Rethinking Thin - a book discussion - Topic 11 - Overall Assessment

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07-10-2007, 06:06 PM
Be the book reviewer! What did you think of the book? How did it make you feel about weight loss as you were reading it? Did you draw the same conclusions from the research presented as the author did? If you had read the book earlier in your weight loss journey, would it have affected you differently? What are its strengths and shortcomings? What should the author have done differently? If you met the author, what would you say to her?

This is the place for all your subjective thoughts and emotional reactions and responses!

07-10-2007, 07:04 PM
I dont think there was ever a point that I would have read this and said "oh, ok, she is right". But I see that many people could either use it to justify continuing a dangerously unhealthy life or become utterly demoralized by it.

I just see this as a hope sucking book backed by questionable science at best. Where is the 2 thumbs down symbol?

07-10-2007, 07:11 PM
My first reaction on finishing the book was that I was glad I hadn't read it before I started losing weight (or early in the process) because I think I never would have tried!

I do think she makes a point we don't hear enough about biology, but if I had the chance to talk to her, I'd ask if she got to write the book SHE wanted, or if there was a push from the publisher to "tell a story" about biology, rather than writing something more nuanced and complex. However, I don't think that's the case, having tracked down one of her NYT pieces that kind of fluffs over the details of what she calls "classic" research!

That's what I wanted her to do differently, tell a FULL, complex story, not a soundbite. Soundbites never fill me up! :D

07-10-2007, 07:16 PM
BTW, Meg, thanks for leading such a thoughtful, meaningful discussion on the topic! You worked hard to make this a WONDERFUL experience!!!


07-10-2007, 11:21 PM
But I see that many people could either use it to justify continuing a dangerously unhealthy life or become utterly demoralized by it.

Where is the icon where I say that ennay is 100% correct? ;)

And yeah, Heather, if I had read this 3 years ago I would have been like "to **** with it!" and give up before I started.

Well, whatever. I disagree with the author and will make it my "life's work" to remain in a state which she regards as an enigmatic paradox. One of the mysterious and few reduced-obese semi-starved neurotics. :dizzy:

Maybe one day we will let her into the secrets of our cult. Secret #1: We exist. :D

07-12-2007, 03:01 PM
Based on her conclusions, she should have titled the book "Rethinking Fat" because she believes that everyone will return to being fat.

Had I read this book before I had my switch in meds, I would have thought, "What's the point of even trying to lose weight, I'll just regain it anyway."

It would have given me a defeatist attitude.

While I found it very interesting to read about the various studies and what the researcheres deducted from them, I would not recommend this book to anyone on a weight loss program.

So, my hope is that she sells few books.

07-12-2007, 03:43 PM
I did not read the book, but I followed the discussion. IMHO, I think this book is far more detrimental than it is of any good.

If I met the author, I'd tell her about all the wonderful people here at 3FC that have lost weight and are supporting each other to keep it off.

One of us needs to write a book about this very topic.

07-12-2007, 04:11 PM
One of us needs to write a book about this very topic.


07-12-2007, 04:24 PM
I nominate Meg and Wyllen . . .

07-12-2007, 04:47 PM
I haven't read the book either, and -- based on Meg's synopsis and all the discussion topics which I have been following -- I definitely do not intend to read it. I wholeheartedly agree that it could be a very depressing and dangerous read for a lot of people. :(

07-12-2007, 04:52 PM
Reading this book and following along with the discussion has really brought things home for me. I know genetics plays a large roll. My whole family is/was overweight. My biological brothers and I are always struggling with our weight. My adopted sister is thin and never struggles.
This leads me to be more determined than ever to stay at maintainance. I am always out to prove someone wrong, to go against the grain. When I think of this book it makes me work out a little harder and eat a little less. I still enjoy myself on the weekends but during the week I stay strict because I know if I don't genetics will put it all back on.

07-12-2007, 05:00 PM
I did get the book. But I didn't make it past page 60 or so. I just found it - pointless, aggravating, annoying and plain old depressing. I don't see why anyone would or SHOULD read this book. Is it to make us more aware of how hard it is to maintain a weightloss. Because if it is, well I think there are better ways to do it.

Meg, you did a spectacular job of navigating the discussion and I thank you. I would much rather listen to what you have to say then the author.

And yeah, someone here needs to write a POSITIVE book on maintaining. Not to sugar coat it, but to just let people know that it can be done.

07-12-2007, 06:19 PM
Heh, my message of maintaining would not be a positive to a lot of people. Food restriction, calorie counting, endless salads for lunch, carrot sticks for snacks - for the rest of my life. I am okay with it, Robin is okay with it, Meg is okay with it...are the majority of people seeking long term weight loss okay with it?

My book would depress people too!

07-12-2007, 11:41 PM
Hey-- I just read an interview with her in the June edition of Elle magazine.

Here's the lowdown: She is 59 years old, apparently a running and cycling fiend, has never had a weight problem or food issues and loves apples.

Huh. So she really understands our struggles then. :dizzy:

07-13-2007, 10:49 AM
On the positive side, the author says weightloss and subsequent maintenance is nearly impossible. My reaction to any statement like that, is "Oh yeah? watch me!" I don't think this is what she had in mind, though! :lol:.

In general, I don't think the book contributed much to the body of popular dieting literature. I found it discouraging and depressing to read so called scientific evidence proving what I already know, that weightloss/maintenance is difficult.

For inspiration, there a lots of other books to read that present a more positive outlook. I also like to remember that there a plenty of other folks who quit drinking with AA, or quit smoking through various support groups. These people are also in the minority, but they did it! So can we.

07-14-2007, 02:05 AM
Right, I haven't posted in here yet.

Overall, I must admit I was way less thrilled after reading the book than before. Maybe I had expected something different,some kind of "here are the difficulties, here are the obstacles, now let's try to see how to battle them"--I can't tell exactly. We all know that weight loss and especially maintenance isn't easy, but there was some kind of lingering despair in the studies that doesn't hit home at all with me--cf. notably with those 'interviewed' people (for lack of a better word) who so seemed already defeated even before starting the program. Of course, once again, I can perfectly understand that after ten attempts at losing the weight, and always regaining it, one is kind of stuck and feeling bad about it, but... Here I agree with other posters in this thread: it could be very discouraging, and maybe even prevent people from simply trying, when, who know, maybe they would have ended up being successful at maintaining in the end. Kind of like "why even bother, see, this books tells it all, it will be impossible". I'm honestly convinced that it is truly impossible only if we decide it is, because it's an open door to a do-nothing attitude. (And I'm sorry to say, but the people in the book never struck me as people who had *learnt* to do it the right way, in spite of being within a structured program; maybe that was an important key.)

07-14-2007, 02:56 AM
Kery -- I think you're on to something about the people in the studies and the programs and what they learned... many of us have succeeded doing our OWN programs. Does anyone study those people??? I have no idea if that leads to success more often than these "structured" programs, but it does make me wonder...

07-14-2007, 10:14 AM
Wyllenn -- That's something I've been wondering about for some time, too. I sometimes lurk on a weight-loss forum in French, and I've seen a certain amount of people post stuff like "hello, I'm back, I was on ____ diet, but now I've regained part/all of my weight and am starting again". I know I can't exactly speak from experience, in that I'm not at goal weight myself and, who knows, I may very well regain it all (*does her best to NOT regain it, now that she's learnt more about the whole thing*) but what I know is that 'official diets' don't work very well for me. I need to be in control for the long run, and being in control in my case also implies being the one who decides what to eat. So I tell myself, maybe that's a problem for more people than just me. Maybe all the Atkins and Dukan and others, even with their induction/weight loss/maintaining steps, don't exactly hit home in the long run, because sooner or later we run into spots where we can't 'follow the program', and then what do we do? (Yeah, I'm losing my weight slowly. But in a way, I think it's good that I know that eating one cheeseburger can be counterbalanced by healthy eating in the following days, instead of squeezing into a 'perfect plan' and then go on a binge because it was too much along the all-or-nothing road. Not that I'd advocate eating a cheeseburger every two days, of course. ;))

I'm not saying that a structured program doesn't work, nor that nobody should use one to jump-start their weight loss and learn healthier habits (I used Montignac/Sugar Busters myself, after all), but... since we're in this for life, sooner or later we *have* to go further than pretty lists and do-what-I-say in order to maintain, right? Understand the very implications and processes, and learn to adapt to as many situations as possible, rather than rely on a plan and then not know what do out outside of it? Or so I think...

07-14-2007, 01:32 PM
I'm coming in so late in this thread so as to be nothing but an echo, but here's my opinion:

Ms. Kolata is a very clever marketer (or the publishers who might have directed her book are). She has produced a book that gives virtual absolution to a large demographic of people who struggle with weight. I'm not sure how the book is selling, but I bet it's doing pretty well.

Sure weightloss/maintenance is very difficult. Sure biology, genetics and culture can conspire against you. As Glory87 just said: Some are willing to take extraordinary measures with diet and exercise, most are not. To me, it's a far lesser evil to have to tamp down the "primal hunger" than to deal with the health issues and near handicap of my (potential) obesity. Like many here in Maintainers, I choose to fight and win!

In fairness, I did not take time to complete the book. However the portion I did read was so appallingly defeatist, discouraging and in my opinion wrong, I didn't feel the need to continue. I'm glad I don't have any more of it's hopeless message occupying my mind.

I believe the things we are exposed to (media of all kinds) influence us more than we would like to believe. I'm not saying to live in denial, but maybe we need to be better gatekeepers of what passes in front of our senses. It's easy to think you are immune to marketing or other poisonous ideas. The amount of money that continues to be spent on advertising and other manipulations of public opinion shows that we are not.

I worry about the impact of a book like this on folks beginning a weight loss journey. It has enough "credibility" behind it to be taken seriously by lots of people.


07-14-2007, 02:03 PM
Kery -- I think you're on to something about the people in the studies and the programs and what they learned... many of us have succeeded doing our OWN programs. Does anyone study those people??? I have no idea if that leads to success more often than these "structured" programs, but it does make me wonder...

exactly...I am succeeding now because I learned from the past and have tailored my own program...I looked at what worked for me (most of the concepts of SouthBeach/Diabetic meal planning) what didnt (unlimited food within the plan and reliance on artificial sweeteners) and what triggered failure (denial of certain foods completely - I dont want whole wheat low fat south beach pizza, I want Pizza Schmizza , I dont want sugar free chocolate and icecream I want the real deal and so I have both)

I make light of it to people who seem confused by my eating plan. "What are you doing here at Pizza Schmizza -cant keep off the weight that way!" I tell them the core secret to my success is pizza every week and chocolate every day...and to some extent that is true. (Even though they laugh like I made a good joke) Over restriction for me leads to binging - I think its very telling that since I moved into maintenance my weight loss has picked back up.

But that also goes to show that what works for Meg and Glory may not work for me and vice versa. In our world you cant sell a "Figure it out for yourself" diet book. We want a "Here is the magic formula that will work for everyone" and I dont think that exists.

07-14-2007, 03:24 PM
And it's a whole lot easier to compare programs if you can compare X to Y. Once we move into "your own program" you just can't really compare them. Too many variables differ.

But if the key to success is taking certain core principles of weight loss and making them work for your body and your lifestyle, then it IS going to be very hard to evaluate that.

Even as a 'science type' I'm okay with that. I know that these studies have significant limitations. I'm not saying to throw out all the research, but that we have to understand the research hasn't been able to answer all the questions yet, especially not for different "types" of people...

Pink Geranium
12-11-2007, 01:54 PM
Hi, I hope it's not too late to add a comment.

I'm really new to weight maintenance, and I read this book as I have some others, hoping to pick out some ideas that will help me keep on my path. No help from this quarter, was my conclusion! I felt sad and a bit angry about the whole view that so many people seem to have - that expecting to lose weight and keep it off qualifies you as either foolish or crazy - and that this book wanted to prove that point in the worst way.

I can't add to what so many others have said in earlier posts about the assumptions and views put forth in the book, they have done it so well. For me, I had to remind myself that I've already beat the "system" by losing so much weight, even beyond where I thought I would, and that it's been relatively easy if I look at it in the context of those experiences described in the book. I think what I did just fit my particular situation really well, and I'm very grateful it has worked out that way. So I really appreciate having this site around to give me a reality check, rather than relying on books like this for encouragement and help. Thanks!

05-03-2008, 10:50 PM
I know I am pulling up an old thread, but I just finished this book. I found it both depressing and enlightening.
There was much studying done suggesting that it isn't just a matter of will power to lose weight and keep it off.
However - I do wonder about the truly obese, those of us with more than 100 pounds to lose and keep off. How different are we really than those who are 'only' overweight?

I wonder if someone who loses a great amount of weight is more likely to keep it off than someone who loses 25 pounds, or vice versa?
I think this book opens up a whole new avenue of possible study, wonder if the author would want to follow up with a book on people who have lost and kept off a significant amount of weight.

03-07-2009, 02:22 PM
I know this is old but I just finished reading the book and I thought it was interesting. Not depressing at all. It definitely enlightened me on why so many people in my family (both sides, especially women) are fat. All the stories reminded me so much of my family and it made me empathize with them more. I've always been the "thin" one in my family. I'm close to 175 now and my high weight was 200 lbs. I'm ashamed to admit that sometimes I use to think "why don't they try harder!" when it was always kinda easy for me to lose some weight if I exercise rigorously and watch what I eat. It's really not that easy to just lose weight though. I'm sure we all know that.

It made me reflect on all of the fat shaming we do in this society. I'm not just talking about fat jokes (which are pretty obvious) but even things like staring at a fat person when they eat cheese burger and all of the constant barrage of info that makes us feel more like crap. How many studies can we see about obesity? We get it.