I solved my obesity problem, losing 140 pounds, and you can too! And you don’t have to give up good things to eat, like burgers! But you’ll have to pay attention and develop some new habits.

A new Smashburger opened in my home town a few months ago to great fanfare, and a quick look at what they served was almost enough to stop my heart.

The “BBQ Bacon and Cheddar Smashburger, Big”, pictured above, is 1050 calories! And the “Chocolate Oreo Shake” is 950! Together they are 2000 calories! If you were one of my 5-foot clients and you have that for lunch and nothing else all day, you’ll gain 50 pounds a year! Live like that and you’ll gain 200 pounds in 4 years!

Thirty years ago, when I was 330 pounds, that burger and shake was a normal thing for me to order. And it’s a normal thing today for many Americans. That’s why we have an obesity epidemic , with 70% of Americans overweight. Obesity is now the second leading cause of preventable death in the U.S with over 300,000 preventable deaths each year due to obesity.

But I solved my obesity problem, losing 140 pounds, and you can too! And you don’t have to give up good things to eat, like burgers! You can change your habits and eat what you like in ways that keep you fit. The first thing you need to do is learn about the real causes of being overweight, and the real ways to turn it around.

Q.) Why are we overweight?
 A.) We habitually eat too many calories!

Q.) Can we form habits of eating what we like in the right calories?
 A.) Heck, yes!

Can we eat at places like Smashburger without being overweight? Yes! But we have to go in there knowing ahead of time what we are going to order. Almost all decent restaurants publish the caloric values of their foods, many online, and you can figure out ahead of time what you are going to order.

To successfully lose weight and keep it off, we have to develop a new set of habits that will have us eating the right amount of calories instead of going “over budget” all the time. This needs to be done with the food you like for the rest of your life. Using a diet to lose weight only to go back to what you were doing before is a prescription for failure. That’s what made you overweight!

First, you need to learn how many calories you will burn per day at the weight you want to be. Over the course of weeks and months, our habits need to have us averaging below that to avoid gaining weight, and way below that to lose. Use the calorie calculator at calculator.net to find that.

Next you need to develop the habit of knowing the “cost”, in calories, of what you eat. You wouldn’t charge things up at the mall without looking at the prices. We can’t do that with food either. Starting now, don’t put anything in your mouth without knowing what it’s costing you. There are plenty of sources of that info in books and on the Internet. You can eat anything you want, but you have to know the calories.

Many of my clients find that doing that alone has them shedding pounds right away! They don’t deny themselves anything they really want, but they are a lot more careful about how they eat. Those who are faithful in keeping aware of the calories, even if they are not perfect, do very well.

When I visited the new Smashburger to take the photo at the top of the article, I met the owner of the franchise. He turned out to be a good guy, a community-minded businessman and environmentalist too. He had a well-run restaurant and he was quite proud of the quality of his ingredients and products. We found ourselves in agreement that there’s nothing wrong with burgers, and that calories aren’t bad. People just have bad habits of eating too many of them. After I photographed the Bacon Cheddar Smashburger and Oreo shake, he showed me something for about 400 calories. It was thoroughly enjoyable, guilt free, and it fit my budget, keeping me trim.

I’ve kept that 140 pounds off for over 30 years now, and I enjoy eating more now with than ever. And it’s become easy with my method. It’s my habit! I savor every calorie, whereas before, I was just gobbling. It took time and a lot of my addiction counselor skills to master the habits and feelings to succeed, but it was well worth it. I’ve extended my life a good 25+ years, so there are plenty of burgers and other great foods in my future! But I no longer eat too much for my own good. Follow me.

William Anderson is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in weight loss, eating disorders and addictions. He was an obese heavy smoker and workaholic until his early thirties, and burned out, but survived and changed direction. He changed in many ways, among them, losing 140 pounds permanently. Health, in a holistic way, is now his mission. He is the author of The Anderson Method of Permanent Weight Loss.

Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com on July 5, 2016.

Originally published at medium.com