Saturday, February 5, 2011

No More Yo-Yo

This coming Monday, we will start another 5 Ton Weight Loss Challenge.  We have been doing these 'challenges' for the last two years and completed the last one in November, 2010.  We have now passed our 5 Ton goal (that's 10,000 lbs of weight lost for those of you who struggle with conversions).  While we are very proud of the success we have had, there is still a lot of work to be done, basically lose another 5 Tons (statistically, there is plenty of weight out there to lose).  I know, I know, oh great another "weight loss program" and I agree there are a lot of them out there, but, here is the deal...I don't like any of them.  I'm sure they all started (OK, I'm not really sure) with good intentions but became more about making money than helping people.  So, I developed the program TERRIOlifestyle which we use as the format for our weight loss challenges to combine what we scientifically know about weight loss with what I have learned about leadership.  Think about this everyone starts out to lose weight with a lot of enthusiasm and excitement.  We decide that we are finally ready to tackle this problem head on and in we jump full force.  But then something happens, all of a sudden it is not fun and actually hurts (see my previous blog about starting to quickly) and our enthusiasm disappears. Once this happens our subconscious starts lining up all the reasons, excuses and stories of why we can't/shouldn't continue and we are done. 

I was in a seminar years ago about leadership and the instructor was talking about how to create engaged employees.  The overall premise of the course (created by a business guru, he's already famous so no reason to add to that here) was to match your leadership style with the stage that the employee was in and then help move them along the course to become self sufficient, a peak performer.  As the instructor talked about the four phases that people go through when taking on a new task and the pit falls at each stage and thus the need to change the type of leadership, I  thought 'wait a minute, this is exactly why people are never successful at losing weight!  (my mind works in this strange way of putting together seemingly unrelated topics to derive new solutions to problems.  I believe that opportunity is everywhere and we just have to be willing to keep an open mind to possibilities and thus new solutions).  The more I thought about this new solution for weight loss the more I realized that it could really work.  Then came the hard work, I had to figure out how to create a system that would be scalable to help a lot of people but that would meet the needs at each step and provide a path for those willing to work hard enough to change. 

Having a good understanding of the functioning of the human body and taking what I had learned about leadership and program development, I first had to answer the question...'why do diets fail?'  and the answer was pretty easy... they are not sustainable!  This is the reason for the "YO-YO' diet syndrome (the grapefruit diet, the cabbage diet, the cookie diet, etc, etc), do they get you to lose weight, maybe, initially but then you go back to your usual eating habits, any weight loss you might have had comes back and usually with a few extra pounds. Thus the only way to create true sustainable weight loss is to replace old habits with new healthier one.  Perfect, I have the Answer!!  If it were only that easy!  You see this whole habit replacement idea, threw me into the field of behavior modification.  After reviewing current thinking about behavior modification, I realized that to make a change in behavior we had to start with the little steps.  If you can stop any habit (drinking, smoking, eating donuts every morning, whatever) and replace it with a new habit for 12 weeks you now have a new habit (at least for a year, its a technical thing).  So, I decided to create our program to be 10-12 weeks long.  For those of you trying to lose weight, I think you will agree that the idea of doing a 'program' for 10-12 weeks is much more attainable than 'the rest of your life' (that sounds like a miserable task).  We also set the program up to match the emotional side with the appropriate leadership to help people get through level one and two and move to level three where they begin to take ownership of the new habit (if you are starting Monday, just go with the program, it will happen naturally).  We launched the program in January of 2009 as a competition.  This way not only was the program limited but we invoked the spirit of competition to make things a little more fun.  We also set people up in 'teams' to help with accountability and camaraderie.  We found our program to be hugely successful and we have been improving it ever since.  In retrospect we now know that the people who were most successful were the ones who followed the program most closely.  If you cheat, you are letting those old habits keep hold and they won't be replaced.  For those of you starting the program Monday, it will be hard, you will get sore and your old habits will keep trying to sneak in on you.  Stay with the program and in about 8weeks you will be a different person, you will have replaced your old habits with new ones!  You will have lost 30 lbs (average weight loss on our program for 10 weeks) but most importantly you will be healthier, happier and have a lot more energy.  Good Luck! 

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