Charles Stuart Platkin, The Diet Detective, is one of the country's leading nutrition experts. He is the host of WE tv's new series, I Want to Save Your Life, which showcases undercover health interventions (although some critics think it ambushes overweight women). Charles talked to us about the secret to losing weight—and it's not what you think!
CM: Is there a way people who are overweight can "control" their behavior or is it a genetic disease they can't fight?
Yes, it's true that someone could be genetically predisposed to being overweight, but that doesn't mean that you should give up. We are all, principally, the authors of our own lives, and we have the power, in spite of genetics, environment, and/or our slow metabolisms, to write a different outcome than the one we see on the scale each day In fact, a study reported in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders found that people who believe their weight problems are a result of choice rather than from metabolism or genetics were more successful at losing weight because they believed they were in control of their weight loss.
Have you noticed a common thought process that overweight women in particular share? How can they change that thinking?
People who are overweight feel they need to conform not compromise. What this means is that you need to compromise with yourself, not conform to someone else's definition of who you should be. If you conform, you're following someone else's diet prescription that might sound great on paper and that may work in the short run. To succeed you need to find your own perfect fit; a way of eating and living that's been custom-made for you—not something that's been pulled off the "ready-to-wear" diet rack—and you do that by compromising with the one person who really matters you!
Losing 100 pounds or more can be a daunting task. How do you help people stay motivated to lose that much weight?
- Find The Reason WHY: You need a very clear and precise reason that will stand up to your most powerful excuses. It helps to find a good reason why. Don't just say "for my health," "to look better," "to feel better." Be specific: "I would like to lose weight because I would like to be there for my granddaughter's graduation." Keep in mind, if you're not sure, or you treat this glibly, there's a high likelihood down.
- Give Yourself a Pep Talk: Start by creating affirmations: strong, positive statements asserting that something desirable about yourself is in fact true. The idea is to use your words to help you succeed by "talking to yourself about yourself" in a positive light...If you're constantly putting yourself down and berating yourself with negative talk, try making yourself aware of your own thoughts, replacing negative thoughts with positive ones and reinforcing positive thoughts and feelings with affirmations.
- Have a real plan and write it down. The planning includes contingency plans (e.g., if it's raining and I normally go walking, I will have fitness DVDs available; I will not keep unhealthy foods around the house, if someone gives me unhealthy food I will say no, and/or toss it out) as well as tracking progress, monitoring ourselves, and following through. Take the time in the beginning to set yourself up with the tools you need to make it happen. With this attitude and emotionally charged choice, you get to your desired weight and stay there. Don't be a "Diet Hero:" It's about Power, NOT Willpower: Don't think all you need is a good dose of willpower to go against your nature, which is to want sugary and fatty foods. To avoid unhealthy foods that entice you, keep junk foods out of your house. Don't go to the supermarket when you're ravenous—eat something first. Over time, the healthy stuff tastes great.
How have you noticed people's lives change after losing weight? What will be their daily battle post weight loss and how can they win?
Yes, lives do change—it's fantastic to see someone transform themselves. And yes, the individual will still have to maintain his or her current eating and fitness behaviors, it does get easier overtime—it becomes automatic after a few years. Take a peek at this column I wrote called "After the Fat." It talks about weight loss vs. weight maintenance.
Have you seen Platkin's show? Do you think his "interventions" are helpful or do you think they attack overweight women?