Bertice Berry’s “Year to Wellness” Sounds Right Up Our Alley

Michel Martin recently interviewed sociologist and author Bertice Berry on NPR’s “Tell Me More.” Berry lost 146 pounds in less than a year by focusing not so much on her weight but her health. I found myself often agreeing out loud as she talked about her “Year To Wellness” program. Four things in particular really hit home for me:

1. Which comes first? The healthy body or healthy mind?

Berry said she was concerned about her daughter’s weight and brought her to the pediatrician. “He said…if you start her on crazy diets and programs and this, that and the other, she’s going to start yo-yoing like we’ve all done. And you’re going to destroy the part of her mind that is healthy about her self image. [He] said it’s a lot easier to heal the body when the mind is healthy. But if you destroy the mind, then the body is going to follow.

“And so once I started looking at it and realizing that everybody’s goal weight is exactly where they were when they first thought they were fat, you look back at those pictures and you go, well, why did I think I was fat?”

Amen! My “ideal” weight once I got out of high school was 150…EXACTLY what I weighed in high school the first time a doctor called me fat! And I spent the better part of 25 years trying to get back to and stay at 150, only to realize that until my mind was healthy, I could NEVER get back to and stay at 150.

2. If you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will.

“I’ve come to see that those who care a lot, carry a lot. One day I had this crazy thing happen. And I think the universe speaks to us in all kinds of ways and we have to listen. And for me it was my sewage system kept backing up and then we found out after researching and digging and looking, the backflow valve on the system was not working. And so all the stuff from everybody else’s house was coming to my house.

“Immediately I looked at this and said, ‘You know, this is what I’m doing in my own life. I’m doing everything I can to be well, but I’m taking on the stress and the problems and the worries of everybody in my life.’ And the moment I saw that, I was able to start unpacking this need to help everybody else do all their stuff without taking care of myself.”

How many times have you put everyone else before you AND tried to lose weight at the same time? The most successful “losers” I know put their health and goals ahead of everyone else or can incorporate their health and goals into their daily interactions with family and friends.

3. Journaling

“I tell people you have to spend three days, however you want to do it, journaling, talking to yourself in the mirror, but throughout your day, think about how you feel about yourself. At the end of the three days they call me and they say, ‘Oh my god, I didn’t know the things that I was carrying and thinking about myself. I didn’t know the things that I tell myself on a daily basis.’”

Turning down the clutter in our heads and allowing our own voice to come through is NOT easy, but (as I’ve preached ad nauseum) it is crucial and, to me, the most important thing any of us can do to lose weight. It doesn’t matter what “diet” you follow, if you don’t know why you’re doing it or are doing it for any other reason or person than your own well being, then it ain’t gonna work.

4. Get rid of toxic people.

“People only know how to push your buttons because they’re the ones who put them there. [Once] we start removing those buttons, they have nothing to push. And so you start to remove the toxic people (from your life).”

This one can be difficult if not impossible, particularly if the toxicity comes from family members. However, how we allow them to affect us is completely within our control. I found that by spending more time with supportive people helped me see how I was allowing myself to be manipulated and mistreated by those who would have me fail. Toxic people are not toxic because of you or me. They are toxic because of themselves and some pain and suffering and lack in their own life. That took me a long time to learn.

Right now, Berry’s “Year To Wellness” is a workshop, but I hope she will write about it soon, too. To read the full transcript of the interview, click here.

14 thoughts on “Bertice Berry’s “Year to Wellness” Sounds Right Up Our Alley

  1. Wow, 146 pounds in a year? That takes a lot of dedication! I wish I would have heard the interview…I'll have to read the transcript when I have more time. Good point, especially #4 (and you made a good point about that as well).

  2. This was wonderful!

    I believe that we need to “heal the mind, the body will follow”… so #1 was especially meaningful to me.

    And #4… I know it's necessary, but like you said, sometimes the toxic people are not “removable”. But that was excellent how you pointed out that it is up to us how we allow them to affect us.

    Good stuff!!

  3. This is a great post! I know exactly when I started to focus on health, and part of it was so my 3 girls wouldn't do the yoyo dance.
    Thanks for the link to the transcript!

  4. the goal weight thing – I had an instant flashback to when I was in college. My boyfriend asked me to get on the scale in front of him. I was passive in our relationship, and did it. I weighed 140 pounds, I can recall seeing the scale pointer. He told me I was definitely fatter than he would like me to be. From then on, I would only eat a little in front of him, and eat what I wanted other times. And yes, to me it would be a miracle to get close to that weight now!

  5. Thank you, I have always dismissed the journaling part of the process. You make a good point, and I am going to do it.

  6. I heard that when it was on the radio and loved it! Unfortunately I couldn't find anything else about the “Year of Wellness”. There's nothing on Bertice Berry's website about it, no blog, no book, etc. It made me very sad, I'd wanted to find out more.

  7. Zentient, I hope you didn't stay with that guy long, did you? It's amazing how one person's dis of our weight can stay with us and influence nearly all our lives.

    DCKate, I searched the Internet, too, after I listened to it. Michel had said Berry had written a book, but when I read the transcript, they had put in a correction that she just used it as a seminar. I'd love to attend one. Let me know if you hear any more and I'll do the same.

    Glad you all liked the interview. I think if you'd prefer to listen to it, you can get a podcast through Tell Me More's website, maybe?

  8. Thank you so much for this post! For me it was a real eye opener.

    I have never taken the time to really examine what I truly think of myself.
    I may be afraid to do that…(really)
    I am willing to try though, I will just have to find ways to keep myself on track with it and not divert myself.
    Thank you.

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