Good Intentions
Outside, an afternoon rain shower is dimpling the water in the resort's fountains and swimming pools. Kerri, Yolanda, and Amy dash across a manicured lawn to the conference room where Angela is waiting. Angela is a psychotherapist, but with her long limbs and graceful movements, she could pass for a dancer. In her Los Angeles practice, she specializes in both healthful living and life coaching, and she's here to help the women establish realistic goals.

"In our enthusiasm to better ourselves," Angela begins, "we tend to make long lists of simplistic proclamations, like 'I will not eat carbs after 7 o'clock' and 'I will get at least eight hours of sleep every night.' But lists like this typically set us up for failure, because there are real, concrete reasons we aren't doing these things already." Angela reminds the women what Bob said yesterday: Weight loss is about breaking down the barriers that are keeping you locked in unhealthy behaviors. This afternoon the women will gain a better perspective on what those barriers are. Angela is going to lead them through a series of prompts, and they will respond in writing.

1. "What do you know about yourself? Finish five statements that begin 'I am....'"

Yolanda puts on her glasses, crosses her legs, and begins to write. Kerri jots down a phrase, taps her pen, then scribbles again. Amy curls into a corner of the white sofa, focused intently.

2. "What feels good about your life right now?"

3. "Where are you dissatisfied?"

4. "Who do you want to be in the world?"

In response to the last one, Amy writes, "I want to be a supportive and loving wife. I'm afraid I'm not able to be that person any longer."

And at that, her face reddens and tears roll down her cheeks. Angela invites her to explain what's unfolding in her head.

"I've always tried to be tough and handle whatever I can on my own, without help. So I don't tell my husband that I'm overwhelmed when he's away. But now he's not sharing any of his problems with me, either. We don't communicate anymore."

"You think keeping quiet makes you strong," Angela says, "but really, it's dishonest, and it's hurting you and your husband. The truly strong thing to do would be to tell your husband the truth, which is, 'I miss you very much when you're gone.'"

Amy nods. "You're totally right."

Angela asks Amy to create a new intention for herself, and to state it in the present tense. "It should be just a simple statement about who you are trying to be right now."

Amy says, carefully, "I am open with my husband and my kids, and supportive of them. I am starting down a healthy road with my family."

At the close of the session, Angela hands each woman a wallet-sized card. On one side, she has written their intention. On the other is a sketch of a tree with a spreading canopy. It's meant to remind them that when we root ourselves in meaningful goals, we thrive.
Photo: J.R. Mankoff


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