Category Archives: Weight Loss

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 Amazon.com 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 Amazon.com.]

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.

Yuk!

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?

Hmm.

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:

http://www.drmartinrussell.com/the-top-5-new-year-real-solutions-for-2009/

-Martin Russell

Phentermine For Weight Loss – My Story

As I was cleaning out some of my old medical files I came across a couple of letters from 1998 about the weight loss drug phentermine.

Back in 1998 I was reading the material of a medical organisation called MaLAM, which monitors and lobbies pharmaceutical companies on their advertising.

Always a fascinating read, but this time they had sent a letter to 3M Pharmaceuticals with questions about their Duromine brand of phentermine.

Phentermine has been around as a weight loss medication since the 1959, and is only recommended for short-term use eg 3 months at most.

The first question was the kicker…

“1. Does 3M have any evidence that the short-term of [sic] Duromine leads to long-term reduction in weight, total morbidity and total mortality?”

ie does Duromine work?

And 3M’s reply…

“…there is no evidence in the medical literature or from 3M studies suggesting that long term reduction in weight, total morbidity and total mortality can be expected from the use of short term adjunctive appetite suppression with phentermine.”

Hmm.

So did 3M just say phentermine is useless?

That’s how I read it.

This letter was the moment I stopped using the currently available medications for weight loss.

That left me with only lifestyle options to offer my patients and I’ve written before about my issues with exercise and dieting.

But today in 2009 maybe something has changed for phentermine in the past 10 years.

Nup.

Wikipedia still says, “Since the drug was approved in 1959 there have been almost no clinical studies performed. The most recent study was in 1990…” ie well before this 1998 letter.

Sad. Really sad.

Go read my Amazon review if you want an alternative.

-Dr Martin Russell

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The LAP-BAND Solution

No, this is not my line.

The LAP-BAND Solution: A Partnership in Weight Loss” is the title of a book by Australian surgeon Dr Paul O’Brien which I read with interest when one of my patients found it in a library and showed it to me.

Since the start of 2007 I have been doing public talks on the myths and facts about weight loss.

The key question I ask people at those talks is this…

What would you advise someone who wanted to lose a SIGNIFICANT amount of weight LONG-TERM?

By which I mean, what actually works to lose >10% of bodyweight for >5 years.

People will come back with all sorts of answers.

I’d love to be able to say it was some sort of psychological intervention, but I can’t (more on this later.)

The fact is that the only research-PROVEN answer is an operation.

There are a few types of stomach operations for weight loss, also known as bariatric surgery, but to my mind they fall into two camps; ones that irreversibly rearrange the gut in some way, and ones that leave your insides intact and put in some sort of stomach banding instead.

The commonest operation of the first type is called gastric bypass surgery, and it is popular in the US.

The most well-known of the gastric banding type is LAP-BANDing (TM), and it is the most popular in Australia.

In “The LAP-BAND SolutionDr Paul O’Brien is described as one of the originators of this device, and has extensive experience in academic, research, and professional areas of obesity and bariatric surgery.

The book therefore promised to be an authoratitive text, and also very pro-LAP BAND(TM). It was both of these.

It is also fairly readable which is a nice bonus too.

The best bit about finding people who have one solution to a problem, is to listen to what they say about other suggested solutions. They will tend to be scathing.

Here’s what Paul O’Brien says about drugs…

The long-term efficacy is poor and the long-term safety is unknown … the average weight loss after 1 year of orilistat [Xenical] is about 7 lb (3 kg) and for sibutramine [Meridia or Reductil] is 10 lb (4.5 kg) … these results are just not good enough.

Here’s what he has to say about weight loss by dieting and lifestyle modification…

The commercial weight-loss centers have made fortunes by promising excellent weight loss through various twists on the “lifestyle” methods, and their constant advertisements always show the classic “before and after” pictures. Invariably, the “äfter” picture is only a few months after. They do not show the “after” pictures at 5 years.

A recent comprehensive review of all the high-quality scientific studies of the options for weight control has found that there is no evidence of a durable effect from any current lifestyle intervention methods for obesity.

The only problem with this statement is that the review he refers to is in fact from 1997. Not exactly ‘recent’ in my opinion.

Still, the last 11 years haven’t proven any better studies that I am aware of either.

[The approach I recommend has not been proven in the research, and since there is no pill or expensive program, ie no money in it, I very much doubt the required multi-year studies will ever be done.]

However, my patient was already losing weight without surgery.

She gave the book to me for an entirely different reason.

She pointed out that the book talks about patients with a LAP-BAND(TM) learning to eat in an entirely different way – a way that mimics many (but not all) of the things I recommend in my non-surgical, non-dieting approach.

This is really interesting.

What if surgery is merely an extreme way to change someone’s eating behaviors?

I don’t think that is all of the effect, but I certainly think it is some of it, and maybe all of the long-term lasting results.

Why would I say this?

Because I have worked with people who lost weight with surgery, but then gained much of it back again. Their results didn’t last, and I then teach them the additional changes.

Every method of weight loss reports some successes.

Some of people even keep the weight off long-term.

A few become celebrities (eg Biggest Loser winners) and their new life then depends upon keeping the weight off. That might help as motivation.

But I think there are another group of people who discover a few other tips and habits that give them the success they need – effortlessly.

I think they discover, albeit accidentally, the non-dieting method that naturally thin people live unconsciously and automatically.

If you are over-weight enough to qualify for surgery, then it certainly is worth pursuing. In the US you might need to push to get access to LAP-BAND(TM) because apparently insurance companies are still trying to avoid paying for this, but I agree with Dr O’Brien that it is a better option than gastric surgery, if for no other reason than it is entirely reversible.

But also know that you can make many of the same changes without surgery, and all for free!

Here’s how.

Enter your name and email address for the blog notification list at the top of the page here, and you will be sent a complete audio of all the steps I suggest.

[If you are in my home town of Adelaide, then you can get the Adelaidean-only emails with the same audio here instead.]

-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

Exercise For Weight Loss

There is so much misinformation around about the benefits of exercise, particularly in regard to weight loss.

But let’s use a bit of common sense, shall we?

When we get active ie exercise, we use up energy.

If you don’t eat more calories, then this energy has to come from your body stores ie from fat.

So exercising more will burn off fat, and you will lose weight.

Simple, isn’t it?

NO!!!

Common sense has failed you and everyone else who pushes this line of thinking.

Don’t kill the messenger. I’m just passing on the researched reality.

Exercise has a pitifully small weight loss advantage.

Mild to moderate exercise removes an average of less than 3 pounds / 1 kilogram.

Vigorous exercise produces barely any more weight loss at 4 pounds or 1.5 kilograms.

That’s all!

Now that isn’t to say exercise doesn’t have other important. It does.

Exercise tones up your muscles, improves your heart, is a more effective mood enhancer than anti-depressants, helps you live longer, among other benefits. Pretty important if you ask me.

It’s just that exercise isn’t all it’s cracked up to be for losing weight.

This totally non-commonsense finding is systematically proven by a review of all the best literature on exercise put together by the most authoritative research collation body in the world, the Cochrane Collaboration. They are not sponsored by medical companies so they are uniquely independent reviewers.

The header of their “Exercise for overweight or obesity” review does indeed say…

We found that exercise has a positive effect on body weight

But buried lower down in the sleep-inducing technical details they admit how miserably small the weight loss is…

When compared with no treatment, exercise resulted in small weight losses across studies. Exercise combined with diet resulted in a greater weight reduction than diet alone (WMD – 1.0 kg; 95% confidence interval (CI) -1.3 to -0.7). Increasing exercise intensity increased the magnitude of weight loss (WMD – 1.5 kg; 95% CI -2.3 to -0.7).

The small weight loss is the same whether you exercise for 6 weeks, 12 weeks, 6 months or 12 months!

Not only that but no matter what type of exercise it is, the results are still unerringly the same.

You can check out the full study here.

In summary.

When someone, a gym instructor, a personal trainer, a friend, a health adviser, or even a medical authority, tells you that exercise will help you lose weight, I invite you to challenge them.

Ask them how much weight they think exercise will help you lose and watch them ignore your question, squirm, or outright invent stuff.

If they disagree with the study above then have them send their research proof to me. No one has yet.

Bust the myth-making.

Truth is that yes, on average, exercise will lose you weight. Just not much.

-Dr Martin Russell

The Diet Spring Clean

Welcome Readers, old and new … it’s Spring in the Southern Hemisphere!

Time for that famous phrase “spring clean” – making sure things are not just tidied away or half-done, but thoroughly cleaned out ready for summer.

Do you want to lose weight, a little or lots?

Do you want to stop feeling guilty, or ‘out of control’ around food?

Have you tried eating differently, and either it was great for a while but then fell back, or it simply didn’t get the results you wanted at all?

Then this is could well be for you.

But What Is A ‘Diet Spring Clean’ ???

Thanks to Radio 5AA’s Amanda Blair, who herself ended up using just such a non-dieting approach through her own trial and error, for letting me announce this on her show on Sept 24 and recommending people come here to find out more.

I’m anti-diet, because for 95+% of people they don’t work in the long term.

People who go on diets are likely to regain all the weight they lost if not more, AND end up feeling bad and guilty about their eating as well.

Not a good result!

So instead, I’m proposing a whole clean-out of your approach to your weight, what you eat (the original meaning of the word diet before “the industry” took it over), the way you eat, your mindset, and food in general – a total “diet spring clean”.

What could possibly sweep clean aside all those rules, restrictions, “healthy” hints, nutrition tips, calorie counting, and “helpful advice” that infests the media, our friends and families, and often ourselves?

Four simple steps…

  • Step 1.  When you are hungry, eat.
  • Step 2.  Eat what you want (NOT what you think you should.)
  • Step 3.  Savour every mouthful.
  • Step 4.  When you are full, stop.

That’s it. Really.

No pills. No surgery. No meal replacements, shakes, supplements, counting, points, calories, carbs etc etc etc aaaAARFGH! Stop!

Everything else is unnecessary clutter and garbage, until and unless you have these 4 steps in place.

Skeptical?

Good. I would be too.

In fact I was very skeptical when I first came across this, and I needed to know much more.

I’ve set up a way for you to learn more too. There is an interview with complete detail of the 4 steps packed into a short 27 minutes, and it’s all yours completely for FREE.

Simply put in the details so we can send you local Adelaide details including the interview. Type in your name, email address, and click Send.

Full Name:

Email Address:

-Dr Martin Russell

8 Glasses Of Water Daily. Really?

One of the most recurring health wisdoms is that you need to drink 8 glasses of water daily.

Also known as the 8×8 (8 glasses of 8 ounces each) or 2 Litres of water daily.

I seems to make sense to so many people, including bottled water sellers, that for many people it is pure common sense.

From my medical training I already liked to tell people who tried to convince me to have my 8 daily glasses, the stories of people who died from “water intoxication” including a spate of deaths in my own state from people trying to avoid the dehydration when they took the party drug, Ecstasy.

On a more personal level, this idea of 8 daily glasses of water ended for me when I watched the “Lawrence of Arabia” movie and watched an Englishman train himself to drink water like a desert-living Arab.

Of course this was a movie, not science.

But often movies are better than science for personal change anyway.

Still the idea of 8 glasses of water on a daily basis has been put to the test by researchers, and in summary – the idea doesn’t hold water.

The most complete study was this year in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

The best thing about this study was that they specifically addressed the 4 key health benefits proposed for 8 glasses of water daily: that it leads to more toxin excretion, improves skin tone, makes one less hungry and reduces headache frequency.

All these had no scientific evidence of benefit, and the closest was the question of affecting appetite where two studies disagreed with each other, and the researchers considered it was worth looking into further.

Of course this all begs one question.

Where did this daily water myth come from?

An excellent review paper in 2002 in the American Journal of Physiology suggested a possible source. Professor Valtin proposed that…

…the notion may have started when the [US] Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council recommended approximately “1 milliliter of water for each calorie of food,” which would amount to roughly two to two-and-a-half quarts per day (64 to 80 ounces). Although in its next sentence, the Board stated “most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods,” that last sentence may have been missed, so that the recommendation was erroneously interpreted as how much water one should drink each day.

Myth busted. There is no scientific basis for a recommendation of 8 glasses of water a day.

So what’s my advice?

I say decide for yourself.

[What do you expect on a self help blog, really.]

More specifically, figure out how to know when you are thirsty. The signals for wanting water in are as clear-cut as the ones for wanting water out. We just seem to get better trained on the full bladder than we do on the parched lips.

Then have what ever you feel like; water, other fluids (even caffeinated ones), or foods that have water in them.

If adding a bit more water than that helps you with headaches, skin tone, appetite etc go for it.If it doesn’t then don’t.

-Dr Martin Russell

Weight Loss Radio Podcast

The big splash last week about Australia being a gold-medal contender in the Obesity Olympics ain’t true.

The official stats from the OECD that came out at the start of 2008 (as pointed out to me by an observant patient of mine) show the US is 1st, Mexico 2nd, UK 3rd and Greece 4th.

Australia was a measly 5th.

Even if the new study I mentioned in “The Fat Bomb Cometh” found a new figure that is higher for Australia, it still lags behind US and Mexico.

However all is not lost. Australia is catching up. Obesity rates have tripled in the last 20 years, whereas in the US they’ve only doubled.

Seriously, no matter where in the world you are weight and eating are still important issues, and the most popular talk-back radio station in my local town caught up on the idea and one of their presenters, 5AA’s Amanda Blair, invited me in for a chat.

Weight loss. The myths, facts, and what you can really do to make it happen.

Listen in on the podcast here (or Right Click and Save it)…

http://podcast.fiveaa.com.au/afternoon080623.mp3

[NOTE: Unfortunately 5AA has taken down this podcast. For full details about what I was discussing on that program enter your details here.]

-Dr Martin Russell