Consulting, Research and Speaking on Health and Media Issues

Promoting exercise and healthy eating

Real World Fitness book photo

Real-World Fitness

I’ve ghostwritten or co-authored four celebrity health books on exercise, weight loss and women’s health, including two New York Times best-sellers (which I’m contractually forbidden to list!).

One book I can mention was a collaboration with trainer Kathy Kaehler, who was fitness consultant to NBC’s Today. Some of her clients kindly shared with me what works for their workouts, including Alfre Woodard, Samuel L. Jackson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Matt Lauer and Claudia Schiffer.  Advice from exercise psychologists at the Cooper Institute and from the research literature rounded out the book.

Patient support program for Roche

As a strategic communications consultant at the Swiss global headquarters of F. Hoffmann-La Roche, I took on the challenge of developing a patient support strategy for Xenical, a weight-loss medication (now sold OTC as Alli). After reviewing the research literature, interviewing experts in the U.S. and Europe, I put together a 60-page report on what works, including:

  • Motivations for losing weight, and the crucial role of self-efficacy
  • The importance of patient expectations from the drug (unrealistic bikini-readiness vs. losing 10% of baseline weight for small but meaningful health improvements, linked to identifiable progress markers)
  • Self-monitoring (food diaries can highlight stress-eating triggers and easy-win changes)
  • Structured gym workouts vs. “lifestyle activity programs”; both can work, but start slowly and build up gradually
  • Tailoring the program by patient age and health status (including type 2 diabetes)
  • How success factors for weight maintenance differ from weight loss (including “normalization” of new habits, plans for coping with temptations and stress).

Sports video games as stealthy exercise promoters

One unexpected finding of my research at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard on how video games affect teen players: many of them, especially boys, were motivated to try new sports or be more active by sports video games. Popular games such as Tony Hawk skateboarding or Madden NFL encourage young teens to get outside and copy the moves they make in the game. I drew on these survey and focus group findings, as well as other
research, to write a chapter called “Using Sports Videogames to Promote Real-World Physical Activity Among Young Adolescents” in the book Sports Videogames, edited by Consalvo, Mitgutsch and Stein (Routledge, 2013).