The first time I joined Weight Watchers I was engaged to be married and wanted to lose 20 pounds. I joined with my mom and a few of her synagogue friends. The center was in an office building next to a mall and we’d go weigh in, then go to the mall, get the famous “White Flint chicken salad”, eat it, and go back for the meeting. I was the youngest in this group by at least 25 years. These women never got to goal and I really don’t even know if they wanted to. It was really another social event. They were okay with that. I was okay with that. The leader was another synagogue member and although I liked her, she wasn’t a great leader. I didn’t know it then.
I’ve struggled with my weight off an on (when I didn’t struggle with it, I was heavy and didn’t care) since then. It finally clicked. I can attribute that to a number of things, but that’s not for this note. I rejoined WW numerous times because although I lost that original 20, when I quit I gained it back plus more (being an overachiever!) Joined and lost. Quit and gained – and gained more. Joined and lost. You get the drift? I’m sure some of you can relate.
Seven years ago today I was in training to become a Weight Watcher leader. I remember my training and I remember getting back to my hotel room reaching for the phone to call my mom. She led me here. I know she’s proud, I know she’s watching. I see her in so many members. I remember the overwhelming feeling that we were going to be entrusted with members’ stories, their emotions, and their struggles. I remember being taught how to deal with different emotions. I remember being taught different words to say and different members’ personalities to lead towards. I remember being so excited but also SO nervous. And I wasn’t nervous about talking in front of people – I’d been doing that for many years. I’ve spoken in front of groups ranging from 5-1000 – doesn’t phase me. In fact I love it. But I took this role – not a job – very seriously. I remember what I needed from my leader and when I got what I needed and when I was left empty. The responsibility of inspiration was so overwhelming.
But what I learned in that class and what I’ve learned in the 7 years I’ve been a leader are different. It’s not until someone actually cries at your scale that you truly know what to do when they cry at your scale. This is not something you learn in class. This is something I learned from my Mom. This is why, I believe, she’s with me in every meeting.
When someone hugs you SO tight because she’s under 200 pounds for the first time in 40 years….you don’t learn that reaction in class.
When someone shares with her meeting members – her clan – that not only is she celebrating 28 pounds gone, but her doctor took her off her blood pressure medicine, your joy in taking part of that is palpable.
This week I had a coaching member who got to a place where she never thought she’d get. She’d cry on the phone begging me not to give up on her. And over the course of the last few months her improvements were so amazing and yet she still didn’t believe in herself. I did. I never doubted in her ability to do this. I did doubt in my ability to help her. That’s what leaders do – they want SO badly for their members to succeed, they’ll ask for help, they’ll lose sleep, they’ll worry and sometimes they’ll pray. But we didn’t give up on her and this week she had a huge milestone. As happy as she was – and oh boy, she WAS! – I don’t know whose heart was bursting more.
When you get to see women and men start in the back of the room and slowly, as they get more confidence, move forward, your pride soars. I didn’t learn that in class.
In any job we can get frustrated. We can be frustrated with how the company handles things. We can be frustrated in the pay scale. We can be frustrated in fellow employees and inconsistencies. And amid whatever occasion frustrations I might have, I still have the feeling that I was meant to be here right now doing this job, this thing…. I suppose that’s the difference between a job and a calling. If I weighed all the good against all the frustrations, I’d still be at the bottom of the seesaw. And I’m happy there. I’m being nourished.