Remember when you were a kid and while playing a game and something didn’t go your way you cried “do-over!”? I don’t know about you, but over the 41 years of my life, I’ve often longed for a ‘do-over.’ Some way to erase the mistakes and blunders I’ve managed to make of my life.

As the age of 40 loomed I found myself highly stressed suffering from chronic depression (which I’m being treated for by a psychiatrist) and was a very unhappy hard to get along with person. I attempted to change my life over and over and over to no avail. Oh sure the antidepressants helped. But I wanted something more. I wanted to restart my life.

In December 2003 I was faced with devastating news. My hair stylist, Glenda, was retiring. This was a woman no where near retirement age. Since I’d met her in 1982, Glenda had weight issues. I later learned as we became friends that she was a diabetic. It was her diabetes that forced her early retirement. She was scheduled to have part of one foot amputated and would no longer be able to stand all day. This acted as a much-needed trigger for me to do something about my weight. No I didn’t have diabetes. But on a deep level it frightened me. My 2004 New Year’s Resolution was to go back on Weight Watchers and lose weight.

As I went back ‘on program’ for a fourth time, I knew in my heart that something inside me had to change if this weight loss was going to be different than my previous attempts. Different in that I was going to keep it off this time. My three previous times I’d lost weight but hadn’t been able to stick to the program to reach goal weight, slid and ended up gaining the lost weight back. Reaching my goal this time meant facing my worst enemy – ME.

I can now freely admit that I have lied to myself, deceived abused, played mind games with and caused physical harm (meaning damaged my own physical health due to the fat I carried on my body) to myself. Dealing with an abuser is difficult enough when you are the victim. Dealing with YOURSELF as both an abuser and victim was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, and seemed impossible when I faced the challenge.

My attitude about my ability to change – really change – not just the outer being but the inner self that was battered and bruised, who sabotaged efforts to change that outer being. I had no idea how to deal with this issue. Until the day I accidentally discovered the daytime reality show Starting Over, a show about six women guided by a pair of life coaches (and in its second season psychologist Dr. Stan Katz) to achieve their goals.

I found the Starting Over while having my car serviced at a local Ford dealership. As I waited in their service department waiting area I watched the show. I was fascinated. However as an accountant I typically miss daytime television. I caught a few more episodes on holidays and time off work. As I surfed the net, I saw people discussing the show and became more interested. So I began to record the program and was soon hooked. It isn’t the ‘goals’ of the women that interest me. It was my ability to identify aspects of myself in the women on the show.

I was late in finding the first season of Starting Over but I watched as they reaired episodes over the summer. I saw parts of myself in Lori who was trying to come out of her shell after the death of her husband. And, in Andy who was trying to jump start her career and get along better with women. Through these and other women in the house I learned that changing me was within reach.

However I must confess there is more to it than just watching the show that led me through the process of facing that person in my mirror and really digging into what made her tick. A few people turned me on to a book written by life coach Rhonda Britten. That book was CHANGE YOUR LIFE IN 30 DAYS. It took me more like 6 weeks to get through the book because there were some exercises in the ‘do 1 chapter/exercise per day’ philosophy the book focuses on that I wanted to spend time on so I’d get the most out of them. I find this interesting because it takes most of the women on the show more than 30 days to graduate. Like me in the quest to lose weight and stop sabotaging myself, the women on the show usually have other issues in their lives that are causing pain and misery. I still find myself continuing that process of change within myself months later.

If I hadn’t discovered Starting Over or Rhonda’s book I honestly don’t know if I could say that I’d lost 95 pounds (and counting). This process laid out and guided in the book and reinforced for me by watching the show is key in my ability to lose and continuing losing weight over 1 year after I made that 2004 New Year’s Resolution. It is also key in other changes I find myself making, like decluttering my house. Or my recent endeavor to find and reconnect with my father (both ironically recent topics in season 2).

In an effort to both support a friend in her efforts to kick off a ‘Do Over’ of her life I’m going to go back through the Change Your Life in 30 Days. This time due to both my and my friend’s schedule I’ll be taking 30 weeks rather than 30 days. I’m looking forward to going back through the exercises to see my answers both now and to compare them to the notes and answers I made last summer. I’m also looking forward to sharing the journey with others right here on Jokers Updates. And if you want a “do over’ I invite you to join us.

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