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Finding the Perfect Weight Loss Lunch

The Anderson Method 250-calorie BLT!

The Anderson Method 250-calorie BLT!

This scrumptious BLT is one of the lunches I had regularly when I lost 140 pounds in 18 months 30 years ago. This is only one example in a whole repertoire of great meals I’ll describe below that maintain my success.

(This article first appeared in The Huffington Post)

When clients have asked me to tell them what to eat, I haven’t, because it distracts them from what they really need to do. The secret to success in permanent weight loss is in learning how to think differently and develop your own unique set of habits and preferences, with your own favorites. That’s why diets don’t work. We eventually return to our own preferences, the ways that made us overweight. I don’t give people diets because it’s not the diet that makes you successful. It’s the reprogramming technique I teach.

However, in order to dispute those who claim it’s impossible to have great meals without gaining weight or that you need to eat special concoctions or give up everything you like, I’m going to share some of my favorite meals that are not only delectable, but also keep me thin. We’ll start with lunch. We’ll cover breakfast and dinner another time.

Lunch can be the cause of obesity for many people and the main reason they fail at attempts to lose weight. If you’ve read my work, you know that the physical science of weight control is simple. Eat more calories than you burn, and you’ll get fat. Overeat and you gain weight, undereat and you lose. Getting ourselves to do this is the tricky part, and we’ll talk about that in a minute.

The reason lunch can be such a problem is that its easy to eat thousands of calories too much if you aren’t paying attention. Some of the salads at restaurants can be 1200 calories or more all by themselves. (Some women will gain weight if they eat more than 1500 calories per day!) A Whopper, fries and a coke can be 1500. Power lunches at fancy places can be 2000 calories. Same with pizza. No wonder it’s so easy to gain weight. Living large at lunch is one of the reasons we have an obesity epidemic.

My BLT shown above is only 250 calories. I make a great ham and cheese sandwich at only 270. How can that be, you say, with all that bread, mayo and bacon or ham and cheese? Easy. I use Publix reduced calorie bread at 40 calories a slice and Hellman’s low-fat mayo at 15 calories a tablespoon. Three slices of bacon is only 105 calories and ham is only 30 calories a slice. Those sandwiches look decadent and the gossips badmouth them, but they are a great deal for lunch. A Soft Beef Taco Supreme at Taco Bell is only 210 calories and a hamburg at McDonald’s is only 250. The good old-fashioned hot dog is only 250 calories, and mustard, relish and onions adds very little to it. Losing weight and keeping it off can be enjoyed with great tasting food if you decide to keep to a reasonable budget and make it a rule to never again give yourself permission to be a glutton at lunch. Don’t give yourself permission to get fat because everyone else is, or lie to yourself, telling yourself it will do no harm “just this once”. It will. To get that excess weight off and keep it off, you need to make it a habit to keep your calories within a certain budget.

One of the most important mind control techniques in behavior therapy is the simple act of planning ahead. It’s actually a form of self-hypnosis that makes success and self-control easier if you take the trouble to think ahead of what you’ll have and prepare for it. The law of expectancy is always at work in us unconsciously, and the old maxim is true: those who fail to plan are planning to fail.

If you’re eating at home, it’s easy to have those ingredients ready, but it can be done at work too, if you have a fridge and microwave. Eating at the office rather than going out or ordering in is easy and smart. It not only saves calories, but it saves you money and time too, eliminating the time to drive somewhere. At clinics I’ve worked at, I’d stock the kitchenette with the makings for sandwiches, as well as soups and Lean Cuisines, Healthy Choices, and other low calorie frozen meals. And the planning ahead I was referring to does not have to be rigid. Once you’ve learned enough about what’s possible and you’ve practiced enough, your planning can be as simple as committing to “no more than 250 calories”, or to one of the many lunch selections you know will fit into the plan.

Eating out can be more of a challenge, but very doable if you think ahead about how to do things. If you do the research, you’ll find that some of the fast food places have at least one item that will work. Look them all up on their Internet sites, so you’ll know what to order the next time you hit one. Fast food places can be a disaster if you just walk in and start ordering things that sound good. However, if you go on with a plan, you’ll be dropping pounds and dress sizes before you know it. A sub, burger or taco and a diet soda will work just fine.

If you go to nicer restaurants at business lunches, it can be very easy to go through several thousand calories if you approach it as “living large”. You’ll be better off all around by ordering a simple salad and have your own dressing packets, like Walden Farms zero-calorie dressings, ready to go in your bag. You’ll make an impression as a better business person than those who overindulge and are seen as careless and wasteful. For me and my clients, fine dining works well for dinner but is a nuisance at lunch.

There is no need to give up eating things you enjoy to lose weight. In fact, one of the keys to success is creating ways of eating that are more enjoyable than the old ways that made you overweight. When the food tastes good and you know it’s making you successful, you feel a whole lot better than feeling stuffed and knowing you just made things worse. When these new ways become your preferred habits, you’re set for life. And just as there are strategies to turn lunchtime from a problem to a solution, there are strategies that are just as effective for breakfast, dinner, weekend parties and holidays too.

Does Loving Yourself Lead to Weight Loss?

love yourself

(This article first appeared in The Huffington Post)

I’ll bet that you’ve heard that you must first love yourself to lose weight. So many of us hate being overweight, even hate ourselves for it, and we think that we need to lose weight to be able to like ourselves. But we’re told that we have it backwards, that to lose weight, we need to first love ourselves the way we are. Well, how is that possible when you don’t like yourself or if you hate yourself and what you’ve made of your life? How can you just decide, “I love me!” when everything inside you says it’s a lie? It’s impossible.

I don’t remember who first told me that I had to love myself the way I was, to love my fat body, as it was, in order to get better. It seemed crazy. She told me to hug my enormous thigh and say “I love you, thigh.” How could I do that? I hated it.

Soon after we are born, we discover that we must “measure up” to be OK, to be praised and rewarded. Often, when we don’t, we are scolded and punished. Then, later, we discover that to be accepted by our peers, we have to be a certain way, act a certain way, and look a certain way. Otherwise, we are rejected, or worse, teased and tormented. If we are good at “making the grade”, we are showered with acceptance and love, and assisted in life. If we don’t, we are punished by parents and teachers, and rejected, teased and tormented by our peers. Instead of being loved, we are not only disliked, but hated -scorned. We get abused rather than showered with affection and given opportunity and assistance by those in our world.

This is the system most of us learn. It is “the way things work” that we learn to deal with, and it never occurs to us to change it. How could we? It’s reality. It’s the way the world works.

So, we adopt this system ourselves. We judge everything we encounter, and if it measures up, we accept it. If it doesn’t, we reject it. If it’s really wonderful, we love it and shower it with praise and whatever we can give it. If it’s awful, we treat it with scorn, withhold our love, and maybe even trash it, kick it to the curb. This is how we regard everyone and everything we encounter. This is the way we think and treat everything in our lives — including ourselves.

It is the unusual person who encounters something ugly and rotten and hugs it, who forgives those who have committed the sins of our society. We want to punish! Sure, there are those who preach about loving our enemies and forgiving those who have committed the worst sins, but nobody except saints takes that seriously. Those who break the rules and fail to live up to our standards deserve to be scorned and punished. That’s just the way it is. They deserve it. And in our culture that worships physical beauty and success, there is hardly anything worse than a big fat failure. And that’s what I was at age 33 at 320 pounds, a diet failure for 25 years.

The weight loss industry preys on people who hate being overweight and often hate themselves for failing to fix it. Most people believe that the way to earn their self-respect and like themselves is to correct this flaw, to lose the weight and become a weight loss success. Then they would be able to like themselves. And this idea is promoted and accepted. And the truth is that it is wonderful to become successful at it. You feel so much better about yourself. It can’t be denied. However, to maintain the belief you must succeed in order to be OK and lovable, that only success and beauty should be loved while ugliness and failure should be hated, is a trap. It’s a trap I was caught in until I changed what I believed.

The problem is, we don’t take good care of things we hate. We throw them out, or under the bus. However, we bend over backwards to take care of the things we love. If we have an adorable little puppy that we love, we give it everything it needs and more. We lavish it with love and toys. But if we are given a snarling mangy stray to take care of, we are more apt to take it to the pound and leave it. That’s the way we’ve become. It’s normal. It doesn’t make us the devil, but the truth is, we don’t help things we hate recover from whatever affliction they suffer. When we confront ourselves and our faults and failures, we tend to hate. We are more apt to beat ourselves up or let ourselves go without what we need to get better.

If we are to thrive and get better, to recover from our flaws and failures, we need to be nurtured and helped, not neglected and abused. That loving behavior has to come from a conscious decision to be loving and forgiving when confronting those things that are not beautiful and successful, instead of judging and punishing. That doesn’t mean that you let the mangy stray sleep in your bed and bite you, but that you realize there is probably a reason it’s the way it is and you start treating it right instead of abusing it, and you see that it gets what it needs to thrive. That means that you make a conscious decision to not only be loving and forgiving to others, but to yourself as well, to love yourself like the puppy, not because you earned it, but because it needs it to be OK, because you need it to be OK.

In my early thirties, I had failed so many times at permanent weight loss that I gave up on the idea. I left that dream behind. But then I bought into this way of thinking that embraced love and forgiveness instead of judging and punishing. I decided that not only others needed to be loved regardless of their conditions, but that I also was worthy of that consideration, even though a big fat failure. I decided to love that body, the poor thing, and be kind about my faults and failures instead of mad and mean. Coincidently, I started being able to make changes and get better.

It’s been 30 years now since I lost my excess 140 pounds, which is a wonderful thing. But I’ve come to know that the more important change I’ve made is the way I think and the way I am on the inside. The outside counts for something, but it’s not the end-all, be-all, and often times we can’t change those conditions we find ourselves in. What makes us better is deciding to love ourselves no matter what. We need that. And when we do that, sometimes we open the door to miracles.

Read my book and maybe a miracle will open for you!