Tag Archives: Programs

Obesity’s Link to Cancer

(Note: This article first published in The Huffington Post)

Does being overweight increase your risk of getting cancer? Does losing weight reduce that risk? The answer to both questions is a resounding yes. In some cases, the risk is over 50 percent greater. I had no idea the link was so strong, and it turns out that more than 50 percent of Americans are not aware there is any link at all. I am so glad I solved my obesity problem 30 years ago. I knew it probably kept me from getting heart disease and diabetes but I was not aware of such a strong link to cancer.

In the winter 2016 issue of Your Weight Matters, the magazine of the Obesity Action Coalition, Taraneh Soleymani, M.D., teaches us that next to smoking, keeping one’s self at a healthy weight is the most important thing an individual can do to reduce the risk of cancer. If we didn’t have enough reasons to lose weight before, we now have probably the biggest reason ever, preventing cancer.

What kinds of cancers are linked to obesity, and how much greater is the risk?

Dr. Soleymani shocks us with the report by the American Institute for Cancer Research that states that 50 percent of colon and rectal cancers can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, balanced diet and physical activity. Half of these cancers are caused by the obesegenic lifestyle that we’ve adopted. Just as shocking, 38 percent of breast cancers, 69 percent of throat cancers, 24 percent of kidney cancers and 19 percent of pancreatic cancers are preventable through healthy weight management. If we are looking for the cure to cancer, here’s the preventive solution: lose the obesity.

Why does being overweight or obese make it easier to get cancer?

As it turns out, your excess fat is not just an inert mass of fuel you’ve stored. It is living active tissue that acts like an organ, manufacturing hormones (our body’s self-made “natural” drugs) that act on the rest of your body, in this case, making it more vulnerable to the generation and growth of cancer. Research reported by The Obesity Society, as well as Dr. Soleymani, points out that it produces chemicals that stimulate (cancer) cell growth, increase the overall inflammation in your body, which is associated with increased cancer risk, and produces excess amounts of estrogen, high levels of which have been associated with the risk of breast, endometrial, and some other cancers. Being obese is like having a factory in your body polluting you with cancer-causing chemicals every day. But get rid of the excess fat, problem solved.

What can we do to get rid of the increased risk of getting cancer?

Fortunately, there is no mystery to the solution. We need to lose the excess weight. And there is no mystery to that either. We need to develop a way of living so that we habitually take in fewer calories than we burn, so that we burn off the fat instead of storing it up. We need to learn new behavior, and instead of dieting, develop new habits of eating what we like in a way that makes us healthy. That’s done through behavior therapy. Believe me, it can be done.

William Anderson is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in weight loss, eating disorders and addictions. He solved his own long-time weight problem, losing 140 pounds 30 years ago and has kept it off since. He is the author of The Anderson Method.

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.

What is Saxenda, The New “Blockbuster” Weight Loss Medication?

(Originally published in The Huffington Post)


Successful diet

There is a new “blockbuster” weight loss drug on the market, Saxenda, and it is available in many U.S. pharmacies this month. It is perhaps the most important weight loss medication ever developed. Novo Nordisk Inc., a very big and very old Danish pharmaceutical company, has launched the new drug after months of anticipation by consumers, clinicians and market watchers.

Saxenda is very different from all other weight loss drugs. For one thing, it is a once-a-day injection, like some diabetes medications, instead of a pill. For another, it works in an entirely different way, mimicking a naturally-occurring hormone that your intestine secretes when you eat food.

In research conducted only in the last few decades, scientists have discovered that the gut releases a hormone when you eat food that helps regulate the levels of sugar in your blood and slows down the emptying of your stomach. This results in feelings of satiety and a reduction in sensations of hunger and desire to eat.

The hormone-mimicking drug in Saxenda, Liraglutide, was originally marketed as Victoza, prescribed to treat diabetes. It was discovered that a “side effect” of Victoza was weight loss. Saxenda is essentially a double dose of Victoza, and after much testing, the FDA approved it for weight loss in December of 2014.

One-year studies show that over 60 percent of people using Saxenda had a 5 percent reduction in weight while trying to lose weight, as opposed to 34 percent taking a placebo. Thirty-one percent taking Saxenda lost more than 10 percent of their weight.

One of the most important attributes is that it can be used effectively long term, for chronic management of obesity. It is not like the appetite suppressant weight loss drugs that only work for a while. Like other medications used for diabetes, it introduces a hormone that compensates for a deficiency.

Like The Anderson Method, which is a behavioral weight loss program for people with chronic obesity, Saxenda is not for lightweights, people without a serious weight control problem or who only need to lose a few pounds. Saxenda is appropriate for people who are clinically obese with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or a BMI of 27 with another medical condition, like high blood pressure or diabetes. For example, someone who is 5’4″ would have to be at least 157 pounds with a medical condition, or 174 pounds without an additional medical condition.

Like many medications, Saxenda has warnings that are frightening. Though rare, some of the possible adverse effects are serious. This is not something to be treated casually. You need to work closely with your doctor if you want to use Saxenda. The adverse effects are not experienced by everyone, but should they occur, this is not for you. The most common are nausea and diarrhea. The serious ones are thyroid tumors and pancreatitis. If you have one of several conditions, like a history of thyroid cancer, this is not for you.

The term “Blockbuster” has been used to describe it because of its “box office” potential. It is expected to be a huge moneymaker. We are talking about “billions and billions” as Carl Sagan would say. The cost will run about $1,000 per month and it remains to be seen if medical insurance will play any part in paying for it. No doubt those who have the means will be getting it right away and others will be waiting for the patent to run out.

Saxenda is not a magic cure, just like bariatric surgery does not fix everything for an obese person. We have to change our behavior. Behavioral therapy is the answer to that. But solving the problem would be so much easier for my clients if they did not have the extraordinary biological drives that I am certain are due to some hormonal disorder that results in extraordinary hunger, cravings and compulsion. Behavior therapy alone has worked for me and many of my clients, but it is not enough in some cases.

I have believed that there is a biological imbalance that is part of the disease of obesity and I have prayed for something that would help resolve it. Saxenda may be the first medical intervention to answer those prayers and I am sure there will be more and better advances in the future.

My Latest Amazon Review (now 65 5-Star out of 86 Total!)

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I just received my 65th 5-Star rating on Amazon’s reviews. Book critics may not like my book, but the people who want to lose sure do! I’ve sold over 10,000 books so far and my therapist network has worked with thousands. The reviews and testimonials we get are so wonderful to read! We love knowing how our work is helping people.

But, there are over 300,000,000 people in the U.S. alone (the book is sold all over the world) and 70% of them need to lose weight for a healthy and happy future, so we have a long way to go!

If you’ve gotten my book and you like it, please write a nice review on Amazon,  and you’ll have my sincere gratitude for life! If you haven’t gotten my book, please do! Here’s Amazon’s link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Anderson-Method-Secret-Permanent/dp/1935097288

If you have a question or a request, don’t hesitate to make a comment here or email me at the email address on the media page.

The 7 Elements of Easy Weight Loss

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Can weight loss ever be easy? Many people I work with have said just that. But there are reasons that they are able to describe their success as easy. What sets them apart from those that have been unable to succeed?

1) Focus on behavior and personal change, not weight.
Our body and weight is a result of our everyday habits, the way we think and act, today and for the rest of our lives. Changing habits and attitudes is the way to lose weight permanently, not getting hung up on pounds and the scale.

Many people are very attached to their pleasures, favorite snacks, favorite restaurants and party friends. Using diets and products to lose weight while continuing the same way of living and thinking will only make matters worse.

When we decide we want to change and are willing to give up the things that stand in the way, we’ve taken the first step. When we’ve decided to measure our progress by looking at our behavior and beliefs instead of the scale, we’re on the second step. But just wanting to change is not enough. We need to learn how.

2) Mastering behaviors, not willpower.
Most people think that the way we act and feel is a matter of choice and that personal change is a matter of will power. The reality is that most of us are not aware of why we feel and act the way we do and we don’t know how to change.

The way we are is a product of conditioning and programming, most of it unconscious. We are like a pet that perks up and comes running when it hears the can opener. We do the things we do because we have been conditioned or programmed to. It’s reflex. It’s automatic. That’s the way a part of your brain works that’s been in control of your feelings and habits. Changing that is not just a matter of willing yourself to feel and act differently. You need to be reprogrammed, and that will take practice and effort using known techniques and principles. Weight loss and good health needs to become automatic. That’s the province of behaviorism.

3) Be willing to work hard to make things easy.
When I and my clients say that permanent weight loss has become easy, we are not saying that we did not have to work at it. We are saying that it has become automatic. It’s like learning to ride a bike or drive a car or play a musical instrument. At first, it may feel awkward, uncomfortable and unnatural. But after a while, some difficulty and practice, it becomes automatic and natural. You just jump on the bike or in the car, and your hands and feet know exactly what to do, without effort or thinking. It’s like something else is taking you where you want to go. In the past what we felt like doing made us overweight. Now, it feels natural and satisfying to do the things that keep us at our ideal weight.

4) Being Responsible 
Because we’ve tried and failed and lost faith in ourselves so many times in the past, it often occurs to us that if we could get someone else to make it happen, then we might be successful. So we hire a personal trainer or a coach. Or we ask a friend or family member to take on the responsibility. It may even seem to work for a while. But it doesn’t last. We cancel or change our mind and stop doing what’s necessary to succeed.

To succeed, you must accept the job of being responsible for your success. No one else has as much to gain or lose. You are the only one, and if you don’t take the job, no one else will. There is only one person in the world who has so much at stake, so much to gain, so many reasons to create your success.

You are in the driver’s seat of your life, and you need to own that job. No one else can take the wheel for you. But to succeed, we need to learn how.

5) Gaining the knowledge and skill sets to get where you want to be.
Are we born knowing how to drive, how to master will, how to be healthy and successful? No. Not on your life.

But we are born with potential, the ability to learn and the ability to acquire knowledge, skills, beliefs and behaviors. As babies, we are like little programmable robots, ready to be outfitted with the data and programs to take us to the stars.

Unfortunately, most of us had some bad programming and learned how to be unhealthy instead of healthy. Are we doomed to follow our early programming, stuck with the bad information and behaviors we’ve been trained with? No.

Regardless of our age, we still have the potential we were born with. We still have the equipment needed to learn, that can rid us of bad information and behaviors and replace them with healthier ones.

6) Faith in the potential and power within you.
All living breathing things, including you, have a power in them that generates their life. You did not make this. It made you. It predates you and has a wisdom beyond our comprehension. It beats your heart, channels impulses through your brain and nervous system, had instinct from the day you were born, and has the miraculous ability to heal broken bones and wounds. While philosophers and psychologists try to understand and discover how it works, we do not fully understand it. But we know it is in us.

Sometimes, we lose sight of this and doubt our potential. This is crucial, because the part of us that runs our programs and runs our life will act out what we believe is possible rather than what it is really capable of. So, if we believe we do not have this power and potential within us, it’s like we are turning it off. If we do that, the wisdom, genius and miraculous is being told to stop working.

If you are alive and breathing it is there. Have the faith that it is always there. We may have let ourselves down in the past, lost faith in our own little self, but it is essential to believe that the power that generates the miracles of life is still there, at work, coursing through your every cell. It is ready to respond when you are ready to call on it and put it to work. That Faith is not only rational, but absolutely needed for that power to be active in your life.

7) Desire
The word desire is derived from a root word that means star, like the sun, a source of energy. Some people have said that desire is something to shun. I certainly think a desire for unhealthy things causes suffering, but I know that a desire for healthy things causes good things to happen. A strong desire is absolutely necessary when the object of your desire is difficult to attain, requires work, or has obstacles to overcome.

Don’t be afraid to kindle a burning desire for your success. It will give you energy. You need that energy to accomplish what we want here. If the dream of being at a weight you’d love stirs you, dream it. If the thought of doing what you’d like to do at your desired weight, wearing what you’d like to wear, feeling how you want to feel excites you, stoke it.

Successful weight loss was an elusive goal for many of us for many years, but it certainly is possible, and for many of us, it’s become easy. It most certainly is worth everything you can muster to put these elements in place. Think of what your life would be like if you could solve this problem.

William Anderson is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in weight loss, eating disorders and addictions. He is the author of  The Anderson Method.