Maybe right now, as you read these words, you are all pumped up, emotionally energized, motivated to the max, about getting started. That's fine, but let me caution you: even if you have all of the desire or "want to" in the world, this is not enough if you don't know "what" to do and "how" to do it. Think about it: if all of a sudden you were strapped into the cockpit of a Boeing 777 at 40,000 feet and forced to "land or die," you would be highly, highly motivated to succeed. But no matter how much "want to" you had, you would not get that airplane on the ground in one piece. Without some very specific knowledge of speeds, power settings, and procedures, you would crash. Same deal here!
Maybe, on the other hand, you are completely deflated because of your latest frustrating attempt at weight loss. Maybe you feel demoralized and feel a sting of shame over your size. Maybe your weight problem is draining your life energy day by day, and making you feel miserable about yourself and your future. You've internalized a feeling of powerlessness, and every time you try and fail, you subject yourself to more of the same. If you have lived like this for very long, you may have developed an underlying hopelessness. Well, don't you give in to it! No matter how many diets you've tried, no matter how many times you've failed in the past, no matter if you haven't seen your feet in forty years, I want you to stop selling yourself short and reach in a mature and strategic way for all you are capable of doing, being, and having.
If you are ever to get started on the right path to change, there is one important precondition you have to meet. You must rid yourself of that gnawing and overpowering sense of urgency and panic that always seems to appear on the scene, like ants spoiling the fun at a picnic, every time you decide to lose weight or otherwise get in shape. You know these feelings; they nag at you with words like you have to be skinny by summer...you have to be buffed by your birthday...you have to be thin for that job interview...you have do this or that, and so it goes, relentlessly tormenting you to the point of making you want to give up before you start. Go on alert here that this is the language of losers, and if you rely on it, always telling yourself that you have to do something about your plight, you will subvert your own best interests. And the prospect of losing weight and getting healthier will be less agreeable and less manageable with each passing day.
So listen to me: you do not have to do anything. You always have a choice. You can choose to obsess about your weight, or not. You can choose to worry about it, or not. You can choose to panic about your situation, or not. When you choose your behavior and your thoughts, you choose the consequences that flow from those choices. So you must start choosing differently, right here and right now, by being open to this book and everything in it.
Stop telling yourself that you just absolutely "have to" lose weight, because that's a lie. You don't "have to" lose weight. You may want to, you may even need to, but you don't have to. It would be nice if you did, but it isn't something you must do. That's just what you have been telling yourself because you thought it would motivate you. Lying to yourself like this won't help you; trust me. You have to breathe -- no choice there -- but you don't have to lose weight. So instead of all that drama and self-recrimination, I want you to choose to feel very calm and very relaxed. Get up each morning, look at yourself in the mirror, and see yourself not as someone who is overweight or out of shape, but as the someone you will become, a person with a greater level of dignity and worth who, for probably the first time ever, is finally going to succeed -- for a lifetime.
As my friend Maya Angelou has so wisely said, "You did what you knew how to do, and when you knew better, you did better." That's where I want you to be at this point in your life. Whatever you did in the past to try to lose weight, you did what you knew how to do. But as we work together through this book, you will know better and you will do better -- a whole lot better!
Copyright © 2003 by Phillip C. McGraw
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