I don’t know how many times I have heard patients say, “I wonder why I can’t get my weight under control” or “I can’t figure out why I can’t lose weight”. They then go on to say that they quit smoking, they gave up drinking and that they are successful in most other areas in their life (their marriage, family life, their careers, etc.). They are just unable to come up with the answer.

My first response is to mention that a smoker has to use the all or nothing control method- they stop smoking (you are either a smoker or a non- smoker). An alcoholic must stop drinking. However, you just can’t stop eating. We have to use other methods to control our weight (please refer to my Dimmer Switch article) and this is generally harder than the all or nothing method described above.
Secondly, I will often remind them that losing weight might appear to be one thing, but in reality we all know that a weight problem is a very complex issue and perhaps is the end result of 1001 reasons or events that have occurred in an individual’s life (previously described in my “Taking Care of Numero Uno” newsletter).

I will often compare your weight control journey to climbing a mountain. What if your friend asked you if you would like to climb Mount Rundle (a famous mountain in Banff) next Saturday? You thought that climbing a mountain sounded like fun. When Saturday came, you put on your best walking boots, grabbed a warm coat, a pair of gloves and away you went. You started up the mountain and you soon realized that this was way harder than you thought. You gave up and came back down. You now have two options: forget the whole mountain climbing idea or you become even more determined to get to the top. You begin visualizing yourself at the summit. You start a vigorous training program, and acquire the correct mountain gear, etc. In other words, you became aware of the tremendous challenge ahead and you worked on your motivation and determination and acquired the right tools to become successful.

Taking on a weight loss, weight control challenge is very similar. For most, it is the “Toughest challenge of one’s life”. We all have to become aware of this, accept the effort that it is going to take and then take the appropriate action. (Again refer back to my “AAA” newsletter on awareness, acceptance and action). Keep in mind that there is one important difference between climbing a mountain and a weight control problem. Dealing with your weight problem is not a one-time event of just getting there- a weight control challenge lasts a lifetime. We all have to continue to work on our attitude, motivation, eating habits, water drinking and physical activity for the rest of our life.

When patients are struggling with their motivation, I’ll often give them a sheet to fill out to help them get “to the top”. I get them to fill in at least 12 reasons why they want to lose weight and maintain their weight loss. To help them further, I get them to think that they will wake up the next morning and will have “won their goal weight” and all the benefits that go with it (similar to a list they would make if they were asked to write down what they would do with the money from winning the 6/49 lotto). I get them to visualize realistic goals, experience them in their mind and savor the feelings as if they were real. I then get them to transfer these very positive goals and feelings on to what I call my “Tug of War” sheet. The left side of the sheet asks all the reasons why they want to get control of their weight and the right side asks why you can’t or don’t want to get control. Putting it down on paper in this manner will give a clear picture of your internal struggles and what forces are winning the “Tug of War”. This will also help identify a person’s mental blocks. I also refer them to Dr. Larocque’s book, “Be Thin through Motivation” to help them identify and deal with these mental blocks.

Once again, motivation is the key to your success. Working on the ideas, such as those I have mentioned above, will help you become successful in your life long weight control journey and go a long way in helping you finally get “over the top”.