Book Review II

Another book review coming at ‘cha.

Today’s book is by author and life coach Martha Beck.

Have you heard of her? Seriously, before I get into the book review let me just have a fan girl moment and say I love everything written by this woman. I began hearing about her after reading Mind Over Medicine by Lissa Rankin, and then following her blog. She mentioned Martha Beck a lot. I didn’t start reading any of her books until I stumbled across her column in O magazine, and she had a quote about choices that I began to live by: “When deciding to say yes or no, choose the one that feels like freedom”. How simple is that? (But so incredibly difficult, after all what does freedom feel like?)

Anyway I digress. Back to the book at hand. Since I’m a dietitian and all about the food, for now I’ll continue reviewing “diet” books I’ve read. Enter Martha Becks’s 4 Day Win.

So Martha Beck is a life coach, with a PhD from Harvard. I would say she’s a pretty smart lady.

This book is broken up into the Stages of Change Theory: she has strategies and exercises to get you from Pre-Contemplative to Contemplative to Planning to Action. She doesn’t get into what food you should be eating, she doesn’t provide a “magic formula”; this book is mostly about the mind and how to stop dieting and start having a better relationship with food, health and eating. The exercises are great, some of them cognitive, some of them more about figuring out what sort of eating-exercise-style might work best for you.

So why is it called the 4 Day Win?

Well she suggests doing each strategy for at least four days, before moving on to the next one since this will help make them more habits rather than just something you try as a “diet” but then go back to old habits. Four days is also the minimum you should try any strategy; if it’s an area you’re struggling with do that strategy until it feels more natural. Also she noticed that with either clients or friends who had successfully lost weight they all had one thing in common; after either an illness, a vacation or something that changed up their usual habits for about four days they would notice a difference in their weight or the way their clothes fit. Just enough for them to want to keep going. Basically the idea that if we’re successful early on we are more motivated then if we fail. (This is, in fact, why it’s important to choose goals we can do; when we succeed we want to keep going. When we fail we ultimately give up or spend inordinate amounts of time beating ourselves up.)

Would I recommend this book? Hellz yeah! I’d recommend anything Martha Beck has written. She has a great writing style, that is both funny and eloquent. She explains the science really well, so that pretty much everyone can understand. The exercises and strategies she has for changing your thinking and your habits are great as well; they’re easy to follow and all science based. It’s not necessarily new information, but it’s about really helping you figure yourself out. She also shares her own personal story around struggling with food and weight, as well as stories from her many clients, and as much as I like science hearing about other people who have been where I am is something I find really helpful.

So if you’re struggling with why you can’t stick to any health changes you make, or you’re having trouble even getting started, this is a great book to pick up.

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Book Review I

I like to read. I read every day. I read blogs. I read books. I read magazine articles. And lots of books. In fact I don’t think I’ve gone to bed  without reading at least a few pages of a book I enjoy for as long as I can remember (and before I read to myself my parents read to me, so I have literally been falling asleep with a story in my head for as long as I can remember).

After finishing university I stepped away from reading about food and nutrition in my spare time. But since rediscovering the library I’ve found myself drawn to books about food more. Especially books about eating, and our relationship with food (something I believe to be fundamentally messed up in our society). And since our relationship with food can be a large barrier to sustainable changes, as a dietitian I’ve really worked to seek out methods, and ideas for change that seem to work for others.

Enter this book.

I actually first heard about it years ago when Oprah still had a talk show. I can remember the author being on the show, but wasn’t all that drawn to the discussion of anything spiritual (believing most of it to be mumbo-jumbo).

And this book is really about spirituality and how a person’s eating can be a gateway to finding what’s missing in their life; or what stories they tell themselves about their inadequacies. It’s geared towards female compulsive eaters specifically, but really anyone who feels they might use food for purposes other then physical nourishment might benefit from reading it.

What about the science? Us dietitians (being health professionals and all) are all about Evidence Based Advice. “What does the evidence say? “ we might often ask ourselves before relaying some diet advice to a client. Or my favourite response to some of the nutrition beliefs people have (but are not ready to hear are false) well the evidence doesn’t support that idea but…  This book doesn’t claim any sort of scientific background, there’s no research or evidence mentioned. Instead Geneen Roth draws on her own experience as a compulsive eater, and that of her many clients and retreat attendees.

While she threads the idea that eating is a connection to our spiritual selves (and thus compulsive overeating, the constant cycle of dieting and binging is a sign that we are missing something spiritual in our lives) what she really gets at is that we need to listen to our bodies.

Seeing as this is the idea behind things such as Mindful Eating, Intuitive Eating and HAES based philosophies (all of which are based on research) in a roundabout way Women, Food and God is right in line with the evidenced based books that are out there.

Overall? It’s a nice quick read and if you’ve ever struggled with binge eating or compulsive eating, it’s worth a read. For health professionals? It’s always good to see what’s out there being sold to the masses.