DR. SHAPIRO'S Picture Perfect Weight Loss 30 Day Plan
By Howard M. Shapiro
RODALE Copyright © 2002 Dr. Howard M. Shapiro
All right reserved. ISBN: 1579544177
Weight Loss and Life- Your Real Life
You're reading this book because you're overweight-or someone in your family is overweight-and you're unhappy about it. You can put an end to that situation. Right now.
For nearly 25 years, I've treated patients who claimed they had "tried everything" and been unable to lose weight. I've treated those who gained back all the weight they had lost on popular diet programs. I've worked with patients who have followed every fad from hypnosis to fasting, patients who have measured portions and counted grams of fat, patients who have deprived themselves of foods they love, forced themselves to eat foods they didn't particularly like, eaten meals when a book or diet guru told them to, and beaten themselves up every time they had a cookie or asked for a second helping.
I've worked with children and the elderly, high-powered executives, celebrities, politicians, and stay-at-home moms, people who eat on the run and people who regularly dine at the world's finest restaurants. I've helped them understand why diets don't work, why deprivation is counterproductive, why fasting can actually harm you. I've taught them what this book will teach you in 30 days: There is a way of eating-eating what you enjoy eating and eating it until you feelsatisfied-that actually helps you lose weight and keep it off.
I call it Picture-Perfect Weight Loss. Yes, that's partly because you can see the difference in yourself as you lose weight. But mostly, Picture-Perfect Weight Loss refers to the method I use in my practice for teaching this way of eating. The nutritionists on my staff continually create food comparison demonstrations that show patients a range of food options and allow them to compare the weight-loss consequences of each. As you'll see, we've reproduced our food demos in the photographs in this book. They provide vivid lessons in how you can eat healthfully and deliciously for the rest of your life and still lose weight and keep it off.
How can I be so sure? Because Picture-Perfect Weight Loss has worked for the thousands of patients I've treated in my New York practice. They've all lost weight, and they've maintained the weight loss. All without diets or deprivation, without starving themselves or scheduling their meals by the clock or carrying around scales to measure what they're eating-and without being angry with themselves or feeling like failures because they went out for pizza or "slipped" at a party.
The first thing you need to know about your will to lose weight is that it will happen. You are about to embark on a weight-loss program that will succeed.
A Worldwide Problem
You are not alone in feeling unhappy about your weight. In fact, you can join a growing, worldwide crowd.
From Trenton to Tokyo, from Seattle to Samarqand, in country after country and in just about every region of the planet, more and more people today are either overweight (defined as weighing 10 to 15 percent above an ideal weight), or obese (20 percent over an ideal weight), or even morbidly obese (30 percent or more above an ideal body weight). It may be small consolation for the dismay you feel when you stand on a scale, but you're part of a global trend.
The trend is both recent and fast-moving. Around the world, the number of obese people has doubled in the last 2 decades. Even in China, which maintains one of the world's lowest incidences of overweight people-just 14 percent of men and 17 percent of women-and an even lower measure of obese people-2 percent of men and 6 percent of women-even there, the growth rate in the numbers of overweight and obese people is increasing. Give the Chinese time, and weight gain will do what government policy has long tried to do-decrease the billion-person population, not through population planning, but through increased occurrence of diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, and even some forms of cancer.
One of the countries leading the way in this unhappy, unhealthy spiral is the United States-a dubious distinction if ever there was one. More than half of us-about 55 percent, in fact-are overweight or obese, up from 44 percent in 1990. What's more, the rise in the number of people in the obese category is proceeding at a fast clip. According to the International Obesity Task Force, in 1973, 12 percent of American men and 16 percent of American women were obese; today, 20 percent of men and a quarter of women are obese-some 3 to 5 percent of them morbidly obese. So our national weight gain must be measured not just in the numbers of people gaining weight, but also in the amount of weight they are gaining.
Further, this weight gain is everywhere. In a pivotal study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that obesity occurred in all of the 50 states, in every region, across all demographic groups. It is, therefore, a national public health problem, inevitably linked to the nation's number one killer, heart disease, as well as to diabetes, respiratory problems, some cancers, and a range of chronic and debilitating conditions. In fact, the CDC concluded that obesity was a threat to millions of lives, and that it "should be taken as seriously as any infectious disease or epidemic."
Chances are you know all this already. You don't really need the statistics to measure the problem. You can see it-in the office, at the mall, walking along Main Street, in your own reflection in the mirror. And you probably don't need the dire warnings to be reminded of the ill effects of being overweight. You can feel it-in the clothes that suddenly feel tight, in your shortness of breath when you climb the stairs, in a sense of discomfort with your own body.
That discomfort is something else you share with millions. It is estimated that more than two-thirds of Americans are either on a diet in an attempt to lose weight or are "watching what they eat" so they don't gain weight. As a people, we spend some $30 billion to $50 billion per year trying to lose weight-on diets, with pills and supplements, by measuring out portions, counting calories, combining certain foods with certain other foods, listening to tapes; and fasting. As you know, those "solutions" simply don't work. That's why you're reading this book.
The Causes of Overweight and Obesity
How did it happen? How did we get this way? How did you get this way?
There is one reason for becoming overweight, and there are many contributing causes. The reason is metabolic, and it is absolutely unique to the individual. Your metabolism is the particular combination of chemical processes occurring inside you. That combination, in turn, depends on the interactions between genetic and environmental factors. Just what those factors are and just how they interact are as distinctive to you as your fingerprint; no one else has just that combination working in just that way. Yet it is the sum total of all those factors and their interactions that pretty much directs how your body handles calories, what foods taste good to you, and even how you think about food. In a sense, you've been dealt your very own metabolic hand of cards. While you have no control over what's in the hand, you do control how you play the hand.
Enter a range of additional contributing causes. These are the cultural, sociological, and psychological factors that drive the lifestyle choices we all make every day-the different ways we each play our own metabolic hand of cards. These include things like the foods we eat, whether or not we exercise, and our levels of everyday stress.
Even anthropology plays a role. One important cause contributing to today's global epidemic of overweight may simply be that, as a species, we are outstripping our own evolution. Biological anthropologists tell us that at an earlier stage of human development, the ability to form fat was an advantage. When our ancestors were subject to uncontrollable cycles of feast and famine, bodies that could store fat for the lean times were "fitter" bodies. They're the ones that survived, and as happens in evolution, the traits that kept the organism alive were the traits imprinted on the genetic code passed to descendants. Result? Humans in general evolved into organisms programmed for high-calorie foods they could store efficiently as fat.
Today, however, at least in the industrialized world, we aren't threatened by famine. (In those parts of the world where famine is a threat, the causes are more often than not manmade-typically, politics and civil strife.) In fact, for most of us in developed countries, life is an almost endless feast. But since our bodies have evolved to deal with famine-to take in lots of calories and expend very few-our era's very abundance is a surefire formula for weight gain.
Other aspects of our current culture exacerbate the problem. We live in a high-stress, high-tech world. With both parents working-often long hours in high-pressure jobs-with kids on schedules that would tire a marathoner, with families in a constant state of arranging and rearranging plans for getting each family member here, there, and everywhere, the notion of sitting down together for a relaxing family dinner has gone the way of the dodo. There simply isn't time for such a dinner, and even if there were, everybody is either too busy or too exhausted to enjoy it. It's easier, more convenient, and even less costly for each family member to just pop a frozen dinner in the microwave and eat it on the run.
Meanwhile, we're increasingly equipped with cell phones, pagers, Internet access, and the all-in-one remote control. Together, they let us gratify any wish instantly-without even getting up out of a chair, much less leaving home. Where our ancestors had to struggle daily to obtain sustenance, or labor manually to earn it, we just drive over to the nearest fastfood place-or we order takeout and have it delivered.
Fast food, in particular, is notoriously fattening. But gourmet restaurants also often rely on high-calorie ingredients and cooking methods. Their stock-in-trade, after all, is a taste experience so memorable you will find it worth the price. All too often, that is achieved at the expense of your waistline. When a simple chicken cutlet can lift you into the realm of the sublime, it's probably because it has been topped with Gorgonzola, layered with Canadian bacon, then wrapped in puff pastry-an absolutely delicious, calorically off-the-charts cardiac killer.
What's more, we're becoming increasingly accustomed to enormous portions. Huge tubs of buttered popcorn at the movies. Quart-size soft drinks. "Supersized" items that belie the phrase "side dish." It's as if we were proving our prosperity every time we eat.
At the same time that we're eating more, we're exercising less. This, too, flies in the face of human evolution. We evolved as an active species; the human appestat, the part of the brain that regulates appetite and food intake, works best when we're active. Yet we've virtually engineered activity out of daily life-everywhere and every way we can:
• Today's workplace is increasingly automated. Robots do most of the hauling on the factory floor, while computers in the office mean we don't even need to get up to find a file.
• Many neighborhoods lack sidewalks, so a stroll down a country lane is typically more like a slalom on foot in the middle of a Formula 1 race. It's safer to stay home.
• Cleaning chores are less labor-intensive than ever, with telescoping dusters that keep us from having to stretch and powerful vacuums that mean we don't need to bend.
• When we do go someplace, we invariably drive, coming home to the attached garage whose doors open automatically at the touch of a button. Even kids who once walked or cycled to school now get driven-or have their own cars.
• Meanwhile, schools across the country have responded to budget cutbacks by reducing or eliminating physical education activities.
• As for after school, parents in cities, in particular, find their outdoor environments too dangerous for their children to play in without supervision. Instead, they let the kids watch television or play computer games-activities that at best exercise the fingertips and at worst are accompanied by heavy snacking. Even in the suburbs, where kids have a chance to play outdoors, far too many prefer to be couch potatoes.
Yes, there are more gyms than ever before, more fitness videos, more new-fangled pieces of exercise equipment for the home. But we tend to drive to the gym-when we actually get around to going; the videos gather dust on the shelf; and the exercise bike in the bedroom is soon obscured by the clothes we've hung on it. Americans today actually burn 400 fewer calories per day than did our great-grandparents at the turn of the last century. Almost a quarter of us do no leisure-time physical activity at all, while 54 percent of us do less than 30 minutes of moderate activity at a time-usually every other day or so. That's not enough even to maintain weight loss. As for losing weight, a CDC survey of people trying to shed pounds found that less than a quarter of them exercised at least 150 minutes per week, the minimum recommended for weight loss.
All this leaves a lot of people on a virtual treadmill more real than the one they hauled up to the attic years ago. On this virtual treadmill, they're running against metabolism as well as evolution, culture, sociology, and a host of other contributing causes-and they're still overweight.
What Doesn't Work
Whatever the causes of your being overweight, in real life-your real life-you want to do something about it. Maybe you've tried dieting. You've measured portions and counted calories and eaten only at certain specified times of the day.
Perhaps you've tried one of the fad diets-high-protein or low-carbohydrate or no sugar or zero fat. Maybe you've experimented with one or more of the new weight-loss theories that seem to crop up annually-dieting by blood type, for example, or consciously combining certain foods at certain times.
Excerpted from DR. SHAPIRO'S Picture Perfect Weight Loss 30 Day Plan by Howard M. Shapiro Copyright © 2002 by Dr. Howard M. Shapiro
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.