More About Change and Motivation

Ruben Studdard

Childhood Obesity News has been looking at the work of Steve Tobak, a man who tells powerful and highly paid executives what to do. They don’t have to follow his advice, of course — unless they want to get results. Change is a constant in the business world, and even CEOs have to participate in it. Condition #1 is that a person has to feel the need to change, and the second condition is having the courage to face the fear.

Number 3 is, “You have to make the commitment and fight.” What causes a person to make a real commitment? Tobak says it can be the experience of “hitting bottom.” Being a business consultant, he gives the example of Steve Jobs of Apple, who somehow managed to get fired by the company he started. Later, having made some major changes in himself, Jobs described the dismissal as “awful-tasting medicine,” but said it was the best thing that could have happened.

The motivation that brings about change is what Sean Croxton calls the “Big Enough Why.” People are motivated by different things. What changes hearts and minds? Where does the Big Enough Why come from?

Awful-tasting medicine

Ruben Studdard is known as the first celebrity to participate in the popular TV show “The Biggest Loser,” where he signed in weighing 462 pounds. The singer at one time had lost 100 pounds (by adopting a vegan diet) but eventually gained it all back and more. Interviewer Ree Hines elicited a clue as to why that might have happened. Studdard describes what changed for him:

The last time I lost weight, I was still young — I was 25. And it really wasn’t as much for me as it was to prove people wrong…. This is a lot different. I have a completely different set of circumstances now that affect the way I approach it for my life. So I have to take it a little bit more seriously — not a little bit, a lot more serious.

Something important has been said here. Yes, an obese person lost weight. But the change was other-directed, not inner-directed: “It really wasn’t as much for me as it was to prove people wrong.” When the change was for himself, a decade later, the reason was indeed serious — a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. This is one of the unfortunate things about being human. Sometimes it takes an impending disaster to create a commitment.

Steve Tobak reminds readers of another important fact about change:

Most people just don’t get how change works. They think it’s event driven. One day you’re one way, then something happens and, poof, you change. That’s just a myth. Sure, events may trigger the need to do things differently, but that’s just the beginning of a long process. First you’ve got to peel the onion and figure out what’s going on. Sometimes you think you’ve gotten to the heart of the matter, only to find that it was just another layer.

It’s also a nonlinear process, meaning sometimes you move forward and other times you fall backward. It can be really frustrating.

This is a reminder not to mistake cyclical motivation for resistance. It can come and go, and as the Ruben Studdard example shows, sometimes there might be a long time between cycles.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Change Your Ways? 3 Things You Must Do First,”, 12/04/12
Source: “Ousted ‘Biggest Loser’ contestant Ruben Studdard has lost 104 pounds,”, 11/08/13
Image by Jyle Dupuis

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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