‘Good witches’ can break unhealthy spells
Since I’ve lost 60 pounds and become fit, people wanting to achieve similar results approach me regularly for help. Because I’m not a trainer, nutritionist, psychologist or medical specialist, I’ve declined. Moreover, if responsibility for change were transferred to me, we’d both fail!
After hearing despair in a request from a woman I barely knew, though, I relented. I began working with Lyn B., a young mother who wanted to lose 50 pounds.
A more unstructured arrangement could not be imagined. We talk on Mondays (but maybe Tuesdays) for an indeterminate amount of time. All subjects are fair game – successes, exercise, food tips, appetite management and setbacks.
Lyn initially lost 16 pounds before a knee injury sent her spiraling down. Isolated at home and unable to exercise, she turned to food. Recovering her equilibrium, Lyn joined Weight Watchers. Even though exercise was limited, she resumed losing weight.
I tried to back out of our arrangement several times because the value of our interactions was not apparent, but Lyn insisted on continuing.
The talks helped her stay focused. Having someone not to disappoint was important. Lyn also found reassurance in talking to someone who was a few miles ahead on the fitness path. With my walkie-talkie, I could tell her about the steep grades and bumps ahead.
The greatest value, though, is in my power to help break the spell of her downward spiral. The spell can be cast by a tough day at work, a disappointing moment in a relationship, fatigue, temptation in the form of fast food when the appetite craves attention or a dessert in the freezer calling her name.
Once under its spell, Lyn loses her will to take care of herself. She doesn’t exercise and eats, sending the scale up. Once the spell is broken, she is free to pursue health and fitness. Almost magically, self-discipline returns and her appetite diminishes. The enslaving behavior loses force. Instead of betraying herself, Lyn is joyful, clear-eyed, focused and empowered.
Were this experience exclusive to Lyn, I would not bother to report it here. Instead, this “waking up” experience is, I believe, essential for change.
During the years I was overweight and under-exercised, an unconscious, zombie or sleepwalking quality was present. Moving through life, I was not fully present. Today, I feel awake and alert, while I enthusiastically (sometimes too much so, according to my husband) pursue my dreams.
What a shift! Exercising is not a dreaded activity, but something I look forward to. Eating thin is not deprivation – it’s liberating.
“Where the mind goes, the body follows,” is a quote that describes the phenomena Lyn and I experience. Managing our mind is a critical and difficult task.
Becoming fit is not, unfortunately, a continuous, smooth climb. Instead, one goes forward then detours or even circles back, then forward, then another detour. Since our minds don’t stay “fixed,” we must keep recapturing our focus.
Spells that overtake us can never, perhaps, be eliminated – they may always retain their power. We can, however, shorten the time we act under their influence – if we can find a way to interrupt them. For Lyn, I’m the good witch who breaks the self-destructive spell.
If you despair about your own efforts to get fit (as I did for more years than I care to count), find yourself a spellbreaker. They come in all forms – Weight Watchers’ meetings, a gym where you see your friends, a personal trainer who holds you to a higher standard, an outspoken doctor who makes you confront your health risks or a spouse who supports your efforts. Your job is to find your good witch and begin!
Carole Carson is a fitness and nutrition advocate from Nevada City. E-mail her at
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