Why do some people succeed in losing weight while others fail? Why do some people pick themselves up when they fall down while others remain immobilized? And after having failed repeatedly to lose weight, why have some of us given up hope?
The answer resides in our ability (or inability) to tap into our innergy. Innergy is the emotional home inside us that holds our dreams, hopes and vision for ourselves. Once we find and touch this site, we find the energy, motivation and will to change our habits. Others can inspire us, educate us, train us and cook for us. But to succeed, we have to self-manage our way through a maze of daily decisions. Only inside our hearts do we find the innergy to guide our decisions and make our visions a reality.
Dr. Ian Smith, founder of the 50 Million Pound Challenge and author of The 4 Day Diet, affirms that neither he nor anyone else can motivate others to adopt a healthier lifestyle and lose weight. “This,” he says, “is a decision that only one person can makethe person seeking health and fitness. Each of us must find our core motivation. Whether the desire to change is triggered by health or vanity doesn’t matter. What matters is that the person connects with this core motivation and consistently reconnects with these values over time.”
Approaching my 60th birthday, I tapped into my innergy before it was too latebefore my body was irreversibly damaged by surplus pounds and a sedentary lifestyle and before I suffered chronic or fatal medical problems. Armed with this newfound strength, I moved steadily toward fitness and weight loss. After losing 60 pounds, I went from being in the 90th percentile for risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke to a risk in the 50th percentile. Most of my medications were reduced or eliminated.
Because of my excitement about the positive changes in my life, I’ve since used my time and talent to help others undergo similar transformationsbefore it’s too late.
In the course of my self-appointed mission, I’ve had conversations with dozens, if not hundreds, of individuals who are struggling to lose weight and become fit. I commonly hear despair in the stories from individuals who have tried and failed to make changes, just as I had tried and failed for over 40 years.
As I did, they mistakenly believe that the problem of excess weight arises from overeating. If they could just stick with a diet, they reason, they could lose weight. Moreover, these individuals believe I succeeded because I have willpower.
They are mistaken. I am not blessed with surplus willpower; however, once I tapped into my innergy, I became a good student of my body and emotions. I discovered, for example, that overeating was not the problem. Rather, overeating was my overused solution to the stress and discomfort of everyday life. I had to learn more healthful ways of coping that would reinforce my commitment to living healthfully.
Dr. Martin Binks, former director of Behavioral Health at the Duke Diet & Fitness Center and coauthor of The Duke Diet, says that “any unhealthy coping solution we overuse (shopping, eating, smoking or drinking alcohol, for example) to the exclusion of other more helpful ones (talking it out with friends, exercising to reduce stress, for example) creates new problems.” Dr. Binks assures us that “successful lifestyle changes are determined less by the strength of our willpower than by our willingness to learn new skills and different ways of coping.”
Here are three ways to tap your own innergy to help you lose weight and get fit (FIT):
F: Figure out and list the different ways you can comfort yourselffrom a hot shower to a walk outdoors to an escape into a good book. Create a personalized buffet of coping options from which to choose when you feel discouraged, fatigued or out of sorts.
I: Invent yourself anew. Learn new ways to cook that are healthy and less fattening. Learn fun new ways to exercise that you thoroughly enjoy. Experiment with tennis, dancing, Pilates, swimming, walking, bodybuilding, yoga or other forms of exercise until you find one or two that make you feel like a kid again.
T: Tell everyone about your heartfelt dream to nourish and care for your body and the gift of life it represents. Enroll your friends and family to support you and to tackle their own fitness goals. You can inspire others just as they can inspire you. Fortunately, our bodies are wonderfully forgiving. If it isn’t too late, our bodies respond magnificently and quickly when we adopt healthful habits.
In contrast to the estimated $60 billion Americans will spend on diet products in 2011from diet books to unregulated supplements promising magical weight loss based on a medical breakthroughthese three tips are practical and inexpensive to implement.
Note that these tips require action and accountability on your partunlike the typical diet products that promise quick and effortless weight loss, encourage your dependency on the product, require up-front payment and may be harmful to your health.
The irony is that innergythe essential element needed for fitness and weight lossis free. No one can sell it to you, nor can anyone take it away from you. The very quality that allows you to set your lifestyle change in motion resides with you and is connected to your deepest values. Our ability to make this emotional connection is the source of our transformation.
Once you tap into your innergy, you will naturally adopt a new mind-set. Having tapped into this powerful source of motivation, you will not want to revert to your former lifestyle. You can fall down. You can stumble. You can veer off track. But you won’t go back. Going forward, you can be confident that your innergy will help you remain committed and guide your daily decision making. Drawing on your innergy will allow you to realize fitness and weight loss beyond your wildest dreams. And it’s yours for the taking.
Carole Carson is a fitness advocate and the author of From Fat to Fit: Turn Yourself into a Weapon of Mass Reduction, which chronicles her own 62-pound weight loss and the inspirational Nevada County Meltdown. Visit www.fromfat2fit.com for more information.