For most of her life, Cindy Arvayo was an active person. Then, she started climbing the corporate ladder at an electronics firm in pressure-packed Silicon Valley. “With that came all the stress,” says Cindy, age 45. “I got into the habit of numbing out with food.”

After about 13 years, her weight had crept up to more than 235 pounds. She was working 70-hour weeks managing several manufacturing groups. Even though she never had time or energy to work out, she wanted and needed to be active. “I felt guilty that I wasn’t, so I ate even more,” she says.

Then one day, Cindy asked her husband a question that most men would never want to answer: “Does my weight bother you?” His thoughtful response turned Cindy’s life around: “What I miss is being active and doing fun things with you.”

“His words made me want to be a better woman,” Cindy says. Her first step was to join a health club, where she took a beginner-level aerobics class. But she knew that wouldn’t be enough to give her the healthy, balanced life she desired. So, 6 months into her exercise program, she quit her job and went back to school to become an esthetician. (Estheticians do facial and body treatments.)

This wasn’t a rash decision on Cindy’s part. “I had accomplished everything that I had wanted to in my job, and I felt that it was time for me to move on,” she explains. “Having my own beauty business was a lifelong dream, so I decided to go for it.”

With that single decision, Cindy unloaded much of the stress that had driven her weight gain in the first place. “It was the best thing that I ever did for myself,” she says. She no longer felt the overwhelming urge to overeat. She got back to the active and athletic life that she had known before. Gradually, she lost 85 pounds.

These days, Cindy works just 3 days a week, operating her own skin-care center. She’s also training for her second sprint triathlon, a race involving a roughly l/i-mile swim, a 20-mile bike ride, and a 10K run. Most important, she’s happy. “I made the choice to find the balance that was missing in my life,” she says.


Find out what really matters. Like Cindy, so many of us are in jobs that we don’t care about, and we aren’t doing the things that we love. We numb ourselves with food as a way of stuffing down our real emotions, desires, and dreams. But life is short and we go around only once. Draw courage


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