I work for Weight Watchers as a meeting leader and a receptionist. I lost 107 pounds on the program over the last two years and it has changed my life. So, I joined the team. Over the last few weeks, I had grown a little frustrated with some of the meetings and members. Those who can’t take accountability for their own actions, who blame the program changes for their lack of success or how they claim to “do everything right” yet continue to gain weight. It can be disheartening because, frankly, Weight Watchers doesn’t pay generously. I’d make more at a fast food joint or Dollar Tree. Today, I received a potent reminder of why I work there.
Last week, a member arrived. She was exceedingly overweight. Morbidly, so. She looked fairly young, probably upper 30’s or early 40’s, and she was very upset with herself. She was close to tears. She has had multiple back surgeries, has joint and leg problems and takes fistfuls of medications. She joined Weight Watchers twice before and lost a lot of weight, but could never keep it off. Her fiancée encouraged her to join. I give him a lot of credit; it’s difficult to put that across without hurting feelings of sounding shallow, but he said he loved her no matter what, and just that he wanted her to be happy, healthy and for their life together to be long. So, with great effort, she came in and joined for a third time. She came to my scale, we chatted for a minute and, filled with trepidation, she took a deep breath and stepped on.
The scale said 414.4 pounds.
The tears she was holding back before finally burst forth. She had never been that heavy in her life and hearing the number was crushing to her. All I could tell her was that she had taking the hardest steps: she came here, she walked in, she joined and she got the number. Now, she can move forward. The meeting leader and I talked with her for a while and she left.
This morning, I was near the store window when I saw her walking up. As she reached the midpoint between her car and the store, she began to slow down. We made eye contact and I waved. She waved back, took a deep breath, nodded and walked in. She was upset again. She was scared. She was not reaching her daily points target each day. We don’t recommend members staying below target because the body, when not eating enough, will slow the metabolism and inhibit weight loss. However, she was getting 65 points per day. To put that into perspective, the average female member gets about 30-33 points per day to eat. So, I made sure she knew that as long as she was satisfied and that she was getting the right nutrients, she shouldn’t worry about it. That made her feel a little better, but she was still scared she didn’t have a loss. With great courage and some encouragement, she stepped on the scale.
It read 400.0 pounds.
She lost 14.4 pounds.
In a single week.
She looked at me for a moment as it sank in, and, again, she burst into tears. However, these tears were the opposite of those from the week before. In the span of thirty seconds, I saw a transformation. A woman wracked with discouragement and fear, came in with no hope on her face. Half a minute later, that hope was given to her. It was as if Spring bloomed in the store. Color came back into her face and she pulled me into a hug. This is what she said:
“Oh my God, I owe you so much! You and Rachel [the leader] encouraged me and helped me do this. I feel like you gave me back my life!”
I felt my own tears welling up. This girl, a stranger the week before, was filling my heart with such joy. She single handedly reminded me why I do this. Not for the money, but because it was a way of giving back, a way of reaching out to people who, like me, battled their weight for decades and to help them attain their goals.
When you touch another person in such a way, the rewards are worth more than any cash award could possibly be. Being able to touch the lives of strangers, to inspire them to reach higher, to strive, to climb, to become so much more than they could have imagined, is indescribable. I was lucky to land in a place where I am to be able to do this. What motivated me to write this for the blog was a quote that ran through my head as the member left…
“Make no mistake — this is not about me. I am not a hero.”
I’m just a guy who, in some small way, is giving back.