Title: Secrets From the Eating Lab: The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again
Author: Traci Mann
Genre/Audience: Nonfiction, health, weight loss, adult
Source: For review, TLC Tours
As someone who has struggled with weight and dieting for most of my life, I found this book to be incredibly insightful and eye-opening. My entire thought process about obesity and weight loss has completely shifted after reading this book, and my guilt and negative feelings about my size have started to ease up, too. That’s quite a feat!
Traci Mann has done extensive research on weight loss, self-control, and dieting in her unique eating lab. Perhaps one of the biggest things I took away from this book is that there are real and legitimate reasons why most dieters tend to gain their lost weight back.
Let me back up a little, for those of you who might be new to my blog. I used to be morbidly obese. I lost 118 pounds, then I got pregnant and gained a lot back. My son is now almost two years old and I still have a lot of that “pregnancy” weight. I’m not as big as I used to be, but I’m certainly overweight again. Gaining back a lot of my weight has made me feel like a failure, and quite guilty. Traci’s explanations have made me feel better about myself, though. She explains that biologically, you have a set weight range that is very difficult to live outside of, even with dieting. In Traci’s words, which make better sense than mine…
“I understand that we all have an image in our mind about what we want to weigh. The problem is that for many of us, that image is outside of our biologically set weight range. It is possible to maintain a weight outside that range – a small minority of dieters do – but to do so, you would have to make weight maintenance the central focus of your life, above all others, including your relationships with your family and friends, your work, and your emotional well-being. It would be a life of agonizing self-denial, and for what purpose? Instead, I suggest we aim to live at the low end of our set weight range.”
For a little while, when I first lost weight, I lived below my set weight range, and Traci is right – it became the central focus of my life. But then I got married, had a child, advanced in my career, and it COULDN’T be any longer. Six days a week at the gym and counting calories for every single morsel that passed my lips became impossible – and pointless. I’m feeling better about myself now, because as Traci says, “if you lost a lot of weight and then gained it back, it is not because you lack self-control. In fact, I suspect you used more self-control than the people who accuse you of not having any.”
Listen, I DO want to lose some of this weight again, but I’m realizing that my lowest weight isn’t realistic anymore because of the concept of biological set weight ranges that Traci discusses. My body simply isn’t meant to be as small as I want it to be… and that’s okay. Why is it okay? Why does that mean that I’m not just lazy or lacking self-control? Well, because Traci also explains why resisting food is so hard (and often impossible at times), and that willpower and self-control aren’t quite as all-powerful as we seem to think they are. She also explains that diets aren’t really healthy, and that obesity isn’t as UNhealthy as the media portrays it to be. I learned that it is actually healthier to remain at a heavier weight consistently than it is to yo-yo your weight up and down with diets.
Ultimately, this book drastically changed my views – which is a good thing for someone who has ALWAYS struggled with weight. I honestly feel better about myself, and am starting to let the guilt fall away. That said, I DO need to shed at least a few pounds, but I will do so in some of the healthier ways described in this book, and my goal weight will be much more realistic for my biological weight range.
I absolutely recommend this book to any and everyone who has struggled with weight, weight loss, weight gain, and dieting. I am certain it will open your eyes up, as it did mine. It will help you to better understand why you are struggling, what a realistic weight goal should be for your unique body type, and will offer healthy and maintainable ways to lose weight and keep it off this time!