How To Keep The Weight Off

By Staying Focused On The Little Things


By PEERtrainer Founder

Joshua and I were talking with Matt Hoover about his struggles to keep the weight off after winning the Biggest Loser a few years back. This is a guy with tremendous drive and ability.

He was a top collegiate wrestler, put himself through a tremendous personal struggle on national television, and is now training for the 2012 Olympics. Yet he still struggles to keep the weight off. You can read more about their discussion with him on this blog post. (Includes a link to the full hour interview.)

This discussion got us focused as a team on this idea of how to keep the weight off. Like emotional or night eating, this is something that maybe 90% of us struggle with.  And we wanted to share with you our thoughts on this from our perspective. People lose weight on PEERtrainer, no question. And the advice we tend to gravitate towards is geared to getting people on the path to real long term weight loss. For many of us, this is the key long term challenge.

For those of you who are new to PEERtrainer, Jackie Wicks is the creator and co-founder of the site. Joshua Wayne is a Personal Development Coach with a strong background in psychotherapy and human behavior. Jackie and Joshua have their thoughts on this question. I also have some thoughts on this from more of a health and fitness perspective.

How To Keep The Weight Off: Jackie's Take And Advice:

You keep gaining the weight back because of the little things. The small, daily decisions, ones that you thought were just a big dinner, or a skipped workout were explained away in your mind as isolated incidents.  But they are not.  The little things add up to be greater than the whole, and you are "greater" than you were.

Gaining the weight back is a similar path to how took the weight off. When you lost one or 2 pounds a week, or more like 5 pounds a month, you made daily accountability decisions and choices that resulted in weight loss.  Maybe it was your daily or weekly weigh-in on the scale, maybe it was your big yummy salad with your favorite dressing for lunch or pulling out your jeans to see if they fit yet.  All of those little changes, those
small decisions added up to your weight loss.

Gaining the weight back follows a similar pattern.  Remember, you didn't lose the weight in a measured exact fashion of 2 pounds per week every week (well, most people didn't and if you did, congratulations! ) you don't gain it the same way. 

It usually starts with one little trigger.

Sometimes it's an over the top meal:  a big steak, baked stuffed potato, a little of the crab appetizer and the oreo cheesecake, topped  with drink after drink in celebration of a birthday.  You feel so lethargic the next day, that you break your normal oatmeal/blueberry morning and you have a cup of coffee and a croissant just to function the next day. In Matt's case when his wife was pregnant, he got pregnant along side her!

Since you "messed up" breakfast, you say "screw" it to lunch and have the pizza you've been missing.  Once you've had the pizza for dinner, you think, might has well have the lasagna for dinner because I've totally blown it.  What's one more meal?

Maybe your scale ran out of batteries and you don't have that accountability that you've been so diligent about when you lost weight.  You just stop weighing in because you no longer have your scale.  Two weeks go by and you're so scared of seeing what that number will be, you go another week without weighing in.  Three weeks turn into four and the pounds continue to pile on.

It can be as simple as wearing comfy sweats for 4 days in a row. They feel so big and roomy, that you eat an extra donut and you think, wow, I must be doing great because everything still fits! (I've done that one myself, many times, before I "wake up", pull up my jeans and say, ughh!!!!  What was I thinking!?!??).  It's all those little decisions, the same daily decisions you made when you were losing weight, that result in adding the
pounds (or kilos) back.

Sometimes it's not even "your fault".  You become ill for days and just don't feel like getting back to your workout regimen.  After you become well again, it's been a while since you've worked out and that great habit you've created fizzles. Sometimes even the best intentions get derailed and they can be beyond your control.

The most FOOLPROOF way I've seen people get back to the losing track and
keeping the weight off is to commit to one good day.

If one good day seems overwhelming because you're in such a hopeless spot, commit to one good meal.  Just one.  If it's after breakfast, say to yourself, "Today, at lunch, I'm going to pick my "on track" lunch that gives me energy, makes me feel great and makes me feel confident."  Often, just one positive decision, one good lunch, one good run, can give you the jolt you crave to shake it up and get you back on the track of losing the weight.

There's an old proverb:  The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago.  The next best time is today.  Don't keep lamenting about the weight you've gained back!.  You've done it.  Now plant your tree.  Take one good step, the next meal, a walk around the block and get back to the losing streak you know you can do.


How To Keep The Weight Off: Joshua's Take and Advice:

There are a number of angles to look at this question from depending on the person, but here are a couple of major reasons I have seen that lead to this type of frustration.

1.  Your self-image hasn't changed yet.

I hear a lot of people say "I lost 50 pounds, but I still felt like a fat person in a thin person's body."  Not surprisingly, that person often gains most or all of that weight back.  Mentally and emotionally they still feel overweight.  Their identity is that of a heavy person.  Maybe they haven't addressed the real reasons they carried all that extra weight to begin with.  Maybe they don't feel like they deserve the healthy, sexy body they've finally acquired.

Regardless, our mind and our thinking are extremely powerful.  It is what ultimately creates the reality of our lives.  If you lost a bunch of physical weight, but your mind has not caught up in it's ability to change, grow and adapt, then your mind and thought processes will most likely drag you back to that old comfort zone.  

It's sort of like the thermostat in a house, but the thermostat is your mind.  If you don't really reset the thermostat to the new, desired temperature then the physical changes you made will often be temporary.

2.  You haven't fully DECIDED to lose the weight. 

This may sound like like a strange thing to say, particularly considering you may have been focused (or even obsessed!) with weight loss for a long time by now. 

But being focused on it, and truly deciding it will happen (in your core) are two different things.  The is the greatest form of commitment is making a DECISION that IT IS DEFINITELY GOING TO HAPPEN in your life. What I am talking about is a decision that comes from within as a determination to get where you want to be.

It's helpful to understand that the suffix of DECIDE is C-I-D-E...same as homicide, suicide, genocide.  'Cide' means to kill off.  So when you DECIDE, you are killing off other options you are killing off:

- The possibility of remaining overweight
- Old notions of who you were as an overweight
- The old habits that held you back from living at the weight you want.
- Your self-sabotage and belief that you don't deserve it or can't have it.

When you DECIDE that this is going to happen, then you are ready to do whatever it takes.  What does 'whatever it takes mean'?  It means whatever it takes without rules or preconditions.  It means whatever it takes to get the job done. 

It means you become stronger than your habits.  It means you commit to changing your lifestyle habits and finding ways to enjoy the foods that will benefit you.  It means developing a healthy, positive relationship to your body, and finding even a very simple and basic  way to enjoy exercise and integrate it into your life. 
It's where you make the decision between 'trying' and 'doing'.  Remember what Yoda told Luke Skywalker in "The Empire Strikes Back" when he was struggling to lift his ship out of the swamp. 

Luke is frustrated and complains, "I'm trying!"

Yoda calmly asserts.  "No.  No try.  Do or Do Not."

Now that's some sage advice we can all learn from.  When you finally make that decision, it's just a matter of time before you get to your goal. 

So have you truly DECIDED that this time is going to be different?"


My Take:

I have a unique perspective here in that I run the business aspects of PEERtrainer and work with Jackie and Joshua on a lot of the strategy behind what we do. As we have built up the coaching/training/leadership aspect of the site I see what works and what does not.

This combination of Jackie's approach combined with Joshua's approach seems to work really well. I would add that there is a strong health component to this discussion. We talk a lot about things from the perspective of losing weight, because that is what people are most focused on frankly. People want to lose weight and are less responsive to "you need to get healthy."

But as you make changes, keep in mind the health implications. Gaining the weight back, this yo-yo cycle often leads to a worsening cardiovascular profile. One of the reasons I have been an advocate of Dr. Fuhrman and others like him is that his approach to eating is strongly correlated to vastly improved health.

We can debate the exact things people should and should not eat, but the fact is that higher consumption of fruits and vegetables and lower consumption levels of animal protein generally lead to better health. And help you speed up weight loss.

Try to approach your long term habits with this general philosophy in mind. This does not have to be something you have to adhere to strictly. Just keep it in the back of your mind each day. Any meal or eating event, go for the plant based stuff first. And just work at it over time.

A final observation I would have is that change is hard. It takes time to learn things and to change behavior. All these angles come into play here, the practical, the mental and the dietary. Our mission here is to help you transition into a point where you don't just lose weight, but that you feel great. A really high quality life is there for you to take.

If you haven't yet, please sign up for the free Tip Of The Day program. If you are new to PEERtrainer--It is a relatively new program and we put a ton of work into that every day. The program starts off with a lot of the weight loss basics that we have seen work, but one thing we are really focusing on now in the later months is this quality of life question. Guiding people toward suggestions of how to really feel great. No matter where you are right now, it is possible to get to a place where you feel a ton better about things, no question.

Please keep emailing us, asking questions. Jackie and Joshua read every email sent to them, and we use the feedback to find ways of making everything we do at PEERtrainer better and more comprehensive. We are getting an excellent response to the Point Of No Return Program, and some real results. As an fyi, we go much deeper into this question of long term weight loss in Week 10 of the program.

Our objective with that program is to really shift you in some great positive ways. The groups and teams on the site are there for excellent support and accountability each day. The Tip Of The Day we view as a great daily nudge. And the bigger program is there to immerse you in the things we have learned.

One final suggestion is to please start a group if you are part of a bigger team. Make it a specific theme, and you will attract like minded people. And if you are interested in listening to the Matt Hoover call, here is the link.

PEERtrainer Community Discussion On How To Keep The Weight Off.

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