Developing Mental Toughness For Permanent Weight Loss
by Dr. Jeff Banas
Losing weight and keeping it off, is much more than just eating right and exercising hard.
In order to lose weight and keep it off especially in today's stressful society you must be mentally tough. Every day, we are surrounded with people and food temptations, that try to sabotage your effort to lose weight. This is why losing weight is so difficult and depressing.
There are so many diets and exercise programs out there... However, none of them will ever work for you, if you're not mentally ready to change your life. If you have been unable to lose weight, chances are, you were not mentally tough enough. Why believe me? Because, I am a Doctor and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist?
That is one good reason... But, more importantly, I have been there. I struggled with more own weight issues for years. However, in 2002 I personal lost over 60 pounds and I have been able to keep the weight off for over three years now!
Tony Robbins says,"If you want to succeed in any aspect of life, find someone who has already succeeded in that area, and do what they did to get there." Here are some mental techniques I used, which ultimately helped me lose the weight and keep it office. I am confident, if you apply the following techniques, you too will succeed in your quest to lose weight.
1. Write down your goals
I know you've heard this over, and over, and over again. But, did you every actually do it? If you want to really change your life and lose the weight, this time, write down your goals. In fact, lets take it a little bit further...
I am sure this is not your first attempt to lose weigh. I am sure you tried some other program or "diet" before, and for some reason it did not work. The first thing I want to say is, "good job". Not good job for failing in the past, good job for trying again. This is a little off the subject, but we will get into this more later. Anyone who has ever successfully lost weight and kept it off... Never gave up!
So, good job on continuing your quest to lose weight. I know you can do it.
Now back to your goals. I want you to write down why you failed in your past attempts to lose weight. Did you lack time, motivation, direction, what was it? Now write down all the negative things about your life, which are related to your weight.
What will your life be like, if you do not lose the weight and keep living the way you are living. Are you missing out truly enjoying life because of your weight? My kids wanted me to play with them in the pool at their year-end little league pool parties. Do you think I wanted all those parents to see big old gut? No way! I let my kids down. They did not care that I was fat. They just wanted to play with their dad in the pool. I let my kids down and missed out on enjoying my kids. What about you?
If you keeping living the way you are living, what will you miss out on?
Write down all the bad things that are associated with your being overweight. Are you missing out on relationships? Are you worried about your health? Are you worried about dying early? Do you want to see your children get married? To be perfectly honest... Obesity is currently the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States, just behind smoking.
If you are overweight, you have a very good chance of dying earlier than you should. Write this stuff down. The goal here is to make your self feel bad, real bad.
Do you remember when you were a school kid and the teacher gave you a homework assignment that was due n a week? How many of you ran home and finished the assignment on the first day? OK, a few of you probably did. However, if you were like me, I waited until the last minute to do the assignment. Why?
Why did wait until the last minute? Because I associated more "pain" with the process of doing the assignment than the "pleasure" I would get from knowing I had finished it. That is, until the night (or morning) before it is due. When the assignment was due in a few hours, all I could think about was the "pain" that would come if I didn't get it done.
I would fail, my parents would get mad at me, I would get grounded and not be able to play with my friends. So what do we do? We do the damn homework, every though it causes us pain.
This might sound a little harsh, but the only reason you have NOT lost weight is because you associate more "pain" with the process of losing weight, than the "pleasure" you will get from losing the weight. When you eat that dounut, you are thinking about how good it pleasures your taste buds, instead of thinking about the 200 extra calories you did not need... Which will cause you to gain more weight, and make fatter, unattractive, more likely to have a cardiovascular disease, which will cause you to die earlier, missing out on so much. Harsh, but true.
Now write down three month goals, six months goals, and one year goals. Be realistic. Think about losing two pounds a week as a goal. Put these goals somewhere you can read on a daily basis.
2. Visualize your goals
Everyday, especially when exercising, visualize the body you want and the person you want to be. Picture the new you in your mind. See your new body. Visualize what that person will be like, how will losing all that weight change your life. How will that person act? Now, be that person.
Act as if you have already reached your goals. When a situation comes up that might adversely affect your weight loss program, such as blowing off your exercise routine, or that tempting donut at work... Stop!
Visualize the person you're trying to become.
Now be that person. What would that person do in this situation, now be that person. "Hold an image of the life you want, and that image will become fact." Come up with a motivation phrase.
This is a continuation of above. In addition to visualizing your goals, come up with a phrase that states what you are striving for, and speak it out loud when doing your exercises. Some of the phrases I used when I was losing my weight were, "Everyday I am getting fitter, healthier, stronger."
If you say this over and over, and you are not what you are speaking, your mind will sense a mismatch and then have to adjust to make the connection.
3. Start the morning moving
You will benefit more from getting up fifteen minutes earlier, and going for a brisk walk, or light jog, then you would get from sleeping an extra fifteen minutes. When you are doing this visualize you goals, and say your motivational phrase out load.
This is a fantastic way to start your day. You will be more awake, more energized, and focused for the rest of the day.
4. Sign up for an event
Studies have shown that about 50% of Americans that begin an exercise program eventually quit. However, the study showed that when the subjects had a goal of participating in an event, a 5K run, a triathlon, a charity walk... compliance improved with the exercise program. Only 20% of the subjects dropped out.
Having goals helps. So, look for an event in your area. A 5K run, or a charity walk for breast cancer are great events to train for. Instead of constantly thinking you are exercising just to lose weight, you are training for the event that is a few months away. This is what I did.
I signed up for a short triathlon. Since I was not going to back out of it after signing up, it motivated me to continue my exercise program. After I completed my first triathlon, I set a new goal. I signed up for another triathlon that was longer. I never got bored and my exercise program never got stale. This was because I always had an event goal. Also, don't think you have to be in great shape to participate in such events. As you will see, there's lots of people, simply walking these events. Find a partner, and just do it.
5. Hire a wellness coach
You hire a CPA to help you with your taxes. You hire an attorney to help you with legal issues. You hire a real estate agent to help you buy a house...
But, what do most people do when they want to lose weight? They buy a book and try to do it by themselves.
I already mentioned that obesity is a killer, and you already know how difficult it is to lose weight, so hire a professional. But what is a professional? Sure you can go down to your local gym and hire a personal trainer, but what makes them a professional? Just because someone may have played high school football, does not mean they can help you lose weight.
Obesity is a disease... You need to treat it as a disease. So hire someone who can order a blood test, work with you mentally on changing your habits. Hire someone who can develop an exercise and nutrition program specifically to your needs and abilities. A wellness coach will be with you through the good and the bad.
You are the only person you can count on. What? I tell you to hire a wellness coach, and then I tell you that YOU are the only person you can count on? Hear me out.
I want to exercise, BUT I have no time. I did not want to eat those potato chips, BUT there was nothing else to eat. People who use a lot of "BUTS" usually have a big one.
The weight loss program I run at my office works. When my patients come to my office, I can tell them what types of exercises I want them to do for today's session, and I can review their nutrition and give them ideas on how they can do better. However, when they leave my office, it is up to them.
What is there to stop them from picking up a hamburger on the way home? Nothing. Just themselves. This is why you need to not just follow an exercise program, and not just try to follow the latest fad diet out there. You need to focus on changing the bad habits that caused you to gain weight in the first place and replace them with new ones. Be honest for a minute.
You tried a weight loss program in the past and it did not work, right?
Did the program really fail, or did you fail the program? Let's face it. If you develop diabetes, or have a heart attack because you are overweight, who are you going to blame? Are you going to blame McDonalds, because they did not tell you that a bacon double cheeseburger might not be good for you? Are you going to blame your trainer, because they did not make you exercise hard enough? Are you going to blame your parents, because "it is in your genes"? Obesity runs in our family...
At some point you need to take responsibility for your own health.
If you fail to lose weight, it's because, more than likely, you did not do what you were suppose to. However, the opposite is also true. At my office I have seen my patients lose twenty, fifty pounds or more. I have seen first hand how this can totally change their life. I have seen their relationships improve. I have seen them gain more self-confidence. I have seen them do better at work and make more money. I have seen them become a much more happy person. And, they thank me for it.
Everyday someone thanks me for helping him or her finally lose weight. I am grateful for the thanks. I tell them, I gave you the path and the knowledge on how to exercise and how to understand nutrition, but you are the reason you lost weight. I helped, but you did it.
You are the only true person you can count on!
6. It's all about Attitude
If you have been trying unsuccessfully to lose weight for some time, you might need to change your attitude.
Take a minute and think back over the past years. How did you approach the weight loss program? Were you reluctant? Were you skeptical? Did you reality think this was the one, the program that would finally work, or did you have doubts and think that you would fail again?
"If you continue to think the way you've always thought, then you will continue to get what you always got". If you think you will fail, you will. If you know you will succeed, you will.
"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company.a church.a home. The remarkable thing is that we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past.we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our Attitudes." — Charles Swindoll
That says it all... When I was losing weight, I read this daily. When I did not feel like exercising I would read this. When I weighed myself and thought about giving up because I did not lose any weight, I read this. I now give it to all of my patients on their first visit.
Never Give Up!
Never Give Up, Never, Never Give Up, Never Ever Give Up, Never Give UP! That's right, the secret key to losing weight is NOT a new fad diet it's not a new medication it's not a gimmick supplement It is A STATE OF MIND!
Lets face it. You may have tried to lose weight in the past... and failed. So what!
The key is, what will you do now? Do you give up, or do you start over again? Anyone and everyone who has successfully lost weight and kept it off, probably failed in the past... Maybe many times more than you! But, the reason they finally did lose the weight, was because they NEVER gave up!
I know how hard and frustrating it can be... But never give up. If you have a bad day and eat a bunch fatting junk, so what, forget about it. Just do not give up never ever.
Forget past mistakes. Forget failures. Forget everything, except what you're going to do now and do it. Just start a new day and never give up. If you tried to lose weight, and it didn't work, try something different. JUST NEVER GIVE UP!
Have you ever considered the cost of quitting?
For a real eye opener. consider Thomas Edison... Steve Jobs. Michael Jordan. or Sylvester Stalone. Ask them how much it would have cost them, if they had given up. Now, what about you?
About the author: Dr. Jeffrey Banas is a Sports Chiropractor, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and a member of the 2005 Amino Vital Triathlon Team. Dr. Banas personally lost 60 pounds in 2002 and now uses his experience to help others lose weight. He can be contacted at his office in Gilbert, AZ at 480-633-6837 or on his Web site at www.sportstraining-weightloss.com