I’ve long been fond of a cartoon posted on my office wall of a man, his head in the shape of a book, sitting on a physician’s examining table. The physician asks him, “So, how long has this book been in your head?” And so it goes with many authors who toy with an idea for years before it comes to fruition. Such was the case with Thin for Life, which was germinating in my head for more than 10 years before I wrote it — from the early 1980s, when I counseled overweight patients at a weight-management program in Massachusetts, until the early 1990s, when I sat down to write the first edition of the book. Despite the fact that so many of the people I worked with at the weight program regained their lost pounds, I knew that success stories were out there. Over the years, I have collected more and more facts to support my premise. And for this revised edition of Thin for Life, there’s even more encouraging news — from both research and success stories. A number of exciting new studies suggest that the odds of being able to lose weight and keep it off are much better than we’ve been led to believe. I continually meet new people who are maintaining weight loss.
In Thin for Life, I set out to prove that people really can lose weight and keep it off. I’d grown weary of conflicting messages we receive — on the one hand, about our society’s terrible weight problem (and the constant push for all of us to be slim and fit), on the other, the hopelessness of trying to lose weight and keep it off. I decided it was time to stop hearing about all the horror stories of people who gain weight back and, instead, to start learning about the many individuals who have found success. In a short time, I located 160 masters at weight control — people who had lost at least 20 pounds and kept the weight off for a minimum of 3 years. Most of them more than met the criteria, and their responses far exceeded my expectations. Thin for Life is primarily about the motivational strategies that these people used to take hold of long-standing weight problems and that they continue to use to keep the weight off.
A few years after the first edition of Thin for Life was published, I recruited more masters — winding up with a total of 208 people who were included in another book called Eating Thin for Life: Food Secrets and Recipes from People Who Have Lost Weight and Kept It Off. Since the results bolster the messages of Thin for Life, I have interspersed some of the findings from Eating Thin for Life in this revised edition.
What’s more, the new Thin for Life incorporates exciting recent scientific information that firmly buttresses the book’s original findings. Thin for Life also includes updated nutrition and diet information, plus more resources for help with weight problems. For instance, there are new sections on high-protein diets, yoga and tai chi, and Internet resources for losing weight.
The Thin for Life masters’ inspiring stories continue to offer a strong message of encouragement, whether you want to lose just a small amount of weight or a lot. (In my experience, some of those who want to lose 10 or 20 pounds suffer just as much as those who struggle with larger amounts.) The principles of Thin for Life will help you get a handle on your weight problem regardless of your size.
Thin for Life is the first book to weave together research-based methods of weight loss and maintenance with tried-and-true practices of masters at weight control. The “10 Keys to Success” encapsulate the critical steps that the masters have taken to become thin for life. Who better to tell you how to lose weight permanently than the very people who have done it? Many were eager to tell their stories to help others:
* Nancy K., master of 60 pounds: “I am open to sharing my story to help other people lose weight. I was heavy during my high school and college years. It affected me greatly, and I feel for anyone who is heavy and unhappy about it.”
* Paul A., master of 51 pounds: “I would be happy to be interviewed by you, as I feel there are plenty of men out there who feel that weight loss can be achieved by running around the block after a major feast.”
* Holly L., master of 97 pounds: “I sincerely hope that you can use my story to encourage other kindred spirits to live a carefree, healthy lifestyle, away from the burden of being overweight.”
It doesn’t matter if you’ve lost weight before and gained it all back, because most of the masters didn’t make it the first, second or even the third time around either. You don’t have to starve, buy fancy foods or potions or stay away from sweets and so-called “junk” foods. And no, you don’t have to turn into a marathon runner! TThin for Life demonstrates the sensible, livable approaches the masters take to control their weight.
I’ve kept in touch with quite a few Thin for Life participants over the years and am pleased with the number who’ve volunteered that they are still maintaining their weight loss. Ann F., for instance, has not only maintained her initial 200-plus-pound drop from her all-time high of 380 pounds in the early 1980s — she recently dropped down to 155 pounds. She states, “I have bought a wonderful new wardrobe — I wanted to get rid of my A-line dresses and now have more fitted clothes.” Dennis H. has maintained his weight loss of more than 30 pounds for 16 years and is proud that at the age of 48, he’s recently nearly tripled his monthly running distance. Alyce C., who topped out at more than 220 pounds three decades ago, still weighs in the 130s. At the age of 55, she can say, “I am healthier than I think I have ever been.” Then there’s Bob W., who lost and has kept off 250 pounds — yes, 250 pounds! — for 30 years. Janice C. is now mother to a 2-year-old and finds, “I pretty much enjoy eating anything I want. Since getting married, I’m probably up 5 pounds, but I still weigh 122.” Through two pregnancies, 36- year-old Lynda C. has been able to maintain her weight loss of 40 pounds for more than 12 years and still weighs 118. She says of the time when she was heavier, “The other life just isn’t an option for me.” The need for an optimistic book about permanent weight loss is more important than ever in today’s climate, where “overweight and obesity have reached nationwide epidemic proportions,” according to a recent U.S. Surgeon General’s report, which adds that, “left unabated, overweight and obesity may soon cause as much preventable disease and death as cigarette smoking.” Barely a week passes before yet another report is issued about how overweight and out of shape we are as a society. Indeed, when Thin for Life was first published, 1 out of every 4 Americans was considered significantly overweight. Now, it’s estimated that 6 out of 10 adults are overweight or obese — in fact, the number of obese people has nearly doubled since the 1980s. Yet Thin for Life continues to bridge the gap between these alarming statistics and the need for sensitivity concerning people who are overweight by helping them with nonextreme lifestyle changes, realistic goal-setting and increased self-acceptance — regardless of their current or future weight.
In telling the masters’ stories, I am not saying that what any one master does is the “best” way to go about weight control. I’m simply sharing what worked for these people, whose approaches are highly individual. One of the goals of Thin for Life is to guide