Thursday, May 28, 2009

The moment of reckoning

The moment when you realize you can't go on living the way you have been -- when you realize you have to do something about your weight -- is so universal an experience that it has a name. It's called a "triggering event."

For some people, it happens when they catch sight of themselves in a shop window, or, as I did, in a photograph. For others, it's a health scare -- the doctor says the dreaded word diabetes, or you have a struggle for breath so fierce it feels like a heart attack. One person told me she was struck by the outrageous numbers her doctor reported when he checked her blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Many people told me that it was the comment of another person -- whether well meaning or not -- that moved them to action. One person told me he was startled into action when a woman said to him, "You have such a handsome face, if you could only lose that weight." Another woman was cut to the quick when her publicist told her bluntly that she was losing business because of her weight.

I felt horrible asking people about these experiences, these moments that humiliated them, or terrified them, or left them in despair. I know how these moments feel, because I've had my own. But these defining moments, although painful, give you the courage to make the move you've long wanted to make, and provide you with the motivation you need to succeed.

What I learned from asking this question is that the people who succeed are the ones who don't ignore their triggering event. The ones who take it to heart and spring into action. So that's the advice I would give to you. Have you had a triggering event? When your moment of reckoning comes, don't ignore it. It's the start of something good.

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