With Dr. Ro's advice for the stomach in place, it was time for Martha Beck to make over Michelle's mind. "I believe losing weight is about telling the truth," says Martha Beck, author of The Joy Diet (Crown) and Expecting Adam (Berkley). She means a kind of truth beyond admitting, say, that before bed you tend to devour a pint of chocolate–chip–cookie–dough ice cream.

Her theory is that we all have an "essential self" who wants to live our "right life." But so often our real life is not our right life. If work or intimate relationships are keeping us from what we really want and need, she says, "the essential self kicks up a fuss through eating, addiction and getting sick."

Her goal with Michelle is to break down bad relationships with food. "Take your plate of food, go to the wastebasket and throw it away." Beck's politely delivered command is meant to focus on portion size: eating only to the point of fullness. "Studies are very clear that the ability to throw away food is a great indicator of an ability to lose weight," says Martha. To Michelle's plaintive "That's wasteful," Martha replies with a knowing smile, "It's going to waste if it goes to your thighs, belly and upper arms."

Martha's role in exposing their emotional eating triggers is so important. Without self-knowledge, all the nutritional information in the world won't do any good, because every time the women need to relieve stress or salve an emotional wound—in other words, deal with life—they'll probably resort to food. And life, she says, happens every day.

She explains that when women are actually addressing the reasons they are feeling fear or anger or frustration, they won't feel hungry. "If you're processing that mountain of emotional energy, you can't eat. Your relationship with food is an amazing passage to your deepest issues."


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