How Phil Mickelson learned to quit being a yo-yo dieter and make his weight loss stick

There’s a lot to admire about Phil Mickelson, including his weight-loss transformation in recent years.

People are often told — with good reason — that making those kind of lifestyle shifts only get harder as you get older. Eating healthy and working out (or not doing either) are, ultimately, nothing more than habits. And the thing about habits is that they’re engrained over time. Years of bad habits are hard to shake.

Which is why Mickelson transforming himself into the best physical shape of his life in his late 40s after years of yo-yo dieting is so inspiring.

So, what changed? That was a topic of conversation in GOLF Top 100 Claude Harmon III’s most recent Off Course podcast with fellow GOLF Top 100 Teacher Dave Phillips, which you can listen to in full below.

How Phil stopped being a yo-yo dieter

Phillips, in his role as the co-founder of the Titleist Performance Institute, has worked closely with Mickelson for years. He said Mickelson’s shift was essentially making different choices. He used to struggle maintaining his weight loss when he opted for the easier (at times more satisfying) choices, which Phillips says is an easy trap for someone like Phil to fall into.

“Whenever you’re that elite, it’s always the best bottle of wine, or the nicest dinners, because if you’re going to have dinner with Phil, you’re not going to go just down the road,” he says. “There’s a lot of opportunity to have the best of the best and it’s hard to say no.”

But things changed when he was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis in 2010, which was caused primarily by inflammation. Faced with the prospect of an early retirement — and not by choice — Phil finally had the motivation to find and stick with a diet designed to “reset” and cleanse his body. That reality check sent Phil down a path where he was, in his own words, being “educated” and “accountable” for his health.

And as Phillips explains, it’s something golfers everywhere can learn from.

“We can all learn from this as we get older: It’s fine to have food and a nice bottle of wine,” he says. “It’s just about knowing, when we have it, what that does to you. Phil now knows that, and it’s why he’s been able to keep the weight off.”

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Luke Kerr-Dineen Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and In his role he oversees the brand’s game improvement content spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University. His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.