As anyone who has read his books or watched his TV talk show can tell you, Phil McGraw has a way with words - and his are blunt, direct, and designed to provide, as he puts it, "a wake-up call." So when it comes to weight loss, Dr. Phil isn't about to pull any punches. Though he has outlined several steps to help people shed pounds for good, he also wants people to tackle the reasons why they've failed in the past.
"There are three obstacles that people have to overcome if they want to stop being immobilized," McGraw says. "The first is to get over the idea that emotion alone can get you through this. I don't care how pumped up or psyched you are to start a new diet or a new program - that emotion will fade. If you feel like you're not seeing a big payoff right away, it's so easy to want to give up. I guarantee that your initial enthusiasm is going to burn out, and you're going to eventually cycle out of that rah-rah mode."
Once your inner cheerleader has gone on strike, McGraw says, real progress can begin. "You have an infinitely greater chance of succeeding if you can reprogram your life to sustain you when your emotions fade. You have to set up your environment so that once your emotional commitment wavers, your physical surroundings will reinforce you. Build exercise into your schedule. Throw away fattening foods. You can't eat what's not there. Successful weight loss takes programming, not willpower."
The second obstacle most people face, according to McGraw, goes beyond diet and exercise. "Eighty percent of all choices are based on fear," he says. "Most people don't choose what they want; they choose what they think is safe." When it comes to losing weight, fear keeps many people from addressing the emotional reasons why they eat and from looking for a better way to handle those emotions. "People don't get overweight just because of what they eat," McGraw explains. "They get overweight because of how, where, when, and why they eat. Food is a coping mechanism; people are afraid of giving it up because then they'll feel confused and lost. So you have to replace your destructive patterns with constructive ones that don't center on food."
The third and final obstacle, warns McGraw, is choosing the path of least resistance. "Believe me, I understand it's not easy to change," he says. "The number one need we all have is to be accepted, to belong. And the world isn't pulling for us to act differently, think differently, choose differently. If you decide to be an agent for change, you have to be prepared for others to feel threatened and resist what you're trying to do. But stay committed to getting what you want, and eventually you'll find your supporters and overcome what stood in your way."