Category Archives: Foundations

Weight Loss Self Help

This entire blog is about self help. Weight loss is a key self help area where people often try, and about 80-95% of the time they fail.

But THEY don’t fail. In my opinion the METHODS they are using for weight loss are the failure. They don’t help for most people!

In typing this I am literally at a loss for words to express how vital this video’s message is below.

The entire western world needs to heed this weight loss call, from individuals, to health practitioners and to people in positions of wider influence. If you believe in self help then there is no more vital place to begin than by discovering what Paul McKenna is talking about.

In this promo video the important part is the specific 4 step approach to weight loss. See for yourself…

I reviewed McKenna’s book of this material on Amazon here.

-Dr Martin Russell

“I Can Make You Thin” by Paul McKenna – A Review

This is the first full book review I have ever done on this blog. I am delighted that it is a review for this book, because “I Can Make You Thin” makes an historic contribution to weight loss and being naturally thin, and also to the entire field of self-help.

“I Can Make You Thin” - Paul McKennaFor almost 2 years now I have been handing this “I Can Make You Thin” book and ‘mind-reprogramming’ CD to every patient who comes to me to lose weight, or who is caught up in the mentality of diets, scales, cravings, or overeating.

At the risk of making this book seem overly simple, here are Paul McKenna’s 4 golden rules…
1. When you are hungry, eat.
2. Eat what you want (not what you think you “should”.)
3. Eat consciously and enjoy every mouthful.
4. When you are full stop.

I’ve seen other reviews that dismiss the 4 rules as just obvious common sense. I’m not sure what common sense they really mean since the rules conflict with the majority of weight loss approaches around. Rule 2 in particular certainly disagrees with the ‘common sense’ that I was taught as a medical doctor.

Even if the rules are common sense, McKenna needs to be given great credit for showing people HOW to live these habits. Hopefully you are buying this for the results, not just to have a fun read and a relaxing, new-wavy listen.

Yes, the title of “I Can Make You Thin”, the pose McKenna has on the front, and the text on the back are bit over the top, but the inside is less so. The book is refreshingly thin :), jargon-free, and entertaining.

McKenna’s style also incorporates techniques such as tapping (TFT), hypnosis and NLP . Hypnosis is what first made Paul famous, and I’ve seen NLP Practitioners review this and say they knew all of these tricks before. In NLP terms Paul is saying that the Golden Rules are the “model” for being “naturally thin”. Just knowing all the techniques won’t help if you have the wrong model.

Importantly, you don’t need any of these techniques to apply the 4 golden rules and lose weight.

Most people can go the book & CD, discover the Aha moments, and get started on transforming their relationship with food and their weight straight away.

There might be a group of people that could eat according to the 4 rules and not be thin, but I agree with what Paul says. For myself, I’m yet to meet such a person.

I have counseled people who thought it didn’t work for them, but it turned out they hadn’t gotten the rules into their behavior, so here are some extra pointers…

  • Just listening to the CD over and over doesn’t seem to be enough. The book plays a big part too. Expect to re-read the book at least once. You can succeed without the CD, so if it doesn’t suit you, no sweat.
  • Don’t add more rules. Extra rules almost always conflict with the four golden rules. Must eat breakfast? No. Just eat when you are hungry. Have to eat only fresh food? Check you really want to eat it, and whether you might want to eat anything else a bit more. Etc, etc.
  • Having trouble visualizing? Just act ‘as if’ you are visualizing, or on the CD just leave it to Paul.
  • Don’t make exercise the focus. Improved fitness will improve your chances of living longer, but unfortunately the best research evidence is that exercise doesn’t help much in losing weight. Keep to the four rules, which are all about food and getting back in control.
  • If you have a question or a difficulty, the answer is somewhere in the book. The information truly is comprehensive (unlike watching YouTube videos or reading this review.) Indeed this updated version covered the two or three remaining gaps I had found before, including the extra chapter which covers self-sabotage.

In summary, McKenna is not the only person to propose this way of eating, but his is the most accessible version I know about. His is also the most likely to reach out from the page and permanently change your thinking and your behavior, and thereby your weight.

You can buy his measly book just to prove Paul wrong 🙂


So that is my review of “I Can Make You Thin” by Paul McKenna.

Here’s what I would like you to do.

—> Do you think this review is helpful?

– Please go to the copy of this I have put up at Amazon, find the bottom of the review where it says “Was this review helpful to you?”, and click YES.

Rate this review on Amazon here.

—> Want to buy this book?

– It’s finally available on here!

– If you’re in Australia I have copies of this book for Aust$30 + $5 postage and handling (includes GST) or, as I mention in the review I supply them for free to people who come to see me.

You can phone my office on 08-8362 5500 for more details, or send $35 direct to PayPal@-you know the drill to take this bit with name, address and the name of the book.

Obesity, weight and food is an incredibly important self-help area. I cannot recommend Paul McKenna’s “I Can Make You Thin” strongly enough.

As with all self help, it’s now over to you.

-Dr Martin Russell

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Do You Have A Healthy Relationship With Your Emotions?

When people come to me with problems often they think of their problems as “irrational”.

The really interesting part is that their emotional response is always the bit that is irrational.

It doesn’t enter their minds that perhaps the most irrational part of what is going on is that they are they are believing their logical thinking.

Human beings are remarkable poor at using logic, despite all our efforts. We are incredibly self-deluding, and disturbingly unaware of most of what goes on in our lives.

So give your emotions a break.

Here is a first step to making sure you have a health relationship with your emotions.

Check for any emotional reactions that you think are “irrational”, or that you are “battling”.

I’m not going to try to convince you that your emotions are correct or that you should give in to them. I don’t know you or your emotions, and yes emotions aren’t always the most accurate guide either.

But here is the question.

Can you think of a time when that emotional reaction WOULD be exactly what you want to have happen in your life?

Emotions are part of the range of being human, so where do they fit appropriately into your life, even if only in rare circumstances.

If you are doing this as an academic exercise and don’t have a personal example, then let me set a few challenges for you.

Where would you like to have a phobia in your life?

Where would you like to hesitate more, or be confused?

Where would it be appropriate to have a craving in your life?

Where would you like to be more stubborn?

All these emotions have a place in a healthy human being. Rather than avoid them, how about figuring out where they fit for you?

-Dr Martin Russell

The Decade Of The Brain

When I was going through medical school it was a really exciting time in psychiatry.

Just as I began in medical school the new generation of anti-depressants arrived. Most famous of all was Prozac, which is still one of the most prescribed anti-depressants in the world.

Then the 1990s was called by US Presidential decree the “Decade Of The Brain”.

All very exciting.

Among the new scanning technologies, research findings, and biochemical breakthroughs there was one key outcome of this period that has forever changed psychiatry and neurobiology.

In the last years of the Decade of the Brain, it was discovered that human beings do in fact grow new brain cells. One key paper came out as late as October 1999.

This may not seem such a novel idea.

We are used to the rest of our body growing and adding new cells, but the brain was meant to be different.

The belief in medicine was that at a very young age you had produced all the brain cells you would ever have.

After that point you would slowly lose brain cells until you ran out. It was all downhill from there, so you best take good care of them and not kill them off with alcoho, drugs, or various forms of contact sport.

Somehow the brain was meant to be similar to teeth, or like female eggs cell in human ovaries where you start with a set number and they run down until menopause when they’re all gone.

Why the brain was more like ovaries and eggs, than like testicles and sperm, I never did work out.

But this turned out to be wrong.

All through the human brain we have nerve cells dividing and creating more neurons.

This new finding added enthusiasm for the idea that you could regrow nerve cells after strokes and spinal cord injuries.

This idea was most publicly promoted by ex-Superman actor, Christopher Reeve.

In practice regrowing nerve cells hasn’t turned out to be as simple as it sounds.

However in my work in counseling, this one breakthrough opened up a huge new vista of hope.

Suddenly all the permanency of the brain and it’s behaviors became up for grabs again. You didn’t just have to tell people about “growing new connections” which was already known to be true, but in fact there was no built-in decay process either. The brain could add more cells and by implication could change more radically than previously thought.

There was one additional message which was important for me and my work – important in fact for the thinking behind this blog too.

I don’t use it in counseling with patients, but I do use it as a fundamental piece of how I think about everything I do as a helping practitioner.

Here is the message:

  • The medicine I was trained in got it wrong!

Not just slightly wrong either. Totally, horribly, 180 degrees wrong.

They asserted an idea that the brain could not create new nerve cells because they couldn’t detect it. They took this lack of evidence and claimed it to be a truth.

What other basic assumptions is medicine wrong about even today?

Lots. You can be certain of that.

-Dr Martin Russell

The Other Forgiveness

In my therapy work I have pretty much given up using the word forgiveness.

Not because it is a bad idea – heck no. Forgiveness is a key self help skill for being an effective human being.

It’s just that the people who most need to use forgiveness in their lives, have also been the ones who have the most terrible and dangerously twisted misconceptions about what the term means.

It does NOT mean to continue to accept harm or damage to yourself.

It does NOT have anything to do with losing face, “weakening”, or giving in to someone.

I don’t suggest you have anything to do with that sort of corruption of “forgiveness”.

I am speaking to you direct.

If your first reaction to the idea of forgiveness is that is unsuitable or dangerous in your particular situation, then let me give you my firm opinion based on all my years of counseling…

  • You are EXACTLY the person who needs to understand what real forgiveness is, and you are wasting your life and knee-capping your chances of helping yourself, if you don’t get started on doing it correctly ASAP.

Here’s all the instruction manual you need to get started and done…

-Dr Martin Russell

Scientific Fraud

I was talking with someone about the need to get good research in a particular area of interest to him, and he dismissed me outright.

“Not only is research a waste of time,” he said, “I could get research done and published that proved whatever I wanted it to.”

“Then I’d get another study published and so on.”

Was this guy cynical?


Is he completely wrong?

Unfortunately not.

The history of fraud and falsification in the research literature is huge.

Yet how many times do you hear about the latest research, and really question if it was produced by outright fraud.

My favorite example is Gregor Mendel, the monk who in 1865 published experiments with growing peas, that demonstrated the basic principles of genetic inheritance.

It was pointed out however that his experimental results are in fact way too perfect to be true. The main reason why he is not totally rejected is because subsequent scientific results have shown he was correct. Being right saved him.

He might also have received some sympathy because no one in his lifetime took his results seriously, right or not. It wasn’t until the 20th century that his work was rediscovered and he was seen as a genius.

When I was going through medical school, one of the really interesting stories in science was the idea of “cold fusion”.

Two researchers with great scientific-type names, Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann at the University of Utah, had found a way to get the energy of the sun, out of water at almost room temperature.

This was jaw-dropping stuff.

The attempts at replicating their research came thick and fast and the debate raged across hundreds of different research reports because the idea was so enticing.

Now almost two decades has past and the hope of cold fusion has come to nothing.

Most of the recent scientific fraud and misadventure has received much less publicity, but regularly in the scientific literature there are retractions and accounts of people getting caught out in various ways.

In colleges and universities, the proven rate of fraudulent activity is pretty high. Most of this fraud is copying of other’s work, and at the higher levels of published scientific research, plagiarism like this can be a lot harder to get away with because people assessing the research already know much of what is in a particular field.

More importantly however, it’s not much of a leap from copying someone else’s work, to inventing it from scratch, or at least filling in the gaps and covering over the flaws in the work you have done.

With the world awash in so much information it’s not hard to imagine that such behavior would be easy to get away with, at least on a few occasions.

This is all just another thing to think about when you hear about the latest piece of research on your favorite topic.

Science is still human after all.

-Dr Martin Russell

3 Basic Things That Aren’t Understood

My father is an anesthetist, which means he puts people to sleep for their surgical operations.

We have been using anesthetics for surgery, childbirth etc since ether was recognized for this purpose back in the mid 1800’s. There are now about a dozen main general anesthetic agents, Nitrous oxide ie Laughing gas, Halothane, various forms of ethers and so on.

Millions of people go off to sleep each year, have their treatment, and wake up afterwards, and here is the kicker…

We have no idea how it happened!

Theories are all over the place, but it’s still guesswork as to how they did their job.

But time and time and time and again they do!

Go back and re-read the last 4 sentences, but substitute hypnosis for anesthetics. It is the same.

The theories for hypnosis are equally as poor, and in dispute, as those for anaesthetics. It’s hard to even define what hypnosis is in the first place.

Both hypnosis and anesthesia have been extensively applied, and heavily researched and studied.

Let me give you a third item that is even more basic.

Going to sleep.

We don’t even know how to explain what sleep is, or how we go from being awake to drifting off and falling asleep.

So consider this… What hope does a new or uncommon treatment have of being studied and actually understood, when we have so little ability to understand what we are already using?

Does that mean we throw away something because we don’t know HOW it works?

Well I’m very pleased to know general anesthetics are around if I need an operation, and my wife wouldn’t wish to have had her third child without hypnosis beforehand.

Personally we’re not going to wait until scientific knowledge catches up.

-Dr Martin Russell

Tim Ferriss On Weaknesses

In many ways this self help site is about bridging the divide between psychiatry and personal growth/self improvement.

So I watch the extremes of medical psychiatry, but I also watch the extremes of self improvement too. Tim Ferris is an example of the latter.

Tim Ferriss, author of the “4-Hour Work Week” is a really interesting guy, with a really interesting blog. The title of the blog is “Experiments in Lifestyle Design”. He literally means it.

Wacky, sometimes even wacko, and ruthlessly determined to take personal life to it’s limits.

The result?

Many things that will not suit most people, but here’s one I heartily endorse.

I use a variation of this technique when I work with people who are “stuck” in their lives.

To set the scene for this 3-step process, Tim is talking about the issue of starting up a company from scratch.

Perhaps that isn’t an issue in your life, but the steps are the same for anything that seems overwhelming or unachievable, and where pumping up the positives ain’t working for you.

How to re-evaluate your “weaknesses”?

1. Write down the positives of whatever you’ve been viewing as a negative. Don’t know anyone? You’ll be a fresh face and won’t have any strikes against you. No funding? It will force you to find the neglected options and set trends instead of following them.

…Hunger and desperation can be good things.

2. Consider the negatives of the opposites. What if you had too much funding? It would create a false sense of security and breed complacency, both of which are more fatal to a start-up than bootstrapping. It could also overexpose you before your product or service is ready. It could give investors too much influence over big decisions. Don’t assume more of something is 100% positive. It never is.

3. Look for dark horse role models.
“I can’t start a company — I’m too old.” Coronel Sanders started KFC after 40. The excuse doesn’t hold up. Can’t compete in sports because of a bum leg? Sprinter Oscar Pistorius has no lower legs and is aiming for the Olympics. You? For each reason for inaction you come up with, ask: has anyone overcome these or worse circumstances to do what I want to do? The answer is: of course.

Embrace your lack of resources, your weaknesses.

Far from a handicap, these are often the pressure points that will take you the furthest… if you’re able to use them instead of excuse them.

I know many of you will be cynical about doing such an obviously distorted exercise.

In fact I suggest you read Tim’s whole post to flesh out these ideas a bit more:

In some forms of therapy they would try and explain to you the distortion was really in your original thinking, not in these new perspectives.

When I work with people who have become “stuck” in some aspect of their lives, whether or not they have psychiatric labels such as depression or anxiety, I want you to know that I have not found this technique alone to be enough.

So if you are cynical, it’s probably because a part of you has recognized that this is not a complete piece of change-work.

Well spotted.

BUT… it is the best way I know of to loosen a “stuck” situation so that any and all other changes happen so much more easily.

So pick something you are “stuck” about, stick the cynicism in the back pocket for a moment… it will still be there for you when you’re done… and go back up and write out your responses to the steps above.

-Dr Martin Russell

Headaches Are Caused By…

When people come to me and complain about headaches, they usually are quick to suspect their headaches are caused by stress or some psychological worry.

After all if they thought their headaches were caused by something physical, that a physiotherapist could fix for example, they wouldn’t be seeing a psychological self help guy in the first place now would they.

However not every headache is caused by something physical or even something psychological, some are caused by…

“Aspirin-Deficiency Syndrome”.

Yes that’s right.

Perhaps you haven’t heard of Aspirin-Deficiency Syndrome before, however it is obvious that this is a cause of headaches, because rectifying the problem is a well known cure.

Simply take aspirin and more often than not your headache disappears, and that of course is because you are treating the fundamental cause of the headache ie aspirin-deficiency.

Unfortunately aspirin washes out of the body quickly so you need to keep taking it for the deficiency to be properly addressed.

Aspirin is a naturally occurring substance, although often deficient in the diet of many people in the world. For people who require a supplementation to their diet it can be conveniently found in the form of a tablet.

However aspirin-deficiency syndrome is not just a cause of headaches.

No. It is also a cause of all types of aches and pains, and even fevers and chills.

Aspirin-deficiency syndrome is a known factor in bowel cancer, heart disease, and even blood clotting disorders. It may even be an important factor in causing Alzheimer’s.

Here is short list of deficiency syndromes that can cause headaches:
– top of the list is Aspirin-deficiency Syndrome,
– Tylenol-deficiency syndrome,
– codeine-deficiency syndrome (sometimes confused as being withdrawal rebound headaches),
– caffiene-deficiency syndrome (also confused with withdrawal symptoms),
– manual-therapist-deficiency syndrome,
– bed-rest-deficiency syndrome…

Heck, ask your pharmacist to tell you what deficiency syndrome you have. Almost guaranteed, your headaches are caused by a deficiency of something they have on their shelves, and the cure follows from the diagnosis.

At least that’s the way alot of our society treats it. So hop on board.

-Dr Martin Russell

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