How I Lost 140 Pounds and Kept It Off For Three Decades

(The author is a psychotherapist who lost 140 lbs. when he developed his methods, and he’s kept it off for over 30 years. Read about his method in his book at the right, or listen to his audiobook, free sample provided here.)

After years of dieting failure, I had become convinced I was born to be fat.

In my early 30’s I had been trying to get control of my weight on and off for 25 years, with my first doctors diet at 7 years old. After 25 years of yo-yo dieting, I became convinced I was born to be fat. It was in my genes, my DNA, I thought, and no matter what I did, I’d be severely overweight. The problem was, it was killing me. If I was not able to change it, I was possibly near the end of my life, at 33, with young kids and a whole life to be lived if I were not obese.

When I was 33, all my years of learning bore fruit. I lost 140 pounds and have maintained an ideal 180 lbs. for 30 years. Here’s what happened.

In all those years of failed dieting and exercise attempts, I learned a lot. I learned about the sciences of nutrition and physiology, and that an obesity problem is really a lifestyle problem. If you habitually eat more calories than you burn, you’ll become chronically overweight, and the solution is in controlling your habits, developing habits where you eat fewer calories than you burn. The problem was, self-control didn’t work. I could not get control of my habits. They controlled me.

More important than learning about nutrition and physiology, was learning about behaviorism.

By serendipitous good fortune, I gravitated to the study of psychology when I was older. I learned that rather than choose our habits, we get unknowingly programmed by a process of conditioning and “hypnosis” that we really aren’t aware of. I became interested in addictions, sensing my habits were like them, and went into the work of helping people get control of their addictions and addictive behavior.

By applying the principles of science and behavior therapy, I developed and succeeded with a method that helps people change. It helped me to permanently solve my weight problem, and it’s helped others too.

Here’s what you need to know:

1) Your weight is the result of your energy balance. Eat more calories than you burn and you’ll gain weight. Eat fewer calories than you burn and you’ll lose weight.

2) To lose and manage weight, it requires more than just learning about the calories in food and what your body uses. You need to permanently acquire the habits of eating the right balance, so that weight management becomes automatic and natural.

3) Acquiring the right habits is not a matter of intellect and will power. It is a result of training and conditioning in technique from the behavioral sciences. It is a matter of learning how to program yourself and master that part of yourself that manufactures your desires, urges, habits and feelings.

4) Diets and exercise crusades don’t work. Doing something for a while, even if you lose weight, and then going back to “normal”, will make you worse, not better.

5) Success comes not from denying yourself pleasure and good food, but by forming habits that are more pleasurable, with food that you really like that causes you to become healthy and fit instead of overweight.

With study and effort, in time, you can become successful at permanent weight loss.

I have discovered methods that are scientifically proven to work if you are able to apply them. It’s not easy, just like learning to play an instrument, earn a degree or master a sport is not easy. But there is no maybe about the efficacy. I have never had a client not lose weight following what I teach.

I have volumes of information at my website (check the “Table of Contents” at the bottom left of the page) and I’ve written a book, now an eBook and audiobook, that explains everything I teach my clients. I hope it can help you too.

This story was first published on ThriveGlobal.com

Jumping Jacks? Are You Nuts?

A serious teacher

Every year at this time, I publish columns to help people get control of their weight, and I also peruse what others are writing on the issue. This year, I read a few columns telling overweight people to exercise with jumping jacks. One said to “start with something easy, like jumping jacks”. Jumping jacks??!! I almost blew my coffee out my nose. Jumping jacks? Is this guy crazy? He has probably never been obese and probably has never had an obese person he has said this to.

As a formerly obese person, I can tell you that jumping jacks are a very bad idea for an obese person. Not only will it hurt, but you are liable to do damage. In fact, the number one rule for obese people and exercise is to take it easy, go slowly, and don’t overdo it. Use the old show-business principle. Only do so much, and leave ’em wanting more. If you get to the point where you think you’ve done enough, you’ve probably done too much. The most intense thing you should do at first is walking. Jumping jacks are the worst idea I’ve ever heard of.
I’m a behavior therapist who discovered how to succeed with permanent weight loss. After 25 years of diet and exercise failure, I finally “got it”, lost 140 pounds and I’ve kept it off for 30 years. I went on to teach others, and I wrote a successful book about it, now an audiobook.

In my behavioral approach, we focus on our behavior rather than our weight or our body. Instead of just trying to use “will power”, we use behavioral science to program in the behavior and habits that will create the results we want and program out (extinguish) the behavior that made us overweight. One of the primary mechanisms in behaviorism is conditioning, applying reward to the behavior we want to build, and unpleasant aversives (called “punishment” in the science) to the behavior we want to kill.

So, when we engaged in punishing exercise, we were training ourselves to hate and avoid the exercise that would help us control out weight! Those people saying we should be in pain were all wrong! If you want to create an exercise habit, don’t do anything that hurts, physically or emotionally.

Instead of trying to be tough and making ourselves do something unpleasant, we need to find things that feel good and burn calories at the same time. So, going to the gym surrounded by gawking strangers is out. Doing things that physically hurt is out. You need to be extra sensitive or attuned to your needs and realize that something as simple as feeling embarrassed or having uncomfortable walking shoes is a punishment. You need to find ways to burn calories that are more fun than that and feel good. I was lucky to have a private pool when I started my successful weight loss, and started getting active just by playing in the pool with the kids. I was in such bad shape, I couldn’t even swim a lap. But treading water got me started. It was fun and felt good. Soon I was swimming, and then walking in the cool mornings, but only short strolls at first.

So, forget jumping jacks and the people who tell you to start with them. Read the rest of my work to learn more about my behavioral approach for permanent weight loss. This could be the year you solve your weight problem.