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by Stephen R. Van Schoyck, Ph.D.

Medical doctors spend their lives treating acute conditions. Patients are told what to do, and willingly comply to get better. They hand their condition over to the doctor and he/she heals them. When diet pills or structured diets are used as treatments, they are based on the acute care model. Nutritionists and registered dietitians fall prey to the acute care model as well. They use prescriptions of "diets" or structured eating plans to solve a problem. The obesity is cured and the treatment has worked on the short term.

Weight control is a lifestyle disorder. It is a chronic condition, not one that is healed in some short time frame. When the diet pills are stopped, or you reach your goal weight on the structured plan, your life takes over. You, the patient, are in charge, not the doctor or nutritionist. You have to blend the recommendations into the fabric of your life, trying to find the time to plan your food intake and exercise with the time for your marriage, children, and work. Your natural eating habits return, sometimes in days, sometimes in months. If you are not prepared to blend your natural eating into your current energy needs, then your weight will become a battle. With The Burn Rate Diet, you teach yourself how to live at the new weight. The principles assume a life-long approach, one that can result in living thinner and healthier for the rest of your life.

The Burn Rate approach to weight control is truly different than traditional methods. This difference can be seen in some of the criticisms directed at the Burn Rate Diet by book critics and weight control "experts". Examine the following reactions for yourself to see the misunderstandings and incorrect assumptions that people can make about what needs to be done to live thinner for life:

Reaction #1: "The Burn Rate Test Diet is too complicated and requires too much work to determine your Burn Rate."

People have taken one look at all the charts and numbers in the book and can easily think that the Burn Rate approach is too complicated and too hard. The bigger problem is that weight control is hard, and there is no easy answer. Fad diets and gimmicks are created to make the difficult appear easy and simple. Just look at the results of your efforts in the past to determine if that is true or not. If you are like my patients, you will have at least one or two times that you have tried a fad diet that has worked in the short-term, only to regain the weight plus more in the long run. The net outcome is an even bigger body than when you started and feeling worse and more disillusioned.

I don't think it is easy to face the challenge of doing something that is very difficult. You may have to face some hard choices about accepting a body size that is thinner than you are but not as thin as you would like to be. The best that I can offer is to help you to honestly face those choices, and try to minimize the work that it requires. For example, the computerized menu planning is one example of an effort make the work load as reasonable as possible. I am also trying to establish Burn Rate Test Centers in hospitals in your area to avoid having to spend the two weeks on the Test Diet. I will continue to work to create products and services to help with this problem.

Reaction #2: "Metabolism is important, but overeating and not exercising are the major reasons people don't lose weight". Denise Bruner, M.D. of Arlington, Virginia, President of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians quoted in a review of "The Burn Rate Diet SELF Magazine, January, 2001

This reaction by a physician did not surprise me and demonstrated the bias in the medical community to blame overweight people for the problem. The average physician is used to relating to metabolism through thyroid function studies. If your thyroid is normal, then the doctor is tempted to erroneously conclude that metabolism isn't the cause of the problem. Most are not aware of the use of indirect calorimetry with a metabolic cart to measure burn rate. In the absence of any medical evidence, most doctors will resort to blaming the patient. For example, Dr. Bruner seems to misunderstand what is overeating. Eating more than you can tolerate is different than eating more than the average person. Many people have low energy requirements. Eating more than you can tolerate can still mean eating less than the average person and still cause you to gain weight. Would you not need to know this information before you assume that the person overeats?

As a psychologist, I know that the answer to that question will give you different treatment paths. If the person overeats, then you need to treat the stress eating and lifestyle mismanagement that cause the problem. If the person has a low burn rate, then the treatment is far different. The psychological task is to accommodate the biology, change what can be changed, and to accept that we all do not come in the same size and shape.

Reaction #3: "There is too much saturated fat in the menus in the Burn Rate Diet."

Since the only menus in the Burn Rate Diet are the ones that the person constructs for themselves, the level of saturated fat in the diet can't be determined. On the Test Diet, there are menus that contain saturated fat. However, depending on what other choices are made, the day and the week's intake can well be within the 30% fat recommendation. This comment reflects the misunderstanding of the time frame that nutritional balance can be achieved. The proper time frame for balance is the time that it takes for the body to be depleted of a given nutrient. This depletion can take from weeks to months depending on the body's ability to store the nutrient. Nutritionists that promote micromanagement of daily intake set unrealistic expectations for the management of one's lifestyle and contribute to the sense of shame and guilt felt by people who are unable, and should not, overcontrol their food intake.

Reaction #4: " The Burn Rate Diet does not address maintenance"

The Burn Rate Diet has no maintenance plan because it is not a diet that you stop at some point. It is not a diet at all and is intended to get rid of the "on-a-diet, off-a-diet mentality". By predicting the burn rate at the right weight for you, how you get there is how you stay there. You blend your natural eating into the level of your Burn Rate. There is no separation between a diet phase and maintenance phase.

When I first began my career in weight control almost 20 years ago, we tried this approach of a diet followed by a maintenance plan in the clinics that I operated. I found that the success rate was extremely low and only contributed to more diet failures. The idea of diet and maintenance promoted a psychology of restriction and overcontrol. The attempt to learn the psychology of permission during maintenance leads to a trial and error learning that is experienced by the patient as another set of failures. The weight gains that occur during the learning phase cause such extreme disappointment that the person gives up. It simply doesn't work, and is part of the "no diet" mentality that people need to adopt to be successful.

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