From Becoming Slender For Life
By Roger Moore, PhD
There are many common roadblocks to weight release success and the biggest boulder of them all: a lack of true motivation.
I guess maybe I’ll give this a try . . . I know I should lose weight . . . it would be better for my health. These are typical half-hearted reasons I hear to release weight. And then there are the reasons for failure like: “Oh, this it too hard.” or “I’m too busy or stressed to do this now.”
While you may have a NEED to let go of the weight, the real question is: How motivated are you? Without the motivation to live the rest of your life slender and healthy, you will diet and then just put as much or more weight right back on. Arriving at your goal weight is a mile marker; it is not the end of the journey. You must focus on living the rest of your life as slender and healthy.
Need is defined as something that is essential or vital. In terms of weight control, a need to lose weight would include reasons related to health, relationships (when weight is affecting them), self-esteem, number of pounds overweight, etc. Motivation is defined as your incentive, desire or drive to take action to make a change. Regardless of the need to make a change, you may not have the motivation to accomplish the goal.
Motivation is the one essential ingredient to successful weight control. Motivation is stronger when fueled by a high need to lose weight. However, when the pounds drop off, so does the need to lose weight. This, in turn, may reduce or eliminate motivation to continue healthy eating habits.
Commitment may fade when a level of comfort is reached. I see this both with people who have large amounts of weight to release and people who have only 20 pounds to shed. A person who has 100 pounds to release may slim down 50 or 60 pounds and feel great. They feel the best they have in years. Their blood pressure is down, their blood sugar is down, they can get up off the floor. They feel great! And then the motivation to continue on disappears. They wonder how could life be any better than this. And before long, they stop doing the work as their attention has drifted to other matters.
Being commitment-challenged means you may have had problems in the past keeping focused on doing what you need to do to release your excess weight and maintain your ideal weight. You may have treated weight release much the same way as you treat a common cold—you took some medicine and temporarily changed your behavior. But soon, you’re right back to your same old poor habits. This is classic dieting mentality. This pattern reveals that you desire the end result, but you have not yet become resolved to really want to change your bad eating habits for the rest of your life. You’re content with depriving yourself of foods you believe you enjoy just long enough to obtain results, then, for whatever reason, you stop dieting, old habits return and with them all your lost weight.
You would think that health would be a great motivator to lose weight. Sadly, it is not. I am sure you’ve seen someone on the street with an oxygen tank and a cigarette. Even this obvious health need to quit smoking is not enough to make a smoker quit. Telling people that if you don’t change your diet or quit smoking, you are going to have a heart attack is not that motivating in the long run, because it’s too scary to think about it, so they don’t. When someone has had a heart attack, they will do anything you tell them for about a month or two, and then the denial comes back and they often go back to their old patterns, because they think it’s too hard or too scary.
I am reminded of Mike, who goes to the same gym I do. Mike comes in about twice each week to work out with a personal trainer. He’s a highly successful businessman in his 60s. He travels around the world and winters in warm climates. Mike is overweight, has high blood pressure and has had heart surgery. He has a high need to lose weight. He knows he should and is always talking about it. When he is here on the island during the week, he loses a pound or two. But come the weekend or a few weeks of travel, and he returns to his high-fat gourmet meals with wine, and his pounds return. Mike is not motivated to give up the immediate gratification of the “good” life for a potentially longer life of health. He is not committed to losing weight.
In the United States we spend an astonishing $1.8 trillion a year on health care; this represents 15 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). The vast majority of this money is expended by a relatively small percentage of the population for diseases that are, by and large, behavioral.
For example, two million people a year have coronary artery bypass surgery or angioplasty to treat their heart disease, at a cost of $30 million. These procedures, in and of themselves, rarely prevent heart attacks or prolong life, because the affected vessels get clogged up again and again. Doctors tell their patients that if they drink less alcohol, eat less, stress less and get more exercise, they will live longer and not need repeated surgeries. However, research has shown that 90 percent of all people who have bypass or angioplasty don’t change their behaviors. Ninety percent!
Why do we resist behavioral change so tenaciously? Why, even at the risk of death, do we hang on to such dysfunctional behavior? Because the facts speak only to our conscious minds, and our subconscious minds have a different agenda.
Behavioral change only comes about when our emotions get involved. Feelings, not facts move us beyond our old limitations. Dr. Dean Ornish, the distinguished founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California, has a world-renowned program for cardiac patients, which includes psychological, emotional and spiritual dimensions. Dr. Ornish finds almost 80 percent of his patients stick with their lifestyle changes and safely avoid bypass or angioplasty surgery. He says it’s not fear of dying that motivates people to change, it’s getting a new vision of life.
You need to believe you can feel better, not just live longer. Joy is a far more powerful motivator than fear—it’s not change or die, it’s change and live!
So what is your compelling reason to be at your ideal weight? What will your life be like at your ideal weight? What will your life be like at age 80, if you live from now until then weighing 130 pounds instead of 200 pounds? What would it be like at age 80 to go on vacation in Italy and walk the streets of Rome weighing a youthful 130 pounds, instead of sitting in a wheelchair in a senior care facility weighing 200 pounds? Do you want to spend your later years being sedentary, or would you prefer to take your grandchildren to Disneyland and enjoy it with them?
Solution for lacking motivation: The motivational answer is to discover what it is about living the rest of your life at your ideal weight that makes eating fewer cookies worth your effort.
Roger Moore’s book, Becoming Slender For Life is available in the Hypnosis Health Info Store. Roger Moore, PhD lost over 100 pounds using hypnosis. You can find out more about his Slender For Life™ Hypnotic Weight Loss program at www.slenderforlife.com. Call 206-903-1232 or email for a no-charge & no-obligation consultation. On-line hypnosis and over the phone sessions now available.