Dietitians work with all different kinds of people with all kinds of issues. They work with patients with diabetes who are in renal failure. They work with patients who have cancer. They focus on patients with severe burns.
But none of the people I counsel have life-threatening illnesses or injuries — they’re just trying to lose the last 10 pounds. And they keep doing it over and over again.
This is my ideal client and who I’ve built my business around. And I’ve noticed one interesting thing they all have in common: they are absolute superstars in every area of their lives, with the exception of losing weight.
What they’re doing is the equivalent of waking up every day and reaching the summit of Mt. Everest — then feeling incapable of climbing a small hill.
Don’t get me wrong . . . I did this for 25 years. But it’s crazy that as a society we approach losing weight as if it’s virtually impossible, and it’s crazy that capable, confident women keep themselves in a never-ending cycle of dieting and failing.
Part of the reason this is so crazy is that we keep looking outside ourselves for a solution — and this is one of the biggest reasons diets don’t work. Because when you look outside yourself, what you’re essentially doing is telling yourself that you can’t do it, which means that all the internal power you have and all the skills and abilities you possess go completely to waste.
So I have some questions for you. What’s your best quality? What are your biggest strengths? What is the one habit you have that consistently gets you results? To put it another way, What do you do all day, every day, that makes you a success at life?
Because these are your secret weapons that you’re not using in your quest to lose weight — and you should be.
The habits and qualities I’m talking about are the ones that contribute to 90% of the results you consistently get. If you have trouble figuring out what these are, a good way to identify them is to think of the ones that help shape your identity.
For example, if you think of yourself as Type A, that means you’re probably super organized. If you think of yourself as the life of the party, you’re almost certainly fun or funny. If you consider yourself to be a great friend, that means you’re compassionate and always there when someone needs you.
So if these strongest habits and qualities of yours are making you exceptional in every other area of your life, why not apply them to your goal of losing weight and being healthier?
Before we get to how to apply this concept, I want to point out that when it comes to losing weight, most of us tend to give up far too soon. You start to see some results — but then you fall off the wagon for one day, throw in the towel, and rake yourself over the coals for “failing.”
But you don’t have the luxury of doing this on a day-to-day basis. You can’t say “I don’t feel like it” when you have to get four loads of laundry done, pack lunches, and cook dinner, or the wheels come off the bus. You can’t say, “I’m too tired” when it’s time to get up and go to work, or you’ll get fired. And when you forget to buy bread or pick up a prescription you don’t sit around calling yourself a loser and a failure — or you wouldn’t be able to function (since it’s really easy to forget things when there are a thousand of them to remember).
What you do in these scenarios is . . . you do it. You just get up and make it all happen. You deal with what comes at you. And when you mess up, you pick yourself back up and keep right on rolling.
You use your biggest strengths, best habits, and most outstanding qualities and combine them with your internal power to push through all kinds of barriers and resistance to get results every single day.
So let’s look at how you can apply this concept to your goal of losing weight.
Let’s say you consider yourself to be Type A. You square off your office supplies on your desk, you arrange the clothes in your closet by color, and your car looks like it just rolled off the lot.
Get in your kitchen, and do the same thing there. Scrub down your fridge, throw out the old condiments, and stock it with healthy items — cut-up veggies and hummus, bottled water, pre-washed produce for salads or juicing. Clean out your pantry and drawers. Organize your Tupperware and get rid of mismatched cups and glasses.
If you’re always up for a good time and love to socialize, call some friends and plan a regular workout session. Organize a weekly group run or start a tennis team. Or get a group of girlfriends together once a month to talk about your weight-loss struggles and share strategies for success.
If you’re a great friend — compassionate, caring, and supportive — be that person for yourself. Talk to yourself differently, be kinder to yourself when you slip up. Make a concerted effort to change how you treat yourself. Get a journal and write down the negative thoughts that go through your mind and ways to change them. Create a mantra for yourself that changes how you see yourself and your body.
Also remember how important it is to add rather than subtract. What I mean by that is, adding something positive is a whole lot easier than trying to eliminate something negative.
If you’re really good at showing up at the gym, then add to that. Increase your workouts by five minutes each session. Add weight lifting to your cardio routine. Start stretching after your workouts. This is a much more effective strategy than trying not to eat carbs.
If you really love salads but also sometimes binge on chocolate (this is me), add more salads to your diet and vary the ingredients — and forget about the chocolate (at least for now.)
Don’t try to good at everything and then give up completely when you don’t do it perfectly. Strengthen and increase what you’re already doing right and the rest will take care of itself. Remember, when you try to be good at everything, you end up being great at nothing.
You can — and should — use whatever makes you a superstar in life to work for you in every area of your life, weight loss included.
And remember, if you put your superstar status to work achieving bigger, better goals, you will effortlessly lose it.