The tenant who was in my apartment right before me was an avid subscriber to magazines. I have already enjoyed several. Yesterday, I received Health Magazine. It's not a magazine I typically read, or even am really interested in, but it was there, so I started flipping through.
There is a new book out on dieting. Shocker, huh? It's by Judith Beck, a cognitive behavioral therapist, daughter of the creator of CBT, Aaron Beck. The title of the book is: The Beck Diet Solution Weight Loss Workbook: The 6-Week Plan to Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person. I've heard of this book before- it was hyped in Oprah's magazine (as found in my therapist's waiting room). But this article went a little more in depth, which allowed me to be even more astounded than before.
Problem One: Thinking like a thin person.
Have there been any studies that have said that thin people actually think differently than not-thin people? I know lots of thin people who enjoy their food and don't give it a second thought after "What do I want to eat right now?" Is there a "fat brain circuit"?
Problem Two: Assuming that fat people are fat because of their thinking/eating patterns.
Um, apparently Dr. Beck is unaware that body size and shape are largely determined by genetics. Yes, there's a lifestyle portion to it as well, and I'm not saying you should neglect your health for any reason. If you binge eat for emotional reasons, it's not that you "thought your way fat." It's that there are underlying emotional issues to be resolved. Again, working on your emotions is quite different than "thinking your way thin."
Problem Three: Reasons to lose weight
The "official" anti-obesity propaganda says that being fat is a health risk. It rarely, if ever, says anything about fashion or appearance. However, losing weight in the popular culture is as much (if not more) appearance and self-esteem issue as it is a health one. Top weight loss comment? "You look great." Not "I bet your cholesterol levels really took a tumble, Betty!" The sample checklist given in the magazine is the following (I'm reading as I type so this is word for freaking word):
- I'll look better and more attractive
- I'll have more confidence
- I'll be able to wear a smaller size
- I won't feel so self-conscious
- My blood pressure will go down
- I'll have more energy
- I'll make a better impression on people
- My family won't remark on my weight or eating
- I'll feel more in control
- Add your own reasons below!
Get the idea? There's ONE health reason for losing weight. Here's a solution: your family comments on your food and weight? Tell them to stop it. That's their issue, not yours. Maybe Aunt Susie has good intentions, but you can tell her that you appreciate her concern but please knock it off. You don't have to lose weight.
Problem Four: Stick to "The Plan"
According to Beck, you can't screw up at all if you want to lose weight. Craving something? Suck it up, buttercup. You can't eat that. Screw the crummy boyfriend, house fire, hormones. No chocolate for you (like the Seinfeld soup Nazi). The cheese you were planning to eat turns moldy? Eat the cheese anyway. Or go without. But god forbid eat something similar. To quote, "It's not okay to eat something you didn't plan to eat. Don't rely on making up for it later. If you want to lose weight permanently, you have to learn to stick to your plan."
Problem Five: Sabotaging self-sabotaging
Another part of the plan is countering "sabotaging thoughts." I kind of see that part. Kind of. I know I self-sabotage sometimes. It's a real phenomenon. But these ones? Ha! "It's okay to skip exercising today. I'm too tired." I hate to break it to you, but you're going to continue to be tired unless you give yourself a freaking break. Besides, I don't want someone who's coughing 8 liters of crud out of their lungs working out next to me.
Or "It's okay to eat this food even though I hadn't planned to because everyone else is eating it." Your reply should be: No it's NOT okay to eat that because my goal is permanent weight loss. If that's the case, then your goal is also perpetual insanity. And continuing to feel self-conscious. I've been there, where everyone else is celebrating something, eating like real humans do, and I'm standing against the wall, drooling like a rabid skunk and sipping my Diet Coke. That's self-conscious.
Problem Six: What this diet does to your thinking.
At the end of the day, you don't think like a thin person. You think like a food-obsessed dieter. Here are some comments of successful losers:
"Every time I'm tempted to put something in my mouth that isn't planned, I feel like I have the option in that moment of getting stronger or weaker, not just heavier or thinner."
"I used to be a spontaneous eater, eating whenever and whatever I wanted. But being hungry is not an emergency. Dr. Beck taught me that I have to plan what I eat and stick to it if I want to be thin."
Talk about society at work there. Because fat people are weak and thin people are strong. Right. That's how it works.
Oh, and hunger is an emergency. So is thirst. Your body doesn't give you those signals for fun. It gives you those signals because it needs fuel, dammit. Believe me, hunger can be an emergency. Not being able to honor my hunger nearly killed me.
So, what I've learned from this book is that you may or may not be able to think like a thin person, but you definitely will be able to drive yourself completely insane.
Sorry, Dr. Beck. Save it for someone else. I have better things to do with my time and money.