I’m increasingly of the belief that over the long-term weight loss is largely a function of commitment, whether that’s the TCM approach to weight loss or any other ‘diet.’  Your success is proportional to your dedication. And I know there are exceptions, but there are numerous tools, resources, support groups, drugs, supplements, and everything else imaginable out there, so choose carefully.  But in the end it really comes down to true commitment.

Besides absolute motivation, and the threat of death looming at your door, what other ways are there to increase commitment? For me, and what is applicable here in the TCM weight loss course, is investment (of money and time) and accountability.

First, money. If you’re paying for weight loss counseling, sessions, diet program or anything similar, as I was with the TCM weight loss course, you’re committed.  Now your wallet is in the game.  This is self-reinforcing commitment cycle: first you have to be committed enough to spend the money; second since you’ve spent the money, you don’t want to waste it.  Make sure you get your money’s worth.  If you went there to lose 20 lbs and you only lost 10 lbs, you lost 50% of your value.  Since I’d spent the money, you bet yourself I was committing everyday of every week to making that weight loss program work. I was definitely going to get my value!

Second, time.  About once a week I was schlepping halfway across town (40minutes each way), then spending ~1 hour with acupuncture needles stuck in me,  and everyday I was writing my food chart, I was so invested time-wise I had to make the weight loss course worth it. Allot time for weight loss: time per week and even time each day.  Whether its preparing the right meals, focusing on your goals, or hauling yourself to your weigh-in sessions, weight loss takes time.  Time is valuable and the more time you invest in your weight loss program, the more committed you are to it.

Accountability. Why do you think Weight-Watchers(R) has meetings? Why do they weigh you and record your weight (sometimes publicly) every time you go there? Why does this work?  Because we don’t like to be embarrassed in front of our peers.  We don’t want to be seen as falling behind. We don’t want others to be disappointed in us.  We don’t want others to think their work with us has been in vain. Or, as the Chinese say, we don’t want to lose face. So when I was going for my weekly session, they measured my waist, pants waist, and hip circumference, body fat percentage, and weight every single time. If in one week, I gained (a lot) of weight, I’d hear about it from the doctor.  She’d ask me if I was stressed and overeating, or didn’t follow her food guidelines that week, or even uncomfortable questions like, is it time for your cycle.  When facing that kind of interrogation each week, I’m telling you I was damn committed.  I didn’t want to disappoint her or think she was wasting her time with me. And I also didn’t necessarily always want to answer the personal questions.

Accountability is critical.  If you can’t find a deep level of commitment inside yourself, you must have accountability. Join a support group, enlist a friend to check your progress weekly, spend the money for a program that has weigh-ins, ask your partner to check your goals with you.  Now are you ready to lose face in front of that person? Or are you ready to follow-through?  In our world, we’re too polite, not wanting to admit our own weaknesses, ask others for help, or push others to do better or to ask the tough questions.  Whether you’re the person being held accountable or ensuring the accountability, step up to the task and do what needs to be done.

Accountability is very much a part of this TCM doctor’s approach to weight loss and you bet I felt it and that pushed me to stick to my weight loss course everyday. I’m not saying I didn’t ‘cheat,’ but I did make up for it later in the day or over the course of the week.  I was not going to have to explain why/how I gained weight in the last week. Accountability worked for me.

And while not directly stated by her, by requiring payment for 10 sessions up front, she included a high-level of commitment into the program.  And after each session, they booked my next appointment.  It would have been more trouble for me to call and reschedule (in Chinese) than to just show up.  I was committed.

What about you? How do you ensure commitment and accountability for your weight loss efforts?