"I Lost 200 pounds -- and All My Friends"
When Hallie reached 340 pounds, she decided that her lifelong struggle with weight needed to end. But after gastric bypass surgery resulted in the loss of 200 pounds, she was faced with a situation that she never anticipated. "When I started losing weight," Hallie says, "it happened very rapidly -- it was like I was melting. But really, the more I melted away, the more my friends left. They just disappeared with my weight. I wonder, am I the only one who's ever been through this? Nobody told me that my friends would go away -- I wasn't aware of the emotional ramifications."
Life coach Harriette Cole explains that often times a big change can have unexpected consequences. "If you get married, your friends can go away. If you have a new job, if you move ... or even if you have a windfall -- people think that if they win the lottery, suddenly their whole life gets better, but very often, their lives fall apart. When you change, the dynamics in your relationships change and if you're not aware of it, then you're shocked."
While it's understandable to want to share positive changes with friends, others can grow to resent being constantly bombarded with the good news. In a one-on-one session with Harriette, Hallie admits that she sent out e-mails with updates as she dropped sizes. She then proceeded to lose not only friends but also family members, including her mother. Hallie remembers her mom telling her, "You've lost all this weight and now you think you're better than everybody else."
Hoping to help Hallie look at the situation from another perspective, Harriette shows her a surprise video from her mom. "When Hallie started losing weight," Connie says, "she would call me weekly and tell me how she had to throw out her fat clothes so she could go buy new thin clothes. It's very hurtful to have someone rub in your face constantly how thin they are and you're not. I'm sure if she talked to her friends the way she talked to her family, that her friends would decide not to talk to her either."
Her mother's hurt feelings come as a shock to Hallie. "I never even considered it. I just wanted her to be happy for me. You know, there were times I probably really was bragging because I was really proud of what I had done." Hallie says if there was one person she wishes she could apologize for hurting it would be her mother.
Pointing out that Hallie's problem is actually quite common, Harriette suggests: "If you are planning change, you can plan how you're going to go through it and you have to include the emotional plan. And I recommend getting professional help. With gastric bypass surgery, they usually recommend it but they didn't do that in this case. You get somebody who can professionally talk with you through this whole situation so you don't have to rely on your friends for everything. Pick up the phone to call the professional first. Then you're more available to your friends for that two-way street that friendship really is supposed to be."
Then, Rachael surprises Hallie by bringing in her mom to start the healing process. "I think it's a great relief to have it out in the open," Connie admits, "and it gives us something to start with." A tearful Hallie tells her mom, "I love you so much, I'm so glad you're here!" The tears continue when Hallie's boyfriend Shannon has a surprise of his own -- click here to see the shocking moment!
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