Lose Weight Without Discipline

Before: 242 lbs. (110 kg)

No matter how much time and effort I spend writing blog posts about self development and shifting your thinking, the question I keep getting over and over again is “How did you lose all of that weight?” So here it is….

Let me start by describing to you the mindset and habits I had years ago that caused me to gain it all:

  • I didn’t eat breakfast, just coffee
  • I was more concerned about feeling full when I sat down to eat
  • When I was stressed out or upset, I used food to soothe myself
  • I obsessed about food–thought about it all day long
  • I didn’t chew very much and was frequently the first one to finish eating
  • I didn’t pay attention to my emotion or self-talk in regards to eating
  • I would say things like “why sacrifice? life is too short” or “who wants to count calories all day long?”

Add all of this to working in excess of 70 hours per week, giving me the perfect excuse not to exercise, and I was topping 240 (110 kgs) in no time. At a height of 5’8″ (173 cm), I was obese at age 31 with pre-hypertension.

The thing that finally changed my thinking was a death in my family, the worst experience of my life. My advice to you is that you make the changes you want in your life now, and don”t wait until somebody close to you passes away. I began to question everything, not just what I was shoving down my throat. So the first thing that started the ball rolling was a simple decision that I want to live a better life, that I deserve a better life, and I was willing to do the work to get there. Once I made that decision, it was time to unblock myself from those habits and negative thoughts that were in my way. See that? I succeeded because I recognized it was mental, not physical. Now, when I say it’s mental, most people nod and say, “Yeah, it’s all about discipline.” Not really. Let me explain.

When you have an achievable goal, something you really want, the only thing that can get in your way is your thinking. If you force yourself through a regimen, sacrifice and suffer all along, you might reach your goal, but the pay-off will never be worth it, and there’s a good chance that you will go back to your old habits. However, if you undo those negative thought patterns and address the emotional issues that are in the way, there is no suffering. You are not sacrificing anything, because you have let go of the perceived obstacles and undone the negative self-talk. When you take away the obstacles and you see your goal as inevitable, your inspiration carries you. You don’t need discipline.

I also did something that I do not recommend. I read about fifty books on nutrition and diet. After all of that work, I found two books that give you all you need based on the latest research and even explains your body’s processes so that the recommendations make sense to just about anyone.  The first one is YOU: On a Diet, by Doctors Oz and Roizen. Yeah, that’s right, the one guy from Oprah who also now has the Dr. Oz Show. The other is Ultrametabolism by Dr. Mark Hyman.  If you’re serious about getting into the best shape of your life, pick up these books. If, later on, you decide you want to get in crazy elite shape, skip the typical gym and check out your local CrossFit.

After: 165 lbs. (75 kg)

The key to what I was doing was making small, permanent changes for the rest of my life. If I couldn’t do it for the rest of my life, I didn’t make the change. No sacrifice. My breakfast is now huge, and I never skip it. I eat at least 2 snacks per day. I use 9-inch plates. I drink my coffee black or with milk, no sugar. I’m not consistent on which day of the week I exercise, but I make sure I always get 3 days of cardio and at least 2 days of strength and/or sprint workouts. Push-ups are one of my best friends, and yoga keeps me injury-free. I lost about 2 pounds per month for 3 years for a total of 75 pounds. In the few years since then, I continue to lose fat and gain muscle, and hover between 165 and 170 pounds (75 and 78 kg). That’s a good idea, by the way–give yourself a weight range, like a boxing class of sorts, rather than a fixed number.

Now that the habits are in place, and the negative self-talk is gone (for the most part), there’s nothing in the way of my continuing these habits. It just happens, like showering, getting dressed or brushing my teeth. My blood pressure is now normal, on the low end. I get my 4 servings of fruit per day. I get my blood work done regularly (typically on or near my birthday–a present to myself). I don’t feel like I need a perfect body. I feel good, I feel healthy, and that’s enough.

What is the story you are telling yourself that’s preventing you from having your best body? When you look in the mirror, what goes through your mind?

About Paul Paul Strobl, MBA, CPC


Paul Strobl is a Personal Coach for CEOs and Business Owners focused on running successful businesses in line with their personal values while nurturing personal and professional relationships. He has extensive cross-cultural experience as a location-independent entrepreneur for the past decade and has traveled, lived in or run a business in over 30 countries. Originally from Houston, Texas, he is currently traveling around the Balkans with his bilingual Argentine mutt Sheila.