Marisa Meltzer began her first diet at the age of five. Growing up an indoors-loving child in Northern California, she learned from an early age that weight was the one part of her life she could neither change nor even really understand.
Fast forward nearly four decades. Marisa, also a contributor to the New Yorker and the New York Times, comes across an obituary for Jean Nidetch, the Queens, New York housewife who founded Weight Watchers in 1963. Weaving Jean’s incredible story as weight loss maven and pathbreaking entrepreneur with Marisa’s own journey through Weight Watchers, she chronicles the deep parallels, and enduring frustrations, in each woman’s decades-long efforts to lose weight and keep it off. The result is funny, unexpected, and unforgettable: a testament to how transformation goes far beyond a number on the scale.

A journey that kept me intrigued throughout, This Is Big follows the alternating stories of Jean Nidetch, founder of Weight Watchers, and our author Marisa Meltzer. The anecdotal tales resonated in many ways, as I could recall my own relationship with food over the years, from constantly trying to lose the extra ten pounds during high school to more weight loss following pregnancies. Then the constant maintenance required once food and weight become the center of our lives.

As I read the stories, I was reminded of my struggles over the years, and how in recent years, I found myself trying one weight loss program after another, from Jenny Craig to individual diet plans I discovered in books and magazines. Nothing seemed to help with a long-term maintenance plan, but as I read about Weight Watchers, I realized I hadn’t ever tried that one. I did know that sharing stories with others was an important component of weight loss and maintenance success. Like addicts who go to Twelve Step meetings.

I enjoyed the author’s style and her ability to weave the relevant messaging into the stories she shared…and how she found solutions that worked for her. I also liked how the industry changes moved from dieting to weight loss to wellness…and then to making choices on our own terms. A great journey! 5 stars..#2021ReadNonFic



  1. After consuming way too many ice cream sundaes during my 3 pregnancies, I never got rid of that weight… and then becoming disabled, depression after the loss of my parents, Covid bingeing (because why not, as we were hunkering down!) I just couldn’t read this without feeling anxious. We did order a treadmill to come this week and walking sticks for mild hikes. I am at the point in my life where health is where it is, and I don’t care what folks think of my body, lol. {my mother and aunt swore by WW, and you can even do it online with virtual meeting and support}
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Laurel. Maybe later this year I will pick it up.

    Liked by 1 person

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