Working Towards Weight Loss
By Steve Carr
Eleven years ago, Linda Pasquali tagged along with a friend to an on-site Weight Watchers meeting at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.
She stayed. Her friend? Not so much.
“I knew I had some weight to lose, but she kind of dragged me to the program,” Linda said. “I really liked it. It hit home for me.”
Something else hit her not too long before that first meeting.
“My husband called me Pumpkin Face, and though he meant it endearingly, it hurt my feelings,” Linda explained. “He felt terrible, but that’s when I started looking in the mirror and I realized my face was big and round. It had never been big and round before.”
“Linda hit her goal during the program’s first 12 weeks.”
That wasn’t all that had taken on a new shape. “I couldn’t see my feet anymore,” she said. “I had gained weight, but it was all in my stomach. I looked pregnant and until that time I was in denial. I was just buying bigger clothes to cover it.” That’s when she knew she needed to lose some of the 150 pounds she carried on her 5-foot-5 frame. And, it didn’t take long.
Linda hit her goal during the program’s first 12 weeks, went on maintenance and became a lifetime member. She still is, and when she left Blue Cross Blue Shield just under three years ago, she brought the Weight Watchers program to her new work location with help from Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH) Wellness Department. “I was in the program for three weeks when I realized how paramount it is to pay attention to what you’re putting in your mouth,” she said. “It’s a program that works and you’re still open to all the food that’s out in the world. You’re just accountable to yourself with the point system.”
“When you become accountable to yourself and stay on the program.”
Even after more than a decade, staying accountable drives her, underscoring her obvious, intense passion for Weight Watchers.
“Losing weight was very easy for me,” Linda said. “If you follow the Weight Watchers program to the letter and don’t fight and derail yourself, you will lose weight. But once you get to goal weight and through maintenance, that’s when the real work begins. That’s when you become accountable to yourself and stay on the program in your heart. That’s how you stay on goal.” The e-tools and the meetings she said “make it easy for lifetime members.”
It’s a message she passionately delivers as a volunteer facilitator to members attending the on-site program at the Biltmore Center where she works as Executive Assistant to the Phoenix Children’s Care Network (PCCN) Vice President of Operations.
And, it’s a message that’s impressively resonating.
The PCCN program just celebrated its first anniversary with a cumulative weight loss of more than 575 pounds and helped three members achieve Lifetime status. “One lady hit her goal last week and is now on maintenance. She was very emotional about losing more than 40 pounds,” Linda said. And people are noticing!”
“A cumulative weight loss of more than 575 pounds.”
“There’s always hesitation when someone becomes a member,” she explained. “Through the years of going to meetings and observing, I realized some people are afraid to join partly because they just don’t know what kind of changes the program is going to make in their lives. They are just so accustomed to eating a certain way and they aren’t sure they can make the changes. “But, people have told me this program has changed their lives. And, if not for the on-site program, they wouldn’t have taken the extra effort to get into their car to go to a meeting. They’re very grateful for this on-site program.”
One gentleman who left Phoenix Children’s “won’t give up our meetings,” Linda said. “He drives here every Tuesday because he enjoys these meetings, the members and the leaders. He’s very engaged.”
Of course, Linda also won’t give up anything related to Weight Watchers, even the foods she loves. “I never gave up the things I liked,” she said. “I put whole cream and real sugar in my coffee because I love it. If it means not having a candy bar or a bag of chips, so be it. My downfall was salty stuff. I could eat chips and Cheetos by the bag. Not anymore.”
“Weight Watchers isn’t a diet. It’s a way of life.”
She credits the PCH on-site program success – and her obvious limitless passion – to Weight Watchers Leader Christine Northrup. “She’s more than a Weight Watchers Leader. She’s a life coach!”
“Weight Watchers isn’t a diet,” Linda emphasizes. “It’s a way of life and that’s how I’ve always thought about it and you don’t give up on a way of life.”