In the spirit of the New Year, here’s the story of an entrepreneur who created a business around the business of weight loss, and is providing other highly time-challenged and driven individuals (read: entrepreneurs) with a customized and permanent path to their weight loss and energy goals.
She is author, speaker, counselor and executive/life coach Wendy Darling (no relation to the fictional character, clearly), the founder of Thumbprints International LLC and creator of the program Loving Yourself Lean: Your Body, Your Life, Your Way.
I had the opportunity to meet this effervescent coach and entrepreneur at the December CEO Space business growth conference in Las Vegas earlier this month, where she presented and served as faculty. I promptly renamed her “Darling Wendy” for the balance of the week-long event. With her typical demeanor, she accepted the impromptu name with a smile.
Darling is a unique individual with two graduate degrees in counseling psychology and post-graduate work in traditional management. She was in the midst of a burgeoning 20-plus year career in organizational development when the life she once knew took a sharp left turn in the form of a major accident in 1991. Her life was spared, although her recovery required multiple years. Upon her return to life, she discovered new gifts that have led her to the development of entirely new modalities for healing and helping. Today she blends her classic training with a new and keen intuition that makes her highly efficient in helping all varieties of people – children, parents, and yes, fellow executives and entrepreneurs, to accomplish their seemingly impossible goals.
Today she is a frequent speaker–a radio and talk show personality–and has developed and delivered more than 50 programs to a collective audience of more than 250,000 people in the 20 years since her life changing and miraculous turn of events. These initiatives include the current Loving Yourself Lean program that provides individual coaching and virtual group sessions to help clients eliminate the emotional roadblocks that are restricting them from permanent success. In the process she guides clients in the development of customized nutritional and exercise/movement approaches that allow them to achieve their goals naturally, and in many cases with breakthrough speed.
For entrepreneurs, the industry of weight-loss is massive. By the numbers, ABC News estimates the following industry numbers as of 2012:
- $20 Billion: The annual revenue of the U.S. weight loss industry as of 2012 including books, programs, drugs and weight loss surgeries.
- 108 Million: The number of people on diets in the United States. Dieters typically make four to five attempts per year.
- 85%: The percentage of customers who consume weight-loss products and services who are female.
- 1 Hour: The amount of time spent on daily exercise by people who lost and kept off at least 30 pounds of excess weight for five years.
- 220,000: The number of people with morbid obesity in United States who had bariatric surgery in 2009.
- $11,500 to $26,000: The average cost of surgery, which reduces the size of the stomach.
- $500,000 to $3 Million: The average salaries paid to celebrity endorsers of major weight-loss programs.
- $30,000: The amount of money celebrity endorsers, on average, earn per pound lost.
- $5,594: Cost for a week-long (six night) weight-loss program at Beau Rivage Palace, a luxury hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland. The program includes massages and personal training sessions and discourages deprivation.
A January 2013 survey (reported in the February 2013 issue of Consumer Reports) by the Consumer Reports National Research Center polled more than 1,300 licensed psychologists about the issues and strategies they considered essential for helping clients lose weight and also succeed in keeping it off.
The major issues the psychologists cited were as follows:
- Understanding and managing the behaviors and emotions related to weight management (44%)
- Emotional eating (43%)
- Maintaining a regular exercise schedule (43%)
- Making proper food choices in general (28%)
In general, psychologist respondents cited the issues of gaining mastery over behaviors and emotions related to eating as key to their clients’ success, indicating that these two themes go together. Additionally 92% of the 306 respondents who provide weight loss treatment within their current practice reported their roles in helping clients “address underlying emotional issues related to weight gain.”
These findings do not surprise Darling. Her own system is a unique program that is simple, yet can yield significant results for the clients she serves. She addresses the issues of discovering and healing the emotional and psychological blocks that lead to weight gain (and other unproductive behaviors) at the core of her growing roster of programs. Her Loving Yourself Lean program is a unique “healing” system, as she describes it: “I help clients get to the root of what is causing them to be overweight. When the core interference is removed, weight releases effortlessly.” In this respect, weight loss programs are individually configured to each client. Most typically, they will run 90 days. She runs her the counseling and coaching portions of her practice through private virtual sessions that clients can obtain entirely independent of other services or can utilize in conjunction with periodic small group sessions of 10-20 individuals. (Even in a virtual setting, the group dynamic can be vital, she says).
The program is not inexpensive, but provides alternatives for plans that can be customized to incorporate private weekly counseling, group online sessions, or both. Darling is able to provide payment options, she tells me, and is also able to accommodate the challenging schedules of full-time company owners and entrepreneurs, which make up the majority of her weight-loss clientele. (In addition to being highly driven and accomplished individuals, her clients tend to include far more women than men, she says, although there are ample male participants, too.)
For those who are compelled by Darling’s thinking and strategy but unable to participate in a full program, she offers resource materials, articles, and a schedule of live events and presentations on her website at www.lovinglean.com. Interested readers can also download an ebook of recipes and resources that she makes available free.
As an aside: while we have no business relationship together I will be joining Wendy’s first 2014 program, beginning January 21, and will report back in future columns on my ongoing experience there.
In our interview, Darling and I also discussed the challenges of predominantly “manufactured” food in an industrial and entrepreneurial society, and the challenges of finding adequate time to meet the self-care requirements of movement/recreation, family time, and access to sufficient fresh air, water, nutritional diet, relaxation and sleep. All of these issues are factors in the ability to achieve consistent leanness and health.
But even deeper than these issues, she confirms, are the challenges of addressing and healing the emotional barriers to optimal health. When these are mastered, the progress is natural. One recent client released a total of 60 pounds within the 90-day program, with relative ease. Another has released 15 pounds, even through the time period that included Thanksgiving and Christmas.
While weight-loss strategies and quick fix programs are rampant, Darling’s experience underscores Consumer Reports’ findings that point to the need for emotional balance and skills at the core of a successful program. Beyond personal improvement, for entrepreneurs who are continuing to seek opportunities, the weight-loss industry continues to be one of our society and culture’s greatest market opportunities for businesses and service providers to fill. What are your own fitness and health goals for 2014, and how do you intend to reach them? I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Source: Forbes Business