Mary Reisner, on the right, enlisted in the Weight Watchers program last February. She has taken numerous trips to Honduras with her husband, Ron, on the left, on their church's annual mission trip. Having been in the Weight Watchers program, she found it much more comfortable to move around and be active during their stay in Honduras. COURTESY OF KELLY RAMAKER
Mary Reisner, on the right, enlisted in the Weight Watchers program last February. She has taken numerous trips to Honduras with her husband, Ron, on the left, on their church's annual mission trip. Having been in the Weight Watchers program, she found it much more comfortable to move around and be active during their stay in Honduras. COURTESY OF KELLY RAMAKER
There are many different types of dieting. Some watch calories, others count carbs, limit their fat intake or increase their exercise. People often think going on a diet means one is trying to lose weight. This is true, but there is also another reason. Choosing to live a healthier lifestyle and feeling better personally also motivates people to change their diets.

About a year ago, Mary Reisner of Fountain decided she wanted to lose weight, but more importantly, she did want to feel better. Towards the end of February, she learned of a Weight Watchers open house and decided to attend to find out more about it.

"I went to the meeting in February thinking I would go just to learn about it and ended up joining," she said.

For the next several months, Reisner saw and felt how the new diet helped her. She did lose around 35 pounds since she started, but she also began to feel more energetic and physically fit to endure walking longer.

Weight Watchers taught her to focus on what choices of foods would be better for her to eat. She learned how to keep track of what she was eating throughout the day and did not focus specifically on calories or carbs.

"Weight Watchers uses a Smart Points system that doesn't count calories, but by points. Proteins, carbs, sugars and more make up the points," Reisner described. "You figure out how many points you should eat in a day and if you stay under that in a day, you can get a few extra later."

However, there is a limit to how much under the assigned number of daily points one should consume.

"If you are too much under the points, the body starts shutting down and reserving things, so some don't lose much weight," Reisner cautioned.

In this system, points can be tracked and determined through a smartphone, Weight Watchers app. Using the app, one can scan the barcode of a certain food or drink, and then the points that food “costs” can be subtracted from that person's daily allotment.

When someone hopes to go out to a restaurant to eat, the app allows a search for that specific restaurant and even the food on the menu, listed alongside their point values. This can help a person plan out the food they want to eat ahead of time and feel comfortable about how many points that dish will have. If the dish is a little more expensive in the points, one can plan out what else to eat for the rest of the day.

But what if one is not eating out, but making their own dishes? How are they tracked? According to Reisner, there is also a recipe form in the app where one puts in the ingredients used in the dish and the smart points will be calculated there as well.

"It's learning to live with a healthy lifestyle more than losing weight, but the smart points really focus on sugars and you can do a lot with the app," Reisner shared.

As with any person, it's more difficult to maintain a healthier diet by themselves, and having a support network greatly encourages and motivates one to stay the course to reach their goals. These goals may vary, but some can base them off of the body mass index charts, seeing the ideal weights for someone of their height range. But for others, it might be a little bit more of a challenge. Reisner herself consulted a doctor when she started Weight Watchers in order to come up with a goal for herself. For someone of her height, she did not feel the BMI range given would help her feel comfortable, so she somewhat amended her goal.

As she learned how to eat healthier foods, Reisner determined to eat more fruit and vegetables and begin measuring the amount of food she ate.

"From what I know, all fruits and vegetables are free, with zero points. I try to stay under 30 points per day. Some days are harder than others, but you can fill yourself up eating healthy foods and eat a lot but not use a lot of points," she said.

Being in Weight Watchers has been very beneficial for Reisner, helping her to lose weight, but especially helping her to feel much better physically.

"I keep going because I feel better. I walked my dogs all spring and summer and I went to Ireland and did a ton of walking. I don't think I could have done that with the weight I had before," Reisner shared.

Reisner recently returned from a mission trip to Honduras with her church and having lost the 35 pounds made her feel better even during travel on the plane. She also appreciates being able to go up and down the stairs without "huffing and puffing."

As a part of Weight Watchers, Reisner joins many people, of all sorts of ages, both women and men, in the area who joined the program to be able to live in a healthy lifestyle.

Each week Reisner attends a meeting with others in the program, weighing in and sharing their stories for the week and, depending on the case, how much weight they lost. This support encourages each one to continue toward their goals, or if they have achieved the goal, to maintain it.

"There are some who have already met their goals, and they still come to encourage the others and to help them stay with their goals," she explained.

The smartphone app also has a community link where those on Weight Watchers can converse with others from around the country, not just those who live nearby.

For those curious about the program and interested in participating in it, there will be an open house at the end of February, which Reisner encourages them to attend and visit with the group leader, Kim Berekvam, to learn even more about Weight Watchers.

Being with this program has brought both visible and internal changes to many, including Reisner, and others can see the same results if they are wanting to lose weight or live healthier lives.

"I'm doing well on the program. I feel better, can do more and joined a gym because I feel better. Men do come to Weight Watchers too and have lost weight. It has more women in it, but men are very welcome," she said.