Sunday, January 21, 2007

Changing your mind

At the risk of losing your interest, I have to ask that before you read this you go to an entry I wrote in late October titled "Easy". In it, I talk about how suddenly, without great effort, I manage to drop my (former) addiction to sugar and caffeine.

I still don't drink coffee, nor think about doing so, and my sugar intake has dropped dramatically and not returned to anywhere near its previous levels.

Meaning, whatever caused this "click" has stuck.

To my utter shock, It turns out this phenomenon – this super easy accident - is the basis for Martha Beck's new diet book, the Four Day Win.

Beck says dieting is not in the food/mouth/restaurant/willpower, but rather in our brain. And that you can "reach thinner peace" through a series of exercises (not the kind that you do in a gym) that will change the way you think, so you, once and for all, never have to worry about overeating again.

I have to pause here to say that I've been following Martha Beck for years. She's authored several fantastic books. She used to write a column for Real Simple, then for Oprah Magazine - I often clip her articles to re-read them later. Her contributions are simple, funny, and wise, and, well, she just rings true, in a life-transforming sort of way. See for yourself.

Anyhow, The Four Day Win brings together so many of the things I feel passionate about: what we eat, how we think, and how those two are interconnected.

Some of the points she makes:

- Taking in more calories than we need doesn’t feel good. There comes a point when you eat that you’re not increasing pleasure but overriding physical discomfort. (Ugh. So true!)
- You overeat because of the way you think. Going on a diet without changing your mental set causes backlash and weight gain.
- How do you think? Like the animal that you are. You’re programmed to store fat when food is not plentiful. If your brain says “I can’t eat that” the ancestral part of your brain wants it. And that part of your brain is stronger than you.

I’ve always wondered why diet books (Low fat! Low carb! No carb! No sugar!) keep making suggestions around what we can and can’t eat (addressing the symptom) without asking why we need to keep eating after we’re not hungry anymore. Hurray for Martha Beck.

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