Are You Ready?

It is now estimated that 86 percent of our population will be overweight by 2030 — an epidemic! Now considered the leading cause of preventable death in America (smoking is number two), obesity is acknowledged as one of the medical conditions most resistant to permanent treatment " even harder to treat than cancer, by many accounts. If you're like most people who go on diets, you will regain your lost weight after one year, and very few of you will ever achieve lasting weight loss.

If you're overweight or obese, you're putting your health on the line. You are at the highest risk of heart disease, stroke, some cancers, type II diabetes, gallbladder problems, arthritis, and early death. That means a whole lot of you are barreling toward a medical disaster and cheating yourself out of longevity. Surely, you do not want to be part of this herd of statistics, do you?

I certainly hope not, but let's begin to find out right here. Let's find out if you are ready to embrace a new kind of thinking, a new way of looking at yourself, a new way of living " one that will result in lasting weight loss. Will you refuse to be a part of the epidemic in America that is turning us into a nation of fatties? Will you? Are you ready to unlock the doors to permanent weight loss? Are you?

There is an old joke in psychology: how many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: only one, but the light bulb has to want to change. People change only when they are ready, and you need to find out the exact state of your readiness for change. That is why I want you take the following test called Your Readiness Profile before you begin to use the seven keys. Answer all the questions honestly, take as much time as you need, and be sure to pay close attention to the interpretation of your score.


Your Readiness Profile:

Answer the following questions by marking Yes, Undecided, or No.

Yes Undecided No
1. I am ready to eat differently even if it hurts my family's or my friends' feelings, or causes conflict.
2. I am ready to throw away clothes that are too big and no longer fit me.
3. I am ready to temporarily give up any friends who do not totally support me and who may wish to sabotage my weight-management efforts.
4. I am at the end of my rope, and I know that I have nowhere to go but up at this point; I am willing to focus totally using the seven keys.
5. I admit that I have been unsuccessful in trying to manage my weight in the past, either by following a diet or some other program, but that I am willing to follow the steps and strategies outlined in this book.
6. I am willing to read this book and honestly use the keys in order to change myself, my lifestyle, and my behavior.
7. I am willing to look at my behavior honestly and answer to myself and other significant people in my life about my problems.
8. I am willing to confront myself and others honestly about how I sabotage myself or allow myself to get sabotaged.
9. I am willing to change my job, if necessary, to become healthier and manage my weight better.
10. I am willing to throw away all the problem food in my house and eat according to the food and behavioral steps and strategies outlined in this book.
11. I am willing to exercise at least three to four hours a week at a moderate level of effort.
12. I am willing to make my health and the control of my weight a top priority in my daily life.
13. I am willing to dedicate at least fifteen to twenty minutes a day in focused concentration to follow the weight-management steps in this book.
14. I am willing to give myself self-affirmations the majority of the time to overturn negative thinking.
15. I am willing to talk straight about what I am doing, and not fool myself into thinking that anyone else can do this for me but me.
16. I am willing to stop lying to myself, and to others, about things that blind me from being who I am.
17. I am willing to transform these steps into action by using the seven keys and not dropping out because "it is too hard" or because "I am not strong enough."
18. I am willing to admit that I have some problems, but that I will not let these problems damage my commitment to the steps and strategies in this book.
19. I admit that I must take responsibility for my life, and I am committed to making permanent changes.
20. I am willing to say out loud to myself that I will change my lifestyle for better health.


Interpreting Your Score

0 to 3: Comfort Zone

If your score is this low, then we have to talk because you've taken a padded seat in a dangerous place called the comfort zone. That means you are not yet ready to change " in fact you are far from it, and this book will do you no good at this point. You are avoiding reaching for any level of change that is not already comfortable. At some level, it is quite possible that you are in denial, resistant even to confronting your problem. If you are, you respond with statements such as:

My weight doesn't really bother me. I've always been on the heavy side.

My husband likes me this way.

I think fat is beautiful.

If you pretend that the way you are is okay and you rationalize why you don't want to change and have more, there is no risk of failure and the discouragement that goes along with it. You accept what you've got and play it safe. In reality though, you have settled for what you don't really want, for a very rational — if unproductive — reason. By taking a seat in the comfort zone, you remove yourself from the fear of reaching and possibly failing.

While comfortable, that sort of life can be more than inert. Staying in your comfort zone can be hazardous to your health and your genuine well-being. If your lifestyle is riddled with bad behavior, wrong thinking, and poor choices — and you don't do something about it — you are staring at our country's top killers: heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other serious diseases. You have the primary responsibility for initiating change in your life. If your weight problem is to change, it will be because you changed the way you think, feel, and do. Get out of your seat in the comfort zone and resolve to begin each and every day of your life with the question: What can I do to get healthy control of my weight and my life? Ask it, answer it, then do it, every day.

4 to 10: Fence-Sitting

If this was your score, you are straddling the fence, which means you are contemplating change, but haven't made the move in the right direction yet. Perhaps your summer clothes are too tight, you saw a picture of yourself in which people were gathering on your shady side, or your doctor made a comment about your size. But instead of taking action, you are caught up in ambivalence, with conflicting feelings of what to do co-habitating your mind. You are wavering, in other words, between the pros and cons of change: "I'd like to be slim, but I don't want to give up my favorite foods." "I know I should exercise, but I don't think I can make the effort."

In thinking about the requirements, you get it that there are benefits to be gained from changing but you are afraid of what you might have to give up in order to change. This mental tug-of-war means you are paralyzed by the high cost of change and stuck in a rut of indecision, not ever attempting to initiate real change. You can't go anywhere while you're straddling a fence.

Yours is also a "haven't gotten around to it yet" or a "put it off 'til next week" attitude, and that's a deal breaker because next week, next month, next year may come, but then again, it may not. It's true, you have substantial challenges, or you wouldn't be reading this book. Ask yourself right now: do you want to continue to be part of this life-wrecking, spirit-breaking epidemic of overweight and obesity? Do you? You must decide once and for all that it is not okay to accept living life as a fence-sitter. Get off the fence and be willing to let yourself want, let yourself reach, let yourself do what you really need to do to solve your weight problem once and for all. It takes courage to change, and it is time for you to claim that courage.

11 to 15: Crossroads

If you answered "yes" to 11 to 15 of these items, you are at the crossroads. That indicates you have been thinking seriously about change for some time now, and perhaps have even made plans to get out of your comfort zone or off the fence. Same-old same-old, going with the flow just doesn't cut it anymore. After conducting some thorough heart-to-heart conversations with yourself, you realize that you are tired of your former wanderings, chasing after the latest, greatest quick-fix diet to come along. You have made a major shift from contemplating change to committing to it. Put another way, you recognize that it is time to begin translating your insights, understandings, and awareness into purposeful, meaningful, constructive action. Equally significant, you believe you can do it. But don't plan and prepare yourself to death. Life rewards action — a supremely important law of life — not intention, not insight, not understanding. As the old saying goes, "You can't make a hit with the bat on your shoulder." There comes a time when you have to swing that bat. To have what you want, you have to do what it takes. That time is now.

16 to 20: Zero Hour

"Zero hour" is that crucial moment when there is no turning back, and it confronts you to the very core of your self-respect. You have become so sick of your habits and your pattern of living that you realize you can no longer live your life in that way. It's what alcoholics call "hitting rock bottom," or what others call "reaching the end of my rope." It's when you make your mind up that it's not too late, that you deserve more, and that you will deny yourself no longer. It's when you wipe the slate clean and are ready to start over. It's when you decide to reclaim your health and your life. This means that being overweight has taken on a special standing and urgency, lifting high above your other concerns in life. You have boldly said to yourself: "That's enough. I don't care how much it hurts to change. I don't care what I have to give up. I won't take this another second, another minute, another day of my life. I am ready." You know that your dignity and indeed your very being can take only so much, and when you reach this point, you are ready to start living strategically. You want more so you are ready to do more, and are already taking action to get it. Your old way of living is thrown off like a dirty shirt. Change will happen because you make it happen. It will happen because you know what you want and will move toward it in a committed, focused manner.

No matter where you ended up on this readiness continuum, no matter how much you weigh, no matter how disgusted you are with what you see in the mirror, now is your chance, using the seven keys to permanent weight loss, to fix your weight problem for good and live out your best qualities. Believe me when I tell you that it is possible, you can do it, and you are worth it. You are a person with strength, gifts, and talents, capable of achieving your greatest goals. It's like that old saying, "God don't make no junk." You have what it takes to lose weight, be healthy, and live the life you desire and deserve. Now is the time to do it. Now is the time to unlock the doors to permanent weight loss.

Copyright 2003 by Phillip C. McGraw

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