Monday, October 19, 2009

Smokers. Overweight Individuals. Twins.

"I am so ashamed that I smoke."

I received those words the other day from an avid reader and close friend in Canada.

I have also heard that same phrase from a thousand readers who say they are ashamed they are excessively overweight.

Let's tackle the two related ideas that flow from those conversations.

Smoking is an addiction.

We all know that smoking is an addiction. We accept that. We know that there is a substance in tobacco that hooks smokers, and makes it very difficult to get unhooked.

So, while we may not enjoy being around people while they are smoking, we give them a certain "pass" because we know they are addicted. We usually don't think of smokers as having a character defect.

Smokers get a "will=power" pass. We know that smokers can delay smoking for only so long. Then the urge to light up is overwhelming, and they have to give in and smoke. No one has to tell us that. We just know smokers are a special case – they are addicted.

Being overweight, however, is too often viewed as a character defect. Most people think overweight people choose to overeat. The thinking goes that if they would just push themselves back from the table, or eat differently, they would not be overweight. Sadly, men especially believe this way, about women, and about themselves.

In fact, I belong to a LinkedIn group of weight loss professionals that just had that discussion. They all agreed that overweight people lack self-discipline – (mostly only men commenting, I might add).

But what about overweight people? Don't most people just assume they willingly over-eat? Don't most people blame excess weight on some kind of character defect in the overweight person? There is even a very old and well-recognized group called Overeaters Anonymous that was founded on the premise that you can "just say no" to over-eating.

The biggest problem with this "lack-of-self-discipline" thinking is that many, perhaps most, overweight people believe it. They have bought into the myth that being overweight is simply a problem of lacking self-restraint.

It is a false premise. And a damaging one.

Overeating is an addiction.

Eating too much, or eating the wrong foods, is the result of chemicals acting on your body in exactly the same way that smoking does. It is an addiction. Some of the same body chemicals are involved. Said another way, overeating is an addiction in the same way that smoking is an addiction. It's being hooked on a chemical – a chemical dependency that is extremely difficult to overcome.

Because of the chemical dependency, you can't just delay eating any more than smokers can delay smoking, and expect the urge to go away. It doesn't. The longer you delay eating to fight the urge, the larger your appetite becomes. Sooner or later you will have to given-in, and when you do, you will over eat much more than if you hadn't delayed eating in the first place.

So, if you want to understand why you are excessively overweight, you have to start there. You have to understand it is a problem of chemical dependency – it most certainly is not a problem with your character. And if you don't start there, you will end up in the wrong place. You will regain lost weight every time you try to lose weight.

The path out of addiction.

Which brings me back to my smoker friend. The route out of smoking addiction begins with a commitment to self. It starts with an overwhelming reason to want to quit. Absent that, every route to permanent smoking cessation will be stymied. The withdrawal from an addictive substance sucks out your will-power. It destroys your good intent. It makes a mockery of your self-control.

Overcoming smoking addiction has to begin with getting very clear about your reasons to quit. It is all about finding not one, but many very strong reasons to quit – then understanding them deeply. It is about visualizing very vividly how your life would be different by not smoking.

The research shows that there are only two kinds of reasons that work as sufficient motivators to break free of addiction. Both are deeply personal:

(1) How do you view yourself, and and how you feel about your self-worth. And...
(2) How you think your present actions, and your future success in changing them, will affect significant others in your life

If you can't find enough personal reasons to quit smoking, if they are not deep and personal enough, you will TRY to quit. With the destructive force of chemical dependency working against you, TRYING to quit is the prescription for failure. You cannot try. You can only do. Or not do. (Thanks to Master Yoda for that clear distinction.)

Kicking the addiction that leads to excess weight.

Successfully losing significant excess weight is precisely the same process. In fact, all the best research shows that the emotional and psychological path to losing a lot of weight, and keeping it off, is precisely the same as for kicking smoking addiction.

You have to have a reason beyond pounds to lose weight permanently. You have to have a reason beyond health to take the weight off.

Overcoming smoking and overcoming bad eating patterns begin in finding increasingly strong reasons to do them.

Overcoming these twin addictions is about increasing your sense of self-worth – and about openly understanding your impact on others – both when you are not successful in achieving your goals, and when you are.

Yet these actions alone do not always equal success. You MUST take into account that you are battling a chemical dependency. You CANNOT fight chemical withdrawal by will power along. You need help, and helping relationships.

You need accurate information about what you are up against. Most of all, once that is all "on board" your mind, and firmly secured for the stormy passage ahead, you need a science-based strategy that can deliver you to success.

All the will-power in the universe cannot get you past chemical dependency by itself.

We all know that about people who need to quit smoking. We know they need help overcoming chemical dependency. We accept it is not that they just lack character.

You need to know – you need to accept – that losing excessive weight and keeping it off permanently is exactly the same as smoking cessation.

You need to overcome chemical dependency, and for that you need help, and helping relationships. Quit blaming your lack of will power for your repeated failures at keeping the pounds off. Quit thinking you have some special kind of character defect.

You may have been overweight for a long time, but there is nothing wrong with you that accurate information and a correct "overcoming chemical dependency" strategy won't cure.

Smokers. Excessively overweight individuals. They are twins.

There is nothing to be ashamed of in being either. You are hooked on a chemical dependency. You are in the process of overcoming that dependency. You are to be applauded for that effort – you need to give yourself credit for doing something about it, instead of wrapping yourself in self-described shame.

Self-shame, in fact, lowers your self-esteem, giving yourself reason to fail yet again.

Get past shame, and get on to your success.

Once you start thinking about being overweight is like being a smoker, you are on the path to permanent weight loss success. Isn't that what you want?

VP Programs Development, ScaleDown for Life
VP Education, GoZonkers Inc.
Curb Your Appetite – Stop Your Cravings

©2009 Laura Gontchar. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Lose the Weight Loss Battle. The Top 5 Reasons.

If you have battling your weight for years, it's time to give up on it. Surrender. End the war. Let peace begin.

You see, that really is the key to permanent weight loss... ending the battle.

When you are constantly at war, when there is no peace, you get lost in the battle, and lose your ability to raise up your head and see the far horizon. And when you can't see far enough ahead, into your own future, you get lost where you already are.

Weight loss efforts are too often spoken about using the language of war, the soundings of endless battles, the din of combat.

That is where the language gets you sucked-in to the wrong analogies. And you start believing the words, and not see there is a different way. You get locked into the language mentally and start acting as if the weight loss war is real.

You start thinking in terms of winning and losing battles.
You start relating to "being in the trenches". The incessant drum of the words of war assault your sense of peace, and you find none. No peace, at least not on this front (see, even "this front" is a term borrowed from wars).

When you are at war you gather 'round you the weapons of war, the accoutrements of battle, and equip yourself for the struggles ahead. You prepare yourself daily to fight, and perhaps lose skirmishes and big battles for your weight. You never leave it behind, whether at home, at work, at restaurants, at parties, or at a friend's house. You are vigilant to make make sure you are not surprised by having to eat something you know you shouldn't.

With all that clang and bang and confusion of battle rattling inside your head, you lose the ability to hear yourself. You no longer have the ability to filter out what is true and right for your body. That is where your struggles get you lost, without you understanding the best solutions for yourself.

You look to the battlefield ahead to see what can help you lose weight better, this time. You go from the "new breakthrough this" to the "old familiar that," to your friends' suggestions, to your wondering if the late night infomercials really do have something for you. Or perhaps that sexy woman online from the TV fat loss contest really does have something that works.

How can you sort all that junk out and make sense of it, if you can't hear yourself? If you can't hear yourself well, you lose your trust in your judgement, because so may things you once thought were good for your weight loss, all turn out to be worthless.

War. Battle. Weapons. Winning. Losing. Struggles.
Whew! No wonder you are tired when you wake up. Almost as tired as when you went to sleep. And you are certainly no further ahead in your ability to lose weight and keep it off permanently.

It's time to lay down the weapons of war. It is time to lose the battle.
Time to stop the insanity of pursuing the same things over and over, and never getting a better result.

Take off the instruments of fighting. Drop your weapons, and come home. Come home to you. Where you are safe and it is quiet. And peace reigns.

In a place of quiet you can hear yourself. It may be a bit unfamiliar at first, but your voice is in there. Just let your inner voice bubble to the surface. Then listen. Listen to your heart beating. It's beating right now. Listen... ... ...

Hear it? That amazing sound is your heart beating, amidst amazing silence. Peace.

You have to begin in peace if you want to be in touch with what your body is saying about your weight loss efforts. In your place of peace, you can really hear the difference between truth and bs. When you really want to energize your weight loss efforts, peace is the only way you will ever be able to know the difference between what will work for you, and what will not.

You have an amazing body. It knows a lot.
Your body knows when you feed it garbage. It knows how to make you feel great when you eat healthy regularly. You just have to listen to it.

But, after years in the trenches, at war, struggling, fighting, winning, and ultimately losing the weight loss battle, you get disconnected from your body. It's difficult to know when you are really hungry, or if something else is going on. It is difficult also to know how to deal with the cravings, and what to do to get rid of them. It is especially difficult to know when you are full, and understand why you can't put down the fork, even though you know you don't really need more food.

The war with your weight leaves scars that run deep.
Every combat veteran will tell you that the biggest, most frightening scars are the ones unseen by others – unsuspected by others – often unknown by you for many years – your very personal form of weight-loss-delayed-stress-syndrome. Like most war veterans, you won't admit it, or don't see it. Nevertheless it is real. And you will only be able to deal with it by leaving the war behind. Permanently. And know it is permanently behind you.

To a veteran, war fades slowly from memory. Your quick reflex actions of defense and aggression from the war zone are automatic for a long time. They preserved you in battle, but in a place of true peace, they are out of place, not needed, and almost always the wrong thing to do to control your weight, and make it drop permanently.

Are you a weight loss veteran, you may ask? Seem like an extreme analogy? Over-wrought?

No. Absolutely not. That may be difficult to see when you are still in the war zone. But after you have been out for a while, you will see just how difficult all those war years really were. Plus the toll it took on you emotionally as well as physically.

So, at this point of time you just need to step back, see the weight-war that is being waged around you – within you. And accept that it is time to lose the weight loss battle. That is your path to VICTORY.

The Top 5 Reasons You WILL Have Weight Loss Victory

• Dieting is the #1 reason for long term weight gain – the more you diet, the more you will gain, long-term
• Dieting disconnects you from your normal feelings of hunger, and fullness
• Dieting is the #1 cause of eating disorders
• Dieting makes you feel deprived, which increases your chance of binging
• Dieting causes your body to retain fat, and lose muscle mass

• It will relieve your stress
• You will burn excess calories and body fat
• It will make your body build muscle, which helps you burn more fat
• It will combat osteoporosis

• You will stop believing all the hype about the latest popular weight loss programs
• You will stop looking at short term weight loss as a valid criterium for evaluating weight loss programs
• You will begin researching the world of science-based, permanent weight loss

• You will engage with supportive friends, and de-stress twice a day
• You will get 7-9 hours of sleep every night, and make it a priority


Lose the weight loss war. Find peace. Achieve victory. And finally believe you will succeed at permanent weight loss.

VP Programs Development, ScaleDown for Life
VP Education, GoZonkers Inc.
Curb Your Appetite – Stop Your Cravings

©2009 Laura Gontchar. All Rights Reserved.