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Weight Loss that Lasts: Break Through the 10 Big Diet Myths (Weight Watchers Series)

Weight Loss that Lasts: Break Through the 10 Big Diet Myths (Weight Watchers Series)

by Weight Watchers, James M. Rippe M.D., Staff of Weight Watchers

Break through the 10 big diet myths!

"In Weight Loss That Lasts, James M. Rippe and Weight Watchers show common sense and good science in a field characterized by chaos and confusion. They expose a series of 10 myths pervasive in the weight-loss industry, revealing both the kernels of truth they contain and how they have been misinterpreted and distorted. This


Break through the 10 big diet myths!

"In Weight Loss That Lasts, James M. Rippe and Weight Watchers show common sense and good science in a field characterized by chaos and confusion. They expose a series of 10 myths pervasive in the weight-loss industry, revealing both the kernels of truth they contain and how they have been misinterpreted and distorted. This book is incisive and refreshing."
—Claude Bouchard, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University, and President of the International Association for the Study of Obesity

Believers Beware!

Discover how common myths may be holding you back from your weight-loss goals:

  • MYTH #1 You can't lose weight and keep it off
  • MYTH #2 A few extra pounds don't matter
  • MYTH #3 Willpower is the key to successful weight loss
  • MYTH #4 You can lose weight with exercise alone
  • MYTH #5 Calories don't matter-avoid fats or carbs to lose weight successfully
  • MYTH #6 You can't lose weight if you have the wrong metabolism or genes
  • MYTH #7 You can boost your metabolism by what, how, and when you eat
  • MYTH #8 It doesn't matter how you take the weight off; you can think about keeping it off later
  • MYTH #9 There is only one right approach to losing weight
  • MYTH #10 Your weight is your problem and you need to solve it on your own

In this book, renowned expert Dr. James M. Rippe and Weight Watchers give you the scientific knowledge you need to break through the myths, get off the dieting roller coaster, and shed those pounds for keeps.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This straightforward, kindly volume provides a logical discussion of weight loss and the steps required to achieve and sustain it. Rippe (Heart Disease for Dummies), founder of the Rippe Lifestyle Institute (a nutrition, exercise and medical research organization), shares his own stories of weight gain and loss in the book's introduction, then spends the following 10 chapters breaking down what he identifies as the most popular weight-loss myths (e.g., "you can't lose weight and keep it off"; "you can lose weight with exercise alone"; "calories don't matter-avoid fats or carbs to lose weight successfully"; "you can boost your metabolism by what, how, and when you eat"). Each chapter includes an explanation of a myth and the kernels of truth and valid research that led to its perpetuation. Of course, the underlying basis for the book is that the way to achieve lasting, healthy weight loss is to follow the Weight Watchers method, and Rippe includes personal triumph stories from followers of that program. That quibble aside, a list of levelheaded suggestions (such as "Identify your five temptation foods. Develop specific strategies for dealing with them in a way that will reinforce learning the skill of flexible restraint") do clear away much of the confusion surrounding weight loss. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Similar in approach to Liz Neporent and Suzanne Schlosberg's The Fat-Free Truth (above), this title examines common misconceptions that can sabotage a weight-loss program. Going into greater scientific detail than Neoporent and Schlosberg in explaining diet myths, Rippe (medicine, Tufts Univ. Sch. of Medicine) also incorporates many of the Weight Watchers principles into his comments. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
Publication date:
Weight Watchers Series
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.75(d)

Read an Excerpt

Weight Watchers Weight Loss That Lasts

By James M. Rippe

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-471-70528-4

Chapter One

Is sustainable weight loss possible?

Chances are, you've heard the same statistic over and over again. And if it's true that 95% of diets end in failure, it's reasonable to conclude that trying to lose weight is not worth the effort. Nobody is going to tell you that it is easy to achieve weight loss that lasts. But it is possible. Let's begin to explore exactly how to win the weight-loss battle.

Kernels of Truth

There are reports from credible sources that give some pretty negative statistics. In the 1950s, Dr. Albert J. Stunkard summarized his findings about weight-loss methods available at that time. The finding was that 95% of diets fail. Likewise, an expert panel from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported in 1992 that people who completed a weight-loss program could expect to regain about two-thirds of the loss after one year and virtually all their lost weight after five years. These two reports are widely used and reused in the media and in scientific circles.

Another kernel of truth is that no single weight-loss method available today can help every overweight or obese person get down to an ideal weight and stay there forever. This book shows that that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to weight loss. Every person needs a slightly different approach.

It's also true that weight loss means a lower metabolism-the number ofcalories burned in the course of daily living. You'll read more about metabolism in the following chapters, but it's based on the fact that a smaller body simply needs fewer calories than a larger body. A smaller body typically has less muscle on it, and this translates into a lower metabolism. In addition, restricting calories during the weight-loss process can cause metabolism to slow down a bit, especially if the restriction is extreme (for example, an 800-calorie-a-day diet). The effect isn't enough to prevent weight loss, but it will slow down the rate of loss.

And it's also true that certain medical conditions and treatments can make weight loss more difficult. A slow thyroid, called hypothyroidism, slows metabolism and calorie burning. Medications, such as steroids used to treat inflammatory diseases, several drugs used to treat anxiety, depression, and similar conditions, and some drugs used to treat diabetes, stimulate the appetite. For people taking these medications, it's tough to stay committed to a weight-loss program because they are truly hungry.

Finally, our environment works against sustained weight loss. We are surrounded by a lot of food that is filled with calories, tastes good, and is heavily advertised. We also live in an environment where modern technology has taken away a lot of our opportunities to burn calories. We don't even have to get up from the couch to change the channels on our televisions anymore. The combination of the two-too much great-tasting food and too little activity-can make sustained weight loss a challenge.

The Whole Truth

The Old Numbers Don't Tell the Full Story

The reports about diet failure need to be put into context. The discouraging 95% statistic dates back to the 1950s. Dr. Stunkard, the father of that number, is the first to say that it is no longer accurate because weight-loss methods today are so different from those used fifty years ago. Moreover, most weight-loss studies clump all dieting methods into a single pool (as if the Cabbage Soup Diet and a doctor-supervised medical program were the same) and are based on a one-time effort. Finally, the typical person who enrolls in a clinical study at the obesity clinic of a research university is not a typical American who wants to lose weight.

To get a more accurate picture of the incidence of sustained weight loss, a group of researchers randomly polled people from the general public and asked them about their weight-loss experiences. More than one-half of five hundred people surveyed had lost at least 10% of their maximal body weight at some point in their adult life (there will be more on the health benefits of a 10% weight loss in chapter 2). Among those who had intentionally lost weight, almost 50% reported having kept it off for at least one year at the time of the survey, and 25% stated that it had been at least five years. The researchers concluded that sustainable weight loss is not nearly as uncommon as we've been led to believe.

In a different study, a team of researchers from Drexel University surveyed Weight Watchers members who reached their goal and completed the six-week maintenance program. That survey of more than one thousand people found that an average of more than three-fourths of the weight that was lost was still gone after one year and almost one-half after five years. This contrasts sharply with the 1992 NIH report that people who complete a weight-loss program can expect to keep off one-third of the loss after one year and virtually none at five years. The Weight Watchers data were presented at a 2004 international conference on obesity, causing quite a stir. Obesity experts attributed the superior results to the combination of healthy food choices, regular physical activity, positive behavior changes, and supportive atmosphere that are all an integral part of the Weight Watchers program.

Incorporate Success Factors into Your Weight-Loss Method

How you lose weight makes a difference in how much you lose and how successful you are in keeping it off. In 1995, the Institute of Medicine (IOM), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advise U.S. policy makers on health-related issues in an unbiased and science-based way, issued a report about weight loss. The IOM's Weighing the Options report evaluated the pool of weight-loss research and included a summary of those factors with proven links to weight-loss success. The more success factors you make part of your weight-loss method, the more likely you are to win. All of these success factors have been incorporated into the Weight Watchers program (see the Afterword for more about this).

Sustainable Weight Loss Is Possible

In addition to the inspiring stories throughout this book, there are two large databases filled with evidence that sustainable weight loss is possible: the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) and the Lifetime Member (LTM) Database from Weight Watchers. These two databases include information on thousands of people like you, your friends, and your family members who have successfully lost weight and kept it off.

Over a decade ago, Drs. Rena Wing and James Hill founded the NWCR, which includes several thousand people who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept the weight off for at least one year. As of 2003, NWCR participants had lost an average of 66 pounds and kept it off for an average of five years.

The Weight Watchers LTM Database is the largest and longest-standing database on people who have successfully lost weight. Any Weight Watchers member who reaches a goal weight that is within the healthy range and maintains that weight through a six-week maintenance phase of the Program is included in the LTM Database. The two databases have some overlap because there are people in the LTM Database who have also volunteered their information to NWCR.

How did the people who are part of the NWCR and Weight Watchers LTM Database succeed? They simply learned how to incorporate the basics of a comprehensive weight-loss method into their lives using approaches that work for them. As you will learn, the habits and skills that they developed as part of the weight-loss process have become so second nature that they say sustaining the loss is easier than taking the weight off in the first place!

These basic components are so important that they are a common thread throughout this book. They have also spawned their own myths and traps. By looking at the remaining nine myths more closely, you'll be able to avoid the traps that may be getting in the way of your successful weight loss.

In order to overcome the powerful myth that it is not possible to sustain weight loss, you need to have all four components in place: making wise food choices, being physically active, making positive lifestyle changes, and creating a supportive atmosphere. Let's look more closely at each one.

Make Wise Food Choices

Our food world is complicated. We are surrounded by tasty, affordable food choices. We are constantly reminded of food by the media, advertisements, and the presence of restaurants and fast-food places everywhere. Making wise food choices is a vital skill. People who adopt specific strategies to deal with food choices are well on their way to sustainable weight loss.

This may take a bit of thinking ahead. It may seem obvious, but many people neglect this important success factor. We're not referring to detailed planning, which is not possible for most of us because of our hectic schedules. Thinking ahead means that you

1. Always have foods available that you want to eat

2. Have access to fresh fruits and vegetables

3. Start the day with a good healthy breakfast

4. Plan healthy snacks

5. Plus dozens of other simple actions to make wise food choices

Finding the eating structure that fits you best helps you create a livable, sustainable eating plan to match your food preferences. It's important to enjoy the food and the eating patterns you use to lose weight because these are the same foods and patterns that will help you keep the weight off.

Include Regular Physical Activity

An overwhelming majority of the NWCR volunteers are physically active virtually every day. People who have sustained weight loss have figured out how to incorporate regular physical activity into their lives. The most popular activity is one that is easy for almost all of us to do-walking. People who successfully sustain their weight loss get so much benefit from regular physical activity that they wouldn't dream of a day without it.

Regular physical activity has three important elements. The first is that the activity has to fit into your life, whether in a set block of time or in little nooks and crannies throughout the day. You can squeeze in a bit of activity by taking the stairs at work, parking farther away from the store on errands, taking a ten-minute walk at lunchtime, or walking the dog at the end of the day.

These activities may sound too small to make a difference. But if you take a daily ten-minute walk at lunchtime for a year and change nothing else about your eating or activity, you can lose more than five pounds! Imagine the result if you incorporated a number of these simple activities into your daily routine.

Chapter 4 presents more information about the role of exercise and strategies to incorporate it into your daily life. Throughout the book, we're hoping to show you that small lifestyle changes can translate into big changes in your weight. These positive changes are the key to sustainable weight loss.

The second element of regular physical activity may seem obvious. Find physical activities that you enjoy. If you like an activity, you're more likely to stick with it. What is right for you might be different from what works for your family members or friends. That is okay. The key is to find something that you look forward to and enjoy such as walking outdoors or doing more structured activities like swimming, bicycling, or aerobics with a favorite exercise tape. Don't turn your life upside down-your chances of success are greater if you create a plan that is livable for you.

The third element is to look for activities that you can do almost every day. Consistent exercisers get the most benefit, and once you incorporate exercise into your daily life, it becomes second nature.

Make Positive Lifestyle Changes

The value of a positive mindset for lasting weight loss is frequently overlooked. It shouldn't be. You have to believe that you can do it-that you can lose weight and keep it off. Whether weight has become an issue only recently or if you have been overweight for a long time, having a positive mindset and making the changes that go with it are vital in accomplishing your goal of lasting weight loss.

For many of the people who share their stories in this book, their battle with the bulge was longstanding. The same holds true with the NWCR volunteers, with almost half reporting that their weight issues began in childhood. Despite this, they were able to look beyond what didn't work in the past and focus on what they wanted to achieve.

You should have both short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals like losing weight for a special event are easier to achieve and have immediate rewards. But setting only short-term goals is not enough. You also need a long-term mindset that takes life beyond weight loss into account.

Making positive changes to your lifestyle also means taking personal responsibility for your weight. All of us have the ability to harness our internal power to make wise choices for healthy, livable, sustainable weight loss.

Lifestyle change requires focus. Both the Weight Watchers LTM Database and NWCR participants maintain a consistent focus on their weight management strategies. This does not mean that they are overly rigid with their diet or take exercise to extremes. Rather, they have learned the skill of flexible restraint and have developed habits, routines, and approaches that support their ability to sustain weight loss.

Create a Supportive Atmosphere

A supportive atmosphere is important for losing weight and keeping it off. Eating can be a highly social event, whether during family meals, meals with friends, or in times of celebration or sorrow. The fact is that food is one of the great pleasures of life. Sharing weight goals with others helps enlist their support. It is generally much better to let people who care about you know that you are trying to control your weight. They can be of great help. There's more on this important topic in chapter 10.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that the number of Weight Watchers meetings a person attended was highly predictive of total weight loss. In fact, those who attended more than 80% of meetings held during the two-year study lost more than twice as much weight as people who attended less regularly. The reason for this is simple: spending time with and learning from the experiences of others who are also losing weight is very important to accomplishing weight goals.

Setting Unreasonable Goals Backfires

If you start out with an expectation of permanent perfection or with a weight-loss goal that is too high, you are likely to be disappointed. At the beginning of a study done at the University of Pennsylvania, participants were asked how they would feel about losing the amount of weight that the researchers could predict would be the likely result. Participants said that they would be disappointed. To be satisfied or "happy" about their weight loss, the participants said that the amount would have to be substantially more. Being dissatisfied with a realistic weight loss is counterproductive.

So what is a realistic goal? Successful weight loss is typically losing about 10% of body weight in six months. More rapid or dramatic loss is possible, but it is the exception, not the rule. For sustainable weight loss, changes should be made in a stepwise, realistic, achievable way.


Excerpted from Weight Watchers Weight Loss That Lasts by James M. Rippe Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

JAMES M. RIPPE, M.D., is Associate Professor of Medicine at the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. He is the Founder and Director of the Rippe Lifestyle Institute in Shrewsbury, Mass., one of the largest nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle medicine research organizations in the United States. He has written or edited more than 25 books, ranging from Heart Disease For Dummies® to the world's leading textbook on intensive care medicine. His work has been featured on the Today show, CNN, and the CBS Evening News, as well as in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

KAREN MILLER-KOVACH is Chief Scientific Officer of Weight Watchers International, Inc. With its mission of helping people reach and maintain a healthy weight through a comprehensive weight- management program that is based on the latest science, Weight Watchers meetings provide the coaching and tools to help people make positive changes for lasting weight loss.

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