Tag Archives: therapy

Can a Drug or Surgery Solve Your Weight Problem?

Successful Weight Loss
(Published first in The Huffington Post)

In a word, no. Can they help? Perhaps.

Last month I wrote an article that spoke somewhat favorably of the new weight loss drug, Saxenda. I said it was perhaps the most important weight loss medication ever developed.

Wow! Did I get lambasted! I got all sorts of email blasting me for going over to the dark side and becoming a drug pusher and lackey of Big Pharma. I even got an email from my favorite professor of counseling at the University of Massachusetts, now friend, Allen Ivey, Ph.D. Besides being a friend, he is a big shot in the counseling field, the father of Microcounseling and developer of “active listening”. He said he was “sad” to see that I seemed to be pushing drugs. He is the last person on earth that I would want to be mistaken about my views on the solution to obesity. We’ve since gotten that misunderstanding corrected, but I want to make sure it is clear with everyone who reads my blogs.

I am still the world’s staunchest advocate of the behavioral therapy I teach to reverse the condition of obesity. It works -like a miracle, some say. But not 100% of the time. For some, it is not enough.

After 30 years successfully helping people to lose weight permanently, I am convinced that a percentage of the population is dealing with a physiological condition that creates more persistent and intense degrees of craving and compulsion than the rest of us have to deal with. My approach teaches people how to overcome the habits and feelings that make them overweight but sometimes those cravings and compulsions are so strong that nothing on God’s natural earth will quiet them.

If you’ve ever had a blister on your foot or a pebble in your shoe, you’ll remember that your brain is getting the message loud and clear that you need to relieve that pressure and you need to relieve it right now. You will feel the drive to relieve it until you do. It won’t go away until you do whatever it takes. There is no “will-powering” it away. Something is going on in the body, physiologically and chemically, that is triggering a response in your brain that will bother you until you satisfy it. It isn’t exactly the same with the food cravings that some have, but it gives you an idea of what some people are dealing with. Hold your breath for as long as you can and see how powerful the urge to breathe becomes. This is the kind of relentless drive that a small percentage of the population is fighting in their attempts to stop eating too much.

For them, some sort of intervention or tool that would make it easier for them to eat less would be a Godsend. Then, perhaps what they learn in a good behavioral approach would be enough. Self-programming and cognitive techniques like I teach work like magic for many people, but they would be so much more productive for these folks with eating hyperdrive if we could reduce that drive, which the pharmaceuticals can do. Or in the case of surgery, an additional tool to use behaviorally.

Make no mistake about it, drugs or surgery will not by themselves solve your weight problem. To solve your weight problem, you need to make a permanent change in your behavior, made possible with behavioral therapy, taught in my book and by my therapists. Success comes with learning how to eat what you like in ways that keep you at your desired weight and it becoming habitual and a new “normal” for you. Now, with these new medical interventions, success may be possible even for those who have suffered from an abnormally intensive eating drive. Weight loss drugs or surgery may now enable them to overcome the obstacles that prevented them from being able to make those behavioral changes.

The TGIF! Diet — Why It Works

Group of friends having lunch with glasses of wine at table, smiling

No, we’re not talking about the restaurant. We’re talking about how I lost 140 pounds 30 years ago and kept it off with what has been called the TGIF diet. I wrote the book about it! The Anderson Method

I teach a lifestyle where five days a week we are quite austere, like people on a diet, and then, for two days, we are more relaxed, eating more normally on the weekend. I had tried and failed to lose my excess weight for 25 years until I discovered how to succeed with this method. So can you. We win every day, every week and every weekend, work hard M-F and then it’s “Thank God It’s Friday!” It’s a great way to live.

On the weekends we are able to do the things people normally can’t do if they are trying to lose weight. On the weekends we go out to dinner without denying ourselves, have drinks and deserts without guilt, and we go to parties while not denying ourselves a good time. Then, Monday, it’s back to work, nose to the grindstone. And when Friday comes, it’s TGIF! I lost all my excess weight doing this, 140 pounds in 18 months, and I’ve kept it off for three decades.

I’m not talking about bingeing on the weekend or having a free-for-all on weekends where anything goes, and then feeling lousy about it afterwards. They are not “cheat” days. They are carefully formed habits of eating everything I like and want in ways that prevent me from being overweight. It’s a matter of training and reprogramming, like becoming addicted to healthy eating instead of overeating. Also, I am enjoying the food more than ever before, guilt free! All of the eating habits I’ve developed have been carefully created so that I’ve learned how to eat all the foods I like and want in ways that have allowed me to lose all the weight I wanted to lose, and keep it off.

In order for this to work, you need to learn about the metabolic rate you’ll have at your goal weight (there is no mystery to this) and then learn about the caloric values in all the foods that you like to eat. Instead of learning how to diet and lose weight (only to gain it back when we go back to “normal”), we learn how to eat what we like in a way to become and stay at our desired weight for the rest of our life. We actually train and reprogram ourselves to eat what we like in the quantities that will fit into our caloric budget (low on weekdays, then up to our burn rate, but not over, on weekends) and we practice this until it becomes habit. I’ve found there is almost nothing I need to cut out of my life to succeed. Everything I like can fit into the plan somewhere.

In this way, we avoid the experience of losing weight while we punish ourselves, only to become worse overeaters when the diet is over. In the typical diet approach, people do something strange for a while, lose a bit of weight, get sick of the dieting and then go back to the habits that made then overweight, only worse. They regain more than ever, returning to unstructured, unconscious eating of incredibly caloric foods without knowing it and without realizing what they are doing. Immediately after losing weight, most people begin literally training and programming themselves to become chronically overweight and addicted to overeating.

Needless to say, there is more work involved than having a shake or prepared meal that some company sells, or simply starving yourself for a while. We have to actually learn about the food we really eat, and train like a musician or athlete to act habitually in ways that keep us fit. We develop a kind of “muscle memory” of the mind with our eating habits. And like people who become skilled in sports, it’s a mental game, where the mental techniques to master will, motivation and execution are the most important aspect of the sport. But oh, the glory and pleasure of the victory.

Here’s the link to the article as published on The Huffington Post:      

                          The TGIF! Diet — Why It Works