Recruiting Colin Powell to Beat the Bulge

We've never tackled dieting with such precision

If skipping dessert is the equivalent of launching warfare against your willpower, you might want to tap General Colin Powell as your new diet coach. That’s the idea behind The Four-Star Diet -- a new camo-clad diet book that delivers pep talks in lieu of kale smoothie recipes. The entire book/diet is based off of a Colin Powell PowerPoint presentation on leadership -- nope, not joking. Each chapter starts with a Gen. Powell quote that is then re-contextualized into strategy for becoming stronger and more well-rounded so you can combat the pitfalls of dieting, i.e. temptation, inertia and despair. The premise: You must take charge of your life before you can take charge of your weight! Lesson one, for example: “Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.” How does this leadership advice translate to dieting? Well, “pissing people off” means staying strong in the face of friends and family who will chafe at or even outright sabotage your weight-loss efforts. “Don’t let these people’s problems become your own!” Lauran J. Wellington, the author of the book, writes. And so it continues for 19 chapters.

Think of your body and mind as the turf you’ve got to defend. Then burn the “brain fat”: bad habits, negative thinking, emotional eating, faith in wacky diets.

“Traditional diet books focus on losing weight but don't address the underlying issue,” Wellington told me. “It’s crucial to ‘root out’ that issue to prevent the weight gain from happening again, to set us on the path for success. Otherwise it’s completely unrealistic to expect diets to work.”

Wellington became a widow at 35, is raising five children on her own and has launched six businesses (including E! Entertainment Television) so she knows a bit about the self-discipline.

“The goal is leadership: Becoming happier, seeking out your dreams, building the courage and confidence for a hardcore reality check.”

And for further inspiration, Wellington also quotes Marilyn Monroe, Malcolm X, Abraham Lincoln and even Dr. Seuss.

When I finished the book, my mindset was primed to exert discipline over my diet, but I was hungry for specifics. What could I eat, when could I splurge and how often should I work out? I mean, these are the fundamentals of a diet book, no?

According to Wellington, consulting a social worker or therapist is just as important as consulting your doctor when it comes to starting an exercise regimen. “Your doctor will know the most. If your heart health isn’t optimal, she’ll recommend avoiding a diet heavy on red meat.” But it’s the therapist who will ask you if you “Have traded off so much of your life that you're so depressed that eating is your one joy, one misery?” said Wellington. (In my case, sometimes both -- at the same time -- yes.) Before starting a diet, she says, "You need to correct that imbalance.”

Becoming well-rounded is usually anathema to dieters, but not on this four-star regimen. The curvier my soul becomes, the more pounds I’ll drop. From the mind-body connection standpoint, this makes a certain amount of sense.

“Dieting is not for the faint of heart,” she writes. “You must lead your diet and not allow your diet to lead you. And you must do so with the notion that your life depends on it.”

Does Powell know about his new diet-guru status? Have Wellington and Powell even ever met?

“I’m waiting for him to invite me to lunch,” she says.

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