If the people at the top of the weight loss industry can control multi-million dollar businesses, they can probably keep their weight under control too, right?

Wrong, says David Kirchhoff, CEO of Weight Watchers, in his new book Weight Loss Boss. As a child, Kirchhoff was constantly embarrassed by being underweight. As an adult, he was embarrassed by being overweight. Though he is happy with his weight now, Kirchhoff’s journey to self-acceptance was a long one.

At 6’3”, the young and skinny Kirchhoff says he resembled “an underfed giraffe.” He managed to gain both weight and muscle in college, but when his undergrad education turned into graduate work, he ballooned past a healthy weight to 242 pounds and a BMI of 30. Spooked by a trip to a doctor who informed him that he was clinically obese and had high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, Kirchhoff resolved to make a change.

In December 1999, he got a job helping Weight Watchers start its Internet business and hoped that one of the perks of his new position would be weight loss. It took 9 years, but Kirchhoff finally got the success story he’d been hoping for.

In Weight Loss Boss, Kirchhoff details his journey as a “slow learner” when it came to healthy living. His struggle, he says, was in adopting the “dieting mentality.” Rather than treating weight loss as a long-term lifestyle change, he would diet and work out to extremes for a month or two, then relapse into bad, unhealthy habits.

Kirchhoff repeated the cycle over nearly a decade, but finally learned that addressing underlying behavior is the key to weight loss success. For others who are looking to get fit, Kirchhoff suggests establishing healthy routines and habits, avoiding temptation, and relying less on willpower.

Kirchhoff is now optimistic for his future, but he knows that a healthy life isn’t always easy to maintain. “I know I will always struggle with my weight,” he writes in Weight Loss Boss. “I will always have to be careful. Living healthy takes effort…. It is not easy, like swallowing a pill, but it is very possible. And the important thing is: I now know that the way I used to live and eat was impossible and not sustainable. And when you look at change in that light, it isn’t a burden, it’s a release.”

For more information on the service mentioned here, please read our review of Weight Watchers.