Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Father Weight Watchers: part 1

One of the questions my wife routinely gets asked goes along the lines of:  "So.  What's it like being married to the CEO of Weight Watchers."  Maybe it's like being married to a preacher where she is expected to also be a model of health rectitude.  Perhaps there is also a presumption that I must certainly scrutinize every bite taken and every food choice made.

In truth, my wife has always been a more responsible health person than me, and she has become even more so over time.  Unlike many these days, she regularly cooks, and she is pretty spectacular at it.  She has a gift of taking a normal recipe and putting it on a diet while still having it come out sublime.  She's incredibly active with a healthy mix of working out, walking our anxiety-ridden dog and playing lots of team racket sports.  If anything, her continuing advantage over me is that she is much less obsessive than I am.

That said, I do understand that with the label of "married to the WW CEO" comes its own set of pressures.  I have to say that she handles them very well.

Perhaps a better question, and mostly definitely a thornier one, is this:  what about my kids?

I want to takle this topic in two separate posts:  one focusing on the good and other focusing on the watch-outs.

First off, for those who don't know me, I have two daughters, now aged 11 and 13 with birthdays at the end of February.  They are both incredibly tall, willowy girls who by all accounts are happy and well adjusted despite having a strange man for a father -- their mother gets all credit for they're being well adjusted.

In terms of how they feel about having me work for Weight Watchers, they seem to like it a lot.  My youngest daughter routinely wears Weight Watchers logo ware (e.g., "Because it works!" or "Walk-it Challenge"), which I find endlessly amusing.  Whenever we have a new TV spot on the air, they definitely make a bit of noise and make me feel good by putting on a good show of support.
Exactly the way my family looks at me!  

What I find the most gratifying is that if asked what I do, they always respond that I work for a company that helps people.  Their understanding of Weight Watchers is that it helps people learn how to become healthier by learning how to eat better and how to exercise more.  I cannot think of anything more important for a father than having his kids respect and appreciate his life's work.  I don't take it for granted, and it is by itself reason enough for me to come into work every day with a full head of steam (not the angry kind).

I also take some comfort in knowing that my daughters have grown up in a house where they see their parents making good food choices and trying to live healthily.  My kids don't live like puritans, and they are wholly unafraid of attacking a pizza or getting their candy on.  This said, they already have better eating habits than I did at their age.  They are perfectly fine measuring out two pieces of Halloween candy, and being as happy as if they had good sense.  Their father would have had a hard time stopping at 15 pieces when he was their age.

I also take some comfort in that they see me exercising pretty much every day.  I'm only gone for an hour or hour and a half each time I go, so they are not getting a window into a nut.  However, they do see someone who has found a way to work in exercise as a basic part of his life.  It's just a normal thing to do.  My girls are not yet at the age where "working out" is particularly necessary or appropriate.  They get their exercise through sport.  However, when they get older, I can only hope that they will have memories of what active life looks like for a grownup perspective.

I write all of this with optimism and hope because I truly believe that as parents, we need to be healthy life role models for our kids.  The most important lessons we teach them about food and exercise will be those that they observe of us rather than receive in the form of nagging and lectures.  Much of the burden for this role modeling has historically fallen on the shoulders of moms.  I believe that dads need to step up just as much.  If we as fathers cannot be bothered to seek a healthier life, then why should we ever expect our kids to do so?

In my ideal world, my kids will see me as a father who works for a decent organization that's trying to make the world better by helping people become better themselves.  They will see me as a person who strives to be healthy in both his relationship with food and his commitment to activity.  If so, I can think of no better reason for me to enter the new week with refreshed resolve to stick to the healthier path.




  1. Insightful words, Dave!

    On PointsPlus 2012: Thank GOD the team has finally updated the design and functionality of the web site, and finally brought the company's online presence into the 21st century!

    Since day one with WeightWatchers, this has been my major pet peeve. With the enhanced design elements, the site's functionality, ease of use, and aesthetic quality have all greatly increased. The updated design brings a fresh, inspiring new outlook to the company.

    I hope that your team continues to work diligently to bring the same updates to the trackers, and eventually the main site.

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  3. Great post, thanks! :)

    I was raised in a house very opposite of the one you present to your kids....lots and lots of bad food choices and no exercise. Congrats to you and your wife for setting such good examples.

  4. The beauty of this writing from a Father rather than a CEO. Thank you for sharing this, it touched me. The most inspiring and joyful read I have read for days! :)

  5. Great post! I think it's great that you and your wife both live a healthy lifestyle. Such a gift for your children!

  6. I am a leader and one of my classes is "moms and tots" - I never cease to grab the opportunity to instill to them "kids do as we do, not as we say"...great article!

  7. Dave - What an inspiration you are to world. As a lifetime member since 1991, it is great to hear your day to day struggles, reflections and triumphs. Your role model as a parent may be your most important one of all. Actions do speak louder than words. My own kids are now 20 and 23 and live far away. Imagine my delight as I see them exercising and making super food choices. They learned without pressure and I could not be prouder. That's what Weight Watchers does too. LOVE your blog!!!!

  8. Dave, I am a leader and an ambassador for Weight Watchers. I always look forward to your blogs and have mentioned them several times in my meetings. As a mother of a teenage son, I, too, feel the responsibility to set s healthy and active example. Love the added flexibility of PointsPlus 2012 and so do my members. Thank you for your hard work!

  9. Dave - We need a WW App for a calculator only. Just like the little calculators you sell, except as an app for phones and ipads. Sell it for a dollar or two and tie it to peoples WW account. As long at the are a paying member it works.

  10. Hi, Dave,

    I find it incredibly inspiring that you work with your wife to thoughtfully present a united front of healthy choices to your children. I'm working on my doctoral dissertation now to learn more about diet sabotage by partners/spouses.

    While it's challenging to lose weight on your own, it's not necessarily easier with a spouse or partner. Sometimes partners/spouses undermine weight loss through acts like complaining about healthier food, gifting high-caloric foods, or even through abusive language/acts. I'm creating an anonymous, online survey, PUBS-WL, to assess for partner undermining and to learn more from those who experience it. Eventually, I hope to develop an intervention to address the undermining and foster active, attentive support of healthful decisions between partners/spouses.

  11. Loved the show "Father Knows Best" watched it every week.

  12. Debbie, proud to be WW receptionistDecember 9, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    Oh, thanks Dave! This is such an encouragement to me! I have five kids, and only became really focused on a healthy lifestyle half-way through raising them. I, too, hope what they see their father and I doing will be imprinted on them for life. A most compelling motivation for us is to do all we can to avoid becoming a health burden to our children.

    I also love reading your posts, and thank you for giving us a view into the daily life of our leader. Thanks again!

  13. AMANDA! I'd be happy to fill out that survey...i deal with that on a daily basis...and i know that ultimately it is I who needs to be responsible for me, but sabotage from a "loved one" can really be depressing and discouraging, adding another challenge to the whole process of gene fighting and dealing with losing and keeping off weight.

  14. I appreciate your inspiring words, your honesty and the obvious love you have for your family. How refreshing!

  15. Hi, Dave

    I really enjoyed your blog. Your family is and has been on the road to a healthy lifestyle.

    As a lifetime member, I was truly pleased to know that now I can enjoy e-tools free as long as I meet the requirements--weigh-in every month, and, of course, be no more that the two pounds over my goal weight. This is a great incentive.

    Once again--thanks !


  16. Hi Dave,
    Loved this installment and love the fact that you and your wife have set an excellent example for your children for living a healthy lifestyle. I joined WW online in September and am fully committed and loving it. I must tell you that making Jennifer Hudson a spokesperson was insightful and most encouraging especially if you've followed her career (pre-WW). Her success in program is impressive and inspirational. I have found a new lifestyle via WW and my journey is extraordinary!

  17. While visiting with a young lady and her boyfriend at church, she asked me how I was losing weight. When I told her WW, she shouted, "I love WW, my mom used to take me along when I was a kid and I learned so much about eating, that's how I eat now." Beginning early in life is KEY to a healthy lifestyle.