A Better You resumes with second season

13 years ago

By Elna Seabrooks
Staff Writer

    HOULTON — “Women are really the bedrock of this culture. Unfortunately, they don’t always think so. But, they are. And, we are going to help them realize it,” explains motivational speaker Judith Metcalf. She and sister Carol Westerdahl are co-owners of A Better You — a women’s reinforcement group. Metcalf described the focus as dealing with “issues affecting women such as low self-esteem, co-dependency and guilt related to children, aging parents, physical health and weight.”
ImageHoulton Pioneer Times Photo/Elna Seabrooks
A BETTER YOU — Motivational speaker Judith Metcalf, left, and sister Carol Westerdahl will start a second year of their women’s self-esteem and improvement classes Oct. 4.

    Metcalf and Westerdahl are about to embark on the second year of their program that seeks to empower women and help them realize their intrinsic value. “Most of the women that we have had as clients, come very, very frustrated because they feel they are stretched just too thinly,” stated Metcalf.
Homey atmosphere for self improvement
    Year two of the odyssey starts Monday, Oct. 4 at the spacious and elegant one-acre property on Military Street built back in 1880 and furnished with impeccable good taste. “This program is in its infancy and would not have had the same success in a conference room,” explained Metcalf, a retired law enforcement officer.
    “It started in the living room and by the second week the women asked to move to the sun room,” elaborated Westerdahl about the cozy meeting space they now use with its warm colors, large upholstered armchairs and comfortable leather sofa. Metcalf said the sun room was much more conducive to an atmosphere for interaction than her more formal living room appointed with antiques and Waterford Crystal. “There was too much glitter in the living room. Too much to look at. And, things evolved (to the sunroom),” said Metcalf.
Not a diet program
    Last year, there was an emphasis on “weight release not weight loss because it is not a diet program. We don’t count calories and we don’t weigh. Weight release through the mind-body connection is the mind retraining the body for not just a healthy physical lifestyle, but also, emotional health, in such areas as anxiety, guilt and self esteem.”
    Westerdahl explained that she works with women on changing mindsets with relaxation and re-framing. “Judy does the introduction and she is the motivational speaker.  And, we do a relaxation visualization type exercise at the end of every class. We teach people how to physically relax. Then we allow them to be able to visualize themselves eating healthy food. smaller portions and that kind of thing. But, it’s not all about weight,” said Westerdahl.
    She added that most people join the classes because weight is a big part of it. “One of the things that we do with the visualization session is address self esteem and the way weight affects self esteem. We always address weight and give helpful hints. A lot of what Judy does is give people ideas. But, this is not a diet plan.”
ImageHoulton Pioneer Times Photo/Elna Seabrooks
POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING — Judith Metcalf, left, Diane Hires, center and Metcalf’s sister Carol Westerdahl discuss the success of A Better You in improving women’s self esteem.

    Locally based real estate broker Diane Hires said she thought the idea for A Better You was a good one when she was in a creative writing class taught by Metcalf who had considered selling her home. “When I came to the county I had done high fashion modeling in Connecticut, taught and sold Dale Carnegie courses, and had my own business in the aerospace field. I found out that I wasn’t fulfilled and started gaining weight,” said Hires.
    She added that one of the questions the two sisters asked her was very profound. When did she start losing who Diane Hires was? “I came from having a six digit number to not even being able to find a job,” said Hires. “That was the big thing that took away my self esteem. Hey. Wait a minute. I was running this six digit number selling aerospace hardware castings and things I couldn’t even spell and suddenly I couldn’t even get a job. My self esteem went down the drain.”  
    Hires also told the Pioneer Times that she realized she wasn’t alone with what she was feeling and it wasn’t just about weight loss although that was a big factor.
Birth of an idea
    Metcalf said she and her sister spent a long, snowy winter trying to decide what route they would take in life after both lost their husbands within an 18-month period. “There we were. Two widows. And, we had to find something to fill our days and to find some sense of fulfillment because life hadn’t turned out the way we thought it was going to. We talked and we talked. And, we decided one thing we wanted to do was give something back to the community,” reflected Metcalf about the process.
    Westerdahl, a certified hypnotherapist, expects her role to expand in May 2011when she earns her  license as a clinical social worker. “I will be able to offer more in-depth therapy modalities.” She is already a licensed drug and alcohol counselor.
    “My sister and I are nine years apart. She is the baby as she will quickly, quickly tell you. She married young, stayed in the county, raised her children and was an at-home Mom until she decided to go to college,” elaborated Metcalf. “I went to college and left not just the county, but the state. I married three times, had a daughter and a career that was very satisfying in law enforcement. I was the first female special agent at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.”
    From their unique experiences and close personal bond, A Better You resumes next week as a group of friends. “By the end of the program we’re all friends. What I really like about this group is that the women are all reinforcers for each other. There is a huge amount of peer interaction that you don’t get in a one-on-one,” said Metcalf.
    Weight management classes begin Monday, Oct. 4 at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Dress to look 10 pounds thinner begins Wednesday, Oct. 6, also at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. For more information, call 532-4965 or 694-1420.