02/04/2013 01:00 pm ET Updated Apr 03, 2013

The Hacker's Guide to Weight Loss

Today, use of the term "hacker" mainly refers to computer criminals. But often hackers are not lawbreakers. As a matter of fact many hackers are savvy and entrepreneurial. Often, hackers are people who get a kick out of figuring out ways to buck the system.

Hackers thrive on finding back-door entrances to cryptic systems. Almost always we think of hackers as engineers who hack to find better methods that save time/energy/money or all of the above, but many times in the health and fitness world, there are smart techniques we can use to improve our health and fitness level. It's possible to figure out a way to hack your way to the life you want.

Do you think controlling your weight is impossible? Do you find your weight struggles agonizing to deal with or incongruous with the way you are living?

Phenomenal accomplishments can occur when plain, ordinary regular people don't realize that what they are doing is improbable. Have you seen the movie Rudy?

Penicillin, potato chips, the pacemaker, Silly Putty and fireworks were all invented by curious, stubborn people who were looking for other things and were not stymied when they were looking for one thing and found another. And if they'd known they couldn't do it, they might never have attempted it in the first place. Hackers have often witnessed one individual or tiny groups making important inventions while bigger businesses were limited by thinking it wasn't worth trying.

Once you realize that you can empower yourself to outfox your own limitations and you start to think of yourself as someone who can lose weight and be healthier, then you are emancipated from your own limiting self-beliefs. You aren't watching your thin life pass you by. You are the boss of your body. You are now a hacker. By getting around the limitations that caused you to gain weight in the first place, you are hacking the most amazingly complex system in the universe: your own body.

Losing weight provides an interesting look at the irony of how we deal with our own consciousness, the distinction between mind and body. Weight loss concerns the body at its most basic level: Eat more and gain weight, eat less and lose weight. But the reasons we can't lose weight mostly come from the nuances of psychology as opposed to the biology of our body. Your brain can be your most powerful weapon or your worst enemy.

The best way to get to your goal is to have enormous pressure to succeed. If the doctor sees something on your latest angiogram and tells you that you will need surgery or die if you don't start exercising and/or lose weight, then it's easier to get up off the couch and get moving. If you watch The Biggest Loser, you will also see performance under a different kind of pressure. When we are pressed for bigger motivations to overcome our own inclinations of laziness or apathy, we not only get results, but we also are transformed.

To stay at your ideal weight, you must eat just the right amount. To eat the right amount, over the long haul of your lifetime, you need an incentive to follow that guidance. Watching the weather forecast doesn't make you dress appropriately for the weather, but it provides the information you need if you want to dress comfortably

Whether you've always had a weight problem, have been up and down with binges and purges, or have just gradually added a pound or two over the decades, the main tools you need are exactly the same as the main tools you need to get anywhere in your life:

  • Willpower
  • A specific, measurable, realistic, trackable goal that you can be accountable to
  • A high threshold for discomfort

The bigger the goal (or the more weight you need to lose) the more satisfying it will be to reach it (or lose it). That's why it's sometimes hard to lose those last six pounds; the satisfaction is not as dramatic as when you lose 100 pounds.

The hack in anything is the ability to delay immediate gratification in exchange for a more lasting and satisfying goal.

Alcoholics Anonymous uses this hack to keep its disciples on the program. It's called "One Day at a Time." Ask anyone who has completed a successful first year in the program and they will tell you that the small daily nos accumulate to a big yes for the life they were meant to live. Being willing to suffer some discomfort right now will invite the bigger you to come alive. It will penetrate not only you and your body, but all of your relationships, as well.

This is also what it takes to lose weight. If you have a very accomplished life but are obese or overweight, the only thing you need to do is make weight loss as important a goal as those other things in life where you've succeeded. Go about weight loss like all the other accomplished areas of your life. Make a specific plan and stick with the initial discomfort until you get there.

It's like brushing your teeth, getting groceries for dinner, or getting the oil changed in the car. You don't schedule an appointment with the dentist and then say to yourself at the last minute, "I really don't feel like going today." You get the job done, and done right, as soon as you can and with minimal whining. That's how we become successful business people and that's what it takes to be healthy in general and to lose weight in particular. When we just grit our teeth and make these small daily changes, they allow us to accomplish what we were called to do in this life.

Dormant within each of us is the power to be at our optimal weight for the remainder of our lives. You just need to realize that your weight is within your conscious control. Know that, and you can achieve it.

For more by Penny Love Hoff, click here.

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