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Katherine's Mantra for Transforming Your Life: Never Give In!

Thank you for writing me with your well wishes over the past few weeks. Your responses to my articles documenting my recent personal challenges have been heart-warming. I've especially enjoyed hearing your stories - many of you my clients - of how the skills I'm sharing in these pages are ones that have helped you maintain your healthy and happy lives. And I've felt privileged to hear about your own life challenges through which you are working.

People look at my life and think it's easy for me, and sometimes even tell me I couldn't possibly relate to them or help them. I'm writing my story to disabuse you of that notion.

"I'm no sacrosanct preacher looking down at a congregation of sinners. I've been there ... And I know what it takes to come back from those depths of despair - and to stay on top!" I said in my book, Diet Simple. And I'd like to demonstrate how you can do the same, like my clients have, through the many years I've served them, and continue to do so.

I've been documenting my life's recent transformation because I believe the steps I'm taking are relevant to anyone who wants to change their lives for the better. Everyone goes through hard times, and one of the most difficult, yet important skills for maintaining a healthy and happy lifestyle, is recovering from set backs.

One of my mantras through the years that I borrowed from Winston Churchill has been, "If you're going through Hell, keep going ... Never give in, never give in, never, never, never!" It is not always easy, including for me. That's because we're human and imperfect. But I firmly believe that we must live by this philosophy when it comes to doing good in the world or for ourselves.

In fact, studies of successful weight loss maintainers found that one of the differences between people who lose weight and keep it off versus those who relapse and gain their weight back is recovering from slips, instead of allowing them to snowball; seeing "mistakes" as normal, being kind to oneself, and getting over them.

My best case study demonstrating how powerful your response to slips can be is of Melissa, who spent many years struggling with her health and her weight. Today, Melissa is 50 pounds lighter than when we first started working together, maybe 15 years ago, and she's kept it off for the past five years. But her journey was not an easy one. Melissa has insulin-dependent diabetes and was sent to me by her doctor to lose weight and improve her health. She desperately wanted to lose weight. She was 5'5" tall, and slowly gained weight through her adult life until she weighed 200 pounds. She and her doctor wanted her to weigh under 150.

Like many people in Wahington, DC, Melissa is a highly educated, hard-working professional. She successfully directs a non-profit organization helping abused children. You could say Melissa - and her husband, John - are "workaholics." They live for their work.

For at least ten years, Melissa would successfully change her habits and lose weight. Sometimes 20, sometimes 30 pounds. She'd feel happy, healthy, on top of the world; she loved the way she looked. But inevitably, when she'd go through difficult times - perhaps a holiday, a stressful family event, or a challenging work situation - she would slip up. And of course, you're thinking, that's normal, right? Well, Melissa didn't feel that way. Any deviation from what she thought she should be doing made her feel so terrible that she'd fall into a depression. She was a perfectionist; and hard on herself. She started cancelling appointments, and wouldn't return my calls. She disappeared. I lost contact with her. She gave up, felt ashamed. I felt terrible.

But amazingly she'd come back within a year or two - or three, though unfortunately having gained some, if not all, of her weight back. I was always happy to see her and pleased she was trying again. After about three failed attempts, we had (another) serious heart-to-heart about her perfectionism. We discussed her "disappearances," which always led to weight re-gain. We discovered they were always related to a slip she was ashamed of, or a time her work load or family life got too busy. She promised to never lose contact again. She agreed that no matter how hard things got that we would work through it together, no matter what.

Many times during our sessions (often by phone because she was so busy), Melissa would feel down and want to give up. But she promised to get in touch the next day(s) and to keep our appointment the following week, even if she felt she didn't do well. This time we worked together, she kept her promises. Over time, she got used to "slipping up" now and then; she started regarding her slips as normal... okay... to be expected... and sometimes even planned as "splurges" or "taking a break." Melissa had to learn how to get through the tough times, to put up with feeling too busy or stressed, feeling unsuccessful, or not getting results. And eventually, she'd always bounce back.

I enjoy staying in contact with Melissa. She sends me photos of herself at a gala, or in a new fabulous outfit, so I can see she's having fun and staying fit. I like to keep up with how she and John are doing, and appreciate her staying in touch.

You could say I have a rewarding job. I would agree with you! Now, if I could only be perfect... Hmmmm