How lunchtime Workshops helped this pharmacist lose 101 pounds*

Great things can happen when coworkers become community.
Published November 24, 2020

*People following the WeightWatchers weight-loss program can expect to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week. Brigid lost weight on a prior program.

As told to Katerina Gkionis

It was November 2018 when my doctor delivered the news and jolted me to action: I was borderline diabetic, I learned, and on the verge of developing high blood pressure and high cholesterol, too. As a pharmacist who works at a children’s hospital, I understood the long-term effects of those numbers. And they weren’t good.

In high school and college, I had been the model of health—a proud member of the swim team. My intense level of activity offset the large portions of food I was eating at the time. That changed after graduation. I became less active and fell into a habit of mindlessly eating in front of the TV. I ate out constantly with my now-husband, and my weight continued to climb. My mother passed away from cancer in 2015, and the emotional toll led me to seek comfort in overeating.

Mortified by my doctor’s warning, I knew I had to do something. For months, on my hospital’s intranet site, I had been reading about WeightWatchers Workshops being offered in my workplace. So on January, 8, 2019—yes, I remember the exact date—I attended my first session. It was a turning point; my life hasn’t been the same since.

Using science to reach my goals

As someone who works in the medical field, I wanted to find a program that was scientifically backed by research. I wasn’t in this for a miracle fix. I had tried that before and nothing stuck.

My first Workshop was nerve-racking. Just showing up felt personal, like I was saying, “Hi, I know I’m not healthy. Yes, I need help.” That was tough, especially since I was walking into a room filled with coworkers I hardly knew. But everyone turned out to be so warm and welcoming during that lunch-hour Workshop. Afterward, I asked myself, “Why did I wait so long to join?”

Something important I learned at my first Workshop was that I couldn’t continue with my same habits if I wanted to make progress. So I initiated some changes in the days that followed. Before, my husband and I would typically order pizza or go out for Mexican food for dinner. That week, we made tilapia fish tacos at home on our own—a big deal for someone like me who didn’t normally cook. Another early change: I started bringing afternoon snacks of fruit, vegetables, and mozzarella cheese sticks to work. Right away, this cut down on my usual candy consumption.

What Brigid ate then vs. now



Fast-food bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich on a bagel, plus a coffee drink with whipped cream and chocolate sauce


Two lightly fried eggs with salsa or light cheese on a light, whole-grain, toasted English muffin; frittata made with various combinations of asparagus, roasted red pepper, feta, chicken sausage, kale, spinach, and potato



Large turkey sub with cheese, vegetables, and mayo, plus a bag of chips and cookie; leftover pasta with a heavy cream sauce


Air-fried chicken and a side salad with tomato and mushrooms; chicken, quinoa, mango, and red pepper salad with red-wine vinaigrette



Chicken alfredo with pasta; meatloaf made with ground beef and bread crumbs; half a large pizza


Fish tacos made with corn tortillas, cabbage slaw, Greek yogurt, and a side of homemade fat-free refried beans; Moroccan chickpea-stuffed acorn squash



Candy, chocolate-dipped berries, cookies, cupcake, ice cream


Raspberries, grapes, apple with a dip of nonfat Greek yogurt and peanut butter powder

I’m active in my professional community and travel a lot for work purposes. I started bringing snacks with me wherever I go. For instance, now I always pack a bunch of clementines. They don’t spoil easily, they’re easy to peel, and they don’t need to be refrigerated. Almonds are another good option—I like to carry a pack for a quick snack on the go.

Leveling up in the kitchen

Before WeightWatchers, the extent of my cooking was boxed mac and cheese. I knew going in that cooking was healthier and more economical than relying on premade foods or eating out. But WeightWatchers helped me see that cooking wasn’t so hard. I learned to flip through the grocery store’s circular each week to see what was on sale. Then, I’d plan my meals around those ingredients, searching the WW app or Instagram for recipe ideas.

I picked up lots of little lessons along the way. I learned how spices and seasonings can bring incredible flavour to meals. When I add pre-mixed seasoning packets to chicken breast in the air fryer, I’m shocked at how good it tastes! I also learned how to make a basic frittata that I can vary with different add-ins, then portion out during the week. I started sharing some of my dishes on Instagram (@brigeybidsbyetolbs). I can’t believe how far I’ve come.

The difference a year makes

In summer 2019, I was down about 50 pounds* when my Workshop faced closure due to low attendance levels. I knew I couldn’t lose those Workshops—they were working for me, in no small part because they fit in with my busy schedule and helped me find structure in my week.

I started a mini campaign within my hospital to save the Workshops, sending a letter to several departments to share my positive personal experiences with the program. In response, more than 15 new members signed up, and attendance rebounded.

About a month and a half later, my workplace named me “Employee of the Month for Health and Wellness.” Yes, me! Less than a year prior, I had been in my doctor’s office receiving upsetting news. And there I was in August 2019—by then 60 pounds* down—being recognized as a positive influence for others.

Getting active for a cause

I grew up as an athlete, so becoming active again was fun. Having always loved to swim, I decided to try something I hadn’t done before: running. I started with walks, then slowly added short intervals of running to the mix. Cycling also became a passion: To honor my mom, I signed up for a cycling event in Ohio called Pelotonia, which raises funds and awareness for cancer research. With less weight on me, I breezed through the 45-mile ride.

Now that I’m running, biking, and swimming, I set a goal of completing a triathlon, which incorporates all three activities. The event takes place in September, so I’m working my way up to that!

Finding joy again

When I look back at old photos of myself, I don’t think, “I was so unattractive,” or, “I look terrible.” I just remember how I felt: always tired, dragging along through half-hearted attempts to enjoy myself. Today, I love being active; I love being healthy. I’m truly enjoying my life.

Over a year after I joined WeightWatchers, I’ve lost 101 pounds*. I have so many more goals ahead, from completing the triathlon to becoming a WW Coach or Guide one day. The sky’s the limit.