Rest in Peace, Jean Nidetch.

This morning as I was getting ready for work, I noticed that my jeans were a leeeetle tight.  Okay, not a little — buttoning them took some serious effort in physics.  “They’re just out of the dryer,” I told myself as I sucked in my gut and strained to get them on.  “They’ll stretch out in a little bit.”

But my subconscious and I both knew that was a big lie.  All day at work I thought about unbuttoning my top button but I wouldn’t let myself, instead counting the seconds until I could get home and put on something with a nice, comfy elastic waistband. They didn’t get any looser; in fact, after lunch they were cutting me in half.  It was confirmed: my skinny jeans are now my “too tight” jeans, and those “skinny jeans” were already my go-to “fat pants.”   I don’t have a muffin top; I’m like a volcano spilling over.

While driving home and daydreaming about how as soon as I got home from the grocery store and fed the cats I was going to put on my cozy pajama bottoms, I was listening to the radio when the story came on that Jean Nidetch had died at age 91.  My first thought was, “I wonder if she was still at her goal weight?”

Jean Nidetch was the famous (and fabulous) founder of Weight Watchers. She started it because one day she was in the grocery store and ran into a friend, who congratulated her and asked her when she was due.  She wasn’t pregnant.  Whoops.  Apparently she went to clinical weight loss classes but they weren’t any fun, so she invited her overweight friends over so they could lose weight as a group.  (I think I would have mixed feelings about that invitation — on one hand, “Thanks for inviting me!” and on the other, “Wait, are you calling me fat?”)  Well, obviously it was a huge success — she and her friends lost all their weight — and she built it into an empire.  There are something like 40,000 Weight Watchers meetings every week all around the world.


And trust me, it works.  I know — I’ve done it three times.  (Ha. Ha.)  Yeah, I’m a “Lifetime” member of Weight Watchers, meaning the first time I joined I lost to my goal weight and, well, quit.  And then I joined again and lost weight, but, well, quit.  And then the last time, I rejoined and lost the weight for my wedding and, well, quit, and now my jeans don’t fit.  Again.  I’m a total statistic — I am one of those that go, has success, quits, and gains it all back.  And then lies to myself about dryer-tight jeans and stomps around all cranky in uncomfortable clothes, and then rejoins and feels sheepish and sorta out of place because everyone is so earnest and I know damn well all my points will be spent on bagels and alcohol.

I’m not saying it doesn’t work — it does!  And there are some really great guidelines and recipes.  There are a few recipes I make all the time that are absolutely delicious…  The only problem is that they are SO good I have about 3 helpings, so about 5000 points.  (I’m not very good at portion control, they whole key to this thing.)  Weight Watchers has come a long way since the old days, when the food was much more disgusting (but much more glamorous:


I mean seriously, can you imagine?  Fluffy mackerel pudding?  No wonder WW was a huge success in the 1970s; that crap was inedible.  My mom did WW when I was little and I think all she ate from 1972 to 1977 was grapefruit and cottage cheese with canned peaches and those Ayds candy appetite suppressants, which I found out the hard way you shouldn’t gobble by the handful.  However, that Frankfurter Spectacular IS spectacular, and someday I WILL MAKE IT.  (But probably won’t eat it.)

So I was a little sad as I listened to newscaster talk about Jean Nidetch passing away, even though to be honest, I didn’t know she was still alive. I’ve always suspected I would like her — she looks like a hoot — and I do admire her because she really has helped so many people lose weight and feel better physically and mentally.  And hello, I love women who start successful empires!  I think it’s a good organization that does support people — there’s no fat shaming, just a lot of empathy and support.  My favorite anecdote I heard today was that Jean used to share a story that she’d hide Mallomars in the laundry basket, and her favorite saying was, “Honey, if I can do it, you can do it.” And, by the way, when she died she still was at her goal weight.

The newscast ended right as I pulled into the grocery store parking lot.  I’d like to say that I was motivated, and I bought only salad and healthy things for dinner, but no. I totally bought ice cream.  Though in honor of Jean, it was “light.”

Rest in peace, Jean Nidetch.  Thanks for being awesome.