4 Key Statements That Will Increase Your Long-Term Health Success
“Last week you weighed…this week your current weight is…”
These statements still haunt me a little. Anyone who is a fan of reality TV, especially The Biggest Loser, is familiar with these words. Every week people would tune in to see how his or her “favorite” contestants were doing in their highly publicized health journey. However, I learned it means something completely different when you are on the other side of the camera.
When I made it on The Biggest Loser, I was convinced (like most are) that this was a miracle opportunity. All my years of struggling with my health were over. I had been given a great opportunity, which in 6 months would cure a sickness I had developed over 43 years. I didn’t realize that my thoughts were right and wrong at the same time.
Statistics of success from those who were health related reality show contestants are pretty sobering. Roughly 75-80% gain all their original weight back, usually within a year. Of that group, 50% will end up weighing more than they did originally. Many retreat into “hiding” of sorts due to the massive backlash from the media when the weight begins to reappear. “Fans” are not necessarily kind. Former contestants are ridiculed, shamed, and guilted into believing they blew an opportunity where others would have had success. Clearly, these shows are not exactly the solution everyone believes them to be.
Ultimately this is because the thing none of us thought much about was what happens when the cameras stop? What does life look like when we head home from this experience? There really wasn’t much talk or planning about how to maintain the success. We all came to realize that the journey wasn’t over after the show; in fact it had really just begun.
I determined that I would not be one of those statistics. I learned quickly that my goal had to be long-term health success. There were many great things I had learned but I now had to wade through them and find the things that were practical for real life. It has taken some time and changes but after 4 years, I still live a life free from excessive weight, free from medications, and free from the physical struggles I once had.
So how can you truly become healthy for life? Begin by accepting these key thoughts:
1. Accept that life-long health is continual work – I sure hate to burst your bubble, but there just isn’t a quick fix. You never “arrive”. If you truly want to be healthy, then you must own the fact that it must become a part of who you are for life. It does get easier but it always requires effort.
2. Success in health is more than a number – This may seem a bit hypocritical coming from a guy whose health success started on a TV show with a giant scale each week. But, speaking from experience, there have got to be other motivating indicators when the scale stops moving. How much energy do you have? Are clothes fitting differently?
3. Creating short-term goals will get you to your long-term objective – Too many times people want to get healthy all at once. Fact is that we simply can’t fix everything all at once. There is either too much to do or the change is too overwhelming; which is why so many people revert back to old habits. Develop checkpoints you want to reach that are all heading towards your goal. Reaching each of these will continually move you closer and make the overall task less daunting!
4. Give yourself grace – You are not perfect. In many ways, in our world, you are swimming upstream when you choose to live healthy. There will be great days, but there will be bad days. On those days, it’s important to learn where it went wrong and then choose to let your next decision be a good one. But…leave it in the past. Forgive yourself and move forward.
One thing I’ve learned clearly is that it is all worth it. There was nothing magical about that TV show…there is nothing I did there that you couldn’t do today. No matter what your current health, life circumstance or size of your budget; you can do it. The choice is in your hands.
There is a life waiting for you that you don’t even realize exists. Make the effort; own and live these truths and you will see the long-term health success that you desire.
(Mark is the founder of SweatCor and was a contestant on season 13 on The Biggest Loser. He is the author of UNDRESSED: Taking Everything Off and Putting on What Matters Most. He and his wife now travel across the U.S. to speak on health and wellness to encourage others in their health journey. You can follow Mark on Twitter @sweatcor.)