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The Jean Nidetch Story: An Autobiography

3 Ratings: 2.7
A book by Jean Nidetch.

Readers everywhere will be inspired by the remarkable journey of Weight Watchers founder, Jean Nidetch. In her new book, The Jean Nidetch Story: An Autobiography, Jean chronicles her transformation from a Queens, New York, housewife to a healthy-living … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Cafe Libri
Author: David Kirchhoff, Maya Angelou, Jean Nidetch
Publisher: Weight Watchers Publishing Group
1 review about The Jean Nidetch Story: An Autobiography


  • Apr 15, 2010

In September 1961 5"  7" Brooklyn housewife Jean Slutsky Nidetch (1923 - ) was  37 years old, She weighed 214 pounds.  She wore dresses size 44. On that day she woke determined to feel thin. She had tried many forms of dieting, to lose weight for special occasions like marriage. But then she would regain and weigh more than before. At the supermarket that September day in 1961 she met a woman friend whom she hadn't seen for months. She heard two remarks: "You look wonderful, Jean," followed by "When are you due?" But Jean wasn't due at all, she was not pregnant. She was simply obese. As a girl she had been roly-poly and chubby. Now she was fat, dangerously overweight. And that fact finally came home to her in a New York supermarket.

That supermarket encounter changed her life forever. She recalled having heard about the New York City Board of Health Obesity Clinic. She signed up in October 1961 and was soon told by one skinny "Miss Jones" that her proper weight was not 214 but 142 pounds, period, end of discussion. Jean's argument that she had "big bones" was harshly put down.

Miss Jones demanded obedience and gave Jean and the others an eating program, complete with a list of foods that Jean and other participants had to eat -- and nothing else -- such as fish five times a week and once a week liver. Hardest for Jean to accept was obligatory breakfast! A meal she had never taken. Jean gave up cake, ice cream and pizza and was quickly losing two pounds a week. Even while cheating! For in the middle of the night she would get up and sneak chocolate marshmallow cookies.

Jean felt guilty about those cookies. After ten weeks when she had lost 20 pounds by otherwise sticking to the New York City diet, she felt she had to have company and bare her soul. Skinny Miss Jones showed no desire to hear Jean whine about problems of fat people. So Jean invited six girl friends over to her apartment. When she told them what she had been doing to lose twenty pounds, she heard back, "You don't look it" (Ch. FOUR, p. 41). But at 4:00 p.m. on October 30, 1962 Jean Slutsky Nidetch reached her weight loss goal: down 72 pounds to 142 pounds and a size 12 dress (p. 43). She would not, today, recommend losing so much weight that fast. But she has never since weighed more than 150 pounds.

From that simple beginning came WEIGHT WATCHERS, INTERNATIONAL, incorporated in May 1963 (p. 56). Jean was its first, non-managing, President and more or less Spokesman for Life. Mrs Nidetch, now 86, lives in a posh retirement community in Parkland, Florida. She has been twice married, twice divorced.

Her first husband, Mary, lasted from 1947 till 1971. Their marriage seemed very happy for a long time and they had three children, one of whom died practically at birth. Jean describes some of that union's elements in CHAPTER THREE: "A Marriage Made in Fat Heaven." Husband Marty, a contented bus driver, was 5'10" and weighed 265 pounds. Like his wife, Marty found eating a lot a key element of happiness. He told Jean, "I love you the way you are. You don't have to lose weight" (p. 33). But "Over time, Marty and I grew apart. He didn't want to be with the new me. ... He liked me better when I was fat. ... Was I supposed to give up Weight Watchers ... ?" (p. 72)

I found THE JEAN NIDETCH STORY fascinating. Jean Nidetch created, founded WEIGHT WATCHERS. Millions, including myself, have lost weight following ideas that that Corporation has evolved since Jean's earliest years of experimenting with what "Miss Jones" dictated she do back in 1962. Jean Nidetch tells her story simply and directly, with many wise reflections on why and how people can be thin. I leave it to you to enjoy the surprises and human touches of this wee (128 pp.) book.   


NOTE: THE JEAN NIDETCH STORY: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY, in paperback, under copyright 2009 by Weight Watchers Publishing Group and with a Foreword by Jean's friend Maya Angelou, is available from amazon.com. It does not have an ISBN.

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April 15, 2010
Thank you! She is also a generous woman, has endowed several scholarships to let people get a higher education. qigongbear
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