Tag Archives: weight

How I Lost 140 Pounds and Kept It Off For Three Decades

I was put on my first diet at the age of seven, and things went downhill from there. I became a  yo-yo dieter, gaining more every year, until, at the age of 33 and 330 pounds, I finally discovered the formula for success.

Then, in 1984, as a behavior therapist and addictions counselor, I discovered methods in behavioral psychology that enabled me to solve my weight problem for good. I lost 140 pounds, and I have maintained an ideal 180 lbs. ever since, for over 30 years. You may not have that much to lose, but  thousands of clients and readers have learned to apply my methods to solve their weight problem. Like learning to ride a bike or play the piano it’s not effortless, but there is no maybe about it. It works. I have never had a client not lose weight following what I teach.

I have volumes of information here at my website and I’ve written a book, now an eBook and audiobook, (listen to a sample of it here) that explains everything I teach my clients. I hope it can help you too.

Here’s some of what I learned:

1) To lose and manage weight, it requires more than just learning about the calories in food and what your body needs. You need to learn how to program yourself and master that part of yourself that manufactures your desires, urges, habits and feelings.

2) Acquiring the right habits is not a matter of intellect and will power. It is a result of training and conditioning in technique from the behavioral sciences. It is a matter of learning how to reprogram yourself, your habits and your feelings.

3) Diets and exercise crusades don’t work. Doing something for a while, even if you lose weight, and then going back to “normal”, will make you worse, not better.

4) Success comes not from denying yourself pleasure and good food, but by forming habits that are more pleasurable, with food that you really like that causes you to become healthy and fit instead of overweight.

You can become successful at permanent weight loss.

Bill Anderson, creator of “The Anderson Method”, before and after his 140 lb. weight loss.

I have volumes of information here at my website (check the “Table of Contents” at the bottom left of the page) and I’ve written a book, now an eBook and audiobook, that explains everything I teach my clients. I hope it can help you too.

This story was first published on ThriveGlobal.com

How Much Should You Weigh?

Is “Ideal Body Weight” important? What about the BMI?

I was not always the “Weight Loss Guru” who lost 140 pounds and kept it off for 30 years. Before I discovered how to succeed with permanent weight loss and wrote The Anderson Method, I was and out-of-control overeater for several decades, getting worse with each diet failure.

I’d have a moment of truth on a regular basis, usually after some health crisis. “This time I really mean it,” I’d say. “I gotta lose weight.” One time, as I approached age 30, I was in the doctor’s office on a follow-up to a “medical event” due to my weight. I was around 300 pounds after years of yo-yo dieting, and this serious health crisis in my late twenties really scared me. I was determined to change, I swore to the doctor.

“What weight do you think you should be?”, the doctor asked.

I thought for a moment and said “I’d be happy at 225”.

“No!”, he said. “You need to be under 185! 225 is way too much.” He handed me his dietician’s diet and sent me home feeling defeated even before I started.

Ignore people telling you what to weigh. Dismiss them. It’s not their body or their life. It’s none of their business!

That doctor was a jerk. And he weighed about 250 himself! He did me no favors discouraging me. Weighing 225 would have been a lot better than weighing 300. He might have helped if he had been encouraging. He discouraged me when I was open to change and set me back. I tried his dietician’s diet for about a day and gave up, like all the other times. I hated it, felt hopeless, and continued my unhealthy ways.

Sometime later, I learned how to succeed at permanent weight loss through principles he and his dietician knew nothing about. One of the important things I learned is that to be successful, you’ve got to work to be the weight you want to be, with foods and behavior patterns that you prefer, not someone else.

Pick a weight that you think you’d be happy with, and shoot for that. When you get there, you can decide if you want to lose more. That’s what I did, and it worked out fine.

You can become any weight you want to be, if it’s what YOU want.

You can’t lose weight to make someone else happy. You’ve got to do it for yourself. You’ve got to do it in ways you can live with.

I discovered methods to lose weight that are guaranteed to work when you learn and apply them, no if, ands or buts. They are based on the irrefutably reliable sciences of physiology and thermodynamics, and I discovered the psychotherapeutic techniques to make them possible to apply. Because I was doing it for myself, with my own chosen goals, foods, and eating patterns, I was able to muster the power to achieve them.

Don’t buy into “Ideal Body Weight” worship.

“Ideal body weight” was an idea cooked up by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in 1943 and embraced by the medical community. You saw it on that chart at the doctor’s office. It had the height and weight listed, and the standards we were all held to. It was developed as a result of actuarial studies that determined at what weight we had the lowest morbidity and mortality, what the very healthiest weight was for our height and frame size. There were also simple formulas that more or less coincided with the correlations the Metlife statistics revealed, changing a bit here and there over the years. Click here and scroll down the page to see the common formulas. Roughly, they equated to: 1) For women: 100 pounds for the first 5 feet of height, plus 5 pounds per inch over 5 feet, and 2) For men- 106 pounds for the first 5 feet of height plus 6 pounds per inch over 5 feet.

You’ll notice (perhaps with horror, as I did) that these are really skinny weights! At 320 pounds, I could not even imagine myself at 180 or so. Most of my 5’4″ female clients are in shock when they hear they “should” weigh 120. They just about give up hope hearing that.

The reality is that you do not have to be the “Ideal Body Weight” to be healthy. Many people who are 20% or more above their IBW are perfectly healthy. Get to the weight you’d be happy with and then go to your doctor and find out what your bloodwork and vitals say. See what he or she says about your health at that weight. The heck with the ideal. Get to a happy weight. If the doctor says you need to lose more, ask why, and ask for the evidence that says it’s healthier. We know that real obesity, 150% of the IBW or more, is unhealthy, but the weight you’d be happy with? Where’s the proof that it is not OK?

How about BMI, the “Body Mass Index” that is used today?

The BMI is another measure that I can’t stand. Click here to see the BMI chart. It says I’m overweight at 6′ and 184 lbs.! An insult! It says my 5’4″ client is overweight at 128 lbs.! What an outrage!

Honestly, do we need these charts to tell if we need to lose weight? To be healthier? To be happier? I don’t think so.

Forget thinking you need to be at the weight the charts say. The heck with them. Just think about the weight you’d like to be, what weight you’d be happy with. Follow me, and you’ll get there. Then you can decide if you want to lose more weight. That’s what I did. With the right approach, using real science, reaching a healthy happy weight and maintaining it is absolutely possible, even enjoyable!

How to Break Through Weight Loss Plateaus

If you are a young person and have not yet discovered weight loss “plateaus”, you need to learn about them so they do not sabotage your weight loss success. They are inevitable, incredibly infuriating, and can destroy a happy successful weight loss effort. However, I can teach you how to deal with them. They can be beaten when you know how.

What is a weight loss plateau?

Weight loss plateaus are periods of time, sometimes weeks on end, where you stop losing weight after weeks of great success, sometimes losing 10 pounds or more in a few weeks. In the first month or so of any legitimate weight loss regimen, the scale will reward you regularly for a few weeks and then it usually comes to a screeching halt. It stops moving and just stays there, even though you are doing what you are supposed to. It’s horrible. Plateaus happen while you are working as hard or even harder than you did in the beginning of the effort, and they happen regularly when you are engaged in a weight loss regimen. They can be incredibly frustrating if you don’t know how to handle them. The usual reaction is to throw up your hands and say “the heck with it —this isn’t working” and go back to overeating with a vengeance.

As a behavior therapist specializing in weight loss, I have developed a method to deal with plateaus (and the scale) so that they cease to be an impediment to weight loss success. My method, a collection of behavioral and cognitive behavioral techniques, helped me lose 140 pounds after 25 years of diet and weight loss failure, and I’ve kept it off for 30 years. I’ve been teaching these methods to clients and other therapists since, and my ideas are used by clients, readers and weight loss programs all over the world. The way of dealing with plateaus is one of the most important.

What can I do when I hit a plateau?

First, prior to even starting on any effort, you have to change the way you think about weight loss and the scale. This is work using principles from both cognitive behavior therapy and behavior therapy.

Our objective needs to be behavior management, not scale management. We know that if you eat fewer calories than you burn, you’ll burn fat that day. Go to www.calculator.net to find out how many calories you’ll burn at the weight you want to be. Any day you eat less than that (the “to maintain” number) you’ll burn off some excess fat. When you know how many calories you’ve had every day, you’ll know exactly where you stand. You don’t really need a scale to tell how you are doing. Keeping track of the calories you eat will let you win every day! Sometimes you win big when the calories are low, sometimes you’ll just be holding your own when it’s near your maintenance level. If you eat fewer calories than the maintenance level, you can win every day!

You’d need to eat 3500 calories over and above your maintenance level to gain a pound, so when the scale says you’ve gained 5 pounds on a day when you didn’t overeat, you know the scale is lying, the Devil! Even if you overate a bit, you can’t gain 5 pounds in a weekend. That would take eating over 17,000 calories over and above your maintenance levels! (3500 x 5)

Keeping track of your caloric intake and remembering what it really means can immunize you from the destruction the scale can do when you take it seriously as a measure of your work. Doing a great day’s work and then getting on the scale and believing you gained weight because the scale says so would be like working hard all day and getting fined, punished for it, instead of getting paid. Who would keep doing that? Instead, count up the caloric deficit for the day, the amount of fat you burned off.

The scale lies!

We need to adjust our thinking about what the scale measures. When I was young, I was told “the scale doesn’t lie”, but they were wrong telling me that the scale was a true measure of my progress.

The scale measures all the matter that’s contained in your skin —muscle, organs, fat, blood, bone, the contents of your bowel and bladder —but all we care about is reducing the fat. The scale can’t measure that. Since we are composed mainly of water, the scale measures mainly the amount of water we are carrying today, which depends on a lot of factors. If you are retaining fluids because of the time of month or because you ate some salty food, the scale will go up, maybe as much as 5 pounds. If your calorie intake was lower than your maintenance level, you should feel accomplished, not like a failure!

Looking at the scale as the measure of your progress is a big mistake. After all, drink a big glass of water and you’ll gain a pound. Seriously, should you see that as a sign that you did badly? If you have a big bowel movement, should you be proud of that because the scale went down?

Look at your behavior every day to measure how you are doing, not the scale. If you consistently eat fewer calories than you burn, and you don’t bump it up when you reach your goal, you will lose weight until you are skeletal. This is irrefutably reliable science. It cannot fail.

Talk to yourself the right way

Talking to yourself is a technique of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) that incorporates a bit of self-hypnosis. We’ve found that the things you say to yourself have power (to help or hurt), and speaking them out loud gives form to your thoughts and better conscious control of them. When you hit a plateau tell yourself “I know that when I eat fewer than 1800 calories (an example), I burn a chunk of fat off my body that very day. I only ate 1000 today, so I know I burned off a chunk the size of a stick of butter today (a quarter of a pound of fat, 3500/4 = 875) and if I do that tomorrow, I’ll burn another one off. Eventually it will show up on the scale, when my body decides to release the water it’s holding.”

Whatever you do, stop saying things to yourself like “This isn’t working! I might as well go back to overeating.” Before I learned how to succeed, I used to say things like that when I hit a plateau. I would discourage myself and quit working on my weight loss. It’s using CBT and self-hypnosis to hurt yourself.

Telling yourself, “This isn’t working”, when you have eaten fewer calories than you burn is a lie. If you don’t eat the maintenance level, you have to get the fuel from your stored fat. It’s no more possible to live without burning those calories than it is to drive around without burning gas. Don’t say these dishonest things.

I used to say “No matter what I do, I gain weight.” It would discourage me, but it was totally untrue, of course. If I actually ate less than I burned, I’d lose weight, guaranteed. But the foolish lies sabotaged me until I quit saying them. I quit doing things the wrong way and started doing things the right way. I solved my weight problem and you can too. Follow me.

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.

What to do With Leftovers?

If the picture above is your plan for leftovers, you are courting disaster.

If this is what you are planning to do with leftovers, and you are a food addict like me, you are unconsciously planning to overeat for a week.

When analyzing what went wrong when a client complained about being unable to stop herself from getting up repeatedly at night to eat cookies or chips, I asked her when she got the cookies and chips. She said she picked them up the last time she went shopping. I asked her where they fit in her food plan and when she was planning on eating them. She said had no plans that included cookies or chips and she was not planning on eating them. “They were to have there if I needed them.”

I said, “No, when you bought them, that’s when you planned on eating them for ‘snacks’ which you know is not what we do.” (There is no snacking on The Anderson Method. There are only planned meals and fasting). She had to think about that for a minute and realize that when she bought them, she was unconsciously planning to eat them whenever she felt like it. She had to admit that without realizing it, she was planning on overeating.

She wasn’t conscious of it, but the “inner addict” had a plan to eat cookies and chips for fun at night. Believe me, if you have food in the house, you are planning to eat it, whether you know it or not. You may not know it, but everything in your house is something you are planning to eat sometime. For food addicts, it’s likely to be tonight if it’s not part of one of the meals you’ve planned in the future, especially if it’s not frozen.

What’s your plan for leftovers? If you just fill the fridge, you are inviting a binge, maybe a week of bingeing.

You must plan on what to do with leftovers. If you leave pie or stuffing in big containers in the fridge, your “inner addict” will know they are there and tempt you to go have some …… now.

Plan on what to do with leftovers now. I send dessert things home with the guests, or chuck it down the disposal. I’ve had enough experience to know that if I leave it in the fridge, I’m likely to have trouble. If I tell my self I’m not planning on eating it, I know I’m just kidding myself. There is no room in my non-holiday meal plans for pecan pie.

I put the turkey, dressing, and mashed potatoes in ZipLoc containers in serving sizes and put them in the freezer. That way, I can have a turkey dinner once a week for a while. I do this with all the roasts I have on the weekends.

I try to send all the dangerous stuff home with the guests. If they don’t take it, I chuck it down the disposal. When the evening is over, there is nothing in the fridge that is not part of one of the planned meals for the coming week. There is nothing in there that is one of my addictive foods that I’ve learned I cannot have in the house.

With years of experience and trial and error, I now have wonderful holiday meals  with every holiday season, and I have an easy time eating healthfully in the days between them. It took a while to learn how to do that and get to the point where it’s easy, but it’s doable.

You can win at permanent weight loss. I will work to make it easier for you with what I’ve learned. That’s The Anderson Method.

Have a great Thanksgiving!