Tag Archives: overweight

5 Biggest Weight Loss Myths

Does it come as a surprise that you really don’t have to exercise to lose weight? Or that it doesn’t matter whether you eat diet food or junk food? Or that you can eat at night and still maintain your ideal body weight? It certainly surprised me, because these things were drilled into me by the so-called “experts” my whole life as an obese child, teenager and adult. But with my unique education as a psychotherapist, combined with lessons that can only be learned by being overweight, dieting, and being turned into a compulsive overeater, I learned that the dietitians, phys-ed teachers and doctors who pretended to know it all were wrong. I’ve set the record straight in my groundbreaking weight loss self-help book, The Anderson Method.

If you’ve been failing at diets and exercise schemes forever and have just about given up, don’t lose hope. This can be the year you finally succeed. Believe me, no matter how many times you’ve tried and failed, no matter how hopeless it has looked, your success is entirely possible, as long as you’re still breathing and have an open mind. I know this because I lost 140 pounds twenty-five years ago, after twenty-five years of being an overweight diet failure who gave up more times than you can count. But one year, I “got it”, lost 140 pounds, ended my obesity problem, and I’ve maintained my ideal weight since, over twenty years. This could be the year you “get it”.

Today, I’m a psychotherapist who helps people solve their weight/obesity problem. I teach other therapists so they can help their overweight clients, wherever they are. We are very successful. Believe me, there is hope. You can succeed. There is a way. And here are five surprising and vitally important facts you need to absorb before you can begin on your path to recovery from obesity and dieting failure. Accept these truths and you may be on your way.

1) You don’t need to exercise to lose and control your weight.

What? This goes against everything all the “experts” say! Well, it’s true. Exercise may be vitally important for a lot of things, but it’s not required to lose and control your weight, and if you don’t get your eating under control, focusing on exercise may cause a weight gain! (An hour on the treadmill will be cancelled by one brownie! Eat two because you “worked out”, and you gain weight, not lose it!) When I learned how insignificant exercise was, and that controlling my intake was the solution, whether or not I exercised, I had hope for the first time in my life. I didn’t have to exercise in ways I hated! I have clients who are disabled and cannot exercise, yet they do fine at controlling their weight. Exercise is important for lots of things, but it’s not the solution to your weight problem. Controlling your intake is the solution.

2) It doesn’t matter whether you eat health food or junk food, diet food or fast food.

Your weight is a result of your “caloric balance sheet.” Eat more calories than you use (1800 per day for the “average” woman, 54,000 per month) and you’ll gain weight. Eat fewer calories than you use, and you’ll burn up stored fat and lose weight. It doesn’t matter where the calories come from, health food, “junk” food, carbs, fat, protein—- It doesn’t matter (for weight control purposes). A calorie is a calorie is a calorie. Is it better to have better nutrition? You bet. But if you eat too many calories of “health food” you’ll get fat, while someone who eats fewer calories of the “wrong things” will lose weight.

3) Diets are not the solution. Learning how to eat, strategically undereat what you like, is the solution.

Learning how to diet (eat in some abnormal way to lose weight) does no good, because at the end of the diet, we go back to “normal” or worse, and keep gaining. We got fat because we developed habits of eating too many calories, and if we go on a “diet” with the intention of going back to “normal”, we are planning on getting fat again. Success will come from learning to eat food we like in ways where we won’t get fat. Believe me, there is a way. We will need to change, and it must be a permanent change with no return to the old ways, but it needn’t be without pleasure. In fact, we enjoy eating even more! Our favorite foods are even better, and no guilt!

4) It doesn’t matter what time of the day you eat, or even what day of the week.

Read again what I said in item #2. It really doesn’t matter when you eat, even if you eat mostly at night, or skip meals during the week and splurge on Saturday night. Real science backs me up on this. If you can create a lifestyle you like, one you can live with where your “balance sheet” is correct, you’ll succeed, even if it’s not what some “experts” think is the “right” way to eat.

5) Success is not just a matter of “will power” or “just making up your mind”.

It’s not that some people have “it” and some don’t. Success in changing habitual behavior, even tough habitual behavior like an addiction, is not just a matter of “will power”. There is a body of knowledge and technique in my field of behavioral medicine that you can learn, knowledge and technique that will empower you to make changes in your life that were not possible before. It will be work. You’ll have to let go of some things that you haven’t wanted to let go of. But if being overweight/obese has been a curse on your life, and you’d like to get rid of it, don’t give up. Keep hoping and praying. Learn what you have to do. Read my book. Call one of my therapists. Be prepared to learn more from legitimate sources, and work at it. You can succeed like I and my clients have. Keep going.


What Should the Schools do to Fight the Childhood Obesity Epidemic?

My most vivid childhood memories are from school. They are awful memories of ugly days, too many to count. I was “the fat kid.”

Every year, the school nurse would make her way from room to room, a doctor’s scale in tow. When she got to our room, we were called by name, and we got weighed. It was like walking to the gallows. I used to think that my misery was unique, but at age 61, as a psychotherapist who has heard thousands of people tell their most intimate secrets, I’ve learned that I am far from alone. Memories of gym evoke similar stories, people learning to hate school, developing bad thoughts and feelings about themselves that have lasted a lifetime.

About 5 years ago, the school department where I live announced their plans to fight the childhood obesity epidemic. When I heard that they were going to weigh the kids, grade them, and send notes home about being overweight, it shocked me. How demeaning. How could people who supposedly understood kids think this was a good idea? Are they planning to do this to high school kids too? Appalling.

Today, in my psychotherapy practice, I specialize in weight control. By luck and grace, at age 33, because of my unique “education” and training, I lost 140 pounds and solved my obesity problem. More importantly, I discovered an extremely rare body of knowledge about obesity, its cause, and its solution. With this knowledge, I have helped thousands to solve their weight problem with my therapy, my book that explains it, and with the therapists I have taught my method. With what I now know, it’s become painfully apparent to me that most doctors, therapists, nutritionists, teachers, and trainers don’t know what the problem is or how to solve it.

It’s terrific that Mrs. Obama, the nation and the schools have decided to fight the obesity epidemic — but let’s declare war on the disorder, not the people who have it. As an expert on the subject, I’d offer the following recommendations regarding how schools should (and should not) respond to our growing obesity epidemic:

1) First, admit that while you know the science related to biology and nutrition, you do not understand all the mysteries of human behavior, self-control, habit management, or exactly how to solve obesity. Don’t talk to the kids as if you do. This is the domain of a small set of highly specialized clinicians in behavioral medicine. Few people have their expertise. Tell the kids that you can teach them about science and the obesity epidemic, but you can only teach them what you know. They need to take what you can teach them and keep learning.

2) Don’t weigh the kids. Don’t send notes to the parents about their child being overweight. Don’t do anything that would shine the spotlight on them because they are fat. They already know it and feel bad about it. They will be advised about their weight, individually, at their regular medical check-ups, and if check-ups aren’t happening, address that as a separate health issue.

3) Instead, teach them about science and health. Teach them about personal responsibility. The kids need to know who and what to believe and how to separate reliable sources from unreliable. They need to understand that no one else will make them healthy and happy if they don’t take on the job themselves. They need to learn to discount diet gossip and nonsense “news.” They need to learn how to learn, and they need to learn real science.

4) Children are often powerless to alter the food at home, but instead of singling out the parents of the overweight kids, send a notice to all parents about the obesity epidemic. Remind parents that the schools’ responsibility is education, and does not overstep or relieve them of their responsibilities as a parent. Then, offer all parents the help you are planning to offer the parents of the overweight kids. Concerned parents will accept the help, and the ones who are not concerned won’t, whether or not you single them out.

5) Stop perpetuating the myth that lack of exercise is the cause of the obesity epidemic and that exercise is the solution. Our obesity is due to our over-eating, to our love affair with consumerism as a way of life. A hard workout may burn the equivalent of one coke, so it is common to exercise and then negate the effects when you have an extra coke (or more.) People who start to exercise will often gain weight instead of losing it. Exercise is vitally important to health, an issue as important as obesity, but it is a separate issue.

6) Get the “junk food” vending machines and merchants out of the schools. There is no justifiable reason for exploiting the kids by selling them a lifestyle that is killing us. Get the money to run the schools somewhere else.

7) Teach the kids about the forces and rules of the marketplace. Teach them that some advertisers and merchants will mislead them, even into scams and dangers like cigarettes, unhealthy food, and weight loss quackery, when they can make money doing it.

8) Have your schools “model” healthy behavior and thinking. Your dieticians and cafeterias can present healthy foods and portions instead of the unhealthy things that we think are normal. School personnel should be required to advocate a healthy lifestyle instead of endorsing the American norm of celebratory gluttony. Faculty and staff would be terminated, I’m sure, if they were to openly advocate sexual debauchery or alcoholic binge drinking. Holiday-superbowl-party-picnic gluttony should be held in the same esteem. It’s no less life threatening.

9) Most importantly, develop an ongoing program to draw kids into the pursuit of health and happiness. Our social institutions need to develop a “health culture” to counteract the consumer culture, and the schools are the backbone of our social institutions and culture. If we can rally kids to promote school spirit, to be patriotic, to support the troops or the United Way, we can certainly rally them to be committed to their own highest potential and best health. Rather than focus on obesity and find kids to fault, let’s champion success and health, and pull all the kids into a lifelong campaign to have their best health and best life. In their hearts, they all really want that. We all do. If you hold it out for them to aspire to, they will reach for it.