That's the premise behind a new book, "State of Slim," released a few weeks ago, by James Hill, University of Colorado's founding executive director of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, and Holly Wyatt, the associate director of the center.

Wyatt directs the center's Colorado Diet program, the foundation on which the book is based.

"We have to try to help people create around you this mini Boulder environment," Hill says. "Boulder is the poster child for this."

Within a few weeks of its release, the book was already a best local seller in The Denver Post, and you can find it at most major bookstores -- even Costco.

Hill recently spoke about his book at Fit Social Conference in Boulder, an annual event that brings leaders in the fitness industry together to talk about trends and technology in their field.

Hill says the book is a culmination of his more than 20 years of work in medicine, more than 500 research papers on the topic of healthy weight and a "national weight control registry" that has studied 10,000 weight-loss participants for decades.

"Holly and I felt like we know way more about weight than is getting to the public," Hill says. "A little eureka moment was each year when the obesity statistics came out, Colorado was the slimmest state. Why is that?"


Upon studying the people on the weight control registry who were successful, Hill and Wyatt noticed a parallel: they were living the Colorado lifestyle, regardless of their actual geography.

Hill and Wyatt broke down this Colorado lifestyle, asserting that anyone can lose weight and keep it off for life, if they follow these guidelines. No scams, no fads, no diets (despite the word "diet" in the name, which Hill admits he dislikes).

The good news for Boulder is, well, we're already doing it.

The bad news for the rest: The Colorado Diet does not claim to be easy.

"If you look at the Boulder lifestyle, it's pretty close to the lifestyle we should be promoting for everybody," Hill says. "You have a physical environment that's very encouraging for health, and a social environment that supports that."

Hill says three factors contribute to your ability to stay at a healthy weight: biology, behavior and environment. This means strategically forming new patterns in your brain -- habits, if you will -- and also resetting your metabolism.

This is the most controversial slice of the book.

Hill promotes the concept of "metabolic inflexibility" as a contributor to weight gain.

"When you stop moving, your muscle and hormone sensitivity changes," he says. "Think of having a flexible metabolism as having a normal state. When you stop it, it becomes inflexible, stuck in a fat-storing mode, rather than a burning mode."

The Colorado Diet chapter in the book claims to help readers reset, or stretch out, their metabolism, so it's flexible again -- paired with incrementally more exercise. By the end of the six-week program, you need to be doing physical activity for 70 minutes a day, six days a week.

For the rest of your life.

This number won't make most Boulderites flinch, but the Centers for Disease Control only recommends 150 minutes per week for "important health benefits."

The CDC does advise more than 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity for "even more health benefits." But that still falls short of the 420 minutes the "State of Slim" encourages.

Yes, 70 minutes a day is a lot, Hill says, but "that's the price you pay for that kind of success." You must prioritize physical activity, he says.

"Essentially, I'm saying give me 70 minutes a day and I'll give you 70 pounds of weight loss. Is that a good deal?" Hill says. "The fact of the matter is, because people have been overweight and obese, they have a biological pull to regain, and they have to do a lot of physical activity to overcome that biological drive."

And once you reach that point, you do not need to restrict your calories (although you still must eat healthily). Eating less does not help you keep weight off, because people get hungry and your metabolism works against you by slowing down, Hill says.

Calorie-restrictive diets have never worked in the long run and they never will, he says.

Danielle Montoya has experienced this firsthand. Montoya, who ran a health clinic in Louisville for a decade, says she had been a yo-yo dieter for years (Weight Watchers, diet pills, calorie restrictions, eating at certain times), until she tried the Colorado Diet a year ago. She lost and has kept off 50 pounds, reduced her percentage of body fat from 45 to 29, lowered her cholesterol and she even ran a half marathon.

The biggest difference this time is the increased amount of physical activity, she says.

"When I first started, my excuse was 'I've been too busy,'" she says. "But if I promised you you'd win the lottery if you worked out six days a week, you wouldn't be too busy. It's a matter of how bad you want it."

Today, Montoya says she works out five to six times a week, running, rowing on a machine or doing resistance training. Her social circle has changed, too, she says.

"Why is Colorado the healthiest state? It's because we have people who have that mindset of physical activity, being outdoors, being healthy," she says. "I've been able to gravitate toward a healthier environment, which makes it easier to maintain the weight loss. It's a part of my life now."

Montoya's story is featured in the book.

In the first few weeks of the plan, she says it was challenging, but looking back, she says it wasn't that bad. It was just different.

Being obese is hard, too, Hill says.

"This is not like the books where we promise people this is going to be easy. In fact, it isn't. But we promise people they can do it, and keep the weight off for decades."

In fact, he adds, "If anyone tells you weight loss is easy, run the other way."

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Contact Staff Writer Aimee Heckel at 303-473-1359 or