THE BLOG

Success in Weight Loss, as in Life, Is a Result of Good Mental Health

04/29/2013 03:45 pm ET | Updated Jun 29, 2013

Recently, I was a guest on Health IQ with Heidi Godman, a one-hour talk show hosted by Heidi Godman, executive editor of the Harvard Health Letter. When she was the ABC7 medical editor, I was a frequent guest, talking about my book, my weight-loss program, and permanent weight loss.

In the call-in segments during the TV shows, Heidi asked about "tips" and "tricks" that would solve the problem, and callers asked about what diets work best, what to eat and what not to eat. Heidi and the callers were always frustrated, because my answers were not what they thought they should be. We don't use diets. There are no lists of what to eat and what to avoid. We eat what we like and develop habits of eating the right caloric volumes. No, we don't have to exercise to lose weight. My answers flew in the face of what they believed about weight loss. They wanted what I say to sound like what they have heard other "experts" say, but it doesn't. It won't, because rather than diets, the real solution is in creating good mental health -- the thinking, beliefs, habits and attitudes that will generate healthy behavior and a healthy body. The solution is in training the mind to produce the result you want, like an athlete or musician trains himself to produce success in what they want. Success is not a matter of tips, tricks, choosing what instrument to play, what diet to try or simply wanting it badly enough. The solution is a matter of learning the mental skills that will produce the result, and then training in those skills until they become the way you think and live, habitually.

I lost 140 pounds after 25 years of dieting failure when I discovered a method based on what I learned being a therapist and addictions counselor. For the past 30 years, I've been teaching others. Thousands have learned how to solve their weight problem with my method, and two of them were with me on Heidi's show that recent day. One was Rennie Carter, who lost 55 pounds and has kept it off for four years and looks like a runway model. The other was Rita Young, a licensed mental health counselor who lost 35 pounds, ended her constant fight against weight gain, and then trained to become a provider of my method in Tampa. She is now one of a score of therapists trained to provide my program around the country, my goal to have therapists in every city doing this work, eventually solving the obesity epidemic. Listening in was Laurie Swanson, who has lost over 100 pounds after reading my book and becoming a Huffington Post weight loss success story.

Heidi asked each of us for the tips and tricks that made us successful, and I think she thought we were hiding things when each of us said things that did not sound like the secret trick that would finally cause weight loss. Tips and tricks won't solve the problem. It would be like giving someone tips to perform a piano concert tonight when they have no idea how to play the piano. Losing weight permanently is not a result of tips and diets. It is the result of learning a new way to think, establishing healthy thinking habits and behavior habits. It's a matter of establishing good mental health using techniques from cognitive behavior therapy and what I call "Therapeutic Psychogenics," self-management techniques. With them, it becomes natural to think, act and eat in ways that make you fit.

We train and practice in skills to create this, like you'd practice with a sport or music. Pretty soon, you pick up your instrument and beautiful music comes out and it's not that hard. But it's not the result of learning some tips or tricks or talking about different diets. It's about learning and training in the mental skills to produce good mental health, and then the rest follows.

This new mentality works beyond weight loss, too. I love it when clients who have lost great amounts of weight, confident they have solved their weight problem, tell me that losing weight was not the most important thing they have gotten from my program. They have new beliefs about themselves and their possibilities, new ways of looking at things, new ways to solve problems, and new power to solve them. They become more successful in all aspects of their lives. Success in weight loss, as in life, is the result of good mental health. With that, everything else gets the chance to get better.

William Anderson is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in weight loss, eating disorders and addictions. He is the creator of "Therapeutic Psychogenics", which helped him lose 140 pounds permanently thirty years ago after years of obesity and dieting failure. He has written a book about it, The Anderson Method, and he is teaching these techniques to individuals and therapists all over the country.

For more by William Anderson, MA, LMHC, click here.

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