Diets Absolutely, Positively DO Work

The Claim that “Diets Don’t Work” is Absolute Nonsense

The statement that “diets don’t work” is the biggest load of crap that has ever been dumped on the overweight community (i.e., just about everyone in America). This unfortunate phrase has become a part of our lexicon. Mention you are dieting while in a group of people, and inevitably some yahoo will chime in with, “you shouldn’t diet, diets don’t work.”

This phrase was popularized by Bob Schwartz, author of Diets Don’t Work (as well as The One Hour Orgasm, if that tells you anything). The statement is fallacious for a few reasons. First, it really doesn’t even make sense. Every human on earth is on a “diet” because that word simply means “food and drink regularly provided or consumed.” If someone is in the habit of lunching on two Big Macs and a large chocolate shake, then that is their “diet.”

But let’s give Mr. Schwartz the benefit of the doubt, and assume that he was using “diet” in the colloquial sense of limiting one’s food intake in order to lose weight. He takes the position that diets don’t work because, according to him, only one out of every 200 people that loses weight on a diet manages to keep it off. And even that one person, he asserts, only manages to keep it off because he or she is “compulsive.” So, according to Mr. Schwartz, a diet is a failure unless the weight loss is permanent.

To what else in life do we apply such a standard? I washed my car a week ago, and now it is dirty again. Watch for my new book, Carwashes Don’t Work. When I was in grade school, I could rattle off every State capital, but as I sit here now, I can’t recall the capital of South Carolina. This means, of course, that Studying Don’t Work. And finally, you can work your whole life with no problem, but just try to stop showing up and that lousy no good boss of yours will stop paying you, meaning that Work Don’t Work.

When you look beneath these claims of weight loss without dieting, the truth is quite amazing. In his book Weight Loss with Dr. Art Ulene, Dr. Ulene states that his weight loss program “is not a diet, because diets don’t work.” In fact, he claims his plan contains “no rigid menus or meal plans, no forbidden foods, no calorie counting, and no meal substitutes . . . .”  Quite a deal. How does he manage weight loss without a diet?  Sign me up.

It turns out his groundbreaking plan is two fold: He tells you to exercise more, and provides a low-fat diet plan. You are instructed to “count all of the calories you are consuming throughout the day, accounting separately for fat calories and those derived from protein and carbohydrates.” Then you are required to determine which foods must be eliminated from your diet in order to reduce your total fat intake to no more than 20 percent of your total calories for the day.

But hold the phone, Maud. The good doctor promised that this was not a diet, and that there would be no calorie counting. As you can see, in reality Dr. Ulene and Mr. Schwartz are both just playing a game of semantics. They are defining a diet as a strict menu plan, intended for some limited period of time. Their weight loss plans, on the other hand, simply lay out the foods that you should eat, tell you which ones to avoid, and tell you to eat right for the rest of your life, with a little exercise thrown in. Follow these suggestions, and you should find yourself losing about a pound a week. But no, no, no, we didn’t tell you to diet, because diets don’t work.

This line of nonsense would be humorous if it weren’t so tragic. People have a hard enough time staying on a diet for a few months. Now they are being told they have to diet the rest of their lives. On top of that, they are told that they should lose weight very slowly, meaning that they will be carrying unhealthy weight much longer than necessary (assuming they even lose the weight at the suggested glacial pace), and they give up perhaps years of the tremendous satisfaction and self-esteem that comes with being fit.

Picture the poor sap who needs to lose 65 pounds and is unfortunate enough to buy one of these “no-diet diet books” that tells him to lose 3/4 of a pound per week.  For three months he faithfully weighs and calculates the caloric content of everything he eats, and deprives himself of all the fatty foods he loves.  Assuming he never cheated and actually lost the promised nine pounds, he probably won’t see much or any difference in the mirror, and he’ll be facing another one and a half years of this non-diet until he loses the rest of the weight!

The truth is that a diet works if you lose weight, and the faster the better. I will show you how to lose weight incredibly fast. And as you will see, once it is gone, I show you a foolproof method that will keep the weight off forever.

  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks

Fast Weight Loss is Better than Slow Weight Loss

Myth:  You Should Strive to Lose No More Than One to Two Pounds Per Week

Dogs have four legs. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has four legs. Rudolph is a dog.

This is the common flaw in logic that has led to the ridiculous claim that you must limit yourself to losing no more than one or two pounds per week while on a diet. It is also a perfect example of the basic assumption made by most of the so-called experts: that you cannot be trusted to apply some common sense to your dieting efforts.

Losing Weight Fast is the Way to GoHere is what has led to the slow weight loss nonsense. Statistically, people who lose weight very rapidly are more likely to put it back on. This is because such rapid weight loss is usually accomplished with a very low calorie diet, and the dieter, feeling deprived, goes back to his or her old ways and lets the weight creep back on. Dieters who lose the weight more slowly have the time to assimilate to the new regimen, and do not feel as deprived at the conclusion. A slow dieter does not feel compelled to reward himself with a week at the Bellagio Buffet in Las Vegas as a reward for losing weight.

But this is where the logic breaks down, because the connection between cause and effect is blurred.  The diet gurus reason that if dieters who lose weight quickly tend to put it back on, then dieters should be told to slow down their weight loss. In fact, this belief is so strongly held by some that they suggest you sabotage your diet if it is working too well. On the Slim-Fast web site, you are told that if you find yourself losing more than the maximum two pounds per week, you should find ways to add more calories to your diet. It is suggested, for example, that you might want to add Parmesan cheese to your Slim-Fast pasta. In Weight Loss, Dr. Art Ulene finds even that rate of loss to be too much, suggesting just one pound per week.  But the rapid weight loss is not causing the problem, it’s what the dieters do after the rapid weight loss.

Let’s apply a little logic here (understanding that logic to most diet “experts” is like Kryptonite to Superman). It is true that if you starve yourself for several weeks, it’s like throwing chum to a shark when you return to regular food. But why does everything related to dieting need to be an all-or-none proposition? Here is a shocker for the industry: you are not limited to one diet. Why not plan a diet that allows you to dump as quickly as possible 90 percent of the weight you want to lose, and then switch to the sort of slow loss plan the other experts suggest?

Don’t let false logic cause you to stay overweight a moment longer than necessary. Excess weight is not just a matter of aesthetics, it is a health issue. If you discovered a possible skin cancer on your arm, you would not wait a year or two to deal with the situation. If you are overweight, you are unhealthy, and you should not listen to anyone who tells you to take your time in dealing with that health issue. The slow weight loss proponents are saying, “losing weight too fast is unhealthy, so stay fat and unhealthy longer so you won’t be unhealthy.” Could the logic be any more tortured?

Dr. Art Ulene tested his weight loss program as part of NBC’s Today Show, using 20 volunteers.  Two or three of the volunteers were very overweight, but most just had the 40 pounds or so that creeps on with age.  Dr. Ulene is a card-carrying member of the slow weight loss club.  After six months, following the good doctor’s slow loss approach, the average weight loss among the 20 volunteers was 18.5 pounds (around three-quarters of a pound per week).  Since larger people drop more actual pounds as a percentage of total weight, I’m confident that the two or three very obese volunteers skewed the results somewhat, meaning that the remainging volunteers probably lost less than 15 pounds on average.  Dr. Ulene proudly displays in his book a picture of the volunteers, taken at the six month reunion.  Sadly, while the volunteers are all smiles, you can see that they are all still overweight, most of them very much so.  In other words, they have been depriving themselves for six months, and are still fat.  Who wouldn’t find that discouraging?  Think how much happier and healthier these people would have been if they had followed The Morris Plan, dropping an average of 30 pounds in one month, or in other words, TWICE the weight in ONE-SIXTH the time! (Or at least a far higher percentage of their weight if they didn’t have that much to lose.) In that same picture, all but the three heaviest would have been completely trim, already living their new healthy lives as lean, attractive people.  Should they be deprived of that because statistically they might put it back on?

Don’t fall for the slow weight loss nonsense. It’s not only wrong, it’s dangerous. Rosie O’Donnell was a member of the fat acceptance club until health issues finally forced her to open her eyes. But even when she decided to lose weight, she fell for the “healthy eating/slow weight loss” nonsense. I saw her on the Doctor Oz show, taking him on a tour or her office, where she had huge portions of wholesome foods available to her, and was attempting to lose weight by eating better and exercising more. I thought to myself, “Wow, Rosie, that ship has sailed. You are way too heavy for the slow approach. You need to lose the weight now, not over years.”

This month, the still very overweight O’Donnell suffered a heart attack at age 50. (Ironically, O’Donnell claims she suffered the heart attack while helping an “enormous woman” out of her car.)

Am I saying she would not have suffered the heart attack had she lost the weight faster? Of course not; that is impossible to know. But without question rapid weight loss affords far more than instant gratification. You are healthier faster, and following The Morris Plan, you don’t have to worry about putting it back on.

  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks

Go Strong or Go Home

Myth:  You can get a good workout without ever breaking a sweat.

I was listening to a radio talk show one day, and some poor woman called the resident shrink to ask a question about losing weight. The caller broke into tears almost immediately, stating that she rides her exercise bike six to eight hours a day, and she still doesn’t lose any weight. “I’m even riding it while I’m talking to you now,” she cried.

Sadly, the therapist gave her the usual nonsense about how she should more accepting of her body, go to counseling to try to determine the roots of her overeating, and perhaps try to cut some fat from her diet.

What the therapist should have said is, “Turn up the damn resistence on your exercise bike!” The caller was delusional. She was deluding herself into thinking that she should be gaining some benefit from sitting on a bike for hours, moving her feet around. Obviously, if she could ride the bike that long, and even carry on a conversation on the radio while doing so, she was not working hard enough to gain any physical benefit.

I see this type of person at the gym all the time. They might be on a stationery bike, treadmill or stair machine. The machine is set to zero resistance or to such a slow pace, that their heart rates never go more than 20 beats above their resting heart rates.

Make Your Workouts CountWhen I rail against these pretend workouts, I often hear, “well, it’s better than nothing.” Wrong; it’s worse than nothing. A wimpy workout is worse than no workout at all. The reason for this is that it is providing false information to the putative exerciser. We all walk around with an ever changing and evolving health plan. Even when a person is not on an active diet, hopefully they are still monitoring their overall health situation. For instance, if you had an especially big dinner last night, you might elect to skip the Krispy Kreme donuts today. If you went to the lunch buffet on Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday you might opt for a salad.

But, as the old computer expression goes, garbage in, garbage out. If you are leading yourself to think you are working out at the gym when all you are really doing is sitting on a bike moving your feet, that misconception will go into your internal health dialog. The result is that you have a third slice of pizza while watching the football game because, after all, you worked out. You may elect to super size your fries, because you worked out.

Further, this delusion is harmful to your attempts to incorporate a real exercise plan into your life. How do you think our woman on the radio would react to the suggestion that she just needs to exercise more? “I tried exercising eight hours a day, and it didn’t do me any good,” she would likely say. Exercise is no longer a part of her health plan, because in her mind she tried it with no results.

Don’t fake yourself out. Pick an exercise, and then do it right. Whichever aerobic exercise you choose, it should leave you sweating and slightly winded. Your body offers a great internal barometer for your workout. If you are really out of shape, then you will be sweating and winded in very short order. As you become more fit, it will take more and more effort to achieve the same level of fatigue.

When you decide to exercise, do it right. Don’t waste your time only pretending to exercise.  Invest in a heart rate monitor.  Most gyms have equipment that wirelessly monitors your heart rate and adjusts the resistance automatically to keep you in the exercise heart rate zone.  This is an easy way to keep yourself honest.

Most of us have the same mindset when it comes to going to the gym. We hate it at first, we start to like it when we see some results, and eventually we fall into a begrudging recognition that it is a necessary evil if we are going to stay in reasonable shape. Don’t get me wrong, I like working out and may even look forward to it, but of all the things I could possibly be doing at that very moment, it will never be number one.

So, if you are going to take the time to go to the gym, do it right and don’t just go through the motions. Go strong or go home.

  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks

It is Not OK to be Overweight

Over the next few posts I’ll be publishing some excerpts from my upcoming diet book, The Morris Plan.  I begin by fighting the concept that overweight people should just “accept themselves.”

Putting the “accept your weight” nonsense to rest once and for all.

If bald guys (a club I will be joining if my father is any indication) want to start a club and shout from  the rooftops that “bald is beautiful” – more power to them. Baldness is a natural condition in many men, and it’s great that they can have some fun with it.  But if it should someday be discovered that heart disease and diabetes are caused by lack of hair, we would expect that the follicle challenged men of the world would be looking for ways to regrow their hair.  We would not deem such behavior to be narcissistic, nor would we tell them to accept the missing hair and all the health problems that come with it.  We would not write books telling them that they should just accept themselves and to reject the message being sent by the media, that thinks all men should have hair. (After all, no men really have hair like that; it’s all airbrushed.)

Magazines like Radiance (which thankfully has cratered) and BBW tout the wonders of being overweight. I’ve never actually caught them arguing that fat is better, but they make very clear that you should not be concerned about being fat. Here is a quote from a recent issue of BBW that nicely summarizes the position of the pro-fat crowd:

“As plus-size women, we have a tough row to hoe in this society. Stereotypes about us – we’re stupid, we’re lazy, we’re unhealthy and we’re unattractive – are so pervasive that they impact our education, our critical care and our relationships. Negative attitudes about people of size are so ingrained that preschoolers develop size prejudice before they exhibit any other kind of prejudice. There’s an annual $33 billion dollar diet industry in this country that perpetuates those stereotypes in order to improve their bottom line.”

There you have it.  There is no problem being fat.  In fact, the idea that being overweight is bad is a huge conspiracy propagated by the “diet industry” and supported by our schools.

No matter how much some people want it to be otherwise, seriously overweight people do not get a politically-correct pass. I hope I can finally make this distinction clear enough for everyone to understand.  A fat person is not a bad person, nor should he or she be subject to any derision because of their weight. Overweight people should not walk around in a state of depression because of their weight. Nor should they feel shame for being overweight (as long as they are doing something about it). At the local water park, I overhear comments about the fat people, such as, “how can that guy go out in a bathing suit in public like that?” It’s just stored fat for crying out loud.

But overweight people should never be told to “accept” their weight.  A fat person that is not doing anything about their weight is bad because they are being self-destructive, no less than someone who drinks too much.  Being fat is bad, and no one should ever argue otherwise or encourage someone to remain fat.  Here is just a partial list of the health problems associated with excess weight that have been confirmed through research: hypertension, cancer (especially breast, colorectal and endometrial), sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), gastroesophageal reflux disease (severe heartburn), diabetes, coronary artery disease and strokes.

There is a movement to remove all stigma from society. Stigma, when appropriate, is good. What the “accept yourself” crowd fails to realize is that a certain level of stigma is appropriate toward people that engage in self-destructive behavior, and doing nothing about being overweight is self-destructive. Going back to the days when it was necessary to eject Og from the cave when he exhibited bizarre behavior, if society can use stigma to direct people back toward non-destructive behavior, that is a good thing. Smokers, drug users and people who drink to excess should be stigmatized, and yes, fat people should not be exempt from disapproving looks.  How many times have you heard a story about someone who, after being called fat by some jerk, finally got serious about losing weight?  A high-profile example of effective stigma involves the beach pictures of Jennifer Love Hewitt. Within two months of the release of the unflattering bathing suit photos, and despite her ensuing “real women have curves” protestations, she had dropped 20 pounds. and was showing off her new thinner body in Maxim Magazine.

The Morris Diet Plan - Jennifer Love Hewitt

Ironically, one of Hewitt’s co-star’s on the Ghost Whisperer practically turned fat acceptance into an avocation. Camryn Manheim, who described herself as a “self-loving, fat activist”, rationalized her weight to the point that she wrote a book called Wake Up, I’m Fat, explaining her acceptance of fat and how she had overcome society’s prejudices. Do you see how bad that is? It’s hard enough to stay strong while getting oneself into healthy shape, and people like Manheim offer a gold-plated rationalization. I can picture a poor woman, giving up on a diet while proclaiming, “She’s fat, and she’s a television star!” Like Hewitt, Manheim then lost some weight and hit the media circuit again, posing for pictures and talking about how fun it was to be hit on at the gym.

Camryn Manheim Gives Bad Advice

As The Morris Plan makes clear, there is no justification for remaining fat. The stigma that befalls fat people is based on the fact that they are failing to take proper care of themselves. Just as you would have a negative reaction to someone who refused to bathe, because it reflects a lack of concern over hygiene, it is understandable that people see obesity as a lack of concern over health.

It is tragic that so much of our energy and money is spent treating the health issues caused by excess weight, instead of attacking the weight itself. When I hit my 40s, I started having severe heartburn problems. I spent an inordinate amount of time dealing with this issue, including more than one trip to the emergency room.  I chalked up all of this as a normal part of aging, because most of my friends were experiencing heartburn problems, albeit to a lesser degree. No doctor ever told me that losing weight might help the problem. If any doctor had offered surgery as a possible solution, I would have jumped at it.

When I dropped 50 pounds, the heartburn stopped. I’ve stop taking all the medicine. Words cannot express how nice it is to be able to go to a restaurant with friends and eat and drink whatever I want with no fear of heartburn. I also used to suffer from sciatica – a back related problem that causes pain (or sometimes numbness) to radiate down your leg. As an added bonus, that too has disappeared, although I also attribute that to exercise.

It is beyond dispute; excess weight is a serious health problem. In your weak moments, when Dr. Phil is telling you to be happy with yourself and not to fixate on your weight, keep telling yourself that the desire to lose weight is not narcissistic, it is an essential part of maintaining your health. Don’t rationalize to the contrary with anecdotal evidence. Yes, we all know or have heard of someone who was seriously overweight, ate a high-fat diet their whole lives, and lived to 100. Just as there are smokers that never develop any smoke-related health issues, there are exceptions to every rule. However, you cannot guide your life by the anomalies.

When you feel like quitting, or a diet saboteur is telling you that you look fine and should just accept your weight, remember that this is far more than a question of aesthetics. Your excess weight is literally killing you.

  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks

Reducing Calories Still the Only Fountain of Youth

One objection I sometimes receive to The Morris Plan Diet is that it is too low in calories. During the initial phase of the diet, calorie intake is just 750 to 1200 calories, depending on how aggressive you want to be. But research and reality are both on my side.

Most have seen the dramatic results achieved by the dieters on The Biggest Loser, where they are made to consume probably no more than 20% of their prior caloric intake. Yet, while those diet coaches see the wisdom of dramatic caloric reduction, even they feel that there needs to be some minimum number of calories consumed and would argue against the 750 to 1200 calories I promote.

Fountain of Youth Actually, the calorie consumption I suggest is not only healthy, it is life-extending according to researchers. It has long been know that calorie restriction is the only real “fountain of youth” yet discovered. Recent research has refined this knowledge further, and determined that reducing your caloric intake slows the aging process. In other words, you don’t need to reduce your caloric intake to starvation levels to get the life-extending benefits, you need only to reduce your calories below what you are taking in now. Greater reductions yield greater benefits, but any reduction is beneficial.

So, while people like things to be black and white, here is another example from the field of nutrition and diet where people with seemingly different ideas can both be right. My plan of 750 to 1200 calories is not intended to be a life long plan, but is only an initial phase designed to slim you down as fast as possible. It is not unhealthy at all in that context. On the other hand, the coaches on The Biggest Loser encourage their charges to eat, and within the context of the strenuous exercise program they follow that is also sound advice. The participants still receive the life enhancing benefits of reduced calories because even though they are consuming more than I recommend, the number of calories is a huge reduction from their prior levels.

I constantly preach moderation in all things. There are actually groups that have formed with the goal of working together to restrict their caloric intakes as much as possible. A July 9, 2009 article in the Wall Street Journal entitled Two Mammals’ Longevity Boosted contained this quote from the president of one such group. Commenting on the research showing that caloric reduction extends life expectancy, Brian Delaney, president of the North Carolina-based Calorie Restriction Society, stated, “It’s all consistent with what human practitioners of calorie restriction have always believed. Any degree of restriction beyond what you’re currently eating will confer health benefits and will slow the aging process.” The group claims 3000 members, many of whom restrict their eating to near starvation levels.

I’ve seen some of these people interviewed; it’s not a pretty sight. They’ve lost touch with the message of moderation that I call out to my wife every time I go on a motorcycle trip over her objections. “It’s not all about preserving your life.” I’ll trade extending my life by twenty years by being ridiculously skinny and not being able to enjoy eating for extending my life by ten years by just keeping my calories on the low side while still enjoying the occasional pizza and beer nights.

Update — September 24, 2009:  Of course this story is anecdotal, but given the nature of the above posting I had to add a link to a news item I just read.  The world’s oldest man is currently Walter Breuning, age 113.  (I’ve noticed lately that these oldest man stories are a little depressing.  “The oldest man is Joe Dokes at 114.  Oh, wait a minute, now the oldest man is Bill Jones at 113.”)  Seeing Breuning is very uplifting because he is still really sharp — not one of those old timers you see in the news stories staring blankly at a birthday cake.  As they always do with this type of story, the reporter asked Breuning for his secret to long life.  His answer was that he only eats two meals a day.  He is 5′ 8″ and has weighed the same 125 pounds for the past 35 years.  He says that you should push yourself away from the table while you are still hungry. ”You get in the habit of not eating at night, and you realize how good you feel. If you could just tell people not to eat so darn much,” he said.  Again, only anecdotal, but Breunig certainly supports the claim that restricting caloric intake is a means to life extension.

Update — December 28, 2011:  I decided to check in on Walter Breuning, to see how he was holding up.  I am sad to say that Walter made it to 114 years old, but died on April 14, 2011 (right before tax day — way to stick it to the man Walter!).  He was born on September 21, 1896 and remained sharp until the end, even appearing the News Hour with Jim Lehrer and participating in a question and answer article in Men’s Journal magazine.

  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks

In All Things, Moderation — Vegetarianism As An Eating Disorder

I’ve always considered vegetarianism to be an eating disorder in many. And while I haven’t yet convinced the American Psychiatric Association to include vegetarianism in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), I now have research to support that vegetarianism is a strong indicator of a possible eating disorder.

Stay with me and I’ll explain.

Vegetarian A recent dietary study was led by nutritionist Ramona Robinson-O’Brien, an assistant professor at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University in Minnesota. The study concluded that adolescent and young adult vegetarians were four times more likely than their meat-eating peers to binge eat and engage in extreme weight-control measures such as taking laxatives and forcing themselves to vomit. The study further concluded that teenage vegetarians as well as young experimenters — those who try it but abandon it — may be at higher risk for other eating disorders compared with their peers.

The study authors suggest that parents and doctors should be extra vigilant when teens suddenly become vegetarians. Although teens may say they’re trying to protect animals, they may actually be trying to camouflage some unhealthy eating behaviors.

This is why I’ve always been suspect of vegetarians. I have no beef with the dietary choice, it is the reason for the choice.  In all things, moderation. True, if the stated reason for the diet is not to eat God’s little creatures, then it’s basically an all or none proposition.  I can respect that; I’ll order a steak when we meet for lunch, but I can respect that position (although I love all the conditions – “I’m a vegetarian, but I still eat fish, dairy and eggs.”)  But if the stated reason for the diet is health, then that’s a potential disorder. There is no net health gain by skipping an evil Whopper Jr. with 290 calories and 12 grams of fat, only to then drink a Starbucks Venti Frappuccino with 680 calories and 21 grams of fat while singing the vegetarian song (Incense and Peppermints by the Strawberry Alarm Clock, I believe).

The rational dietary response should be, “meat contains fat, so I’m going to keep my consumption of meat to a minimum.” Not, “meat is evil and I’m going to remove any chance of it from my diet, to the point that I don’t want to eat something cooked in a pan that might have previously been used to cook meat.” The latter shows too much fixation on one component of a diet, and that dietary fixation explains why the study reached the predictable conclusions.  For an interesting first person story of using vegetarianism as a means to mask an eating disorder, go here.

Radio doctor and author, Dr. Dean Adel, who I have always found fairly reasonable, will lecture you on the dietary problems with eggs and cheese, but acknolwedges that his weekend ritual is to make himself a big cheese omelet.  Wine is bad if consumed in excess, but a single glass offers health benefits.  Even drinking too much water can be deadly, but does that mean it should be avoided?

In all things, moderation.  Even your dietary limitations.

  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks

You Do Not Need a Special Diet

Myth: You Need a Special Diet Because You are Overweight Due to Your Gender, Genes, Parents, Hormones, Metabolism, Insulin Levels, Age, Blood Type, Carbohydrate Addiction, etc.

We all have the need to feel special. Even when it comes to the issue of weight, we want to feel that our situation is unique; that we are overweight for some special, obscure reason. That way, we don’t have to feel like a failure for our past attempts to get in shape. After all, how could you possibly have been expected to know that your problem wasn’t eating too much, it was your cursed blood type?

Forget all these diet crazes. Most of them are just nonsense, and even the ones that have some validity don’t bring much to the table. For instance, what good does it do to blame your weight problem on your genes? Does it make you feel better to know that you are predisposed to being overweight? That may be relevant to keeping the weight off (and I will show you how easy that is to do), but to lose the weight in the first place you must do what everyone else must do – burn more calories than you consume.

Let me give you a slightly crass hypothetical to illustrate the point. We are going to take a group of 50 overweight volunteers, all needing to lose about 30 pounds.  We lock them all up with nothing but water for two months (the outer limit of how long you can survive without food). So that our volunteers will burn a few calories during the two months and not just lay around moaning, we install treadmill-powered televisions. The only way for the volunteers to escape the boredom is to walk on the treadmills.

After the two months we throw open the doors and our volunteers stumble out. What do think they would look like? Do you really believe that some would emerge, plump as ever, due to their gender, genes, parents, hormones, metabolism, insulin levels, age, or blood type? I have this comical image of one rotund woman, standing among 49 thin people, saying, “I told you no diet would work with me; I am predisposed to being overweight because of my metabolism.”  The only way that could happen is if she ate one of the other volunteers.

Every time I think a fad diet has run its course, it reappears.  I would have thought for certain that with all the information available, no one would ever again be foolish enough to fall for the “blood type” diet.  Now I hear that it is back.  The reason that these diets never die is because just about any diet will work if it consists of lowering your caloric intake.  Let me give you an example.

The Vowel Diet

I’ve just discovered the secret to weight loss. It’s called The Vowel Diet. Studies show that your body cannot properly process and absorb any foods that contain the vowels “E” and “I” in their name. This is a secret that was known by our ancestors – that’s why they put these letters in all the bad foods when they named them. But this secret was lost over the ages, and that’s why we are now fatter than at any other time in history. The medical world knows about the vowel diet – that is why most doctors are slimmer than the public at large – but they have kept the information secret so they can make a fortune treating diseases caused by excess weight.

Under The Vowel Diet, you cannot eat any dairy (certain dairy products are doubly bad as evidenced by their vowels, such as ice cream). Do not use the broad category of “meat” to exclude that entire group, rather look to the individual names of the meat. For example, beef is not permitted, but pork is okay. Note the wisdom of our ancestors. Even if you go to the subgroups, the rule still applies. Hamburger, a form of beef, is out because of the “E”, while ham, a form of pork, is still acceptable. Similarly, for fish, you should use the specific name of the fish. In other words, salmon, trout and tuna are permissible, but halibut is not. The same rule applies to fowl; chicken and turkey are out, but you can eat all the squab you want.

As silly as this fictional Vowel Diet may sound, it is no more nonsensical than most of the garbage that is being foisted on the dieting public. In fact, it would be far more effective than much of what is being offered. It would eliminate a lot of fatty, caloric foods from your diet (beef, ice cream, milk, etc.), and almost certainly people who followed The Vowel Diet would lose weight as a result. Joy Behar would mention on The View how she had lost weight on The Vowel Diet, and zealots would take to the streets to proclaim how the ancient food code had finally been broken.

Don’t fall for all this nonsense.  If someone loses weight on the Blood Type diet, it’s not because the idiot author proclaimed that people with A positive blood should not eat Snickers bars; it’s because they consumed fewer calories.  The next time you hear the latest rationalization for excess weight, keep in mind the image of the 50 people emerging from lock-up.

  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks

Lose the Weight First, Eat Healthy Later

Myth:  Whatever Diet You Choose, it Should be Healthy

The self-proclaimed diet experts will tell you that the diet you choose should consist of a healthy assortment of foods, so you should shy away from fad diets that emphasize too much protein or limit you to one type of food.

Let’s think about that one for a minute. As a general proposition, I will except the premise that you should not choose a diet that affirmatively harms your health. So, you should take a pass on “Dr. Barnburner’s Bacon and Broken Glass Diet.” I am also not big on diets that completely turn a blind eye toward common sense, such as high-protein diets that give you the okay to eat all the fat you want.

With that said, keep in mind that you are already in an unhealthy state (being overweight) and on an unhealthy diet (eating whatever it is that made you overweight). Your goal should be to move as quickly as possible from your current unhealthy state (fat) to a far more healthy state (thin).  Rather than to subscribe to the dogma that your diet must be healthy, you should apply your common sense.  If eating unhealthy for two months would allow you to drop, say, 50 pounds, that is better than taking six months on a healthier diet to reach the same result.

Remember most of all that a low calorie diet is not unhealthy. Indeed, as discussed more fully in The Morris Plan, reducing caloric intake is the only definitive “fountain of youth” that has been discovered thus far. It is true that with any low calorie diet, it is very unlikely that you will receive all the appropriate food groups, vitamins and minerals. But guess what? You’re not receiving all the appropriate food groups, vitamins and minerals now. Why are diets required to be healthy when our “normal” eating habits don’t even achieve that standard?

Don’t worry that the diet you choose may not provide the daily minimum requirement for selenium. That’s why God invented supplements.

  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks

Save the Behavior Modification for AFTER Your Diet

Myth:  A Good Diet Must Include Behavior Modification Or You Will Put All the Weight Back On

Here is how the logic goes for this boneheaded statement. If you need to lose weight, then obviously you have an eating pattern that is causing weight gain. A diet provides an artificial eating pattern, telling you when to eat your grapefruit and dry toast. This artificial eating pattern will result in weight loss, but if you go back to your old ways after you lose the weight, you will put the weight back on.

That’s all fine, but there is no reason to start your behavior modification campaign during the diet. In fact, that is the worst possible time to do so. Any diet is by definition an artificial situation. Let’s say you decide the follow the Slim Fast plan – three shakes a day and a sensible dinner. How much behavior modification can you accomplish while following this plan? Well, you could learn to put the shake down after every swallow, savoring each one. You could learn that blending your drinks with a little crushed ice makes them more like a milk shake, but that too much ice makes them watery. You might even learn that a 72-ounce steak does not qualify as a “sensible dinner” even if you skip the garlic toast.

Will any of this have much application when you go off your Slim Fast regimen? The far better approach is get on a diet that will allow you to lose the weight as fast as possible, and plan your behavior modification for after the diet when you are back to eating real food.

Behavior modification can wait until AFTER you are thin!The best known diet centers – Jenny Craig and NutriSystem – both claim their success comes at least in part from the behavior modification they teach. Jenny Craig calls the plan “a comprehensive approach to Food, Body and Mind.” I have no beef with these two reduced-calorie diet plans, beyond the fact that the plans are too much work and the weight loss is far too slow. I’ve tried both plans over the years. Don’t for a second think that these plans offer any practical behavior modification. While on the diet, you look at the chart, see what you are supposed to eat next, pull out the proper boxes and prepare the food. True, you are eating smaller portions and are probably eating a much more balanced diet, but that is only because you are eating what you are given. If anything, the lesson you learn from Jenny Craig and NutriSystem is, “eat everything that is put in front of you.”  Not a behavior modification you want to adopt.

Forget the myth that a diet should include behavior modification. Indeed, it is far better to save the modification until after the diet. If you have any dieting experience, then you know that food starts to taste really good when you are depriving yourself. After five days of consuming nothing but green tea, a saltine cracker dipped in pasta sauce tastes like ambrosia. Thus, after a diet it is actually far easier to modify your eating habits since you’ll gladly accept any type of real food. Your old, unmodified self may have fallen into the ritual of ordering a large double-cheese, double-pepperoni, stuffed crust pizza every Friday, but the post-diet you will be very happy with the prospect of chowing down on something far less caloric.

Whether you elect to follow The Morris Plan or some other diet, get rid of the all-or-none mentality.  Use a transition diet when you end the rapid loss diet, and save your behavior modification for when you go back to unrestricted foods.

  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks