What is Behavioral Medicine and Behavioral Healthcare?

A writer asks, “I’ve heard that you are very successful helping people to lose weight with ‘Behavioral Medicine’. I also know of a counseling center that calls itself ‘Behavioral Healthcare’. What do these terms mean?”

(The author is the psychotherapist who lost 140 lbs. when he discovered Therapeutic Psychogenics,  and he’s kept it off for over 25 years. He has helped thousands to lose weight permanently with this approach. More about it at the end of the article.)

When I refer to my practice of behavioral medicine, I am referring mainly to my work in helping people establish the behavior that will treat or “cure” their disorders related to being overweight. Many diseases are caused or worsened by being overweight. Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, disability, cancer, inflammatory disorders, depression, obesity itself – the list is endless of the life-threatening diseases that are caused by excess weight and conversely improved and even cured by weight loss. I’ve helped thousands to finally solve their “impossible” weight problem, successfully lose great amounts of weight and maintain a healthy weight. I do it with my brand of Behavioral Medicine I call Therapeutic Psychogenics.

We know that  an obesegenic lifestyle is the primary cause of the problem, eating more calories than we use and storing them as fat. Conversely, we know how to lose weight, regardless of the cause of the gain.  Eat fewer calories than we use and we lose weight. Eat in balance and we don’t regain. The thermodynamics is irrefutable. Simple, right? No.

While the thermodynamics of weight control are easily understood, the dynamics of human behavior are anything but.  While some people think that everyone should just be able to make up their mind to master their habits, desires and feelings, most of us know that it’s not that easy. The forces at work that shape our behavior, the drives, the neurochemistry, the conditioning and habit formation are not often within our conscious control, even when we understand them. Self control, especially when you are talking about compelling and addictive behaviors, is not just a matter of “wanting it Badly enough” or “will power”.

That’s where I and my brand of behavioral therapy comes in. Understanding more about ourselves and the psychological technique for self-mastery are things that can be learned and developed. We treat the whole person, body, mind and spirit. The components of my eclectic formula of therapy have many names in the profession – Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Behavior Therapy, Cybernetic Self-Management  Technique, psychoeducation, nutrition education – together I call it Therapeutic Psychogenics. Many names but the goal is one: to create a permanent change in our automatic habitual behavior so that the way we habitually think, feel and act makes us lose the excess weight and keep it off. It’s kind of like “reprogramming”. It’s certainly not just “will power”.  Learning and developing the psychological “power tools” is what empowers us to change the behavior, not will alone. When we can change the behavior, the body will change.

However, Behavioral Medicine encompasses more than what I’ve just described.  Here’s the textbook definition: Behavioral Medicine is the interdisciplinary field concerned with the development and integration of behavioral, psychosocial, and biomedical science, knowledge and techniques relevant to the understanding of health and illness, and the application of this knowledge and these techniques to prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation.

The psyche and body are one. They are not separate. Our physical condition affects our spirit, mood and mental state. Drugs and our hormonal and neurochemical state affects or mood, thinking , feelings and behavior (appetite too). Our behavior influences our neurochemistry and hormones and creates physical conditions and many states of mind and spirit. Behavioral Medicine recognizes this and integrates these dimensions for purposes of understanding and treatment. Professionals from the medical and mental health fields attend to the whole person and fashion treatment protocols that call for intervention in all spheres. This is Behavioral Medicine.

Behavioral Health is a term used in a more limited scope to address all the behavior we engage in that affects our health. It is not so much used to describe complex psychological conditions like addictions and eating disorders. For instance, our use of automobiles and hand washing procedure would be included as issues addressed in Behavioral health. 

Behavioral Healthcare, seen as a part of Behavioral Medicine, most often describes mental health and psychiatric care specifically, including counseling for a variety of reasons.

I hope I have not been too clinical in trying to give an accurate and complete answer to this very good question. People hear these terms and rarely know what they mean. Most of us don’t want the jargon. I know my clients don’t care what it’s called. That it helps them to solve their weight problem is all they care about.

Behavioral Medicine saved my life when I discovered Therapeutic Psychogenics as a result of my work in addictions counseling and behavioral science. I lost 140 lbs using this method, after 25 years of failure with diets and exercise schemes and I’ve kept it off for 25 years. I’ve been helping others since, teaching other therapists too, and I’ve also got a book about it. If you’ve had a terrible time trying to lose weight, Behavioral Medicine has the best solution. Got to www.TheAndersonMethod.com to get more information about my work, my growing network of therapists, and my book describing the method.


What do You Think of Alli, the Weight Loss “Miracle” Pill?

Does Alli work? The answer is yes and no.

As the prescription medication Xenical, it was promoted as the only weight loss pill that really worked. Then it became an over-the-counter pill and has made millions for the company that makes it. But does it really work to solve your weight problem?

(The author is a psychotherapist who lost 140 lbs. when he discovered Therapeutic Psychogenics,  and he’s kept it off for over 25 years. He has helped thousands to lose weight permanently with this approach. More about it at the end of the article.)

Alli works by preventing your body from digesting and utilizing fat, so when you take a pill when you eat a fatty food, the fat passes through your digestive system undigested, and you don’t acquire or accumulate the calories from it. For most of us, 30% of the calories in our diet or more come from fat. So, if you were eating a 1000 calorie per day diet in three meals with a pill at each meal, you’d only be taking in 700 calories, and if it was a 1500 calorie per day diet, you’d only be taking in 1050. If you stuck to your plan of eating only that amount of calories at those meals, you’d probably do well losing weight.

For this to work in actually producing weight loss, you’d first need to maintain the kind of control of your eating that my clients achieve with The Anderson Method (www.TheAndersonMethod.com) described in my book of the same name. With it, you enjoy real weight loss with or without the pill. With the pill, the weight loss is faster. Sounds good, right?

However, there are some other results that you need to think about before you start eating Alli pills. The most attention-getting is what they describe as “anal leakage”.  Fats, like butter and the fat in meats, become liquidy at body temperature. Fats like the oil in salad dressing and cooking oil are already liquid. With Alli, this oily liquid passes through your system without being digested, and then ends up in your colon, where it does not form a solid stool like the rest of your feces. You have the equivalent of cooking oil seeping out on a regular basis, or worse, all the time. If you are not controlling your eating, you have a lot of oil running, so not only are you not losing weight, but you also have poopy pants with oily stuff that seeps through layers of clothes. Not a pretty picture. I’m always all ears when I hear about some way to make weight control easier, but “anal leakage” is all I need to hear about Alli. Like other drugs, they have a whole list of possible nasty side effects, but I don’t need to know any more than “anal Leakage”.

Here’s the facts: to solve your weight problem, you need to shape your habits so that you eat the right number of calories per day, and these habits become permanent so that the weight stays off.  There is a way to train yourself to do this so that it is not hideous and you don’t have to deny yourself good food or eat diet food. That’s what The Anderson Method teaches, a method of behavioral medicine that has helped me and thousands of my clients and readers to lose weight the right way, and keep it off.  More about it at www.TheAndersonMethod.com

As long as you are looking for pills or procedures to relieve you of the need to change your behavior and figure out how to live on less, you’ll be putting off what you need to do to solve your weight problem.  If you use Alli and continue to live and eat like most Americans, you’ll still have your weight problem, and you’ll have a new problem on your hands (and elsewhere too).

Yes, Your Stomach Actually Shrinks When You Diet!

A reader and client has written in asking, “Does my stomach actually shrink after a few weeks of eating less, or is it all in my imagination?” Much to my surprise, the answer is yes, your stomach actually does shrink!

(The author is a psychotherapist who lost 140 lbs. when he discovered Therapeutic Psychogenics,  and he’s kept it off for over 25 years. He has helped thousands to lose weight permanently with this approach. More about it at the end of the article.)

For years, the answer from all the experts has always been “no”, your stomach does not actually shrink. My staff dietitians and consulting physicians have always told me (most still do) that this is an “old wives’ tale”, a myth that came about because after a while of eating less, we seem to get used to it. They said that the ravenous hunger that you got when you first “dieted” goes away after a few days, but it wasn’t from your stomach actually getting smaller. “It’s a matter of habituation”, they said. You also get a full feeling on less food than before, but “it’s not actually your stomach physically shrinking.  The new experience becomes our new normal and we get used to it”. According to them, our digestive system and appestat adjust to the new level of consumption, and now, when we’ve had the new normal amount or new normal of going without, our brain gives us the same messages it used to give us, but on less food. But the stomach physically shrinking? “No”, they scoffed, “just another silly myth lay people believe”.

It turns out they were wrong, at least about the stomach shrinking part. Here’s the scoop: Researchers at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Department of Medicine and Psychiatry at St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital have actually measured the size of the stomachs of people before and after 4 weeks of eating less. They found that dieters had their stomachs shrink by 27-36%!

They inserted balloons into the empty stomachs of 25 obese volunteers and then filled them with water to measure the volume the stomach would hold. Then, a group of 14 of them went on restricted diets, reducing the amount of food they ate, and 9 did not. At the end of 4 weeks, they repeated the measuring procedure using the balloons. The non-dieters had no change in the volume their stomachs would hold, but the dieters’ stomachs would not hold what they used to. The volume their stomachs’ would hold had shrunk by 27 to 36%. So, its true, your stomach actually does shrink after you eat less for a while.

Of course, the reason for the change in hunger and satiety related to how much we eat is not really important. What is really important is using this fact to help us lose weight permanently instead of letting it interfere.  

For instance, when I was chronically overweight and constantly failing at weight loss, the so-called “experts” told me to eat when I was hungry and stop when I was full. The problem with this was that I seemed to be hungry most of the time, and I never felt full on the amounts of food they gave me. Then, they criticized me for the way I felt, basically saying that it was my fault that I wasn’t like them. No wonder they couldn’t help me. They had no idea what the problem was. They didn’t realize that I experienced life differently, in a way they were not aware of. Their “solution” only worked for people without the problem.

I have discovered how to solve my weight problem, how to lose weight permanently, and how to help other chronically overweight and obese people do the same. One of the things we do is accept that certain things that are natural to us might not be normal to people who do not have our weight problem. These are some things it might be useful for you to accept:

1) It’s normal to feel hungry and have cravings even when we’ve had plenty to eat. To keep from being overweight, we need to develop the ability to abstain from eating in the face of hunger and cravings, rather than insist on finding ways to satisfy them, or let them be an excuse to justify overeating.  

2) If we persist in eating less (I call it “undereating”),  it will get easier as time goes by, because we will have less hunger and cravings after a few days of eating less, as long as we continue in our undereating. 

3) If we eat more, for instance on an indulgent weekend or vacation, we will have a day or two of perhaps extreme hunger and craving when we return to undereating (our stomach shrank?). Then, after a few days of undereating, it will get easier again.  I used to tell dietitians, “The more I eat, the more I need to eat” while they insisted that the more I ate, the less need I should feel. Now, after working with thousands of other people with weight problems, I find that  my clients’ experience is overwhelmingly more like mine than the dietitians’. To be successful, we need to develop the ability to cut back and eat less routinely for the rest of our lives. We need to be willing to accept that getting good at this skill is very worthwhile in improving our lives and our happiness.

4) If we develop habits of eating whenever we feel like it, and want to have feelings of “fullness” when we eat, we will become overweight. The way things work, if we did that, it would require more and more all the time to satisfy those feelings. It’s stunningly similar to the phenomenon of tolerance with drug addition, where more and more of the drug is needed to achieve the desired effect. The dietitians just don’t seem to understand this, probably because it doesn’t happen to them. For us to be successful, we need to develop habits where we don’t eat every time we’re hungry, where we don’t eat until we’re full all the time.

This is by no means a complete idea of what you need to know in order to solve your weight problem. That would take a book, and in fact, there is a book, The Anderson Method, that describes the program of therapy I provide, that I’m also training other therapists to provide.

I was an overweight failure at diets and exercise for 25 years, the “fat kid” in school, and over 300 lbs as an adult. Fortunately,because of what I learned with all that trial and error, combined with what I learned as an addiction counselor and behavior therapist, I discovered Therapeutic Psychogenics, lost 140 lbs. along with my obesity problems, and I’ve maintained that success for over 25 years. I’ve helped thousands to duplicate my success and now I’m training other therapists. You can learn more about it and my book at my website: www.TheAndersonMethod.com

Are There Any Weight Loss Products That Really Work?

The answer is YES! There are some great “weight loss products” that can really help, and I’ll list them below. First, to get the complete picture, here are some excerpts from one of my most popular articles, The 5 Best Weight Loss Products Ever Created :

Let me give you a little history of my varied and sometimes risky experience with these “weight loss miracles”.  

The first weight loss product I heard of in my teens was “diet pills”, amphetamines that took away your appetite, miracle pills for compulsive overeaters like I had become. I heard about them from my friend whose parents were a doctor and a nurse. His dad also used them to stay awake for days at a time, and his mom became a house cleaner extraordinaire. They called it “speed”. The diet pill industry went crazy for a while, literally, until drug use got a bad name because of all the ill effects, like death. We discovered “speed kills”, and while amphetamine (AKA methamphetamine or “meth” and “crystal meth”) is popular again as a “recreational” drug, almost everyone knows that speed is a ticket to misery —either jail, the hospital or the grave. Those diet pills were incredibly destructive. Luckily for me, I never tried them. With the way I got hooked on foods so easily, addictive drugs would have been a disaster. New diet pills keep being “invented” and advertised, but most are scams and none are on my list of good weight loss products. I keep checking every time I hear of one, and I’ll be the first to tout one that helps more than it hurts. So far, there are none, unless you’re clinically depressed and overeating and find that an antidepressant helps with both, which they can. See your doctor if you think one might help.

The first diet product I tried was Metracal, a thick milk-like substance that came in chocolate and vanilla, the first of the liquid meal substitutes. I drank that for a while instead of lunch, until it began smelling like vitamin pills and I started gagging every time I got it to my lips. Then there was Ayds, a little chocolate candy that was supposed to have magical weight loss properties. I think the AIDS epidemic killed them off. There was TAB in the 60’s, the first diet soda from the Coca-Cola Company, sweetened with saccharin (yuck) and later they introduced Fresca, a grapefruit flavored diet drink. I preferred the Fresca. The 60’s and 70’s saw an explosion of diets, diet products and diet programs and I was tempted to try all of them in my twenty-five year career as a weight loss failure. Fortunately, because I followed a professional career path that led me to behavioral science, addictions, habit management and behavioral counseling, I discovered that the solution to my 300+ lb. problem was not in “weight loss products” but in personal change through “behavioral medicine”. That’s what I now teach clients and other therapists as The Anderson Method.  You can get more information about it and my book at www.TheAndersonMethod.com .

I learned that as much as we’d like to deny it, the solution to our weight problem lies in acquiring a lifestyle where we habitually eat fewer calories than we use. There is no magical way to get around this. We can eat any kind of food we want, but we have to get the calories within the right “limits”. And that’s where the right “weight loss products” can have great value. Success in permanent weight control is the result of programming ourselves with calorically correct habits, using sophisticated behavioral methods. Staying slim can become automatic and habitual, eating food we like that coincidently contains the right number of calories. The products I list below can make it easier as well as decidedly more pleasurable to succeed in this. The order I list them in is random.

1) I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Spray

One of the most important things my clients learn in their first week of my program is the source of the calories that made them fat. They don’t eat any differently than they always have, but they look up the calories of everything they eat. Then, miracles start happening. They automatically start looking for ways to decrease the amount of calories they consume and increase the volume of food per calorie. The result is that they become big vegetable eaters, even if they have always shunned them, and even though no one even suggests it to them. It’s automatic! Then they start looking for ways to make the veggies more enjoyable. Real butter and fatty sauces add lots of calories, but this spray “butter” adds next to nothing! There is less than one calorie per squirt! Ten squirts are less than ten calories, and your veggies are covered with a tasty buttery glaze! It will make any vegetable better.

 2) Egg Beaters

If you’re not paying attention, breakfast can be the highest calorie meal of the day, especially if you eat out, often over 1000 calories. Figuring out how to keep the calories low early in the day can be one of the most important things you can do to keep your calories down. Then, you can have a decent budget for the evening meal. Also, the source of the morning calories, be it carbs, fats or proteins, will have a big effect on your appetite. If you eat carbs in the morning, especially simple carbs like sugary or fruity stuff, you’ll stimulate your appetite and need to work harder to restrain yourself from overeating. So, a high protein breakfast is a good start. It will be more “filling” and stay with you longer. Eggs are a good choice, but they have lots of cholesterol, and they’re 75 calories each. The eggs substitutes are half the calories and no cholesterol! So, you can have the equivalent of two scrambled eggs and a piece of diet toast for a little over 100 calories! Add a real egg to the mix to improve the texture, or make it a veggie omelet, and you are still very low in calories, and it will keep you fueled and satisfied for a very long time!

3) Walden Farms zero calorie salad dressings

Two tablespoons of their balsamic vinaigrette is less than five calories, so I can make a big salad with lettuce, spinach, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, and peppers for about fifty calories total. I can have that with a Michael Angelo lasagna, a 4oz. hamburger with bun or a lamb chop, and have a very decent low calorie meal. Walden Farms makes six different “zero calorie” dressings (they get to label a serving zero if it is less than 5 calories), though the only one I like is the balsamic vinaigrette. Clients have liked the others and you might too!

4) Low calorie frozen dinners

“TV” dinners were invented when I was a kid when “labor saving” products became the rage. Within a generation it seemed like everyone had an automatic dishwasher, an electric clothes dryer, a self-propelled lawn mower, and an automatic garage door opener. At the same time, we looked for ways to make the evening meal easier and faster. Drive-in restaurants seemed to expand the waistline, but in time, food companies invented lo-cal frozen dinners that help us shrink it. Today we have an array of very decent frozen dinners from Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, Smart Ones, Kashi and others that appeal to the senses as well as the caloric budget. Many of these offerings are less than 300 calories and are great to have in the freezer when your plan to prepare the perfect fresh meal goes awry.

5) Diet Soda Pop

We’ve come a long way from TAB and Fresca made with saccharin. Today, there are countless zero calorie drinks that are sweetened with artificial sweeteners, like Nutri-Sweet and Splenda, that are every bit as flavorful as sugars. I have come full circle and now my favorite beverage for lunch and ‘tween times is my old friend Fresca, only it’s much better than the original. As far as I’m concerned, diet drinks are one of the most important weight control products ever created. I can have a flavorful drink with my lunch and during the day that I don’t have to limit or think about. Certainly, water is a better hydrator, and I drink plenty of that, but if it weren’t for diet drinks, I know I’d fall victim to the temptation to have something tastier with lunch and during breaks. As far as I’m concerned, they’re a life saver. 

There are lots of other foods that you’ll discover that are great “weight loss products” when you quit trying to find someone else to do all the work for you. For instance, if you start looking up the calories in regular food, you’ll find that a good old-fashioned hot dog and bun with mustard, relish and onions is less than 300 calories! I often had one for lunch as I lost 140 lbs.! I’ve maintained my ideal weight for over 25 years now, and I still have hot dogs regularly!

Permanent weight loss is within everyone’s grasp, and my book will teach you what you need to do to succeed. There is work involved, but if you’ve gotten through high school, you’ve done a lot more and a lot harder work than you’ll need to do to solve your weight problem. If you really want to solve your weight problem and you’re willing to do some reasonable work, you are ready to succeed. For more information, go to my website www.TheAndersonMethod.com

Can Dieting “Ruin” My Metabolism?

A writer asks, “I’ve heard that my metabolic rate screeches to a halt if I go on a calorie restricted diet. I’ve heard my metabolism will be ‘ruined for life’ if I lose weight that way. OMG! Is this true?”

The answer is a big authoritative NO, evidenced by NIH  funded research at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and the University of Pittsburg School of Medicine.  I’ll explain more about that study below, but first, let’s clear up any misunderstandings you may have about a “calorie restricted” weight loss diet, as opposed to any other weight loss diet that works, as if there was such a thing.

The New England Journal of Medicine published a landmark study about a year ago of the longest, largest and most rigorous test of several popular diet strategies (low carb vs low fat, etc.), to see which worked best.  The research, funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, showed that as long as people reduced their caloric intake, the diet worked, and it didn’t matter how. All the diets worked, that is, any diet that was low in calories. A diet that was not low in calories (not calorie restrictive) did not work. The lesson, researchers say, is that people lose weight if they lower their calories. “It really does cut through the hype,” said Dr. Frank M. Sacks, the study’s lead author and professor of cardiovascular disease prevention at the Harvard School of Public Health.

So, let’s be clear on this. The only way to lose weight is to restrict your caloric intake so that it is lower than your metabolic rate. It could be a goofy diet, or it could be real food in a way you can live with. Doesn’t matter. Create a deficit of 3500 calories and you lose a pound. If you are a 5′ 0″ woman with a metabolic rate of 1500 calories per day, and you restrict it to 1000, that would equate to a pound a week, 50 lbs. in a year. That is not an extreme restriction that produces a fast loss, but it is reality, and it is a fantastic success for my clients who do it. It changes their life. Forget about phony baloney gimmicks that promise to get around the realities of thermodynamics. Forget about losing weight without restricting calories. It’s not going to happen in this Universe. “Restricting” your caloric intake is the only way to lose weight, whether it is a goofy diet where you don’t realize that’s what you’re doing, or real changes with real food and habits that you’ll make permanent. 

Now, before you keel over, thinking you’ll never be able to lower your calories for even a day, let alone for life, let me assure you that it can be done with the right method. I’ve trained thousands to achieve permanent weight loss, and some have even gotten to the point where they say it’s easy, second nature. Doing  what they need to do to maintain their success has become a satisfying way of life. For more information, go to www.TheAndersonMethod.com .

Now, back to the original question: Does reducing your caloric intake for a long period of time (I lost 140 lbs. in 18 months) permanently lower your metabolism so that when you’re done, you’re worse off than before?

It is widely accepted that after a while on a reduced calorie regimen, your body becomes more efficient metabolically and tries to get by on the lesser amount you’re eating, making it harder to lose weight.  You may have found that after a month or so on a diet, the weight loss slows, and you start hitting plateaus. After a few months, you may find that you don’t feel hot as much as you did before the diet, or you feel chilly more often and the plateaus get longer. Most people are unable to a continue a diet in the face of these discouragements, and that’s an understatement. Most of us have a hard time sticking to a diet for even a week, even when it’s working! While some clever entrepreneurs find that this slow-up creates a great market for products and magic to change this, there is little you can do to change this evolutionary and genetically predetermined response to “undereating”. Its nature’s way to help you survive a famine. The closest you can come to negating this “lowered metabolic response”  is to use the kind of strategies employed by The Anderson Method to thwart it, such as the lifetime eating patterns we’ve developed with lower calories on five of seven days, or a diet that does not eliminate your normal foods. These strategies are designed to “fool” your body so it does not sense a lack of food abundance. They are also designed to satiate the mind/body. I introduced this method over twenty-five years ago, and it has now become commonplace in the weight loss community. Increased activity is also a good idea.

Rather than try to change your body’s “metabolic efficiency response” to less food, an inborn trait that has been developed through many generations of evolution, it makes more sense to figure out how to continue losing weight in spite of it. This, we have done, by persisting in a reduced calorie regimen sufficiently low to lose any amount of weight you want, no matter how long it takes, and keep it off. With my method, we have found a way to thwart this “metabolic efficiency response”, and lose as much as you need to, and keep it off.

If our body does indeed lower its metabolism when we give it less food for an extended period of time, does it stay low forever? This is the fear of my writer with her question. Does the metabolic rate go back up when you stop eating very little, or does it get “ruined”, staying low forever and therefore making it easier to gain weight after the diet? Are we worse off trying to lose weight? 

This is the question addressed by the research study I first referred to, funded by the NIH, at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and the University of Pittsburg School of Medicine. Do people who have lost large amounts of weight through calorie restriction now have a lower metabolism because of the dieting?

For this, they compared a group of people who had lost large amounts of weight to like-sized people who had never been overweight. Working with the National Weight Control Registry, the largest and oldest longitudinal study of successful weight loss in the world, they assembled a group of documented formerly obese people who had kept the weight off for over a year,  and compared their metabolic rates and body composition with like-sized people who had never been overweight and never been on calorie restricted diets. (Even though I am one of the study subjects of the NWCR, I was not one of the participants in this study and have had no contact with the NWCR other than being one of their guinea pigs.)

The methods of assessment were not subjective reporting by participants. In other words, self-reports of metabolism like “I really don’t eat that much anymore and still gain weight” were not accepted. The RMR (resting metabolic rate) of all participants was scientifically measured using ventilated-hood, indirect calorimetry with a SensorMedics 2900 oxygen uptake system. This device measures the amount of oxygen used in the combustion of your biofuel, and therefore the amount of calories you are burning. There is no fooling this device.

They found that the metabolic rates of those who had lost a great deal of weight on long-term calorie restricted diets was no different from people who had never been “dieting”.  Losing weight on a “calorie restricted diet” does not ruin your metabolism.

The conclusion of the study? “We found no indication of increased energy efficiency in a group of individuals who have been successful in long-term weight maintenance. The RMR in this group of reduced-obese subjects was not significantly different from that in control subjects. This suggests that an increased metabolic efficiency is not an obligatory consequence of weight reduction. ”

However, you may ask, if we lose weight, is our metabolic rate lower than when we were overweight? Perhaps, slightly. As I point out in my book, The Anderson Method, your metabolic rate, without activity being considered, depends on the amount of lean body mass you have, which depends mainly on your height. If you were to reduce greatly the amount of lean body mass you have, then yes, your metabolic requirement would be lower. However, most of us who are overweight are overweight because we’ve accumulated excess fat, not excess muscle. Fat is not metabolically active like muscle, so when we lose our excess fat, it does not change our metabolic rate in any real way. This has been borne out in case after case with my clients who have their metabolic rates assessed scientifically with respiration calorimeters, like the SensorMedics 2900.  In fact, their living metabolic rates are often higher after weight loss with “calorie restrictive dieting” because they are able to get around better and they are more active.

Don’t let nonsensical diet and weight loss malarkey keep you from doing what you need to do to lose weight and have a healthier happier life. Will you need to eat less than the overindulgence we have gotten used to? Yes. Will you need to eat less for the rest of your life to keep it off? Yes. Is it awful and impossible to do this? Absolutely not.

You can learn to live in a new way that is much healthier and happier than what you’ve been doing if you are overweight. It will be work, harder than what you’ve been doing in many respects. But being overweight is not an easy road. Having been there, I know this too well. Getting healthy is work, and there are things we have to let go of and change that are hard to let go of and change. However, there is a happier and more satisfying way to live waiting for you if you want to solve your weight problem. Follow me. For more information, go to. www.TheAndersonMethod.com .

How Does Spot Reducing Work? How Can I Get Rid of Belly Fat or Arm Flaps?

The short answer is that spot reducing doesn’t work. Spot reducing is a myth. However, there is a way to reduce the fat at those spots. Does that sound like a contradiction? I’ll explain.

For ages, people have been unhappy with fat bellies, upper arm flab and love handles. It was especially frustrating if they were otherwise OK with things. Many people weren’t interested in losing weight as much as sculpting their bodies. All they wanted to change was the part they were unhappy with.

So they were suckers for products and schemes that promised to do just that. They’d do sit-ups to reduce their belly, triceps exercises to get rid of arm flab, and side bends or twisting to get rid of the love handles, all to no avail.  They’d buy special potions, pills and devices that promised to melt the fat in certain areas or creams to rub on the offending part. There were special diets that claimed to do the same. They were led to believe they could melt the fat at certain areas or tighten up the skin. These things sounded like they might work, based on the rationale proposed, but it was pure malarkey.

Here are the facts:

Your body will store fat where you are genetically coded to store it. Look at your relatives and you’ll get a clue where the calories will be stock piled if you eat too much. Short of cosmetic surgery, there’s no way you can change that. The best you can do is to avoid having too much fat on your body, and as you know from my book, it can be done, guaranteed. I have never had a client not lose weight when they have undereaten sufficiently. If you’re not familiar with my work, you can learn more about my method and my book at www.TheAndersonMethod.com

For most of us, the first place fat is stored (and the last place it comes off when we lose weight) is the belly. Sometimes it’s the love handles. Despite what you may have been told and believed in, exercise won’t  use up the fat stored at the particular site of the muscle being exercised. The exercise will use calories from your body’s energy delivery system, but if you are eating as many or more calories than you are burning, the fat stays wherever its stored, or worse, grows. However, when you create the caloric deficit that we do in The Anderson Method, by eating fewer calories than you burn, you will use up the fat stored. That’s the only way to get rid of those accumulations.

Body building is another matter. You can build muscle with weight resistance exercise, and this will give your body a better shape, besides being beneficial in other ways, like increasing your metabolism, strengthening your bones and creating more resistence to injury. With a balanced muscle strengthening and toning routine you’ll have less back and body ache, and greater physical abilities. In the abdominal area, you’ll have a tighter core structure, which will look better if you do get rid of the excess belly fat.

Baggy or saggy skin is an entirely different matter. If you were overweight, you grew extra skin to accomodate the bulk. When you lose weight, there will be some shrinking and absorbtion, but with the loss of elasticity, there is often excess loose skin where gravity makes it collect. Exercise or skin creams will not change this.  If you build muscle, that may fill up the space some, but you may still have excess skin.  Plastic surgery can remedy this if it the excess skin causes more discomfort than you want to tolerate. However, there are worse things than having loose skin. I certainly understand when someone wants to fix it, believe me, but I have seen people working out their arms and abs like crazy, thinking that it will make the skin tighten up, and my heart goes out to them. They are working hard at something that will never work. I think it is better to accept that loose skin is not the worst thing to have.  If it has occurred to you that staying overweight will keep you from having loose skin, that would be a big a mistake. Health is much more important than vanity. And plastic surgery is always an option if you can’t stand it.

The bottom line is that you can reduce the fat stores that accumulate on certain body parts by reducing the total fat content of your body. That’s done by getting your eating right, undereating like my method teaches. Then, if you want, you can do some body building too. That’s how people get those good looking abs. They work the stomach to build the muscle, and then they reduce the fat stores so they are not covered by fat anymore. If you work out but don’t undereat to get rid of the fat, you’ll just have great abdominal muscles that you can’t see because they are covered up by the fat. 

In the end, it is better to make health your goal rather than a certain fashionable appearence. Fashion may dictate that certain legs, arms, noses, thighs and waists are popular, but your body is designed by genetics and a creator that is more interested in you than fashion. Fashions change. Fashion is fickle. What created you is not. Put what is constant in your life ahead of what is fickle. Your genetics and you have your own unique qualities, body characteristics included, for reasons, even if you don’t know what they are. You may come from a line that stores all it’s fat in the bottom half, or in the calves and upper arms. Maybe it served a beautiful purpose in the past, helping your clan to survive. Maybe it will serve a great purpose in the future, its beauty not yet revealed. We need to love these characteristics. We need to respect how we were created and love ourselves as we were made. If we get ourselves healthy, at a healthy weight and body composition, we need to be happy with that. The fashion czars tell us what is beautiful, but next year it will be something different. Who are the fashion czars to judge and criticize what the creator has made? They are not in charge. There is real lasting beauty in real creation, beauty that has been miraculous for eons. It is in you and all about you. It is you. You will begin to see it if you open your mind and your eyes to it. Make health the goal instead of fashion, and you will begin to appreciate the beauty of your own creation. There is more miraculous beauty  in your big toe than all the fashion tabloids that have ever existed.

Forget about spot reducing. Focus instead on building yourself up.

How do You Kill a Craving?

I’m the psychotherapist who discovered Therapeutic Psychogenics, a remarkable method to permanently lose weight,  when I solved my own 320 lb. weight problem over 25 years ago. I lost 140 lbs. for good after 25 years of obesity and failure with diets and exercise schemes. Now I teach The Anderson Method (www.TheAndersonMethod.com) to clients and other therapists, and I’ve helped thousands to solve their weight problem. Many clients have asked me “when did you stop having cravings and urges?” They think that because I have maintained my 140 lb. weight loss for 26 years, I must have found a way to eliminate the urges to eat.

Not so. What’s happened is that my response to urges and cravings, one of the techniques of Therapeutic Psychogenics, has become habitual, second nature. Now it is my habit to think in ways that reduce and kill cravings and urges. That’s one of the objectives of The Anderson Method. It has become so ingrained to think and act in ways to stay successful that it’s almost become easy. I’d say easy, but there is definitely a lot of work to be done to make success “easy”, and there will always be work to stay successful. However, like a job with huge rewards, it’s worth it. It’s even become fun, like a game I play and win at every day.

First, understand that for this method to work, all the pieces of the puzzle must be in place. Like a car made of many parts, you need all the parts in place for it to work. Leave out pieces like a wheel or a battery, and you’ll get nowhere. When you engage in the training that my book talks about, you’ll have put many important pieces in place before you would use the technique I’m going to describe. By itself, this technique has only a fraction of the power it has as a part of the whole. By itself, it will not cause you to lose weight. It will help, but there are other things you must be doing.

When you read about my method, you’ll learn that I have a “safe house” with none of the addictive snack or trigger foods that would call my name. Also, I have an effective plan every morning of what to eat that day, and a routine that I have thought about in the morning that accommodates my need for a satisfying eating experience, that provides pleasurable eating at my most vulnerable times. These are some of the techniques that are in place because of the method, that have become habitual,  just the way that I live today.

Now, when an urge pops up, I talk to myself, out loud if I’m alone, or in my head if I’m with people. I’ll say “Stop! that’s not in the plan. That would be overeating.  It would cause tight clothes and reflux that I hate. I don’t want that. I’m fasting until the omelette (or whatever your next meal is). I’m fasting, burning fat and losing weight, my clothes getting looser, moving toward my goal weight. If I give in to the urge, I’ll miss out on the good things that are happening. I’m going to hold off and keep burning fat.”

This “self-talk” is actually an application of several very sophisticated  cognitive, cybernetic and self-hypnotic psychotherapeutic techniques.  It seems childishly simple, but it’s actually state-of-the-art psychotherapy.

Every time I beat an urge, I congratulate myself. I realize that in the old days, I’d already have eaten the thing by the time I realize I passed on it. If I had let myself think about eating it for even a moment, instead of saying “Stop…”, I would have added another glob of fat to my stores, and have made things worse. So, I’m very happy that I beat the urge, that I’m still burning fat, and I dream about continuing to lose weight and enjoying all the things that the weight loss will bring, like looser clothes, being more active, being happier, etc.

This entire pattern of thinking and acting is a very carefully constructed pattern of behavior that kills cravings and creates motivation and drive to behave in ways that causes success. It may seem like child’s play, but it is actually time-tested powerful psychotherapy.

I also use “covert sensitization”, an aversive technique related to the self-talk where I associate the overeating with the negative properties of tight clothes, reflux or stretch marks, etc.  If I was tempted by a Big Mac for instance, instead of linking it with kids having fun, I’ll remember the workers in the back of the place spitting and piling snot on the burgers before they put the bun on top. Associating something negative or disgusting can kill the craving just enough to get by it and continue on your path to loose clothes and the next healthy meal you’ve planned on. And that’s all you need to succeed, success right now. It can become a habit, and when it does, your success is permanent.

You may need to do it again in five minutes, but the more you do it, the more it becomes your habitual way of thinking and acting, and with the rest of the pieces of The Anderson Method in place, it’s even fun, much more enjoyable that the old way. The food tastes better, no guilt, you feel better about yourself, and you enjoy all the benefits of success that you’ve been dreaming about.

For more information about my method and my book, go to www.TheAndersonMethod.com