I met Diana through a friend when I was launching an exercise behavior change program for sedentary individuals. Diana is one of the sweetest people you could ever meet with a very dynamic, witty and charming personality that disarmed me the moment we met. Unfortunately, she also really liked sweets. Lots of them. And often.
“Honey, I’m simply 360 lbs. of love, I give a lot of love so I need a lot of me”.
What an opening line. And she was right, her personality was warm and giving. When she spoke to you it was like you were being embraced. A very special lady.
When I thanked her for taking the time to meet with me and began to tell her what I was trying to do and she quickly interrupted me. “Now Mike let me tell you that I have tried ever diet known to woman and I can share with you that none of them work. I have a broken nordic contraption under my bed that I bought from a late night infomercial and exercise doesn’t work either.”
How’s that for an opening salvo of resistance?
I shifted my strategy and abandoned my scripted spiel that moment (never went back).
“Diana, I need your help.”
I wasn’t focused on the psychology of her eating — my goal was to simply get her moving physically to the point it became a permanent behavior shift. She’s a giving person who feels fully empowered when she is helping, sharing, loving or contributing to someone or something. Asking for her help was the tipping point, once I said that, she was in — it was up to me to ensure she was in for the long haul and no longer did it for me but for herself.
She would be winded from walking from the parking lot to the center, so for the first 2 weeks she would simply sign in the log book 3 days per week. She was religious about it and when possible I would sit with her in the lobby to see how she was feeling. When she felt good I would express what a great gift she was giving herself and her children by staying committed, if she felt bad I would thank her for helping me (see the shift?). By week 4 she was on a treadmill. By week 8 she had lost 28 lbs. a personal record for her.
As the weight began to rapidly peel off she badgered me for advice on diet and nutrition and I adamantly declined. I constantly reminded her that my focus was to get her exercising and moving permanently and adding in a shift in diet seemed too risky.
By week 12 she had lost over 60 lbs. had altered her diet on her own and was taken off three medications.
After 6 months she was “180 lbs. of love” and hooked on 5k walks. After a year she was at 140 lbs. and really into speed walking.
My program was a distant memory for her and she now has a long and healthy future ahead of her to give, love and share.