How I succeeded with weight loss after I stopped dieting

I have often achieved weight loss by strict dieting— the same five pounds over and over again. The hunger and deprivation! And every time, in less time than it took to lose it, I put the weight back on again.

I failed at losing weight and failed at keeping the weight off until I stopped dieting. That's when I lost 30 pounds and I haven't regained a single pound. I don't intend to either, because I believe that after quitting smoking weight loss was the single most important thing I did to improve my heart health.

When I tell you how I lost 25 of those pounds in 15 weeks, you may think that this is just a money-making weight loss gimmick. Except, I'm not going to charge you a cent, because I didn't invent this weight loss method. Dr. Maxwell Maltz did, almost 50 years ago, and it's called psycho-cybernetics. Don't let the name put you off. The concept is quite simple and can be applied to any goal you desire, including weight loss. Maxwell Maltz was a plastic surgeon who developed psycho-cybernetics as a method for helping people overcome negative self-images. I applied Dr Maltz's ideas to weight loss and dieting.

The approach worked for me and may be the key to weight loss for you too.

"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe."

Anatole France, 1844-1924, French novelist, quote by Tom Venuto

How I used Psycho-Cybernetics to Achieve Weight Loss

When I decided to succeed at weight loss, I knew that I would have to do some research about which weight loss techniques work and which do not. In about one month, my conscious mind had enough information to attain weight loss safely and without losing muscle and bone.

At this point, I remembered my experience when I tried to quit smoking: all the knowledge in the world would not have helped if I could not convince the unconscious mind that my new goal was the road to a better life. I used psycho-cybernetics successfully to quit smoking and decided to use psycho-cybernetics to lose weight.

But first the facts about weight loss and then how I used psycho-cybernetics to reach my goal.

What I Discovered about Weight Loss

The first thing I discovered is that what we should aim for is fat loss and muscle/bone gain, not weight loss. Focusing on weight loss is a big mistake, because restricting calories without exercise can result in muscle and bone loss. If we restrict calories by only 10% or 20% and walk one hour every day, we will lose fat, with the assurance that we are not losing muscle and bone too. Better still, if we add progressive weight training three times a week, we can regain some of the muscle and bone already lost through years of inactivity. Restoring muscle and bone together with fat loss should be our aim, not weight loss, which is merely a side effect. For the rest of this article, I will refer to fat loss rather than weight loss.

Sidebar: Rocket science tells us that without the force of gravity, astronauts lose muscle and bone. Even on the Earth's surface, if we don't get an hour or so of exercise every day, our bodies decay. How? If we don't use our muscles, the body throws them into its metabolic furnace, burning muscle as fuel, all the while conserving the fat, preparing for a famine that will never come. Like astronauts, if we don't stress our bones regularly, the body slowly disposes of them down the toilet in our urine. Lack of exercise will put you in a wheelchair or confine you to bed years before your time.

Knowledge is not Enough

Gaining knowledge about diets and exercise is an important step, but not sufficient by itself. Why? Because there is no way that the conscious mind can override a lifetime of subconscious desires and habits that make up a "lifestyle". The subconscious mind will sabotage every attempt to force fat loss by will power. The subconscious has to have a goal that it accepts, a goal presented in the only language it knows: images. The images can be both "carrot" and "stick". The "carrots" can be images showing the benefits of fat loss, while the "sticks" can be images showing the evils of carrying excess fat. However, if excess fat has already battered your self-image, it might be better to stick to "carrots".

Start by Setting a Goal

What would be my fat loss goal? I set myself the task of achieving the same weight as when I was a young adult. I studied some old photographs, one at age 48 when I got married for the first and only time. That would not do, because by then I had already developed a bulging belly. So I went back to age 33, when I still wore trousers with a 30-inch (75 cm) waistband and still weighed 132 pounds (60 kg) at a height of 67 inches (170 cm). That was it then, my goal—my cybernetic target—was 132 pounds and a 30-inch waistline. I needed a fat loss of 30 pounds. Now I had the goal, all I had to do was get the goal into my subconscious and let the autopilot work out how to achieve fat loss.

Sidebar: Body weight can be used to monitor change in body fat because fat loss occurs much faster than muscle and bone gain. Monitoring body fat by direct measurement is possible, but unreliable for intervals of less than about three months. Weight loss is used only as an indicator of fat loss, which is the real goal.

How to Tap into the Subconscious Mind to Achieve Fat Loss

The job is to get your goal into the subconscious mind—to put imagination to work. I call this "setting the autopilot." These are the steps to reset the autopilot:

To apply imagination, lie down and close your eyes. Relax, counting back from 50 to zero, visualizing the numbers on the black screen in front of your eyes. When you get to 15, pause between the numbers, and during the pause tell yourself you are relaxing your right leg. Do the same at each pause with arms, neck, hands, feet, one body part for each pause between the numbers. As you think the word "relax", let go the body part, feeling it feel heavy and relaxed.

When you get to zero tell yourself, "Every day I am getting better and better. Every day I am getting closer to [some words to describe your goal]." Do not allow negative thoughts to intrude in the form of doubts. Do not use words, such as "fat loss". This is critically important: the subconscious is not rational. Picture the goal as already attained and the subconscious will accept the image as a real goal.

In this relaxed state, imagine going shopping for new smaller clothes. Imagine finding what you want on the rack and looking at the size label. Then imagine going into the changing room and taking off the baggy clothes that don't fit anymore. Imagine putting on the smaller-size new clothes and seeing yourself in the mirror. Visualize what you will look like with a smaller waist and firmer muscles. Imagine the stronger denser bones supporting the muscles. Imagine how gracefully you walk now that you are so fit.

[If this is difficult, try to find photos from when you really were slimmer. Study these before beginning the session. Remember that you are not trying to look like someone else. You are trying to allow yourself to reappear in a new form.]

Now imagine yourself deciding just to wear the new clothes out of the shop. You tell the clerk to bag up your old clothes and carry the bag out of the shop, wearing the new clothes. They fit perfectly. You walk out of the shop and down the street. You meet some friends you haven't seen for a long time. At first they don't recognize you...

Repeating this procedure several times a week will fix a target in your subconscious mind, a target that you will home in on without an effort of will. The more you elaborate a new self-image, the more likely the subconscious will accept it. Dr Maltz said that 21 days was long enough to begin to see changes in behavior.

This sounds too simple to be true! Yes, but the part of the brain we are trying to access is not rational: the level of its intelligence is about that of a reptile. But when it comes to eating and drinking, this is the part of the brain that controls the food intake and calories burned through exercise. Using will power and rational words to tell the reptile brain not to eat and to exercise more is useless. We must present the reptile brain with an image of something more desirable than food. We must present the end result in the form of images.

The Results of my Fat Loss Program

I reached close enough to my goal to say that this approach to fat loss was successful because I have redefined myself.

Let me illustrate this point. I used to be a "pastry and sweets" sort of guy. I loved cheesecake with my tea or coffee. Now, when I make tea or coffee and my wife asks me for half of the slice of the cheesecake she bought, I don't even take a bite of the cheesecake. Not that I don't like pastry anymore—eating cheesecake just does not fit with my new definition of self, my new self-image.

I don't have to struggle to deny myself pastry, because I am giving myself something better than pastry: improved health and appearance through fat loss and muscle/bone gain.

I aimed for 132 pounds and reached 136 pounds. I aimed for a 30-inch waistline, and have reached 32 inches, not my goal but a big drop from 37 inches. I now wear the slimline clothes from the shop in my dreams. No more baggy shirts and trousers.

Sidebar: I have now moved the goal-posts. My new goal is to regain the same ratio of fat, muscle and bone as when I was a young adult. This means losing about 15 pounds more fat and gaining 10 pounds more muscle and bone, with a net weight loss of only 5 pounds. I am dreaming my dream and am now on autopilot, working out with weights twice per week. I expect to achieve my goal in 5 years, by age 79. My role model, Dr Bob, started at age 69 and reached his peak at 78. Dr Bob Delmonteque at age 84.

Fred's Rules for Fat Loss

To achieve fat loss we have to consume fewer calories than we burn. I didn't count calories, but let the autopilot do the work. I did maintain a calorie deficit, mainly from walking six hours per week and strength-training three hours per week. These rules lead to an "almost painless" way to do it:
  • Keep working on the dream until it is as real as life.
  • Walk an hour a day and switch to a diet of unrefined food. Unrefined food means food as it comes from the field with all the fiber intact.
  • Cut out junk food, including junk drinks, but don't adopt an extreme diet. If you lose more than 1.5% of your body weight per week (2 pounds/1kg) you are over-shooting the target.
  • Maintain a balance of carbohydrates, fat and protein unless your doctor advises otherwise. (See below for details.)
  • Build muscle and bone through progressive weight training.
  • Aim for 0.75 gram of protein per pound of body weight (1.6 g/kg), an amount 60% higher than the RDA.
  • Use weight loss only as an indirect way of measuring fat loss.

Balanced Diet

For 80% of the population, the split of energy sources could be 50% carbohydrate, 20% fats, and 30% protein. This is the basis for Tom Venuto's approach, Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle.

I didn't learn about Tom's program until after I got close to my weight goal. In my opinion, Tom's program incorporates most of the good advice I had gleaned from the programs of leading cardiologists, such as Robert Superko, Dean Ornish, and Arthur Agatston. Tom also clearly explains how fat loss differs from weight loss. Further information can be found at Yahoo from members of BFFM, the support group for Tom's program, with 4,000 members. URL:

Note: About 20% of the population need an "unbalanced" diet low in carbohydrates or low in fats or low in certain protein foods. However, an unbalanced diet should be adopted only to deal with a known chronic disease and only on the advice of a physician. For most people, what counts is calories in and calories out, not the exact percentages of macro-nutrients (carbs, fat, and protein).

Better Nutrition not Dieting

Inspiration is the key, but it's not enough. To achieve our goals we need guidance about nutrition. The following links provide expert advice that I found helpful.

How to Lose Fat through Better Nutrition and Exercise