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3 Crash Diets, Doctor Approved!
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One of the main articles in the August, 2003 issue of ‘O’ Magazine was written by a woman named Michelle Burford. Michelle talks about her twenty-year struggle with obesity and how she finally managed to lose 64 pounds. On page 28, Michelle makes a very poignant statement; “I wanted to tell the story I wish I could have read while struggling with my weight. I’ve read so many pieces that tried to make me believe that this issue can be solved with a quick fix-and it’s just not that simple.”
Now there’s a woman who has finally seen the light…and suddenly has the results to show for it. And this is where my problems with this issue starts. You have a woman bemoaning the fact that for so many years she thought that weight loss was a simple, quick fix because, well that’s what the ‘diet experts’ in the magazines told her! So what’s the major story on the cover? You won’t believe it;
The very fact that Oprah prints an article like this just continues to perpetuate the myth that weight loss can be attacked ‘quick and easy’ and better yet with a doctor’s approval, so it has to be safe, right? Wrong, wrong, wrong!
As a society, we have become totally immersed in a culture of FAST, FASTER, FASTEST! And as a result, as a nation we’ve gone from FAT to FATTER and now finally, the FATTEST country on the planet! And if this fantasy that weight loss can be addressed with crash diets continues to be perpetuated by magazines as influential as ‘O’, why would anyone waste time with a more realistic but long-term plan?
If the first crash diet doesn’t work, well then we’ll just have to try another crash diet, and another and another. It’s the ‘diet-of-the-month-club.’ We’ll ALWAYS be looking for that two-week crash diet to quickly get rid of that initial twenty or thirty pounds and THEN we’ll do a REAL diet. But it never happens, as Michelle discovered after twenty years of chasing one crash diet illusion after another.
But unfortunately, it’s what people want to hear, it’s what they want to believe. They just haven’t found the right crash diet, that’s all! And Oprah is unintentionally encouraging this pipedream with articles like this.
So here we have a lead article perpetuating the crash diet myth. That’s bad enough. But the advice that follows borders on malpractice in my opinion.
So let’s take a look at the diet advice these three (two PhD’s, one MD) experts gave Oprah’s readers. And since these guys must have gotten good grades to earn those degrees, let’s see how they fare in my grading system. I’ll take them one at a time, from best (OK, least worst?) to moron.
We’ll start with;
1) Dr. Steven Heymsfield, MD, deputy director of the Obesity Research Center at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York City.
It’s interesting that Dr. Heymsfield as the lesser degreed of the three is nonetheless closest to the right idea. But not close enough. I already know a secret about Dr. Steve. Steve is the only one of the three to even mention fitness concepts like ‘tracking your total food intake for a week.’
So I know that while his contemporaries have been reading their sacred ‘peer reviewed medical journals’, Steve has been secretly reading health and fitness magazines, because JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), doesn''t go there with concepts like ‘food’ and ‘nutrition’! Fitness mags do.
So Steve got off to a good start for recommending a DIET ANALYSIS as a first step. Correct! And then it all went horribly wrong. Steve makes the blanket recommendation to take the results of that diet analysis and ‘cut 500 - 1,000 calories a day.’
Whoa, Steve! What happens if that diet analysis showed a client already severely UNDER EATING, with a daily average of say, 700-1200 calories? We see this pattern often with women in our preliminary diet analysis work. Are you saying to cut them to almost zero calories?
In what other medical circumstance would you issue such a blanket course of action to thousands of anonymous patients, where you have done NO preliminary diagnosis and established NO normal caloric baseline to base your recommendations on? You would NEVER do that with a pathology issue. It should be NO different with a patient who ‘just wants to lose weight.’
So Steve has the beginnings of the right concepts but ultimately winds up giving flawed advice to readers that would in certain circumstances require them to go into a near fast condition for two weeks.
For this advice I give Dr. Heymsfield a ‘B’ which does NOT stand for good, just ‘Better’ then the other two morons I’m getting to. But if Steve spent a little time with us, I think we could convert him into a full fledged fitness pro! There is hope for this guy.
Now it gets really ugly from here on out, so buckle up.
2) James O. Hill, PhD, cofounder of the National Weight Control Registry.
I checked out the website for this company (http://www.lifespan.org/services/bmed/wt_loss/nwcr/). I read through the site and found a link for ‘Success Stories’, so I took a look and found all of four (4) utterly compelling (sarcasm intended) stories about people identified only as ‘members’, with no before and after pics. Here’s an example;
Slow but steady wins the race - Shocked that she had reached a lifetime high weight of 175 pounds, one member gradually lost 1 to 4 pounds per month over a period of 1 year. After a small regain of 3 to 4 pounds, she then lost an additional 5 to 6 pounds, and has maintained her current weight for 2 years.
Doesn’t that success story just make you want to run to this guy for diet help?
But here’s the piece I really loved (http://www.lifespan.org/Services/BMed/Wt_loss/about.htm);
It takes a team approach
Sustained, healthful weight loss requires a combination of medical and social support to help you alter your nutrition, lifestyle and physical exercise. To address each of those factors, our staff includes physicians, psychologists, social workers, dietitians and exercise physiologists. This multi-disciplinary team plans and administers a weight management program customized to your health needs. For your safety and continued well-being, we include ongoing medical evaluations with a staff physician assigned to your care. And we work together with your personal physician as part of your overall health care program.
You didn’t realize that losing weight is apparently beyond the capabilities of us common folk, did you? Yup, according to Dr. Jim, he needs to bring a whole damn TEAM in knock those bastard fat pounds into oblivion! Folks, let me translate that previous paragraph for you;
“Bring your wallet and insurance card with you; because we’re gonna wring those babies DRY as we wring a few pounds out of you!"
Here’s Dr. Hills quick fix advice to Oprah’s readers, people thirsting for words of wisdom from an educated dieting expert;
“Drink lunch. Eat low-fat, portion controlled breakfasts and dinners but use a commercial meal-replacement drink for lunch to provide an instant caloric cut."
Jim, ole buddy, please understand this disrespect is intended only on a professional level, not personal. Having said that; You are a Dieting Moron! That’s it? Eight years of undergrad and graduate work to get that PhD and that’s the best you can come up with; drink lunch?
And adhering to your simplistic ‘low-fat’ guideline, these people could still mistakenly tank up on nothing more than Cocoa Krispies, flood their systems with insulin and shut down virtually any chance their body has of trying to metabolize fat as a result, right? Let me repeat: Moron.
‘Nuff said. For this little dust ball of dieting wisdom, I give Dr. Hill a ‘C’ for ‘Clueless.’ And I’m being generous.
Now I’ve saved the best for last;
3) John Foreyt, PhD, director of Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
I did some homework on Dr. Foreyt and found this little snippet;
John P. Foreyt, Ph.D., director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center, leads a research team that focuses on weight reduction through behavior modification and the use of anti-obesity drugs.
Food and nutrition don’t sound like they’re high on this guy’s list of priorities, do they? So I think I have an idea of the mindset here; there’s never been a problem a drug can’t solve (and be patented).
Here’s Dr. Foreyt’s quick fix advice to Oprah’s readers, and the one that sent me into my mini tirade on the Chicago talk show;
“Eat a 220 calorie breakfast and a 220 calorie lunch. Then have a salad and a small piece of chicken or fish for dinner. It might get boring but you’re not going to hurt yourself with any plan that lasts just two weeks and you’ll see five or six pounds come off."
Doc, give ‘em your letters back and ask for a refund. For the hundred grand you paid for those three letters, you got ripped off big time dude! Or maybe the PhD in your case means ‘Phenomenal health Dummy.’
You can’t be serious! 220 calories for breakfast and 220 calories for lunch? That’s the equivalent of a piece of toast with some jam. So what you’re telling people, with all the education that you''ve been privy to, is the same old crap we get from Slimfast; starve yourself for breakfast, starve yourself for lunch, try not to eat like a famished pig for dinner, then get up and do it all over again the next day.
I’ll tell you what John, why don’t YOU try to follow the dietary disaster you just prescribed for millions of people, for two weeks. That would be fun to watch. And it won’t hurt anyone? This advice is a perfect prescription for a metabolic starvation response you moron!
And if you just want to “see five or six pounds come off" and don’t care if it’s fat, water or muscle then what the hell, why not let them eat normally and give them a good diuretic drug? You’ll get the same result and won’t starve your patients in the process.
Or better yet, why not take a lesson from any of our experienced PFA’ers who will give YOU the following advice;
“If you want to see a FLUID loss of a few pounds very quickly, start drinking 100-120 ounces of water each day and simply track and keep your sodium and sugar levels within the parameters the PFA sets for you."
I’ll match this advice against yours any day. My people will get better results and be healthier at the end of two weeks to boot.
For Dr. Foreyt I had to come up with a whole new letter to give him the grade he deserves. For his horrendous advice and total ignorance as to what metabolically constitutes ‘hurting yourself’, I give him an ‘M’ and officially declare him the winner of my first, annual ‘Dieting Moron of the Year’ award.
No ‘fitness’ expert worth his/her salt would EVER advocate a crash (i.e. starvation) diet. IT DOES NOT WORK and ultimately does more harm than good. That’s exactly what Michelle Burford was trying to tell Oprah’s readers. And that’s the difference between ‘fitness’ experts like Bart, me, Bill Phillips, Philip Goglia and some well known others, and the three ‘diet’ experts in this article.
You know what I’d like to see? A rule that says if you’re a supposed weight loss expert, we don’t want to see the initials after your name; we want to see your abs! No smiling head shot, we don’t want to see the face, we want to see the body! That’s the true yardstick we should be measured by.
Now that DOESN’T mean you have to have a sculpted physique like Bart or me. Shape is a personal preference. But what it DOES mean is that you can show that you know how to STAY LEAN! Body fat within a ‘fit’ to ‘ultra fit’ percentage. Like Bart and me.
After all, this is what the whole weight loss thing is really all about, isn’t it? LOOKING GOOD! If a weight loss expert looks like crap, then I’d say their advice follows suit. If you can’t walk your talk…don’t talk!
But a true fitness expert goes further. A fitness expert wants their clients to look great not only on the outside but INSIDE as well. That means cholesterol, triglyceride levels and other physiological health markers all in the range of ‘fit’ to ‘ultra fit.’
Total fitness is when you LOOK great and FEEL great. It means that you have tons of energy, a zest for life, a ‘fire in the belly’ as a PFA’er of ours, Frances, said the other day after she posted some remarkable pictures of her recent physique transformation.
So there you have it. I’ve said my piece. I have a lot of frustration with people who should know better, what can I say? I know I was pretty hard on these guys. I know they’re sincere, hard working people. I do believe they’re intentions are good. But you know what they say about the road to hell, right?
Oprah, if you should read this, I didn’t write this article to simply take a few cheap shots at your magazine and then disappear without offering any constructive ideas. Honest to God, I want to help with this national epidemic of obesity that is taking over our country.
It has been the overriding passion of my life, and to the exclusion of everything else has consumed me for the last 36 months in developing the current version of our PFA program. I KNOW it can be done and I truly believe Bart and I have an inexpensive solution to effectively help hundreds of thousands of overweight people, right now, TODAY!
- The vision.
- The specialized fat loss knowledge, accumulated over twenty years of in the field testing.
- The patent-pending technology to deliver it instantly to anyone with access to the web.
- A monthly solution that costs less then a Big Mac, Coke and super-sized fries.
- Most importantly, we have the PASSION to make our dream of a fitter nation, a reality.
We do something extraordinary with our program, something NO one else will EVER do. We make an unconditional DOUBLE your money back guarantee. If we fail to deliver on our fat loss promise, we will ask no questions and give you back double the money you spent for the time you were on our program. It is the strongest statement Bart and I can make that WE KNOW WHAT WE’RE DOING.
Here’s all you need to know about our program. In the nineteen months that our Physique Transformation website has been up, nearly 16,000 people have tried the PFA. To this day not ONE SINGLE person has ever asked to collect on that guarantee. Remarkable, don’t you agree?
You’ve tried everything else Oprah, why not give us a shot? At best, your diet demons will be banished, once and for all. At worst, you expose just another ‘dieting moron.’ We’re up for the challenge, how about you?