Taming the Feast Beast: How to Recognize the Voice of Fatness and End Your Struggle with Food Forever
By Jack Trimpey
Whatever Your Present Weight, You Can Lose Pounds Permanently If You Want To
Already, as you read the sentence above, you may notice feelings about your body, about the idea of becoming slimmer, and some uneasy feelings about "dieting." The chances arc that because you arc reading this book on weight control, you have also read other books - perhaps many books - on the subject, and are still struggling with the old problem. And you may read on, excited at the possibility of getting some new dietary plan, Mime new understanding of physiology and metabolism, or some new motivational gimmick. There is a natural human tendency for all of us to want solutions to our problems that arc simple, quick, and easy. It would be nice if you could set a weight goal for yourself; have a handy set of instructions, including a menu of tasty foods; stick to chat plan for a few weeks without undue effort; and then look at yourself in the mirror one day and find a new, slim, and trim you beaming at you, just as in the TV ads that promote such fantasies.
Instead of quick fixes for weight loss, you will find here a viewpoint that you have probably suspected all along: When it comes to losing weight and maintaining that weight, there is no free lunch. While some people may veer into a dietary plan that is easy and effective for them, most people will do much better by accepting that it takes effort to get slim and trim, and to accept that it takes sustained discipline to stay that way.
Sounds grim, doesn't it? And you've been through lots of difficult times, wanting very much, even desperately, to lose weight. You may have suffered through the inconvenience of special food preparation, the cravings, the cheating, the guilt, the hard-won loss of pounds, and then the gradual fattening up again. It gets to look pretty hopeless after a few of these cycles, and it can start to look hopeless that permanent weight loss is even possible.
"But isn't there some way for me really to make it happen?" you may he wondering.
To this, the answer is a resounding "Yes." Rational Recovery® (RR) is an approach that helps people like you to adopt attitudes that make weight loss and weight control a reality. RR also presents some new insights that can put you in control of your feelings, your behavior, and ultimately your physical dimensions. Although the goals of self-improvement and weight loss arc not easy, RR can make them easier, and certainly more attainable than they may have seemed before.
Invasion of the Body-Haters
Being captive in a body you hate is no fun. I (I..T.) know what it is like, because I suffered from fatness for many years. Now that I have made friends with my body (me), I feel much better and 1 am having more fun. It is also easier for me to maintain a steady weight that is right for me, and I don't feel cheated every time I sit down to eat. The purpose of Taming the Feast Beast is to help you also to get along better with your body, to become a more independent person, to lose the weight that you want to lose, and - very importantly - to have more fun.
I have tried more diet approaches than I can remember, and my bookshelf is still filled with many excellent diet books written by intelligent authors giving sound dietary advice. I recommend any and all of them to fat people who want to lose weight.
But none of them answered a very important question, one I was unable to answer because I didn't know to ask it. This question sets the stage for all that follows, and probably influences the outcome of weight loss efforts more than anything else.
Why Do I Want to Lose Weight in the First Place?
Practically everyone who wants to lose weight would answer, "So I can feel better." So be it. That is a fine motivation to do anything.
But what are the finer dimensions of "feeling better"? For example, while I was fat, J was unaware that I was participating in the great American tradition of people hating their own bodies - disliking themselves. I really thought that my problem was being thirty to forty pounds overweight and that some inner weakness was the cause of my overweight. I struggled year after year with various diets, all of which helped me temporarily to lose some but not all of the weight I intended to lose. When I "finished a diet," I certainly felt better! I was glad to feel lighter on my feet, pleased to look better in tailored clothes, happy when someone complimented me on my looks, felt sexy when my husband's hand caressed my abdomen, appreciative to feel more energized, and very glad to have access to tasty foods in larger quantities. So I would have "a honeymoon," hoping against hope that none of the dreaded pounds would reappear on the scale and that none of the loathsome rolls would again curl over my belt. Invariably, however, I would start cheating on food, and the weight would slowly accumulate, and I would gradually get that sinking feeling of knowing that I had once again lost a huge struggle against myself. The next round of the fight, I could see, would be even more difficult than the one I had just completed successfully and then blown.
Periods of guilt and depression became more frequent, and when I would look at myself in the mirror, I would see one who would never achieve real happiness because of some subtle inner defect that kept bringing me down from my temporary and unjustified feelings of satisfaction. But there was always one pleasure that was mine, the dependable friend that could take the edge off the inexplicable empty feeling that seemed a part of my being: tasty food. I could replace worries and other dreary thoughts with ideas of eating, ideas of tasting, chewing, and swallowing, and ideas of nourishment and satiation. I would eat, at odd times of the day, in "extra 1 amounts, and always the kinds of food that contained the most "flavor punch."
Clearly, I lost weight to gain the advantages of being slimmer, but it is obvious that by "dieting" I was also trying to prove the unprovable and do the undoable. I was trying to prove to myself that I was a worthwhile person, and I was trying to create another "me" that others would admire and that I could accept. That strategy worked temporarily, but then I would become another statistic that proves that overeating is an incurable disease. But, very fortunately, I was able to start questioning myself, as you will learn to do in this book, and get down to the basics of weight control and a happier life. The next question I asked myself was:
Is My Problem Overweight or Fatness?
Terminology is extremely important in solving any problem. Words are powerful symbols, and they determine our beliefs about reality, our emotions, our behavior, and the way we feel about ourselves. In RR you will be using certain words in a special, exact way. If asked, "Whar is your main problem?" you may say it is "overweight," or "overeating," or "compulsive overeating," or "obesity." But these are not really descriptions of your problem. They are only results of it.
In Rational Recovery, all of the above descriptions of your problem are incomplete and inaccurate. Although you may very well be overweight, eat too much, and find it difficult or impossible to control your eating behavior, those facts do not describe your central problem, nor do they suggest any way by which you may solve the problem. The terms "overweight," "overeating," and "obesity" only describe symptoms of a condition that is set forth here as "fatness," or practicing a philosophy that causes emotional distress over one's body and perpetuates the symptoms of overweight, compulsive overeating, obesity, and the weight gain relapse cycle. You will recognize farness as a feeling yon have about your overweight, your overeating, your body, and food itself.
Framing the Problem Correctly
Fatness, while not a disease in itself, is a prevalent condition that can result in severe emotional disturbance among those who are inclined 10 gain weight. The resulting disturbance makes dietary discipline virtually impossible. Those suffering from fatness also tend to experience serious problems in their social, sexual, and familial roles. Rational Recovery from fatness is a process of learning to think rationally about yourself, about your body, about cravings find appetites, and about some broader issues in life.
I mentioned earlier that for many years I followed the tradition of body-hating. If you are reading here for self-help, then it is quite likely that you, too, have been a victim of social propaganda aimed at getting you to hate your body. It is no secret that our society, and other societies as well, idealize women with thin waists; unblemished complexions; generous, well-formed breasts; and long, slender legs - all in perfect proportion. There may be some biological basis for some versions of sexual beauty, but our culture goes much farther than idealizing the Playboy image of feminine (and masculine) beauty. We collectively accept that body image is a criterion for self-acceptance! This disturbing concept that "To accept myself I must have certain physical characteristics," can be seen daily in not-so-subtle messages not only in the media but also in countless examples when individuals such as you and I feel shame for the physical beings we are.
The problem of self-hate is much broader than just concerning fatness, obesity, and overweight. We are a society of self-raters who live by a doctrine of variable human worth and a set of nonsensical rules for attaining self-worth. None of these rules, which are listed a few pages ahead as "Central Ideas of the Philosophy of Fatness," works in your personal interest, and they all contribute in varying degrees to your long-standing difficulty with overeating and overweight.
For you to overcome fatness and then perhaps choose to lose some weight, you must give up some ideas that may turn out to seem even more important to you than food. These are cherished ideas that you may have learned in childhood, possibly from someone you loved and who loved you very much. These ideas seem to be "good, true, and beautiful," yet they spawn the seeds of misery and self-defeat. They are common irrational ideas that cause and perpetuate human unhappiness and result in disturbed relationships. If they could be summed up in a word, it would be dependence. Dependence in adults is like perpetual childhood, yet dependence among adults is idealized as good, true, and beautiful.
In Rational Recovery, you will learn to become independent wherever that is feasible, and less dependent in other areas - all within a relatively short period and without outside help. After all, getting outside help would be cheating, wouldn't it? We jest, for you may certainly benefit from many kinds of outside help, including psychotherapy, marriage or family counseling, sex therapy, physical therapy, residential treatment, medication, exercise programs, and other related services. But still, we hope you will accept the challenge of weight loss through dietary discipline contained in Taming the Feast Beast and not rely excessively on approaches unrelated to your own perseverance and self-determination.