Like many adults in the United States, I was an overweight child and ever since then I have struggled with obesity.

My childhood and adolescence revolved around a large extended family, a lot of physical activity (summers at a lake or pool, winters skiing), and a lot of food. For my big family, daily life was centered on the kitchen and my Italian mother's excellent cooking; we all loved it! Unlike my slim siblings however, I seemed to have no "off" button when it came to eating. I never felt satisfied with regular portions and almost always ate too much.

As an adult, I cycled through well-known "fad" diets and used intense willpower to lose weight. I would maintain a few months of "normal" weight and then tire of the seeming battle, only to return to an obese weight.

During 2007, after my Mother's death, I had again gained a significant amount of weight. I was feeling physically uncomfortable and emotionally out of control with food. That's when I learned about the George Washington University Weight Management Program.

Initially, I attended a program orientation and was encouraged by the doctors' and staff's discussion of current obesity research and excited about the program's comprehensive approach. The GW approach includes doctor supervision, a tailored eating plan, exercise, food education, and clinical therapy. Approaching weight management as it relates to all aspects of one's life was a refreshing and common sense strategy that appealed to me, and I decided to join the program!

I chose a food plan that seemed best for me and began weekly visits that provided detailed health feedback, close physician supervision, and clinical therapy support. As I implemented the eating plan, I also attended eye-opening meetings and programs, providing me both educational and emotional support and new weight management strategies and tools.

As the weight steadily came off, I began to increase my physical activity as well and returned to activities I love such as hiking and rowing. I continued to lose weight. I have lost more than 40 pounds, I feel great, and am able to enjoy the active lifestyle I love so much. This program has taught me the tools for eating and living healthfully that I will continue for the rest of my life. — J.M.