Streams of people surrounded us, making their orders and enjoying camaraderie over lunch. Bursts of laughter filled the restaurant as frazzled waitresses bustled back and forth. Yet I was practically oblivious, immersed in the issue that was weighing me down.

Lori gazed at me, brows knitted in concern.

“I just don’t know what to do anymore,” I said, spearing a tomato smothered in ranch dressing. “My doctor told me I’m at risk for diabetes and heart problems, but I just can’t seem to take on the diet thing. Every time I start, a significant reason pops up and entices me to indulge in that brownie or hot fudge sundae.”

Lori put up her hand, and I intuited what she was going to say.

“I know, I know,” I said. “Diet is a bad word. It’s called a lifestyle change. Call it what you want; it amounts to the same asceticism.”

Dipping her spoon into her steaming broccoli soup, Lori sipped, smiled and nodded.

“I have just the person for you,” she said. “Meira Fishberg is a nutritionist I started seeing a year ago. She’s not cheap, but she really helped me chart a path.”

I cocked my head and studied Lori. She had dropped a size or two and seemed to glow with good health. Maybe it was worth a shot. But then cynicism raised its head.

“How?” I lifted my hands in despair. “I’ve tried every plan on the planet. Sure, the weight starts slipping off, and I begin entertaining dreams. But inevitably something happens to disrupt the flow, like the holidays or a family simcha. And once I’m off, it is such a struggle to climb back on.”

“I’m telling you, Chani, Meira can help. I am an avowed chocoholic. If she can help me, she can help anyone.”

I gazed enviously at Lori’s Size 6 physique and heaved a sigh. Could I? Should I? More time, more money, more failure? But what choice did I have? Dr. Wein warned me I’m a walking time bomb if I don’t change my habits.

“OK, OK,” I acquiesced, waving down our waitress. “A double order of french fries, please.”

Lori narrowed her eyes.

“It’s my last fling, OK?”

Lori handed me Meira’s business card, and I dialed the number, feeling like an alcoholic guzzling his last drink.

“Before I change my mind,” I whispered, smiling as the waitress plunked down the plate of steaming fries.

The next day I knocked hesitantly when I arrived at Meira’s office.

“Come in,” a cheerful voice called.

Sucking in my breath and my hefty abdomen, I turned the knob and my eyes widened in shock. Could there be two Meira Fishbergs?

“Oh, sorry,” I stuttered, backing out. “I must have the wrong office.”

An attractive, very overweight woman ambled forward, hand extended.

“Chani Hoffman?” she asked, a broad, welcoming smile lighting up her face.

“Uh, y-yes,” I said. “I guess I’m in the right place after all.”

“Why don’t you come in and have a seat?” Meira said, indicating a leather armchair facing her desk.

“Th-thanks,” I said, heaving my bulk into the chair.

“Why don’t you tell me what brings you here?” Meira said. “How can I help?”

Leaning forward, she seemed intent on hearing what I had to say.

Well, Chani, you’re here. May as well give it a shot.

I left the office an hour later, clutching my food plan like a lifeline in a raging sea while a flutter of hope swished inside. Could I triumph this time? Was there a finish line that I could cross?

I envisioned attending my nephew’s wedding in six months clad in a sleek, svelte dress, and a small smile hovered on my lips.

“Chani,” my elegant sister-in-law, who never gained an ounce, would beam at me, her mouth agape. “Is it really you? You’re half a lady!”

After seeing Meira for a few months and fastidiously following her plan, I began to see results. Dr. Wein was thrilled, and my family and friends, especially Lori, admired my progress and dedication. For the first time in years, I began anticipating the family simcha.

Had I known from the get-go that Meira Fishberg was obese, I would never have considered using her for help in achieving my weight goals. But, to my incredulity, Meira is a competent nutritionist.

So here is the dilemma: Would you use a professional who has the same problem you’re struggling with? Would you seek help from a child psychologist who has rebellious children, a marriage therapist who is divorced or an addiction counselor who is a former addict? I’d love to hear your opinion!

Please send responses to rachels83@gmail.com by Monday, Oct. 30.