Book Excerpt: 'The Business Plan for the Body,' by Jim Karas

The following excerpt comes from The Business Plan for the Body, by professional trainer Jim Karas. Good Morning America anchor Diane Sawyer lost 25 pounds using Karas' methods. He shares his weight-loss secrets in this new book.

Buy your copy of Jim Karas' book here.

Chapter One

I have conducted over five hundred new client meetings during the past thirteen years. I can immediately tell if clients are going to succeed on my program by their body language and the first words out of their mouth. Some people wiggle in their chair, like a truant child in the principal's office, look away and say, "I think I should do something about my situation" or "My doctor told me I have to start a program" or "My friend said I should call you." This tells me they are not committed to succeed. The motivation is not there. The desire is not strong.

Others sit straight up, look me in the eye and say, "That's it. I have had it looking and feeling this way. I want to get a handle on this situation. Tell me what I have to do to lose weight and get in shape. I'm ready." This I love. I know I have someone who is ready to meet the challenge, because, let's face it, taking control of your health and appearance is going to take time, commitment, energy, and focus.

Which Individual Are You?

So, you're considering getting into the weight-loss business? Allow me to make the following assumption. Along with millions of other people, you have previously attempted this business venture. I will also assume, since you purchased this book, or happen to have it in your hands, that you have not been happy with your previous level of success. Or, perhaps it's as simple as:

* You walked by a mirror in a department store and wondered who that was wearing the same outfit, or

* You bumped into a high school or college friend who didn't recognize you, or

* You are convinced your clothes are shrinking, or

* You stopped weighing yourself out of fear, or

* You feel awful all the time and have no energy, or

* Your doctor scared the hell out of you.

These are just a few of the responses I have heard over the years, but the point remains, you feel out of control and want help.

From now on your situation will not be out of control. As many friends and clients will tell you, I do not readily accept defeat. Nor will you. The word "tenacious" has been used to describe me. I want that same word to be used to describe you and your new business venture. I have had thirteen years of experience helping hundreds of people lose weight. I never believe a client will fail. I only believe in success. Each success story, similar to the opening anecdote to this chapter, has one identical element. The individual looked at me and, in so many words, said, "I want to be in the weight-loss business. I want to succeed at losing weight."

Now I know each and every one of you is saying, "Yeah, I want to lose weight, doesn't everyone?" Yes, many individuals do want to lose weight, but I would venture to say that many individuals would also like to be rich, beautiful (though you may notice, the vast majority of these so-called beautiful people are generally in better shape than most), and celebrated. I can't help you be rich, beautiful, and celebrated, but I will help you to lose weight, which will improve your self-esteem and could actually make you richer, more attractive, and perhaps more celebrated, at least by those around you and yourself. And most likely it can even extend your time on this planet. The Business Plan for the Body is the key to weight loss because it is a comprehensive approach that addresses:

The model of a successful business plan can be used to create a strategy for you to lose weight and keep it off once and for all. My plan works.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, as many as 85 percent of dieters put the weight back on within two years after weight loss. Personally, I think this percentage may be higher. And we all know, an overwhelming percentage of new businesses fail as well. Armed with The Business Plan for the Body, you will not fail. Why are we overweight? Why aren't we succeeding at weight loss? Why do so many new businesses fail? What is the problem? I believe the problem, and the answer to these questions, begins with the absence of a plan. Most people, and many businesses, fail to go through the necessary steps to conceptualize, formulate, and then implement a strategic plan. Planning is everything. Do you think Bill Gates one day said, "I would like to kinda, sorta, do something with computers?" Or did Martha Stewart say, "I think I throw a halfway decent dinner party. Maybe I can teach other people how to do the same." No. They both probably said or thought something to the effect of, "I know a lot about how to use this new device called a computer," or "I know a lot about home entertaining. I can do it better than my competitors. I know I can make a business out of it. I am going to create a business plan." They created not only a goal, but a strategy for achieving that goal. Let me repeat: They created not only a goal but a strategy for achieving that goal. In other words, a comprehensive plan for success. I know your goal is weight loss, but have you ever had a comprehensive strategy to achieve that goal? You will now.

What Is a Mission Statement?

Traditionally, a mission statement begins the business plan. It's a sentence, phrase, or paragraph that describes the ultimate goal of a new or existing business. The basis of your mission statement should be the following sentence: "I am in the weight-loss business." Now, take that mission statement and make it your own. Describe your ultimate fitness and weight-loss goals. Be as specific as you desire. Above all be realistic. Don't try to lose ten pounds in ten days. Don't plan to make the Olympic swim team if you haven't done a single lap in years. Just be honest about what you want to do for your body and pick a time frame that makes sense.

In Chapter 8, "Establishing Realistic Investment Goals," I urge you to set realistic, attainable fitness and weight-loss goals by the numbers, but for now, personalize your mission statement to make it more powerful to you. For example:

"I am in the weight-loss business. I intend to lose all the weight I gained after the birth of my last child."

"I am in the weight-loss business. I want to compete in a triathlon by next fall."

"I am in the weight-loss business. I want to be able to fit into my favorite jeans by my next birthday."

Write down your mission statement and put it somewhere-paste it in your day planner or the top drawer of your desk-anywhere you will read it regularly. You can revise your mission statement if you need to, but the idea is to pick a goal, stick with it, and reach it. Like any company that is opening its doors for business, you have a mission-and that mission is to succeed.

Look at other successful business entities. What is McDonald's mission statement? Their vision is to be the world's best quick service restaurant experience. How about Southwest Airlines? Their mission is dedication to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit. The Four Seasons Hotel Group? I would venture to say their mission statement is to provide prestige accommodations, superior dining, and luxury service. These businesses state their goal(s) in straightforward, noncomplicated terms. That is what I am asking you to do.

In the past, as harsh as this may sound, you have been in the weight-gain business. Like millions of Americans, who are estimated to spend between thirty to fifty billion dollars a year on weight loss, you have overeaten and underexercised and intermittently tried some quick-fix program to lose weight. Now you are getting out of that business and starting a new one; the weight-loss business. Repeat that with me. You are getting out of the weight-gain business and starting the weight-loss business. Believing in that phrase is the first essential step to building the plan.

I first uttered that phrase in the spring of 1982. I decided to take control of my health and appearance in my early twenties when I was in college. At the time, I was about twenty pounds overweight, had never lifted a weight, and called smoking my "sport." I was studying during the second semester of my junior year at the London School of Economics and decided I was going to stop smoking and get my body in shape. I rented a flat in South Kensington with nonsmoking roommates, who told me under no circumstances was I to smoke anywhere in the flat. I told them that I was going to quit smoking and start exercising. They rolled their eyes.

Well, I quit smoking, but was terrified about gaining weight, which I had done during past attempts. So, in my Tretorn tennis shoes, I started running through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens in order to get some weight off and feel better. I began in the winter of 1982, a time when the British were not used to seeing young men running in the parks. Most Londoners clutched their children as I lumbered by.

It was hard, but I was determined. It was amazing how quickly I started to feel better. That was nineteen years ago. I have stayed committed, and quickly expanded my program to include strength and resistance training. I feel that once you taste success and look and feel so much better, there is really no turning back. I realize I was young when I made this decision, but studies repeatedly show that benefits will accrue almost immediately, regardless of age. I know the same can happen to you-and keep in mind, I am not one of those people who has never had to lose weight. I struggle with it all the time!

You'll be interested to know that I almost did not graduate from high school because I blew off so many gym classes. I had to go twice a day for one week in order to receive the credit to graduate. Think about it, the "$10,000-a-Week Fitness Trainer" almost flunked gym in high school and had absolutely no interest in exercise. Strange things can happen. I changed, and so can you. Change is difficult. The Business Plan for the Body is your guide to coping with that change.

Right now, I bet you are thinking of the time, energy, and emotion involved in getting into the weight-loss business. I won't deny that your new business will require effort on your part. According to internationally known hairstylist and entrepreneur, Vidal Sassoon, "The only place where success comes before hard work is in the dictionary." Let me provide you with an estimate of the time involved. You will need about five minutes each day to plan your meals. You will need to shop for groceries, which, with the luxury of the phone, fax machines, and the Internet, does not need to take more than a few minutes. With regard to exercise, you will need to block out between two to three hours a week. That can easily be accomplished. I will show you in Chapter 7 how you can succeed at weight loss with the right exercise prescription, time allotment, and duration. It's not as much time as you think, if you apply yourself correctly.

In addition to weight loss, you also derive these additional physical and psychological benefits from following a comprehensive program:

* Reduction of the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, arthritis, gallstones, and gout

* Increased blood flow to the brain, which boosts energy level, productivity, creativity, and memory

* Reduction of stress and depression

* Significant slowing of the aging process.

You decide. On the one hand you can look better, feel better, slow the aging process, boost your energy, productivity, memory level, and decrease stress and depression. On the other hand, you can stay the way you presently are.

This is your choice, no one else can make it happen. In January 2000, Consumer Reports on Health included the results of a survey conducted by dietitian Anne Fletcher, who interviewed 160 people who had successfully kept off the weight they'd set out to lose. Many of the dieters reported that they'd tried numerous methods of weight loss before they were successful. "What distinguished their last, successful attempt was a proverbial 'flip of the switch' in which the desire to lose finally became more important than the desire to overeat or to not exercise." I couldn't agree more. As I pointed out, I can instantly tell by body language if a new client is really interested in getting into the weight-loss business or simply flirting with the idea. Only you can "flip the switch," which, interestingly, is an expression I have been using for years. It is the perfect metaphor because-please forget dimmer switches-either the light is on or off. Either you are on program or off. Halfway is no way. Period.

Since many people know that I am in the fitness industry, I often receive one of two responses when I am introduced socially. They either say, "Hey, I've heard of you. You're in the fitness business. I've thought of starting a weight-loss program. Could you give me your card. I'll give you a call." In the embryonic stages of my fitness career, I would anxiously await their call the following day. It practically never occurred. Frequently, when I would bump into the person, I would casually inquire, "Are you ready yet?" Most would politely say, "Oh yes, I'll give you a call tomorrow." It still never happened.

Then, one day out of the blue, usually on my voice mail at an odd hour, the person would call me and say, "This is a message for Jim Karas. We've met a few times. I need to talk to him today. Could you please have him call me at my home between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. or my office between 9:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. I am really anxious to get started." I've learned that something happened to this person. In other words, the "switch flipped on." I don't believe they were lying in the past when they said they were interested in a program; they weren't ready or able to act on their desire. Once that call comes in, I know I have a committed, focused, ready to "get to work" client on my hands. Now they are ready. These are the people who succeed and make it a joy to be in my business. It is very gratifying to see someone succeed, and it is a nice feeling to have helped them in the process.

Copyright 2001 by Jim Karas — From The Business Plan for the Body : Get Serious, Get Thin, Get Fit, by Jim Karas. © April 24, 2001, Three Rivers Press; used by permission.