Thursday, 19 February 2009

People Power

Like many women I am struggling to lose weight, and have been for several years. Last week, however, I lost four whole pounds When I stepped on the scales at my Weight Watchers meeting I thought my leader was going to dance a jig around the room, so thrilled was she at my success. She beamed from ear to ear and congratulated me with such warmth that I resolved never to let her down in the coming weeks. My modest weight loss had brought joy into her life – it might even have made her week (it certainly made mine). I wonder whether she gets commission on each pound lost by her members?

As good as the diet plans at slimming clubs are, it’s not rocket science – eat less and exercise more and you will lose weight. What makes these clubs work for me is the sheer terror of having to confess my dietary sins to a kindly and helpful leader at the scales each week. Being accountable to someone gives me just that little extra bit of impetus I need to keep ignoring the hunger pangs.

There is real power in personal, one-to-one support. Whether it’s my Weight Watchers leader, an AA sponsor or a LawCare volunteer, having someone take an interest in your efforts to lose weight or get your life back on track can make a huge difference. In moments of weakness or suffering you can pick up the telephone and hear words of encouragement. Your failures become twice as bitter but, on the flip side, your elation at your successes are doubled. Feelings of shame at letting down or disappointing someone who believes in you can be a strong motivator.

In many slimming clubs, the leaders are people who have lost weight as a club member, and, poor dears, their “fat pictures” are blown up to A3 size and displayed for all to see. Whilst there are no laminated posters of LawCare volunteers, they are very generous in talking frankly about their own experiences and/or addictive behaviour. Because therein lies the crucial and powerful message – If I can do it, You can do it too.

Many of those suffering from addiction or depression (as with many dieters) have lost faith in themselves, but having someone else who believes that they can do it, really wants them to succeed, and who takes as much pleasure in their achievements as they do, can make an enormous difference. Could you be a LawCare volunteer?

LawCare’s free and confidential helpline is available 9-7.30 Monday-Friday, 10-4 weekends, on:
0800 279 6888 (Solicitors, Law Students and Legal Executives in England and Wales)
0800 279 6869 (Solicitors, Advocates and Law Students in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man)
0800 018 4299 (Barristers, Barristers Clerks and Judges in England and Wales)1800 991801 (Solicitors in the Republic of Ireland)

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