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Expected Publication Date: Spring 1999

Flab Fighters
Common Sense Weight Management That Works!

© 1998 Ron Brown


Chapter 1

Meet the Cherrys and the Pickles

Basil Cherry and Frank Pickle are next-door neighbors in Honeyville, a town with one donut shop for every 300 citizens. Basil and Frank live on Burger Queen Drive, just past the Basket Robins ice cream parlor. During weekdays, Basil works as a supplier for Dairy Princess. He gets all the large chocolate-malted shakes he wants for free. Frank is a manager at Pizza Shack. Basil and Frank both weigh around 225 pounds.

According to Honeyville's best family physician, Dr. Edward Mense, Basil and Frank need to reduce their weight. Dr. Mense is also overweight. At 285 pounds, his patients affectionately call him Dr. E-Mense.

"Thirty five per cent of the adult population is dangerously overweight," said Dr. Mense, huffing and puffing as he performed Basil's annual checkup. "Obesity is the second leading preventable cause of death, just behind cigarette smoking. Unfortunately, over ninety-five per cent of people who lose weight regain it."

Dr. Mense put his hand on Basil's shoulder as he led Basil out of the office. Halting at the door to catch his breath from the exertion of moving his own body weight, Dr. Mense turned to face Basil and said, "When you find a way to permanently reduce your weight, come back and tell me how you did it!"

* * *

One summer afternoon, Basil looked out the front door of his house on the outskirts of Honeyville. He couldn't believe his eyes.

"Candy!" he called to his wife. "Come and look at what's happened to Frank."

"What is it?" said Candy as she waddled up to the door, eating a buttered muffin.

Candy Cherry used to have a beautiful figure, years ago when she was a cheerleader at Kay F.C. High. But, since quitting her assistant manager's job at the Slickers Candy Bar factory to stay home and raise their children, Chip and Cookie, Candy has not been able to control her weight. Despite many dieting attempts, Candy's weight has continued to increase over the years.

Basil pointed to Frank mowing the lawn next door. "Frank's thinner!" Basil exclaimed to Candy.

"Oh, my God! What happened?" asked Candy.

Basil opened the door and yelled, "Hey, Frank! What happened to you?"

"Oh, hi, Basil," Frank yelled back over the sound of the lawn mower. "I'll tell you in a bit."

Half an hour later, Frank was sitting in his backyard, sipping mineral water. He explained to Basil what had happened.

"I went on a fast," said Frank.

"A fast?" said Basil. "You mean just drinking juices?"

"No, I mean a ten-day fast with nothing but water!"

Basil was amazed. He said, "Gee, my wife would never go for that."

Frank explained. "It was the first time I had ever voluntarily gone without food. I read a book on it. People have been fasting throughout the ages for internal cleansing and rejuvenation. It works! It's an ancient tradition."

Early the next week, Basil was in the first day of his fast. He had managed to get through most of the day working at Dairy Princess without eating, but by 4:30 in the afternoon, he couldn't stand it any longer. That chocolate-malted shake was just too inviting! Needless to say, Basil abandoned his fast and ended up gaining 2 pounds that week.

One week later, Frank was back to his pre-fasting weight, and a few days after that, Frank was substantially heavier than his pre-fasting weight.

* * *

Later that summer, as Basil was pulling his car off Burger Queen Drive into his driveway, he suddenly slammed on the brakes. Basil narrowly avoided running-over Frank, who was darting across the sidewalk.

"Hey, watch it, Basil!" shouted Frank as he jogged by.

"For cryin' out loud, Frank," said Basil. "What's going on now? Are you training for a marathon or something?"

"Just the McRonald's 10-K," said Frank. "I'm trying to get back in shape."

"You mean the shape you were in before your great fast?"

"Very funny, Basil. That fasting book warned me not to overeat after the fast. But, they never really explained how not to overeat. Anyway, I'm into running now. Did you ever see a fat marathon runner, Basil? It works!"

An hour later, at dinnertime, Patty Pickle knocked on Candy Cherry's door. Patty was Frank's wife. A slender brunette, Patty was very strict about watching her weight.

"Got any bread?" she asked Candy. "Frank's eating his way through the house."

"Oh, really? What's going on?" asked Candy.

"I don't know. I think it's his latest training program. All that exercise is giving Frank an appetite like a bear!"

"Well I don't know if we can afford this," said Candy. "Basil is downstairs exercising now too."

Basil came upstairs, sweating from working out on his stationary bike. "Oh, hi Patty," he said, heading for the refrigerator. "Stealing our food again?"

"Listen," said Patty as she stood holding her hands on her slender hips. "If you guys are going to eat like athletes, then bring home the big bucks like the other athletes do to pay for all the food!"

A week later, Frank entered his 10-K race, but he developed knee problems from carrying too much body weight, and he never ran again. Basil's stationary bicycle seat gave Basil blisters, and he had to lie off for awhile. Frank and Basil both gained weight.

* * *

One night, Basil was watching The Shop At Home Station on television.

"Come and look at this Wonder Machine on TV, Candy. You hang upside down while the machine twirls you around and shoots electricity into your muscles."

"What's that good for?" Candy asked.

"I don't know. Fat burning and toning, I guess? It sounds quick and easy. It must work. It's on television! They've already sold a thousand of them!"

Two weeks later, Basil was thinking about placing an ad in the Honeyville Chronicle to sell both his used stationary bike and his Wonder Machine. Basil had ignored Candy's advice and ordered the machine from The Shop At Home Station. It had performed brilliantly, twirling and electrifying Basil's inverted body, but Basil continued to gain weight.

As he was folding out the Honeyville Chronicle on the dining room table, Basil paused to look in the mirror. Surveying his physique, he grabbed his belly and said to himself, "I have to do something about this."

Basil turned his attention back to the paper. Scanning the classified ads, he noticed a headline: "Dr. Firmbody's Amazing Fat-Removing Method."

"Oh, honey," Candy sighed when Basil showed her the ad. "Not another crazy weight-loss scheme? What is it this time, herbal remedies?"

"I don't think so. It says no pills or potions."

They were interrupted by a knock on the door. It was Frank.

"Hey Basil, I want to introduce you to my new personal trainer. This is Helga Hourglass."

Standing next to Frank was a tall and attractive twenty-two-year-old girl. She was dressed in a white tee shirt and black tights. Her tee shirt was pulled up in front and tied in a knot, revealing her flat and tanned tummy. Her platinum blonde hair was pulled back tightly into a long ponytail.

"Hello, Basil," Helga said in a Swedish accent. She extending a tan hand attached to a firm and shapely arm.

"Isn't she great?" Frank said. "Helga won the Miss Low-Fat Bikini Contest. I found her name on the bulletin board at the supermarket. Helga's a low-fat expert."

"That's right," Helga said to Basil. "Everyone eats too much fat. Over 40 per cent of most people's calories come from fat. You need to follow a low-fat diet of about 10 to 20 per cent fat. Low-fat food makes low-fat bodies!"

"Helga's offering us a special group-training rate," Frank said to Basil. "She can help us shape up once and for all. Want to participate?"

"Why not?" said Basil. "Any nude exercising involved?" Basil joked.

"If you like!" responded Helga, not realizing Basil was just kidding. "I enjoy exercising my nude body in the fresh air. It's very healthy!"

Basil didn't notice that Candy was standing nearby with her arms folded and with one eyebrow raised. As she critically evaluated the statuesque and fit Helga, Candy thought to herself, "I don't know about this."

* * *

It was the day after Frank introduced his personal trainer, Helga, to Basil.

"Hi! The name's Rodd. Randy Rodd."

"Oh, nice to meet you!" said Candy as she stood in her living room and shook the hand of her new personal trainer. Candy saw the rippling muscles flex in Randy Rodd's bulky arms, and her eyes followed along his muscles as they continued up his arm, through his cannonball shoulders and into his ox neck. Randy Rodd's eyes were gray-green and he had thick, straight, sandy-blonde hair.

"So, what are your credentials?" asked Patty, who Candy had invited over to help check out Randy Rodd.

"I work at The Juice Factory," said Randy Rodd.

"Oh, do you manufacture health beverages?" asked Candy.

"No. The Juice Factory is a bodybuilding gym. I train some clients there and help supervise the facility."

Patty whispered to Candy, "In other words, Randy Rodd cleans the gym's toilets."

"Oh, stop joking," Candy whispered back. "What do you think? Look at his arms. He must know what he's talking about!"

Randy Rodd continued, "For weight loss, my clients have been getting great results taking my protein supplements. They just replace the carbohydrates in their diet with my supplements and their weight falls off. Too many carbohydrates are bad. I read about it in that best-selling book, Eight Weeks In The Protein Zone…or was it Stop the Insane Diet Revolution? Or something like that! Anyway, thirty per cent of the calories in your diet should come from protein."

As the Cherrys and the Pickles began following the diet and exercise routines customized for them by their trainers, their kitchens were soon bursting with low-fat food products and protein supplements. Their bookshelves were filled with low-fat recipe books and high-fiber recipe books. According to their trainers, Helga Hourglass and Randy Rodd, many of the high-fiber recipes burn off more calories in the process of digestion than they supply to your body.

"They're negative-calorie foods, and they make you lose weight," said Helga. "It's a miracle!"

The only problem was that the Cherrys' and the Pickles' food bill was sky rocketing. Low-fat food cost as much as regular food and often costs more. But, in order to satisfy their appetites, they ate twice as much of it! Candy didn't like that most of these low-fat products contained a lot of sugar and chemicals. It seemed amazing to her that even the worst junk food was being touted as healthy, just because it contained little or no fat.

The protein supplements did help to suppress their appetites, but they were expensive and they often upset Basil's stomach. And then there were the cravings.

"I miss ice cream and pizza," said Basil.

"You're allowed one splurge-day a week," Helga told Basil and Frank.

In their one splurge-day, both Basil and Frank managed to eat enough forbidden food to undo all the progress they made all week on their high-fiber, low-fat food and protein supplements. So they started over again. They made an effort not to eat so much on their splurge day, and that seemed to work for awhile. But, soon their one splurge-day a week became two splurge-days a week, then three and four a week.

"Here, read this book," said Helga to Frank and Basil as she handed them a copy of Fit Forever. "It will tell you how to combine foods together so your body has more energy to rid itself of fat."

Basil and Frank followed the instructions in the book. No concentrated protein foods were to be eaten with starches. Frank reluctantly gave up one of his favorite lunches, ham sandwiches.

"I've noticed I don't get indigestion anymore," said Frank after his first week of food combining. "And my weight's down. It's a miracle!"

Basil agreed. They both lost weight and their stomachs never felt better. However, the book warned them not to overeat. Apparently, the book's authors thought printing the phrase "DO NOT OVEREAT" 110 times on one page would ensure this.

"You know, I could really go for a ham sandwich," said Frank to Basil one day.

That ham sandwich never tasted so good to Frank, even if his indigestion did come back. Soon, Basil and Frank had forgotten about food combining and were once again enjoying the meals they had missed, like meat with bread and potatoes. Basil realized that when following the book's restricted combinations, they had been eating less overall food. That made them lose weight. But, as soon as they returned to their regular eating habits, they regained all their weight…and their indigestion. Food combining was good for their digestion, but it wasn't a substitute for learning how to eat proper amounts of food. The authors of the book had merely repackaged an old health method, designed to prevent indigestion, and passed it off as a weight-loss program. That explained why the book was one of the all-time diet bestsellers.

* * *

One day, while Randy Rodd was giving Candy weight lifting instructions in her basement, Patty came over to join in.

"Show us how to shape our butts," said Patty to Randy Rodd.

"Okay, try this," responded Randy Rodd. "It's a type of exercise known as a deadlift."

He demonstrated the exercise. Standing upright and holding on to a light barbell with his arms hanging straight down, Randy Rodd began bending forward from his hips. With his knees slightly bent and keeping his lower back straight, he continued bending forward as he lowered the weight toward the floor. Randy Rodd deliberately stuck his butt up and out as far as he could.

"Watching?"

"Oh, yes!" said the girls in unison.

Then he straightened his body upright with his arms still hanging straight down. Randy Rodd explained that in this exercise, the gluteus maximus, the main butt muscle, extends the hip joint.

"What does that mean?" asked Candy.

"It means your butt muscles work when you push your knees away from your chest, as when you straighten upright from the position I was in. Try it."

Candy took the barbell and stood as Randy Rodd had demonstrated. Randy Rodd took up a position behind her as she bent forward.

"Keep your lower back straight, and bend forward from your hips," said Randy Rodd. "Get your hips up. That's it. Now, let me help you feel the muscle contraction,"

Suddenly, Patty felt very uncomfortable watching Randy Rodd. As Candy started to straighten up, Patty saw Randy Rodd place his palms on Candy's buttocks.

"Feel that?" he said to Candy.

Candy replied, "Oh, yeah, I can definitely feel something happening!"

Patty said, "Hey, listen, Candy. I have to go."

"So soon?" asked Candy. "Okay, catch you later."

* * *

Basil and Frank didn't seem to be making much progress with Helga. Basil bought a juicing machine, and supplements to curb his appetite, which worked by temporarily interfering with his normal digestion. Basil didn't do too well with that. He tried a skin patch for awhile. Then he tried motivational tapes, and even hypnosis. In the end, the Cherrys and the Pickles spent a lot of time, money and energy on their weight-loss programs, but they only saw their weight yo-yo up and down.

One night at dinner, Chip Cherry told his mother he had seen Randy Rodd around town before.

"The guys down at The Juice Factory, where Randy Rodd works out, take a lot of drugs," he told his mother. " Juice means steroids," he said.

The Cherrys and the Pickles eventually discontinued hiring the services of their personal trainers.


Chapter 2

Dr. Firmbody

"Okay, Dr. Firmbottom, or whatever your name is..."

"It's Firm-body, not Firm-bottom."

Basil sat in the Doctor's office and continued speaking, "I'm not convinced your weight control method is worth the effort. What's with all of these charts and numbers? I'm not into number crunching. I can't be bothered with all that."

Dr. Firmbody glanced toward the pages in the book Basil was pointing to and answered, "Those are body composition tables. They tell you how much fat and muscle you have."

"How much fat?" Basil complained. "I don't want to know! I just want to see it gone. Don't you have a special diet or some pills I can take? You're a doctor, after all."

"I'm not that kind of doctor, Mr. Cherry."

"Call me Basil."

"Well, Basil, I've a Ph.D. in Human Physiology. I've spent my life studying how the human body functions, and I try to teach my clients how to apply that knowledge to help them live healthy lives."

Basil folded his arms, shook his head and said, "Sounds too scientific. I don't have the time, and I probably wouldn't understand it."

"You're just not ready yet, Basil. You have to finish exploring every wrong way to try to permanently control your weight before you try the one and only right way. It's my job to teach you the right way when you're ready."

"If your way is the one and only right way, how come everyone's not following it?" challenged Basil.

"No one has taught you my method, or rather, nature's method," said Dr. Firmbody, "because there's little demand for, and little money in teaching the truth about permanent weight control."

"How can that be?" objected Basil. "There are tons of overweight people like me looking for the solution to our weight problem. We've tried everything, and we've spent a lot of time and money in our search. We're tired of being told what to eat and what not to eat. 'Eat less fat, eat more protein, less carbohydrates, don't mix things together, sweat more...' In the short run, all of it works, but in the long run, none of it works! The weight keeps on coming back."

Dr. Firmbody listened as Basil continued speaking: "You know the routine. You go on a diet, start exercising, cut down on the foods you enjoy, and eventually you lose weight. Then, before you know it, the weight is all back, plus some extra thrown in. Why can't I make my weight loss stick? Am I eating the wrong kinds of foods? I like food and I know I eat too much. Is it because I have no willpower? Do I need a special diet and exercise program? Am I just too lazy and undisciplined. Do I have the wrong genes and hormones?"

"No! Stop beating yourself up, Basil," replied Dr. Firmbody. " Perhaps you are one of the extremely rare cases that suffers from a severe hormonal imbalance, but I suspect that's not your case. And even if it were, no one manufactures excess fat out of thin air. You see, it doesn't matter what kind of diet you follow, or how much you eat or exercise, or what kind of food you eat. And you don't need super human willpower. All you need is what most dieters already have, Basil. A simple desire to be healthy, toned and lean."

Dr. Firmbody continued, "Many people have gotten bogged down in diet and exercise details like you, Basil. They've lost sight of the basic underlying principles of weight management. Rather than searching for the perfect food or exercise, you need a program that gets you back to the basics and gives you a clearer, fuller understanding of your body fat problem and it's solution. You need a program that lets you see the broader picture."

Looking down and pointing to his waist, Basil said, "If this gets much broader, there won't be any room left in our house!"

"I can reveal to you the real reason why over ninety-five per cent of dieters like you regain their weight, Basil," said Dr. Firmbody. "When you learn this simple reason, you will kick yourself for allowing so much of your time and dieting effort to go to waste. I can show you that keeping fat off your body requires a whole different set of skills than simply losing weight. Without those skills, no diet will ever give you permanent weight loss. After I teach those skills to you, Basil, you will be able to eat what you like, whenever you like, and as much as you like while banishing fat forever!"

"Why don't the diet gurus just give people that information?" asked Basil.

Dr. Firmbody said, "Because the gurus earn more money by selling quick fixes to people. Unfortunately, their quick fix diets and low-fat eating never explains to people how to eat normal amounts of food to keep the fat off."

Dr. Firmbody continued, "You see, Basil, like most of the things you know about health, you were taught to manage your weight by people with commercial interests...people trying to take your money. The public pours between $30 billion and $40 billion into the weight loss industry every year. There's plenty of money in the battle against fat. The industry knows people are willing to purchase quick and easy answers, even if they only give temporary results. Teaching people how to permanently get rid of fat would destroy fortunes."

"I seem to have purchased my share of quick and easy answers," said Basil. "But, they all turned out to be weight-loss gimmicks."

Dr. Firmbody responded, "And the more people are sold gimmicks, Basil, the less likely they are to consider and demand anything else. So, every day the industry gurus churn out the latest weight-loss sensation. The public laps up the newest advertised merchandise without realizing it's just more of the same. It's a vicious circle. When the public really wants the industry to teach them permanent weight control, the industry will have to adjust and teach it to them. It's up to people like you to end the vicious circle, Basil."

Dr. Firmbody explained, "You see, Basil, the country doesn't need more weight-loss centers and diet books that drain your money and give you temporary results. The public needs weight management training clinics and school curriculums that teach young and old to permanently control their weight. But, you will never get these things until you demand them first. In the meantime, all you have to choose from are pills, surgery, diet centers and diet books."

"It seems like there is a blueprint for churning out popular diet books these days" said Basil.

"Right you are, Basil," replied Dr. Firmbody. "Anybody can write a best-selling diet book. Many people have made fortunes doing it. So can you!"

Basil was surprised. "Is that right?" he said with skepticism.

"And you can do it in only three easy steps."

"I'm listening," said Basil.

Dr. Firmbody described the three steps to writing a best-selling diet book.

"Step one: Define the problem. Start off your bestseller by talking about our national weight problem. One of every three adults is dangerously overweight. Obesity in children is at an all-time high. Tell people that being overweight contributes to heart disease, high blood pressure, non-insulin dependent diabetes, back problems, lower limb osteoarthritis, and some forms of cancer. Point out that life insurance companies have the mortality statistics to prove that excess weight is deadly!"

Basil added, "Don't forget that being overweight also causes emotional pain and suffering."

"If you really want your book to appear topical, Basil, throw in a discussion about eating disorders like anorexia and compulsive overeating."

Basil said, "I think I might include your fact about the public spending 30-40 billion dollars on the weight loss industry each year. But, I won't dwell on that. After all, I don't want to risk exposing my own financial motives for writing my diet book."

"Of course not," agreed Dr. Firmbody. "If you are really daring, Basil, tell your readers that over ninety-five per cent of people who lose weight regain it. The odds that people will keep fat off forever are dismal. Everyone is looking for a better way to permanently rid themselves of excess body fat. Which brings us to the next step in writing your best-seller..."

Anticipating what Dr. Firmbody was going to say next, Basil interrupted and said, "Let me guess. Step two: Claim I have the body-fat solution."

Dr. Firmbody nodded with approval and said, "Ah, yes! But, first you'll have to establish your expert credentials. It's best if you have a degree in nutrition, a license to practice medicine, or you have just discovered the latest fat gene."

"Which I'll name after Ben and Jerry," said Basil.

"You also qualify as an expert if you are a personal trainer of Hollywood celebrities, or you sell weight-loss supplements," said Dr. Firmbody.

"What if I just sold diet cookies?" asked Basil.

"Actually, just being an average person who has lost weight is about all the credentials you really need, Basil."

"Hey, I can do that! I've lost weight many times!"

"In your advertising and promotion, you'll have to talk about the tons of weight your clients have shed using your method. Show before-and-after pictures of these people, and throw in lots of testimonials, especially from anyone who has actually managed to stay on your program for two years or more. If critics claim your program only results in temporary weight loss, reply that you can't be held responsible if people abandon your program. Is it your fault if people regain their weight because they've returned to the real world of social gatherings and recreational activities?"

"Of course not!" exclaimed Basil. "Can't people understand they must avoid the real world? They must make a lifetime commitment to stay on my program! How else do they expect to reap permanent benefits, and make me rich?"

"Now comes the heart of your bestseller, Basil. Step three: Give your readers a restricted or unbalanced diet to follow, or have them perform an exercise-purging routine to burn lots of calories. Why not include a little bit of all three ingredients. You have thousands of combinations to choose from. The more original you make your program, the better."

"It has to be something new, quick and easy!" exclaimed Basil.

"That's right, Basil. Encourage your readers not to worry about weighing themselves. Tell them they don't have to measure their food portions or balance their diet. They can worry about regaining their weight some other time! Whatever you come up with, there is only one rule to follow: Make sure your program tricks people into getting by on fewer calories."

"Wait a minute," said Basil. "You're being serious now, aren't you? That sounds pretty cynical. Are you trying to tell me that every popular weight-loss program out there is based on tricking people?"

"Well, what do you call it when you encourage people to temporarily lose weight without revealing the truth to them? Do you want to write a money-making diet book or not?"

"Not if it's going to deliberately trick and mislead people," said Basil.

"Well then, there are already plenty of legitimate programs that teach people proper weight management without tricking them, Basil. There are health programs run by dietitians and nutritionists at university clinics, hospitals, private clinics and at government public health agencies. They try to be straight with people, but they are usually not very popular. And it's no wonder. They offer the usual ineffective advice to just eat less of a well-balanced diet and exercise more. Is there anyone out there who hasn't heard that eating less and exercising more is the key to weight control?"

"We've all heard it millions of times," replied Basil.

"But, are people managing to do it?" asked Dr. Firmbody. "Hardly! For a society that eats the most low-fat food, we are still eating more overall fat, eating more calories, exercising less and gaining weight like never before. Spreading the message to eat less and exercise more isn't the panacea for our weight problems."

Dr. Firmbody added, "Many of these weight management programs offer outdated advice, Basil, such as telling people to follow Body Mass Index numbers. BMI numbers recommend normal body weight according to a person's height. But, BMI has limited value by itself because it does not take your body composition into consideration...the amount of muscle and fat on your body. Even if two people have identical BMI numbers, one person may have more muscle than the other. A person could actually be obese and have the same BMI number as a fit and muscular athlete."

Basil began to wonder about the amount of fat and muscle on his body. He thought to himself, "Maybe I don't have as much fat as I think I have. After all, at one time I was fairly athletic." Basil quickly recalled his glory days and his feats of athleticism. Then he realized it had indeed been quite a long time since those days. "That was way back at Kay F.C. High, when I was on the football team and Candy was a cheerleader," he thought. His optimism evaporated. Basil asked Dr. Firmbody, "How much do you have to weigh to be obese?"

"Twenty percent more than your ideal weight," answered Dr. Firmbody. "But, how do you determine your ideal weight, Basil? BMI numbers can be very misleading for this purpose. It all depends on your body composition. I can show you a new and more effective way to watch your weight."

Dr. Firmbody said, "You see, Basil, even though these weight management programs try to get you to make healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating properly and exercising more, what do they offer in the way of practical advice to help you actually make those changes?"

Basil replied, "I guess they offer the same old stuff you hear all the time: avoid fat, drink lots of water, keep celery and carrot sticks handy, lose weight slowly and love yourself."

"If only it was that simple!" exclaimed Dr. Firmbody. "Just because you take off weight slowly doesn't mean you will automatically be able to keep it off forever."

"What about medical clinics that treat overweight people?" asked Basil.

Dr. Firmbody said, "Obviously the focus of these medical clinics is to prescribe medications to help control weight. Many alternative health clinics also prescribe fat-burning supplements. These pills and supplements impair people's digestion or interfere with their normal appetite. Some substances, like amphetamines, burn extra calories by irritating people's nervous systems. Amphetamines are addictive. The rest of these substances may have potentially dangerous long-term health effects."

"Regardless of whether the active ingredients being prescribed are from herbal or traditional medicinal sources," said Dr. Firmbody, "when people come off these pills and supplements, their weight comes back. Instead of achieving permanent weight control, people risk seriously damaging their health, as in the recent phen-fen disaster. Many people have suffered heart valve damage from taking this combination of drugs. Permanent weight control doesn't come in a pill or supplement!"

"No wonder people turn to fad diet books or join the fat-acceptance movement," said Basil. "Well, I'll just have to wait until someone writes the perfect weight management book to help me fight flab, won't I?" said Basil. "Do you have any ambitions in the literary direction, Doctor?"

"I've been thinking about writing something on the subject," replied Dr. Firmbody.

"I'd be willing to read it, provided you don't try tricking me. Surely, you don't believe every diet book author is deliberately out to trick and mislead people, do you?"

Dr. Firmbody agreed that many authors don't intend to mislead people. He said, "Quite often they are as much in the fog about proper weight management as their readers. Many of them are well-intentioned people who sincerely wish to help others, and some of their programs have value when used for various health purposes. But, many of these programs are misused as a substitute for weight management. For example, look at the well-known diet book that is based on how you combine foods, Fit Forever…"

"Been there!" exclaimed Basil.

Dr. Firmbody continued. "There is much physiological evidence that this program can help people prevent indigestion, an ailment that is pandemic in our society. And any book that encourages people to eat more fruits and vegetables scores high marks. But, is food combining a substitute for learning the principles of weight management?"

"I did lose a lot of weight on it," said Basil.

Dr. Firmbody replied, "Of course you did! When anyone restricts the number of foods they are allowed to combine together in a meal, or restricts the time of day they can eat certain high-calorie foods, there is a tendency for that person to eat less overall food and lower their calorie intake. If their restrictions are strict enough, people end up losing a lot of weight."

"So what's wrong with following a restricted diet to lose weight?" Basil asked.

Dr. Firmbody answered, "Simply this: Ask yourself if you will be able to live that way forever. You might be an exception, but chances are you are like most people, Basil, and you won't be able to. When you go back to including certain foods, or combinations of foods, or when you abandon eating at certain times of the day, or in certain amounts, what happens to your weight management program?"

"It becomes unmanageable," answered Basil. "You go on a binge and quickly start catching up on the lost calories. Nothing tastes more delicious than forbidden fruit!

Basil asked Dr. Firmbody what he thought of negative-calorie foods.

"The trick here is to restrict yourself mainly to foods that consume more energy being digested than they contribute back to your body. High-fiber diets work in a similar manner, crowding your gastrointestinal tract with low-calorie bulk and tricking you into consuming less overall calories. But, sooner or later, your hunger catches up with you, and there goes your diet!"

Dr. Firmbody ran down the list of other popular restricted diets, including calorie-counting diets, food-exchange diets, prepackaged foods, and fasting.

"In every case," said Dr. Firmbody, " when you come off these diets the weight comes back, unless you have learned the principles of weight management."

Basil asked Dr. Firmbody to comment on high-protein diets and low-fat diets, both of which Basil had used with amazing short-term success, but with little long-term success.

"I see you weren't kidding when you said you've tried them all, Basil," said Dr. Firmbody.

"I once lost 10 pounds in one week on a high-protein diet," said Basil.

Dr. Firmbody responded, "Anyone who loses that much weight that quickly is fooling themselves, regardless of the kind of diet or program they follow. The lost weight isn't all fat. It's mostly muscle and water! This weight is almost immediately replaced when you end your diet."

"You see, Basil," explained Dr. Firmbody, "following a nutritionally unbalanced diet is just another way to trick people into getting by on fewer calories. Heading the list of unbalanced diets, along with high-protein diets and high-carbohydrate-low-fat diets, are mono diets, where you eat the same food for an extended period, juice diets, and so-called meal-replacement supplements. Many of these diets fall into both the restricted and unbalanced categories."

Basil asked, "But, even if it tricks you into weight loss, what's the harm in following an unbalanced diet?"

"This should be obvious," replied Dr. Firmbody. "You can't follow them for long without running the risk of damage to your health. What isn't always so obvious is how unbalanced and dangerous some of these diets actually are. For example, take that high-protein diet you were on. Diets like these, such as advocated in books like Dr. Aching's Revolting Diet, regularly fall in and out of fashion."

"What could be wrong with a diet based on protein?' asked Basil. "After all, protein is one of the most important nutrients in our diet, isn't it?"

"That's right Basil. Next to water, our bodies are composed mainly of protein. But, too much protein in our diets is bad! The damage may not show up immediately with small excesses, but many people have died on liquid protein diets. The reason why people lose weight on a high-protein diet is because the body has a difficult time deriving energy from protein. These diets are an effective, but potentially deadly way to trick people into getting by on fewer calories."

Dr. Firmbody summed up. "So there you have it, Basil. These are just some of the 1001 methods you can use in your diet book. And we didn't even mention other weight control methods like hiring trainers, joining health clubs, buying exercise machines, surgery…"

"But, you still haven't given me the answer to my problem," said Basil. "What ever happened to eating normally? Why can't someone tell me how to eat my favorite foods in the real world and still control my weight? Isn't there a way I can keep this weight off and still live normally...without living like a hermit or a monk?"

Dr. Firmbody replied, "I have what you're looking for, Basil.

"What is it?" asked Basil. "A secret formula?"

"In a sense, yes," answered Dr. Firmbody. "Actually it's a cycle that you follow to permanently control your weight. I call it the Energy Balance Cycle."

"The Energy Balance Cycle? Can I see it?"

"Like I said before, Basil, you're still not ready for it yet."

"Is it difficult?"

"Following it requires a little effort. But if you think that's too much trouble, Basil, then you need to ask yourself if you are really interested in permanent weight control. By now, you have gotten the message that you will never get lasting results with quick fixes. So, either make a commitment to manage your weight the correct way or just accept yourself the way you are. But remember, if you choose to remain overweight, you are choosing to have a potentially serious health problem."

Basil said, "Even if you write the world's next great diet-book, Doctor, and even if I could understand your Energy Balance Cycle, I don't think I have the kind of discipline necessary to follow your method."

"Like everything else, Basil, discipline comes with practice. You'll learn to stick to my program as you see that the more effort you put into it, the more you get out of it...when you can see that the payoff is worth the effort. But, discipline isn't the only problem, Basil. It's also your patience. You lose patience trying to control your weight because, up to now, you see you have been wasting your time, money and energy."

"I am kind of impatient," agreed Basil.

"All those empty promises of quick and easy weight loss have kept your expectations high, Basil. Your desire to instantly have a sleek and toned body is greater than your desire to spend the time working for it."

"You don't know how much time I've spent trying!" exclaimed Basil.

"But, you've admitted you have spent zero amount of time trying it the correct way," responded Doctor Firmbody.

"Or so you say," said Basil.

"If you had put the same amount of effort into a good weight management method instead of wasting your time on quick fixes, think how your life would be different by now. But, it's never too late to make up your mind and change over, Basil. As for your patience, just try to get your expectations in better balance with your effort. Rather than expecting a lot better body with little effort, go for a little bit better body with a little effort. Chip away at small goals first. Then, as your successes increase, that will inspire you to gradually raise your goals from there."

Basil said, "Okay, look. As difficult as it may be, I'm just going to try to eat less and exercise more, like all you experts are always saying."

"I wouldn't recommend that."

"What! Why not?"

"As I've said before, less food and more exercise won't make it any easier to lose weight and keep it off."

"What do you mean?"

Dr. Firmbody explained, "Suppose you decide to skip dessert for a few nights and go for a walk. That may not be enough in itself for you to see any dramatic changes in your weight. In addition, the extra exercise just makes you even hungrier."

"Yeah, I know. It makes me miss that dessert even more."

"In fact, you may not lose any weight at all, even though you are forcing yourself to eat less food. To make matters even worse, you may actually gain weight!"

"Eat less and gain more? How is that? You must mean by going on a rebound binge after you have denied yourself your favorite foods for so long, right? You windup weighing more than when you started. Why, I remember going on a binge one time after dieting on cucumbers and chick peas…"

"No, no, Basil," interrupted Dr. Firmbody. "I don't mean that. But, you are right. Rebound bingeing is definitely a hazard after your body reserves have been severely depleted or unbalanced from following a restricted or unbalanced diet...your body craves replenishment. But, what I really mean is gaining weight on less food. Many people who overeat on a regular basis will pass a significant amount of undigested food out their colon. Undigested food obviously can't be used to nourish the body. If these people cut down on their food intake, they may not lose any weight because they are still digesting and assimilating the same amount of food. They are simply wasting less of the food they are eating."

"I can see that, but, how is it possible to actually gain weight by eating less?"

Dr. Firmbody continued. "Cutting down on food intake reduces strain on your digestive organs. This improves digestion and increases the amount of nutrients absorbed into your body, which may lead to a weight gain. In addition, exercise improves digestion and increases assimilation of nutrients into your system. The end result, despite your best efforts and intentions, Basil, is not only that you may fail to achieve the weight loss you expected, but you may actually end up with a weight gain!"

Dr. Firmbody came to his point. "So, after bravely attempting to follow the conventional wisdom, you get discouraged and quit. You tried eating less and exercising more, just like the experts admonished you to do, but all you accomplished was to make yourself feel like you had given up something and received nothing in return. Most people with common sense won't settle for that! There's no payoff, just wasted time and effort."

"So you're saying eating less and exercising more isn't important?"

"No, I'm not saying that. I'm saying you need tangible evidence that your exercise and dieting effort is paying off. It's not that people mind putting in the work and effort to get the results they want, Basil. We live in a society that attaches great value to hard work. It's just that people are concerned about wasting their time and effort! They're not going to make a major commitment to any weight management program until they have some kind of assurance that they will see lasting results. They need assurance that each mouthful of food and each step of exercise will bring them closer to their goals. You see, Basil, no matter how much people eat and exercise, there's a missing ingredient in the way most people attempt to manage their weight that prevents them from being successful at it."

"What's the missing ingredient?" asked Basil.

"Energy Balance! Just like in my Energy Balance Cycle.

"But, what do you mean by energy balance?"

"Energy balance is simply the balance between the energy you derive from your food and the energy your body burns off. My Energy Balance Cycle teaches you how to balance your body's energy levels to control your weight. It's not how much you eat and exercise that counts...it's knowing how they balance each other out. Once you know how to make every bite of food balance out with every step of exercise, you can eat anything and lose weight.

"But, I have lost weight by exercising more and eating less in the past, and I never knew how they balanced out."

"That's why your weight loss was only temporary," replied Dr. Firmbody. "For temporary weight loss, just run your body on less food, but for permanent weight control, learn how your body runs on food. When you know how to balance your diet and activity, Basil, not only will you be able to eat anything and lose weight, and not only will you be able to keep the weight off, you will also be motivated to become more physically active."

"Why is that?" wondered Basil.

"Because when you can see how every step of activity brings you closer toward your body weight goal, you will be inspired to get out there and get to work on it. You will be able to setup an eating-and-activity schedule, and you will stick to it because your results appear in days rather than weeks. You won't have to guess how long it will take you to reach your goal. You will have the ability to predict the length of time it will take you to reach your body weight goal, right down to the last day."

Basil sat and listened intently as Dr. Firmbody continued. "Not only can you balance any amount of food with any amount of activity you desire, you can customize the pace of your program. If you're the type of person who doesn't mind exercising and has self-control when eating, you can lose weight at the maximum rate. If you are the type who doesn't like to exercise and likes to eat more, then just go for a slower rate of weight loss. That's what training is all about, Basil. It's not a hit-and-miss method."

Dr. Firmbody summed up the benefits of his program for Basil.

"My program:

1. Addresses the diet myths that lie waiting to sabotage your weight control efforts.

2. Gives you the choice to lose fat, gain and tone muscle, or just maintain your weight.

3. Provides you with a new and better way to watch your weight.

4. Allows you the flexibility to eat and exercise as much or as little as you want, whenever you want, and with any type of food and activity you want.

5. Gives you a chance to easily get back on track if you slip up.

6. Customizes your program according to your particular energy requirements.

7. Eases you into the technicalities of weight management, without bombarding you with charts, tables, formulas and complicated calculations up front.

8. Improves rather than jeopardizes your health.

9. Gets you motivated as it educates you."

"Well Doctor, I must say you have succeeded in keeping my expectations high," said Basil. As he looked at his watch and stood up, Basil said, "But, I have to go now. Can I bring my friend along next time, Doctor? I want him to hear what you're saying."

"Sure."

As he showed Basil to the door, Dr Firmbody said, "Goodbye for now."

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