Why did you join the 20/20 LifeStyles program?

Amelia: Getting physically and mentally healthy enough to start a family had always been a long-term goal for us, but my weight and uncontrolled type 1 diabetes brought an additional element of urgency to the process. I joined 20/20 LifeStyles to ensure that I’d make progress at a rapid, but safe and steady, pace. I struggled with crippling social anxiety for years. Knowing that the appointments and workouts would require me to see and talk to people almost every day, this was also an opportunity to break out of my shell and begin to make progress, one step at a time.

John: I wanted to support Amelia, but I also joined because my weight was finally creating a flood of other health problems. I recognized, with painful familiarity, the description of Binge-Eating Disorder in the introductory seminar.

What aspect of the program did you find the most valuable?

Amelia: Being obese for most of my life, I had learned to view exercise as a miserable experience that made me feel even more inadequate and helpless than I already did. Having a knowledgeable coach helped me set a safe but challenging pace without any outsized expectations to burn me out before I’d made any progress.

John: When I joined 20/20 LifeStyles, I didn’t understand why there was a counseling component to the program. However, it turned out to be vital. I could have never changed my lifestyle or stuck to the program without understanding how my stress affects my food choices, or gained insight on how my guilt of being overweight reinforces the behavior that keeps me overweight.

Did you experience any surprises?

Amelia: At first, it was difficult for me to open up and accept the unexpected outpouring of support from everyone at 20/20 LifeStyles as genuine, but they inspired me to not only trust them, but also others around me as well. Neither of us has been this fit or healthy before, and getting to know each other again in new bodies and minds has been an unexpected joy.

John: We’re both happier and healthier than we were months ago. I feel like the person who entered this program couldn’t have even conceived of where I am now, mentally, emotionally, and physically. I have worlds more energy than ever before. I’ve replaced almost my entire wardrobe twice already. And I now know how to exercise. I can’t thank my trainer enough for helping me realize that my body has the potential to do so much more than I ever thought possible.

What has been the most significant change?

Amelia: My increased energy is what I notice the most day-to-day. The simple housework and short walks that used to exhaust me for a week at a time are now the work of an hour or two, and I’m able to keep going long after they’re over. My diabetes is now controlled well within range for a safe pregnancy. My insulin usage is down to a third of what it once was and dropping. I’m wearing clothes in sizes that I haven’t worn since middle school. I’m far more comfortable interacting with people than I’ve ever been in my life. I’m looking forward to the future I’ve regained!

John: It’s not about denial or deprivation. 20/20 LifeStyles is about being aware of what you’re eating and how that balances with everything else you’ve eaten today or this week. You re-tune your brain so that you remember what it’s like to be satisfied with a reasonable amount of food that doesn’t have a ton of added sugar, fat, and salt. Going through the program, our taste buds shifted radically. Quite often, we realize that foods now taste like they did when we were kids.

Any advice for others struggling with weight loss?

Amelia: The way to beat obesity isn’t starvation, punishment, guilt, shame, or hatred. You can learn how to transform these into love, knowledge, patience, kindness, and determination, which will help you accomplish your goals, but you’ll need support from those who already have these tools. Be brave enough to take the first step, and then brave enough to keep walking no matter how hard it gets. You’re never alone.

John: It’s not your fault. You have no idea of the forces arrayed against you, both inside your brain and in your environment. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t overcome them. Get professional help. You’ll be glad you did.

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