None other than...Jean Nidetch!
That's right. I own a book that was touched, held, and signed by Jean Nidetch - the founder of Weight Watchers. The inscription reads, "To Shirley, Love and best wishes - Jean Nidetch"
Surely you can't be serious. I am serious - and don't call me Shirley.
So it took me about 72 hours to devour this amazing memoir which contains a vivid history of Jean's life as an overweight child and adult, a review of the 1970 WW program rules from Jean's perspective, a detailed description of "what happens at a WW meeting", and a bazillion inspiring quotes from the brilliant mind of a F.F.H. (formerly fat housewife - Jean's self-proclaimed title)
Reading this book only strengthened my admiration and respect for Jean Nidetch and Weight Watchers. From the cover shot of Jean standing arms-crossed and confident in her white pant suit, to the powerful punch-in-the-gut final quote: "One thing's certain: You don't ever have to be fat again" - I was enraptured.
But there was something about this book that amazed me most of all.
It occurred to me that for the past two years, I have been focusing my blog on how different the 1970's Weight Watchers program is from the current plan. And it is - with all the crazy food, rules and whatnot. But the thing I never realized is that there are so many things that have stayed exactly the same. Close to 50 years later, the heart of Weight Watchers remains intact. Examples?
- No one can work for WW unless they have been overweight themselves and have successfully worked the plan
- Empathy, rapport and mutual understanding are the foundation
- Its a lifestyle, not a "diet"
- It's affordable
- It works.
Obesity is a war and we who are fighting it daily are well aware of the turmoil and strain of the battle. You win battles by developing a tremendous desire for something that's more important than cake - being thin. I used to eat my rewards. Now the reward is self-respect. It's worth it.
So yeah. I pretty much LOVE HER.
Near the end of the book, Jean tells a story about one of her members who did a great deal of traveling during her weight loss journey. She would always keep a few cans of mushrooms and a can opener in the glove compartment of her car. If she got hungry during her commute - she would pull off the road, open a can of mushrooms and eat them. One night, while she was pulled over happily eating her shrooms, a police officer approached her car to make sure she was alright. "Yes, officer, I'm just eating my mushrooms", she replied. About three months later - she was parked again, and the same officer suspiciously approached her car. Before she could utter a word, he said, "Oh my God, it's the nut with the mushrooms again!"
Here's the thing. If you have ever been a Weight Watchers member - past or present - that story sounds familiar. Doesn't it? We just "get it". Whether it's 1970 or 2012, we still need weight loss strategies that work. No matter how crazy they sound.
Jean says, "Losing weight is like basic training. It's finding out how to eat intelligently - it's learning how to fight the war." I like that. I like to think we are all soldiers in Jean's army.
And it is a pleasure to serve in this army with each and every one of you.
Now that I have read Jean's perspective, I am eagerly awaiting the release of
our current leader's book: "Weight Loss Boss" by David Kirchhoff - the CEO of Weight Watchers. It comes out in May, and I think its going to be great. I'm looking forward to hearing about how the world of weight loss has changed (or stayed the same) nearly 50 years later.
I sure hope I can get a signed copy. Inscribed lovingly to Shirley, of course.