And what were the results of all this work?

After three months, Michelle, wearing a red sweater and white pants (yes, white, the color that hides nothing!), had lost 15 pounds and achieved her goal of going from size 12 to size 8—sometimes even a 6. For years, her husband, an exercise fanatic, would invite her to go to the gym with him early in the morning. "I'd say, 'I'll meet you,'" she recalls, "and then I never would." Now she gets there. In the evenings, instead of relaxing on the couch, the whole family goes for a walk with the dog, and Michelle will say, "Let's take a longer route." (She, too, kept dropping weight after the reunion, going down to 128 for a total of 22 pounds lost.)

On Dr. Ro's advice, Michelle started bringing healthier snacks to work so she could bypass the vending machine. "This morning it was carrots," she says. She also packs nuts, and eats just a handful, or small boxes of raisins. "Once or twice a week, I treat myself," she says of her love for sweets. "But I don't go overboard the way I used to."

She also followed Martha's advice on not automatically finishing everything on her plate. And there was something else. Thinking about her first e-mail to O, she admits, "I was a liar. I wasn't doing everything right." She knew what to do, she says; she just wasn't doing it.

At their first meeting in New York, Martha told Michelle, "Dieting is just the beginning. Pushing away that food is like pushing away your drug—you will be left with your feelings." And once those feelings were exposed, the process of getting honest began. The women lost weight because they became truthful about the fact that they weren't doing "everything right" and straight about the reasons why. Martha left them with the knowledge that their success had little to do with reducing the circumference of their thighs, and everything to do with discovering what had been going on inside their minds and hearts to keep them from reaching their goals. "I want you to have bodies you love," she said. "But more important, I want you to have lives you love." They are on their way.


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