12/03/2012 05:53 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2013

Getting Out of the 'Defeat Whirlpool'!

Since I tipped the scales at 360 pounds when I'd just turned 17, I know how daunting a task it can seem to have over 150 pounds of fat to lose! I tried every plan under the sun -- the pills, the drinks, the machines, the trainers -- and every time I would make some progress and backslide. If you've ever tried to lose weight, you may have had the same experience. Eventually I came to realize something was missing in most weight-loss plans. I found the missing link was developing the right mindset and lost 160 pounds, have kept it off and have committed my life to teaching others the mental principles that make change happen -- and last. Countless clients of mine have lost over 100 lbs each with my strategies and have kept it off!

We start our new endeavors with the best of intentions. Otherwise we wouldn't start at all! But every journey has its stumbles, and it is how we react to these stumbles that determines whether we follow through to the end or trip and fall. And if we do trip and fall, then it is how we react that determines whether we get back up again and complete our journey. As my friend Tony Robbins says, "It's not what happens to us that matters, but rather what we do with it!"

When we start a diet and exercise program we look at people on TV and think, "One day I'll look like that!" We cut out pictures from magazines and post them on our mirrors. We start our new diet plans and go shopping, and if we're smart we throw out any food items in the house that do not match our new lifestyle, to avoid unnecessary temptation. We follow the program for one day, two days, five days, maybe even a month or two -- and then something happens. Our friends want us to go out to a sports bar to watch the game, and of course the table is filled with beer, pizza and wings. We have a bad day at work and decide a little ice cream will make us feel better. After a long day, a busy evening with the kids and a spat with our significant other we decide to chill in front of the TV with a bag of Doritos instead of going to the gym. And the next thing you know, we're totally off our diet and exercise plan until the next time. Has this happened to you?

Many of my clients have come to me with stories like this: They've followed their plans all week, then on Friday they decide they've been so good they'll have just one donut with their co-workers. But they're so hungry at that point one donut turns into two. They start to feel like they've blown their diet for the day anyway, so they might as well go out and blow it at lunch too. That night, the frenzy continues as they inhale a double-cheese pizza and down a few margaritas. After all, they've blown their diet for the day anyway, right? That night, they devour a giant bag of popcorn and guzzle a two-liter bottle of soda. They feel out of control, manic. Sometimes they will even shake as they shovel food into their mouths, like they can't get it in fast enough.

The next day they wake up feeling miserable and extremely guilty. At this point many, many people give up. They feel like if they messed up that badly then what's the point of trying to continue? Their whole diet is ruined.

You may have done this yourself. Does it sound familiar? But I want to ask you something -- when you're reading a story about someone who's made the decision to completely stop a diet and exercise plan because of one night of bingeing, doesn't that sound crazy? Why should one night decide their success -- or lack thereof -- for the rest of their life?

Most people who are changing their diet and exercise lifestyle will encounter a time like this at some point. The key is to remember that you are changing your lifestyle, not following some two-week weight-loss program whereby you will then go back to your normal life again after reaching some number. You will have to view your new habits as part of who you are. Much like an athlete who breaks a bone but keeps training in whatever way he/she can, you have to realize a setback cannot be allowed to stop you. Seen as one night in part of an entire healthy-living life, one night is really not the end of the world. But that doesn't mean it's okay to do this! The very best way to succeed is to avoid times like this altogether.

That's why I recommend, when people follow my scary-easy plan in my book Think and Grow Thin, that they follow it to the letter without the slightest variation. Healthy eating and exercise has to become as basic as hygiene to you. It's much too easy for one donut, or one piece of chocolate, or one beer, to become a night of gorging. When you avoid these trigger foods you get used to eating healthy. You look forward to eating the foods that nourish you and make you lean, and you develop a healthy fear of the foods that make you fat.

So now the question is: How do you avoid eating the donut in the first place? Here are a few tactics that will help you:

1. Stave off hunger! Make sure you always eat three meals and two snacks every single day. Replacing spontaneity with strategy is key. Having a balanced food plan of lean protein coupled with low glycemic carbs and healthy fats will bring about the changes you're looking for!

2. Make it convenient! Always have your healthy food on hand. If it's 3:00 p.m., you're starving and have nothing to eat when your coworkers bring out the donuts, chances are better that you'll cave. Plan so the foods you need to follow your healthy-eating plan are always there when you need them!

3. Check online! If you're going somewhere and you know you'll be tempted, eat something beforehand. If, for example, you're going to a restaurant and you know the breadbasket will tempt you, then eat a snack of some almonds and an apple before you go. Then you'll be able to hang on 'til your healthy main course. Staying hydrated helps, too!

4. Plot out not to pig out! Plan ahead. You know you're meeting your family at a restaurant. You know there will be food items that tempt you. Look at the menu ahead of time, decide what you can have and then make sure to order your food without sauces or added butter or cream.

5. Redefine the diet! Change the way you think of the word "diet." "Diet" means eating plan. Nothing more and nothing less. Whatever you eat on a regular basis is your diet. If you have a healthy diet, you will be lean and healthy. If you have an unhealthy diet, you will be overweight, unhealthy and feel terrible. Choose to have a healthy diet.

6. Shift your identity! Change the way you look at yourself. When you think of yourself as being a lean and healthy person, your actions will follow. You are a lean and healthy person underneath your extra fat! Live like one! Your belief system is driving your behaviors whether or not you realize it -- analyze your underlying thoughts about yourself and create an identity that is alignment with your highest purpose and goals!

These tips should all help you to avoid a situation like one I laid out earlier. But if you do falter, remember it is not the end of the world, and it shouldn't be the end of your plan to get lean and healthy. Just go right back to your healthy lifestyle. Probably every lean and healthy person you know has experienced some time when they do not follow their diet plan for one reason or another. But what keeps them lean is that they go right back to their healthy plan remembering who they truly are -- a healthy, fit, motivated and focused individual! And that way, they stay lean forever.

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