Recently, a member of Dr. Bert’s AC/Fast-5 Diet Facebook group mentioned that supporting Dr. Bert’s work was a good gesture. That statement really struck me. It’s not only a good gesture, it’s vitally important. I wondered to myself if all of you following the AC/Fast-5 way of life realize how important you have been to the advancement of this incredible movement. I’m so grateful to everyone who asks questions, offers feedback, motivates others, shares virtual smiles and tells their amazing stories. You motivate me! Since day one, Fast-5 has been promoted through word-of-mouth, so it’s all of you who keep this going strong, not a publisher, a celebrity spokesperson or an endless pot of advertising dollars.
I’ve been working with Dr. Bert and his wife, Dr. Judi, as a volunteer for the past four years. In that time, I’ve learned a lot about their life, their philosophy and about the long and bumpy road that these non-conformist physicians have chosen. Dr. Bert and Dr. Judi are humble and modest people who don’t seek attention, so I was careful when I approached them about my guest post idea. When they agreed to let me write something, I was excited to have this platform, but I also felt a heavy responsibility. If I’ve only got one shot at this blog, I want to use this space to tell a story about how all of this all came to be and why you’re so important.
(How am I doing so far, docs? I haven’t embarrassed you yet, have I?)
A busy dad’s breakthrough
After his last tour with the Navy where he spent time as a battalion surgeon with the Marine battalions 1/3, 2/3 and 1/12, Dr. Bert started work in 1994 at the National Institutes of Health researching adult T cell leukemia (a form of cancer), while Dr. Judi spent long hours in the operating room as an active duty Navy urologic surgery resident. Dr. Bert led what he thought was a healthy lifestyle—he ate breakfast nearly every day and exercised on a regular basis—but he was distracted by a nagging hunger no matter what or how much he ate. His daily calorie intake was slowly increasing and he began to gain weight. Sound familiar? One day, while rushing to get his daughter fed and off to school, he skipped breakfast. Due to a packed schedule that day, he skipped lunch too.
Dr. Bert experienced the “Fast-5 A-HA!” moment later that evening when he realized that not only was he was able to get through the day without the usual hunger pangs, he had more time and energy to be productive, so he kept doing it day after day. Fast forward 20 weeks of skipping breakfast and lunch and he’d lost that 20 pounds of flab. By embarking on his own study of one, he’d found a solution that worked for him. He thought it could work for others, so he told some friends and they spread the word too. Seeing the potential to transform so many people’s lives compelled him to write a book. He poured through fifty years of research, much of it buried in obscure journals, to unlock to the science behind his observations. As the obesity epidemic was reaching a fevered pitch in 2005, Dr. Bert published The Fast-5 Diet and the Fast-5 Lifestyle…and gave it away for free.
Say what now?
Yes. Dr. Bert felt such conviction about bringing this powerful tool (Fast-5) to bear in helping to solve the obesity epidemic that he left his lucrative job in medicine, wrote and self-published a book, and then promised to it give it away for free. Forever. And he wasn’t alone in that conviction. Dr. Judi joined him in his quest, and beginning in 2005, both Dr. Bert and Dr. Judi began working as fulltime volunteers committed to making the information free to everyone, no matter their station in life. They made an explicit promise that as long as they could sustain it, they would dedicate themselves to giving everyone the opportunity to lose weight, gain health and save time and money that could then be put towards things like enjoying life.
They started the Fast-5 non-profit, speculating that individual donations would sustain it, and decided that even if they just eked out a meager living, as long as they could support their family, they would continue this important work. They learned marketing and communications along the way and pushed really hard to spark interest and spread the word. Think about it. That was 2006. Before iPhones. Before Facebook. Before Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and the zillions of other ways that we blast out copious amounts of text, photos and videos to the world with just a few tap-a-tap-taps and SWOOSH!
In 2006, Dr. Judi went full-on old school guerilla marketing to jumpstart Fast-5’s spread by word-of-mouth. While she trekked on foot across the Mojave Desert, Dr. Bert pitched stories to the media and started a Fast-5 Yahoo group where he answered questions and educated people struggling with overweight and obesity across the world. Together they gained some traction and in 2008, the Fast-5 Yahoo! group was recognized as the Best of Yahoo! Health. Word-of-mouth was painfully slow. It didn’t matter that they’d put everything–their careers, their reputations as well-respected doctors, their savings, and their future–on the line. They faced intense resistance to the information.
I wasn’t surprised to hear that resistance was intense in the early days of Fast-5. I’m not sure what you were doing back in 2005, but I know I hadn’t heard of anyone who was fasting for physical health. Weirdos! In fact, I thought fasting was the antithesis of health. “I must consume all available meals or my body will go into starvation mode!” Ugh. I completely bought into the dogma that everyone needed three meals a day. And if I could manage to find the time for six small meals, that was best. (Now I think, my goodness, how many hours per day are those six-mealers spending to buy, prepare, think about, consume, and clean up FOOD?!)
Dark times and glimmers of hope
From 2005 to 2012, Dr. Bert corresponded with tens of thousands of people via email, forums, chat rooms and Facebook groups answering questions and offering advice and motivation. It was also during that time that Dr. Bert was receiving nasty emails, disparaging reviews and ugly critiques from strangers, health advocates and peers in the medical community who did not understand or agree with his methods. E-books were being downloaded and shared by the thousands, but donations, if any, were scant. One year, a generous Fast-5er donated one dollar for every pound she had lost and the non-profit earned about $60.
To uphold their promise to their family to eke out an income, Dr. Judi started putting her newly acquired marketing and communication skills to work at an advertising firm in 2010. That’s where I first met the Herrings. (I used to call Dr. Judi “Air Fern Judi” because I never saw her eat during the work day. I thought she must absorb all of her nutrients through the atmosphere!) Dr. Bert continued his fulltime volunteer work and carried the Fast-5 mission forward. Dr. Judi revealed to me that there were many times Dr. Bert felt he’d reached the breaking point and wanted to throw in the towel. It was during those uncertain times that seeing and hearing weight loss success stories and non-scale victories from people who downloaded the free e-book kept him focused and steadfast in his mission to help people to navigate their way to their best health.
Now that intermittent fasting has become more accepted by the mainstream, especially in the UK and Europe, more and more people who are searching for an everlasting solution are finding information about the benefits of Fast-5. Insights Dr. Bert has gained through the past ten years of interaction with people from all walks of life, along with new research findings, inspired him to build upon Fast-5 and offer an additional 16 tools that have been key to improving the quality of life of tens of thousands of people. The 17 tools that are described in Dr. Bert’s most recent book, AC: The Power of Appetite Correction, help people to push away cultural influences that undermine their success. He wrote that book because over the years he learned that Fast-5 alone did not help everyone resist the constant messaging, cultural influences and commercial interests that drive us to overeat.
Dr. Bert has devoted his life to this community and to helping people succeed. He believes in every single one of you and will do (almost) whatever it takes to help you reach your potential. Now is the time to give back and there are ways that you can help. Some of them are easy, and some, well, they require a bit more effort on your part. I’m asking you, dear reader, to do a little something today. Here are ways you can help spark this movement:
- Like Dr. Bert’s page on Facebook
- Tell a friend about AC/Fast-5 and invite them to join our community.
- Use the hashtag #appetitecorrection on Twitter and Instagram.
- Tag and follow @bertherringmd. He might even follow you back and heart your posts.
- If you loved your free copy of Fast-5 and are looking for more ways to bolster your success, purchase Dr. Bert’s latest book on Amazon.
- Once you’ve read AC: The Power of Appetite Correction, submit a review on Amazon or Goodreads.
- If you’re trying to build healthy habits, but need accountability, order Dr. Bert’s 31-Day AC ToolBook from Amazon or schedule one-on-one coaching sessions with Dr. B himself.
- Share your AC/Fast-5 success stories: IRL, FB, Instagram, Snapchat–you name it! Your story may inspire one hundred more people to adopt this lifestyle, succeed and share. Over the past 10 years, that cycle: try, succeed, share, has brought us to this moment.
- If you’d like to be featured on the blog, send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re uncomfortable with fame and glory, you can remain anonymous (we’ll hide your cute face and withhold your name).
- And last, but not least, please share this post.
With love and gratitude,
Your AC/Fast-5 cheerleader, Allison
P.S. I promised the Drs. that I’d add a “normal” picture of them somewhere in the post. Here it is, guys! You’re the best!