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Rocky Balboa Diet And Weight Loss Plan (Part 5)

This is the final article in a 5-part series, discussing how Rocky can help us lose weight and tone up. the Rocky series of movies hold valuable lessons on how to train, how to stay motivated, and how to succeed. Rocky V, the final movie in the series, finds Rocky unable to fight due to moderate brain damage. After beating Ivan Drago, Rocky officially retires from boxing. At this point Rocky also discovers that his accountant has stolen all his money, and the Balboa family is forced to move back to the old neighborhood where Rocky grew up.

The adjustment from riches to rags is hard on the Balboa family, with Adrian going to work in a pet store and Rocky's son adjusting to a new school. The only bright spot in their current situation is that they retain ownership of Mickey's old gym, which he willed to Rocky's son. Unable to fight, Rocky begins to train an up-and-coming boxer named Tommy Gunn.


Although everyone has their own favorite Rocky movie, it is in Rocky V that we find some of the most motivational information.


Immediately upon returning to the United States from Russia, Rocky hosts a press conference where he gives credit to his long-standing 'encourager'. In front of the media, Rocky says "Adrian, y'know, if you weren't with me I never would have done this good. You're my Adrian. You're always there, y'know?"

This theme is repeated throughout the movie, with Adrian constantly protecting Rocky and boosting his confidence. At several points during the story, it's obvious that Rocky would 'lose it' if it weren't for Adrian, his wife and 'encourager'.

Do you have an 'encourager' yet in your personal fight against fat? It's no exaggeration to say that one of the most important steps to achieving your health and fitness goals is to get an 'encourager'. Do it today!


Tommy Gunn, the raw fighter from Oklahoma, is the kid who sees all the boxing action in this movie. The first time we meet Tommy he's waiting for Rocky on the streets of Philadelphia. Tommy asks, then begs, Rocky to train him.

Never having been a trainer, Rocky is reluctant to accept the responsibility of teaching another boxer. But Tommy persists, eventually talking Rocky into training him.

Tommy knows that without quality instruction, he has little chance of success. Sure, he has some talent and the ability to achieve his goals - but without expert advice it's unlikely that he'll ever get there.

In much the same way, each of us has the ability to achieve our weight loss goals. However, success is much more likely when we enlist the help of a qualified expert.


Although there are many valuable lessons we can take from Rocky V, the most important one is that there are no shortcuts. The story of Rocky V is the story of a young fighter (Tommy Gunn) who, against the will of his trainer (Rocky), attempts to take a shortcut to achieve his goals - only to find that, for some goals, there are no shortcuts worth taking.

George Washington Duke is the fast-talking boxing promoter that makes his living by 'churning and burning' boxers. He brings them in by promising them quick riches and fame, keeps them in the ring until their money-making ability is used up, and then drops them like a bad habit.

The day the Balboa family moves out of their mansion and into the projects, Duke calls Adrian on the telephone. A brief look at this conversation gives us a glimpse into Duke's personality and motivation: Duke: "Mrs. Balboa, can you hear it? Listen close. You must be able to hear it." Adrian: "Hear what?" Duke: "The sound of the parade going by. Of opportunity knocking.....what's it gonna take to get you people to realize I'm giving you a chance to pull yourselves together again? Let me handle your husband's career and the money will pour in....."

Duke knows that Rocky has been diagnosed with moderate brain damage, and that another fight could kill him. Yet Duke still pursues Rocky relentlessly, trying to get him into the ring because he knows that Rocky can bring in the dollars. Because Duke only cares about himself and his bank account, he does everything within his power to bring Rocky back from retirement. Duke sells shortcuts. Shortcuts to fame, shortcuts to wealth, and ultimately shortcuts to failure. Rocky isn't fooled, but Duke doesn't give up.

A perfect example of the kind of shortcut Duke is selling can be seen in this exchange that occurred on the street between Duke, Rocky and Adrian: Duke: "Only in America do we get these kinds of opportunities.....virtue has never been as respectable as're the great white hope....." Duke's Business Partner: "You agree to fight Cane and George here can guarantee that you get licensed in any country around the world." Duke: "Guaranteed." Duke (to Adrian): "We're talkin' business, now, darlin'. Do you like feelin' hard up? Do you like reachin' in your pocket and only feelin' your leg? Well, do you? I didn't think so. I'm offering you your last golden opportunity to dump this loser image.....this is a tremendous opportunity." Adrian: "Opportunity for who? For you to make money? For him [Rocky] to be disabled? What would you do if the choices were reversed? You have to think about that. Rocky, they don't care about you!" Duke: "I'll make you so much money you can swim in's time to put some hustle behind this muscle!"

Duke is selling shortcuts. Even though he knows that entering the ring again could literally kill Rocky, he still pushes to get Rocky out of retirement. Duke is all about quick results, the quick buck, and benefits without effort.

When Rocky and Adrian see through Duke's craftiness, Duke sets his sights on Tommy Gunn. Rocky, who has been training Tommy for months, has done a fantastic job of bringing him from a street fighter to a heavyweight contender. Tommy has been consistently winning, and under Rocky's tutoring has been slowly but surely climbing the ranks of the boxing world.

Duke approaches Tommy, promising him a quick buck and even faster fame. Remember that Rocky has brought Tommy from a being a virtual unknown to being well on his way to success. Full of bluster and promises, Duke pushes a wedge between Tommy and Rocky: Duke: "Tommy Gunn at the top. You come with the Duke you can get the kind of payday fight Balboa can only dream about. To the victor goes the spoils."

With an entire lifetime of boxing experience, Rocky knows that the best way for Tommy to become Heavyweight Champion of the World is slowly and surely. Pushing too hard will force Tommy into fights that he's not ready for yet. Pushing too hard will lead to losses. Pushing too hard will possibly lead to injury and a shortened career. With this in mind, Rocky has been bringing Tommy up in the boxing world relatively slowly.

Duke, on the other hand, promises Tommy quick results, quick profits, and quick fame. Consider this exchange between Tommy and Duke: Duke: "Tommy, I checked with the boxing commission. Seems there's no formal contract between you and Balboa. Tommy, this is a complex business and you got to stay sharp. But I don't have to tell you that, do I.....Tommy, I'm afraid. I'm afraid that if you keep goin' the way you goin' you gonna be watching the parade go by. Tommy, you haven't had the big payday yet.....if you want the best, then go with the best." Tommy: "What about Rocky then?" Duke: "Rocky can still train you.....he's done a wonderful job. Now look here, here's $20, 000. Take it as an advance. Time to put some hustle behind this muscle!"

Unfortunately, Tommy buys into Duke's sales pitch. He decides that the progress he's made as a fighter hasn't been fast enough. In a dramatic confrontation, Tommy dumps Rocky as his trainer and manager, choosing instead to take the shortcut offered by Duke: Tommy: "The guy [Duke] likes the way I fight." Rocky: "I know, but y'know, you see what he's doing here. Tommy, hey, don't let him put nothing between us, okay? We got something good going on here." Tommy: "Put like what? I mean, the guy was just talkin' about getting' a shot Rocky: "But we don't need him. Y'know what I mean? I mean, you're gonna get a shot....." Tommy: "Rock, when're you gonna wake up, man? We're watchin' the parade go, the way I'm goin' I'm not gonna get a shot at the title for a long time. Man, I've got a perfect record. I'm 22-0. Where's the money? Where? Man, we haven't made any serious money yet." Rocky: "I ain't talkin' about the money. Look, the money's going to be there. I'm talkin' about your rep, Tommy. Don't sell out. We don't need this guy." Tommy: "I'm signing papers with the man tomorrow." Rocky: "No, listen to me Tommy. You sign them papers, you're like his property. See, you got no control, y'know? This is a dirty business. It's full of these thieves and gangsters, y'know, and they promise every fighter who comes along, they promise 'em the world and then they suck 'em dry and they leave 'em when they ain't worth nothin' and leave 'em in the gutter broke. Tommy, that's the way this business is run. Guys like Duke, you know what he is? He's a vampire. He's livin' off your blood." Tommy: "Look, Rock, you took me as far as you could but Duke gave me my title shot. You didn't."

Rocky knows that, for some goals, there are no shortcuts worth taking. Unfortunately, Tommy hasn't yet learned that lesson and refuses to listen to Rocky, going for quick results instead. By dumping Rocky and affiliating with Duke, Tommy does indeed get his shot at the title. He gets the shortcut he wanted, which is a chance to beat the Heavyweight Champion of the World (Union Cane).

As is often the case when we take shortcuts we shouldn't, things go badly for Tommy. Yes, he beat Union Cane and became the new Heavyweight Champion of the World. But the victory wasn't what he expected, and the reason is because he took a shortcut to his title fight. Consider what happened at the post-fight press conference, as the sports reporters turned on Tommy: Reporter #1: "Do you think the fight was too easy? Don't you think that this looked more like a Philadelphia sparring session at times instead of a championship match?" Duke: "Union Cane wasn't feeling that good, but Tommy Gunn would have done the same thing if Union was 100%." Reporter #2: "100%? He fought like he didn't have a heartbeat!" Reporter #3: "Everybody knows that Cane is just a paper champion." Reporter #4: "Cane's title was manufactured. He never won it from Balboa." Reporter #5: "You've gotta fight some real opponents. This guy's a bum! He doesn't even deserve a shot at the title!" Reporter #6: "We know the rating system can be manipulated. The bottom line is Tommy Gunn beat a second-rate fighter with so much glass in his jaw he oughta be a chandelier."

When it comes to our personal fight against fat, we are aware of many scam artists like Duke. There are hucksters selling magic weight loss pills, potions and diets that don't work. These scammers promise us shortcuts to fat loss, health and fitness. They push prescription pills, quick weight loss diets and other gimmicks that are supposed to be shortcuts to weight loss, but are really just shortcuts to failure.

Beware the supplement scams on the market. It seems that every time we turn around we are blasted and bombarded with the latest, greatest, new and improved treatment for obesity. The gimmicks just keep coming. The sad truth is that few of these products work. Even fewer will result in real, permanent and lasting fat loss. A very few of the weight loss gimmicks on the market today are not only a consumer rip-off, but they are also quite dangerous.....even deadly.

As an example, consider the prescription diet drug Meridia. Does it help you lose weight? For some people, the answer is yes. For others, the answer is no. Can it kill you? The answer to this question seems to be a nervous 'maybe'. "The consumer group Public Citizen had petitioned the Food and Drug Administration for a ban, citing Meridia users who died of heart problems as young as their 20s and 30s. Even before Meridia was approved for sale, the FDA knew it could increase users' blood pressure, the group contended." (Source:

The FDA again refused to ban Meridia, even though whistle blower David Graham (an FDA drug safety officer) testified to Congress in fall 2005 that his agency was allowing five unsafe medicines to stay on the market, including Meridia.

Another example of a dangerous weight loss drug is ephedra. Ephedra was banned in the United States, in part due to numerous deaths attributed to this popular weight loss supplement. On April 14 2005, a federal Judge in Utah reversed the short-lived ban on ephedra. Within minutes, spammers were filling our email boxes with messages to BUY BUY BUY before ephedra was banned again.

Yes, ephedra will help some people lose weight. Yes, ephedra is safe for some people in low doses. But there is that little nagging fact that people have DIED and that their deaths have been attributed to ephedra use.....

Yet another example of a dangerous diet drug is steroids. For whatever reason, some people have decided that anabolic steroids are the best way to lose weight. Despite the well-documented and serious side effects of steroid use, the lure of easy weight loss has caused many to throw caution to the wind. Perhaps the most concerning trend is steroid use among our teenage population: "Teens also listed steroids, growth hormone, amino acids and other potentially unhealthful products among those they'd tried in the previous year." (Source:

Virtually every weight loss shortcut on the market is designed to do just one thing: fill the pockets of the manufacturer. Yes, it's true that there are a few weight loss aids out there that will help you achieve your health and fitness goals, but these are only assistants, not magic pills. When it comes to achieving your ideal weight and being truly fit for life, there honestly is no shortcut. Without regular exercise and a healthy diet, you will never achieve your true health and fitness potential.

Tommy Gunn went looking for a shortcut to achieve his goals, and he found out that when the goal is truly worthy of effort there is no shortcut available. The same is true in our personal fight against excess weight. Shortcuts, while tempting, will never pay off in the end.

Even if modern science were to create a magic weight loss pill that did melt away fat with no effort, we'd still be incorrect to think that such a shortcut was good for us. Why? Because engaging in regular exercise has many 'fringe' benefits that cannot be obtained by simply losing weight. Benefits like lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, stronger bones, greater strength, reduced risk of some cancers, etc. can only be obtained via regular exercise. Simply losing weight, while healthier than being obese, will not give us all the benefits of exercise. So even if a magic weight loss shortcut did exist, it would still be inferior to achieving our health and fitness goals with exercise.

Perhaps Paulie and Rocky said it best in Rocky V when they were counseling Rocky's son: Paulie: "Watch out for the scams, 'cause everybody's gonna try and scam you." Rocky: "A scam is like a hustle.....a hustle's related to a con.....everybody's got an angle, y'know? Everybody's got a hustle, y''ve gotta stay very very sharp around here." -


As we learned in Rocky IV, fear of failure can be a powerful force that keeps us from achieving our goals. Even worse, fear of failure can prevent us from even trying to achieve our goals!

Have you tried multiple diets, only to find yourself frustrated with a lack of results? Have you joined a gym only to allow exercise to be forgotten in the hustle and bustle of life? Do you have a closet or garage full of exercise equipment that you haven't touched in years? Let's face it, we've ALL struggled with our weight and we've ALL experienced some failure in this area. The thing to remember is that we cannot allow past failures to keep us from trying again! We cannot allow yesterday's failure to keep us from trying today!

A great lesson on fear and how we can't let it control us can be found when Rocky is coaching Tommy Gunn between rounds. Tommy is in a fight with a serious opponent, and he's scared. He's frightened that he's going to fail, and that fear is paralyzing. That fear could very well keep Tommy from winning. Rocky helps him through it with these words: Rocky: "But the thing is you gotta learn to control it, alright? 'Cause fear is like this fire, alright? And it's burning deep inside. Now if you control it, Tommy, it's gonna make you hot. But you see, if this thing here, it controls you, it's gonna burn you and everything else around it up.....The only difference between a hero and a coward is the hero's willing to go for it, alright? Willing to take the shot.....Now fear is like this fire, okay? Now let it burn, and burn, until it becomes like this volcano. And when the time is right, and you see the opening, explode all over this guy, okay? Now you can take him, okay? It's all heart, you understand? It ain't all muscle, it's all heart. Heart and fire! Heart and fire! Okay, now you go do it!"

Once Tommy realizes that his fear is keeping him from really fighting to win, he goes out full force and demolishes his opponent. In much the same way, we need to realize that our fear of weight loss failure may be keeping us from fighting to win. To be successful, we absolutely must overcome this fear of failure! Fear keeps us from really trying, from giving 100% to the battle against fat. It's easier to give this fight just half our efforts, and then if we lose a round we can justify it by saying that we didn't really try. The catch-22 here is that if we don't give our all to this battle, this fight against fat, we're setting ourselves up for another failure.

Are you afraid of failing? Are you afraid that you'll try (again) to lose that weight, but you won't be successful? It's okay! Fear is part of being human. It's critical to realize, however, that you cannot allow the fear of failure to keep you from trying again. So you've failed a few what! We've ALL failed a few times! Failure isn't permanent. Failure isn't terminal. Failure isn't final. Past failures are just temporary setbacks. We never really fail in our weight loss efforts until we give up.


If there were ever a poster child for 'not giving up' it's Rocky Balboa. During his long boxing career, Rocky was hammered by some of the greatest fighters in the world. With the help of his 'encourager' and 'challenger', he never backed down and he never quit.

One of the reasons why Rocky is so beloved by his fans is that he never gave up. Even when the odds seemed insurmountable, he never threw in the towel. In Rocky I Apollo Creed beat him for a full fifteen rounds, but he never quit. In Rocky II he again fought Apollo for fifteen rounds, and he ended up winning the title Heavyweight Champion of the World. In Rocky III he lost his title to Clubber Lang, only to pick himself up and regain the title in a rematch. In Rocky IV he endured the worst punishment that Ivan Drago could dish out, never quitting and never giving up. Finally, in Rocky V he persisted in excellence even though he had lost all the financial wealth from a lifetime of boxing.

Consider the advice Rocky gave to his son early in the movie Rocky V: "Y'know, Mickey used to say a fight ain't over until you heard the bell. We ain't heard a bell yet, have we?"

The secret to Rocky's success is that he never, ever quit fighting before the bell.....and we shouldn't either.

Sure, it can be frustrating when we try to lose weight and fail. The key is to keep trying until we 'hear the bell'. In boxing, a bell rings to signal the end of the fight. Rocky kept fighting until he heard that bell. In our fight against our personal opponent (fat), the bell isn't made of metal. It's not beside the boxing ring. Instead, the bell that will signal the end of our personal fight is inside each of us. We control when that bell rings, and it rings only when we've given up.

So, have you given up in your fight against fat? Like so many of us, have you been knocked, battered and bruised for fifteen rounds? Are you thinking that it would be a lot easier, and maybe even better, to ring that bell and just give up? In other words, have you decided that you're just a 'fat person' and there's nothing you can do about it?

or, like Rocky, are you willing to keep fighting? Do you have that internal motivation to say, as Rocky did in Rocky II, "I ain't going down no more!"

You CAN do it! You CAN win your fight against fat! You CAN achieve your health and fitness goals! You CAN be that person you see when you close your eyes! You CAN do it!

Get an 'encourager' and a 'challenger' to help you train and stay in the fight.....get some expert advice so you have the tools to succeed.....learn from past mistakes and adapt as needed.....find your internal motivation.....overcome your fear of failure.....avoid shortcuts.....and above all, don't give up!

Because we ain't heard a bell yet, have we?

By Tracie Johanson - Tracie is the founder and owner of, a site exclusively for health club owners. Tracie Johanson is also the founder of Pick Up The Pace, a 30-minute health club for women. She has owned and oper...  

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