I first met Alice on a rainy evening in January, thirteen years ago, when she walked into my weight loss meeting. She was 32, with three young children and a lousy husband. She weighed 240 pounds (17 stone). She was broke and her husband had just lost his job for the third time in as many months. On top of this, the previous week, her youngest son had returned from school in tears and told her that the other children were teasing him because of how fat his mother was.
Of course I knew none of this at the time. All I saw was a very large, timid woman covered in a big black raincoat which she never took off. She didn’t stay for long: as soon as I weighed her and gave her a copy of my diet, she left. The following week she was back but she hadn’t lost any weight. She told me that she couldn’t get into the diet at all the only things she knew how to cook were fried foods. She was very defensive and very reluctant to stay for the rest of the clinic, but she did and afterwards I spent a few minutes explaining the diet to her.
The next week she was back again and again she lost nothing. At first, she said she couldn’t understand it she had followed the diet exactly. However, she then said that she had had a huge row with one of her neighbors and had spent the next three days eating biscuits to calm herself down. She also told me about her husband and the story about her son being teased at school. At this point, I began to realize that Alice was far from being the hopeless case that she appeared. After all, here was someone who not only had a serious weight problem, but who also had a number of other problems: with her husband, her children, her neighbors even her cooking and yet, despite this and despite the fact she wasn’t losing any weight, she still had the guts to come to the clinic.
So, that second evening, instead of simply urging her to try harder, I told her she was fantastic. I said that for her to keep coming to see me, despite all her problems, meant that she was a wonderfully strong woman who would have no trouble at all losing weight. All she had to do, I said, was to be patient and get used to a new way of eating and that would be that.
When I finished, Alice burst into tears. No one had ever said nice things to her before. She didn’t know what to say, except that she would definitely be back the following week and so she was: only this time she lost 4 pounds! It was the beginning of a very long journey.
For the next few months, she continued to lose weight, but it wasn’t a smooth process. Every so often, she would go off the diet, put on weight and feel like giving up, but she kept coming to see me and, despite these setbacks, kept losing weight. Soon, spring turned to summer and summer to autumn and, despite a constant disbelief that she could ever lose weight for good, Alice ended that year 90 pounds lighter. Along the way, she got a job, became reconciled with her husband and became the idol of her children. I bumped into her two years later and she was still a trim 150 pounds.
Alice was a very ordinary woman, who refused to give in. Instead, she used one year to change her life. You can do the same. I promise you.