Sunday, October 26, 2008

VeganMoFo Day 26 - Uncle Buck

Back on the old McDougall forum there used to be a regular poster known as Uncle Buck. Buck was one of the early Star McDougallers and a great cheerleader to those of us on the boards, especially for the many of us who, although we were getting healthier, just weren't losing weight as Dr. McDougall had promised. Over the years he wrote a few essays, and for a while there was a link to them on the board but over the years the links were dropped, but since Uncle Buck had given me (and anyone else who wanted to) permission to share these essays anywhere we felt they would do good and help fellow McDougallers, I not only have them in the Files section of the 2 McDougall Yahoogroups, McDougall 12 Day Chat and McDougall Weight Loss Programs Chat, but I'll share them here on this blog, too. For some reason he never made it over to the "new" official McDougall forums when Dr. McDougall moved off VegSource a few years back. He has a summary of them in his Star McDougall write-up in the link above, but here they are, as originally written.

Thanks, Uncle Buck, wherever you are!

Success Tips For Newcomers - Part 1

Dear Friends:

I've been on the McDougall program for nine years, and I thought it might be a good idea to put together some information for you newcomers. Whether you are starting the program or maybe just considering it, I hope this information will be of help to you.

First and foremost, the thoughts that I will be sharing with you here are not intended to take the place of the basic information contained in Dr. McDougall's books on this program. I will assume that you have already read at least one of the books and that you are already familiar with the basics of the program. My intent is merely to share some success tips based on my own experience with the program in order to help insure your success.

Secondly, if you have any questions with regard to the basics of the program after reading the book(s), you can post them on the discussion board where any of us "old timers" will be happy to answer them, or you can contact Dr. McDougall directly via email. He has proven to be extremely conscientious about responding to questions and comments.

Okay, without further delay, let's get started…

(1) This program is a lifestyle! As you may have already discovered after visiting the discussion board, there are many reasons why people choose to go on this program. Some want to rid themselves of chronic health problems, and some want to feel better. However, if the posts on the discussion board are representative of the McDougall group at large, the desire to lose weight is by far the most common reason.

The McDougall program is a very effective program for weight loss. However, let me say this very emphatically: IT IS NOT A DIET! IT IS A LIFESTYLE that we can and should embrace for the rest of our lives. The folks I know who have lost weight and kept it off are those who have made this program their way of life (myself included).

(2) Rid yourself of the diet mentality! Have you ever been on a diet that gave you permanent results? I haven't, and believe me, I tried them all. A diet, by its very nature dooms us to failure. Diets involve counting calories, portion limits, frequent weigh-ins and overall feelings of deprivation. When we go on a diet, our mentality is that we can deprive ourselves for a while (long enough to get the weight off) and then go back to eating our familiar treats. Well to begin with, I've never known anyone who could even stay on a diet long enough to get the weight off. I never could. One day, it dawned on me that if I was ever going to be able to lose weight and keep it off permanently, I would have to resort to something other than dieting since diets absolutely do not work.

One of the best definitions of insanity that I've ever heard is "doing something the same way you've always done it and expecting a different result." Well, I was tired of living in such an insane manner. I finally decided to permanently get out of the diet loop. I think you know what the diet loop is; we've all been there. We start a diet with the best intentions only to crash and burn in a few weeks. Then we put back on all the weight that we took off plus a couple of extra pounds. A couple of weeks later, we are frustrated again because our clothes are tight, so we make a firm resolution to go back on a strict diet and absolutely stay on it until the weight comes off. Then, two weeks later we crash and burn again. By now you can probably see the endless cycle that keeps repeating itself in our lives. And it's a cycle that leads to certain failure. So, one of the first steps in realizing success on this program is merely to stop doing what we know has never worked in the past. We must stop dieting.

(3) Eat when you're hungry! Now, this certainly flies in the face of the dieting
mentality. Whoever thought that it would be possible to eat whenever we want and all that we want and still lose weight? Well, it's true; you can! As long as you are eating approved program foods, you can eat whenever you are hungry, and you can eat until you are full. There is no need to measure portions or count calories, because it simply is not necessary. The foods selected by Dr. McDougall are the foods which support health. If you find yourself still thinking that you must limit your food intake, then you haven't completely shaken the diet mentality. Please trust me. I lost 80+ pounds and kept it off without ever once measuring a portion or counting calories. If we wish to free ourselves from the diet mentality, then we must return to listening to our bodies and trusting them to tell us when to eat and when we are full.

(4) Stay off the scales! A scale is not an accurate measure of progress on this
program, and if you weigh yourself frequently, you are only setting yourself up
for a lot of unneeded stress and aggravation. Now, some of you will want to
fight me on this, but here is my very best recommendation to you for success
on this program: Weigh yourself one time. Write that number (your weight)
on a slip of paper and file it away in a drawer somewhere. Then, GET RID OF
YOUR SCALE! Believe me, you don't need it, and it isn't going to bring any
peace into your life. Either give it away, or get someone to keep it for you. If
you have it available nearby, you'll be tempted to go in and stand on it much
too frequently. You'll know the program is working when your clothes start to
become loose, and believe me, they will!

(5) Don't put yourself on a timeline! There's something about trying to lose
weight that makes people crazy. For some reason, we feel like the weight has to come off overnight. I don't know if that's just part of the diet mentality, or maybe it's because we have become accustomed to instant gratification. In any case, all a timeline will do is put you under a lot of unneeded stress. If you really want to be happy and at peace with this program and the rest of your life, consider divorcing yourself from the timeline aspect. If you are following the program, the weight will come off. I promise! And it will come off at a rate which is right for your body. How long will it take for the average individual? It will simply take as long as it takes. Please believe me, I'm not trying to be flippant. What I'm trying to get you to see is that it doesn't matter how long it takes. If you've made the decision to change your lifestyle, you can be certain that the results will come. So, don't put yourself under the added pressure of so many months or so many pounds per week. Let your body worry about that because it will take care of it for you. You need not give it another thought.

(6) Fill your pantry with approved foods! Write out a shopping list and visit
your local grocery store. Purchase approved brands listed in the book, or select other brands which may be acceptable. If you elect to purchase other brands, you must read the label to insure that the product does not contain any ingredients that you are trying to avoid. Stock your pantry with plenty of approved foods and snacks. If you still have your old favorites from the Standard American Diet lurking in your pantry, my best advice is to get rid of them. Either throw them away or give them away. The little bit of money that it costs you to do this is a good investment in your future. If you have family members at home who have not embraced your new lifestyle, simply put their favorites in a special cabinet so that you will not have to be tempted every time you open the pantry. Adhering to this program by yourself while the rest of your family continues to partake of SAD foods can be a challenge, but I am here to tell you that it can be done. It simply involves a decision on your part.

(7) Prepare all of your meals at home! If you have already started this program, you know how difficult it can be to find McDougall friendly foods in restaurants. So, when you're first starting this new lifestyle, I recommend preparing all of your meals at home. If you work outside the home, prepare your lunch at home and take it with you. Trust me; it's the best way to go. Nearly all of the recipes in the McDougall cookbooks can be put into a container and taken to work. When you get hungry at work, you'll have a good meal ready for you. All you'll need to do is reheat it.

This is one of the critical areas when you are first beginning this lifestyle. When you are trying to make a successful transition from SAD to the McDougall program, it's very easy to find an excuse to revert back to your old way of eating. One of the particularly dangerous pitfalls is failure to plan your meals and not having acceptable foods available at meal time. If you work outside the home and you decide to go out to lunch at a local restaurant with your co-workers, the chances of finding a good meal consisting of approved foods every time you go out are slim to none. In talking with lots of folks on this program over the past couple of years, I would have to say that this is the greatest reason many people "crash and burn" and revert to their old way of eating. Maybe you can go out with them occasionally if you find a restaurant which serves some McDougall friendly food, but for now, please don't chance it. During the first month or two, while you are changing your eating habits, don't expose yourself to a situation which might cause you to fail. A little bit of planning and preparing your meals at home might just be the very factor which insures your success.

(8) Changing your lifestyle involves more than just changing what you eat! If you have a weight problem like I did, chances are you are somewhat sedentary. You can dramatically improve your results on this program by getting some exercise each and every day. It doesn't have to be painful or strenuous. You just need to get out and MOVE. A 30-minute brisk walk is fine for most folks. I'll be honest with you; when I first started walking I didn't care much for it because the old habit of coming home and sitting on the couch was still calling me. However, after I'd done it for approximately 30 days, I actually started looking forward to it every day. It definitely improved my metabolism and it always assisted me in clearing my mind after a stressful day.

(9) Put your thoughts to work for you! Okay this next one may sound a little bit far fetched, but I promise you it is the absolute truth. We become what we think about. What you are today is merely a reflection of the images of yourself that you have maintained in the past. Part of our human nature seems to be focusing on what we don't want instead of focusing on what we do want. However, if you can train yourself to focus on what you want, you will be much more successful at reaching your goals (in every area of life).

Let me put this in practical terms for you. Do you think thoughts about yourself being as you are now (overweight)? If you do, here is a process which will help insure your success in losing the excess weight. Start thinking of yourself, not as you are, but as how you wish to be. Start thinking of yourself at your goal weight.
See yourself in vivid detail. What kind of clothes would you be wearing if you were at your goal weight? You must see yourself in vivid detail as having already accomplished your goal. Now, as you can imagine, this can be a little difficult if you've never tried it. However, it definitely becomes easier with practice. Start forming that new mental image of yourself several times per day, especially before going to sleep each night. Some of you might think this is a lot of hocus pocus, but you need only put it to the test. Don't take my word for it. Just try it and watch the miracles start to happen. There is true power found in this practice if you will practice it.

(10) Don't be afraid to swim against the tide! When you make that wonderful decision to embrace this lifestyle, you must also brace yourself for the onslaught of friends and family members which is sure to occur. Be assured, they mean well. It's just that they can't understand why anyone would not want to eat plenty of meat, eggs, oil, and dairy products. Some folks just can't stand to see someone not eating the same foods that they eat. Perhaps they are concerned because of some misguided notions about which foods support health, or maybe it's just that misery loves company. In any case, you'll have to develop a thick skin to insulate you from these well-meaning comments. Now you and I have never met, so let me tell you something about myself. I'm a very tolerant person, and I always try to be kind to everyone I meet under all circumstances. And, I try very hard to be kind and gracious when I'm on the receiving end of comments from the meat eaters. But let me also tell you this. I am not going to let ANYBODY deter me from maintaining a healthy lifestyle FOR ANY REASON. I don't care who they are.
If they have a problem with the way I eat, then they had better GET A LIFE! I've been to the mountain, and I've seen the light, and now there is nothing that could deter me from living and eating this way. This is the attitude that I suggest you adopt if you wish to be successful on this program in the long haul. Listen graciously to people's comments, and be kind to them. But let their comments go in one ear and out the other.

Okay, I hope these ten success tips will be of value to you. Also, I want you to know that I want each and every one of you to succeed. If I can help you in any way, please let me know. In any case, please drop me a line occasionally just to let me know how you're doing.

My very best regards to you all!

Uncle Buck

Success Tips: Part 2

Hi, Everybody!

After I sent out the first round of "Success Tips" a couple of weeks ago, it occurred to me that I had several other "secrets" which have benefited me greatly over the past nine years. So, I decided to mail out Part 2 to anyone who requested it.

Ultimately, your success with this program will be determined by your level of desire. In very plain terms, you have to WANT to do well. If you do not have a keen desire, then no amount of success tips or helpful hints will help.

Before we begin Part 2, I want to ask you to take a few minutes to consider your reasons for utilizing this program. Are your reasons enough to fill you with an overpowering desire to succeed? What are your "wants" (reasons such as excellent health, more energy, better appearance, etc.)? If your "wants" don't motivate you enough, then what are your "don't wants"? What will be the consequences if you do not change your lifestyle (reasons such as poor health, low energy, low self-esteem, etc.)? The bottom line is that your "wants" must be great enough to help you avoid your "don't wants." If, after thinking this through, you are still undecided about your level of desire and determination, then you need to go back and review your list of "wants" and "don't wants" again before proceeding. I have found that when most folks think clearly about this, they are able to find all of the motivation that they need.

So once again, the list that I have put together is merely to help you once you have already done some soul searching and are ready to embrace this program as a lifestyle. Embracing the program as a lifestyle will improve the quality of your life immeasurably. I encourage you to take that small step of faith and help your life take a turn for the better.

Okay, without further delay, here is Part 2 of the success tips:

(1) Consider dropping refined sugar from your lifestyle. Sugar seems to affect everyone differently. Some seem to be able to consume any amount with no problem while a small amount may send others into a tailspin. To some folks, sugar is very much like cocaine or some other addictive drug. Any amount leads to an unquenchable desire for MORE. Even the smallest amount can trigger a sugar binge for the unfortunate souls in this group. If you'd like to read a thorough discussion of sugar and its impact on body chemistry, I recommend a book entitled "The Sugar Blues." In the case of my own life, my struggles with sticking to this program became so much easier when I walked away from sugar.

(2) The grocery store is a mine field! It is imperative to eat a good meal before you go shopping. If you're anything like me, going into the grocery store on an empty stomach may present temptations which are far beyond your ability to resist. Also, it's no secret these days that grocery stores utilize effective marketing and merchandising methods just like most other businesses. Many prepackaged foods (especially snack foods) are positioned at key locations in the store to encourage you to make an impulse purchase of that item. If you are hungry while you are shopping, those donuts or Snicker bars may JUMP into your shopping cart. Eat before you go shopping. One final note, it's also a good idea to make a list of exactly what you plan to purchase before going to the grocery store. Something that has worked out well for me is sticking with basic staple items and avoiding prepackaged foods whenever possible. Yes, meals do take a few minutes longer to prepare without all the prepackaged foods, but I've found the small investment in time to be well worth the effort.

(3) Learn where to find the food items you want. One of the things that we have to realize when we embrace this program is that the rest of the world is still consuming the Standard American Diet (SAD). With that in mind, it's only reasonable to expect that grocery stores are going to cater to the SAD crowd. While basic staple items such as fruits and vegetables are readily available at most grocery stores, there are other healthful items which will make your new meal plan a lot more palatable. Unfortunately, most of these other items are not to be found in your neighborhood grocery store. I've found some grocery stores to be very gracious about special ordering anything, but sometimes that's more hassle than it's worth. The bottom line is that you will have to find out where to purchase the items you want, whether it be from a grocery store, a health food store, or directly from the manufacturer. As you may have heard me say before, if there is one key to which I attribute my success on this program, it is maintaining a lot of variety in my weekly meal plan. You must learn to prepare foods which taste good to you, and you must locate the sources of the ingredients that you need. Investing a little time in searching for these sources may very well be the deciding factor in keeping yourself on the program.

(4) Consider teaming up with someone else who is on the program. In reviewing the posts on the discussion board over the past couple of years, I've noticed that several folks have teamed up with someone else who has similar goals. This is sort of a buddy system, and there are many benefits to be found in it. This other person can be your sounding board and sometimes even a source of strength when you need it. Also, I would be willing to bet that there are many "old timers" who have been on the program for several years and would be happy to be your success coach. My feeling is that none of us should ever try to reinvent the wheel when there is someone out there who has already done what we are trying to do. Lots of people have already been through what you are going through, so by all means, draw on their experience.

(5) Keep your mind off of what you don't want! One thing I've learned in my years on the planet is that in order to be successful at anything, you have to keep your mind focused on what you want. Yet, for some reason, human nature seems to compel us to focus on what we don't want. This topic is really interesting to me and I could probably write several pages here, but I won't. Instead, I'll just give you a couple of examples. For example, if you have a weakness for candy and you know that eating candy is not in your best interest, then by all means stay out of the candy aisle at the store. Marketing people will keep it in your face enough as it is (through TV commercials and magazine ads), so don't pour gasoline on the fire by strolling down the candy aisle at Wal-Mart. Okay, here's another example. I love Coca-cola. I always have and I probably always will. Nevertheless, I have learned that drinking cokes is not in my best interest. Even though I hardly ever drink them anymore, they are constantly calling me. I've also discovered that the mind controls the body (in my case the reverse of that used to be true). If the mind controls the body and we want to control our body, then we must gain control of our mind. If we allow our mind to dwell on something that we know is not in our best interest, the mind may give in to the body and we wind up having the coke or the candy bar. Okay, here's a secret to help you gain control of your mind when you find yourself struggling to overcome some undesirable urge. "When thoughts do not neutralize an undesirable emotion (urge), action will" (W. Clement Stone). When you find yourself about to give in to an urge and your mind is about to lose the battle, simply take yourself out of that situation by taking action. Take any action! Any action will work! When I find myself just about to give in to an urge for a coke, I immediately stop whatever I'm doing and I go hit some golf balls or take a ride on the bike (can you say "Harley"?). If I'm at work and can't do either one of those, I take out my notebook and I start writing. That's the secret; just do something (anything) to take your mind off of what you don't want.

(6) There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting goals. Setting goals is great and they may help you in your quest for success on this program. However, if you put yourself under a timeline, you may very well be setting yourself up for frustration and failure. Setting an approximate weight goal or clothing size is great. Just don't put yourself under the unneeded pressure to do it in a certain amount of time. It will simply take as long as it takes. Seeing yourself as having already accomplished your goal will be very helpful. I discussed this in Part 1, and it really does work.

(7) Choose a reward for success on the program. Granted, excellent health and or weight loss are substantial rewards. However, it's okay to treat yourself to something special, whether it's a new outfit or a special trip to somewhere you've wanted to visit. Having a reward waiting for you when you achieve your goal might be just the little extra push you need. It's also helpful to get pictures of what it is that you want and keep them where you can see them throughout the day. This in itself isn't going to keep you on the program, but it can certainly help. In my case, it was a new suit of clothes. When I was 85 pounds heavier, I always looked somewhat sloppy in my clothes despite my efforts to present a good appearance. So, my reward when I reached my goal was a new suit that was tailored to fit me. That was a long time ago, but that suit is still very special to me because it represents the accomplishment of an important goal in my life. I think clothes were the ideal choice as my reward because losing the weight opened up a whole new world in the area of my appearance. But, by all means, pick a reward that is right for you. Only you know what will motivate you.

(8) Failure to plan means planning to fail. One of the main reasons that many well-meaning people fail on this program is their failure to plan their meals so that they will have approved foods and snacks available at all times. Every Saturday, I plan out my meals for the following week because that seems to work best for me. This also insures that I can go to the grocery store and pick up whatever I need for the entire week. Please don't allow yourself to be caught without anything healthy to eat in the house after a long, tiring day at work. That's the time when most any of us are prone to caving in and rushing out to McDonalds for a SAD meal.

(9) The longer you stay on this program, the easier it gets. On the one hand, that sounds very simple, but on the other hand it probably sounds quite difficult. What I really mean is that the longer you stick to the program and avoid those old favorite SAD foods, the easier it gets to avoid them in the future. As you've probably heard me say many times, our food preferences are based entirely on habit. So, consequently, the longer we abstain from those old favorites, the easier it will be to abstain from them in the future. Our abstinence weakens the old habits and helps us replace them with new, healthy habits. This is something that you will have to prove to yourself, and the only way is simply to do it and watch what happens.

(10) Your life does not begin after you realize your goals. It is now! Don't wait a single day to start living your life. Life is now! You can easily incorporate the McDougall lifestyle into the other areas of your life. Realize that you have charted a course for a very healthy and happy future, and start living. Don't wait another day! PLEASE LISTEN TO BUCK: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL YOU LOSE THAT 50 POUNDS TO BE HAPPY AND START LIVING. My friends, life is now. Go for it!

If I can help you in any way, I'm here. Feel free to call on me any time. Nothing would make me happier than to see each and every one of you succeed and achieve your goals.

My very best to you all!



  1. Thanks for this post, I would love to be more on the McDougall plan but I have slipped of late. I am bookmarking this to re-read so hopefully it sinks in and I can try again! xox