Friday, January 18, 2008

Long-Term Weight Loss Success: Does It Take Willpower Or Something Else?

People assume you've got "willpower" if you lose weight

A fiery conversation has ensued over at Regina Wilshire's "Weight Of The Evidence" blog over a topic dealing with a very important aspect of livin' la vida low-carb that I think warrants your attention. Her blog post entitled "What if Willpower Matters Little in the Long-Term for Weight?" has the comments coming in by the droves and I highly encourage you to leave yours as well.

The main point of the discussion is not over how to best bring about weight loss success, but rather how do you KEEP that weight off once it's gone. The subject of willpower that individuals possess within themselves has been theorized as a reason for those few who are able to keep the weight off. But my opinion is it has nothing to do with willpower at all. More about that in a moment.

Regina says too often we focus on weight loss while practically ignoring the more important aspect of maintaining weight loss.

"Weight loss isn't the problem - keeping the weight off afterward is the really critical issue that we continue to fail to address in a meaningful way to actually see long-term results."

Absolutely, this is the critical aspect of a weight management program that most people who are overweight or obese NEVER think about. Unless you are prepared to know how you will live AFTER the weight loss has subsided, then you cannot possibly be ready when the times comes to start maintaining. So choosing a plan that will not just work for weight loss, but also one that has proven to keep the weight off is ESSENTIAL to this diet debate.

This is why you will often hear me talk about finding a proven healthy plan that will work for you, follow that plan exactly as prescribed by the author, and then KEEP doing that plan for the rest of your life. This kind of perserverance pays BIG dividends over the long-term and explains how I've been able to maintain my 180-pound weight loss over the LONG-TERM! And we'll be doing it for many more years to come by sticking with livin' la vida low-carb for life!

Here was my comment at Regina's blog about her post:

Outstanding topic, Regina! As someone who has lost 170 pounds and gained it back in four months and several years later lost 180 pounds and kept it off for three years plus, I'm happy to weigh in on this issue. And I certainly agree that weight loss is NOT the problem with obesity in the United States. Instead, it's weight maintenance and how to help people better manage their weight once it comes off that should be the focus.

For me, the process of figuring out this thing for myself began back in 1999 when I lost 170 pounds on a low-fat (nearly ZERO fat), high-carb diet. Sure, I lost a ton of weight in about 9 months and looked fabulous. There was only one problem--I was HUNGRY, IRRITABLE and DOWNRIGHT NASTY to be around. It should have come as no surprise to anyone that I rebelled against feeling that way and started eating like gangbusters again--and the weight poured back on.

So when I was ready to give weight loss another try in 2004, I knew ahead of time that I needed to implore a different strategy for dealing with my morbid obesity which had me at 410 pounds. If I was going to successfully lose weight, then I needed to find a plan that would work for me once the weight loss ended. Low-fat diets had already proven they were not sustainable long-term for me, so those were off the table right away. After searching and searching for what to do, I decided to read Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution.

Reading the book from cover to cover, I embarked on what I would hope to be a permanent and healthy lifestyle change beginning on January 1, 2004. It was scary at first since the nutritional advice shared by Dr. Atkins went against everything I ever knew about diet and health, but I trusted this cardiologist knew what he was talking about.

It didn't take long for me to experience phenomenal results--30 pounds lost in month one, 40 more in month two, and 100 pounds lost in the first ten weeks! WOW! Screw what anyone says about this diet--IT WORKS and VERY VERY WELL!

And the rest is history...I went on to lose 180 pounds that year, dropped over 20 inches from my waist, went from 5XL shirts to XL, and came completely off my prescriptions for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and breathing problems. I was thin and healthy for the first time in my life, but I knew the REAL test had only just begun. Could I KEEP the weight off now by continuing to eat this way?

Well, here it is 2008--four years since I began this journey to better health and the weight has STAYED OFF! WOO HOO! People always automatically assume that I have some great willpower or something and I just have to laugh at this. My mantra back to them is this--weight loss doesn't take willpower, but a steadfast resolve to make better choices.

That's the bottom line for me when it comes to long-term success. If you had enough willpower to resist food during your weight loss, then how the heck did you get to become overweight or obese to begin with? Where was your willpower then, hmmm? No, it doesn't take willpower to resist temptation, but rather a constant, conscious effort to always try to choose wisely for the sake of your health. Doing that will put you in a better position to maintain weight loss for many years to come. Or at least it has for me.

I recently did an entire podcast show on this topic about why diets fail most people and what can be done to make you more likely to be successful than not. I think this is a topic well worth pursuing further and I'm happy to see the great Regina Wilshire being the one to bring it up. FANTASTIC WORK as always, Regina! KEEP IT UP!!!

Please leave your comments at Regina's blog post too and get in on a very active discussion. Share your thoughts about what it takes to bring about long-term weight loss success. Does diet have ANYTHING to do with it or is it simply behavioral and about some inner strength called willpower? Of the people you know who have lost weight and kept it off, what's their secret? This is a topic that low-fat, low-carb, vegetarians, and everyone else purporting to be about resolving obesity should be interested in discussing.

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Blogger Regina Wilshire said...

Hey Jimmy - thanks for the post and links to my post...the discussion is still going strong!


1/18/2008 7:06 PM  
Blogger Dave Sabat said...

Hi Jimmy, great post. Willpower only works if it fits in with our belief system, if we believe we will always be fat we probably will be. If we believe that we can not only lose weight but keep it off as well, then that is more likely to happen. It is usually only when we reach rock bottom and say "I've had enough" that this surge in our belief occurs.

Kind regards,

Dave Sabat DCH DHP

Clinical Hypnosis

Clinical Hypnosis Blog

2/04/2008 11:28 AM  

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