Psychological Self-Help

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pounds off seven years later compared to slow losers. That is in
conflict with the standard expert recommendations, like Weight
Watchers, of a slow loss of weight by learning new eating habits.
Likewise, it is popular to pronounce that losing weight (e.g. 5% or
10% of your weight) doesn't prolong life but exercising does. Yet,
there are new findings (Scientific American Frontiers, Public Television,
Jan 25, 1999) suggesting that a very low calorie but nutritious diet
improves health and prolongs life by a very significant amount, at least
in mice. Let's not get too certain of what we "know." One thing
everyone agrees on however: consult with a doctor if you are
considering an extreme diet (which may cause gallstones and perhaps
other problems). 
Important health concerns and our excessive obsession with
thinness result in the brisk sale of diet, cook, and weight loss books.
The hundreds of new diet books every year mainly repeat each other.
And nutritional theory changes like fashions from a high carbohydrate
diet to high protein diet to low fat, back to a Mediterranean diet (with
olive oil), and we will go to something new next year. Pritikin (1998)
says there are three ways to lose weight: (1) a restricted diet (but
many are always hungry), (2) high protein, low carbohydrate diet (not
healthy and still hungry), and (3) low fat, high fiber diet (his
diet=veggies, fruit, grain, low-fat animal foods). In any case, the food
intake has to be well controlled to lose weight, so it is important to be
nutritionally well informed. See Wills (1999), The Food Bible, and
Information (http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health/nutrit/nutrit.htm), or
Dietary Guidelines (http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/).
Another critical skill is behavioral self-control as spelled out in the
Cyberdiet.com (http://www.cyberdiet.com/reg/index.html), S-H &
http://www.selfhelpmagazine.com/articles/eating/index.html), About
Weight Loss (http://weightloss.about.com) National Eating Disorders
Overeaters Recovery (http://www.therecoverygroup.org/), Growth
Central (http://growthgroups.com/BingeEating.htm), which offers
individual and group programs, and Obesity & Weight Control
(http://www.weight.com/) which is mostly about drugs for losing
weight. Like the weight loss books, the Web sites are very redundant.
Two or three should be enough. 
Local diet and exercise centers are also available almost
everywhere. Remember before investing money that most diet
programs produce weight loss but 95% fail eventually, usually within
one to five years. However, the better your general coping skills, as
described in the Methods section of this book or in the books cited
above, the more likely you will take it off. And if you focus on relapse
prevention and maintenance, you can keep the weight off. It is
probably fair to say that the people who maintain their weight loss also
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