Home' LOTL : November 2005 Contents 39
AFTER A DECADE OF HELPING PEOPLE
LOSE WEIGHT AND KEEP IT OFF,
ARLENE NORMAND REVEALS HER
SECRETS IN HER NEW BOOK. SHE
SPOKE WITH CECILIA MINOGUE.
So what is the biggest barrier to people
Lifestyle. People have to break habits
they’ve formed, often over many years,
and it’s very hard. Our environment is
very food oriented and very car oriented.
Portion sizes in Australia have increased
over the years but we have come to
accept them as normal. People don’t walk
enough. They go everywhere in the car or
the bus or the taxi. And they’re learning
from childhood that this is normal.
Sounds like you’re asking people
to undergo more of a psychological
overhaul than a diet?
Exactly. It’s not about dieting, it’s about
lifestyle. It is an enormous psychological
process. And it’s an enormous
organisational process. Australians work
longer hours than in any other country.
People are too stressed and part of that
stress comes from a lack of control. I help
people regain control over their lives;
and part of that is regaining control over
eating and exercise.
How do you go about helping people
regain that control? You admit you
have a reputation for being a hard
taskmistress, yet the tone of your book
is direct but also kind and measured.
That’s exactly what I am. I am kind and
measured. I take on a total support role
for people. But I AM direct, and people
don’t like that. I make them confront
themselves and that can be hard. People
are always giving me gifts to thank me
after they have come out the other side of
the process, but the process itself can be
very hard for them.
Body image has often been
linked with self esteem. Is that
Yes. There is a huge link
between self esteem and body
image. I have seen people
blossom before my eyes. When
people have been obese and
they lose weight, their whole
personality and mood can
change dramatically. They start
dressing better. They take more
pride in their appearance. They
even start grooming themselves
better. When people get
organised, eat better and
exercise more they often
find their mood changes
for the better.
What about people who
are perhaps just above
their healthy weight
range? People often
say the last five kilos is
hardest to lose.
It’s much harder to lose
25 kilos than 5 kilos. For a person to
lose 25 kilos they have to show such
enormous discipline for such a long time
before they can really see results. If you
only need to lose five kilos you will see
the benefits much more quickly.
“Move It” is one of the 10
commandments, but how hard is it
getting people motivated to exercise?
(Laughs) Getting people to exercise is
the area where I have most success. It’s
much harder to change people’s eating
habits. Walking out the door is the easiest
thing to do. When people use a pedometer
they realise very quickly how easy it
can be to include more exercise in their
day. The majority of people find the gym
quite hard to fit in but there is always
something they can do. It depends
on the personality. Sometimes I get
people to belly dance.
Are there any issues that arise
specifically for lesbians?
I find lesbian women who take on a more
‘male’ role often feel comfortable with
more weight because it gives them a more
dominant look. The ‘female’ partners
often find it easier to lose weight. I find
that if lesbian couples come to me to lose
weight together they are very supportive
of each other: more so than heterosexual
couples. They often have great success
when they do it together!
Arlene Normand Q & A
The 10 Commandments of Losing
Weight: Tough Love from the Lean,
Mean Diet Queen is published by
Penguin. For more information
about Arlene Normand go to www.
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