Win by Loosing

by William Stimson & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & "P & lt;/span & owerful change occurs by taking small steps each day of your life." Most dieters don't want to hear advice like that. Instead, they want to hear about how fantastic results can be achieved effortlessly. "Lose 25 pounds in just 12 minutes!" (Preferably while you're asleep.) That's the kind of hype that sells.

But Bob Harper -- Hollywood trainer and one of the creators of TV's The Biggest Loser -- has earned fame because his ideas are simple and effective. In his book, The Biggest Loser: The Weight-Loss Program To Transform Your Body, Health and Life, Harper combines inspirational quotes, client testimonials and straightforward rules to guide health-seekers on now to shed all that excess adipose tissue.

The Rules

Harper's main points are easily digested:

4 Get real about your

weight, health, and

emotional well-being.

4 Stay hydrated.

4 Commit to a daily dose

of aerobic exercise and

resistance training.

4 Remember that eating

breakfast is essential.

4 Establish a cutoff time at

night. (Try not to eat three

hours before bedtime.)

4 Eliminate emotional


4 Eat numerous small


4 Make smart food


Perhaps most important, Harper has his clients confront their emotional barriers to weight loss and share their stories. Often, these are what really fuel weight gain. They vary by individual, of course, but include poor self-esteem, stopping smoking, emotional abuse, job stress, miscarriages, avoidance of issues, fear, comfort, boredom and more.

The Inspiration

"You have an obligation to yourself. Improving your health will make you a better friend, mother, father or coworker."

"Stop rewarding yourself with food -- you're comforting yourself with it." (Harper suggests replacing food with other rewards: Try on smaller clothes just for fun -- then purchase them, as motivators. Get a massage, facial or pedicure. Purchase a nice piece of athletic equipment. Go to a play or concert. Schedule some solitude in a hot tub.)

"Even the most grueling workout is no sweat compared to the emotional heavy lifting that lies behind real change. And you know what? You're worth every ounce of it!"

This diet book is packed with the stories of clients whose struggles are inspiring, powerful and motivating -- letting others realize that they are not alone in the pursuit of health.

The Testimonials

Harper's book includes testimonials -- accompanied by inspiring photos -- of clients who have lost 50 pounds, even 100 pounds.

One method of envisioning exercise not as torture but a refuge is stated by one successful client: "Exercise clears my head. It makes me perform better. Exercise equals 'me time,' in other words. You'll be more successful if you start looking at it from that point of view. Once you get that mind-set, it's easy to stick with it."

Although most of us won't be on The Biggest Loser TV program, Harper's message is still strong enough and positive enough to carry into our personal lives. For example, I witnessed a dad from our baseball team do a similar challenge with three of his friends from work. Most of them were about 60 pounds overweight. They challenged each other to eat well, support each other and drop 10 percent of their body weight. They staked some money on the competition, but none of the bets paid off because, impressively, they all reached their goals. My friend reflected, "The biggest thing was I had support outside the home. I ate lunch with these guys every day, and it's easy to do when everyone is packing healthy lunches."

Four years later, not only has he has kept weight off, but he has also won the rewards of feeling better, being more active and enjoying the benefits of all his hard work.

Recently we had a breakfast potluck for the baseball team. In walked my friend with the most gorgeous fresh fruit plate. It was devoured within moments. Smiling, he said, "The key is in the presentation. The star fruit, my wife adds -- that takes the platter to that mouth-watering level."

Getting excited about a fruit plate -- that's a change of attitude that would have been almost inconceivable to this man four years before.

Like him, we all need to change our attitudes. We need to become countercultural with what we bring to potlucks, bringing fruit and vegetables instead of cakes and pies. If enough of us were to do that, it would become the norm. And that would be way cool.

The gist of Bob Harper's advice -- eat less, move more -- isn't exactly rocket science. But if it's packaged in a way that gets the clients focused and confident, they can accomplish their weight-loss goals. As a dietitian, I don't usually endorse diet books -- most of them are disappointing, misleading, and a waste of money. But Bob Harper has developed an exceptional book (and TV series!), and The Biggest Loser continues to make winners out of lots of people.

The Biggest Loser airs

Wednesdays at 9 pm on NBC.