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Influencer: The Power to Change Anything (even weight loss)

At my company, each quarter, the managers and executives read and discuss a book that’s particularly relevant to our goals, our values, and our mission. This quarter, we read Influencer by Patterson, et al. The book looks at how people successfully change behavior — basically “what it takes to change anything.”

Interestingly, it wasn’t just about influencing the behavior of others as I expected — the authors also address influencing our own behavior changes. In fact, they have a number of health and fitness examples. A light bulb went off in my head. I am trying to change, to have lasting success. What I have done in the past didn’t work. What do I need to do to change?

It’s not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and THEN do your best.


The keys to influencing change successfully:

  • Don’t focus only on the outcome
  • Focus on behaviors — the vital behaviors — that will determine success. Find them by:
    • Studying the best
    • Study the differences between people who are successful and those who aren’t when faced with the same situation (they talked about even comparing against oneself — a good weight day vs. not, which reminds me of some of Lyn’s posts lately)
    • Search for recovery behaviors — how do successful people get back on track when they slip up?

In my case, I had been focused on the numbers on the scale, or even, as they point out in the book, the old “burn more calories than you eat”, which, at first blush, seems like a behavior, but it’s actually an outcome.

So what are the vital behaviors for weight loss? If you look at the National Weight Control Registry, here’s what their research shows:

  • A little less than 1/2 the people lost the weight on their own and a little over half lost weight with the help of some type of program
  • Most modified their food intake in some way
    • Most eat low calorie, low fat diet
    • Most eat breakfast every day
  • Most increased their physical activity, as well
    • More than 1/2 watch less than 10 hours of TV per week
    • Almost all exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day (reality check!)
    • Most use home equipment or walk
  • Most weight themselves at least once a week, if not daily

So what are the vital behaviors I want to change for myself?

  • I’m loosely using Intuitive Eating for my food changes because of my history of yo-yo dieting. I’m willing to consider at some point that I might have to restrict more, but for now, I’m losing weight and I feel good and I feel like I’m getting rid of some of my compulsiveness around food. I mostly eat fairly low-fat and I must be eating low-calorie enough to lose some weight. So, if it stops working, I’ll reconsider. But for now, this is my plan. I do eat breakfast every day.
  • I don’t watch much TV. I have started exercising on average about 1 hour per day. I was surprised to see most people in the NWCR did this, actually — there’s so much press about 30 minutes 3 or 4 times a week blah blah blah. I thought I was doing more than “needed.” Guess not! I have both home equipment and a gym membership that I use.
  • My goal is to weigh myself once a week for now. I get a little crazy when I weigh myself more. Maybe at some point it will just be data, but right now, it often determines how good or bad my day is going to be and often is as much a demotivator as a motivator.

And what about those recovery behaviors? In the book, they give some examples: catch it early, don’t try to play catch-up, adjust the plan if necessary to make it more doable. What I like best, because it reflects what I’m trying to do, is to experiment with what actually works rather than relying on any one thing. I’m looking at this whole experience as a series of experiments — and I’m keeping what works and ditching what doesn’t.

Once you know what to focus on — the vital behaviors — then work on influencing those behaviors. But how? We change when we:

  • Believe it will be worth it
  • Can do what is required

If you can agree with these two things, you will most likely at least try to change. (This was eye-opening for me, because, while I believed losing weight was worth it, I didn’t believe I could do what was required.) But, how do you get yourself to buy in and do it? “The great persuader is personal experience.” It can be direct, or vicarious. (Like reading your blogs, you amazing people, you :-))

I’ll continue this topic in the next day or two and talk about six ways to make that change happen and share how I’m employing them in my effort to change my own behavior to lose weight. I’ll also be sharing some links to health and fitness-related posts by the book authors that I found really instructive, as well as a self-assessment and a worksheet you can use to plan your own strategy.

So share with us!

  • What are the vital behaviors you see successful weight losers using (or that you use)?
  • What about recovery behaviors?
  • Do you believe it’s worth it?
  • Do you think you can do it?

And join us tomorrow for the rest of the discussion!

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Fri, October 3 2008 » Motivation, Persistence, Strategy, Useful tools

11 Responses

  1. Crabby McSlacker October 3 2008 @ 7:42 am

    Great reminder to not focus so much on outcomes, but on the behaviors that lead to success! I think that’s really important, but so many people get caught up with numbers on a scale.

  2. Annette October 3 2008 @ 8:47 am

    I believe so much of what we do in life can be influenced by our mindset. If we think we are going to fail, we fail. If we tell ourselves, I will do this……………watch me fly :) Great post!

  3. Jodi October 3 2008 @ 8:51 am

    Wow, good post! Most successful maintainers I know do a few things I am working on: working out at least an hour daily (if I do less, the scale doesn’t move!), eating breakfast (I suck!), and staying away from processed foods. And as much as I say I don’t need it, most are WW folks or some other structured plan people.

    I know I can lose weight because I’ve done it before…it just gets harder each time I have to do it again. So, I need to brush up on recovery techniques to keep it off for good this time!

  4. Kim October 3 2008 @ 9:00 am

    Hey! Thanks so much for visiting my blog!! This is a great post, and something I am REALLY happy to have read today. Thanks for the motivation to keep moving forward. :)

  5. M October 3 2008 @ 10:20 am

    Fantastic post…so much insight! Thank you!

  6. Leigh Anne October 3 2008 @ 11:47 am

    I definitely struggle with the last two. I wonder if it’s worth it when I want some chocolate or chips. Then it seems not so bad to be my size. But when I try to shop for clothes or get uncomfortable around other people due to my size it is definitely worth it.

    As for do I think I can do it? This is something I struggle with daily. I frequently feel that if I don’t KNOW 100% that I’m going to succeed I’ve very hesitant to get started.

    But I’m started on this journey and more days than not I feel like I can do it and it is worth it.

  7. Arlene October 3 2008 @ 6:42 pm

    Thanks for commenting on my blog. Yours is interesting. I was surprised to read that most people exercise on home equipment or walk. I have an elliptical cross trainer and need to get back to using it.

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  10. Kahn March 7 2015 @ 1:51 pm

    Officially, it is only when you can keep your heart rate between 70%-80% of your maximum that you can get away with 1:30/week (3 sessions of 30min or any variation). Otherwise, you will need to do longer cardiovascular workouts for equal benefit.

    This was the toughest part for me to accept because in preferring home workouts, it was necessary to purchase a heart monitor. And, of course, once I did, my workouts finally gave me the results I expected. My main gripe with exercise is how much of a time sink it appears to be. Although the heart monitor helps decrease the time it takes, I also have to tell myself it’s not robbing me of anything more important that I need to do.

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4 Pings

  1. Weight Loss » Blog Archive » Influencer: The Power to Change Anything (even weight loss) October 3 2008 @ 6:54 am
  2. Part 2, Influencer: The Power to Change Anything | October 6 2008 @ 7:29 am
  3. Part 3, Influencer: The Power to Change Anything | October 9 2008 @ 5:30 am
  4. eBay and the Brain: What Psychology Teaches Us about the Economic Downturn (and healthy behaviors): Scientific American | December 18 2008 @ 2:27 pm