In October of 2006, I walked into Weight Watchers for the final time as a member. At 285 pounds, I was ready to leave my past behind me and embark on a journey that would be filled with many downs (weight losses in this case, so downs are a good thing) and a few ups as well as many life altering events.
During the 51 weeks it took me to lose 106 pounds and to get to “goal” I grew as a person, learned about portion size, learned how to eat, made huge sacrifices and exchanged certain choices for others – all for the reward of watching the scale go down. I remember going from an XXL to a Small. I remember how great it felt to finally put on a pair of size 34 jeans. Let’s face it – I was blessed with a butt and while my waist was smaller than a 34 my jeans had to get over the hump so a size up was required. I felt victorious. I felt like I had conquered a demon that had been plaguing my life since I was five years old.
I realized that my group of friends at the time had nothing in common with me except eating. We would go to the gym and then we would go pig out because we “went to the gym.” “We earned it”, is what one would always say. After a while, it occurred to me that after working my butt off in the gym for an hour or more, I was throwing away everything I just endured for what might have been twenty minutes of pleasure, which then led to hours of agony from overeating.
As time passed, I disassociated with those friends because they were toxic. They did not support my goals, distracted me from what I wanted to achieve and very often would sabotage my efforts. Getting rid of the only friends you have to ‘go it alone’ is a frightening thing but in the end, it was worth it.
I was forced to take long, honest looks at myself. What did I want? Who had I become? Who did I want to be? What else would I like to achieve?
As I neared my goal weight my meeting Leader told everyone, “One day, you’ll see Johnny up here and he’ll be leading the meeting.” She said it with such glee and I could feel how proud she was of me, her self-proclaimed “clone”. I had just gotten out of college with my degree in Interior Design and working for Weight Watchers was the last thing on my list. I told her she was crazy and I wasn’t going to work for them, but low and behold, I was dead wrong. I was coaxed into taking on a couple meetings, nothing that would deter me from my career in Design. After eight months on a misled path toward Design, I decided to go all-in with Weight Watchers and make it my focus. Meeting after meeting started to come my way and after a short amount of time, I became very popular among members throughout Palm Beach County.
For the next five years I would go on to put creative spins on weekly meeting topics that had been recycled for years. My niche was that I added a comedic element of entertainment to my meetings which included about 1,000 people per week. My unique approach would eventually result in a front-page article in the Accent section of The Palm Beach Post as well as achieving Diamond Leader status with Weight Watchers.
Some would say that I owe a lot to Weight Watchers for my personal success and life lessons learned. Without going into great detail, being an employee was quite different from being a member and my dues have been paid, extensively. I choose to think of it this way: If I’m going to owe anyone anything for my success, then I owe ME. I did it. I put in the work. I made the self-discoveries. I made the commitment to attend meetings, monitor what I ate, motivated others to do the same and continued to lead my life as I decided to lead it seven years ago. I am responsible for my success and I am also responsible for my setbacks. Has it been easy these past seven years? Heck no! I’ve struggled with twenty and thirty pounds here and there – it comes on and goes off, comes on and goes off. The difference is that I didn’t go all the way back to my starting point this time. The two prior stints with WW I lost weight and gained it all back – not this time, not ever again.
As I celebrate seven years “on the other side” I am reminded of a quote that I heard in the very beginning and have said thousands of times since. “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.”
Reflection is a powerful tool when trying to assert yourself toward achieving the goals that you set. While you shouldn’t look back with the intention of going in reverse, you should look back to appreciate your ability to move forward.
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