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Quitters CAN Be Winners

(First published in The Huffington Post)

I’m sure you’ve heard these famous sayings:

“Never, never, never give up.” ― Winston Churchill

“Winners never quit and quitters never win.” – Vince Lombardi

Whenever I heard those words as a young person, it always made me sick. They were famous sayings by famous men, repeated over and over, as if they should inspire people. But it never helped me to hear those things when I was on the verge of quitting. It just made me feel bad about myself. It made me think I must be a loser. The winners were putting me down. I was a quitter and I wanted very much to be a winner, but when the going got tough, I just could not keep going. I was weak. And it would make me sick when I heard those things, or even thought them.

They were wrong.

I’ve discovered that all winners have failed and given up, quit, many times. What turns losers into winners is not that they never quit, but that they got up and dusted themselves off after recovering, and went at it again. They persisted.

All winners have failed and quit many times. All winners have been quitters.

Think of all of us as babies, learning to crawl and walk. We try to stand, and we fall. Over and over again. There is no shame. There is just the excitement that first time, when we finally stay up and tower over everything. Then we fall. Hee, hee.

With enough practice and repetitions, we learn to walk. No one learns to walk without falling many times, thousands, maybe tens of thousands of times. This is how we all learned to win, how you learned to win. This is you. A winner.

But then, somewhere along the line, we got the idea that failing was bad. At home or at school, we started noticing that others would laugh or put us down if we were not good at something. Or we would mistakenly believe that we should be able to do something well instantly, and we’d be hurt if we did not. We thought there was something wrong with us. We’d be hurt and ashamed. We learned that the way to not get hurt was to quit, and not try again.

As babies, there was no shame in falling. It was fun, just part of the process. When we got tired, we quit, and rested. All was good. And then we tried again. Eventually, we walked and then we ran. Nothing could stop us. But then we learned to be ashamed, to be disappointed, expecting instant success and not getting it. We learned to stop trying when we failed.

“Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” ― G.K. Chesterton

Anything worth doing is worth doing badly. The first time I heard this, my brain revolted. It was the opposite of what I had aways heard, that anything worth doing was worth doing well. It was a famous coach who flipped this for me and it took a while to sink in and for me realize it was true.

He was talking about his kids wanting to be musicians and discovering that when they picked up the instrument and tried to make music, it was absolutely awful. It hurt your ears. And the kids, making fun of each other, saying they stunk, wanted to quit. They thought that they should be successful right away.

But we know that to do anything well, especially something difficult, you have to start out by doing it badly, failing, and when you get tired, you throw it down and quit, because it is so painful. But then, after a while, if you pick it up again, you learn more and get a little better. And you keep doing this until you succeed, as long as you persist in the work.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.” – William Edward Hickson

This is the saying that inspired me, that helped. It said that it was normal to fail, that it is OK. Of course, it feels awful to fail. You are deprived of the success you crave, but as long as you’re not dead, you’ll get another shot at it. So, while you are OK if you failed and survived, it is not OK to just sit there, without being OK the way you really need to be.

“As long as you survive, anything is possible” – William Anderson, LMHC

I failed at weight loss for 25 years, thousands of times, and I’d hate to count how many times I quit in tears, swearing I’d never diet again. But after a while, learning more with each failure, I learned “dieting” is not the way to succeed. In my early thirties I lost 140 pounds and I have kept it off for 30 years. It’s a miracle my bad habits didn’t kill me, but I was able to change things before they did.

I had similar experiences with college and in business too, banging my head against the wall, trying to make things work with methods that didn’t work for me, until I would fail and quit, swearing that was the end of trying. But it didn’t kill me, and eventually, after enough of a retreat, I’d try another way, having learned from my last failure. I’m slower than most, but I got my college degree at 40, a graduate degree at 50, and success in business too, after some very painful failures. Fortunately, the repeated defeats never brought me to the point of no return, and my work eventually bore fruit. As long as you are alive and breathing, dreams can come true.

“Part of being successful is knowing when to quit.” — William Anderson, LMHC

Working hard at a method that will not produce the desired result is futile. The old idiom “just keep going and work hard” will not get you where you want to go if you are on the wrong road, going the wrong way. This was the case many times I dieted and many times I signed up for classes or worked a business idea. I didn’t know it when I started out, but I was working a plan that would never work. The only result in persisting in a faulty plan is failure. In that case, quitting the wrong plan is just as important as persisting in the right plan.

“Tomorrow is a new day.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

So many times I heard this from my mother when I was young. I would be seeking solace because of some failure, or throwing a tantrum quitting and swearing never to try again at some skill or project. She would encourage me to quit for the day and forget about it. “That’s enough for today. Go to sleep. Tomorrow is a new day.”

Being persistent is not the same thing as not quitting. Persisting is getting up and trying again. To be successful, we need to know when to quit, especially if we’ve been doing something that is destined to fail. We regroup, and then get up and try again after we’ve recovered from our fall. That’s how you learned to walk. That’s how you’ll succeed in other endeavors, as long as you survive. Work the plan, rest safely when you tire, make corrections, and try again. This is how all winners have won, through failing, quitting what doesn’t work, learning, and trying again. That’s persistence.

You are still the creation and spirit you were as the infant that learned to walk. What is it that you would like to accomplish? Weight loss? Better relationships? More success in work and finances? Happiness? There is a way to win, even if you’ve failed in the past, even if you quit and had given up. You may have to rest and remember tomorrow is a new day. You may have to quit a way that does not work. You may have to change some things you haven’t wanted to change.

Believe me, you are a winner. You may have failed and quit in your past, but you have survived. You have succeeded in so many things that you can read or hear what I’ve written here. You have persisted and won. Your true self is a winner. You have what it takes to win. You just need to do what it takes to uncover it.

So, what is it you’d like to win now?

Finding the Perfect Weight Loss Lunch

The Anderson Method 250-calorie BLT!

The Anderson Method 250-calorie BLT!

This scrumptious BLT is one of the lunches I had regularly when I lost 140 pounds in 18 months 30 years ago. This is only one example in a whole repertoire of great meals I’ll describe below that maintain my success.

(This article first appeared in The Huffington Post)

When clients have asked me to tell them what to eat, I haven’t, because it distracts them from what they really need to do. The secret to success in permanent weight loss is in learning how to think differently and develop your own unique set of habits and preferences, with your own favorites. That’s why diets don’t work. We eventually return to our own preferences, the ways that made us overweight. I don’t give people diets because it’s not the diet that makes you successful. It’s the reprogramming technique I teach.

However, in order to dispute those who claim it’s impossible to have great meals without gaining weight or that you need to eat special concoctions or give up everything you like, I’m going to share some of my favorite meals that are not only delectable, but also keep me thin. We’ll start with lunch. We’ll cover breakfast and dinner another time.

Lunch can be the cause of obesity for many people and the main reason they fail at attempts to lose weight. If you’ve read my work, you know that the physical science of weight control is simple. Eat more calories than you burn, and you’ll get fat. Overeat and you gain weight, undereat and you lose. Getting ourselves to do this is the tricky part, and we’ll talk about that in a minute.

The reason lunch can be such a problem is that its easy to eat thousands of calories too much if you aren’t paying attention. Some of the salads at restaurants can be 1200 calories or more all by themselves. (Some women will gain weight if they eat more than 1500 calories per day!) A Whopper, fries and a coke can be 1500. Power lunches at fancy places can be 2000 calories. Same with pizza. No wonder it’s so easy to gain weight. Living large at lunch is one of the reasons we have an obesity epidemic.

My BLT shown above is only 250 calories. I make a great ham and cheese sandwich at only 270. How can that be, you say, with all that bread, mayo and bacon or ham and cheese? Easy. I use Publix reduced calorie bread at 40 calories a slice and Hellman’s low-fat mayo at 15 calories a tablespoon. Three slices of bacon is only 105 calories and ham is only 30 calories a slice. Those sandwiches look decadent and the gossips badmouth them, but they are a great deal for lunch. A Soft Beef Taco Supreme at Taco Bell is only 210 calories and a hamburg at McDonald’s is only 250. The good old-fashioned hot dog is only 250 calories, and mustard, relish and onions adds very little to it. Losing weight and keeping it off can be enjoyed with great tasting food if you decide to keep to a reasonable budget and make it a rule to never again give yourself permission to be a glutton at lunch. Don’t give yourself permission to get fat because everyone else is, or lie to yourself, telling yourself it will do no harm “just this once”. It will. To get that excess weight off and keep it off, you need to make it a habit to keep your calories within a certain budget.

One of the most important mind control techniques in behavior therapy is the simple act of planning ahead. It’s actually a form of self-hypnosis that makes success and self-control easier if you take the trouble to think ahead of what you’ll have and prepare for it. The law of expectancy is always at work in us unconsciously, and the old maxim is true: those who fail to plan are planning to fail.

If you’re eating at home, it’s easy to have those ingredients ready, but it can be done at work too, if you have a fridge and microwave. Eating at the office rather than going out or ordering in is easy and smart. It not only saves calories, but it saves you money and time too, eliminating the time to drive somewhere. At clinics I’ve worked at, I’d stock the kitchenette with the makings for sandwiches, as well as soups and Lean Cuisines, Healthy Choices, and other low calorie frozen meals. And the planning ahead I was referring to does not have to be rigid. Once you’ve learned enough about what’s possible and you’ve practiced enough, your planning can be as simple as committing to “no more than 250 calories”, or to one of the many lunch selections you know will fit into the plan.

Eating out can be more of a challenge, but very doable if you think ahead about how to do things. If you do the research, you’ll find that some of the fast food places have at least one item that will work. Look them all up on their Internet sites, so you’ll know what to order the next time you hit one. Fast food places can be a disaster if you just walk in and start ordering things that sound good. However, if you go on with a plan, you’ll be dropping pounds and dress sizes before you know it. A sub, burger or taco and a diet soda will work just fine.

If you go to nicer restaurants at business lunches, it can be very easy to go through several thousand calories if you approach it as “living large”. You’ll be better off all around by ordering a simple salad and have your own dressing packets, like Walden Farms zero-calorie dressings, ready to go in your bag. You’ll make an impression as a better business person than those who overindulge and are seen as careless and wasteful. For me and my clients, fine dining works well for dinner but is a nuisance at lunch.

There is no need to give up eating things you enjoy to lose weight. In fact, one of the keys to success is creating ways of eating that are more enjoyable than the old ways that made you overweight. When the food tastes good and you know it’s making you successful, you feel a whole lot better than feeling stuffed and knowing you just made things worse. When these new ways become your preferred habits, you’re set for life. And just as there are strategies to turn lunchtime from a problem to a solution, there are strategies that are just as effective for breakfast, dinner, weekend parties and holidays too.