Weight Loss and Health Q & A with Bill Phillips

—-This blog post is an interview I did for a mainstream magazine where the focus was how to achieve healthy weight loss; something millions of American’s are concerned with. If you are one of them, this blog is for You! ~Bill Phillips

Q: How do people get the willpower to lose weight?

A: Willpower and discipline, despite what people are often taught, are not the keys to making challenging changes in our lives. The real power comes from inspiration. When people are inspired, they can accomplish almost anything. And so what I teach people is how to connect with what inspires them. And I ask them to identify a purposeful reason for making the decision to make a change in their lives. And one of the reasons that often awakens peoples’ inner strength is becoming healthy so that they don’t pass on their deleterious lifestyle to their kids.

Most parents I know would move mountains to protect their kids and that’s the kind of strength it often takes to stop destructive habits and start living a healthy and mindful life. There are many powerful reasons and what’s important is for each person to find the one that inspires them. One great reason will override 100 excuses.

Q: What are some practical tips on becoming more focused on their weight loss efforts?

A: I believe it’s important for people to realize that losing weight is not enough. You can actually lose weight and become more unhealthy if you do it the wrong way. Many people also lose weight  in a way that’s not sustainable. Merely changing the outside is not enough. When  we change our perspective we can see that what we really want is not just to  look better but to feel better; and not just to weigh less on the scale, but to become lighter. And to do that, we need to look at what’s weighing on us mentally and emotionally.

It’s vitally important to understand where we are at the beginning of the transformation process. I ask people to take a before photo of themselves, put it on a piece of paper, and around the photo write down a dozen words and/or phrases that describe what they’re thinking and what they’re  feeling. I often see people describe that they have low energy, that they feel stuck, that they feel like they’re carrying the weight of the world, that they’re suffering from stress or anxiety, that they feel sad or depressed. We have to confront where we are to begin with — we have to know where we stand, in order to know where to go.

Once we’ve achieved some clarity on that, we take a look at where we want to go and we develop an inspiring vision for our future carefully describing how we want to look, how we want to feel, and what we want our lives to be like. Once we establish a point A and a point B we develop specific goals that help us focus our attention on moving forward.

Q: How can people stay strong in the face of temptation?

A: When people are inspired by a powerful reason, managing temptation becomes a whole lot easier. Unfortunately most people don’t really feel a strong sense of purpose when they start out on a diet or weight-loss plan. That makes compliance extremely unlikely.

Another thing that strengthens resolve is to connect with other people who are dedicated to making healthy changes in their lives. In a recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine (February 2009) scientists discovered that people who are trying to lose weight and get healthy are 225% more likely to succeed if they participate in a weekly support group meeting. And this is because supportive friends can help keep us accountable, they can remind us of what we told them our important and inspiring reason is for changing our behavior from unhealthy to healthy, and they can give us support and encouragement which is pretty hard to be successful without. And in  return, we can do the same for them which, according to research, also helps us  by boosting our energy, confidence and self-esteem.

Q: How can people overcome making excuses when trying to transform their health?

A: Most every remarkable health transformation I’ve seen over the last 20 years was preceded by a dramatic increase in self-responsibility. As we mature we often discover that to a very significant extent, the condition of our bodies and lives is our responsibility and the longer we blame something outside of ourselves (an organization, another person, even genetics), the longer we disempower ourselves. The ability to change is harnessed when we accept the responsibility to change. And this essentially  means becoming a ‘no-excuses person.’ When we give up excuses we can no longer say, “The dog ate my homework.” Instead we deal with the reality of the situation which might be, “My homework’s not done because I chose to watch TV instead of doing it.” Accepting responsibility makes us stronger, not weaker.

Q: How can people overcome falling back into old unhealthy patterns?

A: The only thing better than making a healthy change in your body and life is sustaining it. In my experience, the  people who’ve succeeded over the long term do two things:

1) When they achieve a goal, they immediately set another, challenging goal. Goals keep the mind focused and help us decide on a daily basis how to invest our precious time, energy and attention. For example, if someone’s initial goal is to become 30 lbs lighter, once they achieve that, they might set their eye on another motivating objective which is to run a marathon or half marathon within the next few months.

2) People who successfully lose unhealthy body weight and keep it off are most often connected to a support group or community of like-minded folks. Being active within a healthy weight-loss group gives people the opportunity to help others which is very important. Recovery from an unhealthy lifestyle that causes overweight and obesity is similar to recovery from other addictive habits — there is always a risk for relapse. Our old habits will wait on us forever. What we do to get healthy, has to be what we continue doing to stay healthy. We need to look at it as a life-long recovery process. And  probably nothing helps long-term recovery better than being active in a group of  supportive peers.

Q: How can people change their habits?

A: The mind craves what it’s used to which is not always what it needs. And this is why the things we do habitually have a sort of gravitational force — they seem to pull us in their direction. And so the key to breaking free of unhealthy habits is to abstain from them while at the same time replacing them with new, positive patterns of action. Each day we adhere to the changes, the more the mind will crave the new pattern which will  allow it to become more and more of a routine. People who can stick with a change like this for a month, usually find it gets a whole lot easier from  there. Inspiration and support are essential to get through that first month because it can be a real tug of war between the old and new ways of thinking and behaving.

Q: What are your top tips to help someone say no to an unhealthy action or behavior?

A: Throughout each day, we have dozens of moments where we decide our future direction. When we ask ourselves, “Is this thought, action or behavior going to move me closer to or further away from the inspiring vision I have for my future?” we can make better choices pretty easily. We must relentlessly ask ourselves that question throughout each day and give ourselves honest answers. When we do, we can change the direction of our lives one moment, one decision at a time. Which is really the only way it can be done.

Q: How powerful is the mind in controlling our weight-loss success?

A: The body serves the mind. Anything that happens in our physical body is a result of what happens in our mind. The mind is primary, the body is a secondary phenomenon. And of course we experience life through our mind, our thoughts, our emotions. It’s always how we think and how we feel about how we look that determines our experience. And until you truly transform your mind, any other change is only going to be temporary, external, superficial. It will never last. However, when you heal and renew the mind, and get it set in the right direction, your life can become healthier, happier and  more inspiring than most people could ever imagine.

Q: Is there anything else you think we should cover on this topic?

A: Weight loss is very misunderstood. Supposed solutions so often focus only on the body as if it exists independent of mind and emotions. The real solutions will be found by looking at the whole person—mind, body, heart and soul. The answers we’ll find aren’t new. In fact Plato’s philosophy described what may very well be the right approach over 2,000  years ago when he wrote:

“This is the great error of our day, that physicians separate the soul from the body. The cure should not be attempted without the treatment of the whole, and no attempt should be made to cure the body without the soul.”

Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Bill Phillips Fitness News.

  2. Shawn Kellams says:

    Thanks Bill, I really needed this article tonight. Great information. Thanks for all you do!

  3. This is a great Blog Bill. So much powerful insight! Keep inspiring!

  4. Great blog Bill! I love how you show that the transformation starts in the mind and is the result of our mind, body and emotions. It is so true- keep the information coming please.

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