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by Jean Antonello, RN, BSN
As both the holiday eating season and 2017 draw to a close, sharing a book on losing weight seems appropriate. So many of us focus on resolutions at this time of year, especially health related issues.
A little personal history: In the late 80’s I read the first book by Jean Antonello, RN, BSN, entitled How to Become Naturally Thin by Eating More. I remember successfully following the principles. Fast forward to a lengthy period during which, due to health problems, my concern was being underweight. Fast forward again to better health, but also to some life changes which resulted in an undesired weight gain. Recently I wanted to lose that weight, and I did lose some with a low carb diet, but then I hit a plateau for well over a month despite adherence to the diet and increased exercise.
In the back of my mind I remembered reading a book about eating, with a blue cover, written by a nurse, but that was not enough information for Google to help me locate it. As a book reviewer for NetGalley, I have an incredible number of books that I can request to review. Almost unbelievably, Jean Antonello’s new book popped up on my screen as I was seeking out answers for the plateau. Immediately I knew this was the same author. While I was waiting for my request to be approved, with names now in hand, I was able to find not only the new book, but also a picture of my original book which is now tucked away in a box in NM while I am in Mexico. I felt like I had just found the Mother Lode!
So what do I think of Jean Antonello’s theories and her revised book about 30 years later? It makes so much sense to my personal situation, and she has backed it up with years of research, working with clients, and eating according to the principles herself. She advocates listening to your body’s signals for hunger and for being full. She calls for eating real food and plenty of it. This is not a diet. You are encouraged to eat good foods and never let yourself get hungry which then results in bingeing. She refers to the season of adaptation a former yo-yo dieter needs to go through as “recovery.” You are in charge of your own eating for a change. The plan is based on the feast and famine physiology of our bodies. Dieting is counterintuitive to your body because when you hold back good food, then your body perceives a famine and does not want to let go of the fat. It also slows down the metabolism to protect us from starvation. Both of these things explain my plateau.
There is so much more theory and research in her book, which is written in a very user friendly style. The approach is not complicated, but it does require commitment, not to hunger as in a diet, but to listening to your body’s signals and not thinking like a dieter any more. Antonello debunks lots of dieting myths such as the blame game that is put on overweight people that they are lazy, have psychological problems, and lack will power. She does not guarantee the fast weight loss most diets promise. She does offer freedom from obsession with food and something that rarely happens with diets—you will eat like a naturally thin person and you will not regain the weight.
Obviously I am impressed with the book. I am going to implement the mindset changes, and I anticipate that this will be a gradual process. Will it work? I don’t know. This blog is primarily about education, books, and Mexico. I only occasionally insert personal posts, but I promise to follow up this one with information on my progress or lack of it. According to Naturally Thin, I can’t put a time table on that because everyone’s body is different. I like that viewpoint, and I like that she recognizes people as individuals.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Heartland Book Company for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Health, Nonfiction (Adult)
Notes: The Appendix includes a 31-Day Quick Start plan. These are motivational readings that reinforce the principles and help you make the mental changes necessary after years of being subjected to the dieting industry’s mantra of eating less. There is also a Reader’s Guide of questions for each chapter to help you focus on the principles in that chapter and apply them to your situation.
Publication: July 11, 2017—Heartland Book Company
Memorable Lines: (I probably highlighted half of this book in my efforts to absorb the plan. I have just cited a few portions here.)
When they diet, they force their bodies to quickly burn fat and at the same time create an increased need for fat for the future. This is why dieters always go off their diets—for the necessary restoration of the fat they’ve lost during the diet.
Just like going hungry regularly, eating a lot of poor quality food triggers the body’s survival response. Lousy food doesn’t satisfy the body’s need for nutrients.
…typically people eat too much and all the wrong stuff because they aren’t eating enough of the right stuff—at the right time.
Probably the most challenging aspect of recovery is the patience required for weight loss.
Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection
by John E. Sarno, M.D.
Dr. Sarno, through many years of treating patients with back pain, has discovered what he considers an epidemic of back pain in the U.S. and states that usually the cause is not an accident or a degenerative disease. He attributes it to repressed emotions, usually anger or anxiety, and says that the stressful situation that causes the Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS) does not always have to be resolved for the pain to go away. The patient just needs to recognize the mind-body connection that he is experiencing.
I have not tried to apply Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection’s seemingly simple techniques; I have only read the book. Dr. Sarno’s detailed discussion of the failure of traditional medicine’s handling of back pain does make sense. He advises someone with back pain to consult with a doctor to get that perspective, but then evaluate their symptoms in the light of his thesis. He also says many other conditions such as eczema, headaches, and irritable bowl syndrome may be attributable to repressed emotions also.
Dr. Sarno cites a lot of anecdotal evidence as well as data gained from surveys of patients to support his theory. He does not claim to understand how the brain can exert such powerful control over the body, but reminds the reader that there are many things about the way the brain works that are not completely understood yet. Dr. Sarno is a medical doctor, not a salesman, not a slick businessman ready to perform on morning TV. His background is displayed in his writing style, and my 4 star rating reflects that. His bold stance against the traditional and unsuccessful medical view of back pain and his obvious enthusiasm for helping those with back pain rates 5 stars.
- Much of the book is technical. The chapter about his technique is vague, maybe because it is so simple and we expect more bells and whistles from modern medicine. Because of these factors, I found the Appendix particularly valuable. It is comprised of “Letters from Patients” and shows concretely how various patients have applied his theory and their results.
- Having finished this book on the mind/body connection, which deals primarily with the power of repressed emotions, I was amazed as I started a fictional book to discover at least four prominent references in the first chapter to how the characters realistically reacted viscerally in various ways to stress inducing moments. I reflected that if people instantaneously respond physically (tightening muscles, a sinking feeling in the gut) to anxiety, then Dr. Sarno’s connection of repressed emotions and body pain seems rational even if ignored by the medical community.
Publication: Original 1991, Kindle 2001—Hachette Book Group
Though the low back is the most common location for an acute attack, it can occur anywhere in the neck, shoulders, or upper and lower back. Wherever it occurs, it is the most painful thing I know of in clinical medicine, which is ironic because it is completely harmless.
It is not the occasion itself but the degree of anxiety or anger that it generates that determines if there will be a physical reaction. The important thing is the emotion generated and repressed, for we have a built-in tendency to repress unpleasant, painful, or embarrassing emotions. These repressed feelings are the stimulus for TMS and other disorders like it. Anxiety and anger are two of those undesirable emotions that we would rather not be aware of, and so the mind keeps them in the subterranean precincts of the subconscious if it possibly can.
Traditional medical diagnoses focus on the machine, the body, while the real problem seems to relate to what makes the machine work—the mind. TMS is characterized by physical pain, but that acute discomfort is induced by the psychological phenomena rather than structural abnormalities or muscle deficiency.