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How to Eat Out and Lose 50 Pounds a Year (or Gain!)

(First published in The Huffington Post)

(The author is a psychotherapist who lost 140 lbs. when he developed his methods, and he’s kept it off for over 30 years. Read about his method in his book at the right, or listen to his audiobook, free sample provided here.)

Consider these selections when dining out for a day:

Breakfast: Egg McMuffin and coffee at McDonalds.
Lunch: Cheeseburger and Diet Coke at McDonald’s.
Dinner: Filet Mignon, grilled vegetables and garlic mashed at Outback.

This would add up to about 1,200 calories. If you are a woman 5’6” with average activity habits (a metabolic rate of about 2000), you’ll lose about 50 pounds a year eating like that consistently!

However, consider what would happen if you weren’t paying attention and made some slight changes:

  1. Sausage Biscuit with egg and an OJ instead of the Egg McMuffin and coffee.
  2. Quarter Pounder with cheese and a regular Coke instead of Cheeseburger and Diet Coke.
  3. New York Strip, chopped salad and loaded mashed instead of the filet, grilled veggies and garlic mashed.

They look and feel almost the same, but with the second example, you’d be at 2,700 calories and gaining 50 pounds a year instead of losing them!

For a population facing an exploding obesity epidemic, the world of fast food, restaurants and convenience food is a minefield, with caloric nuclear bombs everywhere you turn. It’s a miracle we all aren’t over 600 pounds.

Consider this: Did you know that you could gain 100 extra pounds (!!) in four years by overeating as little as one latte per day? It’s true! If you are out of balance, over your metabolic rate consistently by 250 calories per day (an average latte), you’ll gain 25 pounds a year, or 100 pounds in four!

The science is in. Our body burns calories each moment we are alive, awake or asleep. Our organs, muscles and cells metabolize fuel each second we live and breathe. There’s no mystery in knowing why we gain or lose weight. It’s a matter of the energy or calorie balance. Eat 3,500 more calories than you burn and you store them as fat and gain a pound.

Most of my clients who are obese first got that way by being only a little out of balance, creeping up on the scale 10 pounds per year. That amounts to eating only 100 calories more per day than you need, the number of calories in an apple or banana! How can you avoid eating too many calories, and way more than 100, with the way we eat in this country?

When you think about it, with the way food is pushed at us, it’s a miracle that we aren’t all morbidly obese (70 percent of us are now clinically obese). A Big Mac is 563 calories. A Cinnabon Classic Roll is 879. How hard do you think it is to go over a 2,000-calorie budget when breakfast at Denny’s can be 1,000 calories and lunch at McDonald’s can easily be 1400 or more? One of the shrimp dishes at Ruby Tuesdays is 1,475 calories! They have a salad that’s over 1,100!

So how is that 30 percent of us are not overweight, and some don’t even have to try to stay slim?

This is a more startling observation than the obesity epidemic: Many people maintain the same weight, year-in and year-out, without even trying. I find that miraculous. Think about it. A person who burns 2,000 calories per day burns 730,000 in normal activities through the year and consumes 730,000 to fuel that activity. To gain or lose a pound it would be because they were off by no more than 3,500 calories in an entire year! That averages about 10 calories per day! How could a person match their consumption to their utilization that closely by accident, without even trying?

The answer, of course, is that there must be some sort of inner process going on, like unconscious programming, that tells them how much to eat and when to stop so that they end up eating only enough to meet their needs. Dietitians have always told me this and that I should listen to my body. I tried that, but all I ever heard was, “I need something to eat” and “more, more!” If such a self-limiting thing ever existed in me, that programming was deleted long ago, probably by a combination of conditioning, all the food nuttiness in my environment, and 25 years of yo-yo dieting, gaining it all back and more after each attempt.

How to attain and maintain a proper weight automatically even when eating out.

The secret to permanent weight loss is in creating new programming — habits you can live with and enjoy that will produce the weight control you want — habits that will become automatic. It’s like getting addicted to gratifying undereating instead of overeating. For this to happen, these conditions must be met:

The plan must allow the foods you want to eat for the rest of your life. You need to learn how to eat, not diet. It does no good to lose weight by denying yourself what you know you’ll eat in the future. All you’ll do is gain it back and then some, when you go back to what you like.

The plan must be a pattern of eating that achieves the caloric values needed for the desired weight. Believe me, there is a way to create a behavior pattern that includes the food you like and hits the right caloric targets at the same time.

There must be a method of behavioral training employed to install these habits so that they become the new preferred and unconscious behavior. One of the keys to behavior therapy is simply repetitions of meals that are sensually satisfying and hit the caloric target. Other keys, besides positive reinforcement, are mental imaging and cognitive restructuring. It’s a matter of using behavioral science instead of simple will power.

Suck it up

For years while I was overweight and obese, I kept looking for ways to lose weight that were easy. I avoided anything that sounded hard, and paying attention to the calories sounded hard. Or, I’d look for ways to get someone else to do the work and make me successful. I had lost faith in myself. Avoiding doing the work myself just made me gain more weight as the years and failed attempts dragged on.

I get clients who think learning to control their weight should not be as much work as learning to pass tests for professional jobs or getting good at a sport or music. That’s a big mistake. You’ll never be successful with weight control until you decide controlling your weight is your first priority and you’re willing to work harder to develop that ability than the effort you make to grow professionally or highly skilled in sports or the arts.

Quit being mad that it’s not easy for you like it’s easy for those people I talked about who maintain the right weight without even trying. If you are like me, you are one of the people who seem to gain weight naturally and have failed to succeed many times. You need to accept that you’ll never be like them.

However, I think it’s better to be like us. All living things have the ability to learn and change. You have within you the power to get better. There is within you an incredible mechanism that helped you learn to speak and use a vocabulary of thousands of words. That was in you even before you knew who you were. You have within you the power to heal wounds and broken bones and get better when you are sick. That’s not your will power, but another kind of power at your disposal when you don’t lose the faith that it’s there (like I did for a while). I think it’s better to be like us than those people who never had the problem. We can solve this problem and when we do, we have a strength, knowledge and wisdom that they may never know.

Get started

All restaurant chains with 20 or more units must now post the caloric values in what they serve. Most have that info on their website too. Restaurants who want our business will provide that info even if they don’t have 20 units.

We need to be like the formerly obese people, now successful in weight control, who are studied by the National Weight Control Registry. They do not put anything in their mouths without knowing the caloric value. Eating without knowing the caloric cost is like charging up stuff you like at the mall without looking at the price tags. With either practice, disaster is the result.

So, start by getting to know the amount of calories that you are putting in your body. When you recover from the initial shock, you’ll be ready for the next step, which is to plan ahead. All formerly obese people who have become successful, plan ahead. They don’t eat spontaneously or wait until they are at the table with the menu of all those tempting things. They know ahead of time what they are going to order, and with the menus on the websites these days, it’s much easier than it was years ago.

That will get you started in the right direction. You can switch from my example of eating out to gain 50 pounds a year to losing 50 pounds this year. Believe me, it’s worth it!

Why Your Company Should Help Employees With Their Weight Problem

photo: obesity action.org

photo: obesity action.org

Most wellness programs approach weight control with exercise and nutrition programs, which don’t address the underlying causes of and solutions to your employees’ weight problem. Helping them with a clinically sound behavioral solution will help them lose weight and be healthier, and will also help them to be better problem-solvers and goal attainers.

Why Your Company Needs to Help Employees With Their Weight Problem:

1) Weight management is the single most important issue in an employee’s health. Excess weight and obesity is the single greatest cause of preventable disease and premature death in the American workforce. It affects every aspect of their health and well-being.

2) They don’t know what to do to solve the problem. They may think they do and you may too, but chances are, you don’t. Neither do most physical trainers and dieticians. That’s because for most people, it’s a behavioral disorder, similar to an addiction or gambling problem. Just knowing what’s got to change and even wanting to change is not enough. Intelligence, good character and “will power” are not enough. There are other powers at work, and to overcome them, you need to know how. That’s what behavioral therapy training teaches.

3) Because many health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic fatigue and mobility impairment improve greatly with weight loss, your employees who lose weight will exhibit more energy, positive attitude and higher productivity, as well as less illness, diminished productivity and absenteeism.
A sound behavioral approach, including pyschoeducation and training in cognitive behavior techniques, will help them become better managers of their emotions and attitudes and the behavior related to them.

4) The problem-solving, time management, stress management and goal-setting skills learned will be applicable to all the problems and objectives they have, on and off the job. They will become better at handling problems and getting things done.

5) The improved health, sense of well-being, self-confidence, self-esteem and personal mastery will make them more effective and motivated on a long term basis.

6) The biggest reason to help them is that they need the help and there are few able to give it, other than your company. And it’s the right thing to do. You’ll be proud and thankful that you made it happen.

By all means, promotion of exercise, gym memberships and nutrition classes are a great benefit to the employees who take advantage of them, but the very best way to help overweight and obese employees is to give them access to comprehensive behavioral approaches to weight management.

This article first published at ThriveGlobal.com

Why are women losing the battle of the bulge?

BY ALLIE SHAH
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Frances Traphagan has been battling weight issues her whole life.

For years, the south Minneapolis mom struggled to balance work demands and motherhood. After every pregnancy, her weight problem grew. Her habit of eating on the run also tipped the scales in the wrong direction.

Finally, at 240 pounds, the 5-foot-3 Traphagan chose to have bariatric surgery at the Hennepin Bariatric Center and Obesity Program at Hennepin County Medical Center in downtown Minneapolis.

“It was my very last effort to try to lose weight,” she said.

She’d tried everything before that – from Weight Watchers to the Atkins diet to the grapefruit diet.

“I did have some success, but nothing was ever permanent,” she said.

After a national report this summer showed that women have surpassed men in obesity rates, doctors and obesity researchers are searching for answers to why women are struggling more than men.

For the first time, more than 40 percent of U.S. women are obese, according to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The nation as a whole continues to struggle with obesity, with 35 percent of men considered obese. But while men’s obesity rates appear to have stabilized, women’s are still rising, the CDC report shows.

Dr. Maria Collazo-Clavell, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic who works with overweight and obese patients, has been working in the obesity research field for 20 years. She said the recent findings give her pause about whether public health officials are taking the right approach to tackling obesity.

“All of that makes you question: Are you on the right track?” she said. “The data would say no.”

That so many women are obese is cause for alarm not only because of the increased health risks for them but also for those around them, Collazo-Clavell said.

“That’s kind of the tip of the iceberg,” she said. Women are often the primary caregivers in a family, and their eating and activity habits can influence their children and others in their family.

An example of that ripple effect: Collazo-Clavell is starting to see some of her previous patients’ children and is working with them to help manage their obesity.

It’s difficult to pinpoint what is causing women to struggle more with obesity than men, but doctors say there likely are many factors at play.

Women typically have two times in their lives when they are at risk of gaining significant amounts of weight: childbearing (during pregnancy and after giving birth) and menopause.

Collazo-Clavell hears from many new mothers that they find meal planning and preparation tough after giving birth. Also of concern, she notes that women as a group are going into pregnancy heavier than they were 20 years ago.

It makes it harder to manage a healthy pregnancy weight if they’re already overweight, she said.

An epidemic

One of the country’s leading health problems, obesity can lead to serious diseases, including diabetes and heart disease.

Body mass index (BMI) is calculated by dividing weight (in kilograms) by height squared (in centimeters). Anyone with a BMI of 25 or more is considered overweight, while those with a BMI of 30 or more are obese.

For example, a woman of average height in the U.S. (5 feet 4) would be classified as obese if she weighs at least 175 pounds. An average height American man (5 feet 9) who weighs 203 pounds or more would be considered obese.

Dr. Guilford Hartley is medical director of the Hennepin Bariatric Center and Obesity Program, where 100 surgeries for weight management are performed each year.

He sees many more female patients than men. Part of the reason, he said, is that women are more likely to seek medical treatment for a weight issue than men.

“In our culture, when a man’s overweight, nobody pays too much attention,” he said. “But we have such an emphasis on being thin for women that we’re culturally forcing women to be more concerned about their weight than men. The social pressure if you’re overweight and a woman is higher.”

Those seeking surgery often have struggled with a weight problem for a long time.

“Usually by the time I see them, most of them get here saying, ‘I’ve done this all my life. This is my sixth yo-yo,’” he said.

He found the recent CDC report on obesity rates concerning. “Up until these reports, it was looking as if the so-called obesity epidemic was kind of plateauing.”

In analyzing the new data, Hartley and Collazo-Clavell point to societal changes that have led people to become more sedentary.

“If you were a clerical person, 20 years ago you’d have to get up and put the piece of paper in the file cabinet. Now you never have to get up off your chair,” Hartley said. “We have engineered … physical activity out of our workplace and out of our home place.”

The prescription of “eat less and exercise more” does not address the kind of vigorous activity needed to tip the scales.

“When we tell them to exercise more, we mean get on a treadmill for an hour, three days a week,” he said. “And the kind of exercise that it takes to have a significant impact on weight is more like if you’re a hardscrabble farmer and you’re working up a sweat for eight hours a day just to put food on the table.”

Constant fight

It’s been 10 years since Traphagan had a surgical band wrapped around her stomach to make it smaller. The band makes it possible to consume only 1.5 cups of food at a time. But it’s still possible to overeat, she said, which is why she had to learn how to eat healthfully to control her weight.

Today, she has poached eggs instead of doughnuts for breakfast and drinks plenty of ice water throughout the day. She has maintained a healthy weight.

“It’s been real hard, though. It’s not easy,” she said.

“I got down to 155 pounds. My goal weight is 124. I’m still working on that, and I hope to achieve that this year.”

(This article first appeared in: http://www.bradenton.com/news/local/health-care/article95803902.html)

40% of U.S. Women Are Now Obese

(First published in Time.com)

by Alexandra Sifferlin

New numbers show obesity in the United States are high, especially among women

The number of Americans who are overweight or obese continues to reach shocking highs, with some estimates that more than two-thirds of American adults are now overweight or obese. Now, a new study reveals that while obesity rates in men have plateaued, rates have continued to rise among women.

The study, published Tuesday in the journal JAMA, reveals that for the years 2013-2014, the obesity prevalence was 35% for men and 40% for women. When looking at trends over time, the researchers found that from the year 2005 to 2014 there were significant and steady increases in the number of American women who were very obese.

Another study also published Tuesday in JAMA by many of the same researchers revealed that over the last 25 years, there has been a slight increase in obesity among young people ages 12 to 19. The prevalence of obesity among kids ages 2 to 5 has gone down, and it has leveled off in kids ages 6 to 11.

“The obesity epidemic in the United States is now three decades old, and huge investments have been made in research, clinical care, and development of various programs to counteract obesity. However, few data suggest the epidemic is diminishing,” Dr. Jody W. Zylke, the deputy editor of JAMA and Dr. Howard Bauchner, the Editor in Chief of JAMA, wrote in a corresponding editorial.

To reach the findings, study authors from the National Center for Health Statistics at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looked at 2013-2014 data for 2,638 adult men and 2,817 adult women. They also looked at national survey data from 21,013 people who were interviewed from 2005 through 2012.

The number of adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher, which is considered high-risk obesity, was 7.7%. For men specifically it was 5.5% and for women it was 9.9%. BMI is not a perfect measure of health and is based on a person’s weight and height ratio rather than their actual amount of body fat. Still, the numbers are in line with what other studies have reported regarding the state of the obesity epidemic in the United States.

In the editorial, Zylke and Bauchner argue that progress over the last 30 years has been far too slow, and that new methods may need to be adopted: “Perhaps it is time for an entirely different approach, one that emphasizes collaboration with the food and restaurant industries that are in part responsible for putting food on dinner tables,” they write.

All bodies matter: How body-shaming makes America less healthy

 

BodyShaming_BlogFeature-1024x585The cure to the obesity epidemic, most doctors say, is a nutritious diet and exercise. But many health-care workers say that solution ignores the role of emotional and mental well-being play in maintaining a healthy weight.

By Chandra Johnson
May 26, 2016

William Anderson was about 7 when he first experienced fat shaming.

It was 1956, and he was in the second grade in Springfield, Massachusetts. It was Valentine’s Day, he recalls, and his teacher brought in a cake for everyone in class — except him.

“I’d really been looking forward to it and of course, I couldn’t have any,” Anderson said.

Anderson doesn’t remember how much he weighed then, but it was enough for his pediatrician to put him on a special diet. All that did was give him a lousy relationship with food.

“That was the beginning of the problem for me because food became a lot more important to me,” said Anderson, now 66. “From then on, my whole sense of self was dominated by being overweight and being an outcast because of it.”

Click here to read the whole story published in The Deseret News.