I want to call my mom. Right now. God, I miss her. I miss her daily, but some days my kids say or do something, I see something, I cook something, I think of something…. and I just want to talk to her. Well, that’s not exactly it. I want her to talk back.
Jean Nidetch died today. She was the founder of Weight Watchers. In a time where many moms didn’t work, here was a woman who needed help, tried every diet in the book and hid Mallomars in her laundry. She saw a need to share. She saw a need that others had to share. And from this living room of sharing, a company was built and millions of people all over the world were able to change their life for the better.
I grew up with her in my house. Not really IN my house, but my mom idolized her and totally believed in Weight Watchers. I remember her making her own ketchup. I remember liver night (blech!) I remember her absolutely horrendously-horrible handwriting of the things she ate that day on notepaper on the kitchen table. I was the skinny-malink little girl but we didn’t have two meals at our house. If my mom was on Weight Watchers – WE WERE ALL ON WEIGHT WATCHERS!
Of course I didn’t realize it at the time, but I believe God and Fate were having this conversation about me (yes, it’s about me!) I joined Weight Watchers the first time with my mom. We walked in to this meeting next to White Flint Mall along with some of her very close friends Lenny and Madelene. What we’d do is go weigh in, leave to go next door to the Eatery, have the California Chicken salad, and go back to the meeting. I’m sure thousands of people have the same routine at their meeting place to this day. (Really, people, who eats before weigh in?) I lost weight, I quit. I gained weight, I joined. Rinse. Repeat time 6. It wasn’t until after my mom died that I joined this last time around. Throughout my weight loss, I wanted to call her. Celebrate with her. Each pound that took so long to shed, I wanted to hear her proud of me. I know she’s proud of me – of that I’m sure. But I wanted to HEAR it. I wanted to show her pictures. I wanted her to see me at goal, not because I looked better (I did) but because I was so darned proud of myself and THAT was important to her. Her children were her pride and joy, but nothing made her more happy than when we were happy and proud of ourselves. (That and when we had kids – but that’s another story.)
So when I started working for this company I wanted to tell her so badly. When the first member of mine got to goal I wanted to tell her so badly. She’d have told all her friends in pride that her Marci is a Weight Watchers Leader. I do know she’s proud. But more importantly, I’m proud.
I’m proud of Jean Nidetch. I’m proud of every man and woman and child that gained self confidence as a result of her program whether she met them or didn’t. I’m proud of the company she created. I’m proud that my mom brought you and your legacy in to my home, in to my heart and in to my life. I’m proud that the term Weight Watchers was a term in my house that was comfortable and not negative. I’m proud that my mom taught me that you only make one dinner. I’m proud that I’m a member first and that in being a Weight Watchers member, I learn to eat mostly healthy foods and indulge. I’m proud that I still get to enjoy the foods I want but understand that balance is important in food and in life. I’m proud that I can say no thank you to the saboteurs in the world and say yes (within reason) if I wanted to. I’m proud that I lead by example because I still struggle and that struggle is very real. I’m proud to be up and down in my scale victories and up and down in my non-scale victories. I’m proud to know the difference. I’m proud that I get to impact others in their weight loss journeys. I’m so proud that I get to witness hard work paying off.
There is something pretty miraculous about the feeling you get when you weigh someone in and they start crying and hugging you so tight because it’s the first time they’re under 200 pounds in 40 years. There is something so beautiful about an 82 year old woman who joined at age 79 and lost 74.2 (yes….. POINT 2 is important!) pounds and shares with the group – I need to look good for my next husband. There is something so powerful when members go off their insulin shots and blood pressure medication because the changes they’ve made in their lives and now, in turn, have inspired other members to make that small change.
Dear Jean Nidetch, THANK YOU for doing that. THANK YOU for changing millions of lives. THANK YOU for changing mine and helping me be the healthiest and happiest woman I can be. Thank you for saying, “It’s choice – not chance – that determines your destiny.” I believe that to be true.
Dear Mom, THANK YOU for being the influence I needed to be this woman I am. Thank you for being the best example in the world. Thank you for being you and loving me no matter what. Thank you for always seeing people and not the fat on them. Thank you for the tears I get to cry because you were – no, ARE, the best Mom on the planet. I love you. I’m so proud of you.
Dear Jean and Mom – the Mallomars are in Heaven. Have one for me.