Last spring I was checking the web sites of several different popular diet plans, and each of them had aspects that didn’t appeal to me (cost factors or elimination of certain whole food groups, etc.). Then I found Dr. Phil McGraw’s site dealing with weight, and it contained a lot of common sense, so I decided to buy his book, The Ultimate Weight Solution: The Seven Keys to Weight Loss Freedom.
Let me say at the outset that I am not a Dr. Phil disciple, so please don’t take this as an endorsement of anything he has ever said or written. I have never seen a whole episode of his show. I have caught parts of it at the doctor’s waiting room and the last ten minutes or so when my husband turns on the TV after dinner some times. I have found myself disagreeing with him on occasion (particularly one program dealing with when to end a marriage) and I have heard him once or twice use language I find offensive. But from what I have seen he is good at laying out a situation in plain black and white and applying common sense solutions. So with that in mind, I started reading his book.
And he does lay things out in plain black and white. Take, for instance, this statement in response to the excuse that “Because obesity runs in my family, I just can’t lose weight.”
Is holding on to the excuse that you’re a victim, blaming others for your results, really going to help you get in shape? Does it bring you happiness, peace, calm, and fulfillment? Is it working for you? If you answered No, No, and No, then stop listening to your own justifications and excuses for why you are putting up with these thoughts and beliefs, actions and inactions, that are not working for you. If it’s not working, let go of it!
Bottom line: there are no victims, only volunteers. You are creating the situations you’re in; you’re creating the thoughts and emotions that flow from those situations. You must embrace the fact that you own your problems and take action to solve them.
He reminds that, if we eat in response to stress, “None of these situations will get better if you respond by stuffing yourself with uncontrolled amounts of food.” You might say, “Well, duh.” But many people fall into that trap of comforting themselves with food, and sometimes that plain, clear realization is a wake-up call.
Here is another quote:
If you don’t have time to exercise, you are saying, in effect, that you have time to stay overweight and that you have time, at some point in your future, for a long, and still-growing list of life-crippling, life-threatening diseases that exercise ios known to prevent. If you don’t have time for exercise, ask yourself if you have time for heart disease, stroke, cancer, or diabetes. If you don’t exercise with some degree of regularity, you are making a decision to compromise your life quality, today and in the future.
His first “key” is right thinking, and really that premise underlies the whole book, the premise that what you think determines how you feel and act.
I did find a few areas of disagreement. One was a statement in the chapter on right thinking: “You have within you everything you will ever need to be, do, and have, anything and everything you will ever want or need.” As a Christian, I find all that I need, including the strength to do right, in God, not in myself. In the chapter on emotional control, he cites David and Goliath as an example of confidence on David’s part in contrast with fear of the other soldiers, but, again, David’s confidence in both his victory and his cause came from God, not his own self confidence (I Samuel 17). Also in that chapter he recommends certain relaxation techniques. I have no problem with breathing techniques, contracting and relaxing muscles to ease tension, listening to music (Dr. Jim Berg also advocates the use of these in Quieting a Noisy Soul), but yoga and meditation as the world thinks of it cross the line in my book, and I think people need to be wary of them.
He does also talk about specific foods and which kinds are best. There are several helpful charts and quizzes. He cautions against unrealistic expectations, such as thinking that once you do lose weight you’ll find a mate, get a great job, and everything will be rosy.
My problem with any kind of instructional book is that, as I am reading along, I’ll think, “Yes, that’s good,” “Yes, I agree there,” “That’s very helpful,” and then I get done, close the book, and a day or two later, think, “What was that again?” Things just don’t stay with me like they do when I read a story. So I think what I need to do is skim back through a chapter at a time, maybe listing out the points I underlined or noted to review the major points.