Following on from my previous post I want to look at another couple of books and their take on weight loss.
The first is a book called The Gabriel Method by Jon Gabriel. Gabriel used to weight 186kg (410 pounds). He managed to lose over a 100kg (220 pounds) and has kept the weight off. You can see the before and after photo’s below that help to put those figures in perspective.
There are a couple of remarkable things about this. First is Gabriel didn’t diet. He did not lose the weight by cutting calories or restricting himself. Sure he changed a lot of the foods he was eating but this wasn’t in the mentality of a diet. He found that as he was losing weight he was drawn to healthier foods whereas most diets work the other way around.
The next is that his body shows no sign of ever being overweight. Most people when they lose this amount of weight have a lot of excess skin and stretch marks. Think Fat Bastard from Austin Powers after he went on the subway diet. John is the opposite of this.
The final remarkable aspect is that the weight loss sped up as he lost more weight. With most diets people lose a lot of weight to begin with but it then slows down. The last 10 or 20 kilograms is always the hardest to lose. Well Gabriel’s weight loss was the opposite. Initially he was only losing about a pound a week. For someone so big, this is really slow. Slowly this increased to 2 pounds a week, then 3 pounds a week. He then lost the last 20 pounds in 4 weeks. This is just unheard of.
So what is his secret? Gabriel discovered what he calls ‘FAT programs’. He says that the body has a built in mechanism that decides to make you fat or keep fat on when it feels it is the best thing for keeping you alive. Alternatively if the body thinks it is best for you to be thin then it will automatically keep you that way even if you eat a lot or do no exercise. If you go back to the ice age it made sense for the body to be keeping fat on. It was keeping the person warm and with food being scarce it was using less to function. An ingenious bit of evolution that is now kind of redundant with food and warmth constantly available.
For Gabriel turning off the FAT programs is key to weight loss and for him this has a lot to do with the mind. The thoughts that we have are directly related to how the body reacts. If you are scared or threatened, are mentally starved, or are worried about not having enough money this will be interpreted as needing to hold on to everything, including food as fat. Someone may have been hurt in a relationship and subconsciously believe that if they are heavier they wont get into another relationship, thus sparing them more pain. All these types of negative thinking can turn on the FAT programs.
In society people who are overweight or obese are often seen as lazy. If only they stopped eating so much, ate more salad’s or got off the couch they could lose the weight. Gabriel, who went on numerous diets, says that this is not the case. His take is that the way to lose weight is not to struggle and fight against the body . The way to lose weight is to figure out what’s turning your FAT programs on and getting your body to turn them off.
The book is great in that it is easy to read format for anyone without a nutrition or science background. For those with a stronger research mind it is well referenced and goes into the biochemical reasons for everything in an appendix at the back. What sometimes may feel like wishy washy self help writing is actually well grounded in research.
Linking in with Gabriel’s idea of FAT programs is a chapter out of the book Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters by Courtney E. Martin. The book is about eating disorders and how unfortunately they are now so common place. Martin is a feminist and the book focuses on woman’s views of themselves, their body’s and the unrealistic expectations women hold themselves and how unhealthy most of these thinking patterns are.
In one chapter she comments on how obesity and eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia) are the two sides of the same coin. She gives the examples of two girls average day. Both stress terribly about what they can and can not eat. Both barely eat anything all day but chastise themselves for being weak willed. Food fills their mind constantly and they can barely think of anything else. At the end of the examples she states that one of the women is obese and one is anorexic. From reading their example of a typical day there is no way of telling which is which.
This supports Gabriel’s idea of the FAT program. For one person their body is reacting and thinking the best way to deal with this is by making the person thin, while for the other the body is reacting by putting weight on and keeping them fat.
We need to get away from the notion that people are overweight because they eat too much, are lazy or are weak willed. The thinnest people I know eat the most. They are not thin because of will power but because of other chemistry working within the body. Gabriel’s book is great at highlighting the short comings of modern thinking about weight loss and would be comfort to those who have tried every diet under the sun but to no avail.