Mental Toughness . . . revisited?
Sunday, January 17, 2021
Many of us here at Spark People followed Steve Siebold's impossibly in-your-face Mental Toughness "fat loser" program: back in the day. It was a 21 day program developed probably in the late 80s/early 90s and delivered (free!!) by daily 15 minute video clips. Based on the unwavering, uncompromising premise that if you're fat it's your fault and you just need to become more mentally tough!!
Many many people loathed fatlosers. And most quit before finishing it. Particularly when Siebold spoke about excess weight impeding career success. Or excess weight meaning you're a "bad parent" role model for your kids. Or excess weight meaning that your partner/spouse didn't really find you attractive . . . Oh yeah, he said all of that. He pulled no punches, he intended the ambiguity of the program's name. If you didn't lose weight, you were a "loser" in every sphere of life. Harsh!!
I didn't quit. I completed that 21 day program at least four or five times and I learned a lot from Steve . . . not only about weight loss but also transferable skills entirely applicable in other areas of my life.
Since then, Siebold has followed up with a couple of other books/programs on weight control using Mental Toughness, and there are a couple of YouTube videos out there too . . . Right now I'm following the regular blogs of a Sparkie here who's working her way through a current iteration with considerable diligence and success!!
But for me, I've seen nothing that matches Siebold's original fatlosers.com program.
So last summer, a couple of Sparkies (including me) wrote to the Mental Toughness folks to see if we could get Steve to post the "original" program again. And we got responses, too, indicating that something was in the works. And yup, I'm a subscriber to his regular email blasts and have been notified that Siebold is now selling a "fat loser" coach program based upon his principles of mental toughness.
These are the same mental toughness principles he has applied as a corporate keynote speaker to major American corporations for decades with multi-million $$$$ success. That's his main gig, for sure . . . But his current fat loser coach offering comes from his awareness of how many people have acquired a few pounds during the COVID pandemic (including, he says, himself). And at this time he believes there's a real "work from home" business opportunity for people to become certified FatLoser coaches. He seems quite genuinely to want to help.
So: how about me? Would I be willing to pay the fees (not so very much) and become FatLoser certified?
Uh, no. Not thinking so.
And in fact my disinclination is because of those Mental Toughness underpinnings. Increasingly I would distance myself from Siebold's firm belief that losing weight is hard. And maintaining weight loss is hard. That it's a struggle. That it's painful. That it requires sacrifice. Which is a price most people aren't willing to pay. And that's why they fail to lose and why they stay fat.
Although I'm grateful for what I learned from Dr. Judith S. Beck, and from Susan Peirce Thompson, and from Susan Estrich and so many others . . . it may be I learned the most from Steve Siebold. And perhaps that was less because of what he says and more because Steve really seems to care. Underneath all of that toughness and confrontation, I couldn't help but feel: he really wanted us to be successful. He wanted ME (whom he's never met, of course) to be successful with weight loss and also at peace in every area of life.
For me, and at this point in my life, I'm more and more about something other than brash in-your-face Mental Toughness.
Such as maybe::
Mental Balance . . . .
Not sure which one of these alternatives expresses it . . . is there one YOU like best? . . .
But I do know that ongoing efforting and armouring myself against myself and disciplining myself and arguing with myself and dividing myself against myself and waging war against myself . .
Based upon what had happened in the past ("I ate too much!! I got FAT!!") or
Based upon what might happen in the future ("I've gotta be TOUGH!! I've gotta stop eating so much!! Or I'll get fatter and fatter!! More and more of a total loser in every area of my life! except weight loss! And more and more filled with self-loathing!!") . . . .
Nope, that kind of mental toughness really just didn't work, for me, in the long run.
It wasn't sustainable. Because: it didn't feel good.
What did work was the very genuine sense of caring and concern that deeply infuses every aspect of Steve's message . . . and is truly the bedrock in his message. UNDER the "Mental Toughness".
How very important it is to feel good.
And feeling good is what I wanted . . . not just my body feeling good, at a reasonable size and reasonable level of fitness, but all of me feeling good.
That warm, expansive feeling. In the moment.
That I can take care of myself. That I can trust myself that I WILL take care of myself.
From a place of love and abundance in the present, not fear and scarcity from past or future. . . .
Love and abundance being something Steve actually does speak about, again and again. And which it seems to me he demonstrates and models, in his own caring attitude.
Food will always be available when I get hungry. . . . and I can count on myself to feed myself lovingly, for optimal nutrition in the present moment of hunger. I don't need to over eat. I don't need to over-exercise.
I can trust myself to care for myself. From a place of calm love and abundance, that's also always available.
All of which feels WAY less tough than Mental Toughness.
WAY more tender!
Now if Steve were promoting a FatLoser coach program based upon Mental Tenderness . . . ya never know, I just might take him up on it!!