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'Step' To Better Health

Many people struggle to lose weight. All too often they diet, drop the pounds, and regain them.

Jim Hill, co-founder of the National Weight Registry, believes the answer to maintaining a slimmer self may be as simple as taking a walk. He offers step-by-step directions in his new book, "The Step Diet."

He tells The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm, "Most diets only tell you part of the story. They help you lose the weight, but they don't help you keep it off."

Through studying people who kept it off, Hill says he has learned an increase in physical activity made up for their drop in metabolism as they lose weight.

He says, "We've followed 3,000 people who have lost an average of 70 pounds and kept it off for an average of six years. Pretty successful, huh? What they've taught us is, keeping weight off is different than losing weight. In the book, we try to do both. Most books try tell you how to lose weight. We tell you how to lose it and keep it off."

Hill says there are six stages of step diet. They are:

  • Prepare for Weight Management. Says Hill, "Start by seeing where you are now. How are you going to change if you don't know where you are now? We have people take track of what they eat and their steps. The average American right now gets about 5,000 steps.
  • Stop Gaining Weight. He says, "The average American gains one to two pounds every year. Before you can start losing weight, stop gaining it. You can do that by walking an extra 2,000 steps. If you get 5,000 on average, go up to 7,000. That stops the weight gain."
  • Set Goals. "People are unrealistic," Hill says. "You want to go out and lose 50, 60, 70 pounds in two weeks. We try to tell people what you really can do. Realistically, you can lose about a pound or two a week. So you have to have realistic goals and a realistic time frame."
  • Make Small Changes. To incorporate more physical activity during your day, Hill recommends, "Go for a walk after dinner with your family. It's a time to connect and get some extra steps. People do things, like, rather than go to the bathroom on this floor, go two flights down and go to the bathroom. I take walking meetings. It's amazing. You can go for a walk and have a meeting, rather than sit in a conference room."
  • Find Energy Balance Point. He explains, "That's where most people fail. They lose weight, but now their metabolism has dropped, so they try to restrict their food to match the low metabolism. The people that succeed are the people that increase their physical activity to match it. So we give you an individualized prescription for walking so that by the time you've lost the weight, you've increased your exercise to make up for your drop in metabolism."
  • Plan for Lifelong Success. He says, "The plan for success really is achieving this energy balance after weight loss - energy in and energy out. The way we tell people to do it is first of all, maximize your physical activity. Most diet plans concentrate on what you eat. We're the opposite. Get as much walking and physical activity in as you can. Then we go back and adjust how much you eat. The more you can walk, the more you can eat."

Hill also recommends that those who want to lose weight first look at the plate, divide it in fourths and take away 25 percent of the food. He says, "The portions have increased by 25 percent since the 1960s. We're eating more than we need now. You'll find when you don't eat 25 percent, it's actually normal. So you're not really hungry and deprived."

Read an excerpt from "The Step Diet":


Unless you live on a desert island, you are well aware that many of us are too heavy, and that this trend shows no signs of reversing itself. How can this be, you may wonder, with all the "miracle diets" to choose from? Lose 20 pounds in twenty days! Watch fat melt away like magic! You've seen the ads, you've listened to "diet doctors" reveal their secrets on talk shows, perhaps you've tried a fad diet or two. Some of these diets can give you dramatic results, but most focus on quick weight loss rather than long-term weight control. They are not based on sound scientific research. What good is losing 20 pounds in three weeks if you gain it back two months later? Obviously, your real goal should be to maintain whatever weight loss you achieve—and to achieve that loss with a plan that's good for your overall health.

Most diets ultimately fail because they provide a temporary solution, not a permanent way to live your life at a lower weight. But there is a way to lose weight without giving those excess pounds a round-trip ticket. The Step Diet is based on scientific research conducted by us and by other researchers. We have studied not just how to lose weight, but how to make small, permanent changes in your lifestyle to keep that weight off forever. And it's easy to get started—all you have to do is put one foot in front of the other.

Count Your Steps

Are you ready to make your first move toward permanent weight loss? Then take out the step counter that came with this book and clip it on your waist (to your belt, pants, or underwear). You have just begun the Step Diet, a scientifically based, people-tested, easy-to-follow program that will take you step by step toward successful weight management. Much more than a plan for simply losing weight, the Step Diet is about overcoming the environmental influences that trigger weight gain so you can keep the weight off. It is about putting you in control of sustaining a body weight that is healthy and right for you.

It is about starting where you are right now and making small lifestyle changes that will put you in control of your own weight.

We know from experience that most people can learn to control their weight. Many of us are capable of losing some weight and keeping it off for good. Others can still learn to avoid gaining the 1 to 2 pounds that most adults put on each year. Whatever your specific goal, keep in mind that you did not lose control of your weight overnight, and you won't get it back overnight. But with the Step Diet, you can start managing your weight more effectively right now—and from now on.

Excerpted from "The Step Diet." Copyright © 2004 by Jim Hill. Workman. All rights reserved.

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