Tag Archives: weight loss counseling

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.

One Lunch Here Will Make You Lose Weight. One Will Make You Gain. Which One Is For You?

(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.)

whopper combo

This is a Whopper with fries and a regular Coke. It’s a whopping 1440 calories. This is the kind of thing I used to have for lunch.

IM000299.JPG

This is a Whopper Jr. and a Diet Coke. It’s only 300 calories. I’ll have this for lunch at least once a week now. It doesn’t look a lot different than the 1440 calorie one, does it? The food companies try to get us to eat as much as possible. Is there any question why we are having an obesity epidemic when we aren’t paying attention?

Before I discovered the solution to my weight problem and permanently lost 140 pounds, I thought that to lose weight I’d have to give up eating what I liked. It wasn’t true and the dieting never worked.

Then I learned how to eat what I liked in a way to lose weight and keep it off. It was a bit of work at first, but now its easy.

To learn what I learned, read my book, eBook, or listen to my audiobook (listen to the free sample audio here).

How to Have Happy Holiday Season Without Gaining Weight

You may think this is a terrible time of year to be concerned about your weight, but it’s not. In fact, with the right approach, you can eat everything you like, enjoy it more than ever, have no guilt or remorse, and keep from gaining any weight at all! In fact, my clients do all that and lose weight at this time of year!

However, this time of year is just too chaotic and stressful for many people. They just want to survive it. For most people, just avoiding a weight gain this holiday season will be a fantastic success. This is entirely possible, without a lot of anguish, self-denial or guilt, if you follow my list of Holiday Dos and Don’ts. And if you want all the details on how to succeed with permanent weight loss, read my book or listen to my audiobook shown at the right. You can make 2017-2018 the year you solve your weight problem for good!

For everyone, here are my do’s and don’ts for the next few weeks:

Don’t try to diet, discover that you can’t keep to it, and then decide “It’s impossible. I might as well forget about weight control and enjoy everything until after the first.” Giving yourself permission to binge for a month will create a weight gain that will take all of next year to get rid of.

Do pick out six to ten days that you will go to parties, go out to dinner, have Christmas dinner, New Year’s Eve and Day get-togethers, and plan on reasonable indulgences those days. Determine to eat like a health nut all the other days. You will be able to, when you have those other days to indulge in. Don’t deny yourself gratification —delay it a bit.

Don’t try to avoid the “bad foods” at parties and dinners. You’ll only feel cheated and want to eat them later, when you’re alone. Plan on the kind of things you’ll want and find out ahead of time what kind of calories are in those things. Remember, there are no bad foods or bad calories in my world.  Also remember, women usually have a “calorie budget” of 1400-2200 a day to maintain an ideal weight, and with a little advance planning, you can fit in just about anything on that.

Do eat light early in the day save your day’s calories for the parties on your party days. If you eat a lot during the day, and then eat a lot at the parties, you’ll feel awful. If you plan ahead and have the bulk of your calories at the event, they will taste better, you’ll have a great time, and you’ll feel great. And, no guilt! You’ll have had just what you loved, enjoyed it, and accomplished your health goal.

Don’t leave it up to the time you are challenged with an offer of a lunch or a pastry, to decide what to do. Have your answer ready before you face the tempter. “No thanks, I’m saving my calories for the parties, so I don’t gain weight this year.”

Don’t beat yourself up and feel guilty when you’re not perfect. Eating too much or giving in to an urge is not a capital crime or a mortal sin. It’s just a mark of humanity. You can get better at self-control as time goes by if you give yourself a break and keep learning about effective methods for change. Be forgiving of your human qualities rather than critical of them.

Do decide that you care about your health, no matter what, even if your behavior isn’t always the best all the time. Never say “I don’t care” even when you slip up. That would be a lie. You do care. Don’t lie to yourself.

Don’t decide to stay home or punish yourself by wearing clothes that are too tight all season.

Do go out and get a couple of nice outfits that are comfortable and have a wonderful happy holiday season. Be reasonable this holiday season and then really get to work, with no distractions, after the holidays.

Don’t punish yourself this holiday season trying to stick to some crazy diet, or feeling guilty about eating good things. Follow these tips, and get a copy of The Anderson Method, paperback, Kindle or audiobook, to learn how to solve your weight problem for good in 2018!

Controlling Nighttime Eating


(Note: This article was submitted to me for publication on my blog, and while it does not precisely mirror my teaching, I think it is a worthwhile contribution. My inclusion of it here should not be taken as an endorsement of all that it suggests. – William Anderson, LMHC )

by Sandra Bankers

Many people often find themselves snacking at night, even if they are not feeling particularly hungry. Although we’ve mentioned in a previous TAM post that it doesn’t matter what time of the day you eat, eating late at night can still be problematic. More often than not, it can lead to you consuming more calories than you actually need.

Furthermore, Healthline specified that eating at night is connected with certain eating disorders. With that in mind, it’s easier to understand why it’s imperative to control your bedtime eating habits.

You need to remember is that there is often an underlying reason why you have an urge to eat even if you’re not hungry. Experience Life identified some common causes which include depriving yourself of food throughout the day; not having a set meal plan; or being used to eating at that time. The latter may also be stress-induced, or brought about by special instances such as family dinners.

In addition, lack of sleep and boredom may also trigger you to eat at odd times of the day, including late in the evening. The good news is that there’s a corresponding solution in line with the cause.

For most people, eating at night is something they’ve gotten used to over the years. Overeating is usually caused by developed habits so you will need to change your routine to get around this. Look for activities that you can do at this specific time instead of munching on food. For instance, you can read a book or watch a movie during the usual period where you eat to keep yourself distracted. Changing your behavior and mindset is at the heart of The Anderson Method and doing so will help you keep yourself from returning to your late-night eating habit, eventually helping you lose and/or maintain weight. Distracting yourself is also a good strategy if you find yourself snacking at night due to boredom or restlessness.

Likewise, if night-time eating is your way of bonding with your loved ones, you can simply look for other ways to have fun. For instance, you can spend the night bowling or playing miniature golf.

On the other hand, eating a lot because you deprived yourself of food during the day can easily be remedied by eating properly planned meals during the day. Fitness Magazine quotes Milton Strokes, the spokesperson of the American Dietetic Association, who clarified that “by shifting calories to the morning hours, you will ensure that your night-time cravings don’t have as much of a pull.” It’s a good idea to make a meal plan on what you will need throughout the day so you can be sure you are getting enough nutrients and sustenance.

Similarly, craving for food late at night because of lack of sleep can easily be remedied by getting at least 6 or 7 hours of sleep per day. According to Psychology Today, depriving yourself of sleep can trigger overeating, especially of fatty and high-calorie foods, so make sure you get sufficient sleep to avoid this from happening. It’s worth mentioning as well that there are also certain types of food and nutrients that can help you doze off. The better sleep guide on Leesa featured a list of elements which includes food rich in magnesium, potassium, and B vitamins. They have various effects on the body such as for relaxing muscles and nerves or inducing the release of the sleep hormone Melatonin. However, make sure to regulate the amount that you eat. Otherwise, you run the risk of gaining more weight.

Finally, if the reason for your eating at night is stress-related, one effective solution is to increase the amount of fiber and protein that you have at dinner. MedicineNet.com specified their benefits: the former helps you feel full, while the latter helps keep you from feeling hunger pangs even late at night.

Exercising is also a good option for you to combat stress. You can work out before heading home once you leave the office. This strategy can also help you tire yourself out so you can fall asleep more easily.

Is Food Addiction Keeping You From Losing Weight?

(First published in The Huffington Post)Corpulent Woman Having Addiction to Unhealthy Food

Have you ever thought of yourself as a food addict? If so, you are not alone.

Ask yourself these questions:

1) Do you find yourself craving and eating certain foods even though you’re not physically hungry?

2) Have you tried to have just a bit of something like ice cream or chips and find that you can’t stop, sometimes eating the whole box or bag?

3) Do you think about food constantly?

4) Do you try to cut back or abstain from overeating, repeatedly fail, and feel guilty or ashamed because of it?

5) Are there times when “too much is not enough” and you just can’t get enough?

6) Does your overeating cause you significant problems, yet you continue to do it, and can’t help yourself?

7) Does your eating get worse if you are stressed, anxious, angry or hurt?

8) Do you often feel angry or anxious if you try to limit your eating?

If you answered “yes” to more than a couple of these questions, you are like most of the clients who have come to me for help to lose weight. Like me, they had been told that diet and exercise were the answer to their weight problem. However, they just could not get themselves to diet and exercise for very long, if at all, before going back to their old ways. If they were able to lose a significant amount of weight, it wasn’t long before they put it back on.

Relax. You’re normal. You’re OK. But you might be a food addict.

In fact, it’s normal to be a food addict in America. Approximately 70 percent of us are overweight and 35 percent of us are clinically obese. And it’s not like we want to be. If fact, we spend billions on weight loss because we hate it. Yet we are still overweight and it’s getting worse.

In addiction counseling, there are often disputes with clients about whether or not they are an addict when they swear they are not. When I first started treating addictions, before I solved my own food and weight problem, an old alcohol counselor gave me his definition of an addict: An addict is a person who, when they indulge, it causes problems, yet they continue to indulge.

You see, if a person is normal and mentally healthy, and they find that some behavior is causing big problems in their life, they just stop, or change it so it no longer causes problems. For example, if you discovered that you were suddenly allergic to shellfish or peanuts and got sick every time you had it, you’d stop eating whatever you were allergic to. You don’t keep touching a hot stove.

But addicts don’t stop. They keep drinking or using even when it costs them their job, family and health, even when they try their hardest to stop. They keep smoking even when they know its damaging their lungs, even after they’ve tried to quit dozens of times. That’s the “insanity” and power of addiction. It prevents a person from stopping something they know is killing them. They are powerless. And often the addiction clouds their mind so they live in denial. I had a smoker on oxygen once tell me, “it’s not that bad” when we were talking about his COPD. An alcoholic told me he only had a “touch” of cirrhosis. I had one in jail on his third DUI tell me his drinking was really not a problem. If they were in their right minds and able to exercise their will and self-preservation instincts, they’d quit those addictions in a heartbeat. Normally, if you find that something you do is ruining your life and happiness, you stop. But addictions have a power over a person’s will and even their insight.

In America, we have a food addiction problem. It’s exacerbated by a culture that is in denial about it. We promote eating as a pastime and as a form of entertainment and important part of socializing and networking. We’ve convinced ourselves that enormous portions are normal and that overindulging is lighthearted fun. Meanwhile, the fact is that it is killing us.

I grew up overweight and spent years failing at diets. Like 35 percent of us I was obese, actually way more than obese, and I had every one of those behaviors I listed at the beginning of the article. I often joked about being addicted to Doritos and Oreos, but it was not until I started working with addicts and studying addictions and how to treat them that I realized I really was a food addict. And treating my problem as an addiction with behavior therapy finally solved my weight problem.

If you are a food addict, the routine approach using diets and exercise is not going to solve your problem. Neither will surgery. They won’t change what has to be changed because yours is not a weight problem. It’s a behavior problem, an addiction problem. And it won’t get fixed until you treat it as such.