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You can find a way ... or an excuse.

I met her at a book signing a few years ago. She was 43 years old, 5’ 5” tall and weighed 260 pounds – morbidly obese. What started out as a brief chat turned into something more. I'll call her Samantha.

Instead of leaving after we met, Samantha hung out in the back of the store and watched from a distance as I chatted with other individuals. I had a feeling she wanted to talk.

As the room cleared my feelings were confirmed. She approached once again. While the clean up continued around us, I learned even more about this young woman. Married for 15 years and mother to two school-aged girls, Samantha was recently diagnosed as a prediabetic. She had sleep apnea, indigestion and high cholesterol. But the thing that struck me about Samantha was her negative attitude.

She didn’t believe she could lose weight – she had regained everything she had ever lost before. Her parents were fat and she was a product of the “clean plate” club. She had struggled her entire life and had no willpower.

As we moved to the coffee shop and continued talking, I challenged her to take that first step and try again. She didn’t have to believe in getting to goal, she only had to believe she could find a healthy program and stick with it for a day. One day. And then repeat it.

Samantha didn’t join my group, because back then I had no group for her to join. But we did stay in contact through email, phone and an occasional meeting.

She decided to count calories, but wasn’t successful. After a month she had lost three pounds and gained them back. Each time she was “on”, something happened which threw her “off”. Her girls got sick, old friends came to visit bringing goodies. Birthdays, dinners out, stress at work. Each week brought new excuses.

I told her that there would always be “reasons” to overeat… for everyone. It was time to learn to handle life WITHOUT bingeing.

But it was no good. Samantha was a victim with a victim’s mentality. Noone had it as bad off as she did.

At the end of the month we met again and I laid it on the table for her. She was looking for all the reasons why she couldn’t lose weight – and finding them. Unless she stopped using life’s difficulties as excuses for her eating choices, she was going to eat herself to death.

I also let her know that she DID have choices. It wasn’t too late to change. But it all began with being honest with herself. I had her repeat after me, “The only reason I’m overweight is because of my choices. I CAN make new ones. I WILL do this.” We talked openly for a while and then parted ways.

I didn’t see Samantha until almost a year later. Then she emailed me, thanking me for our conversation. She said that as hard as it was for her to hear, the words had slowly sunk in. She finally realized no one was coming to rescue her from her fat. That knowledge actually gave her the freedom to stop waiting for some kind of intervention and get busy with the hard work of weight loss. She was 54 pounds slimmer and well on her way to a new lifestyle.

Then she said the words that have stuck with me ever since… “Kim, as hard as it was to change – being fat was harder.”