After four years of following one diet plan after another and watching his weight yo-yo up and down, Marv Leicher finally discovered the secret formula for losing weight and keeping it off successfully.
The prevalence of obesity among American men has doubled in only 25 years,
and it’s killing us. A 2004 survey published in the Journal of the American
Medical Association found that 71% of men 20 years old and over were
overweight and 31% were obese. The same survey conducted in the late 1970s had
found 47% of men were overweight and 15% were obese.
Science is searching for the causes of obesity and exploring the role of
genes, the diets of pregnant women, and the feeding habits of babies....
"I wasted enough of my own time following somebody else’s idea of the perfect diet plan," says Leicher, 42, an insurance claims adjuster in Iowa. "I don’t want some poor fool following my advice and then wondering why it’s not working for him. The real secret is that there is no one perfect diet. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for someone else."
From One Diet Plan to the Next
Leicher began by following a low-fat diet. For a few months, the pounds dropped away. He bought a new set of pants with a slimmer waist. But before long, the numbers on the bathroom scale started climbing again. Frustrated, Leicher took a friend’s advice and started following the Atkins high-protein/low-carb diet. He started losing weight within the first week. After four months, he was back to wearing his new lean and mean wardrobe.
"I really thought, OK, this is it. I’m home free."
Then came the holidays -- office parties, family dinners -- and when they were over, Leicher had regained 10 pounds and was on his way back to being overweight.
"That’s when I said to myself, 'Wait a minute. I’m a capable guy. This isn’t rocket science. I should be able to figure this out.'"
So Leicher sat down and made a list of the parts of diets that seemed to work for him. He went through all the rest of the advice that he’d heard -- eat breakfast, don’t eat breakfast; choose healthy snacks, avoid snacks -- and added the tips that seemed to help. "I ended up with six rules. Frankly, I’d be embarrassed to show them to anyone else. But they were changes I knew I could make without feeling like I was doing penance for some past sins."
Within three months, he was back down to his college weight. This time, though, he stayed there. "It’s been almost a year, and I don’t even really think of myself as being on a diet. This is just the way I eat."
How Popular Diet Plans Score
What works? What doesn’t? With some 38,000 diet books in print and 2,500 new ones hitting the shelves every year -- not to mention magazines trumpeting the ultimate new fad diet in every monthly issue -- there’s plenty to choose from. Lately, even researchers have gotten into the act. The National Institutes of Health and university medical centers around the nation have spent many years and millions of dollars to test the Atkins diet versus the South Beach, the American Heart Association diet versus the Zone.