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Overcoming Obstacles continued...

The best testament to her success came when she picked up her daughter, returning from six months in Ireland, at the airport.

"She walked right past me. She didn't even recognize me," Brooks says. "She was so supportive and awed by what I'd done."

The Coach Approach also worked for Aaron Bovos, 33, of Alpharetta. Once a runner, he'd gotten away from exercise while working 12- to 14-hour days as the city's director of finance. "I probably gained 60 pounds in five years," he says.

His coach worked with him to find the ideal time to exercise, so he would be less likely to find excuses. That meant Bovos took an early lunch at his desk and went to the Y or out for a run about 1:30 each afternoon.

A year later, he runs eight miles, three days a week. He has lost 30 pounds and inspired many of his colleagues to exercise.

"At work, people have seen a huge difference," says Bovos. "My personality is better, my production has gone up, my mental clarity has improved, and my energy level has increased dramatically."

"Coach Approach goes right at the heat of the ability to self-manage," says Annesi. "I simply do not believe in humans making changes because they are good for them. Unless you deal with self-management difficulties head-on, the failure rate will continue."

It worked for Brooks. Just past her one-year anniversary of joining the Y again, she's lost 65 pounds. She is no longer a borderline diabetic. Her knees don't ache like they used to, and she's much less tired and depressed.

"I knew I was 50 years old and I was facing a whole slew of problems if I didn't get control over it," says Brooks, who runs an Internet store.

When Brooks joined, she received a promotional one-year free membership that would be canceled if she didn't come to the Y enough. "Being tied in for a year was long enough that it helped me establish some habits," she says.

The coach was a huge motivator for Brooks.

"Each time I met with the coach, she had a topic to talk about," she says. "She gave you tools to deal with when you didn't feel like exercising or you got off track."

Brooks goes to the Y faithfully three days a week and walks with a friend another day. When she travels, she makes sure exercise is part of her trip, whether it's taking a walk or doing water aerobics.

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