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Help is at Hand

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Many years ago, when I first realised that I had to do something about my weight, the only path to action was to talk to my doctor. Alas, doctors back then would just put me on a strictly calorie-controlled diet and I’d lose weight for a few weeks, then put it all back on. I didn’t know any better, so I kept repeating this process, each time expecting a different outcome (which apparently is the first sign of madness!).

But what option did I have? There were virtually no books on the subject, and I was never going to read a whole book about it anyway. And even if I did find a book, it was only going to say the same thing as my doctor, so what was the point?

Yeah, I am talking about some years ago – how can you tell? 🙂

Of course these days we have the exact opposite problem – we’re overwhelmed not just with information, but with opinions (yes, including mine – the irony is not lost on me). Seriously, people, I walk into a bookshop these days and all I want is one, single book that will tell me what I need to do and how I need to do it. That’s all. Just one book that will actually get me to where I want to go.

Trouble is, there’s hundreds of them, possibly thousands. And while many of them are very well written and researched, and produced with the best of intentions, there are also a huge number of shonky people with their ‘miracle’ cures. The worst part about that is that often you can’t tell them apart until you’ve forked out your hard-earned money. It’s only when you get home that you read in the second chapter about how breathing deeply 15 times before you eat will change your appetite so radically, all you’ll want is a peanut and a slice of cucumber all day.

The whole thing is endlessly frustrating – and extremely expensive. I have probably spent more than $500 on diet books over the years, and I weigh more now than I ever did.

That’s not to say that they’re all bad – because they aren’t. Some books about dieting, the body and food are exceptional – and well worth paying for. Below is a small list of the books I’ve read over the years that have really helped me understand how my body works, how food works and how to develop – and keep – some good habits.

You on a Diet – Dr Roizen & Dr Oz

This is actually written by a couple of doctors with the goal of communicating sometimes-complex information in an easy to understand manner. They do a pretty good job, and actually make it fun to read at the same time. This is a great book to help you understand how your body actually processes different types of foods and why the bad ones are bad. You don’t need to be a brain surgeon to understand this one. It makes for a great quick reference as well as containing some very nice recipes at the back.

Naturally Slim – Dr Cherie Martin

I read this book quite a while ago, but it opened my eyes up to the entire concept of an over eating disorder. I found myself on so many pages, and learned so much that I still refer back to it now. It will teach you how to learn the eating habits of those who are naturally slim, and while that won’t necessarily make you lose lots of weight, it certainly helps reset your own measuring tools – such as how to gauge when you’re full, when you’re hungry, and how much is too much.

Life Strategies – Dr Phil McGraw

Love him or hate him, there’s no doubt that Dr Phil has changed the way we look at our inner selves. He’s made the process much more acceptable and, for that matter, more accessible and possibly a little less daunting. This book is one of his first, and while it isn’t about dieting of weight issues, it does have some very useful and practical pointers. Although life isn’t as simple as a slogan, the one-liners that make up the Life Strategies actually become much easier to remember throughout the normal day. I find myselfrepeating that ‘People do what works’ when wondering why I have trouble getting up at 5am for an exercise class. One of the most powerful is that ‘Life is Managed, not Cured’.

That will do for the moment. More soon.

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