How to Lose Weight Forever Without Torturing Yourself in the Process by Laurence E. Morehouse


weight gain

Weight control is the most abused problem in the field of personal maintenance. Millions of pudgy innocents, captives of standards that have no relationship to reality, are seduced by a few dozen charlatans, doctors, physical therapists, and nutritionists, among them with promises that can't be kept. Popular fad diets and crash programs are, for the most part, torturous, dangerous, and worthless.

Yet weight control is just as easy to achieve as muscular and cardiovascular endurance. You do not need to starve yourself or eliminate foods of any kind. If you do either you are defeating your objective. 

If you decide to make the pulse-count fitness guide an integral part of your life, then weight control will be as simple as saying no to an extra piece of toast in the morning and an extra ounce of Scotch at night.


The size and fit of your clothes are still the best indexes of determining if you're fat, but it is inadequate as a daily guide to fat reduction. For that, you need your bathroom scale as imperfect as it is.

This program acts as if the scale is telling the truth about your body's fat percentages. we know the variations take place, but by and large, we ignore them. On days when humidity or other factors are giving us high-scale readings, we act as if that were a true weight gain, and govern ourselves accordingly. The same for dry days when there is a drop in scale weight; we consider that a fat drop. We pay attention to the scale, particularly since it is such a good source of motivation, but we don't take it too seriously.

If you're up when you thought you should be down because you've been so conscientious, blame it on the weather. But keep being conscientious. The factors that put you up will probably be adjusted the following day. But if you are still up the following day, and the day after that, you have lost your excuse, it is undoubtedly fat buildup and you must adjust according.

There are ways to diminish these variables to a minimum. When you start a program, adjust your scale to zero, seal the adjustment wheel with a piece of tape, and don't touch the wheel again until your program is completed. When you stand on the scales, just stand in a comfortable balance, with your weight evenly distributed on both feet. We tend to adjust the scale to where we want it. So don't look at the scale meter as you step on until your feet are in place. When you look down, that is your weight for the day. Don't try to maneuver it.

The Monday morning she went to visit me, my friend's wife, following my instructions, weighed herself nude before breakfast after defecating and urinating. She weighed in at 142.

"Okay," I began, when she got to my office, "how much do you want to weigh for the rest of your life?"

My question startled her. She seemed at a loss.

"You don't have a program until you have an objective," I said. "And it must be reasonable, moderate, obtainable objective. Pick a weight that you know you can achieve, one that will make you no thinner than when you were in a comfortable state of leanness. Review your body-weight history. Try to remember when you looked and felt your best, and could easily maintain the weight. Your goal is to be fairly lean, not lean."

She had weighed as little as 117 in college but knew that that weight was not realistic. She chose a weight she had maintained comfortably for several years: 127 pounds. 

Next, we took a piece of graph paper and entered her starting weight, 142, near the upper left-hand corner. We made a dot at that point. Each square on the graph equaled half a pound in the left-hand margin. For every second square going down the page, we entered the next lower number: 141, 140, 139, etc.

Along the bottom of the paper, we began with the date that day and numbered each square as one day across the width. then we returned to the upper left-hand corner and counted seven squares from left to right, beginning at the initial weight of 142. At the seventh horizontal square, we dropped down two squares and made a dot, and at the fourteenth and twenty-first dropped down another two squares at each respective point and made the appropriate dots. Using a ruler we then connected the upper left-hand corner to a third of the dots with a line that ran through the other dots as well.

"That's your weight-control program for the first three weeks," I told her. "In the first week, and in each week that follows until you reach your desired weight, you lose one pound, no more, no less. So, since you want to lose fifteen pounds, it's going to take fifteen weeks and a total of five three-week charts from 142 to 139, the second will run from 139 to 136, the third from 136 to 133, the fourth from 133 to 130, and the fifth from 130 to 127.

"Each day, before breakfast, you weigh yourself nude. That is your weight for the day. You record the weight on graph paper, either above or below, or on the line. If you're below the line, it means that you can eat as you wish that day to raise your weight so that you are on the line the following day. If you are above the line, it means that you are going to have to say no to the food you don't need that day and that you're going to have to seek a little more physical activity than usual. If that is the day you have a dinner party planned, you can prepare for it by eating half a portion of breakfast and lunch.

"How do you measure fractions of pounds?" she asked.

"Just go to the nearest half pound. It is impossible to control weight to minute amounts. The scales are not going to be all that accurate. But the weight you record is close enough to serve as the guiding principle of your program."

"What about calories?" she asked

"There is no need to count calories. The scales will count them for you. Ignore the possibility that fluctuations in body weight may be due to the weather or unusual activities. Keep trying to bring the weight to the control line every morning by adjusting food intake and physical activity. After the first week, you will know almost what the weight cost will be of a desert or an extra helping.

"Once your proper weight level is reached, continue your morning weighing and adjusting food intake to stay on the control line for at least one week. After that, twice-weekly weight checks before breakfast will monitor that balance between food intake and energy output."


A pound of fat has 3,500 calories. To lose a pound of fat a day, you would have to use 3,500 calories more than you take in. Unless you eat nothing and work like a horse, it is impossible. I'm speaking of permanent weight loss in terms of fat, as against temporary weight loss in terms of water.

Even to lose a pound of fat a week, you would need to use five hundred calories a day more than you take in. Exercising this much off every day would be a lot of work. Few of us have the time for it, let alone the inclination.

If, however, you were to combine "caloric burn" from activity together with dietary restraint, you could produce five hundred calories of deficit a day without either strain or starvation and lose one pound of fat every week.

My formula for permanent weight loss is to diminish daily food intake by two hundred calories and to use three hundred extra calories in physical activity.

 Consider the following table:

100-Calorie Food Portions  Minutes of Various Activities to Consume 100 Calories
1 cup coffee with cream and sugar 7 Run 1,500 yards (7.3 mph)
1 griddle cake (pancake) 9 Bicycle 2 miles (13 mph)
3/4 cup cream of wheat or flakes 9 Swim 400 yards (45 yards a minute)
2 tablespoons sugar 10 Downhill skiing
1 fried egg 14 Tennis
A 5-ounce glass of milk 20 Golf
1/4 cup canned tuna 20 Gardening
1 ounce cheese 20 Walk 1,500 yards (2.6 mph)
1/2 cup tomato or vegetable soup 22 Bowling
An 8-ounce glass of cola soft drink 31 Washing, showering, shaving, etc.
A 2/3 - ounce chocolate bar 80 Reclining in bed
1 ounce scotch
2 ounces ground beef
1 baked potato
6 potato chips
5 French-fried potatoes
1 1/4 apples
1/12 quart of ice cream
2 plain cookies


Each pound that you lose in this fashion, as measured by your scale, is infinitely more valuable to your health and fitness than the liquid pounds that you might lose in some crash diet. The goal is to be consistent, motivated and discipled for the rest of your life.


Laurence E. Morehouse, Ph.D. Total Fitness in 30 Minutes a Week. Simon and Schuster, 1975.