Thursday, February 16, 2012

four-letter word: the beck book

I wanted to give my blog address to a friend this week, but then I stopped.  Wait!  I can't give it to her this week while I'm blogging about dietingShe'll think that's what this blog is about.  She won't realize that in the eight years I've been blogging, before this week there were exactly six posts with the 4LetterWord label.  So I'm going to try to finish this up quickly and move on.  Because as you might have predicted if you've been around for other times that I've typed elaborate setup posts, now I'm getting bored with it and I just want to stop.  Blecch.

Partly because the more I read this Beck book, the more I realize I don't want to "think like a thin person."  Or at least, what she describes as thinking like a thin person.  She assumes that all thin people think alike, for one thing-- but in my experience, there are people who are thin because they have great genes (i.e., they eat whatever they want and they're still thin); there are people who are thin because they deprive themselves and are therefore (imo) unhealthy; and there are people who are thin because they're healthy.  (She doesn't acknowledge that you can be healthy and be anything other than thin.  In fact, she doesn't even talk about being healthy, she just assumes that being thin is a valid goal in and of itself.)

Realistically I'd like to be in that third category, and if I were 30, I think I'd have a pretty good shot at it.  But I'm 50, and I'm built exactly like my mom.  I'm not going to be a skinny 75-year-old, if I'm lucky enough to live that long.  I think I can be leaner than I am now, but that's probably as good as it's going to get.  Because I'm not going to starve myself.  Life's too short to starve, and I love food.  Good, healthy food, in reasonable portion sizes, with the occasional splurge thrown in when I need it.  that's the plan.

This is not meant to be different than the previous two posts; it's the same attitude.  I'm just saying it again, because I found the Beck book and started reading it again today and it pissed me off.  I don't think I find her approach particularly helpful.

Except sometimes it is helpful (*admits grudgingly* *sigh* damn it).  So, here you go: the things she says in an introductory chapter about the eight characteristics that lead to weight loss failure.  I'm rephrasing, because part of what makes me mad about her ideas is the way she phrases them. 

Of course she's not the first person to notice that people with unhealthy eating habits often eat when they're not hungry (characteristic #1).  But what I found helpful is that she proposes the idea of investigating this:  explore the difference between being hungry and the desire to eat.  My take:  I'm willing to try this.  In the past, I could never let myself get too hungry, because low blood sugar was an almost sure-fire trigger for a migraine.  But not so much anymore.  I could probably play around this a little, try letting myself get hungry and see what happens.  If I let myself live with being hungry for 20 or 30 minutes, get a drink of water, distract myself, does the feeling go away?  I could try this.

But I'm not sure how it will work, because of  characteristic #2:  people with unhealthy eating habits have a low tolerance for hunger.  Yup, that's me.  You don't want to be around me when I'm hungry.  I get grumpy and miserable-- I'm fairly hypoglocemic, or at least I used to be, so (in the past at least) mild hunger pains quickly moved to jittery, finger-nail chewing desperation.  I get frantic.  And I would often get a migraine.  I may have to read more about this one to see what she says to do about this, since she claims that she has "many techniques" to deal with this.

Characteristic #3:  You like the feeling of being full.   Well, maybe.  I think the problem is more that I like the taste of the food than that I like the feeling of being full.  This one (in her description which I'm not repeating here) is the most snobby about how pathetic non-thin people are.  It practically made me grind my teeth, so we'll just move on.

Characteristic #4:  You fool yourself about how much you eat.  I don't think so.  I'm pretty aware of how much I eat, because I can drown myself in guilt about it if I let myself.  The examples she gave for this one didn't seem like things that I have a problem with, except for one-- thinking if you stray from your desired menu, "Well, I already screwed up so I might as well blow it for the whole day."  I don't do this so much with food as I do with caffeine-- you already know I avoid caffeine, but if for some reason I've had some during the morning, I usually decide that since I've already had it, I might as well just have as much caffeine as I want that day.  That's actually one helpful thing that this book has done for me-- I read this about three weeks ago, and already recognizing that as a bogus thought has helped me out 2 or 3 times.

Characteristic #5:  You comfort yourself with food.  Yes, I do.  But only occasionally; I'm much better about this than I was a few months ago.  I don't think I do this often enough to be a problem.  I think having a gooey treat at the end of a truly horrendous day is actually a pretty good coping strategy, as long as it's not something you do all the time.

#6  You feel helpless and hopeless when you gain weight.  When thin people gain weight, she says, they don't see it as a catastrophe.  They have confidence that if they watch what they eat for a few days and increase their exercise, the scales will go back down.  I'm not sure I agree with this.  I've known thin people who were terrified of gaining weight.  Which is why this "the way thin people think" schtick is more than a little suspect --being thin doesn't automatically equate to mental and emotional health.  But the idea of not panicking over minor fluctuations in weight is a good one.

#7 You focus on issues of unfairness: i.e., it's not fair that some people can eat whatever they want and I can't.  This one didn't resonate for me at all. I might occasionally unconsciously be affected by this, but I can't think of a time I've "focused" on it, or made a decision to eat or not eat because of it.

#8  You stop dieting once you lose weight, rather than continuing to eat healthy food in healthy amounts.  I'm not there yet so I don't know if this will be a problem for me.  But since I'm in this to become more healthy, it's at least a point that makes sense. 

So that's the (very) quick overview.  Like I said, there are a few of her points that interest me, so I'm going to read those chapters.  But I have my doubts about the system overall.


  1. not that I haven't read, enjoyed, and learned from people who DO blog about dieting-- sorry if those first few lines seemed rude. It's just not usually what I blog about here.

  2. Sounds like some good ideas, but packaged in this tired gimmick (the Thin thing.)

    And yay for not talking about dieting too much. I think it's good (for health, for weight loss even) to not expend too much energy on the subject.

    1. yes, I agree. I've decided that my whole attitude toward this book would be better if she had said "learn to think like a person who has healthy eating habits" instead of "learn to think like a thin person." doesn't sound as catchy and probably wouldn't sell as many books, though.