While looking at the Amazon reviews for some of my other favorite WHEE books, I encountered a reference to a book titled I Can Make You Thin, by British hypnotist Paul McKenna. I checked out a copy from the library, and decided to buy a copy, if for no other reason than to review it for WHEE. Follow me past the WHEE intro and the jump for a short review of I Can Make You Thin! But first, our intro:
WHEE (Weight, Health, Eating and Exercise) is a community support diary for Kossacks who are currently or planning to start losing, gaining or maintaining their weight through diet and exercise or fitness. Any supportive comments, suggestions or positive distractions are appreciated. If you are working on your weight or fitness, please -- join us! You can also click the WHEE tag to view all diary posts.
In her WHEE diary yesterday, Clio2 asked:
BTW, if anyone has tried hypnosis, it would be interesting to hear about that...I don't think it has ever come up in WHEE, has it?
When I read that, I decided to make McKenna's book the subject of my WHEE diary tonight.
According to Wikipedia, Paul McKenna started as a radio personality, and became interested in hypnosis after having a hypnotist as a guest on one of his radio programs. He studied hypnosis, and also studied Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) with NLP co-founder Richard Bandler. McKenna's hypnosis practice has since gone from amusing his friends at parties, through filling good sized theatres across the English-speaking world, to gigs hosting TV shows such as The Hypnotic World of Paul McKenna, Paul McKenna's Paranormal World, and Hyp the Streets. In 2008, he signed a contract with The Learning Channel to make a series of self-help programs. The first, coincidentally also titled I Can Make You Thin, aired on TLC in March 2008.
So what can I Can Make You Thin (the book) do that I Can Make You Thin (the TV show) can't? For one thing, the book comes with a hypnosis CD. According to McKenna, his CD
...will reprogram your computer--your unconscious mind--so that you will change the way you think about food and feel better about yourself. I will give you suggestions that will help you to change your behavior, eat better, speed up your metabolism, and escape from the fixation with food.
That's a pretty ambitious claim (particularly the part about speeding up one's metabolism). Unfortunately, I haven't taken the time to test the claim yet. After reading the book when I first got it a few weeks ago, I realized that my weightloss program and McKenna's program were not compatible. Since I was enjoying success with my program, I decided to put McKenna's book away unless I needed to make a change, or until I reached my weightloss goal and could use his program to help me maintain my weight.
- Golden Rule Number 1
When you are hungry, EAT
- Golden Rule Number 2
EAT WHAT YOU WANT, not what you think you should
- Golden Rule Number 3
Eat CONSCIOUSLY and enjoy every mouthful
- Golden Rule Number 4
When you think you are full, STOP eating
The book presents these as conscious strategies to learn and practice, and the CD is intended to reinforce these at an unconscious level.
Even though McKenna does not mention Neurolinguistic Programming in the book, anyone familiar with NLP will recognize the "meta-strategy" of the book as being straight from NLP:
- find someone (e.g., "naturally thin people") who can do the skill you want to acquire (e.g., maintain one's weight without dieting)
- puzzle out his/her strategies for doing that, and
- learn and practice those strategies until you're able to do the skill yourself
Reading I Can Make You Thin, I began to think of McKenna as the anti-Kessler. Whereas Kessler's book takes a well-researched skeptical look at some popular myths of weightloss to support a thesis that I disagree with, McKenna's book uncritically presents many of these same myths as ironclad support of a program that I pretty much go along with. For example, McKenna's identifies the primary cause of our national weight problem as -- diets. We're gaining weight because we're trying to lose weight, according to McKenna. However, I never dieted in my life until about 10 years ago, after I'd gained and lost and gained and lost and gained again.
For another example, in support of Golden Rule Number 2, McKenna says,
In a fascinating experiment performed in the 1930s, scientists gave a group of toddlers unlimited twenty-four/seven access to a vast range of foods from ice cream to spinach...every single child in the study wound up eating what was considered to be a balanced diet over the course of the month.
According to McKenna, this is proof that adults' bodies also naturally know what and how much to eat (provided we just get our minds out of the way). However, according to Kessler (Chapter 34), this phenomenon (called "compensation") does exist - but pretty much ONLY in infants and toddlers. Worse yet, according to research cited by Kessler, it seems that infants and toddlers are compensating less and less over the decades:
...in the 1980s, children ages two to four were compensating for about 90 percent of any extra calories added to their diet. By the 1990s, they were compensating for only about 45 percent of those added calories.
It seems to me that if Kessler is correct, our "sugar, fat, and salt"-enhanced diets are making McKenna's Rules 2 and 4 obsolete.
Perhaps the best way for a skeptical person like myself to approach I Can Make You Thin is to ignore McKenna's myths and rationalizations, and just try his CD to see if it helps install the Four Golden Rules without my having to sweat it. I'm especially interested to see if I can follow Rule 4 - I can limit myself to the proper amount of food if I measure and serve myself the correct amount, but stopping eating when I'm full is something I've long had trouble with.
Scheduled WHEE diaries:
Thurs AM - ???
Thurs PM - ???
Fri AM - ScottyUrb
Fri PM - ???
Sat AM - ???
Sat PM - Edward Spurlock (Kessler, Ch. 29)
Sun AM - ???
Sun PM - Holiday Fit Club - kismet
Mon AM - NC Dem (A look at your butt...I mean glutes)
Mon PM - ???
Tues AM - ???
Tues PM -- Clio2 (Kessler, Ch. 30)
Weds AM - ???
Weds PM - Edward Spurlock