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An Extreme but Healthy Approach to Weight Loss

"Everything is moderation" has been my personal health and fitness motto for over twenty-five years. I am the type of person who does not take well to rigid rules about diet and exercise. The rebel in me reacts violently if I am told that a specific food is off-limits. I prefer to eat everything but I eat the unhealthy stuff only once in a while and in small quantities. I exercise five days a week and feel absolutely no guilt about resting on the weekend. This middle-of-the-road approach works very well for me. It is also works for other people who have successfully maintained their weight for many years.

However, the moderate approach is not for everyone. We are all psychologically different. While eating high calorie food "once in a while" prevents me from going on an eating binge, it may make another person lose control and do the exact opposite. Just like some children perform better in a school environment where they set their own pace of learning, other children need a highly structured system.

For those of you who need a more extreme approach to weight loss that is still physically and mentally healthy, you might be interested in the weight loss program of Dr. Daniel Kirschenbaum, a behaviour therapist and weight loss expert, who has written a book entitled "The Nine Truths About Weight Loss". Kirschenbaum has over twenty-five years experience and his program has been cited in professional journals like American Psychologist, Health Psychology, and the International Journal of Obesity. Kirschenbaum also has first-hand experience with obesity. He lost weight thirty years ago and has kept it off ever since. His mother, who was also overweight, has maintained her weight loss for many years as well using his nine principles.

Your body will resist permanent weight loss.
Kirschenbaum says that biological forces within us make our bodies resistant to weight loss and this is why the moderate approach won't work. He says only extreme levels of focus and consistency will get results. We are fighting, he explains, against biological survival mechanisms that have allowed the human race to stay alive through famines and other environmental disasters. These mechanisms include the ability to store fat as efficiently as possible and to lower the metabolic rate when food is not available, a predisposition towards binge eating, and a built-in preference for fatty and sweet food.

Biology is not your destiny
Our bodies might still be like those of our prehistoric ancestors but the difference, Kirschenbaum stresses, is that we are smarter than our biology. We can use our brains to outwit our genes. This means we can learn to manage our weight problem just like a diabetic learns to manage his or her condition. But first Kirschenbaum says you have to accept that you cannot solve your weight loss problems with temporary solutions like crash dieting or taking diet pills. Once you accept the painful truth that your body gains weight very easily and you have to take extraordinary lifestyle measures to keep the pounds away, then you will be successful.

Weight control is a manageable athletic challenge.
Kirschenbbaum compares the efforts of a weight controller to an athlete training for the gold medal. It is a serious endeavor that requires top priority. And just like an athlete has to sacrifice time and energy to train for their sport, so too must a weight controller. He says that weight control may prove to be one of the greatest lifelong personal challenges that anyone can face, but that we have to look at it from the perspective that all personal changes are challenging. This is because "people usually have to struggle to maintain regimens of any kind that are different from what they are used to doing".

You will experience three stages to success.
The three stages are: Honeymoon, Frustration, and Acceptance. In the Honeymoon Stage, you will be excited about making changes in your lifestyle like eating low-fat food and exercising everyday.

In the Frustration Stage, Kirschenbaum says you will start resenting the effort that is required for successful weight control. He writes, "People often think about going back to their old ways of eating and exercising. They seem to long for the old days". He calls this the "Why me?" stage. People start envying friends who can maintain their weight even if they eat fattening food and don't exercise as much.

Kirschenbaum describes the Acceptance Stage as the time when people settle in for the long haul. He says they experience a peaceful sense of resolve about weight control. People who reach this stage say, "Who said life was fair? I see the challenge before me but I know it is something I can accomplish."

No one learns to master weight control in a straight line, Kirschenbaum notes. He says you will experience bumps in the road towards success but if you don't give up, you will eventually reach your goal.

You can eat very little fat and learn how to keep your hunger quiet.
Kirschenbaum advocates a low-fat and low-sugar way of eating because he says that the less you have of fatty and sugary foods, the less you will crave for them. He generally recommends a fat intake of 20 percent of total calories or a simpler recommendation he says is to eat foods as low in fat as you can tolerate.

He has two rules, which he feels are useful for effective weight control. The "Almost Never" rule meaning the types of food to avoid as much as possible and the "Almost Always" rule, which are principles of eating to follow as much as possible.

The "Almost Never" foods are fried foods, desserts (other than fruit or very low-fat alternatives), high-fat lunch meats (salami, bologna), candy, regular salad dressing, high fat cookies/brownies/cake, mayonnaise (except fat-free mayonnaise), cheese (other than no-fat or very low-fat cheese),
high-fat ice cream and ice cream products, high-fat gravy and other high-fat
sauces.

Kirschenbaum says to "Almost Always Eat" the following: Low-fat/low-sugar foods, low-fat/low-sugar snacks (popcorn, pretzels, fruit, rice cakes), grilled fish and fowl, vegetables, salads (dressing on the side, preferably low-calorie and low-fat), mustard or ketchup or barbecue sauce on sandwiches, spicy foods, salsa on practically everything, and pastas (with tomato sauces or plain).

He writes, "These guidelines may sound stringent, but unfortunately, your biology demands such stringencies. Successful weight controllers follow these guidelines with tremendous consistency."

If you maintain a written record of your eating and exercising at least 75% of the time, you can manage the program successfully. Kirschenbaum claims, "Self-monitoring is the single most important aspect of effective weight control" because it forces you to stay focused every day on what you eat and how you exercise. According to him, to successfully keep the pounds away you have to embrace the concept that "everything counts". It's so easy to 'forget' about the two cookies your officemate gave you
after lunch, the handful of chips you ate from your kid's snack, and the three bites you took from your husband's ice cream after dinner. You can easily accumulate a few hundred calories a day without your even being aware of it.

Writing down in a small notebook what and how much you eat as well as the amount of exercise you do is the easiest form of self-monitoring.

Exercise every day is the way.
Aside from making the point that exercising is one of the most effective ways to keep calories under control, Kirschenbaum recommends that you exercise every day so that you have less chances of making excuses not to do it. He says to remember that not exercising is not an option because you are trying to combat biological forces that are dead set against weight loss and not just a general improvement of your health.

By his definition, exercise does not have to mean going to a gym or even exercising at home. It can also mean cleaning your house, washing your car, gardening, taking your dog for a walk, etc. In short, he recommends that you do some sort of physical activity every day.

You can manage stress without overeating and underexercising. Many people use food to cope with stress. Unless you learn how to use other methods aside from food, you will not be successful in controlling your weight. Kirschenbaum feels it is imperative that you learn stress management techniques so you don't fall into the trap of turning to food every time there is a stressful period in your life.

Maintaining weight loss is actually easier, not harder, than losing weight. Kirschenbaum says that maintaining weight loss is easier for so long as you don't let a lapse lead to relapse. He acknowledges that it is impossible for anyone to eat perfectly so occasional lapses (French fries or doughnuts) happen even to the most successful weight controllers. To prevent lapses (a temporary detour from the overall plan) from becoming relapses (a full-blown change back into old behavior), he says to remember two things: Lapses are inevitable and lapses won't become relapses if you maintain your self-monitoring.

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