How to stick the landing

One our members recently shared a Weighless victory…followed by a stumble that many of us know all too well.  Do you recognize this pattern?

“I just got back from a trip to New Orleans. The last time we went it was a  disaster of gluttony and excess. I gained weight, and also felt horrible. This time, I vowed, would be different. I posted notes saying QUALITY NOT QUANTITY all over my house for the week before we left.  On the trip, I ate everything I wanted to but small amounts of the less healthy stuff and I felt fantastic when we got back. Even better, I weighed the same when we got home as when I left. I was feeling very proud of myself!

“But then totally fell apart after I got home: Bad choices, constant snacking. This is not the first time this has happened. I successfully navigate through a challenging time and then completely fall apart when it’s over.  Why do I do this?”

Can you relate?  I know I can!

Last year, for example, I spent a month producing two podcasts a week instead of my usual one. It was an intense push. But I was really motivated. I really wanted to create a bit of a buffer for myself so that if something came up (a professional opportunity, a family emergency, whatever) I would have more flexibility.

And I succeeded in getting myself four weeks ahead!  But then, over the course of the next three months, I proceeded to blow my lead.  A week would somehow slip by without me recording a new podcast.  Not because something important came up.  Simply because my vision (and therefore my plan) for success only extended to getting ahead. It didn’t include staying ahead.

Don’t blow your lead

As any gymnast or ice skater will tell you, training for (and visualizing) the jump always includes training for the landing.

I had a solid plan for how I was going to research, write, and record two podcasts a week.  I scheduled work sessions into my calendar and I stuck to them. Triple Salchow! The problem was that I failed to make any schedule for the weeks that followed.  As a result, I failed to stick the landing.

So let’s say you set an intention to get through the holidays or a vacation without gaining weight. (In the Weighless Program, we teach specific strategies for enjoying special occasions or getting through crunch times at work without sacrificing your progress.) You put together your plan. You execute it like a champ.

You’ve done the Triple Salchow. Now all you need to do is stick the landing.

If you see the last day of your vacation or a holiday season or crossing the finish line of that race as the end of your “challenge,” it’s easy for things to fall apart in the aftermath.

Instead, as you plan to navigate the challenge, include the week after the trip or event in that vision.  Have a couple of healthy meals in the freezer so that you have good options available when you get back.  Get out your calendar and schedule in some exercise for the week after you get home.  Make sure you get back into the rhythm of your regular healthy habits. Stick that landing!

What challenges or goals are you planning for right now? What’s the plan for sticking the landing?

How does Weighless compare to Weight Watchers?

Someone in our community recently asked about Weight Watchers.

“I would love to hear your thoughts about doing WW alongside Weighless, or does that miss the point entirely? What about portion control help?”

We have a lot of WW alumni in the Weighless program and some of them continue to count points for a while but most find that the approach that we practice eventually makes this unnecessary.

In the Weighless program, you learn how to eat the right foods, in the right amounts, and for the right reasons. It seems to me that Weight Watchers teaches you to eat the “right” foods, in the right amounts, but for all the wrong reasons: The best food choice is the one that’s lowest in points. And the right amount is determined not by your hunger or level of satisfaction, but by how many points you have left for the day.

As I said in a recent podcast episode (player below), being aware of the calorie density of foods and what appropriate portions look like is certainly useful.  But if that were all it took, well, WW wouldn’t have so much repeat business!

Choosing the right foods in the right amounts and for the right reasons also requires cultivating awareness and motivation, building solid habits, and developing skills and strategies to manage social cues, environment and emotional triggers, self-talk, and so on.
Becoming someone who weighs less involves more than counting points. But the good news is, as you become someone who weighs less, that sort of rigid accounting also becomes less and less necessary.

Categories FAQ

Healthy weight vs. happy weight

A while back, I asked a group of people who were considering enrolling in the Weighless program about their experiences, beliefs, and goals relating to weight loss.

One of the questions I asked was, “How much do think you’d need to lose to be HEALTHY?” The next was, “How much do think you’d need to lose to be HAPPY?”

The responses were absolutely fascinating–and offer a lot of insight into why so many of us struggle.

Before you read further, why not answer those two questions for yourself:

In order to be healthy, I’d need to lose ____________

In order to be happy, I’d need to lose   ____________

Read more

Postcard from the parking lot

As I turned into the parking lot of my local grocery store, I could see that competition for parking spots was intense. A snowstorm was in the forecast, after all. And there was a football game that afternoon. Cars were jockeying for position with their blinkers on, waiting for other shoppers to load their groceries and pull out. Others were circling like sharks, hoping to spot and claim an about-to-be-vacated spot before others could react. I could almost see the cloud of stress and frustration rising over the lot and rolling toward me. With a feeling of relief, I banked to the right, headed to the furthest corner and pulled into one of dozens of empty spots. I collected my empty grocery bags, locked the car door, and because I happened to be wearing tennis shoes, jogged the 200 yards to the door of the grocery store.

But so what?

Opting out of the parking lot drama definitely reduced my stress level. But, let’s be serious: Will the extra dozen or so calories I burned by jogging in from the corner of the lot make any meaningful difference in terms of my weight? Of course not. But it’s not about the calories I’m burning. It’s about the mindset I’m creating. Every time I purposefully choose a farther parking spot, or take the stairs, or jog across the street, I subtly reinforce (to myself) my identity as someone who chooses to be active, who makes healthy choices. And that spills over into so many other aspects of my life. Such as which foods went into the grocery cart once inside the store. What we do, say, and think really does affect how we see ourselves. And how we see ourselves affects what we do, say, and think. It can be a virtuous cycle or a downward spiral. So, the next time you find yourself questioning whether a tiny thing like parking further away from the door can ever really make a difference, remember that all of these small decisions add up to the person you are becoming. Spiral up, friends. #weighless

Your diet is not the problem

Most diets pay way too much attention to what you eat and not enough to why and how you are eating it.  You get detailed instructions about exactly what to eat and what not to eat. And if you follow the instructions, you will almost certainly lose weight.

But if you are overweight, the real problem is not your diet. It’s your habits that need to change.

“Interventions that focus on changing an individual’s behaviour are not usually successful at changing an individual’s habits because they do not incorporate the strategies required to break unhealthy habits and/or form new healthy habits,” researcher Gina Cleo points out 

Lose all the weight you want on whatever diet regimen you choose. If you haven’t fixed the underlying habits, you are almost certain to regain the weight.

Cleo’s latest study, published last month in the International Journal of Obesity found that overweight adults who lost weight through focusing on changing their eating and movement habits (as opposed to following a certain diet) were more likely to maintain their weight loss for up to 12 months.

“Maintaining weight loss is often the hardest part of the weight-loss journey,” she says, “yet it was successfully achieved by our participants on the habit-based programs, without the need for dieting or strenuous exercise.

This is exactly what we are seeing in the Weighless Program, a year-long coaching program for sustainable weight loss. Although we certainly talk about food and movement, there is no prescribed diet or exercise program. Instead, we focus on dismantling that dieter’s mindset and creating the habits and mindset that lead to weighing less, permanently.  (Here’s what that looks like.)

And it’s working! After 10 months in the program, 80% of our members have lost anywhere from 3 to 18% of their starting weight. Many have been successfully maintaining a lower weight for months. And no-one has spent a single day dieting.  It’s exhilarating to witness people finally break free of destructive yo-yo dieting patterns and discover what it’s like to weigh less.

Click here to see what our members are saying.

You don’t necessarily need to join a group or a program to do this.  But if you think some professional guidance and support would be useful, you can find more details about our next Weighless group here.


Dieters Mindset vs Weighless Mindset

I’m guessing you’ve been on your share of diets. (And isn’t that, right there, proof that diets are not the answer?)

Although they rarely deliver permanent weight loss, diets do succeed fabulously at one thing: they’re great at creating a dieter’s mindset. And that mindset tends to follow us around, even when we’re in between diets.

What’s the dieter’s mindset? It’s a tendency to see every food as either “good” or “bad.” Even worse, it’s a tendency to see OURSELVES as “good” or “bad” depending on what we’ve eaten that day.

It’s the dieter’s mindset that puts thoughts like these into your head:

“I shouldn’t have eaten that cake after lunch. But as today is obviously ruined. I might as well go out for nachos after work.”

“I’ll be extra good tomorrow.”

“It’s sugar-free, so make it a large.”

“That’s it: No more carbs (or whatever…) until I lose five pounds.”

Ironically, that dieter’s mindset doesn’t actually help you weigh less, does it? No, it locks you in to a lifetime of dieting.

One of the most important things we do in the Weighless program is to pull that dieter’s mindset out by the roots. In place of those toxic messages, we plant ones that, over time, really do help you weigh less.

The Weighless Mindset is is about making friends with both food and yourself–and reinforcing the habits that support the life (and body) you want to have. Just ask the hundreds of Weighless members who have stopped dieting and started weighing less! Here’s some of what they have to say.

Ready to join them?

All the details are here.

The case for super slow weight loss

[UPDATED on Sept, 1, 2020 to include new research]

One of the things that sets the Weighless approach apart from other weight loss programs is our emphasis on slow weight loss.  Instead of coaching our members to lose a couple of pounds a week, we try to hold them to a few  pounds a month.

Crazy, right? And yet there is a method to our madness.

The famous (and heartbreaking) “Biggest Loser” study demonstrates just how much damage fast weight can do to your metabolism. After six years, virtually all of the contestants had regained every pound (and more)–despite continuing to eat fewer calories. 

And then there’s the loss of lean muscle.  Most people can only lose 2-3 pounds of body fat per month. If you’re losing weight faster than that, the rest is likely to be lean muscle. Believe me, that’s NOT what you’re trying to lose.

Although our approach may seem like an insanely slow way to lose weight, we’re finding that it’s actually a much quicker (and less unpleasant) path to sustainable fat loss. Interestingly, our members frequently report that after losing weight the “Weighless way,” they look and their clothes fit as if they have lost much more than they actually have.

Losing weight slowly not only preserves your metabolism and muscle mass. It also gives you more time to acquire the habits and practice the skills that will help you maintain a lower weight, heading off the dreaded–and seemingly inevitable–rebound weight gain.

It all makes sense, right? But occasionally, someone in the group will ask if there is published research to support the merits of the super slow pace of weight loss we endorse. Fair enough. I’ve built a reputation for being evidence-based, and most of the people who sign up for my programs cite this as one of the reasons they trust my advice.

Show Me the Research

A few studies have compared the effects of slow vs. fast weight loss. For example:

A 2016 study involving almost 60 subjects found that those who lost weight more slowly lost less muscle mass, which was associated with less weight regain. A similar (but longer) study dating back to 1994 compared the effects of “fast” vs. “slow” weight loss and found that the fast losers lost more weight initially but were much more likely to regain it.

Frustratingly, many of the studies that compare fast and slow weight loss define “slow” as 4-5% of your total body weight per month, which is still too fast by our standards.  But here have been at least two excellent studies where the slow pace is in line with our recommendations.

This 2014 study involved 200 subjects, both men and women. Over the course of the study, the subjects  lost 15% of their starting body weight, on average. The slower group lost at a pace of about 1.5% of their total body  weight per month. The faster group lost at a more typical rate of 4.5% of their total body weight per month.  Although both groups lost the same amount of weight, the slow group lost 10% more body fat and 50% less lean muscle as the faster group. 

This 2018 study by a different research group involved 68 subjects (all men) who lost  6% of their starting body weight. Once again, the slower group lost 1.5% of their total body weight per month and the faster group 4.5% per month. But the difference in body composition was a lot more dramatic. The slower group lost 50% more fat and 75% less lean muscle than the faster group. 

Our approach is certainly informed by research–but it also draws heavily on our experience and common sense. And although we are not (yet) conducting a controlled trial, the results we are seeing and the feedback we are getting from our members are enormously validating.  I think we’re onto something here…and maybe the researchers will take notice.