Body of Truth - Book Review
- POSTED ON: Nov 14, 2015

Body of Truth: How Science, History, and Culture Drive Our Obsession with Weight — and What We Can Do about it, by Harriet Brown (2015)

Body of Truth is an inspired and inspiring well-researched book about our cultural obsession with weight, our fetishization of thinness, and our demonization of fat. It is a compelling read which will make us think more deeply about the attitudes we have about our bodies and our health.

Over the past twenty-five years, our quest for thinness has morphed into a relentless obsession with weight and body image. In our culture, "fat" has become a four-letter word. Or, as Lance Armstrong said to the wife of a former teammate, "I called you crazy. I called you a bitch. But I never called you fat."

How did we get to this place where the worst insult you can hurl at someone is "fat"? Where women and girls (and increasingly men and boys) will diet, purge, overeat, undereat, and berate themselves and others, all in the name of being thin?

As a science journalist, Harriet Brown has explored this collective longing and fixation from an objective perspective; as a mother, wife, and woman with "weight issues," she has struggled to understand it on a personal level. Now, in Body of Truth, Brown systematically unpacks what's been offered as "truth" about weight and health.

Starting with the four biggest lies, Brown shows how research has been manipulated; how the medical profession is complicit in keeping us in the dark; how big pharma and big, empty promises equal big, big dollars; how much of what we know (or think we know) about health and weight is wrong. And how all of those affect all of us every day, whether we know it or not.

The quest for health and wellness has never been more urgent, yet most of us continue to buy into fad diets and unattainable body ideals, unaware of the damage we're doing to ourselves. Through interviews, research, and her own experience, Brown not only gives us the real story on weight, health, and beauty, but also offers concrete suggestions for how each of us can sort through the lies and misconceptions and make peace with and for ourselves.

The video below is an example of determination in dealing with a desire for food.


Cravings + "Mindfullness, the No-Diet, Diet Book " - Book Review
- POSTED ON: Jun 06, 2015


A Craving is a feeling that we’ve attached an action to.
  The video at the bottom of this article is of former addict, Lucy Bainbridge, and therapist, Elaine Hilides, sharing a 3 Principles perspective on Addiction and Cravings.

For those people who are interested in learning more about Elaine Hilides, … as part of my Diet Hobby, I purchased and read Elaine Hilides book, Mindfullness The No-Diet Diet Book (2013), quite some time ago, before becoming interested in the 3 Principles concept. At the time of my first reading, I judged the book to be okay, but rather ordinary and unimpressive.

Because I was impressed by the video interview below - which I discovered during my current study of the 3 Principles as related to my struggle with dieting and weight control. Because the interview impressed me, I re-read Elaine Hilides book to see if had overlooked something that might be personally helpful.

Upon my second reading, I found that the book starts with an interesting 3 Principles approach to weight-control before it jumps into a presentation of the author’s own dietary personal beliefs - which are presented as factual truths. The author’s beliefs include specific techniques and guidelines involving intuitive eating, behavior modification, and eating primarily “real” non-processed food.


A common 3 Principles saying is that “we feel our thinking”, and of course, my own thinking is often about weight issues. Therefore, I was interested in the following ideas.


You have a story, and idea, about yourself, your weight and your eating and you believe that your story is real, although this is an illusion because YOU created the story.

We all fall into the illusion that the feelings we experience about our weight and food problems are real. But we all experience reality through our own filters and perceptions, and we create our reality moment by moment by whatever we are thinking at that moment.

Yes, the chair you’re sitting in is real, but your experience of the chair might be different to someone else’s experience of that chair. You might think the chair is comfortable but another person might disagree. The chair exists, but it is your thoughts about the chair that creates your experience of it your reality, your story.

Each of us is living in our own version of reality. Think back to your Christmas Day celebration. Each person who was present will have a different story about that event. Once you recognize that you are telling yourself a story, you can see that thought is a vehicle you use to create your story and your reality.

Repeating your old, tired story of why you do what you do, limits you and keeps you stuck in the same place.

There is nothing to re-learn. You just have to remember what you already know. It’s a simple approach. There are no complicated techniques to remember or affirmations to repeat. There is nothing to do or apply, it is “is” in the same way that you walk and breathe.

This new and simple paradigm is not about changing your thoughts with positive thinking and positive affirmations.

It points you to an understanding of what thought is and how you can use the power of thought to free yourself from making unhelpful food choices and then beating yourself up over that choice.

Many have lost their way by thinking that they can’t change and so “why try?”

You have the magic in you. You have free will. Life isn’t happening to you. The more you remember that external situations, food or circumstances have no power over you, the more freedom you have.

You can have the freedom to have a wonderful relationship with food by rediscovering your own innate health, and letting go of the thoughts that are causing the bad feeling you have about your weight.

When you get into a thought storm about your weight, your mind is full and noisy, and clinging to a diet sheet ... as if that is the answer ... only adds to your thinking and muddles your mind even more. You already have the answer. When you allow your thoughts to quiet down, your mood shifts which gives you space to allow new thoughts in.

Unfortunately, the remainder of the book is similar to most diet or "non-diet" books, in that it consists of the author sharing her specific personal dietary beliefs as if they were an Ultimate Truth.

Ms. Hilides’ message is that one can regain health by choosing the “right” foods in order to keep the body running optimally while paying close attention to one’s thoughts, which are the driving force behind every decision made about what one allows oneself to eat.

While the author indicates that people should follow their body's own personal wisdom in order to be guided toward energy and health, that message is contradicted by the prevalence of specific recommendations to embrace and follow the author’s own personal dietary beliefs.

  Despite the fact that I do not personally embrace the author's dietary preferences nor her dietary recommendations, I found the 3 Principle perspectives on Addiction and Cravings, as shown in the video below, to be valuable enough to be included here in my digital scrapbook, DietHobby.


The Inside-Out Revolution - Book Review
- POSTED ON: Apr 30, 2015


Michael Neill, the author of The Inside-Out Revolution

(2013)  is an established well known radio show host, transformational coach, and best-selling author of other self-help books. What makes this book distinctive is what he describes as an "Inside-Out Understanding".

He says that our Society has an "Outside-In" mindset:

"The prevailing model in our culture is that our experience of life is created from the outside in - that is, what happens to us on the outside determines our experience on the inside. People or circumstances `make' us happy, angry, sad, fearful, or loving, and the game of life is to find, attract, create, or manifest the right people and circumstances in order to have more of the good feelings and fewer of the bad ones."

The book is based on The Three Principles. These are:

 


Mind.
There is an energy and intelligence behind life.

Consciousness.
The capacity to be aware and experience life is innate in human beings. It is a universal phenomenon. Our level of awareness in any given moment determines the quality of our experience.

Thought.
We create our individual experience of reality via the vehicle of thought. Thought is the missing link between the formless world of pure potentiality and the created world of form.

 


Neill says that the difference in making a change in one's mindset in how we view things can unchain us from the limitations we feel bound in, and he quotes: "A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that's unlocked and opens inwards as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push."

He says to remember that you're only one thought away from happiness, you're only one thought away from sadness. The secret lies in Thought. Thought is the missing link that everybody in this world is looking for. Each of us has a selective choice …by way of thought …whether to experience happiness, something positive and meaningful, or, negative and sad, dragging us down emotionally.

Neill quotes his mentor, Syd Banks, on a transformative moment: "When you are ready, you will find what you're looking for. I don't care who you are. I don't care where you are. If you're in the middle of the Sahara Desert...and it's time for you to find the answer, the right person will appear in the middle of the desert and let you know."

The author points out:  “The moment we see that every feeling is just the shadow of a thought, we stop being scared of our feelings and just feel them.”

Below is an entertaining video describing the concepts of the book.


The Diet Fix, Why Diets Fail, How to Make Yours Work - Book Review
- POSTED ON: May 21, 2014



The Diet Fix, Why Diets Fail, And How To Make Yours Work (2014) by Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, M.D.  promotes a sane, compassionate approach to getting a grip on food and weight. He points out that 90% of all diets end in failure and addresses how to fix the way we lose weight to make results last. 

Dr. Freedhoff, says, "at the end of the day if you don't like the life you're living while you're losing weight, you're virtually certain to gain it back." This book doesn't push or demonize any food group and provides a step-by-step process for a frustrated person trying to lose weight and keep it off in a healthy manner.

I've chosen The Diet Fix as the next book for discussion here in DietHobby's BOOKTALK. If you are interested in discussing the book or seeing videos about it be sure to check out that section.

This diet book doesn’t recommend any particular diet. It has no strict meal plan with foods that are either celebrated or demonized. There are no traumatic sacrifices required. No starvation, no cleanses, and no miracle supplements.

The Diet Fix contains no outlandish promises, no strict dietary rules, no excessive exercise, and no recommendations for supplements and potions. The book is a excellent science-based guide for anyone looking for credible advice on permanently sustainable weight loss.

Dr. Freedhoff starts out by listing “Dieting’s Seven Deadly Sins” which is the label he attaches to commonly held beliefs about dieting. These are:

  1. Hunger . "If I'm not hungry, my diet's not working." Dr. Freedhoff argues that any diet plan that leaves you hungry won’t be sustainable.

  2. Sacrifice. "No, no birthday cake for me, thanks". Dr. Freedhoff says that perpetual sacrifice of things that you enjoy will make any diet fail.

  3. Willpower. "If I close my eyes and run past the cupboard, I can make it to the bedroom without hitting the chips." Dr. Freedhoff says that willpower is important, but permanent resistance is almost certainly futile.

  4. Blind food restrictions. "The only way to lose weight is to kick this (insert food or food group here) out of my life".  Dr. Freedhoff is adamant we need to manage, but not banish, certain food groups.

  5. Sweat. "You have to sweat, and sweat a lot. Bonus points if you feel like puking.Dr. Freedhoff reminds us that moving more is not going to cause significant weight loss, and in the long run, you can’t outrun your fork.

  6. Perfection. "I have to be perfectly perfect or else I'll never lose weight".   Dr. Freedhoff says that striving for perfection will only bring disappointment, and that real diets must be flexible enough to accommodate setbacks.

  7. Denial. "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels" The diet was great—I just couldn’t stick with it” is a common refrain. But why couldn't they?  Dr. Freedhoff says it's because people need a payoff to offset their suffering. When weight is dropping, people can live in denial of their actual suffering, but when the scale slows down, stops, or starts going back up, suffering gets harder to sustain, and harder to deny.

 Next, Dr. Freedhoff lists “Dieting’s Seven Deadly Traumas”, which are going to kill your diet if you experience them for a prolonged period of time. These are:

1. Guilt
2. Shame
3. Failure
4. Depression
5. Despair
6. Binge Eating
7. Weight Cycling and Metabolic Shutdown

The core of the book is focused on what Dr. Freedhoff calls the “Ten Day Reset” that is designed to “reset” behaviors and recalibrate expectation about what a “diet” really should be.

Each day describes how to develop a new set of skills to support permanent behavior change.

One of the points that Dr. Freedhoff repeatedly emphasizes is in order to make permanent changes in your weight, you must be prepared to make permanent changes in your life. And the more weight you want to lose, the more of your life you must be prepared to permanently change.

Any intervention that is too difficult to sustain will eventually be abandoned, so Dr. Freedhoff emphasizes that one’s target weight must be based on a “best weight”.

The “best weight” is the point at which you’ve found a balance between your weight and your own satisfaction and willingness to stick to a plan. There are no promises of magical and unsustainable weight loss. This is an approach for a lifetime.

The ten days of Dr. Freedhoff's reset process are as follows:

1.  Gearing up: Scales, for you and for your kitchen, to measure and weigh food, and yourself, accurately. A journal for a food diary is essential. And buy food. Dr. Freedhoff emphasizes healthier choices and thoughtful selections, and recommends minimizing refined carbs, including juice, while promoting whole foods. He doesn’t demonize any food group, except artificially-created trans fats.

2. The food diary: All food has a metabolic cost, and it’s measured in calories. It’s promoted as a tool to guide eating, and make eating more conscientious. Dr. Freedhoff not only encourages logging what was eaten, but also the calories, when it was eaten, and any hunger cravings. There are a number of online sites and phone apps that make logging take only minutes per day.

3. Banishing hunger: Keep hunger pains at bay by eating regularly: Don’t skip breakfast, eat every 2-3 hours, and include adequate protein, for satiety, every time you eat. Your daily calorie “budget” needs to be allocated across your meals.

4. Cook: Regularly eating purchased and prepared meals make it more difficult to control portions and calories. Cook real foods focusing on healthy ingredients. Minimize using refined and processed foods as much as possible, but not so much that you’ll give up.

5. Think: Describe your best weight—one in which you’re living the healthiest life you can honestly enjoy.

6. Exercise: You can’t out-exercise a bad diet, but regular exercise helps keep weight off, and changes your attitude for the better. And exercise has enormous health benefits beyond any impact on weight. What exercise? Something. Anything. “Some is good, more is better, everything counts”

7. Indulge: There are no forbidden foods. Real life includes indulgences, and permanently denying yourself pleasurable foods, whatever they may be, makes any diet plan unsustainable. So one must learn to manage indulgences in a calorically-responsible way. Dr Freedhoff suggests asking yourself two questions: “Is it worth the calories?” and “How much of it do I need to be happy?”

8. Eat out: Cooking is crucial, but eating out is part of life for many—so navigating a restaurant successfully is an essential weight management skill. Dr. Freedhoff suggests knowing your calories, pre-eating, moderating alcohol, and making thoughtful choices between calories and food you’ll actually enjoy.

9. Goal setting: Behavior change is accelerated when goals are achieved. The two most important goals are (1) to eat the smallest number of calories possible --while still liking your life --and (2) to exercise as much as you can enjoy.

10. Troubleshoot: Making permanent change can inevitably lead to roadblocks, and Dr. Freedhoff looks at the commonly encountered roadblocks to sustainability.


Dr. Freedhoff is adamant that there is no one perfect “diet” for everyone, and while The Diet Fix provides some general guidelines for successful dieting, it doesn’t prescribe any one particular diet.

The behaviors and skills recommended by Dr. Freedhoff are relevant to any approach to weight loss. He says that as long as you’re enjoying any type of dieting approach, and you see that behavior as sustainable for you in the long-term, then that diet will work for you.

Dr. Freedhoff says, "If you don't like the life you're living while you're losing, eventually you're going to find yourself going back to the life you were living before you lost. " Doing this will cause your body to re-gain the weight-loss.

Dr. Freedhoff repeatedly emphasizes that healthy living is a lifelong approach—not something you can repair with a “quick fix” diet or detox.

Dr. Freedhoff tackles a number of diet and obesity issues throughout the book, blowing up cherished myths throughout. He says that:

Calories do matter.

Low carb/Low fat/Paleo/Vegan are all acceptable—if you can sustain it, and as long as you watch caloric balance. Dr. Freedhoff argues against demonizing any food, even chocolate, and he cautions that your diet must be sustainable.

The enemy isn’t carbs/fat/glucose/gluten. Cutting out food groups can sometimes deliver short term results, but they’re difficult to maintain over the long term.

Dietary fats are not the enemy. Saturated fat is not the health risk it was once believed to be. Unsaturated fats may offer health benefits, so ensuring these are part of your diet is probably a good idea.

There are no magical supplements. There is no persuasive evidence to support the long-term effectiveness of any supplement.

Artificial sweeteners are safe, and can be beneficial as part of a weight loss strategy.

Dr. Freedhoff talks about weighing and scale addiction.

He says that physiologically, plateaus don't exist. Unless it's a temporary trick of the scale, . . . if you're not losing, either you're burning fewer calories than you think; you're eating more than you think; or some combination thereof.

He says although there's no Plateau, but there IS such a thing as a "FLOOR". If you've truly stopped losing weight, there are really only two questions you need to ask yourself.

1. Could I happily eat any less?
2. Could I happily exercise any more?

If the answer is "yes" then you can tighten things up, but If the answer to both is "no", there's nothing left for you to do.

This is because if you can't happily eat any less and you can't happily exercise any more -- then it's unlikely that this will ever become part of your permanent behavior.

I enjoyed this book, and use many of its principles.  I am a long-time fan of Dr. Yoni Freedhoff's blog, Weighty Matters, and I've quoted many of his ideas and articles here at DietHobby.

Dr. Freedhoff has set up a special website for this book which contains an interesting and useful calculator to help people with his recommendations. It gives calculations for RMR, Calories, Exercise Activities, as well as a division of protein grams between meals and snacks based on individual caloric intake. I've included a link to this calculator here at DietHobby under RESOURCES, links.

You can also click HERE to go directly to his calculator.


Fighting the Urge - Book Review
- POSTED ON: Apr 03, 2014


Fighting the Urges, (2013) by Amy Johnson, Phd. is a 23 page e-book. 



NOTE:  7/3/2016 update.  At the time this review was written, Dr. Amy Johnson gave online free access to this e-book.  Since that time, the e-book link has disappeared, but this review remains valuable because an expanded view of the book's concepts are contained in her new book (2016) which is:

The Little Book of Big Change: The No-Willpower Approach to Breaking Any Habit  by Amy Johnson, PhD (2016). Combining modern neuroscience with spiritual principles, Dr Amy Johnson delivers a new understanding of habits that is practical and simple. She explains why harmful habits aren’t powerful, stable parts of who we are, but merely temporary logjams that cloud our natural state of well-being; and points readers toward the guidance of their innate wisdom. Those with any type of harmful behavioral or mental habit could benefit from reading this book.

In "The Little Book of Big Change" Dr. Johnson tells us that the book uses principles from Kathryn Hansen’s book Brain over Binge and Jeffery Schwartz’s book You Are Not Your Brain.  These principles are also similar to those found within Gillian Riley's book, Ditching Diets.  


In "Fighting the Urges" the author says that the book is designed to help permanently change unwanted habitual behaviors. She offers a way to relate to one's addictions, compulsions, and habits in a way that she believes will literally physically change one's brain. 

Dr Amy Johnson gives four steps to rewiring your brain.


Step #1: View your urges as neurological junk. This is also referred to as Re-labeling.

This means you stop believing your urges signal a real physical or emotional need—you see that they are insignificant. You view them as automatic brain messages generated in your Lower Brain that deserve no attention.
 

Step #2: Separate your highest human brain from your urges. This is also referred to as Reframing.

This means you realize the urges aren't really you; they are simply Lower Brain- based messages. The you that has a personal identity, makes conscious decisions, is smart, and has opinions and preferences and dreams is something altogether different.

Step #3: Stop reacting to your urges. This is also referred to as Revaluing.

In step three, you stop giving your urges attention and allowing them to affect you emotionally. You view them as neurological junk, with no judgment or emotion attached.

Step #4: Stop acting on your urges. This is also referred to as Refocusing.

When you stop acting on our urges, your brain rewires around the new normal of not acting on your urges.

 Dr. Johnson says that having conflicting desires about our behavior make it feel like we have two minds, and discusses the "Higher Brain" and the "Lower Brain. The animal part of us—the Lower Brain—believes our survival depends on performing a specific action. However, our Higher Brain—where decisions are made—is ultimately in charge of our actions. These areas are pictured in the graphic at the bottom of this book review.

She says that our brains are wired to produce urges because we’ve acted on those urges many times in the past. When we stop acting on the urges, we rewire our neural circuitry and the urges stop.

The book gives the following example:
 

"Let’s say your compulsion is food. When you’ve heard the urge from your Lower Brain to eat large quantities of unhealthy food in the past, you’ve obeyed that urge and followed through—probably many, many times in your life.

Each time you do this, you strengthen the habit in your brain. What you practice becomes fixed, and your brain literally changes to support the behavior. This is how a habit is formed.

Given that repeated practice is how you created this habit in your brain to begin with, it makes sense that you will reverse it by not acting on the urge many times. When you do that, you’re teaching your brain that the habit is no longer necessary.

You can’t reason with the Lower Brain. It’s a non-thinking, unintelligent machine, and it has no ability to understand reason. So you can’t talk your brain out of your habit by trying to convince yourself that the urges are ridiculous or by talking back to the urges or pleading with them to leave you alone. All of that attention actually reinforces the urges and makes them stronger. Attention and emotion are neural super glue. What you focus on is strengthened."
 

The book was short, simple, and informative. I personally found it to be helpful, and I highly recommend it to others.

Author Dr. Amy Johnson says:


"My intention for this work is that it is widely shared with as many people as possible. Please feel free to reprint, publish, and share any part of this e-book with anyone who you think might benefit from it." and "Please include the following with any portion you reprint:Reprinted with permission from the author, Dr. Amy Johnson (www. DrAmyJohnson. com)"

 

You can learn more about Dr. Johnson's writings at dramyjohnson.com.




 


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