Losing Weight: The Real Issue

Hi Team. I know I’ve written a few articles lately about the physical stuff but the five to ten emails I receive most days asking me similar questions about the same issues indicate to me that some of you are still barking up the wrong weight-loss tree. At the very least, you’re a little confused. This will be my last body-related article for a little while (phew), so those of you who have this part of your life sorted can breathe a sigh of relief, save yourselves four minutes (of reading time) and come back tomorrow. :)

The Easy Part

Losing weight is easy. Well, kind of. We’ve all done it. Most of us, anyway.

What’s not easy, is keeping that weight off.

Can I get an ‘amen’ on that?

I’m sure this insight is no major revelation for most of you. On the difficulty scale (you know the one), losing weight is a 5 out of 10. Give or take. It’s hard-ish but kinda do-able. On the other hand, losing weight and never regaining it is a 9.9 out of 10. Physiologically, we’re more than capable of permanent change but out here in the messy-ness of the real world, it’s the psychological, emotional and sociological challenges that tend to kill us.

As I’ve said many times here at me-dot-com, my body is not the problem; it’s the consequence. The problem is my choices, thinking, reactions and behaviours. I don’t accidentally eat things; I choose them. Which means my problem is an internal one and the consequence, external.

My body is fine; it’s the operator that’s an idiot.

Deja Vu

If you’re like me, you’ve been watching people lose and regain the same weight for years. Maybe decades. And, if you’re like me, you’ve been those people. Er, that person. Fortunately, I seem to have it sorted these days but it certainly took a while. Clearly, knowing isn’t doing and let’s say it took me a while to do.

I’m of the opinion that many (not all) weight-loss programs, systems and philosophies are flawed in that they have a mostly one-dimensional approach to what is, a multi-dimensional issue. If they weren’t flawed, our population would be trending towards leaner and lighter and obviously, we’re not. In fact, the opposite is true. Yes, a lot of people are losing weight via a myriad of approaches (many of them at great financial cost) but wait a while and invariably, those kilos will re-appear.

Exhibit A

Have you noticed how many programs sell themselves on the promise of ‘rapid’ weight-loss? Or how many programs are marketed towards ‘the Eight-Week Body Transformation’ type of consumer? If only life was rapid. If only life was an 8-week program. If only life was a reality TV show. And how ironic that most reality TV is totally unrealistic. We don’t need rapid weight-loss programs; we already have too many of them. For the most part, they are misleading, unhealthy and largely, ineffective. If you don’t believe me, look at the typical results produced over the long (not short) term.

It took (some of) us decades to get where we are now (physically), so why should we expect or demand almost-instant results? We are impatient. And unrealistic. To our own detriment. Permanent weight-loss is not magic. It’s not a trick. A gimmick. Or a never-seen-before product. It’s science. It’s total commitment, not momentary motivation. It’s logical. Practical. And it’s work, effort and sacrifice; three things that are very hard to sell in our quick-fix, instant-gratification culture.

If you and I are serious about producing forever results with our bodies then it should be our mission to create total and irreversible inside-out transformation; starting with our thinking, choices, behaviours and habits over the next four decades – not the next four weeks. Get the head stuff right and everything else becomes a natural byproduct.

Ironically, the major flaw in most popular weight-loss approaches lies in the emphasis on all things physical (body-weight, fat percentage, calorie intake, exercise habits). And yes, this is coming from a gym owner, exercise scientist and ex-fattie. If I lose weight over the short term but fail to change my internal default settings (thinking, beliefs, expectations, standards), then it’s only a matter of time until I return to my version of ‘normal’.

When we’re ‘on a program’, we find ourselves consciously and intentionally changing our choices and behaviours which, in some ways, is not natural or normal (to us – at that point in time). Programs finish but life goes on. It’s not until those new healthy choices and behaviours become automatic, unconscious and ‘normal’ (part of life versus part of a program) that we begin the process of genuine and lasting transformation – as opposed to some kind of temporary behavioural and physical change. 

Losing weight? Not so hard. Keeping it off? Very possible when we’re prepared to do what’s required.

Whenever ‘when’ is. :)

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

PG March 20, 2012 at 5:43 pm

A-fucking-MEN. Yes, Craig, this is soooooooooooooo right. I lost 50kgs for my wedding in 2004. Then I slowly put some back on, got divorced, put on more and never worked out the head shit until a good 6-7 years later. And now, I’m doing it again – but this time, I’m making it all about my LIFE changes, rather than a weight loss for a specific event, I’ve sorted out the head shit (took me a while!!!) and WOW – it’s easier than it’s ever been. Also being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (I’m 36) has REALLY made me make the changes I need to help my poor body out. “Get the head stuff right and everything else becomes a natural byproduct.” – I couldn’t agree more. That’s so true. Interestingly, I never realised what that really meant until I did it. And I think this is true of other people. The HOW to get your head right is a big tricky issue – but I know you’ve done some blogs on that before too….and those tips work! Thanks for sharing all this with us….xxx

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Anonymous March 20, 2012 at 6:53 pm

I’m so glad you’ve “sorted it”, I wish I could as well. Last year I lost a huge amount of weight, then I ended back in hospital and put it all back on again. Will try again.

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Virginia March 21, 2012 at 6:43 am

So true, how to rewire the brain! I know what I’m doing wrong with my eating but now I have to hard wire the brain to change it, certainly the hardest part. I love my exercise, never need motivating in this area BUT also love my food….enough said!!

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Sandy Fishwick March 21, 2012 at 9:00 am

I like this one it speaks to me. I am making changes one step at a time because they have to be sustainable that applies to my head space which affects my lifestyle choices. I am learning to be kinder to myself, which ultimately affects my decisions regarding food, exercise, trying new things.

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Evan March 21, 2012 at 10:21 am

True, most people have lost weight. Others haven’t no matter what they have done (these are largely ignored for some reason).

I do think our weight in our culture (where healthy food is readily available) is mostly an ‘inside job’. Good practises can become habits which can make our lives easier.

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Garry March 21, 2012 at 11:18 am

For all weight loss wanters, as well as all others who are wanting something to be different in their life; recently I heard a person, of unknown learnedness, say that the biggest problem confronting the “gonna’s” is the tyranny of when. It is a bit like the old “round-tuit”. Such people are always wanting something else to happen before they actualy change their actions or living habits.
Stick with CH and I believ that you will convince people that THEY have to make the changes, not something or somebody else.

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Suu March 21, 2012 at 11:32 am

“Change your habits not just your food choices.”. This is the biggest tip I got on my way to lose 50.8kg and the best tip I can pass on to anyone is to stop eating in front of your TV or computer. Nearly every overweight person I’ve known eat in front of the TV.
Don’t worry if your family don’t want to join you at the dining table (big square thing with chairs around it) because we are the ones who need to lead by example.
Love the topic and love reading the responses.
Thanks again, Craig

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Kim March 21, 2012 at 1:31 pm

I always thought my dining room table was for piling newspapers, magazines & books onto ‘who knew’ I could get my lazy butt off the comfy couch & eat there – thanks for the tip Suu.
Years ago I lost 9 kilos & felt fantastic but of course why finish on a hight when I could put it all back on again with bad habits/choices – but I say to myself – chewy on your boot, tough luck – suffer the consequences & my brain still doesn’t click over – I thought I was a sensible, down the line, practical person – pity what I think & the reality of what I am don’t marry up.
PG – love your opening line – had me cracking up.
Have printed off each of this weeks posts Craig – wake up call indeed!

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Stephen March 21, 2012 at 4:44 pm

I am one of those people that if you wave a chocolate bar under my nose I put on 5 kilos, over the past few years I have managed to lose 20 kilos, everyone comments on how well I look, my gym training that I do, all good positive stuff, but when its Christmas or Birthdays all I recieve is chocolates!!! at Christmas in total I had recieved 2.5 kg of chocolates,
Am I not connecting with people, letting them see the “new” me,
or is it something else about our human nature to try and entice someone to undo our hard work,
When you hand back the “gift” it is seen as insulting, rude etc,
but aren’t you insulting the person recieving the gift?
What are the signals that you send when you just diplomatically accept, then dispose of later??

??????????

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Jenny Mc October 14, 2013 at 8:22 pm

@Stephen – open them straight away in front of the giver, and start offering them around for everyone else there to help you eat them. Have one or two and really really really enjoy them – showing the giver that you like it. Then do whatever you want with them later on – keep them out on the kitchen table to visitors to have with their cuppa, give them to your kids/nieces/nephews etc. Then later on in the year when it’s time for your birthday, start dropping hints about what you really need or like. I find that chocolates are the gift you give when you don’t know what someone needs.

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Gayle March 21, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Loved your blog today. Im 2 years 3 months into my weight loss, 45 kilos down and somewhere between 9 and 16 to go. I totally agree with everything you have said, though Im not at the “maintaining my weight stage yet”, I have felt that the weight hasn’t been that hard to lose….WHEN Im making the right choices and exercising as I should. Looking forward to going to your seminar to help get the head in the right place! Better get my A into gear and sign up!

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Suu March 22, 2012 at 11:20 am

Hi Gayle
A mega congratulations on your loss so far!

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Jason March 22, 2012 at 1:13 pm

how’s this for a revelation – I have been struggling with weight body image self confidence for almost as long as I remember I am now 40 (male). Can’t tell you how much money I have spent on self help books, exercise programs, psychologists, supplements you name it. Problem was (is) I am a binge eater and after taking to a psychiatrist yesterday have realised that a deprived childhood, being over weight as an adolescent and a variety of other things I have a real psychological problem (just like having a real physical problem). I have been driving myself mad reading stuff like Craig talks about (you know mind over matter so on and so forth) and continually asking myself why I cant reach my goal, why I cant lose weight, why I feel crap almost every day. My life became a struggle between feeling crap (on a binge) and feeling ok whilst relentlessly exercised my arse off (Crossfit 4 / week). End result was progressive weight gain.
Anyway I am so happy I finally found a Dr who understood me and gave me the time to understand mew and the trouble I was / am in. I now have a care plan to attend an eating disorder centre and I feel like now is the start of the rest of my life.
In summary – if this stuff makes life crap don’t continually beat yourself up about it you don’t have to suffer. get to talking to those who can help and try not to do it on your own.
Craig I now we need to harden the f%@k up but the simplicity of this statement is often short of the mark. Our minds are poorly understood and carry a whole lot of baggage that needs clearing before we can progress our lives in the direction we have always dreamed of going.

Keep strong…peace

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blossom March 22, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Right indeed yet again Craig. Just finished reaing BIG FAT LIES by David Gillespe and I was wondering if you or any of your followers, had read it? If so I would like to know peoples opinion on it.
I have yet to read his other book SWEET PIOSON, but will do so soon.

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Evan March 22, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Hi Blossom, David is a lawyer. So all the evidence and arguments are laid out and his case is very well made. I don’t know enough to know if he has left out any significant evidence for the other side of the story. Sweet Poison has the feel of a case for the prosecution.

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Liem October 26, 2013 at 4:54 am

Weight loss is the combination between your diet and exercise. Thanks for sharing the article. Very useful :)

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