Sunday, August 30, 2009
Lose for Good: weight loss math for a good cause
Weight Watchers is now entering into its second year of the Lose for Good campaign. Back in November of 2007, I happened to be visiting the meeting of a Seattle Leader named Debbie Hugo. Debbie was always looking for ways to keep her members motivated, particularly as they were soldiering up to the holiday season. She decided to create a challenge where, for an eight week period, she asked her members to put aside a pound of non-perishable food for every pound they lost. She asked her members to create a weight-loss shrine so they could visualize their weight loss. Her theory was that seeing 10 pounds of food is a great way to get someone not to discount the significance of that kind of weight loss. It was a great idea and one that has been used in other Weight Watchers meetings over the years.
What came next was the part that blew me away. At the end of two months, she asked her members to bring in their weight loss shrines and donate the losses to a local food bank. It turns out that she had been doing this for three years, and had been collecting 2,000 to 3,000 pounds of food each year. It was a brilliant, simple, motivating and moving idea. [I later learned that other Weight Watchers meetings had similar drives.] We asked ourselves this basic question: if Debbie, as one of 7,500 Leaders, could collect this much food, how much could we collect if we did a national volunteer food drive?
We gave it a shot last year. As always, our Service Providers blew by all of our expectations by setting up over 2,000 food drives and collected 1.5 million pounds of food. There were stories of local community food banks literally being saved as a result of the effort. Weight Watchers International did its part by contributing $1 million dollars to two organizations that specialize in addressing childhood hunger: Share Our Strength www.strength.org (US-focused) and Action Against Hunger www.actionagainsthunger.org (international: Asia, Africa, etc.). It was an unqualified success, which is why we made the very easy decision to do it again.
In doing my own little part for this go-around, I am going to give my Weight Watchers weight loss (day that I joined to my Lifetime goal weight) of 30 pounds to a local food bank in CT, Person to Person. I have volunteered there from time-to-time, and I am a big supporter/fan of it. As luck would have it (really!), I found out that some of the local Fairfield County CT meetings have chosen Person to Person as their local beneficiary. It was the decision/recommendation of one of our Service Providers who once benefitted herself from the help of Person to Person. What a way to give back! (in case you are curious about P2P: http://www.p2pdarien.org/)
So I went shopping this morning to buy about 30 pounds of food. Suffice to say, I was curious what it would look like. So without further ado, here is my Lose for Good math:
Dave After (excluding the groceries)
Food for people who need it
By the way, carrying these groceries from the car to the house gave me a new perspective on my weight loss. Walking around with 30 excess pounds is palpable. It cannot be a good thing for my joints, back, etc. to have to haul around those extra pounds. It feels great not to have to haul them around. I cannot think of a better reason to maintain my weight loss.
The fact that I can do a little good for my local community at the same time, particularly in the midst of the recession, makes the weight loss even sweeter. We have also set up some links on our website to Share Our Strength and Action Against Hunger (see LFG link below) for those who want to give even more. I plan to do so today, again based on my 30 pound loss (no pressure!).
Now try to visualize 1.5 million pounds of food.
One final thought... I had mentioned earlier in this post that we had a little north of 2,000 food drives last year. As of this posting, we have over 3,000. If you are reading this, please do join the fun. It's good for you, your health, and your community.
Lose for Good starts today. See you there!