The Mental Side of Successfully Losing 200 Pounds

Jan 31, 2013
Paleo Lifestyle Change

Have you ever watched the show The Biggest Loser? I have. In fact, I find it hard not to watch. The obesity problem in the U.S. continues to grow and The Biggest Loser show has grown right along with it, now entering it's 13th season.

I don't really watch the show to pick-up nutrition or exercise advice. In fact I think the show is a really bad way to get nutrition advice. Lately it seems they've made it some sort of contest to see how many Subway commercials they can fit into each episode. No, I'm not interested in a 6-inch tuna submarine sandwich. 

I watch because it's like a crash course in human behavior and psychology. I get hooked watching the contestants come up against the biggest obstacle they'll ever face, themselves.

The contestants that are successful are the ones who dig deep and find out what's happening on the inside that's preventing them from getting the results they want on the outside. Once they conquer the inner game there's no stopping them. They endure the tough workouts, they change their diet and lifestyle and they end up losing, in most cases, well over 100 pounds.

I listened in on a podcast I subscribe to where Bob Harper, Personal Trainer on the Biggest Loser, was interviewed. You can listen to the podcast here. He talked about the mindset that allows someone to lose a lot weight and actually keep it off for the long-term.

I've made some of my own notes below for you to get the big points that were made. Most of these notes are paraphrased and I added some of my own touches about how this relates to living a Paleo Lifestyle.

What causes people to gain a lot of weight in the first place?

Bob said there are three things that come to mind:

1. Complacency

2. Laziness

3. Depression

Bob said that depression is what he sees causing the most issues for people who have gained a lot of weight. Many times it's people's emotional response to food and their relationship with food that causes issues. If a person is not happy with their life in any way they will act out. A lot of times addiction to food and over-eating can be the way a person acts out.

Think about the times you've been stressed out or upset. In times of stress it's easy to reach for foods that aren't necessarily good for you. You might even feel a bit of comfort from eating certain foods. What happens is that you build a habit that tells you to reach for the junk food when you become stressed, overworked or upset. You may even create a craving so that the next time you're stressed you crave certain foods.

I can speak from experience. When I was not living a paleo lifestyle I would eat fast food whenever I was stressed. I don't do that anymore but it was a tough habit to get out of. If I was feeling overworked I would find myself in the McDonald's drive-thru at lunch. Not a good habit to get into.

It's a habit that becomes very hard to break because you're establishing it when you're in a peak emotional state. When you tie an emotion, like being mad, to a physical behavior like eating certain foods, it anchors that behavior. These emotionally charged habits are extremely hard to break.

The best thing you can do is find other ways to alleviate your stress. My new habit for handling stress is to workout more intensely. I will just go ape in the gym. It relaxes me. I can put my ear buds in and just focus on lifting heavy things. Try to establish new habits when you feel stressed. Exercise. Take a walk. Talk to a friend.

Why do people gain weight back? What do they need to do to keep it off?

Weight issues are never going to go away. You can't take a pill and instantly be fit. You have to think about it every day. What you're eating, how you're exercising and what your lifestyle is needs to be thought about every day. Bob said that he has to think about these things every single day and he's an in-shape dude.

Bob said, "Losing the weight is easy, it's about changing your life and divorcing yourself from the past."

I think that's a true statement. Too often people try to manipulate their bodies with quick fix gimmicks to lose a few pounds. What happens? Usually they gain all the weight back plus a few bonus pounds. It's only through understanding the difference between a lifestyle change and being on a diet that a person can make progress that lasts.

It can be scary to make a lifestyle change. As Bob mentioned in the podcast, "If you're scared of doing something, chances are you probably should do it. Fear is comfortable. People can easily get stagnant and get into a very neutral lifestyle because they are a afraid of success or failure."

The Art of Being Coachable

Unless a client is willing to meet half way there is nothing a good coach can do for you. Athletes come to the biggest loser show and Bob tries to spot what is motivating them to be there. Their reason why is very important. It cannot be about money. You cannot sustain a lifestyle like this unless you're motivated and committed to think about it everyday.

And that's the secret sauce... Making this whole fitness and nutrition thing a conscious part of your day. Take ownership of these areas of your life and plan them out. Don't let your health happen by default. In a world where we control very little of the outcomes we actually can control what we do to gain and maintain good health.

Learn as much as you can about taking care of yourself. Ask people that are in good physical shape what they do to get and stay that way.

Are You IN the Game?

What is the best approach to take on a huge goal? You have to take it one day at a time. If you have to lose 200 pounds you have to look at what you can do today. Not what you should have done in the past or what you're going to do in the future. Today. What actions can you take today? You can't focus on losing 200 pounds you have to focus on losing the first 10 pounds.

This carries over into all aspects of our lives. Small steps are manageable. Failure happens when you try to do it all at once. Have a plan and take baby steps every day. Be in the game every day and play at the best of your ability. That's all you can do.

To be well rounded and have a clear head it's best to be healthy. When everything is balanced that's called "living the dream." It's not easy to get there but it is possible to achieve a more balanced life. Have faith in yourself and give yourself a chance and anything is possible.

What is the Best Way to Train Your Mind on a Daily Basis?

Bob says to find something that you're grateful for every day. Find one thing in your day that you're grateful for and then the rest of the day you can go to your dark place. Just plant a seed of change. He also mentioned to plan out your meals and workouts every day. Be mindful of your health and well-being.

Thanks for tuning in to the blog this week. If you found this message valuable please earn yourself some good karma and share the post.

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