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“Larry,” 46, is on a mission of self discovery. A mid-life crisis? Maybe. In any event, his therapy has been centered around re-thinking his own self-image.

I first met Larry six months ago. He was, by his own admission, twenty pounds, over-weight. His exercise program was “stalled,” he says, because of a back injury.

How’s your marriage? I had asked.

“Fair to middlin,” he said, “like everything else.


“I’ve still got a job.”


“No time, with the kids and all.”

Poor Larry, while not exactly unhappy, was not a happy guy.

Psychologists like me, lick their chops with the opportunity to be of service to someone like this man, who seems so ready for a change-challenge.

Why now? I asked.

He hesitated before he spoke:

“A funny thing happened to me last week… I was in my car, stopped at a light. A woman in the car right next to mine, motioned for me to bring down my window. She was cute. I never said a word to her… didn’t have a chance.

“She just smiled and said, ‘You are a very handsome man.’ Then she drove away. I was so stunned, that I pulled over to catch my breath. I looked at myself in the mirror. I couldn’t believe she was talking about me.”

And this experience was life changing?

He laughed. “ I really used to feel like the guy that woman was talking about. She reminded me, for the moment, about who he was… not just about the way he looked, you understand,… but about what his life was like when what she said might actually be more true.”

You are still an attractive man.

“Twenty pounds overweight.”

That’s fixable.

“I’m a slug. Too much TV. Not enough romance. No grand plans. I don’t remember the last date night I had with my wife. I can’t even imagine why she’d still like me much. And my job… that feels like one dead-end…

“I sound like a dead-head, don’t I?”

As I mentioned, Larry was ready for change. He asked me to help him to come up with a list of measurable goals… and a plan.

I don’t care if I ever see that mystery woman again. You get that, right? “I just want to be worthy of her compliment. “

I got it.

“You know what my wife said when I told her I had opted for some therapy? She laughed at me. Then she said I wasn’t capable of change.”

Funny how so many other wives share that perception about their husbands. “Change? Him? Never.”

The joke’s on Larry’s wife.

Larry committed to going on a sensible diet and to working out in a gym where he had been paying dues for a very long time. This time, however, he’s stuck with his program.

Turns out that weight loss, for those who weigh too much, has value beyond the obvious. Scales don’t lie and can serve as measurable motivators for other more difficult modifications.

Last week, fifteen pounds slimmer, wearing fashionable clothes to show off his flatter abs and with a new hair style, Larry told me his wife Diana, asked if she could join our sessions.

I had thought she might be getting worried, I said.

“I’m glad I’ve got her attention.”

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