Everyone who knows me—and probably many who don’t!—knows of my deep adoration for Barbra Streisand. She has been my inspiration for nearly 50 years. From my days as an overweight teenager through my years as a Weight Watchers leader and businesswoman, she has shown me that it’s possible to make your dreams come true.
Since the first time I head her sing, I’ve never looked back. It was 1963 and I was a young woman looking for my place in life. Barbra’s career was taking off and I enjoyed watching every step. In those early years, I told my officemates I couldn’t work when Barbra was on the radio, and I even had a Baltimore DJ who would say “this one’s for Millie” whenever he played Barbra!
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been determined, like Barbra, to give 150% at everything I set out to do—even when the odds were against me. I started working when I was 10. I wanted to go to college, but because of my family’s financial circumstances, I had to get a job and help my parents. And through this time, I struggled with my weight—and I mean struggled! There wasn’t a day that I didn’t worry about what someone was thinking when they looked at how large I was. I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the number of attempts I made to lose weight. I was on a diet, off a diet, trying to fit in, trying to look good, and trying to be accepted. I got more put-downs than encouragement from my family, and all I heard was that I’d never amount to anything.
But when I thought about Barbra, I was reminded that if could just hang in there and keep doing the important things, eventually it was going to work. If I stayed with it, I could make something of myself. Barbra was like the spark on my firecracker. I used her climb to believe in myself. I climbed even though I didn’t know where I was climbing to—until I joined Weight Watchers in 1966, when I realized my calling in life was to help others be their best.
Through my years of helping people lose weight and get healthy, I’ve always applied the core value that Barbra shares—putting my heart and soul into everything I do and sticking with what I know works. When you think about that in terms of helping people who have dreams but don’t know how to take a next step, it’s powerful.