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Design your own weight-loss plan with the ‘Flex Diet’

Tired of constricting diets? In his new book, Dr. James Beckerman shares techniques to create a boutique weight-loss program that depends on your own needs and lifestyle. An excerpt.
/ Source: TODAY books

Tired of constricting diets? In his new book “The Flex Diet: Design-Your-Own Weight Loss Plan,” Dr. James Beckerman shares techniques to create a boutique weight-loss program that depends on your own needs and lifestyle. An excerpt:

Chapter 1: Start with a single pound
You are tired of the same old approach.

You have had enough of advertisements, pop-up ads, and celebrity endorsements. Your bookshelf is full of laminated cards, cookbooks, systems, how-tos, and self-helps. Your kitchen feels sugar-free, fat-free, and taste-free. You are distracted and maybe even disheartened, but still are planning to try again next Monday. And your pants don’t fit right.

You picked up this book because it’s time for a solution.

You might be browsing in the bookstore or on the Internet. You may have heard about this book from a friend. You may even be one of my patients. It doesn’t matter how you got here, as long as you get where you want to be.

You could be anyone. A bridesmaid-to-be or a recent college graduate dreading that first reunion. A new mom who wants to get off the baby weight. An executive on the road with a steady diet of steak and Scotch. A retiree who wants to spend more time out of the house. Or maybe you have just had a heart attack and are trying to make things right.

Welcome to the Flex Diet, a fresh approach to the same old problem. No calorie counting. No scales. No points. The Flex Diet operates on a simple principle that you can apply throughout your life: small changes yield big results. But they have to work for you. For the next eight weeks, you will choose among two hundred different Solutions to lose twenty pounds.

You already know that weight loss is not easy. No matter how you approach it, a diet requires you to change your life. That’s just being honest. But the Flex Diet is the first integrated weight loss program that lets you decide how you are going to do it.

People are not paradigms
People are by nature impatient. And there are a lot of diet books in recycling bins and landfills that will attest to that. With bookshelves and websites offering unlimited advice, there is too much noise, but there are not enough clear calls to action. Writers, gurus, and even doctors are so busy trying to sell us on the next big thing that they miss an opportunity to teach us skills that we can individually apply to our lives.

We end up treating weight loss like a game show instead of a path to wellness. Diets are things to “start” and to “be on,” and all the rewards, gold stars, and immunity challenges excite us into feeling as if we have already succeeded even if we never lose a single pound. This is great entertainment, but the problem is, once you tire of the gimmick, there has to be something there to keep you going.

Eating bacon-wrapped cheese-stuffed sausage rolls is not one of those things.

The reason it is so hard to maintain diets is that you feel you are making too much of a departure from the way you normally live your life in order to participate in a foreign ritual or system — and that is exactly why it is so easy to quit. And if you were to make one mistake, eat one wrong thing, or inhale too deeply in the bakery section, you might ruin this artificial world that has been created for you. Once you return to food “reality,” you remember that you like it. And the minute you put away the chart, lose the portion scale, or hide the flour substitute, you are back to raiding the pantry for Good N Plenty candies and then staring blankly in the mirror before deciding once again to start all over on Monday. But it’s not Monday that you should be worried about. It’s next Thursday, or that long tailgating weekend at the University of Desperation.

Don’t get me wrong. There are lots of great diet books out there that have helped people lose millions of pounds. But you need to know what you are getting yourself into. You can identify the fads by their hook, whether it be consuming fewer [insert food here], more [insert food here], or eating [more/less] frequently in [larger/smaller] portions until you go [insane/crazy]. Paradigm shifts work well when it comes to thinking about the shape of the Earth or how giraffes got such long necks, but not when it comes to strict rules about carbohydrates, “superfoods,” or protein shakes that belong in a science experiment rather than in your kitchen — or stomach.

People are not paradigms that can be shifted. The Flex Diet encourages you to be an individual, and it celebrates that fact by asking you to make the personal choices that will get you where you want to be — thinner, healthier, and more energetic. Individualized choices are more sustainable and more empowering than a rigid set of rules that can’t be followed by everyone. You can wrap your mind around the choices you make, and if some of them do not ultimately agree with your lifestyle, you can pass on them but still maintain a benefit from the eight-week program.

It’s time to introduce the Solutions. When I first started thinking about how to communicate the building blocks of a healthy lifestyle to my own patients, I was overwhelmed by how to approach it the right way. How can you really look someone in the eye and explain everything that needs to be done to lose a hundred pounds? It’s more than daunting.

But let’s change the focus away from the number and toward the program’s individual elements. Anyone can lose a single pound. And this program will teach you how to do just that. In two hundred different ways.Solutions range from the obvious to the intriguing, from common sense to cutting-edge science, with just the right amount of “outside the box” thinking to make it fun. Hundreds of scientific studies have been dissected and distilled so that you will read only about what works and why. And the best part is that if a particular Solution is not for you, you can keep reading until you find others that fit your lifestyle and your goals. That’s where the Flex comes into play. So let’s get started. Your Solutions are organized into three phases of an eight-week journey: Today, Every Day, and Your Way.

Weeks One and Two: Five Pounds
In medical practice there is a concept called the teachable moment. Such moments occur at key points in the interaction between patients and the health care system, and they offer our best opportunities to help people make healthy choices. For example, there is a teachable moment when people are discharged from the hospital, since they are motivated to get better and are thinking about their health with fewer distractions. This becomes the best time to get someone to stop smoking or start cholesterol medication. Other teachable moments occur in the doctor’s office or even over the telephone. The idea is that people are most likely to make changes in their lives during those moments when they are focused on their goals.

Welcome to your teachable moment.

Because today is when you are most likely to start making changes. So, in the Today chapter, you will find easy-to-incorporate Solutions that will help you start losing weight right now. If you follow all these Solutions, expect to lose five pounds in the next two weeks. Five pounds that shouldn’t come back. The Today Solutions are your blueprint to start building a new you.

Every Day
Weeks Three, Four, and Five: Ten Pounds
Every Day Solutions are the cornerstones of wellness, prevention, and serious weight loss. They are intended for everyone, and they should be compatible with your lifestyle. These scientifically proven Solutions will help you lose ten more pounds in just three weeks. Nearly one hundred different opportunities are blended together into one comprehensive three-week plan that works for everyone. Every day.

The Solutions are organized into the five “senses” of wellness: Eating, Drinking, Exercise, Activity, and Lifestyle. Solutions at the beginning of each section are meant for everyone, while the Flex Solutions presented later in the section are your opportunity to personalize your program.Choose at least one Flex Solution from each section to incorporate into your Every Day.

Your Way
Weeks Six, Seven, Eight, and Beyond:
How Much Weight Do You Want to Lose?
This is where it really starts to get interesting. After two weeks concentrating on the Today Solutions and three more weeks working through the Every Day Solutions, you are looking and feeling great. You might be happy to stop right here. But if you want to take things up a notch and also have some fun, let’s get personal. Or at least get personalized. Spend three weeks on a personal reboot with nearly one hundred more Solutions at your disposal. Choose ten more ways to Eat, Drink, Exercise,

Act, and Live your way toward at least five more pounds of weight loss, a single pound at a time. And if a Solution isn’t working out for you, just Flex it for another. The Flex Diet bends so you won’t break.  Either way, you win, and you will succeed.

So what do you have to lose? Start by losing the lectures. Lose the exchanges. And lose the points. Hold on to your Solutions and turn the page to a healthier life and a slimmer waistline. Start losing weight your way.

Because you picked up this book for a reason.

Now find your Solution.

Because Today is Monday.

"The Flex Diet: Design-Your-Own Weight Loss Plan" by Dr. James Beckerman. Copyright © 2011 by Dr. James Beckerman. Published by Simon & Schuster, Inc. Printed with permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.