Read an Excerpt
People often ask me whether I'd rewrite my own history if I could. It's an intriguing thought. Certainly there were dark periods in my life when I would have welcomed the chance to be someone else. Today I feel much differently, though, because I've learned so much from my past; looking back, even the difficult times served a purpose in shaping the stronger and more confident person I've become. I am who I am because of my life, not despite it.
It's fitting that my personal crest reads Ex adversis felicitas crescit, which loosely translated from Latin could mean "out of adversity comes happiness." When my world unraveled spectacularly a while ago I thought my life was over. I felt overwhelmed by insurmountable obstacles, and my out-of-control weight problem was the most obvious symptom of a much deeper emotional quagmire.
For years I lived to please others. Whether this was out of duty or because of my innate desire for approval, I can tell you that focusing on others really wore me down and eventually left me feeling depleted, with little drive or identity of my own. I ate uncontrollably out of poor self-esteem and lack of confidence. Though my insecurities were rooted in my childhood, they followed me right into adulthood, where life in the spotlight coupled with the extraordinary demands of royal life only exacerbated and magnified them.
Fast-forward to today and what's different? Now I live in truth, which means I trust my instincts and I follow my heart. If being untrue to myself and my needs made me weak before, I owe my strength and conviction now to the truth and authenticity I reaffirm in myself each day. I tell people I feel as if I've become the conductor who is leading the orchestra that is my life.
I'm living proof that if you feel stuck where you are, you can reclaim your life and make it better than you'd ever imagined. First you need to pause and regroup and this book will show you how. If you are overweight as I was, you'll quickly see how your lifestyle, relationships and habits are affecting your sense of well-being. Don't let fear of change hold you back. From my own experience and in talking with others I have come to learn that we know intuitively when we're ready to face specific issues and take steps to address them. Weight Watchers practically saved me by opening my eyes to the unhealthy feelings and behaviors that were behind my eating problems and many of the troubles in other parts of my life. I'd never have moved on had I not already been receptive to change.
It's fair to say that I reinvented myself as a result of losing weight. I know I look better because I weigh less, but it was the weight-loss process itself that gave me the opportunity to change my life on many levels. Aside from looking different on the outside, I also have more spirit and energy on the inside. My outlook is brighter. I'm a better person and a great mother, all because my reinvention started at my very core and worked its way outward. I feel happier and more in control because the changes touched the very corners of my mind, body and soul. Understanding the triggers of my emotional eating was like peering into a window on myself. I used to feel victimized by the circumstances of change, but now I embrace goal setting and making the decisions that lead me toward achieving them. Now, my outlook on the future is positive because I'm the one shaping my destiny.
Reinventing Yourself is a book about learning to change the small, as well as large, issues in your life. In these chapters we'll set out together on your path of rediscovery and reinvention. This is your time and your journey, so it's your opportunity to start focusing on how you feel and on what you want. Put all judgment aside and make today a clean slate.
The funny thing is, though, that even when you take charge and begin to experience all the rewards and reap the good feelings you experience from your efforts, something always comes up that may make you question just how far you've really come in your journey. For example, for all the positive, forward steps I've taken in the past few years, I occasionally find myself vexed by old issues, insecurities or problems. To this day, when I have a falling-out with a friend or read something hurtful about myself in the press, I still take it deeply personally and then experience the familiar spectrum of emotions everything from anger to embarrassment to sadness. That's when I ask myself, Didn't I take care of this one already?
Working on this book and interviewing the nine Weight Watchers leaders profiled in these chapters has helped me realize something important about the process of change: We don't suddenly change ourselves and our lives. For most of us, change is an ongoing process; it doesn't just happen, and things aren't suddenly better. I often remind myself that change can be subtle in fact, the more subtle the change, the more profound and powerful its impact. The key is not falling back into old habits; it's about reminding yourself not to opt for the familiar simply because it's what you know and what feels comfortable. With every change comes a little discomfort, but trust me: The discomfort is temporary, and soon the positive side of change will appear.
I know you'll feel inspired as you progress through this book, especially as you read the first-person success stories from the Weight Watchers leaders. I truly enjoyed interviewing each of these remarkable women. They first came to Weight Watchers as members, each with her own history but all of them feeling out of control about their weight and their lives. Things changed as these women shed pounds and reinvented healthier lives for themselves. Now they inspire hundreds each week back home where they now lead Weight Watchers meetings. What is truly wonderful about the ideas contained in this book is that you can reach whatever goals you set for yourself. Anyone can succeed with the right frame of mind. The key is to ease into the process of looking at your life and pause often to reflect on yourself. Start dreaming about your future and get excited about change, too. Good things await you.
If you're truly ready to take charge of your life or if you're tired of feeling unhappy, then dive into this book with an open mind and heart. It's most effective if you read the chapters in the order in which they appear, take the quizzes, and listen to the advice and ideas we've presented. But if you're more comfortable picking and choosing your chapters and focusing on the profiles, by all means do it that way. The key is to read, listen and learn about your life and your true self.
I have come to think of life as a fast-flowing river. As anyone who has ever gone rafting on the rapids knows, you have to be alert to whatever you might encounter, be it storms or taking a corner too sharply and finding yourself at the brink of a terrifying waterfall. I hope this book gives you the ballast to help you the next time you feel as if you are moving too fast, losing control, and about to be thrown out of your raft.
So we're on our way now...down the rapids towards the mouth of the river. In these pages, I feel I've tried to show that the current can sometimes be very rough and strong, that there are days when I need to really focus to understand how best to negotiate the corners of the river up ahead. I worry so much about the storms, the waterfalls, the rough waters, but I am determined to get to my goal. Thank you for joining me in this trip together on such a wonderful river. You know how the weather can change, so let's just take one day at a time.
Copyright © 2001 by The Duchess of York and Weight Watchers International Inc.