Oh! Those extra pounds!

Published 10:00 pm Monday, June 27, 2016

It’s a sunny, summer day and I’m driving to Lake Lanier. The

Kathy Locke

Kathy Locke

drive along the lake is lined with beautiful blue and lavender hydrangeas. I’m visiting with Kathy Locke today and she lives on Lake Lanier. Kathy is the leader for the Tryon Weight Watchers group.

When I found the scale inching upwards month after month, I knew it was time to get serious about losing the added pounds. So, one Tuesday afternoon in the spring, I attended a Weight Watchers meeting and discovered Kathy. I’ve been to Weight Watchers in the past and I’ve learned how important the leader is to successful weight loss. Kathy greets each member with a big smile and with her high-energy personality, I felt this might be a fit for me. As the weeks went by, I wanted to know more about her journey to becoming a Weight Watchers leader.

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Kathy grew up in California. She started as a history major in college but switched to business. She became involved with computers in the early days of technology. Keeping up with the rapid changes helped her learn to embrace change. In Long Beach, Calif., Kathy worked at the VA hospital as an educational therapist.

She met her husband, Richard, who was in the Navy, serving in California. Richard was was from South Carolina and eventually they decided to return to the South. His parents owned an 80-year-old cottage on Lake Lanier. Kathy and her husband winterized the cottage and it became home.

“I like the active lifestyle here,” she says. “I can swim and I walk about five miles a day.”

We settle on her deck overlooking the lake, and listen to the birds, while we chat. “Now, we both work at Spartanburg Community College,” she tells me and continues. “I teach business technology and Richard is an adjunct math professor.”

I notice some playground equipment and she tells me about her grandchildren coming to play. “We have a lot of fun here. We have a boat and go for rides around the lake.”

Along with teaching at Spartanburg Community College, Kathy holds two Weight Watchers meetings a week. “When I moved to the South, I slowly started to gain weight. In 1989, I joined Weight Watchers with a friend. It helps to have a friend to encourage you to get to the meetings,” she smiles. “After reaching my goal, I became a lifetime member. Then I thought, if I’m a leader, it will be an incentive to keep the pounds off. My philosophy was that if I taught it, I’d have to live it.”

We discuss the early days of Weight Watchers when an organized weight loss program was a new concept. Over the years more and more programs have become available. We both agree that it’s important when you are making a decision to control your weight, to pick the plan that will work for you.

Some people can be successful on their own.  But other people need the accountability. If they know they’ll be facing a weigh-in, it encourages them to make better choices when planning meals.

“A lot has changed in the years that I’ve been a leader,” Kathy remembers. “We used to be more rigid. The diet was set and we would use things like flip charts to teach. Now we want audience participation. We arrange the seating to encourage conversation. People learn from each other. We lost some leaders as things changed. But I’m always open and think, ‘Let’s try it out?’”

We discuss some of the challenges of the weekly meetings. “You can’t beat people up about their weight. They beat themselves up. You have to create a safe environment, a place people want to come to. And it’s just not my nature to be mean,” she laughs.

“I know I’ve helped many people over the years change their lives. One of my biggest successes was someone who lost over 100 pounds. And losing weight can help with your self image and give you confidence.”

She relates a story of one woman who, after losing weight, went back to college in her late 50s, earned a bachelor’s degree and started a career.

“Weight Watchers is a business,” Kathy explains. “It’s not just having fun at the meetings. I have products to order and inventory to track. I’m always researching articles and recipes and sending out e-mails during the week, between meetings.”

Recently she sent out an inspirational message written by Regina Brett, a breast cancer survivor. It included things like “When in doubt, just take the next small step.” Another was, “Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.”

And, one of my favorites, “No one is in charge of your happiness, except you.”

The Weight Watcher meetings are every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at Tryon Methodist Church. With a leader as positive in her thinking as Kathy, you’ll leave each week with a boost of confidence. And the numbers on my scale are now headed in the right direction—down!

If you have questions, you can contact Kathy at kathy.locke@weightwatchers.com.