Thursday, April 30, 2009

Review of "The Beck"!

[OMG! I finally posted something more interesting that a weekly update! :-D]

I finished listening to The Beck Diet Solution audio CD. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to finish it, because--as I noted in a previous blog entry--the reader's voice really bothered me at first. (Interestingly enough, I'm not alone: several of the reviewers also preferred the author's voice to the narrator's, saying that Dr. Beck's voice was more "real" and "personable" and that the narrator sounded too "peppy and Hollywood.")

As I kept listening, though, I found that I didn't mind so much. I'm thinking that one of the following happened:
A. The narrator warmed up to the material as the book progressed.
B. I felt ashamed of my intense reaction and got over it.
C. I realized that the narrator's voice sounded a lot like the narrator in the children's TV show Miffy, and that was somewhat less threatening. (The Miffy narrator sounds like she may have been Martha Stewart's preschool teacher....)

Oh yes! The content:

  • The book talks a lot about hunger vs. cravings vs. just feeling like eating, and it coaches you on how to develop mindfulness of and resistance to all three. I don't really like the idea of not eating when you're hungry, but it is something I had to do at first: I always felt hungry, because I was used to eating a larger volume of food than I needed and because hunger can be one of the signs of blood glucose levels that are *too high*. Anyhow, the way she talked about learning to distinguish the three and deal with them made me think that mindfulness training would be very helpful for dealing with the habit and craving part. (Especially if you're having a hard time distracting yourself: sometimes you just need to sit with a feeling.) I was reminded of Pema Chodron's works--a lot of her teaching has to do with addictive behavior--especially Getting Unstuck.
  • Similarly to the Life is Hard, Food is Easy book that Juice is reading, Dr. Beck talks very sensibly about deprivation. There are some areas of our life in which we have "must do" and "must not do" behaviors, and we often don't give them much thought at all. What's the deal with food???
  • I don't know why, but I liked the "oh well" as a catch phrase for accepting unpleasant circumstances. "I don't like this, but I accept that it's what I have to do, and I move on."
  • Some of the sabotaging throughts/helpful responses were kind of hokey, but I think it's a useful technique to talk oneself down from a sabotage situation.
  • Negative emotions are not an emergency. How often I forget that simple fact!
  • I liked her maintenance advice. I've read it elsewhere (Hi Miz!), and it seems very sound. I like that she emphasizes going for a realistic healthy weight than an impossible-to-maintain goal weight, and that it might take some time for a person to figure out what that range is going to be.
Dislikes (very few!)
  • Word choice. "Diet" and "skinny" and "thin," mainly. I suspect that Dr. Beck uses those terms, because "being thin" really does motivate a lot of people, and she's offering a more sensible way of "dieting" than crash diets and the like. This time around, I am much more motivated to be healthy than to be thin, and my end result may not be my goal weight.
  • The "you can't have this" advice. I guess in some ways, I use it, but I tend to not make "always" or "never" type of rules. (Which, as I've noted before, don't work for me: they set up "forbidden fruits.")
  • Contradictory, or common sense? There's advice later on to be flexible and to avoid the "always or "never" type of thinking...the context is that being too rigid can put too much stress on a person, and too much stress is unhealthy.
Book vs. CD
Aside from "the voice," I think the audio CD would be better as a companion piece to the book. There's a lot that didn't stick with me, and were I following the plan, I'd want to have the book around for reference and refreshing. I don't think I'd find the book alone as useful, either: I often have a hard time staying engaged with non-fiction material. And I liked the way that bits and pieces stuck around in my memory later, as sabotaging thoughts and behavior came up, "helpful responses" would pop into my mind. Which is undoubtedly why the program calls for people making response cards and reading them repeatedly. Kind of nice to have the CD do that for me. ;-)

Becking and Blogging
I found that very little of the material was completely new to me, especially since I've been reading numerous health and fitness blogs for nearly a year now and had been a Weight Watchers member in years past. Blogging really complements "Becking," because the online community is like having a whole bunch of diet coaches, and blog writing and commenting provide ways of working through the sabotaging thoughts & behaviors and figuring out helpful responses.


Lynn Haraldson-Bering said...

Great review! I haven't picked up the book yet, but I might now that I realize its "zen" qualities (you know I'm all about mindfulness...and go you with your Pema Chodron reference! Getting Unstuck is on my iPod!) Love your writing, as always :) Thanks for the review.

Lori said...

Thanks for the review. I have not read it yet, because I don't trust myself enough to try to be an intuitive eater at this point.

Dr. J said...

I liked your comment on Tom's site about being fickle with cross training, so I thought I'd come by :-)

Running has been the foundation of my health and fitness for a while.

I'm OK with Dr. Beck's book. I still feel that one minute of doing it is more important than reading 100 books, although if I ever write one, I may feel differently :-)

Pubsgal said...

Lynn: Thanks! I think the part about being aware of cravings is what made me make the connection between this work and . For me, craving can be a lot harder to deal with, because it's got the attachment factor.

Lori: I didn't see "The Beck" as an intuitive eating guide. The book does call for picking a sensible way of eating and is pretty strict about intending people to stick with it. The recognizing hunger/wanting to eat/craving part involves some exercises in instructing people to feel those sensations for awhile if it's not "time" to eat. For example, you just ate a meal. You still feel hungry, but you ate what you were supposed to eat for that meal. The "helpful response" is to tell yourself that you have eaten, and you'll be eating again in a few hours, and to find something else to do until your next meal. Or, if your food plan has some sort of "free food," that's okay to eat. Whereas an intuitive eater would probably eat a little more. There's even an exercise in which Dr. Beck has readers skip a meal (unless they have a medical condition that would prevent doing so). This is to teach yourself that "feeling hungry" now and then, while uncomfortable, is not an emergency.

Dr. J: Hello & welcome! I've seen and enjoyed your comments over on MizFit's and Tom's sites. (And I very much agree re: books vs. action! I'd seen "The Beck" mentioned in conjunction with eating disorders and cognitive behavioral therapy--I think it was Charlotte's site--so I wanted to give it a listen to see what it was about.) Thanks for stopping by!

SeaBreeze said...

Great Review. Thanks. I just finished "3 Fat Chicks on a Diet" to get a handle on the diet industry from a marketing standpoint, but it actually contained some decent recipes and candid comments. I'm going to be reviewing South Beach for some of May.

Juice said...

Hey Pubsgal - thanks for the shout out! :) You know I never finished the Beck book. Perhaps I'll borrow the audio version and see if it works better for me (if I can get past the voice!). Great review. And yes, it's nice to see a "fresh" post. Not that we don't love your typical posts! ;)

Waving from the east coast!