August 13), reader Rose brought up the terrible question of weight maintenance. Doesn’t it get to be too much after awhile? Don’t you get tired of it? Is it really worth it, to have to be so diligent, so on-your-game every minute of the day?
Discussions, calls, letters ensued, and among the responses came a few pointing at Anne Fletcher’s (M.S., R.D.) book “Thin for Life.” I had never heard of it. I wish I had, though, because I have a feeling it could have saved me a lot of time and anxiety.
Anne is one of the many folks in the fields of nutrition and weight loss who takes issue with those statistics that suggest attempting to lose weight is futile. She personally knows, as we all do, a number of people who have been successful at losing a substantial amount of weight.
So she went looking for information, in medical and nutritional libraries, by interviewing doctors, behaviorists, other nutritionists, but ultimately by interviewing hundreds of people she refers to as “The Masters” who themselves had lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off.
What she found is that researchers have been obsessed with weight loss failure, and study the failure, try to find reasons for the failure, but spend precious little time studying success. Odd but true. So she went to work, conducting her own research, matching it up with the research from our friends at the National Weight Control Registry, along with absolutely everyone else she could find, it seems, who explores success in weight loss. And then she did the hard work of making sense of it all.
Thin for Life is a user-friendly thesis, really, a presentation of her findings. On the one hand, what she found is what SDP readers would expect her to find: the people who lose weight for good have no “secret.” About half used various diet programs and half did it on their own, developing their own system, their own ways. All of them pretty much do the same thing to maintain their weight as they did to lose it in the first place, becoming more strict if they gain a few pounds, and continuing to exercise a lot.
To organize such wide ranging responses into an approachably coherent package (and probably because publishers love lists), she organized her findings under “10 Keys to Success.”
But there are not 10 keys to success in this book. There are dozens and dozens of keys, great stories, hundreds of interesting ideas. She presents the facts behind food control and exercise, a way to begin “non-dieting,” a way to kick-start a more traditional kind of diet, and lots of recipes from the Masters. There are more books to read, sites to visit, programs to explore in the appendices and bibs. This book has been out for some time and republished, too. It has companion volumes, “Eating Thin for Life,” and the “Thin for Life Daybook,” which gives you (guess what?) a JOURNAL, to help you make sense of your experience as you come down the scale.
It’s a great work. I found it a comfort to hear that other people have to be just as diligent when maintaining, and found a message of hope that most Masters found maintaining their new weight becomes easier over time.
I know others find the book demoralizing for exactly the same reason. It’s hard to hear that if you have a tendency to put on weight, you have to remain watchful, continue to work at it. There’s really no finish line. That’s the trouble with the truth. It can be annoying.
But here’s the upshot. Anne Fletcher is working for us. She goes out, discovers the truth, and reports it. So she’s a guru. Since her book came out, she’s been busy helping people who have trouble with alcohol with her book and audiocassette “Sober for Good,” based on her own experiences and those of people she interviewed and worked with.
And her next project is well timed and close to my heart. Parents and teens take note: Fletcher is going to explore the very difficult subject of teenage weight control. (Yipes!)
To complete this brave act, once again, she’s going to the sources by interviewing the teens themselves. She has found 13- to 20-year-olds who have “purposely slimmed down to a comfortable weight” and maintained for a year or more. Watch the bookstands for this Houghton Mifflin title, or check in once in awhile with her website at http://www.justrightteens.com.
So that’s Anne Fletcher, running around telling the truth and helping folks.
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