Weight Watchers’ Web Service

April 3, 2009

Every now and then and actually quite often I come up with these great ideas. I know I will never have the time or resources to do them myself so I often just forget about them. Its not that I don’t have the initiative. OK maybe it is partly because of my lack of initiative. But it is mostly that I couldn’t possibly do them all so why try. I’ve decided to post these ideas to this blog as they come into my mind. Perhaps, someday, someone will read this and run with it and make themselves a lot of money and remember me. So here is one of those great ideas.

I bought my wife a weight watcher’s membership for her birthday. I know that sounds really bad and makes me out like a jerk. Does it help that I bought her flowers as well? It was what she asked for. Most women when they ask for something for their birthday they don’t really expect you to get that specific thing. They are just setting the bar for you to jump over. They expect something better – a surprise. Well…I’m not that spontaneous and my wife is actually very level headed. That is one of the reasons I married her. I grew up with 5 very hormonal older sisters and mother. I have had my fair share of mind boggling outrageous behavior (no offense to my wonderful sisters and mother – they actually agree with me on this). I figured I deserved a wife that had her head screwed on straight and whose mood swings were less dramatic than even my own. My wife had just delivered our second child a few weeks before her birthday, weight watchers has a special program for nursing mothers, and we had just incurred over $100,000 in hospital bills getting the kid into this world. The membership was in my price range so that is what she got for her birthday.

Anyways, while we were in Boise last weekend we tried out Applebees’ “Carside To Go”. We went online and picked out what we wanted for dinner, ordered it, picked it up, and brought it back to the hotel to eat. It was a lifesaver. We got restaurant food without having to take our toddler and immune deficient infant into a restaurant – which is becoming more of a disaster the closer our toddler gets to 2.

We noticed that Applebees puts the number of weight watchers points a meal is beside each entree. If you don’t know much about Weight Watchers, they give you so many points a day and then some extra points to spread out over a week. You are not allowed to eat more points than you are given. The points are calculated by looking at the amount and type of fat and carbs that are in the food. When you join weight watchers they give you this little chart to figure out the number of points that are in the stuff you are eating. So obviously Applebees has done the hard work for you. They got out their chart and figured it out for you so you don’t have to calculate it yourself.

From talking to my wife I found out that weight watchers has done this themselves for all kinds of foods. Anyone can go online and look up this information. For instance how many MacDonalds french fries can I eat with 2 points? My guess is not many.

I started thinking. There are lots of restaurants out there that put their menus online. Why couldn’t the Weight Watchers company set up a web service that allows the restaurant sites to send them their recipes and the service sends back the number of points. Then this information can show up automatically on the website every time something new is put on the menu.

Then I got to thinking about another website that my wife loves to use. http://www.allrecipies.com. This site allows anyone and everyone to post a recipe that they have found successful and anyone can use it. There are tens of thousands of recipes on this site. The recipes are searchable by ingredients and all sorts of parameters. This site could also use this service. You enter in your recipe. Then allrecipes.com uses the service to calculate the number of Weight Watchers points and it places it along side the recipe information.

A related tool would be an iPhone app that is essentially the handy chart that they give you. The chart isn’t just a simple chart. It has a neat pinwheel or sliding action that I don’t fully understand. I figure the type of people that use iPhones are the same that do Weight Watchers.

So there you go. Another couple great ideas that won’t be leveraged by yours truly. Feel free to take it and run with it yourself. With the web service idea you’ll probably have to work with weight watchers to get middle-tier access to their database. The iPhone idea just requires figuring out how the fancy chart thing works and implementing it using the iPhone SDK tools.

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One Response to “Weight Watchers’ Web Service”

  1. The Wife said

    I like it when you get me exactly what I ask for…but the flowers were a great bonus!

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