Spry: In your new book, Weight Loss Boss, you detail your journey to lose 40 pounds, which took 9 years. Why did you want to emphasize that part of your story?
David Kirchhoff: So many people have responded and said, “Thank you for saying it took you that long, because I thought there was something wrong with me!” For most of us, dealing with a weight issue is a meandering process with twists and turns and ups and downs. There are times when you’re really focused, and times when you say, “I’ve figured this out. I don’t need to pay attention.”
At the beginning, I don’t really think I was thinking about it the right way. You think the heavens will open and the angels will sing when you reach goal. It just doesn’t work like that.
We ask people to think about their weight. We somehow convince them that you just have to stay focused for a few months and everything is going to be fine. But for most of us of us it ends up being a less straight line than that. On one hand I’m embarrassed that it took so long, but on the other side I’m proud that I’ve kept it off for more than 3 years. I really do feel like I’ve learned so much more by keeping the weight off than I did while I was losing it.
Spry: Why do you think you’ve learned more in maintenance?
DK: It has forced me to focus once and for all on the underlying behaviors. I’m not all the way there in trying to get rid of my crummy habits! But I now have this inventory of really helpful routines that is allowing me to keep the weight off much more easily.
Whatever you are doing while you are losing weight should be something that you see yourself doing for the rest of your life. If you love Jenny Craig meals and you’d be happy eating them forever, that’s great. But if you’re thinking of it like, “I’ll just eat this stuff for two months,” you kind of know what’s going to happen. There can’t be a major distinction between your life when you’re losing and your life in maintenance.
Spry: Do you still attend Weight Watchers meetings?
DK: I’m proud to say I was in a meeting just three days ago! Obviously, it’s part of my job, but I like doing it for personal reasons, too. That and tracking. All of a sudden, it makes you much more in tune with what you’re eating.
Spry: What do you find are the biggest misconceptions about Weight Watchers?
DK: It just happened on Mad Men! The show’s writer is a stickler for authenticity, but Betty Draper goes to a Weight Watchers meeting and the leader of the meeting shares her weight loss with the whole room. I can’t tell you how many people are convinced that everyone at your meeting will know how you did that week, and it’s not true. People generally are just nervous about the unknown, but when they actually get there and see 30 people going through what they are, they get it. I almost always hear, “It was 10 times better than I thought it was going to be!”
Spry: What about the idea that Weight Watchers—or weight loss in general—is just for women?
DK: Yes, that’s what our Lose Like a Man campaign is about. I say, “Women are smarter than men, so you should listen to them!” Men sometimes have hang-ups admitting that they want to lose weight, but most of the guys I know who’ve done it do really well on the program. Counting Points makes intuitive sense once they start doing it, and it doesn’t feel like a diet. It just feels like you’re being smarter about what you’re eating.
Spry: What weight-loss mistakes do you see people make the most?
DK: Setting an incredibly aggressive goal for themselves at the beginning. We tell people your first weight-loss goal should be 5 percent of your body weight. When you take small steps, it helps build your confidence.
Spry: One of the cornerstones of the program is that you get extra weekly points for splurges. What do you spend yours on?
DK: If I’m in serious tracking mode, my splurge will tend to be a glass of wine or maybe one special meal on weekends. And I have the same breakfast six days a week, but every Saturday morning I have an enormous bowl of cereal. For me, that’s an example of an indulgence that I’ll work in—something I look forward to.