Studies say about 80 percent of people who have lost weight gain it all back. Fitness expert Bob Greene says your weight management might not be the problem—it could be how you manage life in general. "It's really about the psychology," he says. "What are the barriers that stand in your way?"
Assessment: Are you ready to lose the weight for good?
Bob says five crucial steps can help you maintain your weight and your life:
1. Have a clear vision of what you want. "Picture your life the way you want it," Bob says. "You could even be the most motivated person on the planet. If you don't have a vision for yourself, your motivation will take you somewhere away from the vision that you want for your life."
Also, make sure your vision is realistic. "If you're 5'4" and you want to be 6'1", have a different vision," he says. "In your heart, you need to know that you can achieve it."
2. Convince yourself that you are deserving. Bob says it's critical to break down this barrier. "[People] feel unworthy because that was reinforced growing up by either an unsupportive adult or authority figure,” Bob says. “You're reconfirming [that] by sabotaging your own efforts.”
3. Identify the biggest barriers holding you back. Bob says there's a big difference between a barrier and an excuse. "I've heard every excuse imaginable—except a good one," he says. "A barrier is more of an issue."
"We all have a natural aversion to discomfort and pain, and that's the irony on both exercise and diet. You don't want to give up. There's some discomfort giving up your favorite foods," he says. "If you're doing exercise right, you have a level of discomfort to get results. And we are wired to avoid discomfort and seek pleasure."
4. Break through the barriers. Bob says the only way to break through a barrier is to identify what's holding you back. "You have barriers for a reason. They're coping mechanisms in many cases," he says. "So many people think getting on the treadmill or turning down your favorite foods is the hard part. That's the easy part. It's these issues and barriers of unworthiness—or being in a toxic relationship is a top one."
Breaking through takes courage, but the benefits could last a lifetime. "I've never seen anyone successful long term that couldn't make at least one or more tough decisions," he says.
5. Put yourself first. "Another way to say that is, 'Get the support you need,'" he says. "It's getting the people in your life on board."
Bob says parents struggle with this the most and too many use their children as an excuse not to make themselves a priority. "What parent would [tell her child], 'Don't take care of yourself?' That's the message your kids are learning," he says. "Putting yourself first is not selfish. It's a way to become a more profound role model for children and those in your life."
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