Source: Asbury Park Press
Lori Sweeney is an expert on two of society’s most pressing health issues: bullying and obesity. She earned her wisdom the hard way.
“Because I was overweight, I could not escape from the bullying,” she said. “Words can’t describe how bad it was.”
The 45-year-old Sweeney, a Hillsborough resident who grew up in Linden, chronicled her personal triumph in a book titled Goodbye Fatness, Hello Gorgeous! Made available by Archway Publishing, it’s a 308-page roadmap to transformation…
Before bullying became recognized as a societal ill — back when it was dismissed as kids being kids — Sweeney grew up tormented at home and in school. “We had relatives who would come visit, and they would sing fat songs that they made up about me,” she says…In school, “I was pushed around. When you’re called a loser every day, you have low self-esteem.” Things got so bad, she would find an empty classroom to hide in…
Finally, one day, she spoke out against a tormentor in class. “I thought the class was going to laugh at me, but instead they applauded me…It was an ‘A-ha’ moment: Wow, if I stand up for myself, people will back off.”
“Writing a book is easy when you have the motivation. I didn’t want people to suffer as I did. When I read the news about kids taking their lives because they were picked on mercilessly, it breaks my heart…I want these kids to know: They’re worth it.”
“A lot of these kids don’t know where to go,” Sweeney says. “They think, ‘If I tell on the bullies, they’re going to hate me.’ Well guess what? They hate you now. What schools need to do is teach kids where they can go, who they can talk to.”
…Sweeney gained enough confidence to become a chemist, a wife and a mom, but the bullying had residual effects. Eating had become a crutch that she could not ditch…A car accident that required two knee surgeries made things worse. “I had to walk with a cane,” she says. “I had to special-order clothes. I felt limited and restricted.
“Yes, I had confidence, but I wasn’t happy inside. So I knew I had to change something else.” That’s why the book is filled advice like doing toe lifts while waiting in line and bringing your own food to parties.
The title, Sweeney said, is a reference to a derisive nickname she endured as a kid. “I say goodbye to that old person…I say hello to ‘Gorgeous,’ but that is more of the person I am on the inside. I am gorgeous in personality and positive spirit. I am no longer an introvert, but an extrovert.
“I heard over and over, ‘You should write a book.’” So she did.
Now a tutor and a motivational speaker, Lori Sweeney is speaking at the Forrestal Village Health & Fitness Expo on April 23, and the Somerville Public Library on May 9. More appearances and book signings and advice can be found at her website http://GoodbyeFatness.com.