A weight-loss guide that relies on the power of delayed gratification to reach one’s goals.
Many diet books rely on strictly counting calories, cutting out certain categories of foods, and/or punishing amounts of exercise. In other words, they require that readers remain vigilant at all times in the war against fat. The only problem with this approach, argues Alvear, is that all that energy erodes one’s willpower, sabotaging one’s efforts. If such diets don’t work, though, how is one to lose weight? Alvear’s answer is not merely another diet, but a threefold “eating strategy” that has its roots in addiction recovery: “habituation,” “systematic desensitization,” and “If-Then Implementation Planning.” The underlying idea of taking everything in moderation isn’t new; however, this action plan considers the fact that eating is a particularly thorny mental activity. Obviously, people eat because they’re hungry, but they also eat because they’re bored, because they’re sad, angry, or happy, or because a box of cookies is singing a siren song. Alvear’s plan tackles these reasons for eating without cutting out unhealthy foods: “You are going to change how much you eat, not what you eat,” he writes. Systematic desensitization, he says, is the process of making such tiny changes—such as going from eating 16 cookies in a sitting to 14—that one’s body barely notices the change. Habituation, he writes, is the acclimation of the body to those new changes, and If-Then Implementation Planning takes the “temperature” of one’s cravings: if the craving is intense, eat the food; if low, delay until later. The psychological terminology may seem confusing in summary, but Alvear’s writing style and the structure of his book make for an easy read and, more importantly, easy use in daily life. However, as he warns, ease of understanding does not necessarily make for effortless results. Although readers won’t suffer from hunger pangs or other gastronomic deprivation, they will need to be patient and committed to the system. Overall, the book meets its ultimate goal of promoting psychological, emotional, and physical health.
A wellness strategy that’s more about changing the way one thinks about food than about controlling every morsel that passes one’s lips.