Bob Greene: Finding Your Best Self

Many of the people who read SUCCESS have achieved great things in their professional lives. They often find, however, that great success in one area of their lives has nothing to do with whether they are controlling their weight. Struggles with weight often don’t discriminate. The reality is that 95 to 97 percent of all people have some weight they want to lose.

Why is weight loss so difficult for people— especially those who have experienced sweet success in other parts of their lives? Let me shed some light.

There’s more to it than food. People who set out to lose weight want to make it all about food—what they should and shouldn’t be eating. Some add exercise into the mix and ask, how much do I exercise? While those are all parts of a good program, the irony is that, in the end, people who are successful at overcoming issues with weight tackle something else much greater. It’s more about how they view themselves and their lives than about what they should and shouldn’t eat.

Most people know what they should and shouldn’t be eating, and they know to be active. It’s not magic.

The magic: Treat weight loss like you treat your business. High achievers understand hard work can result in professional success. But so many people don’t want to follow that same rule to lose weight. They want to jump on the next miracle bandwagon. When it comes to our health, we’re used to taking a pill and having our symptoms go away. I think that’s part of the problem. We’re always looking for the miracle.

The magic of weight-loss success comes with realizing some simple truths:

Give up on the shortcuts. Successful weight loss takes work, discipline and, more than anything, knowing exactly what you want. In your career, you’ve probably envisioned where you see yourself in two years, in five years. Have you applied that same formula to the weightloss process? You know what it takes to strive for business and career success. Focus the same way on losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight.

The reality is that there is no shortcut to weight loss. You have to put in the work. That work first involves exercise. So many people decide to lose weight fast by giving up lots of foods. They want it to be about food because it’s easier to take something away than it is to incorporate something new. Especially in today’s society, people don’t want to get on the treadmill. In the last 30 years, exercise has diminished. We don’t move. New neighborhoods don’t have sidewalks. Physical education is no longer mandatory in schools. Thanks to technology, we don’t have to get out of our chairs.

Some would disagree, but taking that first step and starting to exercise is easy. You only have to make the time for exercise and do it. The amount of exercise you do should be based on a question successful businesspeople ask: What is it you want to accomplish? If you want to be the CEO of a corporation, you’re probably going to have to put in more time. Using that analogy for exercise, the more exercise you do, the higher a level you will reach in weight loss and muscle tone.

Never do anything that’s temporary. When you make a change in your life, let yourself know that you’re making a lifetime commitment to giving up some things and adding others. When it comes to exercise, for example, you don’t incorporate it into your lifestyle only until you lose weight but, rather, for the rest of your life.

Understand why you struggle with weight. When people struggle with their weight, it’s usually not because they hate exercise or love certain foods. Most people have an emotional component that’s tied to why they don’t exercise and why they’re comforted by food. Understanding the emotional component is extremely important in successful weight loss. What are your triggers? Are you unhappy in your career? Your relationship? Friendships? Why does food satisfy something other than physical hunger?

The two most common, socially acceptable coping mechanisms in life are overworking and overeating. Society accepts these overindulgences we use for comfort. Since we are so prone to using these coping mechanisms, it becomes important to find other healthier outlets.

Balance is key. The most successful people find balance in life. Focusing too much on weight loss can impede your success. Never say, “I’ll be happy when I reach this weight.” There are only two outcomes to that thinking: Either you don’t reach the weight goal or you find out that weight wasn’t the source of your unhappiness. Weight is a symptom of what you must identify and overcome.

Don’t make it about numbers. I don’t see the magic in striving to reach weight-loss numbers. Your ideal weight is individual. I’ve found that most people are pretty realistic about what they’d like to weigh based on what makes them feel and look good. And that doesn’t mean model-thin.

Take the first step today. Change your thinking. Remember: There are no gimmicks. Weight loss requires long-term thinking. You have to exercise and gradually modify the way you eat over time. Crash diets, where you narrow food choices to the point that it’s uninteresting to eat, will cause you to rebel and fall back into old eating habits. Try this approach: Toss this out, throw this in as a replacement, gradually make some changes and eliminate those foods that get you in trouble.

Read why Bob Greene recommends keeping a food journal on


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