Author Archives: William Anderson, LMHC

Is Online Counseling Safe and Effective?

It can be. Here’s what you need to know:

Telecounseling, using the telephone to conduct legitimate counseling sessions with licensed therapists, has been occurring for close to 50 years.  Telemedicine is what they call it when doctors and other healthcare providers provide services via telephone and Internet video connection. Now, it is a common practice, a clinical mode that is studied and taught to doctors and therapists, and in many cases, covered by health insurance.

As an older Licensed Mental Health Counselor, a boomer, I have been slow to accept the rapid advance of our culture into the digital age. I was even slow to accept the idea of distance counseling via telephone, without the eyeball-to-eyeball and close-up intimacy of live personal human contact. But circumstances forced the issue, with established clients sometimes homebound, and more and more people living an hour or more away who wanted to work with me. I found that counseling over the phone worked quite well, and actually had some distinct advantages over in-person sessions. No travel time, for one thing. It’s also convenient with less stress for busy people and those uncomfortable with going to a “shrink’s” office.

Today, telecounseling is routine and accepted, and the issues that were raised as potential problems, like privacy, confidentiality, compliance with the HIPPA laws, protection of personal health information and your most guarded secrets, have been answered with services that use technology and accreditation to insure those things. Counseling via phone or video calling, if done appropriately, can be as safe and effective in many cases as in-person counseling.

The same rules apply as with any healthcare services you seek. You need to make sure you are dealing with a licensed health professional in your state. You need to check what the counselor presents in their website or other public information to see if they might be a good fit. You need to be willing to invest in at least one session to see if the fit feels right. Also, you need to be prepared to try a different counselor if your first choice doesn’t feel right.

When COVID-19 hit early this year, telecounseling was a godsend. So many people needed help to cope, and distance counseling was perfect to meet the needs for social distancing and stay-at-home protocols.

Right at that time, I noticed a lot of advertising on NPR by BetterHelp, an Internet company that promised connection with licensed counselors through your computer, tablet or smartphone. I did a little checking and found they offered access to a professional counselor 24/7 via text (the counselor would respond within 24 hours if not sooner), for $40 per week and up, depending on how much service you wanted, and you could also arrange phone or video sessions.

I balked at the idea of counseling via text or chatting. I had a lot of experience as a user of social media, and I’m certain that real counseling or therapy cannot occur with texting or chatting. However, I have also served as a mental health expert in media where “ask the expert” questions were invited, and I would provide information that was very helpful to people. It was kind of like a “Dear Abby” column and it turned out to be very helpful to the people who wrote in. In fact, lots of people get lots of help with personal problems with therapeutic ideas and information they glean from books and other quality sources. That could not be called counseling, but it is in fact referred to as “bibliotherapy” when a counselor gives you a book to read. So, while it’s not counseling, communicating with a professional counselor with questions, issues and problems can be quite helpful. As one of the “Ask the Expert” experts when answering a message from those writing in about a problem, I’d sometimes suggest, after answering their question, that they connect with a professional for real counseling if it seemed like it was what they needed. As it turns out, I believe that’s what happens when you connect with a counselor at BetterHelp.

While I was spurred to write this article by BetterHelp’s community outreach, I don’t want to give the impression that I am endorsing them. I don’t know anymore about them than you’d know by reading what they say at their website. If you are interested in looking into online counseling, I’d suggest you do what I did and Google it. You’ll get pages of things to look at and there are some good articles to read from good sources like Psychology Today and The New York Times.

One thing I’ll heartily endorse is the experience of working with a counselor. I think it’s something everyone should do. Of course, it’s my life’s work, so you’d expect that I believe in the value of it. And I think it has value even if you don’t have a terribly troubling problem, like my specialty, infuriatingly stubborn weight control. In fact, talking to anyone rather than keeping everything inside is usually helpful. Sometimes though, if the person is not a professional, they can do more harm than good. It’s better to talk with someone who knows the right things to say and how to avoid making things worse.

Talk to a counselor, it’ll do you good.

Are Protein Shakes Really a Good Idea For Weight Loss?

In a word, “yes”. Here’s why. A real weight loss expert explains.


New clients and readers ask, “What should I eat to lose weight? What should I avoid?” I don’t answer with lists of foods and diets. Instead, I teach a method for permanent weight loss that includes the foods they like, holidays, dining out and all the things they’ll want for the rest of their lives. Success comes from building habits that include your favorite things while they keep you at your optimum weight. “Dieting” with schemes that won’t last only leads to yo-yo dieting and continuous weight gain.

However, I’m sometimes asked questions about specific foods that are easy to answer and provide immediate effective help with no study and effort. One of the questions is about the advisability of protein shakes. The answer: yes, they are a good idea, and here’s why:

1) Protein shakes are an easy way to achieve your daily caloric goals.

To lose weight, women generally need to limit their intake to about1000 calories per day consistently for an extended period of time, and men, about 1500. In our culture of big breakfasts, lunch in restaurants, meetings and break rooms with snacks and vending machines, you’ve undoubtedly discovered it’s impossible to do. It’s easy to be at 2000 before you’ve even gotten home for dinner.

By keeping your breakfast light with a 300-calorie egg-based breakfast, and then using a 150-calorie protein shake as a meal substitute at lunch, it’s easy to limit your intake during the day to under 500 calories (especially when you use my meals-and-fasting method), leaving you 500 in the budget for a satisfying home-made or prepared meal at the end of the day.

2. Protein shakes suppress your appetite rather that stimulate it.

Simple carbohydrates, like the sugar in prepared foods and fruit, act like a drug that stimulates your appetite. You feel hungry soon after you’ve eaten and it’s hard to resist eating more. Simple carbs are digested quickly and sends your blood sugar way up. This triggers an overproduction of insulin by your pancreas, which sends your brain the message that you need to eat more. We experience this as hunger and cravings. A grain and fruit breakfast often makes people ravenous by 10, while going without doesn’t.

Protein, on the other hand, takes a long time to digest and keeps your blood sugar even, without the spike in insulin and the hunger and cravings it creates.

So, you’ll find that a 150 calorie protein shake will fuel you for a whole morning or afternoon without feeling hungry again a few hours later.

You’ve got to be careful, though, in selecting a “meal substitute” shake. When you look at the nutritional information, some are loaded with sugar and they are low in protein. Some so-called “healthy” shakes and snack bars are just sugary drinks and candy bars in diguise. You’ll end up hungry in a short while just like with other sugary foods. All shakes are not equal. You’ll see some with just a few grams of protein and mostly carbs, and you’ll be hungry right away. When you have those, you can never get enough. Some of the better shakes have as much as 30 grams of protein. Those will stay with you all afternoon.

3. Protein is especially important nutritionally when you eat less to lose weight.

You’ve probably heard of the “RDA”, the recommended daily allowance of nutrients the dietitians talk about. If you don’t get enough protein, carbohydrate, fat (yes, even fat), vitamins, minerals and water, you risk compromising your health. Usually, in America, we don’t have to give it much thought because we eat so much that you can’t help but get more than enough of everything.

However, when you cut back enough to start losing weight, you risk hurting your body rather than helping it if you’re not getting enough of the right nutrients.

Remember that reducing your weight and body fat requires you to “undereat”, consuming fewer calories than you burn. (Read my article about the science of weight loss). Most of the calories in typical American foods come from carbs and fat. Our usual diets are low in protein. When you cut back, unless you pay attention, you won’t get sufficient protein.

When you undereat, if you don’t get your nutritional needs met, your body will “eat” itself to get what it needs. That’s great if it gets what it needs from your stored fat. But if you are not getting enough protein, your body will consume it’s own muscle and organ tissue, and that’s very bad. You’ll see the scale drop, but you’re losing muscle instead of fat. You’ll look and feel worse, not better. And your metabolic rate will decrease. It will become harder to lose weight and keep from gaining!

By using a protein shake with 30 grams of protein as a lunch or breakfast substitute, you can make it easy to get enough protein to prevent muscle loss even when you are eating much less than your metabolic rate.

So, yes, protein shakes are a good idea for weight loss, especially when you make them a habit for life. I’ve been using them on a regular basis to keep the calories down for over 30 years. They’ve helped me maintain my ideal weight using my method the entire time after years of being obese. I highly recommend them.

How the ‘Wheel of Life’ Can Help You Find Balance

 

 It led me to the miracle I discovered for weight loss, the end of workaholism, and to greater success than ever before.

There is a tool in the toolbox for personal development that has been around for over a thousand years called the “Wheel of Life”. You may be familiar with it if you have been exposed to life coaching or personal development for greater effectiveness in your business life. When I first learned about it, I was “successful” in a business sense, but I was obese and working myself to death. I learned of it in a course I took to become more “successful” in directing and managing a staff and organization. Fortunately, it led me to changes that would save my out-of-balance life, and led me to the successful and highly respected weight loss plan I developed to reverse obesity, and it is now taught all over the world in weight loss programs, hospital and clinics. The “Wheel of Life” was a very important discovery for me.

Below is an example of it you may be familiar with, created by Paul Meyer, creator of Success Motivation Institute and one of the originators of what has become “Life Coaching”. He is credited as the creator of the modern day version of the wheel of life and a pioneer in the business of personal development and life coaching.

This has been a useful tool when life has gotten out of balance, such as suffering from workaholism, getting burned out, or generally being unsatisfied and not sure why.It’s been very effective in helping people to become more effective and satisfied with their life even if they are not burned out or unhappy. The idea is to identify the areas, dimensions or aspects of your life and arrange them as areas or spokes around a wheel.

The circle represents your life, the whole of you. The pieces of the pie, or spokes, are the parts your life: the areas, roles, or aspects of the whole. You assess those aspects and create a graphic like the one here to see how balanced your life is. Below are some more examples.

You can see, depending on the version, that some wheels have more and varied aspects. The nature of the aspects are up to you and usually identify parts, areas, roles, needs or dimensions of your life.

Again, the idea is to assess these parts of yourself or your life to see if there are important things you’ve been neglecting, or things you’ve been giving too much of yourself to.

Here are a few more examples.

This last one is the oldest example, one of many Buddhist wheels of life. The wheel model or symbol is said to have been used by the Buddha as a tool to teach his students his lessons of enlightenment. This one represents Buddha’s eight-fold path, perhaps inspiring Meyer’s “paths”.

What’s The Purpose?

Today, the tool is used mainly to identify what we need to do when life is out of balance, for instance, when the wheel shows us that all our attention is going to work and we are ignoring our health or needs for fun and recreation. The second illustration shows the wheel out of balance. This tool is usually used in goal-setting exercises, to help us be more balanced when we set goals.

But, what is the goal and purpose of life? To set and attain goals? Success? Is life a game where winning is a matter of the goals attained, and the more the better? Or is it something else? Is it not to enjoy happiness, bliss, to be content, satisfied and happy with yourself and life? To truly thrive? Isn’t that the success we seek?

Centered and Whole

The purpose of the wheel of life exercise is to make sure our wheel, the whole of our life, is balanced, all aspects or needs fulfilled in the right way. When one aspect of your life becomes the focus and the others are neglected, the wheel is out of balance. We know what happens to an out-of-balance wheel. It gets wobbly and is likely to crash. Our wheel, your life, needs to be balanced around the center. But what’s at the center of your life, the most important thing?

We know, from experience, that success in any endeavor seems to demand a “Singleness of Purpose”, as Rev. Charles Marriott taught in 1852. To succeed, we need to focus on that one thing and give it “our all”. We falter when we are scattered, going in all directions and getting nowhere. The question is, what is it that we should give “our all” to?

Certainly, we know that if work is the most important thing and you are ignoring your health or your family, it’s unhealthy and can be disastrous. It can be the same if religion or your social community is the priority. If family is first, to the exclusion of your own well being, that’s also disastrous.

The one thing that promises to deliver balance is to make wholeness the singular focus and goal. “Whole” is the origin of the word “health”, but it is more than the health of the body. It is about the health of the psyche, mind and spirit, in harmony with existence itself, your spirit one with the spirit of life.

I’ll bet you have been advised to take time to get centered, maybe in an exercise of meditation. The Yogis have forms of Yoga (union) they practice to get centered properly, to become one with the “absolute”, the ultimate Cosmic Reality. Other religions teach us to find solutions by surrender to a Higher Power, putting God first, making that relationship central, the real healing we need, real wholeness. Some teach to let go of selfish desires to be happy and free of suffering. More modern psychologists (students of the psyche, the mind or soul) talk of the life tasks of self-identity, spirituality, the need for self-actualization, and coming to terms with the cosmos.

Regardless of your thoughts about the spirit part of body, mind and spirit, you know that being self-centered or centered on one part of your wheel is unhealthy and unbalanced. Make wholeness, real health, your singular purpose and get centered on what’s really at the center of your being. You might find that balance starts happening on it’s own.

New Technology Perfectly Measures Your Body Fat

DEXASCAN report

No more wondering. And it shows you exactly where it is.

Today, because of state-of-the-art medical science and technology, there is a new way to measure your body fat percentage that is easy, affordable and precise. The methods available in the past, using skinfold calipers or electrical impedance devices that you stand on or hold in your hands, were so unreliable that they were better thought of as estimates rather than measures, in my opinion. Underwater weighing was regarded as most reliable, but it was inconvenient, costly, and usually found only in hospitals and university laboratory settings. MRIs were perfectly accurate but cost thousands. Measuring your body circumference or volume was little more than guesswork.

GE’s DEXASCAN at LiveleanRx.com in Tampa, FL

Today, high-tech medical science has given us a way to analyze body composition that is easy, affordable and incredibly accurate: state of the art, dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). The General Electric Healthcare scanner uses two types of x-rays to print your body on a pixel-by-pixel basis. Other than an MRI, DEXA is the only other scientifically validated and FDA approved, clinical-caliber-method of quantifying total body composition. These machines actually see the contents of your body and can measure precisely the amount of muscle, fat and bone and other material contained in your skin. (See the titanium joint in my hip in the top picture?)

NBC.com had done a story about The Anderson Weight Loss Method after my article, Science Based Weight Loss, was published in Medium and Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global. Those two media events produced intense interest in my work by the medical field as well as people who want to lose weight. Shortly after those stories came out, I was asked by DEXA SCAN, the company that offers this new technology, to try it and write a review. I took them up on their offer (a free scan, worth $150) and warned them that I made no promises about what I’d say. I told them up front I would pull no punches if I found their technology and operations, clinical and business, less than satisfactory.

Faraz Mobayyen, R.T. (R), of LiveLeanRx in Tampa FL

DEXA SCAN referred me to the LiveLeanRx clinic in Tampa and I was able to make an appointment for the following week.

I checked first with my doctor to make sure this type of x-ray presented no risk. No problem. It uses a very weak type of wave — the amount of radiation is approximately equal to the natural radiation you would experience in a day outdoors. No need to be concerned like when you get a chest x-ray and need a lead shield.

When I arrived, I found a clinical lab, staffed by licensed health professionals. The procedure itself took less than 10 minutes. You just lay on the table, no need to disrobe, and the scanner passes over you slowly and almost silently.

The Radiologic Technologist, Faraz Mobayyen, was extremely helpful explaining how the DEXA SCAN worked, and it produced an incredibly detailed report. All I thought I’d get was one number, the percent of body fat. However, the report reveals incredible details of body composition, including bone density. This machine not only reveals the amount of fat and muscle in your body, but it identifies where it is, by body part. It tells you how much visceral fat you are carrying, which we now know is an important risk factor for heart disease and diabetes. It tells you how much muscle and fat you have in each arm and leg. The report had more information than I would have ever asked for. This is all extremely valuable information to anyone interested in their health status.

As an added bonus, I got a bone density analysis that showed how I compared to the average, and where I fell in the range of possibilties. This kind of detailed information is so valuable in helping us to improve our health and reduce our personal risk factors, rather than depending on generalities. I was surprised to see that I had a curvature of the spine that in all my years had never been diagnosed!

I have wondered what my body fat percentage is for over 30 years, since I lost my 140 excess pounds. I’ve had it “measured” many times with other methods that never gave me information I could trust. The electrical impedance devices varied greatly, from day to day, and I knew my body fat did not change by 5% from one day to the next! The caliper method gave different results every time we did it, different with every person who did the measuring. Which reading was I supposed to believe? I just could not trust those methods.

Needless to say, I’m delighted I am finally able to know what my body fat percentage is. It’s scientifically accurate, precise. It’s information I can rely on, something I can trust. I give them an A+.


While I was at LiveLeanRX, I learned they can also measure resting metabolic rate with laboratory-quality indirect calorimetry, and they can also do a VO2MAX cardio assessment test. That tells you the maximum amount of oxygen your body can utilize and send to your muscles during high intensity exercise, while running on a treadmill or riding a bike. This is the real deal with laboratory-caliber testing. I and my clients and readers would love to know our true metabolic rate even more than body composition. With these tests, we can. Maybe I should suggest they have me do those other tests. I’d be happy to tell you about them too.

 

Science-Based Weight Loss – The physics are simple. The psychology is not.

Bill Anderson before and after his 140 lb. weight loss.

There is a way to lose weight that is scientifically proven to work. There is no wondering if it works. It’s based on irrefutably reliable science, as reliable as the law of gravity. It has never failed. If you eat this scientifically proven way to lose weight, you can have full confidence that you will lose weight, as surely as you know that things fall down, not up, when you let go of them. You can even learn how to keep it off. I know, because I was able to apply it after 25 years of failing with unhelpful diets. I finally solved my weight problem and lost 140 pounds 35 years ago. I have kept it off since and made it my mission to teach others how to do the same.

I’m old now, and I forget that young people often don’t know the basics of how to lose weight, so I’ll go over that here. And all the details are in my book.

First, The Thermodynamics

There is no mystery here, but there is lots of misunderstanding about how to lose weight and keep it off. The continuous flow of conflicting misinformation and advice leads people to think that the honest-to-God truth about how to lose weight is not yet known. But it is. The science explaining weight loss, weight gain and weight maintenance has been proven and it has not changed significantly for over 100 years.

Your body is a machine that uses fuel, like a car. Instead of burning gas, we burn food, and we measure the amount of energy in food in calories. We have fairly precise ways to measure how much fuel/calories you burn in your activities of daily living, and fairly precise ways to measure the amount of fuel/calories in the food you eat. The calorie counts of all foods are easily found, published in books and websites on the Internet. Packaged foods have the calories on the label, and many restaurants today post the calories counts, required by law.

Your body weight is the result of the caloric economics of your body, like your bank balances are a result of your financial economics. If you eat more calories than you burn, you store them as fat. With money, surpluses are good. You get rich. With calories, surpluses are bad. You get fat.

If you burn more calories than you eat, you start burning your stored surpluses. That’s great if you want to lose weight. You start to trim down. With money, burning through more than you take in results in debt or worse, going broke or even bankrupt. Very bad. Deficit spending can create problems with finances, but if you want to lose weight, deficits are great!

There is a lot of folklore and myth in the media and gossip about weight loss, so you have to be careful about what you believe. For instance, a lot of people think there are “good” calories for weight loss and “bad” calories that make you fat. Nonsense. Some think that carb and fat calories are worse than protein calories, but it’s not true. It’s true that you need good nutrition and a balanced diet to be healthy, but for weight loss purposes, all we are concerned with is the calories. Also, there’s no truth that the time of day that you eat affects whether the calories are stored or not. And the way you combine foods doesn’t matter. You can’t cancel calories if they go in your body. Activity is about the only thing you can do that will affect the way you burn calories. Like I said, the physics is simple.

There are devices that can measure your metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn calories) with a method called indirect calorimetry. Hospitals and universities have these machines, and some doctors have hand-held devices that are very reliable if used properly. They measure your respiratory gases and calculate the energy produced by analyzing the oxygen used and carbon dioxide produced by your body’s “internal combustion” of your food.

You could have the test done, but we use a formula called the Miflin-St. Jeor equation (MSJ) to estimate your metabolic rate at the weight you want to maintain for life. We have compared the actual test to the estimate many times, and they have been close enough to rely on for the weight loss method I devised. The Miflin-St. Jeor formula is named after the scientists who formulated and proved it accurate, and it takes into account your age, gender, weight, height, and activity. I’ve included the actual formulas below, but it’s easier to use one of the software calculators on the Internet like the one at this website: https://tdeecalculator.net

There are a number of calculators online, so I’d recommend verifying what you learn by comparing.

Three important pieces of information:

1). Use the weight you want to achieve and maintain the rest of you life. You can learn what you burn at the weight you are now to satisfy your curiosity, but the important thing to learn is how to eat like a person at the weight you want to be. To lose weight, you’ll need habits that get you substantially lower than this, and then to maintain, you’ll need habits that keep you under this, even on holidays and vacations, etc.

2). Use the activity level you know you will sustain the rest of your life. (If you don’t have an exercise habit, use the sedentary level, unless your work is the equivalent of a strenuous workout) Forget about exercising to lose weight if you’re not going to make it a lifetime habit. That’s like dieting. If it’s not the way you are going to live, you’ll just regain the weight when you normalize. So, be honest. Use sedentary if that’s the way you live.

3). Don’t take the advice and recommendations at these websites with the calculators as gospel. I am not endorsing any of them. Just use the calculators to find out how many calories you burn at the weight you want to be.

Below are the actual formulas, for those who want to do the actual calculations. You use the Miflin-St. Jeor equation to find what your resting metabolic rate is (RMR), then multiply it by your activity level. Note that weight is expressed in kilograms and height is expressed in centimeters.

These estimates are very accurate, and unless you have a real metabolic disorder, like thyroid disease, you can depend on them. If you think you have a “bad metabolism” due to an unusual physical condition, check with your doctor, and get it treated if you do.

Like I said, the physics are simple. The psychology is not.

Some people think weight control is simple — just eat fewer calories than you burn. It may be simple for some people, but for most of us, it has not been simple or easy. And it was not just hard — it was impossible. For me, counting calories was miserable and impossible, as bad as the diets I had failed at. I just couldn’t get to first base to get my eating and my caloric intake right.

Over the years, I’d been advised by doctors, dietitians, coaches, teachers and friends who thought they knew what I should do. “It’s a matter of changing your lifestyle,” the smart ones would say. “You need to form good habits,” they’d say. That made sense, but doing that had been impossible for years, trying my best. I was told I had to have self-control. “OK,” I thought, how do you do that? “Just make up your mind,” they’d say. “You gotta use your will power.” “You gotta want it bad enough.” “You need to be more disciplined.”

They thought they knew how to have self-control and form good habits. It turns out they really had no idea. They had self-control and good habits, and they thought it was because they just decided to have them, with their will. That’s not the way it works. Habits and will power are created by training with behavioral psychology techniques. They had been trained with technique they were not even aware they practiced.

It wasn’t until I became thoroughly educated in behavioral science, as a behavior therapist, that I was able to succeed with weight loss. It was in learning techniques of conditioning and what I call therapeutic psychogenicsthat I learned how to change myself and have the habits, will power and lifestyle of a person with perfect weight control. These are almost magical “mind control” techniques, like hypnosis, which cause us to think, feel and behave the way we do. It’s not just a matter of making up your mind.

Here are some of the things you need to know in order to succeed:

  1. Your new way of eating and living has to be enjoyable. We won’t do something we hate for very long, and we are hard-wired to seek pleasure.Fighting that is like fighting your need to sleep or go to the bathroom. You won’t win. Your way of eating has to include the foods you like, and the things you like to do. The first law of behaviorism is that “a behavior that is rewarded will be repeated”. It’s called conditioning with reinforcement.When we do something that feels good, drive is created (which we experience as desire, urges or cravings) to do it again. That’s how we grow habits and get addicted to things. So, we will have to learn what we can do that’s enjoyable that also fits our calorie budget. And then we need to practice it, over and over, so the choices and portions become our habits. We will also need to learn what won’t fit in the budget, and abstain from them for all time. Otherwise, we will reinforce overeating and create drive, desire and craving for the things that make us overweight.
  2. You will have to work hard and keep an accurate written record of calories for a while, until the right eating patterns become your habit. It’s a pain, but it’s absolutely necessary. Eventually, you’ll develop a “sixth sense” about calories so that eating the right way becomes automatic. Then, eating to maintain is not hard at all. But it won’t happen unless you put the work in up front. After a while, it becomes your new normal. When you are eating what you like in the right portions and pattern rather than following some diet you want to quit, you’ll have habits that will make you become and stay the weight you want to be.
  3. To lose weight at a rate that will be gratifying, you’ll need to reduce your caloric intake by about half, (usually to approx. 1000 for women, 1500 for men). When you start out, you’ll find that a lot of the things you’ve been eating are too high calorically to fit in that budget. In my method, we develop a lifetime habit of eating austerely during the week and more liberal on the weekend, so that the average ends up at the level that is effective. That way, you never have to deny yourself the things you like. It becomes a matter of choices, choosing the best ways to spend the budget on a weekday or a weekend day. Our objective is to learn how to eat for life, not diet for a while. We practice delayed gratification instead of self-denial. This is different than “dieting”. Diets are things we can’t wait to quit, so we can go back to “normal”, overeating and regaining. My way is a better way, something we look forward to enjoying every day. Who wants to quit something that makes you feel great every day?
  4. We need to win every day. We need a system we can trust that tells us how we did every day, so that we condition in the good habits and condition out the bad ones. That’s how programming works. You get positive feedback about your forward progress that reinforces the behavior. Most people think the scale is the way to measure your progress, but the scale is about the worst way to get feedback about how you are doing. The scale measures mainly the amount of water in your body, which can fluctuate wildly. If you believe the scale is giving you honest feedback about how you did today, you are likely to feel good when you overeat (if you are dehydrated), and feel bad when you eat properly, but are retaining water. It’s a sure way to program chaos and failure into your brain. It’s like malware. We need a way to get positive feedback every successful day to build the habits we need……. Remember what I said in my first point here. Behavioral psychology tells us that our behavior and habits are not so much a matter of choice as they are a result of conditioning. We need a rock-solid way to know we won every day. This is where faith in the science comes in handy. When you believe the reality that science tells us about the number of calories you burn, and you keep track of how many calories you took in, you’ll feel good every day you are under your burn rate, even on the weekend days. If you make a mistake, instead of saying you “blew it” and quit, you just keep track. On the days you are real low, you can visualize the chunk of fat you just burned off. (Undereating by 1000 calories burns 2/3 of a cup of body fat off your body as surely as driving 40 miles burns at least a gallon of gas.) This is reality. You can’t drive around without burning off gas, and you can’t walk around without burning off fat when you undereat. And it happens that day! If the scale says you gained, it’s giving you faulty feedback, measuring water retention. So, believe the science, not the scale, and make sure you register your win every day, whether it is a gold medal day, or just holding your own. If you keep track every day, you can win every day. Even if you screw up, you’ll still feel OK if you keep track. You’ll never have another day where you think you gained 5 pounds after eating pizza or Chinese food and soaked up 5 pounds of water like a sponge. To gain 5 pounds of body tissue in reality, you’d have to eat 17,500 calories above your burn rate. (Each pound of fat stores 3500 calories). So, even on a day where you went over, you’ll see you didn’t do that much damage, easily corrected by getting back to work.A big gain on the scale because of salty or sugary food making you retain water will disappear in a week, and then your deficits will show up.
  5. The most important habits we need to develop are the self-programming techniques and the use of habit-forming psychological phenomena. Will power and habits are not acquired simply by deciding to have them. They are acquired through training. These self-programming techniques are proven by real science, but they often sound silly……. How could just imagining yourself like someone else be important? Or talking to yourself? Or eating what you like instead of diet food? ……Some of the techniques are a pain in the neck and don’t seem to have hypnotic power at all, like planning ahead or looking up and writing down the calories in what you eat. But there is magic in them…… Yes, it’s easier to just buy a pre-packaged diet meal plan, but it will not produce the neurologicalchanges we want. The most important work often looks silly and unimportant compared to the practical stuff, and people sometimes decide to skip what they don’t find sensical. Don’t do that. The techniques people skip are usually the most important things you need to do.
  6. You will have to reject what America has come to accept as normal. We have grown up in a culture that has made itself obese. What we’ve come to accept as normal is an obese way of life. The habits, customs and beliefs in America are what make people obese. It’s so much a part of our life that there is a strong tendency to think they are normal, that we should be able to think and live that way and not be fat. But to succeed, we need to reject that way of thinking and living, and start swimming against the stream. The portions we have come to accept as normal in restaurants are two and three times what they need to be. The foods they sell us are as dense, calorically, as you could make food. Our society thinks eating is a form of entertainment, a hobby or pastime. It can’t be, if you want to lose weight and keep it off. We can enjoy eating, but it needs to be in a different way. I enjoy eating more than when I was chronically overweight, but it is no longer something I do to pass the time. It is not my leisure-time activity or a kind of entertainment in my free time.
  7. Our goal is to create a new way of being, and we need to be this way the rest of our lives. Like brushing and flossing, it’s not really hard work, but we need to get up and do it every day the rest of our lives if we want the good health and happiness that results from it. There is no retiring from doing what it takes to maintain a good weight. It’s work at first, some of it hard, but after a while, it becomes easier as you develop the knowledge, the skills and the habits. Then it becomes routine. It’s a routine we need to keep.
  8. Like learning a sport or a musical instrument, you’ll have to master something that’s difficult at first, and practice. At first, like playing an instrument, it may seem very hard or impossible to practice the techniques that create self-control. Because of that, many people quit and look for an easy way. As it is with a sport or music, there is no alternative to learning and doing what’s uncomfortable and difficult at first, and then practicing it until you get good at it. That’s how it becomes second nature. Trying to avoid the difficult work only keeps you from succeeding. It does get easy, but it takes a while. Then it becomes the new normal. For me, the new normal is so much more pleasurable than the old normal. I love the game, winning every day, and I love being at my preferred weight. You will too.

William Anderson is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, the author of “The Anderson Method of Permanent Weight Loss” (paperback and Kindle at Amazon, audiobook at Audible). He was obese until his early thirties when he found the solution. He lost 140 pounds, has kept it off for 35 years, and has taught thousands to successfully manage their weight.