When most people think about weight loss, they think about the numbers on the scale. They think that loading their shopping baskets full of low-fat and nonfat foods and stepping up their exercise plan will help them win the battle of the bulge.
Think again, say best-selling authors Drs. Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen. Their new book, "You: On a Diet," blows a hole in many of the beliefs Americans have held concerning health and weight loss.
In this book, Oz and Roizen set out to educate readers about the science of weight gain -- the "biology of blubber" as they call it -- with the belief that once we understand how our bodies process and store fat, we'll be better able to identify and control our weight-gaining tendencies.
Testing the Theory
Jodi Hazan knows all about weight-gaining tendencies. By age 32, she had tried more than 20 different diet plans and products, but nothing seemed to work long term. At 5 feet, 2 inches tall, the busy New York salon owner weighed more than 200 pounds and admits she was basically in denial about her excessive weight gain.
"I stopped weighing myself after I got over a certain point," she recalls. "I was wearing size 16 clothes that didn't fit me. They were too small, but I refused to buy the bigger size. I refused to go to size 18."
Another New Yorker, Michelle Bouchard, faced a similar challenge. A 40-something single mother and former model, Bouchard fought her own battle with unsuccessful weight loss. The weight she gained during her last pregnancy had veered out of control, and Bouchard, normally a svelte size 8, found herself wearing size 14 clothing.
"I'd always thought of myself as kind of tall and lanky, and I had completely lost that look," says Bouchard.
In an effort to regain her single-digit size, Bouchard tried everything from the latest fads in meal plans to good old-fashioned juice diets, but each one ended in failure.
'It's Not a Diet, It's an Education'
"Most diets are like trying to hold your breath underwater," says Roizen, "and how long can you hold it before you come up gasping or gulping for that food? What we wanted to do was teach people why it's important to know about food, and how your body works, so that you could get something that worked for you forever."
Oz and Roizen showed these two frustrated women and countless other TV viewers exactly how to do this last May, on a Discovery Health Channel documentary named after their best-selling book.
The doctors spent 90 days reprogramming the women's thoughts about food and eating habits, giving them a thorough education on how to read labels and prepare healthy meals. They even cooked with the women in the kitchen. The end results? Resounding success.
But anyone can stay on a diet for the short term. "20/20" picked up the story to see how well the diet worked once the cameras stopped rolling.
Today Bouchard and Hazan look and feel like new women, having lost 27 pounds, and 43 pounds, respectively. And, perhaps more important, each lost at least 10 inches from their waistlines.
Oz and Roizen carefully point out that an expansive waistline is the true indicator of excessive weight, and that educated dieters should gauge their success by inches lost rather than pounds on the scale.
According to Bouchard, followers of the "You: On a Diet" program are anything but dieters, and the program is far from a diet.
"This program is an education," she explained. "It's not a diet, it's an education."
Tune into Discovery Health Channel for a special "OZ-A-THON" on Saturday, Jan. 20, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. (ET/PT), featuring chief medical correspondent Dr. Mehmet Oz in the top rated specials "You: The Owner's Manual" and "You: On A Diet."