Life-changing truths from WW's founder

Jean Nidetch said this stuff decades ago, but her wellness advice makes even more sense today.
Published October 12, 2018

Jean Nidetch founded WeightWatchers® 60 years ago, and it’s crazy how relevant her POV is today. Consider this: Way back in 1968 she said, “The word ‘diet’ is one we refrain from using at WW because one usually goes on a diet to lose weight, and then ultimately goes off the diet. We refer, instead, to a ‘program’ of re-educating one’s eating habits, which then becomes a way of life.”

We couldn’t agree more. Jean is no longer with us, but we’re celebrating her memory by sharing a few more of her timeless insights. Here’s to you, Jean—and thanks.

“The person you have to please is not your husband, not a mythical 'someone,' not your doctor—it’s yourself. You aren’t losing weight just to be admired (though, of course, looking well is a great incentive.) You’re also losing weight for your own well-being. We all need approval, but when we lose weight for others, we’re in trouble.”

Of course, she was right. Understanding your why, your deep-down reason for wanting to accomplish your goal, can help you push through the bumps along the way.

“It’s very important to take the time to eat properly, whether it’s a meal or a snack. Give yourself a chance to really taste what you’re eating.”

Clearly, Jean was way out front on mindful eating. She wrote that in 1980, observing that “one man took this advice and said it was the first time he’d ever looked up from his plate and noticed which of his children was sitting across from him.” We might be even more distracted today, with smartphones taking a seat at the table. But research shows eating mindfully matters for weight and wellness because it gives your body more time to signal your brain that you’re full. So, put your phone away and really enjoy a meal with family and friends.

‘‘If you want something—and it’s legal—do it. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t, or that it’s too difficult, or that you won’t make it, or that you’ll be disappointed.’’

They may mean well, but sometimes the people close to you can undermine your success.  We’re talking about the cake-pushers, and family member who ask whether you really have to go for your run in the rain. Stay strong and lean on those who truly support you and kick your determination into gear. 

“Food is too often used as a mother uses a pacifier, to keep a baby from crying. You’re unhappy and food seems to satisfy all your interior cravings. It does for the moment; food that tastes good takes our minds off more pressing problems, but we can’t eat forever. Sooner or later, we’re satiated but never satisfied.”

Jean pretty much nailed emotional eating with this quote from 1975, but we know more about it now. The key to breaking the cycle is to recognize what triggers it before you ever open the fridge.

“It’s choice—not chance—that determines your destiny.’’

The choices you make every day are what create change, and helping you make healthier choices has always been a WW hallmark. When decisions get tough, use a mantra, look to your “why”,  and remember what Jean said. It’s your journey, and you’re in control.