A Weighty Dilemma Involving Professional Help
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A Weighty Dilemma Involving Professional Help

Should you trust someone suffering from the same problem to guide you toward a solution?

Rachel Stein

Toco Hills resident Rachel Stein writes about spirituality and, working with readers, tries to help community members deal with dilemmas.

Fried food is irresistible.
Fried food is irresistible.

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.

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