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Lose It!: The Personalized Weight Loss Revolution Paperback – December 21, 2010
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About the Author
Charles Teague is the CEO and cofounder of FitNow, the makers of Lose It! He lives in New York City.
Anahad O'Connor is a health and science reporter for the New York Times, with a weekly column in the Tuesday Science section. He has appeared on NPR, Good Morning America, and The Martha Stewart Show. He lives in New York City.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Foreword by Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness ProjectA few years ago, I decided to embark on a “happiness project.” I spent a year test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture to see what worked. If I did all the things I’d always intended to do and followed the advice I’d heard over the years, could I actually become happier? I didn’t make a dramatic upheaval to my daily routine—just little changes, here and there. When the year was over, I was surprised by how easily I’d changed my life without changing my life. I really did manage to make myself happier.
I organized my happiness project around resolutions—everything from “Quit nagging” to “Make my bed” to “Sing in the morning” to “Keep a one-sentence journal” to “Imitate a spiritual master.”
My happiness project convinced me that resolutions—kept faithfully—can make a huge difference in contributing to happiness. If you want to make a positive change in your life, a very effective strategy is to figure out what resolutions to make and how to keep them. Keeping the actual resolution will boost happiness, of course, but even apart from that, the sense of growth, of having made a vow to yourself and stuck to it, the sense of self-mastery…all these things are enormously satisfying.
The challenge is that, no surprise, it’s fun and easy to make a resolution, but it’s very challenging to keep a resolution. Something like 44 percent of Americans enthusiastically make their New Year’s resolutions—I know I always do—but many of us make and break the same resolution year after year; in fact, about 80 percent of resolution makers abandon their resolutions by mid-February.
Year after year, one of the most popular resolutions (along with other perennials like “quit smoking” and “spend less”) is the resolution to lose weight. Alas, about two-third of dieters gain back the weight they’ve lost within the year.
These facts are pretty discouraging. Does that mean it’s pointless to make resolutions? I don’t think so. You can’t succeed unless you try.
But if you really want change, you have to think about it, plan it, probe it, keep yourself accountable, and have a plan—just reflexively saying “This year I’m really going to eat healthy” won’t make it happen.
Having tried and failed to uphold many resolutions myself, I’m fascinated by the question of what allows people to keep resolutions. Why does one person decide to drop 20 pounds and manages to do so without much fuss, while another person battles those same 20 pounds for decades? Why does one couch potato suddenly decide to start going to the gym and then works out regularly for years, while another couch potato just can’t get off the couch?
One key to sticking to a resolution, it turns out, is to hold yourself accountable. The constant review of your resolutions, and the knowledge that you are being held accountable to them, makes a huge difference. So how do you hold yourself accountable? Here are some useful strategies:
1. Frame your resolution in concrete actions. If you resolve to “Eat more healthfully” or “Lose weight,” it’s hard to hold yourself accountable. It’s easier to be answerable for a specific action, like “Eat five servings of vegetables and fruit every day” or “Bring my own lunch to work four days a week.”
2. Be accurate. When you’re trying to do something like lose weight, it’s important to know how much, and how many calories, you’re eating. Studies show that people tend to underestimate dramatically both the portion size and calorie content of their food, but to change what you’re eating, you have to know what you’re eating.
3. Keep a chart. Having made a resolution, you have to check yourself in some way. Keeping a written record is an excellent way to keep yourself honest and mindful; a chart acts as a reminder that allows you to keep your resolution active in your mind and to mark your progress. Also, seeing what you’ve achieved in the past is a powerful source of motivation for the future. Give yourself those gold stars!
4. Join with other people. Even more useful than keeping a chart is knowing that real, live people are cheering you on—and holding you accountable. Also, research shows that we enjoy activities more when we do them with other people.
5. Commit to an action. Studies show that taking an action, like signing a pledge or registering for a program, will help you hold yourself accountable for your resolutions.
People who are trying to make life changes such as losing weight are more likely to succeed when they tell others what they’re doing.Lose It! is an excellent tool that makes it quick and convenient to combine all these strategies.
With Lose It! you can easily track the food you eat and the calories you consume every day—no more airy guesses. “Well, nuts are healthy, so it’s probably okay to eat as many as I want.” “Gosh, I haven’t eaten much today, I don’t think, so I deserve a brownie. Maybe two brownies. Okay, three.” “I pick up dinner at my favorite fast-food place a few times a week, and that’s probably...what? About 400 calories a shot?” Lose It! reminds you what you’ve eaten and tells you the consequences, so you can make choices that support your resolutions.
Making better choices adds up over the long haul. We often overestimate what we can get done in a short amount of time—“I’m going to lose 8 pounds in 2 weeks!”—and underestimate what we can get done over a long period, by making small changes—“I’m going to lose 30 pounds this year.”
By keeping you accurate and accountable, Lose It! makes it easier to stick to your diet—or even better—eventually to give up food monitoring all together. We all want to reach a point where we eat healthfully, automatically, every day, without being “on a diet.”
Mindfulness is one of the keys to happiness, which is unfortunate for me because I’m not a very mindful person. But the Lose It! program can help anyone develop mindfulness while eating because it prompts us to pause, to think, and to appreciate our food.
Founding Father Benjamin Franklin is a patron saint for people trying to keep a resolution. During his life, in addition to signing the Declaration of Independence, investigating electricity, inventing bifocals, founding one of the first volunteer firefighting departments, and acting as ambassador to France, Franklin kept a chart of the thirteen qualities he wanted to cultivate. Once a day, he’d score himself on whether he’d observed such virtues as “temperance,” “silence,” “industry,” and “frugality.” Of this chart, he observed, “though I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet as I was, by the endeavor, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been had I not attempted it.”
While no book or mobile application can ensure that we’ll stick to our resolutions perfectly, they can help us to do better. And by doing better every day, we can work our way to healthier and happier lives.
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Top Customer Reviews
But in order for it to work, you really have to know how many calories you should be eating to lose weight for a person of your age, weight, height, and gender. This is where the app and/or website can help you by constantly recalculating your calorie needs as you lose weight, and reminding you on a daily, hourly basis of where you stand. I've astonished myself with my own success, so was very excited about getting the book to learn absolutely every idea I could find related to this topic, and after reading the book I still learned a lot of new things that will be valuable to me in the new year.
I own 9 books on losing weight, but I consider this book my crown jewel centerpiece of all of them that ties them all together in a very powerful meaningful way. All of the weight loss tips that people read about constantly are useless if they are not put into the context of an overall eating plan that monitors every last bite of food that you put into your mouth. Without a calorie counting plan, you are flying blind and are unlikely to succeed in a significant way.
What should have been hammered home a bit harder in the book was the huge resource that the app is in terms of keeping track of calories vs simply writing them down. I could never have achieved this weight loss by writing things down because I would have never been able to keep all the paper handy, and it would have been very tedious to get the information quickly. The app works because it makes this task very streamlined, such that after you build up your food database with the foods that you eat, you can log it all in in a few seconds. The app does the math, has a huge database of food to look calories up, and it summarizes a lot of information effortlessly. That makes it EASY PEASY to track and record a mountain of valuable food information. Using the app/website, I've been able to record everything that I've eating in the past 9 months, and that is a VERY POWERFUL IMPORTANT database. Prior to 2010, I had no clue what I was eating in terms of calories, or why I was eating too much or where the problem areas were. Once you start tracking it, it all becomes very clear, and you learn how to make smarter choices. The book points out this powerful truth, and I know from experience that it is 100% true.
Another thing that I like about this book is that they stick to the truth, and don't try to spew out a lot of weight loss nonsense. All of the information is valid as far as I can see. With this book, the reader the "trick" of losing weight will immediately become clear. Prior to encountering these ideas, I was stuck navigating through a lot of "noise" in the weight loss world, basically just navigating with a hope and a prayer. Weight loss tips without a centrally managed overall calorie tracking eating plan are basically useless and this is what keeps people fat.
There are a lot of inspiring examples in the book of how some small changes made to a person's diet will add up to significant weight loss in the long term. I have experienced this first hand, and it is very exciting to see fat fly off your body as the weeks and months go by.
This is NOT just another weight loss book to be buried in with lots of other weight loss books advocating this or that. This should be the CROWN JEWEL CENTER PIECE WEIGHT LOSS BOOK The authors of this book are much too modest. This book is an extremely valuable powerful tool that explains why calorie counting is a necessity in today's world, why it works, and how to do it. What is not emphasized enough is why the "loseit" app/website is such a wonderful resource. Once a person makes loseit.com their home on the net, and makes it a part of their life, THEN all the other books on weight loss make sense, and will also help them reach their goal. But weight loss tips, and tips on exercise in and of themselves without a total overall CENTRALLY FOCUSED MONITORED CALORIE EATING PLAN are pretty much useless, since your brain and body will find a way to defeat your best efforts if you are flying blind. A lot of would be weight loss candidates don't seem to understand or accept this, and it is their downfall. You can know all the weight loss tips in the world, but you still have to face the same question every day: "what am I going to eat today?". If you don't know whether or not you can eat that nice piece of chocolate cake, you are likely to either deprive yourself of it and later over indulge, or over indulge and eat the chocolate cake plus 3 butter tarts. You start to relax once you calculate that you can in fact eat the chocolate cake and still lose weight because you know exactly where you stand. You'll know exactly what your calorie deficit is today, this week, and this month. You'll be able to see concrete results, and that's what it is all about.
If a person reads this book, uses the iphone/ipod app, or uses the loseit website, or another similar calorie counting website, things will start to fall in place, and THEN they will be able to make sense of all of the other weight loss books and tips out there. It is as though a veil is lifted away from their eyes, and they can see very clearly what all of their mistakes were, often little mistakes, and it will be strong incentive to make the changes that will result in significant weight loss.
At the beginning of 2010, I thought that I was a hopeless case, and that this sort of weight loss for me was impossible or else something that I could never do until I retired and basically lived in the gym. I never started until April 1st of 2010, and then I just started playing with the loseit app hoping that maybe I could lose 10 lbs. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I'd be able to shave off 85 pounds off my body. This little app and website suddenly revolutionized my entire life. It's THAT important, that simple, and that POWERFUL. This book works best when used with the loseit.com website, and together, they are a super powerful weightloss secret weapon. Those who don't understand this will probably remain fat, and in awe of those who do finally learn this.
Weight loss is a lot more about INFORMATION than it is about will power. People who don't understand this try too hard, thinking that they can force their way to slimness. You can't force your way down to significant weight loss because your instincts will get the best of you. The trick is to slowly drain off the fat such that you don't even notice that you're cutting back ever so slightly. The road to success because clear once you have a blueprint in front of you.
I lost 7 lbs in the first 2 months, and I'll reach my goal in 3 more months.
The Lose It! App is excellent and very easy to use!
The Lose It! book is filled with solid strategies supported by statistics for weight loss, such as:
*Calorie reduction leads to weight loss, and if a fad diet works it's because there is calorie reduction involved.
*Calorie reduction is most important, and exercise helps a lot, too.
*Nearly half of Americans underestimate the calories they eat in a day, and many overestimate the calories used in exercise/work.
These are things I liked about the book:
*It made it clear that when given the right tool for weight loss (the power to really and easily track each calorie) we can!
*Chapter One is subtitled Calories Unmasked, and points out we can make educated decisions: A Starbuck's Grande Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha Espresso is 500 calories; 1 slice of Meat Lover's Pan Pizza from Pizza Hut is 480 calories, etc.
*Chapter Three, subtitled Unleashing Your Inner Athlete, is excellent and includes suggested routines as well as photos of certain exercises. If you need some fundamentals on working out, and some solid routines here it is.
*Chapter Five is Identify Your Type with some solutions to these problems. This was interesting, here they are:
1. The Weekender lives by the book all week and throws it out the window on the weekend.
2. The Calorie Drinker believes that liquids don't count so thinks the large coke at 400 calories is nothing (they suggest mixing 1/4 coke with 3/4 diet coke).
3. The Low Hanging Food Grabber gets calories where they are left out at work, at home, at a friends, leftovers from the kids, etc.
4. The Stress Eater. Enough said.
5. The Judger isn't losing weight and thinks it can't happen to them. Chances are it has to do with portion size, nibbling, overestimating calories exercised, etc.
The book is filled with solid and excellent ideas. There are success stories in it, such as people losing over 100 lbs, how they did it, and how they feel empowered to keep it off.
The Lose It! Application works. If you are going through a lifestyle change, get the book, too! If you are already up to date and healthy with your diet and exercise, it's not really needed.