Sunday, June 14, 2009

Remember the Alamo! Rule 14: How do you control your appetite?

Defeat is an ugly word. No one wears it very well. When it happens to you, you put the best face you can on it, and move forward.

I remember having a lengthy conversation with a soon-to-be-retired Chairman of one of the oldest “meal-plan, weekly weigh-in” type of weight loss companies. I asked him what he was most proud of from his many years of financial success at the helm of this household name company.

He quickly replied, “Over 85% of our customers are repeat customers.” With that he pursed his lips together and savored his achievement, half-closing his eyes.

Repeat Customers of a Weight Loss Company

Contemplate that for a moment. Repeat customers – weight loss company. Hmmm.

Now, to the cynic in me “repeat customers in a weight loss company” is a symbol of failure, not a boastful success.

The more I thought about that remark – even now a long time later – makes me fume. What he was saying was that his company made a lot of money from the failure of whole lot of women to keep their weight off, for a whole bunch of years. And he was retiring in luxury from the paid-for misery of people that trusted his company.

What he was saying was that his weight loss company sold false hope.

What was between his lines was that his company could get you to successfully lose weight. But they knew you would gain it all back, plus some. So, since they were nice people, and you actually did lose some weight, since you are now even more overweight than you were last year, you pay these people more money to help you lose it again.

Now, the ire in me is really aroused. Perhaps they planned it all that way. I really want to believe that Weight Watchers, and Jenny Craig, and NutriSystem, and other companies of that ilk started out wanting to help people. But somewhere along the road, surely some executive saw the numbers and realized:
“Wow, we keep getting the same overweight people back. We even get a lot of our customers from the other weight loss companies. If we were really doing our jobs, if our programs really worked, wouldn’t we be seeing mostly NEW people, not repeats, retreads, and do-overs?”

Or did the executives say…?
“You know what, these people keep coming back because they don’t keep buying our expensive, special diet foods year round. If they just stayed on our meal plans, and unthawed them 2-3 times a day, they would not have to come back”.

Maybe it is simpler than that. Maybe the weight loss executives said:
“We need more repeat customers. It’s cheaper to get old ones to come back, than advertise for new ones. How can we tweak our program for short term weight loss and long term weight re-gain?”

Clenching defeat from the powerful jaws of victory

I’ve been to these programs. I’ve seen the happiness, the real sense of satisfaction and progress these women have when they are seeing success in their weekly weigh-ins.

I’ve also had countless conversations with women who, many months and lots of new pounds later, said they felt they were failures. They didn’t jump right up and proclaim that, but they felt defeated by the system they were trying – unable – to follow.

The worst part? They all blamed themselves. They all confessed that there was something wrong with their will, their strength of character, their metabolism, their financial ability to stay “on the program.”
Their _______. So they failed. They felt defeated.

And the next time they decided they really needed to lose weight, guess what? They went back to these same old companies. Or employed the same failed system. Same result. Same short term win. Same long term defeat.

Old joke my grandpa told me:
Lady walks into a doctor’s office. She is hitting herself in the head with a hammer. She says, “Doctor, it hurts when I hit myself in the head with a hammer. What should I do?” The doctor says, “Quit hitting yourself in the head with a hammer.”

We’ve all heard the definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over, while expecting a different result.

First Truth:
There is nothing wrong with you. You are not a failure. You do not lack will power. Your character is just fine. Quit blaming yourself.

Second Truth:
It’s time to quit hitting yourself in the head with a hammer. It hurts.
Corollary: It’s not about calories, or weighing food. It’s not about exchanges or carbs. It’s not about fat grams or sugars or magic potions. The weight loss companies are wrong. Dead wrong. Get rid of that insanity.

Think about it. Is the only way to lose weight permanently to eat expensive packaged foods for the rest of your life? How bland, boring, and expensive is that? And what have you learned from them about how to eat to keep it off for life? Lots of repeat customers says, “not much.”

Is it possible that what you have learned from these companies is wrong? Even though it is churned over and re-cycled like some endlessly re-warmed left-over meat loaf by the popular media, does that make it correct?

Consider that if all they have been telling you is right, why does everyone, sooner or later fail at it?

“Repeat customers” is an admission of abject failure. Financial success for them. Weight failure for everyone else.

Third Truth:
If you are 30-50 pounds or more overweight, if you keep doing what the weight loss companies are telling you to do, it will kill you – slowly – but kill you nonetheless. It is not just the excess weight that causes health problems. It is the constant recycling of up, then down, then up weight re-gain that challenges your heart. As well as injuring your sense of will and self-respect. Both, in time, will kill you.

How can that be? If it’s not about fat grams and food exchanges and all that complicated stuff, what is it about?

What can it be? What is it that you don’t know? Is there some hidden secret to success, kept for thousands of years, buried under Ed McMahon’s mother’s front porch in a mayonnaise jar in the Oakridge mountains? No.

Fourth Truth:
It’s about you.

Fifth Truth:
You resist believing the fourth truth. As with all truths, the answer starts in your center and works its way out.

So, if you feel you have an injured center from years of hitting yourself in the head with a hammer. If you believe there is something wrong with you that prevents you from losing weight permanently. If you feel you need a helping hand to lead you where you can’t seem to get by yourself…

If you can’t grab hold of and focus on the beautiful light that illuminated your future… you have to start there.

It’s about unleashing the inner beauty of soul that was buried by kids, family, job, relationships, money problems, lack of sleep… so many things that got in the way of you being you for years on end.

It is not about you becoming anything… you already are

Everything you need you have already. You have the will, the strength of character. You don’t need a strong helping hand. Like the cowardly lion in Oz, all you need is the courage. To believe in yourself. And when you get that far, you can go the rest of the way to your success. You don’t need a wizard to do that for you.

Remember the Alamo

A long time ago, in what was then the distance reaches of the American frontier, a small band of men, some with wives and children, holed up in an old church mission, made the soft adobe walls as strong as they could, and waited for the army of Santa Ana to attack. Surrounded, outnumbered 10 to one, out-gunned, running out of water and food and ammunition, they held out. Then on the fateful day, after endless cannonade, they were attacked. The attackers were repulsed. Attacked again. Again repulsed. On the third wave, they were overwhelmed. Hand-to-hand, bayonet-to-knife, empty musket-to-shots-fired-at-close-range, they all perished.

The rag-tag Texas army, valiantly led but under-manned, arriving late to the rescue, retreated. Then the cry went forth. Remember the Alamo. Quietly spoken at first, it rose across the Texas plains. Remember the Alamo. Their numbers swelled. The Army grew. Remember the Alamo. The Army became an Army, as men flowed in from every point of the compass. They trained. More came. They drilled. They became strong. Confident. Remember the Alamo. They marched quickly to catch their enemy. Then they attacked. Their voices rose in unison as they passionately charged into battle – Remember the Alamo! Throats rising with the victorious assault, capturing Santa Ana himself, they cried, REMEMBER THE ALAMO!!!

Deep inside you, the Alamo plays out in silent drama. You may not know it, or sense it, but it is there. You have been holding out, surrounded by overwhelming forces that have smothered who you are, who you were once on the path to becoming. Remember the Alamo.

Assaulted by the realities and challenges and the multitude of sacrifices in life, you can be defeated. It is difficult to go on. More difficult to know what to change. Seemingly impossible to see how things can be any different. Remember the Alamo.

It can hurt sometimes. The sacrifices and difficulties can run deep. Leave scars. Surrounded by reasons for joy, it can be painful to smile… when you are alone with your thoughts and recollections, when the future can be dim and dark and foreboding. Remember the Alamo.

Defeat feels ugly on you

No one, including you, wears defeat well. When it happens to you, not only move forward, use it as a rallying cry that raises your courage to victory. Turn ugly into beauty. Remember the Alamo.

Quit hitting yourself in the head with a hammer. Quit believing all the failed-truths you’ve been told by the weight loss industry and the press. Everyone who follows it fails. Just look around you to see the truth of that. You have not failed, they have failed you – in a sense they failed to send you the resources, the truths, the reinforcements you need to succeed. Remember the Alamo.

Where is the wizard when you need him? Where are YOUR reinforcements. Where is YOUR rallying cry? Remember the Alamo.

Start there. Find a place in you that remains strong inside you. Fortify your soft adobe walls. Gather food and water and ammunition. Then find a place of peace inside your soul, and let it grow. You are strong enough to handle the inevitable attacks on your needs and independence . Despite the despair that can overcome you at times, all that you need, you have all ready, planted in you since birth. Remember the Alamo.

Is there a word, a phrase, a place of strong resonance that tells you who you are? Remember that. And hold it upfront in your daily conscious thought. Put it on your mirror. Place it on your wall. Carry it on the top of that picture in your wallet. Remember the Alamo.

Victory comes after your defeat

Victory comes from the heroic effort to gather all your resources in one place. To focus on your worthy goal. To overcome the opposition, no matter the cost – there is always a way – life finds a way. And you are life. Remember the Alamo.

Rally all the disconnected pieces of yourself. Concentrate your energies. Focus your resources. Attack the center of your enemy. And say to yourself, “Who I am matters. I deserve being happy. I have raised my expectations of myself and I will succeed. My butterfly wings will unfold. And I will soar. I will, from this day forth find, express, and be – me.”

When you have gotten that far, you will not have much further to go.

How do you control your appetite?
Conclusion 13: Remember the Alamo!

Next article...
How do you control your appetite?
Rule 14: Get a Volvo

VP Programs Development, ScaleDown for Life
VP Education, GoZonkers Inc.
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