a little different with these savoury crumpets.
15 minutes in total
5 SmartPoints per serving/recipe
• 8 lean smoked bacon medallions
• 250g cherry tomatoes
• ½ teaspoon olive oil
• a pinch of sea salt
• a handful of basil leaves
• 4 crumpets
1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5/190°c/fan oven 170°c. Sandwich the bacon medallions between two baking sheets to keep them flat and cook on the top shelf of the oven for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the tomatoes on a baking tray, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle the sea salt. When the bacon medallions have been cooking for 5 minutes, put the tomatoes and a few of the basil leaves in the oven for 10 minutes to roast. Toast the crumpets.
Drain the bacon medallions on kitchen paper, tear in pieces and roughly crush the tomatoes. Serve the toasted crumpets with the tomatoes and bacon pieces on top, garnished with the rest of the basil leaves.
Nothing quite beats the appeal of an all-day breakfast. Here’s how to enjoy it Weight Watchers style – without blowing your SmartPoints budget.
25 minutes cook time
5 SmartPoints per serving
• 300g (10oz) mushroom, sliced
• 150ml (5fl oz) vegetable stock
• 420g can reduced-sugar and salt baked beans
• 4 rashers lean back bacon
• 4 tomatoes, halved
• Calorie controlled cooking spray
• 4 eggs
• Freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the grill. Put the mushrooms and stock into a large saucepan. Bring up to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Put the beans into a saucepan and heat gently, stirring occasionally.
Arrange the bacon rashers on the grill rack with the tomatoes. Cook for 4-5 minutes, turning once, until crispy.
Meanwhile, spray a large non-stick frying pan with the cooking spray. Carefully break in the eggs and cook over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes to set them.
Share the bacon, beans, mushrooms and tomatoes between 4 warm plates. While doing this, put the eggs under the grill for a few moments to set the surface. Serve seasoned with black pepper.
The Lovely Lorna on her 3-stone weight loss
I lost four stone after my first pregnancy, but then got pregnant again and put three stone back on. My two sons are grown up now. I had joined slimming clubs before, but nothing lasted. I never stuck to it. Then in autumn 2016, I was looking at old holiday photos and decided that it had to
It had been a stressful year with a lot of health issues for me and my husband, and so all I wanted to do was comfort eat. It got to the point where I was sick of being fat and I felt that life had to be better than being fed up and overweight. Imanaged to lose 12 pounds on my own, but then I was stuck, which made me realise I needed more help.
In 2004 I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and my world
came crashing down. I had a dream job working for fashion
brand make-up houses, but after my diagnosis, they told me
they couldn’t keep my job open for me, so my weight started to creep up. Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease that can cause muscle pain and fatigue. I find that I’m often in a lot of pain, and there are some days where I can literally do nothing.
I found the yoga really helped my health as I could
work at my own pace. I then discovered that there
was a Weight Watchers class in the very same
room, before my yoga class, took place, so I made
up my mind to join.
Wednesday became my day of ‘me’, no matter
what. I do my Weight Watchers class in the
morning, then do some shopping, then go for a
swim and then go to yoga. Some days I’m too tired
to fit it all in, so I may have to skip yoga or
swimming, but I never miss my Weight Watchers
The Eating Plan
I used to maybe have only one meal a day, but I was eating all the wrong things. Now I eat three meals a day and I keep an eye on my portion sizes. I’ve also cut down on chocolate, but I still have occasional treats. I learned so much from my Weight Watchers class; it’s all about educating yourself as to what are the best things to eat for good health. Sally-Ann is a great leader, and I get so much encouragement from her and the other people in the class.
Since reaching goal I have dropped from a size 16
to a size 8! So far, I have taken 23 bags of clothes
to the charity store. It’s a nice feeling to be able to
walk into a shop, pick something out and know that
it will fit. Even though I’m still in pain, my energy
levels have increased slightly.
• Always stick to going to class, even after you reach your goal. I found the weeks that I missed class were usually the
weeks that I slipped up.
• If you fall, don’t wait until next week, start again
at your next meal time.
• Small changes make big differences!
Get creative and vary the fresh herbs according to what you have available. Serve with a generous salad of lambs lettuce, cucumber, celery, pepper and tomatoes.
45 minutes in total
4 SmartPoints per serving15 SmartPoints values per recipe
400g (14 oz) small waxy potatoes, scrubbed and sliced thickly
Calorie controlled cooking spray
1 courgette, sliced
2 onions, halved and sliced thinly
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
6 eggs, beaten
25g (1 oz) pepperdew peppers from a jar
4 tablespoons QuarkSalt
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Put the potatoes in a lidded ovenproof frying pan with the base measuring 20cm (8-inch) and cover with 150ml(5 fl oz) water. Bring to the boil, then cover and cook on a low heat for 10-15minutes until the potatoes are tender. Drain the potatoes in a colander and let the excess water evaporate. Put into a large bowl
Wipe the pan clean and spray with the cooking spray. Cook the courgette and onions, covered, for 10 minutes until tender and starting to brown, stirring occasionally. Then transfer to the bowl with the potatoes.
Preheat the grill to high. Add the parsley, basil and beaten eggs to the bowl with the potatoes and toss to coat. Season. Spray the frying pan again and gently heat on the hob. Carefully tip the potato mixture into the pan, flattening it with a spatula. Sprinkle over the peppers, top with Quark, and cook gently for 4-5 minutes.
- Grill the frittata gently for4-8 minutes until golden and serve. (It should be a little wet in the middle if you are eating it hot. It will firm up if you are eating it cold.)
A nutritious risotto with a slight twist offers a delicious lunch for up to four. Packed full of barley and vegetable goodness this recipe is sure to delight.
40 minutes in total
7 Smart Points per serving/recipe
• 250g asparagus, trimmed
• Calorie controlled cooking spray
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
• ½ tsp fennel seeds
• 1 garlic clove, crushed
• 225g pearl barley
• 1.25 litres hot vegetable stock, made with
• 2 stock cubes
• Zest and juice of 1 lemon
• Handful fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1. Slice the asparagus spears diagonally, keeping the tips whole. Set aside.
Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and mist with cooking spray. Add the onion, celery and fennel seeds and cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables soften. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
Stir in the barley and cook for about 2 minutes, until the grains are toasted. Reduce the heat to low and pour in 1 litre of the stock, in batches, stirring after each addition and making sure the liquid has been absorbed before adding more. This will take around 20 minutes.
Add the asparagus with the remaining 250ml of stock and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the barley is tender.
Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, plus most of the zest and mint. Season to taste. Garnish with the remaining zest and mint to serve.
Goat's Cheese Tart
Cheese and pastry, what's not to love? Fall in love with this delicious healthy recipe with the perfect blend of sweet onions and crisp pastry.
20 minutes prep time
25 minutes cook time
2 SmartPoints per serving
• Calorie controlled cooking spray
• 2 red onions, sliced
• 1 tsp light brown soft sugar
• 4 sheets filo pastry
• 50g goats’ cheese, torn into 8 equal pieces
• 8 sprigs fresh thyme
• Pinch black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C, fan 170°C, gas mark 5. Mist a large nonstick frying pan with cooking spray and cook the onions over a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
2. Add the sugar to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for a further 5-8 minutes, or until the onions begin to turn a rich golden-brown colour. Set aside to cool.
3. Meanwhile, cut each filo sheet into quarters to make 16 x 10cm squares. Mist each square with cooking spray then layer
two squares into each hole of a nonstick 8-hole muffin tin or individual loose-bottomed tart tins.
4. Bake for 5-6 minutes, until the pastry is almost cooked. Remove from the oven and spoon the onions and goats’ cheese evenly between the tart cases.
5. Top each tart with a thyme sprig and return to the oven for further 3-4 minutes, until the cheese is just starting to melt.
6. Season the tarts with black pepper and serve as a starter.
Sort out your inventory
Set aside time to sort your store cupboard and update your shopping list so that you are ready to embrace FLEX!
With Christmas and the New Year festivities just over your routine might need a review. So, how should you prepare? First, take stock of your store cupboard and top up with healthy options.
Out with the old
Clear out products which have expired. If
there are any unopened foods which are
in date, but don’t work as part of your
healthy - eating plan, consider donating
them to a local food bank.
Restock and refresh
These stay on track essentials will help you
prepare healthier, tastier, home cooked
- Vinegar: A splash of vinegar can balance out the flavour of salad dressings or sauces. Try using balsamic, cider red wine, white wine, or rice wine varieties.
- Spices: Add punchy flavour to your casseroles, traybakes and roasted veggies without extra SmartPoints.
- Tinned tomatoes: They’re a zero to hero base for stews, soups pasta and curry.
- Plant-based proteins: Like beans, (kidney, brolotti, black eye etc.) peas, sweetcorn, chickpeas, lentils. These zero
heroes are handy time-saving ways to bulk up a meal.
- Shop Smart: The easiest way to keep food shopping on track? Meal Planning. Make your plan, then create a shopping
list and stick to it.
How to keep moving
Short days and icy evenings can affect your
motivation to keep up a fitness routine,
especially if you usually get active outdoors,
such as running, walking, or cycling. But cold
weather doesn’t have to mean an end to your
Try something new: such as a high energy
or Strictly inspired dance class. The added
bonus is that as well as earning Fit Points
you’ll have a chance to meet new people.
The more you enjoy it the more likely you are
to turn it into a healthy habit.
Go local and check your area’s newspapers:
bulletin boards or Facebook pages for winter
activities or exercise groups.
Take the outdoors in: If you enjoy running,
try using the treadmill at the gym. If you are
keen on cycling sign up for a spin class.
Kit yourself out with the right gear: If
keeping up an outdoor routine, go for a light
waterproof jacket and shoes with good grip to
handle wet or icy conditions.
Whether you’re training for a race, starting a new activity or simply want to move more, you can count your FitPoints and track your progress using the Weight Watchers app.
It's a simple as that, now all you need to do is start moving!
This mild and creamy homemade chicken curry will keep you away from the takeaways!
SmartPoints™ value: 6 per serving
Prep Time: 20
Cooking Time: 30
Level of Difficulty: Easy
2 teaspoons Vegetable Oil
1 large Onion(s), thinly sliced
2 clove(s) Garlic, crushed
500 g Chicken breast, skinless, raw, boneless, cut into chunks
1 teaspoons Curry Powder, mild
1 teaspoons Coriander, Dried
1 cube(s) Vegetable stock cube(s)
25 g Desiccated Coconut
25 g Almonds, ground
25 g Sultanas
150 g 0% fat natural Greek yoghurt
1 portion(s) Banana(s), sliced
1 pinch Salt, black pepper, freshly ground
15 g Almonds, flaked
3 sprig(s) Coriander, fresh, to serve
1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes over a low heat. They should be soft and just lightly browned.
Add the chicken chunks and cook for another few minutes to seal them on the outside. Stir in the curry powder and ground coriander and cook for a few more seconds.
Pour in the stock, then add the coconut, ground almonds and sultanas. Heat until almost boiling, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes, partially covered.
Spoon the yoghurt into the saucepan, reserving a little for garnish, and stir in the banana. Heat gently, then serve, garnished with the remaining yoghurt, flaked almonds and fresh coriander.
One pot fish
3 SmartPoints per serving
4 Sprays calorie controlled cooking spray
600g new potatoes, raw, thinly sliced
1 Cube Vegetable stock cube
1 medium onion sliced (red) sliced into thin wedges
4 large tomatoes, sliced into wedges
4 fillets of haddock, raw
1 medium lemon
½ teaspoon Black pepper
Sprigs of fresh tarragon
1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark6/200°C/fan oven 180°C. Spray a large roasting tin with calorie controlled cooking spray.
- Arrange the sliced potatoes in the tin in an even layer, then add the stock.
3.Bake for 40 minutes, adding the onion wedges after 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and add the tomatoes, then arrange the fish fillets on top. Squeeze the juice from half the lemon over the fish, then slice the remaining lemon and arrange on top of the fish with sprigs of tarragon.
Season with black pepper and bake for a further 15 minutes, until the fish is cooked. To check, the flesh should be opaque and should flake easily when tested with a fork.
Serve, garnished with extra tarragon.
Try this simple recipe for home-made low-fat burgers using lean turkey mince with herbs and seasonings.Serve with salad in sesame seed buns.
4 SmartPoints each
450g turkey mince, raw, lean
1 small onion, chopped very finely
1 teaspoons dried mixed herbs
3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 medium burger bun(s)
2 medium tomato, sliced
8 lettuce leaves
1 large pickled gherkins
1. Mix together the turkey mince, onion, mixed herbs and Worcestershire (or Tabasco) sauce. Season with salt and pepper, then form into 4 burgers.
Preheat the grill. Place the burgers on to the grill rack and grill for about 10 minutes, turning once.
Split the buns and toast the cut sides lightly. Serve filled with the burgers, tomato and lettuce.
Fiona on her fantastic 2 stone 4 pound weight loss
Name: Fiona McKenna
Lost: 2 stone 4 pound
Leader: Julie McCann
Breaking the cycle
“I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when I was 11 years old, so it meant I grew up with certain issues around food as I was very restricted with what I could eat. I picked up a lot of bad habits along the way and I suppose you could say I had a bad attitude to food; I’ve been both very heavy and very skinny at different points over the years
What I've learnt
I first joined Weight Watchers when I was 22 years old, which is about ten years ago. For me, it was the first time I had a proper education about food, including things like portion sizes and how to manage day today. When you’re a diabetic, you have consultations with a dietician regarding what you should or shouldn’t eat, but I feel that all you come away with is a lot of lists on a few sheets of paper. The things that I learned at Weight Watchers felt a lot more practical and relevant and so it worked a lot better for me.
I got to my goal weight back then, but over the years I’ve had a few ongoing medical issues, and so with all of that I’ve been in and out to Weight Watchers, doing my best to keep my weight on track. The last time I joined was in November 2016 and I’ve been following the No Count programme. I find it excellent for helping me to manage my diabetes as it’s a low sugar plan. For me, it’s easy to follow and it’s the most relaxedI’ve felt about food in a long time. I follow it around 90% of the time and then at the weekend, I just use the regular Points programme so I can allow myself the odd treat.
Small changes that last a lifetime
The best thing is that the changes I’ve made have been quite small so I’m still eating the things that I like to eat. I’ve made simple swaps, like going for wholegrain pasta, bread and rice instead of white. I’m also taking more interest in food and I’m cooking things from scratch. There was a time when I used to call my mother for advice on how to roast a chicken, so being at Weight Watchers has really helped to broaden my horizons in that respect!
I had a car accident a while ago and I also suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, so I’m limited in what exercise I can do. Ido a bit of walking and Pilates to keep me going. I like going to my WeightWatchers class each week, because I get lots of tips there, not just about food, but also about exercises that might be helpful for me to try. I find that if I’ve had a bad week, or if there’s been a lot going on, the class helps tore-set me. Once I come out of there on a Tuesday evening, it’s like I’ve hit the restart button and everything feels easier.
The people in the class are great, we have a lot of fun there and everyone is very generous with their input. Julie is a fantastic leader, she really knows how to motivate people and how to keep you going when you’re feeling bad – to me, that’s priceless. I’m now a little under my goal weight and I feel so much healthier and positive. I know that I’m following the healthiest diet that I can because due to my diabetes, I can immediately see the impact of what I’m eating. If I go wrong, it’s like I get a sugar hangover, so it’s been great to keep things on an even keel.
Sharing my story
Apart from feeling healthier, I also feel a lot more confident. My best friend, Michelle, made my New Year’s resolution forme, which was that I had to do something new every month, and I couldn’t say no to any opportunity, so when Julie asked me to clerk in the class, I agreed!It’s been great for me because I’m quite shy, but now everyone knows who I am and that’s a real confidence boost. I’ve tried other programmes over the years but this feels like the healthiest one that I’ve done; it’s certainly the best option for me and I’m feeling so much happier in myself.”
Fiona’s tips for success
· Go to class each week and stay.You’ll pick up lots there or even be reminded about the helpful things that you’ve forgotten. Sometimes someone will just say something that clicks for you.
· Be honest with yourself, there’s no point in trying to manipulate the program or kid yourself about what you’ve been eating because when it comes down to it, the only person that it’s impacting is you.
5 Simply Tricks for Dining Out on Plan!
We want you to eat out and lose weight too, so we've compiled this list of tips to help you navigate the menu options at restaurants. Now go out and enjoy yourself!
If you're starving hungry when you get to the restaurant you're more likely to order an option that you may not otherwise. Have a bowl of zero SmartPoints value soup to take the edge off your hunger before you head out. If you're not familiar with the restaurant, look up their menu online before going out.
Keep a bag of small apples or some other healthy snack in your car at all times, and eat one before you go into a restaurant with friends. This will not only satisfy your hunger but will remind you to eat wisely. Remember you have your weekly
SmartPoints allowance for special occasions just like this!
Start off on the right foot
Order a bowl of soup before your meal — not a creamy soup, but a stock-based. It will be satisfying and can keep you from
overeating. Start with a side salad (minus bacon, cheese and croutons). Ask for low fat or fat-free dressing or balsamic vinegar on the side; and be sure to dip your fork into the dressing, then into the salad. Try to drink water with your meal. If you decide to order a juice, fizzy drink or alcohol,
always order water with it, too. If you want a second beverage, ask for a refill of the water.
Manage your portions
When eating at a buffet, survey the food items before you put anything on your plate. The key is to remind yourself that you're eating to be satisfied, not to get your money's worth.
Split your starter with the person you're with. If you have the impulse to finish everything on your plate, it's better to not have all that food in front of you.
Don't even open the menu! Simply know what you want to eat before you get there. Ask for dressings, sauces, butter and sour
cream on the side, instead of on the dish itself.
Whatever you order, make sure that it has loads of vegetables. "Even if it's pizza, make it a slice loaded up with veggies," says one member. "Or a grilled vegetable sandwich instead of a mile-high sandwich shop creation, or a vegetable omelette instead of a cheese one, or fruit salad instead of pastry." Don't be afraid to ask for substitutions. Most restaurants will accommodate your requests.
Have a good attitude
Do your best and practise the art of BAM: Breathe, Accept, Move On. The celebration is about being out with your family and friends, not about food being served. Enjoy yourself and remember that the meal does not need to be your enemy.
Shane's Sensational Weight Loss Transformation
Name: Shane Bennett
Lost: 2 stone 2 pounds
Leader: Deirdre Murdock
Determination to change
I had been to Weight Watchers before. I lost about a stone and then stopped. The problem was that I listened to far too many people who were telling me how great I was and that it wouldn’t matter if I ate a bit more of this or a bit more of that. So, before I knew it, all the weight was back on. Whenever I looked at photos of myself on the likes of Facebook and Instagram, I wasn’t happy with what I saw, so in January 2017 I went back to Weight Watchers. When I discovered I was over 12 stone, I was horrified; it’s the heaviest I’ve ever been. I felt disappointed in myself, but most of all, I was determined that I wasn’t having any of it – I was finally going to lose weight!
Back to basics
When it came to food, I went back to basics and I found the key was just to keep it simple. So, I started having fish or chicken with lots of vegetables, preparing all my food myself and avoiding all the ready-made meals. I love chocolate, so I still made sure to allow myself the odd treat. I also took up walking, about three or four times a week, and I went out
in all weather, rain or shine. I’m a hairdresser and I travel a lot with my job, so I’m in London quite a bit and sometimes L.A. It can be hard to keep on track when you’re staying in hotels and eating out all the time, but I was completely focused on sticking to the plan.
Simplicity of success
Again, the key is to keep it simple, so you know exactly what you’re eating. Going to class each week gives you the education you need to cope with situations like that. For example, at the hotel breakfast buffet, a big glass of orange juice can have a lot of hidden sugar and really throw you off.
I really enjoy going to the class, we have a great group there, and my leader, Deirdre is outstanding. I always came away from class feeling motivated for the week ahead, and I was so determined to reach the goal that I lost weight practically every week.
Energy, confidence and pride
I feel great - I have a lot more energy and get up
and go now, and it’s given me a real confidence
boost, especially when I’m up teaching people. I
love clothes, so it’s nice to put an outfit on and feel
good about how I look!”
Shane’s tips for success
• I recommend Weight Watchers one hundred percent. There is great team spirit there and everyone is in the same boat.
• Get out for a regular walk when you can.
• Portion control is important. Always be mindful of what you’re having, especially when travelling.
What are you waiting for? There has never been a better time to start and now you're armed with the tools you need to succeed all you need to do now is find your closest class.
Find your closest class and get started on your journey today!