Monday, February 16, 2015

Weight Watchers in Korea

Well, it happened. The rice and chocopies and McDelivery and 찜닭 have taken their toll. I'm bigger now than I was when I got here, and while I could go to a diet center, the idea of it horrifies me. I've tried herbalife as well, and don't want to doom myself to a lifetime of expensive powedered shakes.

But I need to do something, and simply trying to eat right and move more clearly isn't enough for my lazy and indulgent self. So, after seeing it work for friends and family, I'm giving Weight Watchers a go. I could do MyFitnessPal or SparkPeople, but having tried them in the past, I want something that doesn't treat calories as equal but rather encourages me to eat healthily. Plus, I think if you've already joined Weight Watchers back home it might be hard to find information to help you continue it here, so I'd like to gather it in one place.

There are some small problems with doing Weight Watchers here. Firstly, like racial discrimination, homophobia, mental illness, sexually transmitted diseases,  and instant mac & cheese, Weight Watchers doesn't exist in South Korea.

If they DID operate in Korea, I'd probably throw money at them. As they don't, I had to figure out how to do it on my own. So I needed three things:

1. The system. 
Information about how to calculate the points you're allowed and so on is available online. However, the formula is patented and I don't want to get cease and desist letters, so let me google that for you. 

2. A way to conveniently track it. 
I fiddled around with various for-free and for-money apps from the android store and ended up with these two that I'll be using mostly:

Tracking, food database, compatible with USA,UK and Australian systems

food database based on restaurants. 
I felt better paying for the apps once than I might have paying a monthly subscription. The official Weight Watchers app does not work on Korean phones (unless you find a workaround).

3. Accountability and Support
One of the main parts of the success of the Weight Watchers program is the community support. Luckily for me, I already have a strong fitness community online, and a couple of friends in the same boat here who can help me to hold myself accountable.

So now the only thing holding me back is lack of information. I decided to make my own Korean food list, as a google doc that I can edit from my phone as I encounter foods. I'll link it here for you to reference.

I made it by learning to read nutritional information on Korean packaging and plugging it into the Weight Watchers points formula (again, available online and I won't post it here).  One problem is that fiber (식이섬유) is not required to be listed on the packaging, although they are making changes there. 

To get nutritional information about foods in Korea, you can use these resources:

Naver: click 영양/다이어트 and search with hangul.
MyFitnessPal:  and plug that information into the points formula above.
Chris Backe's article: and again, plug the info into a calculator.
My list: where I've done all the heavy lifting for you. It's a work in progress so it may take some time for me to complete it.

I hope that helps. 

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