Category Archives: Goals

I Can Make You Thin – My Review

Dr. Martin Russell blog i can make you thin review

[I wrote this as a review on Amazon back in January 2009. It is as relevant today as it was then. Enjoy!]

For almost 3 years now I have been handing this 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.

I am *delighted* that “I Can Make You Thin: The Revolutionary System Used by More Than 6 Million People” is finally available on rather than having to hunt it from the UK site. The long wait is over!

At the risk of making this book seem too 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 “I Can Make You Thin” reviews that dismiss the 4 rules as just obvious common sense. I’m not sure what common sense they can really mean since the rules make a mockery of the majority of get thin/lose weight 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 cover pages are a bit hypey, but the inside is less so. The book is refreshingly thin, jargon-free, and entertaining.

McKenna’s style also involves techniques such as tapping (TFT/EFT), 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 geewiz psych techniques won’t help if you have the wrong model as I suspect most NLPers do.

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

Most people can go over 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 book alone truly is comprehensive (unlike watching YouTube videos or reading this review.) Indeed the updates have covered the two or three remaining gaps I had found before, including the extra information for self-sabotage issues.

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 🙂

Oh and then come back here and add your own review. Let people know what your results have been, whatever they are. No one book/CD can fit everyone but “I Can Make You Thin” deserves way more reviews from people just like you who have been wondering if this might just be what you need.

[Footnote: As I re-read this now in 2012 there is very little I would say more. If you are local to me in Adelaide then I am available for personal 1-on-1 work or just to get you a copy of this book so contact me here, otherwise you can get the book from a library, local store or from]

Financial Self Help

There is a reason that is titled ‘Self Help 101’.

Self Help is what I am passionate about for you most of all.

And there are many areas for self help I want to offer, for example:
– mental / psychological (of course)
– physical health
– spiritual / religion (yes, really)
– relationships
– but also, financial.

All these are crucial to being able to take care of yourself, AND be in a better position to help others too.

Next week end if you can get away from Fringe events and public holiday weekend plans, I thoroughly recommend getting to this event on Sat/Sun March 6-7.

This will be the official Adelaide launch of the new book – ‘Think and Grow Rich Cashflow”. When you attend the 2-day event you but also get a free copy and have it signed by the author, Stuart Zadel, who is also the Australian publisher of the classic self help book “Think and Grow Rich”.

[Stuart is also someone I have gotten to know over the past couple of years, and have sought out for advice for my own financial future.]

In 2009 he released a hugely popular book called… “Think and Grow Rich In Property”. The response was absolutely overwhelming; all five of his capital city launches completely sold-out in weeks. (And there actually ended up being 9 launches as he had to re-host four of them to cope with the demand).

Now it’s time for the release of what’s sure to be his next ‘Best-Seller’, “Think & Grow Rich Cashflow”. This live event will not only be your chance to get a complimentary copy of the book, but actually hear from the individuals who’ve put together the 6 amazing strategies you can start implementing to increase your cashflow in 2010.

That’s it really… The event is free, and the opportunity is priceless!

So to make sure you don’t miss out, like so many did for the Think And Grow Rich events last year, visit

As with all the self-help options I will ever recommend, this one will also give you advantages in other areas of your life too.

Not only is Stuart Zadel an international-quality presenter, he is also a wonderful guy in person too.

It saddens me that something as crucial to everyday life as money, is ignored by the school system.

Think of all the kids already in debt, living beyond their means, and using credit cards to survive. Heck a big percentage of adults live this way too!

Get others to go with you, or if you can’t attend, get them to go and tell you what it was like.

Get around people who are interested in self help, financially, and otherwise, with their next visit at

Yes, I’ve had my wife, sister-in-law and a niece go to one of the events last year. My niece was just 16 when I got her to go. It’s taken me twice that many years to learn this stuff.

[Do you want a free physical copy of the Think and Grow Rich book? Of course you do. Just click this link to get your copy, and find out also why this book is being given away for free.]


– Dr Martin Russell

A Dieting New Year’s Resolution For 2010.

Turned on the TV this morning and the breakfast host is extolling a vegetable soup recipe.

Apparently people have been desperately wanting to know more about this recipe that claims to help people lose weight between Christmas and New Year.


I have no problem with soup. I have a problem with the TV program promoting a yo-yo eating approach.

Ah well, when people get desperate what can you do?


What about an alternative to commit to instead.

Search out weight loss on this blog, or sign up to my local Adelaide list and email me.

And set about creating a new New Year’s Resolution.

An end to yo-yo dieting in 2010!

Oh, and the other items on my 2009 New Year Real-Solutions list are as relevant as ever today:

-Martin Russell

Self Help… Thinking Bigger

Self help can often seem very individual and isolated.

However when I say ‘self help’ it includes the idea that no man/woman is an island.

If you are reading this then chances are you are in a very priviledged position compared to most of the 6+ billion humans on this planet.

There is an entire world around us and lots of other people in that world too.

As individuals our fates are often tied to the people, culture, financial system, politics etc etc around us.

However if you don’t take these bigger factors into account, your own individual efforts can end up swamped by the tide of history.

One of these factors is this…

I do not believe that the next 20 years will be ANYTHING like the last 20 years.

What works today, will often NOT work tomorrow, because the future will not just be a straight line continuation of the past.

Helping yourself will show others that it is possible.

Helping yourself will also put you in a position to help people who haven’t planned for an altered future.

Like they say on airplanes safety instructions, “Please make sure you have your own oxygen mask on before assisting others.”

I encourage you in these turbulent times to view these videos here as a starter…

Take these bit by bit. Each one is a treasure of bigger thinking, and it is the best presented version I know of how thinking bigger can really be self help.

Oh, and just for the record, I only go along with with 95% of everything he says. I’ll let you judge what the 5% is.

-Dr Martin Russell

Exercise And Weight Loss… The Final Nail?

The problem with studying exercise for weight loss is that you can’t really disguise the exercise.

If exercise came in a pill you could do it.

You could get a big group of people and randomly give half the pill with exercise in it, and the other half a dummy, sugar pill that looks, smells, tastes etc just the same (aka a ‘placebo’.)

This is the scientific way to test whether pills works for weight loss.

But what about exercise?

It’s a bit hard to have a ‘dummy, sugar pill’ for physical activity. The sweating and heart-pumping bit sort of gives it away.

What this means is that for exercise for weight loss there is no way to do the gold-standard of a “double-blind, placebo-controlled” study.

Is this a problem?

Oh my wordy, YES!

Time after time it has been shown that the psychological power of medicines is a huge part of their overall effectiveness.

But is this specifically a problem for exercise and weight loss?

Well I only know of one good study that covers that question.

The researchers didn’t invent a dummy, sugar pill, but they did the next best thing as Ben Goldacre at Bad Science reports

Alia Crum and Ellen Langer from Harvard psychology department took 84 female hotel attendants in 7 hotels. They were cleaning an average of 15 rooms a day, each requiring half an hour of walking, bending, pushing, lifting, and carrying.

These women were clearly getting a lot of good exercise, but they didn’t believe it: 66.6% of them reported not exercising regularly, and 36.8% said they didn’t get any exercise at all.

The study abstract reports that one group of the hotel attendants was…

…told that the work they do (cleaning hotel rooms) is good exercise and satisfies the Surgeon General’s recommendations for an active lifestyle. Examples of how their work was exercise were provided.

Subjects in the control group were not given this information.

Although actual behavior did not change, 4 weeks after the intervention, the informed group perceived themselves to be getting significantly more exercise than before.

As a result, compared with the control group, they [the hotel attendants who were told that their cleaning job was in fact ‘exercise’] showed a decrease in weight, blood pressure, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio, and body mass index.

These results support the hypothesis that exercise affects health in part or in whole via the placebo effect.

Now here is the really interesting bit.

HOW MUCH weight did people lose in 4 weeks merely by being thinking they were exercising?

These details are from PsyBlog

The average weight of those in the intervention group reduced from 145.5 lbs to 143.72 lbs. Over the same period the control group showed no significant change. For those of you working metric-style that’s 66.14 kg down to 65.33 kg.

That’s weight loss of almost 2 pounds, just under 1 kilogram, in just 4 weeks.

Not bad huh, for doing nothing extra?

So here’s the kicker.

Doesn’t that sound scarily similar to the 1 kilogram or 2.5 pounds in 12+ weeks that is the ENTIRE benefit of exercise anyway?!!!

[If you didn’t know this was all exercise does, see my previous post with the scientific evidence.]

Exercise, if done for weight loss alone, has suddenly become not just a minor factor, but instead an utter waste of time!

Could this really be the final nail in the exercise / weight loss coffin?

Massive industries of gyms, fitness equipment manufacturers, personal trainers etc etc hope it’s not true.

But what is there left that could resurrect exercise as a real weight loss tool?

If any one knows, I’m all ears.

-Dr Martin Russell

The ‘Fat Bomb’ Cometh

In the world Olympic event for obesity, apparently the US has been dethroned.

Turns out in the “Australia’s Future Fat Bomb” Report as splashed across The Age newspaper that Aussies have put in a gold medal winning performance. This report finds that 26% of Australians are obese (BMI >30 ie significantly overweight) just pipping the US at 25%.

And Aussies haven’t even got the same extent of Super-Super-Size me options yet.

Australia, we can do better!

Seriously, if we are to believe the “eat less, exercise more” mantra then this result is a fluke.

In terms of eating Australia seems to still be behind the US in oversized meals, take-away lifestyle, and the plethora of “diet” food alternatives to help us out.

And in exercise terms most of Australia has a much more favorable climate for participating in sport and getting out and being active than much of the US. Not much snow to keep most Australians stuck indoors for a winter.

I even understand that the levels of exercise activity and participation in sport in Australia have slightly increased over the past decade, so the trend is that Aussies should be getting thinner, shouldn’t they?

But no.

When 7 out of 10 middle-aged men, and 6 out of 10 middle aged women are overweight or worse (ie BMI >25) then epidemic is a reasonable word.

So what is really going on?

My suggestion is that the seemingly obvious idea of “eat less, exercise more” idea is actually deeply flawed.

The calories in, calories out model of human bodies is incorrect. We are not machines.

Just take the most obvious example – calories out with exercise.

How much weight do you lose by exercising?

What do gyms tell you? What do “health experts” make you believe? What are you hoping for when you start on an exercise program?

Forget theoretical calorie counting, what’s the reality?

Well fortunately this is an easy piece of scientific research, and the studies have been done many times and the collated results over many good quality studies show a consistent result…

You will lose, on average, 1 kilogram or about 2-3 pounds.

That’s all.

And that’s not per week or per month, that’s forever.

This comes from the most well-reputed body for summarizing medical research, and the studies are consistent all the way from 3 month programs out to a full year…

But there is a slight ray of hope.

If you increase to really vigorous exercise you can make it 1.5 kilograms or almost 4 pounds of weight loss. Yeah, go kill yourself for that extra pound!

Exercise is great for improving fitness, living longer, toning up and improving mood, but it’s yet another disappointment for most people in trying to lose weight.

Once gyms face up to this fact, they will stop having the reputation of churn and burn, and will start realistically informing people of what results to expect. The first gym that seriously does this will remove much of the “buyer’s remorse” in gym memberships, and also build a lasting trust with their clients. It’s a slower dollar, but more repeat business.

That’s just the “calories out” side of the equation.

I have been taking the last couple of months to do free public talks about the “Myths and Facts of Weight Loss”.

Exercise for weight loss is one of the most pervasive myths around, and yet it is one of the easiest to answer in the literature.

If you are current taking advice about your weight, does your health expert know these facts about exercise?

Most either overstate the weight loss you can expect, or they give vague and “it depends” answers. The results however are clear. The “exercise myth” is my test for whether someone is advising based on the research, or based on beliefs.

If you want to know what to do instead of exercise and “eating less”, then follow the 4 habits/rules from this book I reviewed.

If you are in Australia, I can send you a book direct rather than from Amazon in the US. Just email or phone me.

If you are even closer to home for me in Adelaide, and want to be notified of future public talks, events and more, then you can enter your details here…

Either way, you’ll be hearing more about this.

-Dr Martin Russell

Following Up

Last year in September I wrote about a 47-year old professor, Randy Pausch, and his inspirational “Last Lecture” following his diagnosis with pancreatic cancer.

If you want to know why death is such an important part of being human, then view the video on my previous post.

Back then he had wide publicity, from Good Morning America to Oprah, from ABC World News to The Wall Street Journal.

So now for an update.

Just two weeks ago on February 15th Randy passed a special milestone…

“It was August 15th, 2007, when I was told I likely had “three to six months of good health left.”

Today is six months from that day.


The doctors weren’t wrong; they always said that if the palliative chemo worked, I’d buy more time, but that it was a long shot. And the doctors have done a brilliant job of tweaking my regimen to help my odds. How much longer this will work is hard to know, but I’m going to keep having fun every day I have left, no matter how many or how few of them I get.”

Randy had planned to give the lecture and then move interstate with his wife and family to spend his remaining time creating memories for them.

It didn’t work out as planned.

Yes he has moved, and yes he has taken his family, and yes he has also created some great memories with them. His website has the pictures to prove it.

But he also hit upon a nerve with his “Last Lecture”. The video was viewed over a million times in the first month, and currently on Google video has 4994 comments, and almost a 5 star rating.

This has given Randy a different addition to his plan for living and dying.

In January a book that fleshes out details from The Last Lecture came out and you can find it here:

What next with this?

I don’t know.

But when I spent 3 months working in palliative care I liked the medical term for when cancer goes away.


Or, put another way, Re – Mission. Finding once again a purpose for life.

Who knows how much of what has happened with Randy is from the various treatments he has been trialed with, how much is his own personal health and fitness work, and how much is just sheer luck.

But if Randy does live on for a long time, then re-mission will be a very apt term.

Even more so because of Randy’s passion for Star Trek, and his childhood dream to be like Commander Kirk leading all those missions!

Could it really be that it is cancer will help him to achieve a childhood dream?

-Dr Martin Russell

Hints For New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions are a self help cliche.

New Year’s Resolutions have the biggest reputation for not working out, despite being one of the most common goal setting methods.

If you want to invoke cynicism just say, “This is my New Year’s Resolution!”

So what do I recommend?

Well hint one is, keep all this in perspective.

I suspect that goals made as a New Year’s Resolution, are just as likely to not work out as any other goal. The difference is more likely to be that a resolution made at New Year’s is often commonly mentioned to others, and the “failure” is therefore more public.

It is also a goal setting moment that you remember, because of the association with the New Year. So the achievements, or lack of them, are more obvious too.

So I suspect New Year’s Resolutions should attract no more cynicism than goal setting generally.

Hint two.

It’s worth considering the alternative to hyped-up New Year’s Resolutions.

Most people don’t have an alternate way to DELIBERATELY plan their life. They don’t set time to review how things have gone, what they want to achieve, and how they can do things differently in future to improve.

What most people end up with is either a haphazard process, driven by what they just came across on TV, read in a book, or got told by a friend, or worse, they have a crisis-driven process where they get to a point where something gets so bad that they finally crack and set out on a new track.

Neither haphazard, nor crisis-driven, are ideal ways to change your life. They are better than no change at all if change is needed, and in fact most people come to me for counseling based on reaching a point of crisis.

Perhaps it would be better however if people came to me more on the basis of a New Year’s Resolution.

So to the third hint.

New Year’s Resolutions are fine if you take the learning one further step.

Sure, set your resolution(s). But as you do so also use this as a time to rate and seek to improve your overall ability to manage and design your life.

Reflect on any past New Year’s Resolutions, and check what the results have been. Base your expectations for the success of this year’s resolutions on your past results.

Work out how you might improve on whatever the results were.

Overall, use the New Year’s Resolutions themselves as a way of practicing and learning about what works, and doesn’t work, for you.

Then you can fail to achieve each and every one of your resolutions for the New Year, and still have success by learning what works better for you.

That skill will advantage you more and more for the rest of your life.

Oh and there is also the skill of tapping in to cynicism, and using a ‘negative’ emotion to your advantage. That’s also a good advantage to get from New Year’s Resolutions.


-Dr Martin Russell