Review: The Weight Escape (book & workshop)

weight loss mindfulness weight escapeThe Weight Escape by Joseph Ciarrochi, Ann Bailey & Russ Harris
Penguin Australia RRP: $29.99; ebook from $16.99

Today I’m writing a post that combines two things that consume the bulk of my daily hours:  reading books and worrying about my weight. In fact, those two things have filled a decent percentage of the days of my life thus far – for as long as I can remember. But at least books have provided me with some happy memories! The weight gain and loss rollercoaster has been nothing but a debilitating, frustrating, drain on my energy and hip pocket.  Can anyone out there relate?    

Enter The Weight Escape, a refreshing take on the psychology of weight loss written by a team of psychologists – clinicians and researchers – who hope to help us direct our energy away from relentless struggle and towards a healthier life.  As the tag line says, ‘stop fad dieting, start losing weight and reshape your life’.  Because the world really needs another diet book, right?   But hear me out, this one is a little different.

A new approach to a healthier life

The Weight Escape takes a fresh view of the ‘struggle’ so many of us endure with weight loss, healthy living and generally being happy in our own skins.  It posits that weight loss (amongst other pleasurable, joyful aspects of life) is more likely to be achieved using kindness and compassion, rather than rules and regulations.

For example:

  • There are no meal plans here, and no rules about food deprivation.
  • There is no bullying or berating you for having failed at previous plans, or for lacking willpower, or for not trying hard enough.
  • There are no fatuous positive affirmations or patronising lectures from ‘experts’
  • Once you’ve bought the book, the buck stops there (literally!) – no shakes, no pills, no organic gluten free mountain goat tears to source from the health store (unless you happen to love the taste of those – then go for it!)

Instead, it contains a well-researched and clearly explained analysis of why so many of us know what we need to do in order to live healthier lives and yet simply don’t do it; this includes in terms of weight loss, or any other health or life goals you may be striving towards.  It unpacks the ways in which the ‘low fat’ food industry and the media have conditioned us to fail; and questions the logic of living perpetually in a life that starts tomorrow.  Have you ever heard yourself say things like “I’ll be happy when I’ve lost another 5 kilos”?

While it’s absolutely fine, and necessary, to have goals, it’s important to see that life is happening now – it’s not on hold until you can fit into that smaller sized dress.  The Weight Escape offers pathways towards getting greater satisfaction out of everyday living, which incorporates healthier choices without making WEIGHT LOSS (cue dramatic music) the overwhelming governing factor in the way you conduct your days.

A scientifically proven method

Unlike so, SO many fad diets, The Weight Escape backs up its methodology with solid research, along with plenty of personal anecdotes from the authors. It’s impossible to sum up a whole thesis on the psychology of weight loss in a blog post of course; and psychology, by its nature, is complex and unique to each individual.  But, in short, this approach asks you to sit with your thoughts, feelings and urges and acknowledge them, rather than judging them as ‘weak’, ‘stupid’, ‘lazy’ or any of the other negative frameworks that infiltrate our thinking about health. It’s about being an observer of your thoughts and habits, rather than being controlled by them. The book encourages changing small aspects of The Great Struggle, one step at a time.  For example, it considers the difference between hunger and cravings and helps us learn to manage the two in a thoughtful, measured way – with less of the impulsive behaviour that inevitably leads to binges or regret.

There’s a whole lot of data that suggests obesity, along with eating disorders, depression and other mental health problems, have been steadily rising since the advent of the diet industry.  Now, sit with THAT for a moment.  Ever since we started getting excited about low fat foods, gym memberships, self help books and  sugar-free, carb-free, taste-free cooking, obesity levels have actually gone UP.   Shouting at people about what they ‘should’ be doing is just not working!  The Weight Escape makes an excellent case for individual responsibility guided by calm, kind, value-driven choices that have nothing to do with what your best friend, or your mother, or your favourite gossip magazine have to say.  It puts you in control of the right choices FOR YOU, rather than forcing you to fit a mould created to sell magazines or diet pills.

But if it was that easy, then surely…

Yeah, well, there’s the rub.  It’s not necessarily easy.  You will not lose 10 kilos in a week with The Weight Escape as your guide (although you’re about 10 times more likely to keep weight off if and when you do lose it). This is about changing your whole way of thinking about weight loss; it will take time and practise, stumbling and getting back up again. But the main point is, that setting short term goals (like numbers on the scales), and torturing yourself about your inability to achieve them, may in fact just be setting you up for failure.  And then repeated ‘failures’ lead to lower self esteem, making every new attempt just another difficult, depressing struggle.  I say ENOUGH!  And luckily so do these authors, who theorize that living each day according to your fundamental life values (which you can nut out with the help of the exercises in the book) can’t help but be a path to long term success. And success is defined as fulfilled living, rather than ditching the last 5kg.

What can you do TODAY to feel good about yourself and to live the life you want to be living?

So, what if we all stopped fighting obesity and instead started nurturing, supporting and enjoying good health?  And what if we were doing that because living an active healthy life is a value we aspire to as balanced humans – not because our bodies are unacceptable, not because of guilt or shame or punishment, not because we’re conforming to the latest ‘research’ shouted at us by a very confusing and contradictory advertising industry.  What would that look like?

I’m pretty interested in learning more, so expect a few more posts on this topic!  Meanwhile, you can visit The Weight Escape website for more information about the book and the philosophies behind it.   If you’re lucky, you can also attend a one-day workshop based on the book. These are held periodically throughout the year in cities around Australia.  I’ve just attended one of these too and I’m now into Week 3 of the ‘bootcamp’ that follows on.  But that’s a blog post for another day!

Tune in next time for The Weight Escape: The Bootcamp Edition!

For a change, I bought this book myself and this is not a sponsored post!  I did receive a complimentary spot at the Brisbane workshop, which I’ll discuss later.  All opinions are, as always, my own.  

11 comments for “Review: The Weight Escape (book & workshop)

  1. January 17, 2015 at 7:57 am

    After reading your workshop post I had to see what this book was like. You see this is what I need, science to explain why I can be so strong in other areas but my eating fails. It’s all psychological I know.. might have to get the book!

  2. November 20, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    It sounds like an incredibly sensible book. I live with weight issues too although in my case it’s a tendency to loose far too much. Many people don’t understand or see it as an issue but for me the problems faced are very similar to those who want to loose weight. My mental well being and emotional heath are closely linked to my physical health and being underweight can bring very real health problems with it. All of the above point are as relevant to me as they are to anyone looking to loose weight. I pretty much have it under control these days but it’s about having balance in my life not just in my diet. Wishing you every success with bootcamp! x

    • This Charming Mum
      November 26, 2014 at 4:17 pm

      You make a really important point there Sarah – and the book does address all kinds of emotional health issues around food, not just being over weight. I’m really glad to hear you feel more in control these days. Its so disempowering to feel disconnected from, or overwhelmed by, something as essential as food.

  3. Robomum
    November 20, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    I’ve been on a weightloss journey for most of the year. I haven’t lost a great deal of weight but I am fitter and stronger than ever before. Breaking bad habits is important and learning new good habits is key. This book sounds like a plan. Cheers for linking up with The Lounge. X

    • This Charming Mum
      November 26, 2014 at 4:18 pm

      I agree that learning new good habits is the key. We all waste a lot of time trying to fight our ‘bad’ habits rather than working towards something new and more productive. Thanks for hosting!

  4. Lydia c lee
    November 20, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    This sounds good – I hate meal plans as I never follow them anyway

  5. rusticbites
    November 20, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Great review. I am going to get my grubby little hands on a copy of this book. I am sick of reading books that tell me what I already know (that I got fat by eating too much and not moving enough) or how to lose weight (by eating better and moving more). I need a book that is going to help me break the bad habits and thoughts that have kept me on this crazy rollercoaster for so many years. This looks like it could be the book I need! Looking forward to reading the bootcamp post.

    Lynda x

    • This Charming Mum
      November 20, 2014 at 10:55 am

      Thanks Lynda. That was exactly the appeal for me too. For a lot of us, it’s essential to get your head in the right place before your body is going to feel the benefits. Good luck!

      • This Charming Mum
        November 26, 2014 at 4:18 pm

        I tend to follow enthusiastically for a week or two but then get all stressed about it. This is a much more rational approach!

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