Sophie Reverdi, who is the founder of Smart and Light, the famous program fighting obesity, explores in a book her own story of obeseity and that of all the obese clients she saved. A violent but exciting dive that gives to read his novel “Half zero”. The book narrates a life of shame and humiliation but through the force of despair, Sophie Reverdi manages to overcome all its challenges up to the firmament. Her recently published book is already a huge success. Meeting with the author who gave us this interview.
Sophie Reverdi If you had to define yourself, what would you say?
I would say that I was lucky enough to be born with a strong intuition that carried me, even exceeded, which enabled me to overcome some complexities. I was always free, I went where the wind bore me, but most of all, I would say that I had the chance to live a thousand lives, so many lives superposed, wonderful, even the dark ones and there were, obviously a few. However, in each of my lives, there have been many beautiful things, absolutely wonderful encounters, love, passion, inspiration, I want to say divine inspiration, creativity, poetry , laughter, a lot of laughter, strong fusion with some, not just on a sentimental level.
Strong loves too?
Deep love, I did not have many. They are counted on the fingers of one hand. But today, I live the most beautiful of my love stories. Sometimes life decides that you have to wait 54 years, to meet the true Great Love, the one who makes you the best of yourself, because in no ways, would you want to disappoint him. Then, the sublime fusion and the unconditional love that exists between my sons and I, this trio that life has allowed us to form, this gratitude that I have towards them for having chosen me as their mother , is such a gift, and such a chance that I never know how to show them evryday, that I can love them even stronger than the day before. They are my flame of life, my source of peace, my stimulation. Finally I would say that I have the immense chance to do the job that I do, which fascinates me with a fulgurating intensity, to which I am dedicated body and soul. It makes me immensely happy, especially when someone I accompanied on his journey of transformation, tells me that I saved his or her’s life. Few of my dark hours can compete with this sense of accomplishment.
“Half zero” is the title of your first book. Why this title?
This is not my first book, but it is my first autobiographical novel. The title came to me completely instinctively … As I explain in the book, my father had nicknamed me half zero, that is to say that I was in his eyes, even less than a zero. A bit difficult to carry as a name, I admit. However, and that’s how lucky I am, I always knew, since I was little, that he spoke nonsense … that I was anything but “a little less than nothing”. I have also succeeded in certain periods of my life, to demonstrate it to him. In reality, my father had a hard time assuming my obesity. He thought it was a bad curse, a curse. A fairly common thought in our Slavic mountains, a dirty blow of fate.
It was at the age of 18, that my father finally understood in a Parisian doctor’s office, that I was sick and in danger of death. He never, after that, gave me that nickname, though I consider that by doing so, he allowed me to find strength in me and build my prophecy …
Why did you want to write this book? Another therapy?
I needed to write this book, it allowed me to understand, a number of questions remained unresolved. I needed to read my own story in order to feel things with more perspective. I also wrote it for my children, to whom I did not always told everything, who knew only bits of my life. But I also wrote this story for those who can encounter great difficulties.
I do not feel that I have the monopole of those dark hours we all carry in our lives, but we can rebuild ourselves, we can fight adversity if we feel our inner strength, our power to overcome difficulties, if our vision remains sharp. It is true that it is not given to everyone. I feel lucky to have had this gift, but it is an exercise that can also be cultivated. Never give up and listen, stay free to become who you really are.
You said before writing this book “I do not pretend to be a writer”. Once published, a famous critic said on the book, that it was for him what he had read better, that it was even “the most beautiful book of the year 2019”. How did you feel about it?
I had a shock … positive, but still a shock, accompanied by a small migraine … .. I did not expect this, at all. As I said just before, I had many reasons to write. I wanted this rather trivial story to be written. Many of my friends always told me to write it, and then, one day, it happened. I had no pretentions of any literary recognition, having written rather like an author, and as I am, someone quite basic, even though I had the incredible luck to write for “Réalités”, a Tunisian magazine, I wrote it very simply. I just thought I had told a story. I did not expect such a stunning echo. I was totally surprised and obviously very happy, Mr François Martini, since it is him who wrote that article in Critiques Libres, said it was the best book he had read in 2019, but he added he had not read everything …
From a bruised skin, and the tribulations from a family in distress, to the completion of an obesity treatment center. A challenge ?
Not a challenge but the promise kept of a child. I always keep my promises. I swore to myself, at the age of twelve, escaping from a Weight Watchers summer camp in the United States, where we had been badly abused, that if one day I managed to lose weight, I would have to revolutionize the treatment of obesity that existed for children: to respect obese children, to listen to their distress, to love them, to reassure them, to understand their personalities, to help them want to change smoothly and not by starving them, by whistling them like cattle, by making them run and sweat like in a military camp, without thinking of their little hearts already solicited by the extra pounds and … filled with sadness.
You had a little experience in Tunisia before leaving after the revolution. Are you still attached to it?
I lived a long time in Tunisia, from 2005 to 2012. I left two years after the Revolution.
I loved Tunisia, my sons too, they grew up there, we are all Tunisians of heart and soul. All their childhood memories are tunisians, they were barely six when we arrived and almost 15 when we left, with our hearts torn apart. Tunisia has been our home, our family for nine years. We have so many beautiful memories. Each time we can, we do eturn with emotion and much joy, always happy and excited to see our friends again, to walk in the streets of Sidi Bou Said where we lived and worshiped.
Tunisia, I owe her everything. The start and the success of my project, the recognition of the greatest doctors: First, the wonderful Doctor Ridha Kechrid, a great cardiologist at the time, Minister of Health, who first thought that I could bring some help to his country, at a time when Tunisians were facing a terrible epidemic of diabetes coupled with morbid obesity, which led to industrial-scale diabetic gangrene amputations caused by overconsumption of sugar. The meeting then with my mentor, the immense Professor Khemais Nagati, world expert for diabetes, who imposed me on the front of the academic scene, I, who was nobody. The great Professor of Surgery, Ridha Mzabi, the first to do bariatric surgeries in Tunisia. He had followed my program, having himself fifteen kilos to lose, then gave me the huge gift of a letter (visible on my website) where he said that now he preferred to send his patients to my home rather than to operate them. The ethics and humility of Tunisian doctors is unparalleled …. I loved Tunisia, my sons too, they grew up there, we are all Tunisians of heart and soul. All their childhood memories are Tunisian, they were barely six when we arrived and almost 15 when we left our hearts torn apart.
I can’t does forget either, the dean of the journalists. Mr.Taieb Zahar, who proposed to me to write in the health sections of his huge media group.
I will never forget my great friend, my accomplice and alter ego Jana Vitezova who was my first client. She then became my partner who co-founded Smart and Light with me as well as the first center in Tunisia. We were fortunate to be surrounded by exceptional and warm people who allowed us to accomplish our mission with serenity ….
Several other incredible people, such as this great lady, the late Faiza Skandrani gone too soon. She had asked me to write a book on obesity for her collection path and health, published by Jugurtha Editions. She was so charismatic. A great activist also for democracy , and head of a movement for democrat women . There is also my friend, my brother, Tarek M’rad from Express FM. He was, and continues to be a real friend. He spent hours with my sons, making them discovering his passions, photography, digital world, communication … Not to mention Ahmed Chebil, who was also one of our first guardian angels. He had built my first site, and had taught the kids to do absolutely crazy things in computer science, and then Tarek El Ouaer, who had made my method alive by conceiving with my sublime Logbook, and with whom I still work today; My great friend Mehdi Hajji who supervises our website platform brilliantly, and who designed the online program. of Smart and Light containing more than 220 tutorial videos to learn how to lose weight and become his own coach for life. And so many others, who in everyday life have made our life so much Cant forget either our adored Cyrine Larabi, that life has taken brutally, and who assisted me for many years, replacing me as a coach when I left Tunisia. She had lost 25 pounds with the program. She was incredibly beautiful, intelligent … We still miss her bitterly. Finally, and of course, our dear Baya, who helped me raise the children and who poured spice in our lives, not just in our kitchen.
And of course, all my beloved clients, almost 1,500 in Tunisia. They are almost all close friends now.
How could I forget so much love?
Will you ever return to Tunisia?
I will always come back to Tunisia. It is my second country. One of my clients, Hela Jedidi, who is currently being certified to become a Smart and Light coach, will complete her transformation course. She will open a new Smart and Light Center in Sidi Bou Said. I will give her my full support and will come now and then to admire her work.
After the success of “Half zero”, is there a project of a second book?
I do not know if I will write a book , it will not be autobiographical anymore. I think I have said everything in this novel. There are so many beautiful stories to tell. One of my friends in Paris, David Kafka, a great sports coach, asked me to write his story, totally unique and breathtaking. I’m thinking about it …
Interview led by Nadia Ayadi
To learn more about Sophie Reverdi, you can visit her website or Youtube channel and discover the testimonials of patients and doctors. Cooking recipes and various accompanying suggestions also exist on https://www.smartandlight.com
The chain of Valentin Reverdi to help you lose weight: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDjPwb7ruR5QsDu81FWOrVg
On this link, you can discover the teaser of his book.