Holiday gifts that matter: the human spirit on display

December 17, 2012 — 81 Comments

Note:  As you will see below, I started writing this post Friday morning of last week.  As I brought my head up early in the afternoon, I bore witness to the shocking events of the day in Newtown, CT.  It is a town that is a mere 30 miles from where my kids attended elementary school.  Words could not express the horror and sadness of these events.  I felt it.  We all felt it.  Suffice to say, I did not want to post on my blog anything having to do with anything that day or over the weekend.  Today on Monday morning, I continue to be filled with sadness for the loss suffered by the families directly affected, their community and our nation at large.

In times like this, perhaps it is useful for us also to be reminded of the power of the human spirit at work.  So, with this intention, I am now sharing the post that was written, but the “send” button was not yet depressed.


It’s December 14, and I am trying very hard to exhale deeply.  I’ve just finished a truckload of work, our new program launched (Yay!!!!), and our plans for next year are being finalized.  It’s always a crazy time of year in which I barely have a second to reflect on the holiday spirit of the month.  Truth be told, it’s been a long time since I had a big dose of Christmas spirit, mostly because I’m just too busy to take a second an reflect on it.  However, I don’t need to stay an Ebenezer Scrooge.  I can now choose to get my priorities straight and be thankful for all that really matters in life.

About 11 days ago, we had our annual holiday Townhall meeting for Weight Watchers corporate headquarters.  We use this annual event to talk about the future, share an early preview into our marketing plans, talk about the new program, and mostly to give our people thanks for all of their hard work.  From there it’s off to the holiday party where people can enjoy themselves and have the opportunity to watch me and countless others dance poorly.

This holiday Townhall, we added an extra element.  It was a very simple idea, really.  We asked two of our local successful members to come in and tell their stories to help all of the folks toiling away at headquarters remember why they work so very hard all year long.  When these two members came, our request to them was to simply share their story.  Both of of their stories were incredible, but nothing on Earth could have prepared us for Jennie.

I will not attempt to tell Jennie’s story because I could never in a thousand years hope to do it justice.  All I can tell you is that it is one of the most moving experiences I can ever recall in my 13 years at Weight Watchers.  There are moments in life when we get to observe the awesome power of the human spirit in action.  There are moments when we can realize that anything is possible.  There are moments in life when we can be truly inspired and see a clear path to a better life.  For me, this speech was one of those moments.

So with this in mind, please accept my holiday gift to all of you.  May it inspire you as it did me, and may it remind you that there is nothing that cannot be overcome.

The whole talk is about 20 minutes in total, so I had it broken into two YouTube video files.  PLEASE TRUST ME.  These will be some of the best 20 minutes you have ever spent.  So without further delay, allow me to present Jennie.

Part 1…

Part 2…

Happy holidays!!!!



81 responses to Holiday gifts that matter: the human spirit on display


    Thank you Jennie. What a story.


      I just want to say that Jennie, is ME, with the exception of the fact that although I don’t have diabetes, or a Thyroid conidition, I did have and still can get it on occasion Cellulitis and I had Congestive Heart Failure with an enlarged heart. This was in 2005. I was in the hospital for 1 month. I had been on a sofa for a year myself and couldn’t move. Had 1 son who was married, and lived outside the home and my 2 teenage daughters were living at home with me and cared for me. I missed our youngest daughters graduation, was not able to attend church for a whole year and my whole body was weeping. I too have Lymphedema and my body at the time, was shutting down. I lost 256 lbs. on my own, with the ADA Consistent Carbohydrate Diet that the hospital had put me on, but then my FIL had a stroke and my struggles began and my weight began to escalate. I gained 93 of that back. I had been swimming and kept swimming, but I wasn’t losing weight.I joined WW in July,2010 and have only 7 lbs. to go to get that 93 back off and will be on my way again down the scale.
      One night after swimming 25 laps at the gym, still weighing 397 mind you, I went into Atrial Fibrillation and went to ER and they admitted me immediately and sent me to ICU for 2 days. Got my heartrate down enough for me to go home with meds. That was in Sept. of 2010, 1 month after I had joined WW. It took my body 1 whole year to adjust to the meds and to continue to lose weight even though I was doing all I could do. My body then started to lose and I’ve been losing at a consistent rate again. Still not quickly, but surely. As long as I stay close to the program, I do well. Weight Watchers has been a good thing for me and it is my 2nd home now. I have done this all online.
      So, Jennie…my thoughts and prayers are with you. I know exactly what you speak of dear. I won’t go back to that place again, if I can help it, and guess what…..I CAN. We do have to be the ones to step up and take care of the body we were given. Nobody else can do the work for us. It’s a privilege.I’m 51 yrs. old myself and the thing that encourages me about your story, is the fact that you are walking without aides. I still have to walk with 2 canes. In stores, I use scooters, but one day I hope to walk without assistance. Time will tell.

      Thanks for sharing your story with all of us.


        I wish you all the best. You know the obstacles and you also know that slow and steady, small changes is what will get you to your dream of walking without your canes. I never thought it was going to be possible until I believed in the program and eventually myself. Meetings and persistence is what helped get me to goal!! Don’t let anything or anybody get in your way. You deserve to be the best you can be, and this program will help you get there.


    What a wonderful and inspiring story!


    I also go to the Lynbrook meeting center. I have met Jennie and she is truly an inspiration! She is also very very humble! If she can do it anyone can!


    Thank you Jennie!! Thank you David!! My heart is full, and I am SO glad to be part of this fantastic family.


    Inspiring story. Thanks, Jennie, for sharing with us.


    WOW, you were right Mr. Kirchhoff, that was some of the best use of 20 minutes I have spent in a long time. It is pretty tough to use the relatively tiny obstacles that I face as excuses after hearing Jennie’s story. You are a brave woman and I thank you for sharing


    What a wonderful inspiring story. Thank you for sharing this with us.


    Awesome! Such an inspiration!


    Powerful…so awesome. Jennie, you go girl!!!


    I don’t usually watch youtube videos while I am working, but after last week’s events, something inspiring was in order, and this was definitely inspirational. Jennie’s sense of humor is priceless!


    Absolutely awe-inspiring and amazing! You GO girl!!!


    Thank you for sharing Jenni’s story. I wish we could play this at our meeting especially during the holidays. Everyone talks about the struggle during the holidays this would so give them a new perspective.


    I have tears in my eyes. I will remember and think of Jennie often. How wonderful that she is giving back and inspiring others!


    Love this – her simple explanation of the program: follow the directions!


      I know right that’s what I hear my leader say but I guess I always have too many excuses I do not want to hear I only have so long to live time to really follow the plan just as I am taught too :)


    That is really quite an inspirational story!! Thank you David for sharing!!


    Thank you so much for sharing Jenni’s story, David!! As someone who is approaching 50 and has been morbidly obese most of my adult life, it’s a great reminder that it’s NEVER too late!!


    Thanks for sharing. Here I was worrying about how not to eat Christmas treats. No problem now.


    What an inspiring, motivating message! Delivered just when I needed it, too. Jennie and David, thanks for sharing your stories and your insights!


    going for a walk now… thanks so much Jennie love ya work


    Amazing doesn’t begin to describe this woman. Jennie gives hope to so many who struggle, but are ready change. I was blessed by watching this.


    Thank you for sharing. I’m already loving my job as a Weight Watcher Coach but stories like these confirm that I have the best job in the world!


    Awesome story, thank you for sharing.


    Jennie is so inspiring to all best 20 min I have spent in a long time. How wonderful of WW to share with us.


    Wow, what a amazing story


    ONEV WORD AMAZING!!! I work with jennie and she is truely an inspiration!!!!!


    Thankyou so much for sharing Jennie’s amazing story. She must be on every poster in our stores….


    That was Phenomenal! Jenni changed her life and made a life and is inspiring so many others to help themselves. A truly powerful story, a truly powerful example.




    That was such an inspiring story. It’s exactly what I needed to get back on track, not tomorrow, but RIGHT NOW. Thank you!


    What an amazing story. It should be told over and over again. Thank you for sharing it and for being a wonderful inspiration to many!


    Enjoyed hearing Jennie’s story! Wish we could have seen her before pic – her after is amazing even as she is!


    Being a Weight Watcher is the hardest and easiest thing I have done for my body.


    Wow, that WAS a true holiday gift. Thank you to David for sharing it with us. And an even bigger thank you to Jennie for living it & for telling your story so honestly. You are an amazing woman to have persevered so diligently in the face of so many huge obstacles. I know you will go on to inspire countless lives in the years to come. You just inspired me. And I can’t wait to share your story with my members. Thank you, thank you, thank you!


    Wow that was awesome, and so inspiring. Thank you for sharing this with us.


    wow , so inspiring !!!!!


    Unbelievable. Thank you soooo much for posting this, Dave. I think it just changed and saved my life. What a gift!


    Oh my, thank you for sharing.


    I agree that this video should be played in all the meeting rooms. Not only inspiring, but so down to earth. Fantastic!

    Keith "Tart" Bond December 19, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    One lb at a time!

    Pamela,NewZealand December 19, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Incredible story, amazing journey Jennie….we’ll done and thanks for the inspiration to us all out here,


    Jennie thank you. You are an inspiration to us all!


    Thank you Jennie! Today is the day………………………..


    Thank you for sharing… I needed to hear from someone just like me – that I CAN do this.


    I have tears in my eyes. So moving. I guess I need to try harder and stop making excuses. I know I can do this. I am more than half way there. This is the year. Thank you Jennie


    Wow….with all the “bad” stuff going on, I needed that boost. Thank you for that gift!


    This makes me so proud to be a WW leader! Way to go, Jennie.


    Jennie truly represents real people. People can relate to her story because she is working mom who loves her family. She should be the face for Weight Watchers… Not Jennifer Hudson or Jennifer Simpson… She is the real thing. She did it through sheer determination and belief.


    Dave thanks for letting her SHARE her story. I really see things much different now. Clearer to be certain. Here it is Christmas evening and our supper is almost ready. I have been up and down on WW but am loosing slow but sure. With all of my injuries and disabilities I did not live the life she did. She went through hell for so much of her life packing the weight on and being sad all the time. I was in a wreck and was so sad I reached 300 on a 5’5″ frame well after a year on WW I have less than 100 to go so I know I will make it but better yet, after hearing her story and knowing how bad life for her was, I will do all I can to achieve what she has. I like the new additions to the plan as well. I will use ALL THE TOOLS WW has, right there for us and cook for ME and Shop for ME I too want a space where things are placed JUST FOR ME!
    Please give her a hug and tell her I loved that she showed that young boy what a woman can do when she puts her mind to it. This was a perfect gift for my CHRISTMAS

    I have an awesome leader now we have to show her how much she inspires us as well.


    Reblogged this on Living and Lovin and commented:
    NO EXCUSES time to get serious I want to be a lifetime and GO FOR FREE better yet be healthy once again!


    Dave, I just watched the 20 min video on the WW site. The new program you outlined is so incredibly insightful. I found myself nodding to my laptop (not something I do often) and saying, “Yeah, that!” about stress eating and controlling your environment. I think that video encouraged me more than the entire series of meetings I’ve been to–and those were fab too. I hope you don’t take it down off the site. I see myself watching it again when I’m facing the red foggy haze of the hot state. Also, I’m fully prepared to dress in cashews and ice cream just to meet you one day. Yeah, I know, that sounds creepy, but you’re kind of awesome.





    Great talk! I need to watch it every week I struggle with losing 50 pounds! I wish she had a blog…or does she? I’m sure she inspires people at her meeting but she could inspire thousands on line! Any chance? Jennie, if you see this would you think about it?


    What an amazing way to end 2012 and ring in 2013. Thank you for sharing your story. I had a hard time controlling the tears because I could relate to so many things you said. Best wishes for an awesome New Year!


      Ty so much!!
      It is my hope that people will see this, and just as you saw the similarities and could identify with what I was saying, become inspired and KNOW that you too can achieve your goal!!!


    I’m having a real problem with Weight Watchers and your customer care and have tried multiple times via phone and email to get my problem resolved. I would like someone to contact me immediately.


    Jennie….you are a gift! Thank you so much for sharing your story. You inspire me way more than those other two “J’s.” You should be in a WW commercial!


    I wish they could play your video as a new member orientation. It would show everyone no matter how far you have to go there are people that have been in your shoes and have succeeded. Absolutely inspiring story Jennie!!! Thank you Dave for sharing.


    I am so very grateful to have watched “Jennie’s Story Parts 1 and 2″…. I have been struggling for some time with my weight lost/weight watcher journey. Jenny’s story has inspired me to stay focused, use the tools and resources available to me and commit to the program once again. Thank you David, and THANK YOU Jennie!


    I tried that 4.5 mile / 15 incline on my treadmill today. I did not even know it had a 15 incline. I only lasted a few seconds! I was afraid I would fly off the treadmill before I could turn it down! It’s great to know its possible to start out where Jennie did and improve that much. Maybe there is hope for me! :-)


    Incredible Testimonial!!!!


    Dear David,
    I have lurked your blog page many times and have only just subscribed to receive updates; no blog has ever motivated me enough to take this step .
    Thank you so much for sharing Jennie’s story. I have been a member of WWs here in Australia for over 12 years now, I have almost gotten to goal several times, but always found an excuse to not follow through; maybe what I lacked most wasn’t motivation or discipline or determination, but something far more powerful…… self belief!!!!
    I watched Jennie’s story just before Christmas, and she still resonates with me. Up until Xmas, I was going to let my WWs membership lapse and throw in the towel. I asked my mum for advice and she said women my age don’t lose weight (I’m 45 and need to lose about 60lbs) and I should just accept it and move on…in essence forget about WWs! But Jennie has shown me that anything is possible, and tomorrow I am going back to meetings with a brand new perspective.
    I have been to New York quite a few times and hope to go back sometime in the near-ish future….please may I meet Jennie, I think it’s safe to say she has changed my life already. Thanks so much for an incredible testimonial!

    P.S. please come to Australia and talk to our WWs CEOs and talk them into making eTools free for LTMs!!!!!


    Love-love-loved Jennie’s story. At one point (before WW) I realized I was the one who dug myself into the pit I was in, and I was the only one who could dig myself out. This program is showing me, week by week, how to dig… and lifting my spirits while I do. Thank you Dave, for posting Jennie’s amazing story. It will stay with me for a long time.


    AMAZING thanks for sharing


    What a fantastic story!!!!!

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