NEW YORK, Jan. 4 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Creating a healthier lifestyle is just making a series of simple changes, according to the six grand prize winners of the 2009 WEIGHT WATCHERS® INSPIRING STORIES OF CHANGE CONTEST who were announced today. Selected from over 1,600 applicants to the national contest, each of the grand prize winners experienced improvements in her health by setting short-term weight loss goals and incorporating changes, such as portion control and increased activity. They also learned to create a healthier lifestyle by changing old habits and saw monumental changes in themselves.
"At Weight Watchers, we're committed to providing our members with the tools that can help them make simple, lifelong lifestyle changes that can lead to better health. These six winners made the important decision to get healthier and they can inspire us all to see how a little effort can lead to huge rewards," says David Kirchhoff President and CEO Weight Watchers International, Inc.
The 2009 Inspiring Stories of Change grand prize winners are: Nancy Begley of Parker, CO (84.4 pounds lost); Theresa Lou Bowick of Rochester, NY (62.4 pounds lost); Tamera Todd of Toccoa, GA (122.4 pounds lost); JoAnne Ragan of Akron, OH (111.5 pounds lost); Isabel Gomez of La Habra, CA (56 pounds lost); and Laura Hogerhuis of Chino, CA (59 pounds lost). The winners took steps such as planning meals ahead of time, cooking at home, as well as broadening their cuisine selections by using different and healthier staple foods. The addition of activity and new workout techniques were as straightforward as taking long walks in the evening and setting time daily to focus on overall life improvements. The key for their success was setting small achievable goals in order to make a big impact and a long term lifestyle change. "After losing over 100 pounds, I see that there's nothing I can't achieve or accomplish," says winner JoAnne Ragan from Akron, OH.
Each of the Grand Prize Winners was able to select a Lifestyle Makeover, which focused on either completing their new look, improving their cooking skills, or pumping up their workouts. The Beauty makeovers took place at Elizabeth Arden's Red Door Spas, while the personal training sessions were held with master trainers at New York Sports Clubs. One winner, who wanted to improve her healthy cooking repertoire, received a private cooking lesson at the Institute of Culinary Education.
"I was amazed by the commitment that these winners made to change their lives, and I was thrilled to have an opportunity to instruct them on new exercise and fitness techniques that will help them with continued success no matter where they were in their weight-loss journey," said Ken Szekretar, master trainer at New York Sports Clubs.
Entrants were asked to submit stories of positive lifestyle changes and health benefits as a result of their weight loss. All of the winners' stories feature inspiring individual triumphs, showing that successful weight loss can be accomplished by taking simple steps that work toward accomplishing larger goals.
The Inspiring Stories will be featured on WeightWatchers.com and in the January/February issue of Weight Watchers Magazine, available on newsstands January 4, 2010. This annual contest, known in years past as Inspiring Stories of the Year, has been conducted by Weight Watchers since 1998 to recognize many of the inspirational weight-loss journeys among Weight Watchers meetings members and Weight Watchers Online subscribers who shared their personal stories of commitment to change. [A complete list of the six Grand Prize winners of the 2009 WEIGHT WATCHERS INSPIRING STORIES OF CHANGE CONTEST and a summary of their individual weight-loss stories follows this page.]
About Weight Watchers International, Inc.
Weight Watchers International, Inc. is the world's leading provider of weight management services, operating globally through a network of Company-owned and franchise operations. Weight Watchers holds over 50,000 weekly meetings where members receive group support and learn about healthy eating patterns, behavior modification and physical activity. WeightWatchers.com provides innovative, subscription weight management products over the Internet and is the leading Internet-based weight management provider in the world. In addition, Weight Watchers offers a wide range of products, publications and programs for those interested in weight loss and weight control.
To learn more about Weight Watchers services, products and publications, visit www.weightwatchers.com.
To find the nearest Weight Watchers meeting location, call 1-800-651-6000 or click on the "Find a Meeting" link at the top of our homepage.
2009 WEIGHT WATCHERS INSPIRING STORIES OF CHANGE GRAND PRIZE WINNERS
Nancy Begley, Parker, CO
Total Weight Lost: 84.4 pounds
By age 23, Nancy Begley was 240 pounds and a size 20 with a host of medical problems for which she was taking several different medications to help manage. After a health scare in 2007, Nancy and her husband joined Weight Watchers and made a commitment together to get healthy. Today, Nancy has seen improved health benefits, wears a size 4, and, most importantly, has taken control over the one thing she never thought she could - her weight.
Theresa Lou Bowick, Rochester, NY
Total Weight lost: 62.4 pounds
Theresa Lou Bowick learned first hand that not only did her health improve once she had lost weight but so did her self-confidence and determination. Since joining Weight Watchers in 2004, Theresa completed her Bachelors of Science in Nursing with honors, was honored at the White House for her volunteer work in developing nations (she wore a size 10 to the event!) and now has plans to go to law school. Yet, her greatest accomplishment of all was her teenage daughter's decision to take control of her own health after seeing Theresa's example.
Tamera Todd, Toccoa, GA
Total Weight Lost: 122.4 pounds
As a school teacher, Tamera Todd did not have the energy needed to keep up in the classroom. She had always struggled with her weight, but it was when she hit nearly 300 pounds that Tamera knew it was time to take action. With Weight Watchers meetings, e-Tools and message boards, Tamera shed over 120 pounds and gained a new lease on life, becoming an inspiration to those around her. She's even contemplating using her skills as a teacher to help others with their own weight loss journeys.
JoAnne Ragan, Akron, OH
Total Weight Lost: 111.5 pounds
After JoAnne Ragan's father passed away of congestive heart failure at 56 and her mother developed a debilitating disease at 48, JoAnne felt she was headed to a similar fate. She subscribed to Weight Watchers Online and quickly learned the keys to weight loss: portion control and increased exercise. JoAnne started slowly and after losing her first 50 pounds began exercising, eventually becoming an avid participant in cardio boot camp classes, yoga, and Pilates. Now, JoAnne has more confidence and even became a certified scuba diver - something that would have been very difficult when she was overweight.
Isabel Gomez, La Habra, CA
Total Weight Lost: 56 pounds
After suffering a sports injury in high school in 2001, Isabel Gomez's dreams of the Olympics and college scholarships dwindled as her weight continued to pile on. At almost 200 pounds by 2007, Isabel realized she needed guidance and chose to join Weight Watchers with the support of her family and friends. Today, Isabel has shed over 50 pounds and regained her athletic ability. She also realized her inner strength and determination as she learned how the steps towards better health were not just physical, but also mental and emotional.
Laura Hogerhuis, Chino, CA
Total Weight Loss: 59 pounds
When Laura Hogerhuis first signed up for Weight Watchers Online, she received a huge wakeup call as it helped her see firsthand just how much she was overeating. But instead of feeling discouraged, she thought back to the high blood pressure diagnosis during her pregnancy and knew she had to make a commitment not only for herself, but for the sake of her family. Laura pulled through the rest of that first week and felt empowered by her ability to create positive change in her life. Now 59 pounds lighter, Laura continues to take simple steps each day that continue to transform her life.
SOURCE Weight Watchers