THE BLOG
08/26/2010 09:58 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

I've got a bridge in Brooklyn ...


You CAN lose weight - and KEEP it off. Do you believe that? If you do, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn ... No, seriously. Here's the story of that famous bridge ...

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. It connects the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn by spanning the East River. At the time it opened on May 24, 1883, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world -- 50% longer than any previously built, with a main span of nearly 6,000 feet.

But behind the story of The Brooklyn Bridge is the story of John Roebling, a German immigrant and engineer who was told time and again that a steel suspension bridge of that length could not be built. But Roebling was determined and managed to convince an up and coming engineer -- and his son, Washington Roebling, that the bridge could be built.

Working together for the first time the father and son team hired their crew and began to build the dream bridge. The project started well, but after only a few months, John Roebling sustained a crushing injury to his foot when a ferry pinned it against a piling. Amputation led to tetanus and soon resulted in his death. Washington took charge of the project, but also suffered a paralyzing injury as a result of decompression sickness which left him unable to talk or move. Work ceased. Belief crumbled. The Roeblings were the only ones who knew how the bridge could be built. The Brooklyn Bridge would never be finished. But as he lay on his bed in his hospital room and stared at the tree tops through the open window, Washington had an idea. All he had left was the movement of one finger ... and unwavering determination. With his finger he developed a code of communication with his wife, Emily Warren Roebling. While he couldn't physically supervise the construction first hand, he could pass on the critical information and supervision through his wife by tapping on her arm. Emily became the link between her husband and the engineers on-site.

For 13 years, Washington tapped out his instructions. For 13 years Emily translated, until the bridge was finally completed. Emily Warren Roebling was the first person to cross the bridge along with President Chester A. Arthur and both the mayors of New York City and Brooklyn. On that first day, a total of 1,800 vehicles and 150,300 people crossed what was then the only land passage between Manhattan and Brooklyn amidst cannon fire, the music of bands and a fireworks display.

But it's not always been smooth sailing for The Brooklyn Bridge. One week after the opening a rumor that the Bridge was going to collapse caused a stampede, which crushed and killed at least twelve people. A year later P. T. Barnum helped to squelch doubts about the bridge's stability when one of his most famous attractions, Jumbo, led a parade of 21 elephants over the Brooklyn Bridge. It may have gone through some rough waters, but The Brooklyn Bridge is today a treasured landmark that still stands when many of the other bridges built around the same time have been replaced.

You may be discouraged about your weight loss. You may have a physical handicap or a love for food that seems impossible to overcome. The story of The Brooklyn Bridge goes far beyond steel cables and stone towers. It shows us that dreams that seem impossible can be realized with determination, no matter what the odds. Determination is synonymous in the thesaurus with will power. How many times have I heard, "I just have no will power!" Will power and determination are not genetic traits, they are "the act of coming to a decision." If we go throughout the day hoping something will change, someone will rescue us, a miracle will fall from the sky ... well, then I have a bridge I can sell you. In other words, it's just not going to happen. HOWEVER, if you make the DECISION... the determination ... to stick to your program, well, then there's NOTHING that can stop you. No one can get in your way, no buffet, no vacation, colleague, unsupportive spouse or candy bar can keep you from completing what you've started.

Following the 1965, 1977 and 2003 Blackouts and most famously after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, The Brooklyn Bridge was used as an escape route out of Manhattan when the city's subway service was shut down. The massive numbers of people on the bridge could not have been anticipated by the original designer, yet John Roebling designed it to withhold even unanticipated structural stresses. Roebling himself once declared, "The bridge may sag, but it will not fall."

With the decision made, you will have the determination, the will power, to finish what you've started, too. You may sag from time to time, but you will not fall. Do you believe you can lose weight? You better. I've definitely got a bridge ... and it's a good one.