The second Key To Success focuses on the mental preparation that's necessary for weight loss and maintenance. This chapter recognizes the great truth that most of weight loss (and maintenance) happens in our heads. Anne Fletcher points out that most of us already are diet experts – no one needs to tell us that celery is a better choice than cheesecake! But, as she says – knowing never equals doing. This Key deals with three key components of the mental processes necessary for successful weight loss:
1. Accepting the responsibility for becoming overweight and for fixing it.
2. Setting an achievable goal.
3. Deciding if you are finally ready to lose weight for the last time.
The first section of the chapter (pp 30-44) deals with ‘taking the reins’, which the book defines as stopping the looking to others for answers and deciding to lose weight only for oneself. Taking the responsibility for one’s own behavior is discussed in great depth and cited as being key to successful weight loss and maintenance. Sure, there are lots of physical and environmental reasons why we’re overweight, but:
In looking within, you have to accept that you may have been dealt a rotten hand of cards when it comes to metabolism or genes. But like the masters, you can overcome what you’ve been dealt. … The real question is, what are you going to do about it?
Some of the key concepts discussed in this part of the chapter are that you have to want to lose weight for yourself, it’s OK to be selfish, you have to be honest with yourself, and that you need an ‘attitude shift’ - a sense of self-responsibility and determination.
The book cites five examples of ‘attitude shifts’ (p 38-39) that lead to weight loss – do you see yourself in any of them?
I saw the light – a single eye-opening experience.
I was scared to death – a health crisis
I couldn’t take it any more
I like the new me – attitude shift AFTER weight loss begins
I want to attract the opposite sex
A section about ‘Inoculation Concepts’ follows (pp 41-45), a series of key mental concepts underlying successful weight loss:
put yourself first
get in touch with what your weight is doing for you
prepare for the hardship of being thin
look forward to what you’ll gain
accept that it’s not easy, it’s not always fair
your motivation for weight loss will wax and wane
give yourself permission to fail
maintenance is not static
The next section of the chapter (pp 45-53) deals with the nuts and bolts of selecting a goal weight. It begins with a discussion of BMI but thankfully points out its limitations for those who are fitter than average. The book emphasizes the importance of picking a realistic, comfortable goal weight. Not everyone who loses weight is going to be able to attain the ideal weight on a chart and it can sabotage your maintenance efforts to try to reach a weight that is just not sustainable in the long run:
In short, a reasonable weight is one that you can maintain without undue suffering, at which you feel quite good about the way you look, and at which you have no serious medical problems caused by weight.
The book points out that some successful maintainers bypass the whole goal weight issue by focusing on a healthy lifestyle goal and not worrying about the number on the scale at all.
The final section of the chapter asks – Are You Ready? (pp 53-56) You’ve accepted that the responsibility for fixing the weight lies within you, you’ve picked a goal – but is this the time? Is your life ready to accommodate the necessary changes that weight loss will require? Are you ready to ‘endure some discomfort’? The book wants you to ask yourself three questions in order to reach a conclusion about your readiness for permanent weight loss:
1. How much do I want to quit the negative behavior?
2. Am I ready to change now?
3. If quitting or changing my eating and exercise habits is uncomfortable or painful, how prepared am I to endure this discomfort to make the change?
The final point that the chapter makes is that we all need to accept that we’re in it for the long haul - that this is forever. Permanent weight loss is not achieved through a two-week induction or 12-week challenge or diet we quit when we reach goal. It’s all about changing the way we eat and exercise and think for the rest of our lives.
I don’t want to ask specific questions like I did last week because it seemed like people felt constrained to stay within those questions and not branch out into other ideas or topics. So all I’ll ask is – what do you think of this Key? How do its ideas fit in with your experiences? Where do you think you are in these mental processes? Is the author on the right track with her emphasis on mental preparation for weight loss? Please feel free to discuss any of your ideas and experiences! :)
01-17-2005, 06:40 AM
Thank you Meg for a very good summary of chapter 2. :)
I agree with SO much of what's in that 2nd chapter. It's like something clicked (clichee, I know, but that's what it was) inside my head and I threw off the proverbial blindfold this time. Because this time around, I have accepted the fact that I can't keep on fooling myself when it comes to food and exercise. All the food that I eat counts and all the exercise that I do counts too and I'm fine with that. In the past I have tried to cheat in whatever system I was in and then I got disappointed when it didn't work, I didn't want to realise that losing weight is hard work. But now I feel fine about that particular insight, I don't feel the urge anymore to squeal like a kid "But it's not FAIR!" and that's very important, I think. And this time around I'm also really interested in, and focused on, maintenance even though I still have a bit to go before I have to tackle that. Maintenance wasn't something I ever thought about when trying to lose weight before. It all just feels calmer and more thought through this time. I actually don't mind counting calories because at least that feels honest (having "free fruit" or whatever on Weight Watchers, to name one example, did not feel honest) and I don't have to adhere to other people's weird plans. I eat in a balanced manner and when my calories are gone, then they are gone - I've stopped cheating! It's feels like such a relief.
As far as exercise goes - in previous weight loss attempts I was very reluctant to do any exercise and I tried to avoid it at all costs. Even there I cheated and gave myself Bonus Points or whatever for a measly walk that probably burned off way less than I gave it credit for. Now I exercise regularly (weight training and power yoga) and I actually *like* it. I like it for itself, the fact that I get to feel my muscles working and my blood pumping, rather than thinking about how much more junk I can eat for this or that bout of exercise. So that also feels like an attitude shift that just matured..
I guess that this change in my attitude towards food and exercising just grew out of sheer fatigue. Fatigue from trying X number of different things and not getting the result I wanted. I asked "Ok self, what do you HONESTLY think will work?" and the answer was clear - calories in vs calories out. Not a trendy or glamorous answer, but it works for me.
So now it doesn't feel like reaching my ideal weigh is just a mere fantasy, but a reality waiting to happen. If I take a close look at my thoughts I don't see ANY doubts in there AT ALL. That's completely new. Maybe several pieces of my puzzle are starting to fit together now, it sure feels like it. And I'm so glad! :)
Those were my personal thoughts on the matter.. Looking forward to reading everyone else's because you ladies always have such wise things to contribute with and always offer interesting reads!
Ann-Charlotte in Sweden
01-17-2005, 08:53 AM
When I decided to lose weight, I didn't really give it a lot of thought. I knew that I could lose weight because I'd done it so many times before :lol: . It was somewhere along the journey that I spent quite a bit of time thinking about my motivation and deciding that I was determined to make this a lifestyle change instead of a diet I started exercising and stopped thinking with longing about my old food habits and focused on how good I was starting to feel and look.
I find this such an interesting topic right now because my daughter and I have spent some time recently discussing just this thing. She's been entirely supportive of me as I lost my weight and started to maintain. She's been to Weight Watchers a number of times too;) . She's getting married in August and is probably at her top weight ever and she has been talking to me about not having the motivation to start the process. She says that she thinks about it a lot but really lacks the motivation to do anything about it.
So why do some people start losing, keep losing and then maintain their weight loss while others fail? I think it is mostly a mind over matter thing with a lot of determination thrown in. I recently told her that it was like a snowball rolling down hill. She has only to summon the determination to start the thing rolling in the first place and then it will gain momentum on its own. Success causes more effort and effort causes more success. Then she just has to find it within herself to give it the occasional push when it starts to slow or stall. I think that's where most people fail. The momentum stops and they are resigned to let it.
Starting a weight loss effort though is probably the hardest part mentally. I think as a society, we are conditioned to live on credit. Buy a house, live in it now and pay for the next 25 years. Buy a car, drive in now and pay for the next 5 years. Weight loss is not like that. You can't decide to lose weight and get fit and be a size 8 in good shape today and then pay later. You have to work now for results later, not something we're all used to doing any more!
01-17-2005, 11:14 AM
I think there is so much to the "readiness" aspect of being able to lose weight. When I got through breast cancer 6 years ago, you would think that that would be a clear sign that it was time to lose weight, but it took 2 years before I had the impetus to start. And it wasn't any one thing, it just felt like time. I started changing my diet, then started buying exercise videos, then weights. Once I started exercising...I found I loved it!!! Not necessarily because I was losing weight, but because it made me happy. Must be the endorphines. I just love to work out!!! I love to sweat!!! To grunt! It is a challenge, and a process...and being someone who loves to start things and see how they evolve (maybe it's the artist in me)...it just fit in with what makes me tick.
I find it is much easier...at least it has been this last month or so...now that I have joined a gym and am working with a trainer...to stop after eating sweets...not to binge, to hear what my body tells me about being full. I find I crave the healthier foods, fruits, water. I don't miss pasta or rice or potatoes. I feel full on less.
And I am doing it for me. I am not into acceptance by others, I am into self-acceptance. I am in a place where I really like who I am, like what I am doing with my life, like who my children have become, am comfortable with a single life style, and I think this "equilibrium" helps in setting the stage for a permanent lifestyle change. I think the real challenge will come when something happens to stir the pot, some stressor that I am not prepare for. That will be the real challenge. Can I maintain my balance?
To be honest, I am also worried about the maintaining part...when I am where I want to be weight and strength-wise. Also, when the compliments stop coming in, when it's more or less status quo and the challenge is not so extreme...will I still feel the excitement? Will I still be able to maintain my mindset? I hope so.
I do love this process...and I love coming here and being able to expound...I thank you so much, Meg, for guiding us through the book. I appreciate you taking the time, and the energy and thoughtfulness you are putting into this. Thank you.
01-17-2005, 12:26 PM
Once again, thank you Meg, for the excellent summery. I really appreciate the time and dedication you put into our little forum each week. You are too good to us!
I believe that readiness for this process and being able to truly accept this as a lifestyle change are absolutely essential. This shift in thinking IS the key to success IMO. I cannot stress that enough to those who inquire about my weight loss. Most of the time the advice is received with a blank stare, as if I were about to enlighten them with the miracle quick fix they’ve been searching for, rather than the simplicity of healthy eating, exercise, and the knowledge that the choice is yours. Then, as the information flows in one ear and out the other, and they begin to smile and nod, I realize that they are not yet at this point of readiness and acceptance, and cannot possibly understand where I’m coming from until they are. This usually leaves me saddened and frustrated because I can’t make these people “get it”, and there’s nothing more I can do about it. It is for this reason that I don’t typically enjoy relating my experiences to those around me, but do continue to try when asked, in the hopes of reaching someone eventually. This journey truly is such a personal experience and each one of us has to find his or her own way.
In short, I too believe that most of weight loss and maintenance occurs in our heads. Like Ann-Charlotte, (and I’m sure most of the rest of us) I also spent my previous weight loss attempts trying to find all the ways I could cheat but still be OP, and do the absolute minimum amount of exercise (if any) that I could get away with. No wonder it never worked before! I now know that I wasn’t prepared or willing to make the necessary changes that are needed for success. I just wasn’t ready to alter my way of living for the rest of my life. Now, I am so thankful that I was finally able to shift my way of thinking, because I know, with absolute certainty, that without that mental preparedness I would still be the miserable, 320+ lb. woman I once was. Still searching for that miracle pill or latest quick fix. What a sad, sad thought.
01-17-2005, 12:45 PM
Sorry for butting in but talks2flowers/Barb said this ...... I think as a society, we are conditioned to live on credit. Buy a house, live in it now and pay for the next 25 years. Buy a car, drive in now and pay for the next 5 years. Weight loss is not like that. You can't decide to lose weight and get fit and be a size 8 in good shape today and then pay later. You have to work now for results later, not something we're all used to doing any more!
That, to me is an, absolutely brilliant insight.
01-17-2005, 07:26 PM
I just bought the book this wekend and have just started into this chapter. I find the book to be so true. I know these things and I had my head in the right place. I started my journey in Feb 2002 and I lost 87lbs and for whatever reason I have gained back 30 and it really frightens me for several reason. The first being my health so many things improved with my weight loss I no longer have to take pills for my blood pressure. That is a big thing for me as I had been on the pills for 20 years. I don't want to go back there but I'm having trouble getting back in the groove I know I can do this but it scares me what if I don't. I was at my goal and I was happy to be there and let my gurd down. I think this book is the ticket I need because it reenforces the things i believe in, so onward to better things.
01-19-2005, 09:55 PM
I wanted to stew on this one a while, because I think that for me 'taking the reigns' was crucial. When I was obese, I did a lot of rationalizing. I came from large people. I'm too tired to work out. I'm happy with a family who loves me and well respected at my job and that is enough for me. I thought our fast-food loving, convenience culture just made it too hard. And these things were (and are) all true, at least to a degree.
But when I decided to make the change, I'm probably in the "I couldn't take it anymore" school more than anything, I decided to look at the things I did have control over, instead of the things I didn't. I could decide when and how much to eat, when and how much to move, and to some extent how I felt about the process. There are still things I don't have control over, and I acknowledge that and try to let it go and not upset me. And do the best I can with what I can control. Nature and culture may set the rules of the game, but I can choose what moves I need to make to play it the best I can. This was an important realization, key to having hope for change and empowerment to make it.
I still have troubles making peace with the innoculation concepts. I struggle with the fact that some days the best I can do at weight control is pretty darn poor, with no motivation, no self control. I have to work really hard at not beating myself up about it. I feel like I sort of have to parent myself--make it a learning experience without just ripping out my self-esteem. I expect a lot from myself, and I'm not always very nice when I don't perform up to my expectations. The realization that we are supposed to have good days and bad days has helped this. But I yet remain hopeful that as time passes it will get easier.
I also struggle with setting a comfortable weight goal and having less than perfect body. While I had no quantitative goals in that area at first, eventually I wanted to lose enough so my BMI wouldn't make me a statistic, whatever the heck that useless sentiment means. I wanted to be a single digit dress size. I wanted to be hot. But I ended up a size 12, with loose skin, and a never-ending, never-beginning goal to drop the 'last' 15 lbs. It feels like a job unfinished, and that is kind of tough to accept after all that progress and all this work. Look what I did after all. What is wrong with me? But, I'm getting more comfortable with this as time passes though. I look at my athletic accomplishments, and where I was a couple years ago. I remember in the spring of 2000 commenting to my husband that I could run the LA Marathon in 3 years if I put my mind to it (we both dismissed it at the time) and here just a little off schedule, now I've done one. I think about being 20 lbs less in Jr High school and a size larger than now, and where I am isn't so bad. I've been at this weight/size formore than a year now, and it grows comfortable to me. Have I settled into unnecessary complacency or is this healthy? I have yet to decide.
So I'm now trying to decide if there is a point to this introspection. I think it is perhaps something along the lines of, yep, I did it. I decided to and it was all me. I had some help and some hinderance from nature, culture, and just people, but in the end, until I decided I could do something about it, there was no change. My successes, my failures, all my decisions, are my responsibilities. Taking the reigns? You betcha.
01-21-2005, 08:51 AM
I agree with Fletcher that a key to success is being determined. In the beginning of maintenance (and maybe weight loss too), you must be determined that nothing is going to make you gain weight or interfere with your maintenance goals. That means that while you are learning your eating boundaries, you cannot care that you might hurt a food-pushers feelings, that your exercise might inconvenience your spouse, or that your limited intake might keep your friends from having as good a time. This determination is crucial, because even with the determination, you will make mistakes. You will think something is low-cal when it isn't. You'll underestimate your exercise etc. As time goes on, you learn to handle situations more diplomatically, but that determination is key to success.
I disagree with Fletcher that we are all diet experts. Determination and Belief in Success will not work, if the plan of action is flawed. A good plan of action is grounded on solid information about nutrition, exercise, and calories. The better we all inform ourselves, the better we will be able to craft a plan that works. Until I started seriously counting calories, I assumed that a whole wheat bagel and skim mocha latte were a good healthy breakfast. I had no idea that a large bagel (like they have at most coffee shops) is over 400 calories. Good intentions without accurate information leads to frustration in my experience.
Just my two cents. I have loved reading Meg's summaries and everyone's posts!
01-21-2005, 02:26 PM
Wow! My book just arrived today so I will be gobbling it up to catch up with this discussion.
I'm 66 and have been "dieting" all my life. I still think I am going to get to a healthy weight but know there is no magic key.
01-22-2005, 07:49 PM
In short, I too believe that most of weight loss and maintenance occurs in our heads. Like Ann-Charlotte, (and I’m sure most of the rest of us) I also spent my previous weight loss attempts trying to find all the ways I could cheat but still be OP, and do the absolute minimum amount of exercise (if any) that I could get away with. No wonder it never worked before! I now know that I wasn’t prepared or willing to make the necessary changes that are needed for success. I just wasn’t ready to alter my way of living for the rest of my life.
There are two phrases in Thin for Life that have made all the difference to me. The first is in this chapter, its something like 'knowing does not equate to doing'. The second comes later in the book: 'accept the food facts'. Like most of us, I could write my own wl book, I just hadnt lost all the weight yet. I did know the facts on one level, but resisted on another. I guess I thought if I read enough, posted enough, thought enough, that would get it done. I did spend time on wl, I just wasnt eating less somehow. Like the quote above, I resisted doing what was truly necessary. I fought myself the entire way - no wonder my progress was so slow. Thank goodness that phase is over. I am finally on the same page with myself.
04-14-2006, 05:15 PM
"Knowing never equals doing."
No matter how much I educate myself about what I should be doing.. no matter how much I try to learn about myself it will be for naught if I don't DO something.
In a recent post Mel was describing how her initial exercise routine was not structured like it is now, yet she kept moving. What was important at the time was not that she knew exactly what to do but that she kept "doing" something to find her way. I am seriously keeping this in mind as I stumble through trying to find my own exercise routine. I'd rather not know what I am doing and work it out, than to know exactly what should be done but not do it.
Another point from chapter 2 that struck a chord with me is "Maintenance is not static." Whatever work at any given time might not work at another time. We constantly have to be on the watch for new solutions to old problems. We also must be prepared to face obstacles we hadn't thought of....
06-06-2007, 09:25 AM
Rambling thoughts in poor grammar ....
I have never believed that there is any good reason to fully understand all the myriad and complicated reasons why one is over weight. Bloom where you're planted (a quote from a dear departed lady) There's no changin' history ... get about starting a different future.
Why would you embark on a journey that is so life altering for someone else? While I am aware that we will be 'out there' and can be an example ... and I love my family but ... they can hardly put their underwear in a laundry basket for me. If they profit from my 'loss' I'm happy, however ...
Beside my funeral pants episode ... there were several times when I knew I had to do something. Accepted that I was fat and I needed to do something. I 'do' guilty almost semi-professionally so this part was not a problem for me.
It's been a long three or so years, some of those cues are lost in the fog of time.
Did I know it would be difficult? No, praise the Lord ... I never do anything difficult.
I've always struggled with goals or targets. I've been at three different scale weight goals. The more I work at it and read and grow and learn ... the more I think I'm after a slim fitness rather than a measureable goal