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Weight Watchers(R) Reveals the 2008 Inspiring Stories of the Year Contest Winners Online and in the January Issue of Good Housekeeping

NEW YORK, Dec. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Weight Watchers announced today the five grand prize winners of the 2008 WEIGHT WATCHERS INSPIRING STORIES OF THE YEAR CONTEST. All five grand prize winners are living proof that successful weight loss can lead to positive changes in other areas of life. Their Inspiring Stories will be featured on and in the January issue of Good Housekeeping, available on newsstands today. In addition, one contest winner is featured on the cover of Good Housekeeping. This annual contest, conducted by Weight Watchers since 1998, recognizes some of the most inspirational journeys among Weight Watchers meetings members and Weight Watchers Online subscribers who shared their personal stories.

"Weight Watchers is dedicated to helping people make lasting, positive changes to their lives," says Theresa DiMasi, editor in chief of, where the winners' stories will also be featured. "By sharing these Inspiring Stories, we hope to motivate more people, just like our winners, to take steps towards a healthier, happier self."

Amy Conklin of Rockford, IL is the grand prize winner gracing the cover of Good Housekeeping's January 2009 issue. A Weight Watchers Online subscriber, Conklin is a wife and mother of two children, who subscribed to Weight Watchers Online to help her become a better role model for her family and help them create healthy habits. Conklin lost 33.5 pounds on the plan.

"We decided to cover this story because Weight Watchers believes in the same tenets that we believe at Good Housekeeping," said Rosemary Ellis, editor in chief of Good Housekeeping. "Weight loss has to be healthy, about exercise as well as food. It's about a lifestyle, not a diet."

A team of judges selected the winners from nearly 1500 entrants across the country. The selections were based on a variety of factors, including the amount of weight lost, the positive and lasting impact it had on their life, as well as the inspirational nature of their personal transformation. The winners are: Amy Conklin, Rockford, IL (33.5 pounds lost); Jessica Chicas of Ocala, FL (53.4 pounds lost); Jan Haapala of Minneapolis, MN (122 pounds lost); Jane Reeder of Carlisle, Pa (over 100 pounds lost); and William Kessler III of Long Beach, CA (nearly 200 pounds lost). These winners each received a trip for two to New York City, $500 to be used towards a shopping spree and a tour of New York City.

"What this inspiring story says to our readers is, 'if they can do this, you can do this,'" Ellis added.

Weight Watchers selected 27 finalists from across the country, who all received $300 Macy's gift cards. Entrants were asked to submit detailed stories of positive lifestyle changes and health benefits as a result of their weight loss, and, for the first time ever, were able to enter the contest by submitting original video entries or original written essays. All of the winners' stories feature inspiring individual triumphs, showing that successful weight loss may translate into positive changes in many other aspects of life. The stories recounted the sparks of realization that led them to Weight Watchers and lasting results. [A complete list of the five Grand Prize winners of the 2008 WEIGHT WATCHERS INSPIRING STORIES OF THE YEAR CONTEST and a summary of their individual weight-loss stories follows.] Check out all of the 2008 WEIGHT WATCHERS INSPIRING STORIES OF THE YEAR CONTEST Grand Prize winners' stories, which are featured in full on, along with other helpful weight-loss information.

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. 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 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.

About Good Housekeeping.

Founded in 1885, Good Housekeeping ( magazine reaches 25 million readers each month. In addition to the print title, there is The Good Housekeeping Research Institute, the consumer product evaluation laboratory of Good Housekeeping magazine. Founded in 1900 and continuing today with the same mission, the Research Institute is dedicated to improving the lives of consumers and their families through education and product evaluation. Only products evaluated by the Good Housekeeping Research Institute can be accepted for advertising in the magazine, and thereby become eligible to display the Good Housekeeping Seal, the hallmark that provides assurance to readers that the products advertised in the magazine are backed by a two-year limited warranty against being defective, with specified exceptions. Readers can also interact with the brand on the digital front, with Good Housekeeping mobile ( In addition to its U.S. flagship, Good Housekeeping publishes 15 editions around the world. Hearst Magazines, a unit of Hearst Corporation ( and one of the world's largest publishers of monthly magazines, with nearly 200 editions around the world, including 16 U.S. titles and 19 magazines in the United Kingdom, published through its wholly owned subsidiary, The National Magazine Company Limited. Hearst reaches more adults than any other publisher of monthly magazines (70.6 million total adults, according to MRI, Fall 2008).


Amy Conklin, Rockford, IL

Total Weight Lost: 33.5 pounds

A mother, wife and a teacher, Amy Conklin, 36, began her weight-loss journey on New Year's Day, 2008. She chose Weight Watchers Online because it offers flexibility, tips, inspiration, and gave her access to delicious recipes. Now she's no longer uncomfortable in her clothing and skin. Confident, fit and active, Amy is the healthiest she's ever been in her entire life. She's happy to inspire others to lose weight and to serve as a good example for her entire family.

William Kessler III, Long Beach, CA

Total Weight lost: 196.26 pounds

William Kessler III, 32, has learned that weight loss is about making better choices in life. Before joining Weight Watchers in 2006, he was looking for something to help him live healthier. When William joined Weight Watchers, the program helped him learn to make healthier decisions with food and activity, and he was able to find great weight-loss support from those who attended his Weight Watchers meeting. Today he sees the positive side of life - and who can blame him? He's over 190 pounds lighter!

Jessica Chicas, Ocala, FL

Total Weight Lost: 53 pounds

Jessica Chicas, 32, went from being a spectator at triathlons to a triathlon participant in a matter of one year when she resolved that it was time to do something about being overweight. She knew action was required to be a healthy role model for her young children. Her husband is a fit athlete whom she always cheered for at triathlon competitions, but Jessica decided it was time to get off the sideline and join the "race." She joined Weight Watchers and started to move more and her exercise made it easier to keep up her new, healthy eating habits. This combination helped her to lose 53 pounds and compete in 11 races just this year alone.

Jan Haapala, St. Paul, MN

Total Weight Lost: 122.8 pounds

Jan Haapala, 28, left the doctor's office unable to forget the four words he just heard - "You're going to die." That's what his doctor told him at age 24. With a prescription for blood pressure medication in hand, Jan went home to his wife desperate to prove his doctor wrong. After trying many fad diets, Jan and his wife joined Weight Watchers. Step by step, Jan begin eating differently and moving more. Within just a matter of months he was making dramatic progress. His doctor took him off blood pressure medication and he was on to achieve amazing goals - like his first marathon. This spring, Jan completed the Cellcomm Green Bay Marathon, and reached his healthy goal weight just six days later.

Jane Reeder, Carlisle, PA

Total Weight Lost: 117 pounds

Years ago, Jane Reeder, 41, lost 80 pounds on an unhealthy diet consisting only of diet soda and popcorn, but eventually gained it all back. After a few painful, personal life incidents, like the death of her mother, Jane decided it was time to lose the weight in a healthy way with Weight Watchers. Since her dramatic weight loss, Jane feels like a new woman with energy to spare, riding horses on the beach, seeing bullfights in Mexico City and now, also loves to exercise.

SOURCE Weight Watchers International, Inc.
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