Psychology of Permanent Weight Loss

by Bob Walsh

Here is an interesting video by Tony Robbins where he works with a woman who is overweight.

Now for the purpose of this article, I am going to assume that you want to lose weight.

While most people go back losing and gaining the same 20 pounds (or just keeping them in the first place), there are those who use the psychology of permanent weight loss to really lose those pounds AND keep them off.


What is it that you focus on day to day?

Bad: You focus on unreliable things that you can’t control or influence. You are fixated on fears and uncertainties.

Good: You focus on something that is compelling, specific and within your control. You are crystal clear about what you want to experience every day.

The Six Human Needs

The six human needs are the most important forces in your life – the control your decisions, your emotions and by that your destiny.

  1. Certainty: Be comfortable + avoid pain.
  2. Variety: Stimulus + change + surprise.
  3. Significance: Feel special + feel worthy of attention
  4. Love & Connection: to belong
  5. Growth
  6. Contribution

These six human needs can be met in ways that are positive or negative.

Example: You can fulfill your need for significance by being courageous and having the life of your dreams (positive) or by having big problems that you are unable to solve (negative).

Example 2: You can feel connection by sharing love with others (positive) or you can feel connected by dwelling in self-pity.

Whenever you engage in some kind of behavior that you want to change, ask yourself this question: which of the six human needs do I meet with this behavior?

When you understand this, then you’ll be able to make change happen a lot more effectively.


Look at the list of the six human needs and ask yourself this:

  1. Which of these needs is the most important for me? (Just pick one quickly. Don’t overthink it – your first answer is usually the right one)
  2. What am I doing to fulfill that need? (What emotions do you engage in? What actions do you do?)

When you know the most important need in this list for you, then you know what the most important factor that controls your life is. And when you want to achieve permanent weight loss then you need to know about this.

Case Study: Beverly – Overweight & Terrified

In this video, the woman Tony Robbins is working with is overweight, and the emotion that she engages in the most is being terrified. She eats when she’s terrified, and sometimes she even eats to become terrified.

Now you could ask yourself: which need is she fulfilling be engaging in the feeling of being terrified?

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For Beverly, being terrified gives her

  • significance (because she has a big problem),
  • variety (because she’s not bored when she’s terrified),
  • certainty (because she is certain that she will be terrified),
  • growth (because when she is dealing with something terrifying, it could make her grow)
  • connection (because when she shares her terrifyiedness with others, it connects her with them)

Now the meet that was not being met for Beverly (apart from contribution) was: being loved.

Tony could have insisted here: but what about contribution? But because of the way Beverly replied (her nonverbal signals) he could see that being loved elicited a strong emotional reaction, and thus was with a very high certainty the driving force.

Now if you put yourself in Beverly’s shoes, and you ask yourself: Well, why isn’t she changing (losing weight)?

Because by not losing weight, she still meets most of her needs. The only important need that being overweight does not bring her is being loved.

And because being overweight satisfied so many of her human needs, it became a golden cage – yes, the low self-esteem and loneliness where negative things, but on the other hand, it seemed to be a price worth paying for meeting all the other needs, especially when changing also meant risking to meet all the other needs.

Being overweight also was a way of numbing herself and isolate herself: protect herself from harm and hurt. It’s basically putting up a wall where nothing will get through.

After Tony Robbins worked on all these issues with her, Beverly went on to lose 320 pounds – and kept them off long term.

This kind of permanent weight loss can also be achieved with self hypnosis – because let’s face it, getting the chance to work 1-on-1 with Tony is a very rare opportunity that not many people get in life.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Maria April 30, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Losing weight starts in your head not your mouth i can confirm that. i tried to restrict my diet for so long and the best i got was yoyo results. i then used mental techniques to work on my attitude and thoughts to overcome my bad eating habits and cravings and thats what really really helped me. i didnt use hypnosis but i think its similar.

Bob Walsh April 30, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Hi Maria,
yes, I’ve seen that time and time again. It’s funny how you say it, kind of reminds me of the old M&M advertisement “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands” – well, with weight loss it would be “Get slim with your head, not with your mouth” :-)
To more mindpower,

Kelly May 1, 2013 at 11:46 pm

Wow, she looks like a completely different person! Not just thinner, but actually different personality, more educated, more confident! That is amazing!!

Bob Walsh May 2, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Yes, the way people can transform themselves is amazing once they really get to the core reasons of what’s keeping them overweight.
I’ve worked with people who struggled with obesity for DECADES, and the reason was not their thyroid or metabolism, it was their mind. That’s not to say it’s easy – even with weight loss hypnosis, you still have to make a choice, but it makes it so much easier.
To losing pounds hypnotically ;)

Kelly May 2, 2013 at 6:51 pm

Yes!!! Mind over metabolism!

Weldon May 3, 2013 at 12:48 am

Hi it’s me, I am also visiting this web page regularly and find it interesting that you write about so many different things, yet somehow it all goes together. It’s interesting that so many things can be done with hypnosis. I really want to do permanent weightloss too.

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