Tag Archives: counseling

Jumping Jacks? Are You Nuts?

A serious teacher

Every year at this time, I publish columns to help people get control of their weight, and I also peruse what others are writing on the issue. This year, I read a few columns telling overweight people to exercise with jumping jacks. One said to “start with something easy, like jumping jacks”. Jumping jacks??!! I almost blew my coffee out my nose. Jumping jacks? Is this guy crazy? He has probably never been obese and probably has never had an obese person he has said this to.

As a formerly obese person, I can tell you that jumping jacks are a very bad idea for an obese person. Not only will it hurt, but you are liable to do damage. In fact, the number one rule for obese people and exercise is to take it easy, go slowly, and don’t overdo it. Use the old show-business principle. Only do so much, and leave ’em wanting more. If you get to the point where you think you’ve done enough, you’ve probably done too much. The most intense thing you should do at first is walking. Jumping jacks are the worst idea I’ve ever heard of.

I’m a behavior therapist who discovered how to succeed with permanent weight loss. After 25 years of diet and exercise failure, I finally “got it”, lost 140 pounds and I’ve kept it off for 30 years. I went on to teach others, and I wrote a successful book about it, now an audiobook. I can teach you.

In my behavioral approach, we focus on our behavior rather than our weight or our body. Instead of just trying to use “will power”, we use behavioral science, finding what we can live with, and we “program” in the behavior and habits that will create the results we want and we program out (extinguish) the behavior that made us overweight. Our goal is to make it so what we do to maintain our goal weight is more pleasurable and rewarding than what we did that made us fat.

So, forget jumping jacks and the people who tell you to start with them. Read or listen to my book to learn more about my behavioral approach for permanent weight loss. This could be the year you solve your weight problem.

Great calorie-tracking app!

One of my great readers, Marylou Hagerty,  just emailed me about this great site that offers the best calorie tracking software and apps she has ever seen. I took a quick look (after 30 years, it’s all automatic in my head) and it looks real good. Take a look. https://www.nutritionix.com

Why Now Is the Perfect Time to Lose Weight

happy-family

February 2017 is absolutely the best time in history for you to permanently solve your weight problem. Here’s why:

1) Summer is coming!

If you start now, you can lose 30 to 70 pounds or more by the time your summer vacation starts. Whether you use my method or some other science-based approach, count on a much happier summer, feeling slim with a new outfit or two, a spring in your step and vacation photos you feel good about. Don’t put it off. Read some of my clients’ and readers’ comments about my method and my book and audiobook to see what I’m talking about.

2) There are more low-calorie, great-tasting foods available than ever before. The marketplace is exploding with new products to make weight loss easier.

The food industry has stepped up to the plate (no pun intended) and done a great job answering our demand for food and services to help us lose weight, maximizing enjoyment and convenience and eliminating the sense of deprivation.

Today we have Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones and Healthy Choice frozen dinners, all around 300 calories — easy, tasty and low calorie meals when we are too tired or rushed to fix something. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter’s spray makes vegetables taste great with almost no calories. Walden Farms makes dressings without calories so we can have a scrumptious salad and save our calories for meat and potatoes. Egg Beaters makes it so we can have twice the scrambled eggs for the same calories and Hellman’s makes it so we can have sandwiches with mayo without breaking the budget. Splenda helps us have rich coffee in the morning without wasting lots of calories on sugar, and diet soda lets us have something besides water with lunch and during the day without worrying about how many calories we’re getting.

Restaurants are putting the caloric values on their menus, making it much easier to eat out. They are also offering more and more items to fit the caloric requirements to lose weight. I used to avoid eating out because it was such a pain to try to figure out the calories at restaurants –it was so much easier to eat at home. Now I can enjoy eating out without the stress and without gaining weight. There has never been a time like this before. It’s the perfect time to lose weight.

3) No festive holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s to throw you off track.

No explanation necessary.

4) We live in a time of easy access to all the qualified information and assistance you need.

Because of the recent intense focus on the obesity epidemic, we are seeing more legitimate research on weight loss than any time in history. There has never been a better time to lose weight. Good scientific information is as close as your laptop or smartphone, as long as you are careful about the validity of the information.

Technology itself can be a tremendous help. Many of my clients are now using their smartphones to track their calories. They love it. There are hundreds of apps available to download and many are free. This terrific help probably did not even exist the last time you seriously tried to solve your weight problem.

5) You are smarter, more knowledgeable, more mature, stronger, more determined and better equipped than the last time you tried to lose weight.

The “you” that exists today knows a lot more than the old you, not just in facts, which is true, but in wisdom and maturity too. You’ve tried and failed in the past, and learned things that cannot be learned any other way. When I finally solved my weight problem, losing over 100 pounds for good, my success was due largely to what I had learned from all my failed attempts.

When we were childish, we wanted someone else to solve our weight problem for us, but no one else can. We wanted to lose the weight without doing the work and giving up what stands in the way. You know differently now. With what you know today, and what you can learn this spring, this is the perfect time to lose weight. That day has come.

Order my book The Anderson Method, or call one of my therapists for one-on-one training, and get started now.

What Makes Life Worth Living?

What do you wake up for?

You may think of me as the weight loss guru, the man who lost all that weight, kept it off, and now teaches others. Well, that’s true, but I’m a trained and Licensed Mental Health Counselor who has worked with all sorts of people wanting help with all sorts of problems and wanting help achieving all sorts of things.

In private practice, I work with high performance successful people who want help with one area of their life that’s giving them fits: their weight. In my community mental health work, it’s mainly unhappy people who have not been able to get out of the rut of unhappiness they’ve been living in.

How about you? Are you happy with the way things are? When you wake up, are you dreading the day? Or when you wake up, are you excited about what’s ahead? Are somedays filled with happy anticipation, like when you are meeting someone you miss, or heading to an event you’ve been looking forward to? Are other days lacking?

You’d be surprised how many people wake up dreading what’s before them. A lot of them hate their jobs. Some hate their lives. Even those that don’t have severe angst are often feeling lost, not knowing what’s missing, but knowing life is not as happy as they’d like it to be. They are just going through the motions.

Victor Frankl, author of Man’s Search For Meaning, discovered that the energy to live and thrive, despite the most difficult of challenges, was born by having an important purpose, something to live for. Frankl was a Jewish psychiatrist in Austria when the Nazis came to power., In 1944, he became a prisoner in Auschwitz death camp in WWII Germany. There, he observed that some prisoners would whither and die while others survived. He often saw that the only diagnosable difference was having a vitally important purpose to live, a burning desire to stay alive for a reason. They needed something they would vividly imagine and pursue with a vengeance. It caused them to survive where others without such an important purpose did not. He went on to form a kind of therapy based on his findings, logotherapy, to help people overcome problems, and thrive.

We need to experience more than Thoreau’s “lives of quiet desperation,” with our needs unmet, body, mind and spirit. And we need to do more than succeed in one arena, like business and career, while the other aspects of our lives whither. We need to be truly happy, thriving. So we need an important purpose that feeds our whole being, not just an aspect of our life.

Frankl found that even an evil purpose, like exacting vengeance on one’s mortal enemy, could help a person survive, though hate leads to decay of another kind. It is the same with an important purpose like reaching the pinnacle of career or financial success, but lacking in attention to the well-being of the body, mind and spirit.

What is it that you live for, that excites you when you dream of it, that you wake up craving to experience? The goal to thrive is a good one. When we thrive, we have attended to our needs for a healthy body, for healthy relationships, for satisfying purpose and worthwhile work, and fun too— for satisfaction of all our needs, body, mind and spirit. Picture yourself thriving in that way, and let that be what you dream of and what you wake up for.

The Two Best Weight Loss Ideas, From Weight Loss Successes

Clients and readers from all over the world losing weight cite two specific techniques as having almost mystical power for them, both techniques from the field of cognitive psychology. They engage both the power of “cognitive restructuring” and the hypnotic power of suggestion and imaging.

Fasting

In my method, “fasting” refers to abstaining from anything with calories between planned meals. Planning ahead is an essential technique. We don’t do spontaneous no-rules eating. Having a plan engages imaging and suggestion, triggering hypnotic-grade power to help you actualize what you have imagined you’ll be doing, rather than being open to other suggestion and hyper-vulnerable to urges.

We structure our lives in a very black and white fashion. Several times a day, we have our planned meals, the time and content entirely our choice, and the rest of the time we are fasting. Several time a day, the eating switch is on, and we have our meal, and the rest of the time, it’s off, and nothing goes into our body except non-caloric beverages.

Thinking of it as fasting is a form of cognitive restructuring called reframing, changing the meaning and experience of what we are doing. Rather than experiencing a woe-is-me deprivation of doing without, a period devoid of anything good or meaningful, we are actively engaged in the very important devotion of fasting, burning calories and fat, and accomplishing something very important to us.

We’ve borrowed fasting from the spiritual traditions, casting our activity not as a “nothing” period without something satisfying, but as a sacred activity, full of meaning. It’s a devotion of ourselves to something greater than ourselves, our health, in a holistic sense.

Clients rave about the power they derive from this, their new ability to abstain, and the exhilaration, thinking they actually feel their body burning off calories and fat. It’s a mental experience that must be experienced to be understood, something I and my clients talk about and contemplate with wonder. It is one of the two ideas clients consistently remark as being an almost magical help to them.

Hunger means you’re burning fat.

This is another cognitive restructuring, reframing technique. We change the way we experience hunger, the meaning of it and the actual experience of it.

Feeling hunger is a normal human experience, nothing to fear or avoid. I didn’t always think this way. I remember when I saw it as a reason to eat something right now! It was an excuse, too. The dietician told me to listen to my body, and my body said to eat! The problem was, it said it far too often, and it told me to eat a lot, so that I became fat.

I used to say I was starving. I’d say I was dying of hunger! What I was telling myself caused me to experience something awful, to feel awful. Something in me heard this and responded accordingly. It always rescued me from this terrible suffering in the nick of time! Unfortunately, it made me fat.

What we tell ourselves has power, almost like a hypnotist whispering in our ear. When we change the script, the suggestions, our experience changes.

When we undereat, eating less than we burn so that we start burning our stored fat, it’s normal to feel hunger. We don’t have to be afraid of it or work frantically to avoid it. We need to experience it in a new way, not as a terrible torture, but as a sign of success, as evidence that we are burning fat off our body, losing weight. If we ate something to stop it, we’d stop the burning. We don’t want to stop the fat burning! We want to keep up the fat burning! Burn, baby, burn! Hunger means you’re burning fat!

We can drink a glass of water to quiet the hunger. In fact, what we experience in our brain (where we actually experience everything) as hunger is often actually a need for water. Have a drink of water and continue to fast until that next meal you have planned. Then give yourself a pat on the back for abstaining, for your strength! You’ll make a habit of it.

Successful weight loss is more about what you think than what you eat.

These two techniques are the ideas most often cited by my clients as being surprisingly helpful. They give them power that they hadn’t had before, and developing this power is more about learning how to operate your mind than simply dieting or “making up your mind”. Therapeutic Psychogenics is a term I coined to identify what really gives a person the ability to successfully lose weight and control their weight. It’s about using behavioral technique to change the way we think, feel and act, rather than just using “will power”, which never worked for me. There are a lot more in this bag of tricks, but these might get you started.

William Anderson is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in weight loss, eating disorders and addictions. He was an obese heavy smoker and workaholic until his early thirties, and burned out, but survived and changed direction. He changed in many ways, among them, losing 140 pounds permanently. Health, in a holistic way, is now his mission. He’s trained a network of therapists in his methods and he is the author of The Anderson Method of Permanent Weight Loss.