Chapter 1 Getting Real About You and Your Weight
Change can come in either of two important ways: Start behaving positively or stop behaving negatively.
-- Dr. Phil
You have a decision to make.
You know it and so do I. At this very moment, you are standing in the aisle of a bookstore, or at an airport, thumbing through these pages, or you are sitting at home, reading this book. You are thinking about your weight and how you have tried to lose it in a million wrong ways. You are wondering if maybe, just maybe, there is something here for you, something you have wanted for a very long time. And if there is, should you try it?
But hear me out: this decision you are mulling over in your head is not whether to start yet another "diet." You have made that well-intentioned but misguided choice dozens of times. And through it all, your weight just keeps creeping up or maybe even shooting sky-high, and it is getting harder to control with each passing year.
The decision you must make is whether or not you will quit conning yourself and telling yourself what you so desperately wish were the truth: that there is some hot new diet out there, promising quick and easy results. So decide: do you want to keep fooling yourself or not? Do you want to keep chasing after, and being seduced by, "miracle" diets, slimming products, and "overnight" weight loss? You've known for a long time that you were going to have to get real about fat or stay real fat. But if you had done what I'm about to ask you to do, instead of going on that last diet you started or signing up for that last program, this decision would be behind you right now.
Let me be real clear: despite the millions of advertising dollars spent to convince you otherwise, losing weight and keeping it off is not "quick and easy," and you know it. You know as well as I do that what I'm saying is the way it is. You know it because you have been on umpteen diets, from the cabbage soup diet to the water diet, and not one of them has ever kept you slender and fit. You have always known that these quick fixes don't work, but it was fun to believe it, at least at first, until everything you tried brought you back to the same point of failure.
I have to get totally real with you: I know you are looking for something you can take tonight that promises slim tomorrow. I know you're looking for something that melts fat off like the sun melts ice. I know you want these things, but continuing to chase after them will bring you nothing but frustration, pain, and self-remorse. You will just continue to sell yourself short, stay stuck in your life and struggle day after day with overeating and being overweight, never doing anything constructive about it.
But stop right here: if you adopt what I will give you on every page of this book, you will overcome your weight challenges and struggles. Nothing will stop you from being anything other than healthy, vibrant, in shape, and fully in charge of yourself and everything you think, do, and feel. This will happen because you make it happen. It will happen because you have made the decision to step up and do what it takes to have what you want.
As we go through this book together, you will discover that unlike most lose-weight programs out there, there is no "one size fits all" solution (no pun intended!) to responsible and permanent weight control. It just doesn't work that way. Because you are a unique individual, your weight-control issues are unique, as well. The strategies you require must be yours and yours alone. Any plan that creates lasting, for-life results is going to have to be designed specifically for you, by you, with help from someone who has done his homework and has broken the code of what is truly required for you to lose weight and keep it off. That someone is me.
For more than thirty years, I have counseled people just like you, people battling weight problems, ranging from chronic obesity to life-threatening eating disorders, and I understand the impact on their life not just from a professional standpoint, but from a personal one as well. In 1995 my father, who struggled for years with weight-related heart disease, collapsed and died suddenly of a heart attack one Sunday morning while teaching Sunday school at his church. Obesity robbed him of many precious years of his life, and it has gravely affected the health of many other members of my family. To say the least, I am painfully aware of the toll obesity can take on every dimension of your life and health. Over these many years of counseling overweight patients, I have discovered what it takes for you to create the results you want. That means I know how you can get your weight and your life under control and back on the right track, permanently.
When you follow my instructions and take the decisive and effective action I will detail for you, you will begin to live with such a high level of health, energy, vitality, and control that your life will seem like new. And you will never have to revert to your old, overweight self again -- ever. Trust me, you are going to get there faster with this approach than if you had followed all the fad diets in the world, one right after the other. Whatever your current weight or diet history, this is something that you can do. All it requires is a willing spirit and an open mind.
I am not one to jump on my own bandwagon, but there was an eight-year period in my career during which my work focused particularly on people who were 100, 200, 300, or more pounds overweight -- men and women who would normally be written off as "hopeless cases" -- most of them emptied of any expectancy for ever scaling down to a normal weight. The approaches I used with them are precisely the very same get-real strategies for weight loss you will learn about and apply here. That said, I will skip to the end of the story and tell you that, significantly, more than 80 percent of these patients not only lost their excess weight, they kept it off. (Regarding that 80-plus percent success rate, know that these kinds of numbers are amazingly rare and fly in the face of the outcome of conventional diet programs, which, embarrassingly, can claim barely a 5 percent "success" rate. Put another way, this means that dieting has a 95 percent failure rate. Ninety-five percent of all people who lose weight gain it all back, with interest, within a few years. Not very good odds, not good at all. You wouldn't gamble your money if those were the odds, if out of every 100 spins, rolls, or poker hands, you'd lose 95 times. You'd go broke. Same deal here: stop gambling with your weight and your health.)
I'm so confident about what I'm giving you in this book because it is not only from my own professional experience, but it is also from what the most current research into weight control suggests. I reviewed every piece of quality research I could find in the psychological and medical literature. You're going to learn the scientific and proven truth, the reality, and the honest-to-God deal about those things that can genuinely help you when you take action and do your part. It's information that you won't get from the weight loss gurus and the diet industry because it can't be Madison-Avenued into new diet schemes. What I've done for you is to distill all the relevant information you need, from my clinical practice and from the research on who keeps weight off and who doesn't, into a coherent, doable plan that will help you do this right, one time, beginning now. Up until this point, you just haven't had the answers, the knowledge, the tools, the inside scoop you need to initiate and sustain lasting change. Now you do; now you will have what you need. But for you to succeed, you have to translate this knowledge, awareness, and insight into action. I will show you how on every single page of this book. This is not brain surgery, not even close. There is, however, a science to these matters. And I know the science. So if you will do what I am about to set out for you, you will lose your unwanted weight and you will keep it off. If you don't, you won't. It's just that simple. Further, what you are about to do doesn't work some of the time, it works all of the time.
But let me warn you: I'm not going to tell you what you want to hear. I'm going to tell it like it is, even though that may be difficult to hear. I'm going to tell you the truth, and in so doing, stop this ridiculous roller-coaster ride you have been on for way too long. What's more, experience has taught me that effective weight control will never be "quick and easy," but it is doable. The reason no one has ever told you the truth is simply that "quick and easy" sells a whole lot better than "doable!" I promise you that "doable" works because the quickest route from A to Z, from what your weight is now to what you want it to be, is not at some hurry-up, panicked, fevered pace. If you are going to get the results you want, the fastest way is by following the plan I will outline for you here.
Maybe right now, as you read these words, you are all pumped up, emotionally energized, motivated to the max, about getting started. That's fine, but let me caution you: even if you have all of the desire or "want to" in the world, this is not enough if you don't know "what" to do and "how" to do it. Think about it: if all of a sudden you were strapped into the cockpit of a Boeing 777 at 40,000 feet and forced to "land or die," you would be highly, highly motivated to succeed. But no matter how much "want to" you had, you would not get that airplane on the ground in one piece. Without some very specific knowledge of speeds, power settings, and procedures, you would crash. Same deal here!
Maybe, on the other hand, you are completely deflated because of your latest frustrating attempt at weight loss. Maybe you feel demoralized and feel a sting of shame over your size. Maybe your weight problem is draining your life energy day by day, and making you feel miserable about yourself and your future. You've internalized a feeling of powerlessness, and every time you try and fail, you subject yourself to more of the same. If you have lived like this for very long, you may have developed an underlying hopelessness. Well, don't you give in to it! No matter how many diets you've tried, no matter how many times you've failed in the past, no matter if you haven't seen your feet in forty years, I want you to stop selling yourself short and reach in a mature and strategic way for all you are capable of doing, being, and having.
If you are ever to get started on the right path to change, there is one important precondition you have to meet. You must rid yourself of that gnawing and overpowering sense of urgency and panic that always seems to appear on the scene, like ants spoiling the fun at a picnic, every time you decide to lose weight or otherwise get in shape. You know these feelings; they nag at you with words like you have to be skinny by summer...you have to be buffed by your birthday...you have to be thin for that job interview...you have do this or that, and so it goes, relentlessly tormenting you to the point of making you want to give up before you start. Go on alert here that this is the language of losers, and if you rely on it, always telling yourself that you have to do something about your plight, you will subvert your own best interests. And the prospect of losing weight and getting healthier will be less agreeable and less manageable with each passing day.
So listen to me: you do not have to do anything. You always have a choice. You can choose to obsess about your weight, or not. You can choose to worry about it, or not. You can choose to panic about your situation, or not. When you choose your behavior and your thoughts, you choose the consequences that flow from those choices. So you must start choosing differently, right here and right now, by being open to this book and everything in it.
Stop telling yourself that you just absolutely "have to" lose weight, because that's a lie. You don't "have to" lose weight. You may want to, you may even need to, but you don't have to. It would be nice if you did, but it isn't something you must do. That's just what you have been telling yourself because you thought it would motivate you. Lying to yourself like this won't help you; trust me. You have to breathe -- no choice there -- but you don't have to lose weight. So instead of all that drama and self-recrimination, I want you to choose to feel very calm and very relaxed. Get up each morning, look at yourself in the mirror, and see yourself not as someone who is overweight or out of shape, but as the someone you will become, a person with a greater level of dignity and worth who, for probably the first time ever, is finally going to succeed -- for a lifetime.
As my friend Maya Angelou has so wisely said, "You did what you knew how to do, and when you knew better, you did better." That's where I want you to be at this point in your life. Whatever you did in the past to try to lose weight, you did what you knew how to do. But as we work together through this book, you will know better and you will do better -- a whole lot better!
Trust me, you will succeed -- you will do this right, one time --
because you are about to take your weight-control efforts to a deeper level, where you exercise your personal power to be totally and consciously in charge of everything you think, do, and feel. It's not just about cutting calories, doing a few more push-ups, or taking diet pills. It's not simply about just getting "skinny." It's about changing what you eat, why you eat, where you eat, when you eat, and how you eat, and doing it all in a way that is custom-designed so that it is natural for you. It's about changing yourself from the inside out, so that being what is fit and healthy for you is as natural and as normal as breathing.
By changing yourself from the inside out, you will be able to attain and permanently maintain what I call your get-real weight. It is very important that I establish a clear definition in your mind of what this really means. Essentially, it means a weight that is healthy and realistic for your age and for your physical and genetic makeup, a weight at which you are happy and truly at peace with your size, and a weight that is stable because you have taken control of every factor in your life that keeps it there. Incidentally, that weight may not be at all what you now think you should weigh. For example, if you are a woman who is postmenopausal and you have had three children, and what you want is to be super-skinny like you were at age twenty-three, the reality is that you need to aim for something else. Your get-real weight is a state of health and well-being that is congruent and in harmony with how you are physically and genetically configured. It is the weight that is "right" for you -- a stable, comfortable weight. It is the weight at which you look good, feel good, and lovingly accept yourself from the inside out.
Copyright © 2003 by Phillip C. McGraw