She exudes confidence like it’s nobody’s business, even referring to herself as the “queen of the world, universe and galaxy.”
She’s loud (“so everyone can hear me”), animated (“it’s not all serious, you gotta make it fun”), country (“I’m from Dallas, N.C., and proud of it”) and full of creativity that she says was passed on to her two sons, musician Fred of Limp Bizkit fame and Cory, a painter and sculptor who recently graduated from The Art Institute of Chicago.
“I have embarrassed both my children with my weird talents all their lives,” she confesses.
And in spite of (or perhaps because of) all this and more, Troy Anita Durst — named after her maternal grandfather — is one of the most popular and sought-after Weight Watchers leaders in Northeast Florida.
“I believe in and love what I do, and I’m not even on drugs, that’s how happy I am,” says Durst, a former music director at Grace Lutheran Church & School.
There was a time when Durst wasn’t so confident and boisterous. “I was the master of binge, emotional, stress eating,” she says. “It started after high school. If I even broke a nail, I would eat my sorrows away.”
It’s not like she never attempted to lose weight. She tried every fad diet within reach, even joining Weight Watchers several times before it finally clicked. “I was the type of person who used to wait for something to come to me, and it never did,” she says. “I just wasn’t ready to step outside my box.”
Then something happened in late 2005. After leading a concert at her church, she overheard two friends commenting about how hard she was trying to lose weight. “That crushed me to oblivion,” she says. “Here I was dressed in a beautiful, black gown and I thought I looked good.”
On Jan. 2, 2006, she joined Weight Watchers for the sixth and final time, stepping out of her comfort zone and out from behind the piano.
She was ready.
“To say I was elated when I lost my first two pounds is an understatement,” she says. “I was in hog heaven and nothing was going to stop me from reaching my goal.”
Six months later, Durst reached her goal weight — she politely declines to say where she started or where she ended up — and became a lifetime member, a recognition afforded to those who achieve a weight goal within the Weight Watchers Healthy Weight Ranges. And in July 2006, she became a Weight Watchers leader. Since then, she’s helped members shed some 5,000-plus pounds. She was named Leader of the Year by her Weight Watchers peers in 2009, and then again in 2011.
Today, Durst’s meetings are packed with members who travel from all over Northeast Florida to listen to her down-home, Southern-comfort, common-sense talk about food and life; laugh at her quirky Anita-ism tidbits (“If you ain’t tinkling, you ain’t shrinkling”); and even sing along to well-known tunes she’s rewritten in order to emphasize her points — or her poetry.
“You know, my children got all their artistic abilities from me,” she says. “Fred secretly sends me his music before he releases it, and Cory will send me samples of his work. They seek my advice and support and my guidance. We have a close bond that way.”
Durst says that’s how she likes to run her meetings — like family. “I listen to members, help them identify what they want from Weight Watchers, and I’ll even give out my contact information — if they need me, they know how to reach me. I see myself and identify at least one of my old traits in every member. I’ve been there and because I have, I know what members need.“