Weight Watchers leader Becky Castilow is "the epitome of everything we're looking for in a staff member," Donna Diserio said.
That high praise comes on the heels of Castilow being honored as the Weight Watchers Jean Nidetch Service Vision Leader of the Year, at a banquet last month in Pittsburgh.
"I think she's fabulous," Diserio, territory manager for Weight Watchers International, said. The territory encompasses 18 counties in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio, and includes 49 leaders. Eleven of the 49 leaders, Diserio said, have attained "Diamond" status. Diamond status and the Leader of the Year award are based on various numbers, such as member retention, product sales, number of members and longevity of membership.
"I was shocked, stunned, thrilled," Castilow said. "It is the biggest honor of my Weight Watchers career. ... I didn't expect it."
Castilow, of Wheeling, joined Weight Watchers in 2005, she said, and reached her goal weight in 2006. In 2007, she became a leader.
"I decided to become a leader because I wanted to help people get to where I was. I realize the challenges, and I want to help them get to lifetime status. As you know, it's not a walk in the park," she said.
"I was always the biggest mom on the soccer field. I was heavy half of my life. When you lose weight, your self-esteem goes through the roof. It's life changing."
Diserio noted that Castilow "consistently encourages her members to achieve their weight loss goals, while providing outstanding service to our members and inspiring fellow co-workers to do the same."
Castilow, who leads Weight Watchers members at the Elm Terrace location, provides guidance at meetings on Thursday and Saturday mornings.
When asked what the best part of being a leader has been, she replied, "I don't even know where to start. This is not a job. These people are my friends, my family. I get back 10 times more than they do. When I see them get to lifetime or 5 percent or 10 percent, it's a feeling like no other.
"The worst part is coming through that door. We're the first people you see, and if we don't make them feel important and special, then they'll turn around and walk back out," Castilow said of new members.
"I hope everyone who comes in that door feels special. ... If you leave here a little bit happier, just a little bit, then I'm happy. We are support to everyone the second they walk through that door.
"It's not a diet, it's a healthy lifestyle change. We are learning to live life in a healthy way and to make healthy changes. It's a great way of life - If I want pizza, I can have it."
Diserio noted that Castilow has been very instrumental in growing the Elm Terrace location. Several months ago, she told her that she didn't have enough room at the previous location. Castilow found the Elm Terrace storefront, and the satellite store became a reality.
"Our business has really grown," Diserio said.
In fact, "We've grown so much, we'll soon be computerized. Larger markets currently track members' progress on computers, rather than on paper as is done now in the area.
But not only has Castilow grown the business, "she goes out of her way to care for members. She knows her job, and she knows what's she's doing as far as the Weight Watchers system. She goes above and beyond to help her members. We're all about teaching and our members," Diserio said.'
"It's a big moment," Diserio said of the Leader of the Year award presentation.
"I cry almost every year. This year, there were a lot of tears and cheering. My whole team was cheering for Becky. It's a big deal in the Weight Watchers world. It's a huge honor to receive the Jean Nidetch Service Vision Leader of the Year Award.
"She's absolutely wonderful. I can't thank her enough for what she's done for the members. It's all about the members. She's changed lives; she's saved lives," Diserio said.
"I tell her all the time, I wish I had 20 more of her."
For information about Weight Watchers International, visit www.weightwatchers.com.