How These Married Teachers Lost a Combined 57 Pounds* and Set a Healthy Example for Their Daughters
*People following the WeightWatchers weight-loss program can expect to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week. Emily and Josh lost weight on a prior program and is continuing on WeightWatchers.
By Katerina Gkionis
High school sweethearts Emily and Josh D. of Longview, Washington, began dating at 16 and have been inseparable ever since. They married, both became teachers, and now are the proud parents of three daughters ages 7, 5, and 2. After finding success as WW members, Emily and Josh—together, of course—became WW Coaches.
WW sat down with the couple to learn more about their journey, their strategies for wellness and weight-loss success, and the family TikTok dances that are keeping them on their toes these days.
WW: Let’s start at the beginning. When did weight first become an issue for each of you?
Emily: After our second child was born in 2014, I was having trouble losing the extra weight I had gained during pregnancy. In addition to the normal challenges of caring for two kids, certain tasks seemed really hard. Sitting on the floor to change my daughter’s diaper felt laborious, and I noticed myself struggling for breath when I'd try to run alongside my 3-year-old.
In the fall of 2016, I went to a doctor for a toe injury and saw “obese” written on my chart. Because I’d never struggled with my weight before, the description was jarring. Around the same time, I saw a photo of myself taken at a friend’s wedding and didn't like the way I looked. I knew I had to do something. Shortly after, I went to my first WW Workshop with a WW member I knew.
Josh: Even though Emily was intent on making changes, I wasn’t ready to join WW—not right away, at least. I figured that because I’m a guy, I’m supposed to be big. That said, I wanted to support Emily and happily ate whatever she cooked.
E: I was grateful for that! At Workshops, you hear members talk about spouses who say they’re supportive but then bring home doughnuts. Not Josh. I had been finding success for a few months when I got pregnant with our third child. Admittedly, it was difficult to see my weight go up again, but I kept telling myself I could get back on track after having the baby.
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WW: Josh, did your feelings about your own weight change during Emily’s pregnancy?
J: They did. Around that time, our oldest daughter, who was 5 years old, said to me, “Daddy, you’re not very straight; your body is round.” I knew I had been gaining weight, but I didn’t realize it was so noticeable. What's more, I wasn’t feeling my best and had that same experience of getting winded just from playing outside with the kids. I vowed to go to Workshops with Emily after the baby was born. In May 2018, we walked into the Studio together.
WW: What was it like to attend Workshops as a couple?
E: I was ecstatic when Josh told me he wanted to join! After my last pregnancy, I was determined to get back to my goal weight and I was so excited we were doing this together.
J: My mom started coming over and watching the kids every Saturday morning so Emily and I could go to WW Workshops. The girls got time with Grandma, and we got to do WW as a team.
WW: What were some of your early impressions of WW Workshops?
E: It seemed really special to have a community of like-minded people striving for similar goals sitting together in one room. In one of the early Workshops I attended before Josh joined, a member was sharing about her latest weight-loss milestone when she broke out into tears of joy. I thought, “How amazing is it that there’s such a safe place where it’s OK to let yourself be vulnerable?” I left the WW Studio feeling really positive about starting my journey.
J: At first, I worried about having to talk about my feelings in group discussions; society tells us this isn't "manly." I felt more comfortable once I met my WW Guide and the WW Coach. I was shy and didn’t contribute during my first Workshop, but I knew I was in the right place. It helped to have Emily cheering me on, too.
The following week, I opened up a little and asked for advice on healthy salad dressings, resulting in a tip I totally ran with: Someone told me the healthier options are refrigerated in the produce section. To this day, I still use the brand of light jalapeño ranch dressing I found there.
WW: What were some of the other early changes you two made on the program?
E: Before joining, I’d get a large iced caramel white mocha drink with whipped cream every morning. When I looked it up on the WW App, I discovered it was 35 WeightWatchers! I was consuming more than my daily budget for breakfast.
In a Workshop, I asked other members for advice. Someone suggested mixing two shots of espresso with a protein shake that only had two WeightWatchers. Sure enough, it was delicious!
What Emily ate then vs. now
|Breakfast||Iced caramel white mocha drink with whipped cream||Greek yogurt with berries, or baked egg cups with bell pepper, ham, and light cheese; two shots of espresso with a protein shake|
|Lunch||Turkey or ham-and-cheese sandwich on white bread with mayo||Salads made from varying combinations of greens, ground turkey with taco seasoning, salsa, light shredded cheese, a few crushed tortilla chips, and a dollop of Greek yogurt|
|Dinner||Spaghetti with meatballs or sausage, canned tomato or alfredo sauce, butter, and spoonfuls of Parmesan cheese; Chinese takeout dishes such as sweet-and-sour chicken, fried rice, and chow mein||Air-fried chicken breasts with roasted vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts; taco casserole; spaghetti squash with turkey meatballs, olive oil, and garlic|
|Snacks||Crackers and chips; sweetened yogurt with add-ins like crushed cookies||Protein bar, apples with almond butter, hard-boiled eggs|
J: I started to pay more attention to the kinds of groceries we bought—we'd use the WW App barcode scanner as we shopped. I was hanging on to a few habits that weren’t ideal, guzzling as many as eight cans of soda every day and eating two hoagie sandwiches for lunch. Soon after joining the program, I cut back on drinking regular soda and started to rely on ZeroPoint™ foods to stay full. Now, when I’m hungry for a snack, I'll grab an apple, a banana, or some pepper strips instead of eating a bag of potato chips.
E: We also started planning out our meals and cooking healthy dinners at home, taking turns depending on our schedules.
What Josh ate then vs. now
|Breakfast||Restaurant-style breakfast burritos stuffed with eggs, hash browns, sausage, bacon, ham, and cheese in a flour tortilla||Coconut protein bar with a protein shake|
|Lunch||Roast beef, turkey, and cheese sandwich with mayo on multigrain bread, with a side of chips and a few cans of soda||Chicken soup and a salad with light jalapeño vinaigrette and a sugar-free beverage|
|Dinner||Spaghetti pie made with a stick of butter, Parmesan cheese, cottage cheese, sausage, and canned tomato sauce, with a Caesar salad||Slow cooker chicken tikka masala over cauliflower mashed potatoes|
Cookies, chips, or sugary cereal
|A protein bar, an apple with almond butter, hard-boiled eggs, or vegetables with hummus|
WW: You both became WW Coaches in early 2019. How has that been for you?
J: Our own Coach had inspired us so much on our journey, we wanted to be able to do the same for others. I love building rapport with the members and helping them along the way.
E: It's amazing that we get to help members believe in themselves! In our WW Workshop, Josh and I tag-team. Most of the year, he serves as the Coach, and I'm the Guide. Then, while Josh is coaching girls' softball in the fall, I step in as Coach. It's a seamless transition because the members are already comfortable with us and know our style. When we move into our new WW Studio in the next few months, I'll also be leading my own Workshop!
WW: What else has changed for you on your journey?
E: I started to exercise when I joined the program—I wanted to train for a 5K. It was tough in the beginning. After my first day of alternating between running for 30 seconds and walking for two minutes, I wondered how I'd ever run a full mile. Eventually, I got there and even signed up for a half-marathon four months later. And as of today, I’m 22 pounds* down, and I’ve run two half-marathons!
J: I was already a gym member when I joined WW, but I definitely started exercising more often. Like Emily, I worked up to running a 5K, and I did that distance every morning on the treadmill before I started running outdoors like she does. Most days, we take turns watching the kids so we can each run a 4-mile loop around a lake by our house. I was set to run a half-marathon this month that, unfortunately, was canceled. So, I ran the 13.2 miles on my own.
E: We also both do bootcamp-style classes. It’s amazing how much we’ve been able to grow and how we can do all the moves in class.
J: And thanks to losing 64 pounds*, I can now learn dances on TikTok that we record with our 7-year-old every night. For the past three weeks, we’ve been doing little dances and posting them on Instagram!
WW: Now that you’ve both been following the program for a while, what keeps you motivated?
J: We constantly reflect on our why, and that really keeps us going. Our daughters look up to us. We want to show our girls a healthy lifestyle so they don’t have to struggle like we did. And we want to be around for a very long time.
E: What’s really interesting is that our youngest daughter only knows us as members of WW. Because of that, eating fruits and veggies is so natural to her—she loves to munch on green peppers and asparagus. It’s not quite as second-nature to our older daughters.
J: We continue to teach all three about eating the rainbow, and Emily brings the girls to the community garden at her school to show them different types of produce. The more fruits and veggies we introduce, the more they become a normal part of life.
E: It’s a hard balancing act because we want to instill positive body image without bringing in worry about weight. So, we talk about “anytime” foods like fruits and vegetables, and “sometimes,” foods like pizza and dessert. The girls are starting to notice that we have healthy habits, which is great. Mostly they just love that their parents can keep up with them.
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