Establishing The Right Philosophical Foundation For Weight Loss

Let’s start by defining philosophy, and giving an analogy that might make its meaning clearer. Philosophy is the system of beliefs by which you live your life. It is the ‘set of rules’ in which you act by and judge each daily occurrence by.

Your philosophy is the sail that you set as you move through life. I have recently been introduced to sailing. I must admit I never thought sailing was so intricate. I figured you just put the sail up, the wind blew, and you moved around the lake steering the boat in the direction that you want.

Well, was I in for a shock! I didn’t realize that if your sails are not set precisely in regard to the wind direction you will not be moving in the direction you want to go. You will either be moving whichever way the wind is blowing, or if you are headed straight into the wind you will not be moving at all.

The wind also isn’t a constant. It speeds up, it slows down, and it continuously changes direction. There are puffs and gusts and swirls. The wind is like life’s daily happenings, and if you don’t have your sails set properly, you will not be headed toward your destination. You will simply be taken in whatever direction the winds of life are blowing.

Good sailors can go in the direction they choose because they know exactly how to set their sails, regardless of how the wind blows. You need to learn how to set the sails that will lead you to permanent weight loss and then set them.

Remember, permanent weight loss can only be achieved through careful application of a precisely defined system or curriculum. Careful application, in and of itself, requires that a specific philosophy be met. That is, your sails must be set in an exact manner if you are ever going to reach your destination.

Your entire life you have been establishing the philosophy by which you live. It started early in childhood with your parents giving you certain rules or guidelines for you to follow. If you followed the rules you were either rewarded (positive reinforcement for a behavior) or at least not punished (avoid a negative reinforcement for a behavior). This is basic psychology 101.

In this manner your parents essentially instilled the ‘set of rules’ (philosophy of life) that they abide by or at least what they think you should abide by. As you grow up and go through life you use these very powerful rules to judge and act on every daily event. These are the ‘habits’ by which you live your life.

The following observation by renowned psychologist William James sums up how influencial our everyday habits really are. “Could the young but realize how soon they will become mere walking bundles of habits, they would give more heed to their conduct while in the plastic state.”

It does not end there, however. These rules are modified as you go along, albeit with much resistance. By the time you are reading this, the rules that you are using to set your sails are probably a confused concoction from parents, friends, bosses, siblings, aunts and uncles, co-workers, and significant other.

And unfortunately, many of the rules that have been instilled in you perhaps were not under the best of circumstances. The fact is that most of the rules in which you use to set your daily sails are rules that other people want you to live by. You need to establish rules that are going to set your sails that will guide you to the destination that you want to reach.

This is true no matter what your living situation, age, weight, or gender may be. If you want to look like the person, and be the person that you want to be, then you must change the ‘set of rules’ that you are living by.

In addition, your ‘set of rules’ also determine the expectations that you have for yourself. With the right ‘set of rules’ you will be able to create higher expectations and regularly meet them.

Your ‘set of rules’ creates your ‘frame of mind’ for which you act and judge everything by. Everything that occurs throughout your life, throughout each and every daily event is evaluated by you based on your ‘frame of mind’. The actions that you take are guided by your ‘frame of mind’. And your actions determine the circumstances of your life.

Do not underestimate this! It is true that your actions determine your life and your surroundings. Accept this fact and use it to bring more positive things into your life. Your ‘Set of Rules’ lead to your circumstances.

Here is a simple example of how living by a different ‘set of rules’ lead to different actions and different circumstances. I have two friends, Dan and Craig. Both are caring, intelligent, and successful guys. Craig, who introduced me to sailing, has a PhD in physics, and Dan’s advanced degree lies in Horticulture. They are hard workers and definitely assets to society.

They do, however, have a very different ‘set of rules’ when it comes to their bodies. Dan is lean. Craig is overweight. When I look at their ‘set of rules’ which directs their actions, it is very apparent why this is so. Dan chooses to jog at least 3 times / week and mix in push ups and sit ups every morning. Craig does not. I hear Dan complain when he goes several days without jogging. His complaining comes from the pain and disappointed he feels when he breaks the ‘set of rules’ in which he lives by.

Craig does not have these rules and therefore feels no pain by not exercising, because he is breaking none of his rules. For lunch, Dan eats a turkey sandwich and yogurt. Craig often chooses to eat a greasy cheeseburger, fries, and soft drink. I do not hear Craig complaining about eating such unhealthy food because he is not breaking any of his rules when he eats this way.

Craig is a best friend of mine, and I am happy to write that he is beginning to see the truth of this law. He is changing his ‘set of rules’ that govern eating and exercise, and he is seeing positive results!

The 2 Rules of Rules states:
1. When you break your rules you will feel the pain that functions to deter you from breaking your rules in the future.

2. When you follow your rules you will feel the pleasure that reinforces you to follow your rules in the future.

You follow the rules that you have agreed to live by regardless if they were set consciously by you or not. So the first thing, if you are going to change your life, is to look at your rules that you live by. You can’t begin to make positive changes until you are fully aware of the negatives that need to be replaced.

Most people have never looked at the rules in which they judge everything by. What you find can be very surprising, scary, and perhaps disappointing, but undoubtedly it will be positively therapeutic.

After you uncover the current ‘set of rules’ by which you live your life, you must then demand of yourself to change the rules that are bringing you undesirable circumstances. You need to put your new rules into your subconscious so they become your dominating thoughts. Your dominating thoughts are those that you judge things by and ultimately take action on.

Be Patient. Achieving permanent weight loss is a process of change. However, this is the process that will change your life.

professor jay snaric has been teaching college nutrition and health for 13 years. he has an earned graduate degree from nyu where he mastered human physiology. as a service to the community he offers a free comprehensive diet plan. visit