Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Feb. 1, 2023

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In 43-year Weight Watchers career, Renee Amies had an impact on many lives

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
7 Photos
Vancouver resident Renee Amies, center, visits with friends Steve Vest, left, and Tricia Vest, right, of Brush Prairie, at Amies’ retirement party for her 43-year career with Weight Watchers, or WW. Amies began working for the company in a part time capacity, while looking to lose about 40 pounds.
Vancouver resident Renee Amies, center, visits with friends Steve Vest, left, and Tricia Vest, right, of Brush Prairie, at Amies’ retirement party for her 43-year career with Weight Watchers, or WW. Amies began working for the company in a part time capacity, while looking to lose about 40 pounds. Photo Gallery

Flowers, cards and wine. It was very easy to see the love in Renee Amies’ Vancouver household a couple of weeks ago.

The cards spread out on tables and in her living room near the fireplace. Flowers and a bottle of wine were there, too, all in appreciation of the 69-year-old Amies’ 43-year career with Weight Watchers. She retired earlier this month.

“She’s had members come up to her and cry because she’s leaving,” her husband Rick said. “She relates to the people so well. She gets cards and gifts year round, not just when she’s retiring. People write the most beautiful things.”

Amies has devoted more than half her life to working for Weight Watchers, or WW, as it’s now known. When Amies began her career with the company she was 25, and looking to lose around 40 pounds. She started out part time, and she worked evening meetings, or what are now called workshops.

“Forty-three years ago, it was more of a diet,” Amies said. “Now it’s more of a lifestyle.”

Amies credits her coworkers and WW members she’s assisted for her prolonged career. For some of her time with WW, Amies worked part time, but she also spent a large portion of her career working full time, leading close to 15 workshops per week.

Some coworkers did back-of-the-napkin math and estimated that Amies helped more than 600,000 members during her career with WW.

“I’m around a lot of people every day, and they are pretty amazing,” Amies said. “They’re learning to take better care of themselves through good food and activity. It’s kind of the thrill of victory and agony of defeat. We all know what it’s like to have a hard week, and we know what’s it’s like to have a good week. I’ve watched members become super-successful and change their lives.”

Amies has been tagged on Facebook posts celebrating more than 100 pounds lost. One member wanted to lose 100 pounds just before Amies retired — and succeeded. The member clocked in down 100.4 pounds before saying goodbye to Amies.

From first steps to marathons

Amies has seen people start their weight loss with just taking a walk around the block and then cap it with marathons or running legs of the Hood to Coast Relay in Oregon, which is 200 miles of distance from Mount Hood to the Oregon Coast.

Amies said the members inspire each other. She explained some workshops start with a member saying, “I ain’t doing that,” and end with that same member saying, “If she can do it, I can do it, too.”

“It’s pretty touching to see somebody work hard for something important,” Amies said.

With three kids, nine grandkids and a retired husband, Amies said she’s looking forward to seeing family more often and traveling. Amies and her husband are driving an RV to Niagara Falls, and will make pit stops in New York, Washington, D.C., and the Black Hills in South Dakota over a monthlong period of time.

She joked that maybe she’ll change her mind, but then made sure to note she was definitely retiring. Her husband joked that celebrity Oprah Winfrey, a WW investor, should highlight Amies’ career. Amies said “she’s happy, sad and everything in between” about retirement.

Her parting wisdom upon retirement was that people are more capable than they believe.

“They can do more than they think they can,” Amies said. “When push comes to shove, we’ve all done harder things than lose weight.”

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Columbian staff writer