As you know, back in October, Weight Watchers covered their eyes, pulled my name out of a pile of essays, and invited me to New York City for a success story photo shoot and interview. The only reason they even knew about me was because, on a whim, I entered the Celebrate Success contest they held in August. The fine print mentioned that, by submitting my story, I am allowing Weight Watchers to do with it as they wish, including using me in an ad campaign or as a featured story on their website.
When Mary called me about the shoot, she said that it was separate from the contest and that agreeing to be interviewed wouldn’t disqualify me from winning the contest, but there was no way lightning would strike twice. My eligibility for the contest was moot. To be perfectly honest, getting a free trip to NYC, being pampered, then web-mortilized as a success story was the ultimate grand prize anyway. By the way, I don’t know when my story will go up but it will probably be in the spring. Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll hear all about it once I know for sure.
Fast forward to Friday afternoon. I was sitting in my bedroom with Bowie when he started to growl at the front gate. I looked outside and saw the UPS truck, a VERY familiar site, but I wasn’t expecting a package for once. Hmm, what could it be? I opened the door and the driver had left an envelope on my doorstep. The sender was 2012 WW Celebrate Success, and I wondered what on earth could possibly be inside. It was this:
COME ON! Are you freaking kidding me? Now, it’s a First Prize award (there are 102 others like me), not the Grand Prize trip to NYC plus shopping spree, but still. It is almost comical how much I lucked out just by telling them my story in 400 words or less. Please don’t get me wrong, I know I have done something amazing, but I have met so many other wonderful people who have done the same, if not more. Competing in triathlons, running in half and full marathons, losing 200+ pounds and maintaining it for several years – just astounding.
At the risk of sounding like a rich, spoiled brat, I don’t need this money. People have suggested I use it to buy myself “reward” shoes or clothes, but let’s be honest here. When have I ever abstained from buying anything that I wanted? As symbolic as it might be, I wouldn’t get the same enjoyment out of spending this money that others might. Weight Watchers has already flown me across the country, put me up in a sweet hotel, and most importantly, helped me to add years to my life with improved health. It is time for me to give someone else some much deserved recognition and reward. Believe me, not even a new pair of boots would make me happier than helping someone out.
I still have to hammer out the details of the contest, because I want to make sure it is totally fair and right, but I am thinking that I will have people fill out an essay similar to what I did for Weight Watchers, and include a before and after or in progress photo. Depending on how many entries I receive (hopefully a lot!) I will probably choose three to five finalists, post their stories, and have you all vote. And because I am a giver in every sense of the word, I will also send a small gift to anyone who participates. Please be on the lookout in the coming days for full details, and tell your friends!
And finally, in case you were wondering, here is the essay I submitted to Weight Watchers. It’s kinda hard to pull all the right heart strings in less than 400 words!
Like most overweight people, I’ve been heavy my entire teenage and adult life. I wish I could blame it on stubborn baby weight, or an injury, but the fact was I’d always been the “fat girl” and could only blame my lack of control. Oh, and that I’d much rather sit and watch TV than exercise.
Every day I thought, this is the day I will start my diet. And every day I thought, well, I might as well wait until Monday. And every Monday I thought, the first of the month is coming up, so I’ll start then, for real this time. It was a vicious cycle that was finally put to an end with Weight Watchers in May 2011.
Some way, somehow, I dug deep and changed my life for the better. I sweated, cried, and nearly rebelled for the first few weeks, but soon this lifestyle of exercising and eating right stuck, and I realized that this is how life should be for EVERYONE, not just those trying to lose weight. I was actually excited to find new healthy recipes or workouts to try, and learning the science behind how the body works. WHO AM I?!
So far I have lost 120 pounds; I’m not finished yet, but I constantly have my eye on the prize. Over the last 16 months I’ve not only gotten healthier, I’ve gained long lasting friendships with fellow “weight watchers,” pride in what I’ve accomplished so far, and an out-of-control shopping habit buying clothes in single-digit sizes I’d never in a million years thought I’d be able to wear.
Other than getting fit, my favorite thing about this journey is inspiring others to do the same. Whether on social networking sites, or random strangers in my office building, nearly every day someone tells me that I’ve inspired them to begin a healthy lifestyle, or to not quit on theirs even when their goal seems out of reach. In fact, one of my coworkers took a cue from me and lost 25 pounds himself!
The Weight Watchers way solidified for me during a recent family party. I was eating a small plate of rice and steak tacos when my dad asked, “You can eat that on your program?” I replied, “I can eat anything I want…in moderation.” He replied, “Wow, whoever invented that program must be a millionaire.”