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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.

So what IS his program? The book is based on what McKenna identifies as the mindset and strategies of "naturally thin" people. He's boiled them down to Four Golden Rules:

  • 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: 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:
December 3
  Thurs AM - ???
  Thurs PM - ???

December 4  
  Fri AM - ScottyUrb
  Fri PM - ???

December 5
  Sat AM - ???
  Sat PM - Edward Spurlock (Kessler, Ch. 29)

December 6
  Sun AM - ???
  Sun PM - Holiday Fit Club - kismet

December 7  
  Mon AM - NC Dem (A look at your butt...I mean glutes)
  Mon PM - ???

December 8    
  Tues AM - ???
  Tues PM -- Clio2 (Kessler, Ch. 30)

December 9
  Weds AM - ???
  Weds PM - Edward Spurlock

Originally posted to Edward Spurlock on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 07:13 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  As you read this diary... (20+ / 0-) find yourself wanting to sign up for an open diary slot. And the more you try to resist these feelings, the more you start to think about signing up...NOW...for one of the open diary slots.

    When I count backward from three, you will awake refreshed and click the Recommend button on this comment. start to come to full awareness. hover your mouse cursor over the Recommend button. click the Recommend button.

  •  It works (9+ / 0-)

    I lost about ten pounds so far, listening to "I Can Make You Thin".

    I've used other weight loss hypnosis CDs, but I like Paul's voice, his tone - the whole production - the best.  With hypnosis CDs, you have to find something you can listen to regularly, every day, for as long as you need it, and so a high quality production like Paul's stands over the competition (at least for me).  I'm sure there will be a few who can't stand his voice, or don't like the music, or for whatever reason, cannot listen to it regularly. OK, find something else you CAN listen to.

    What's cool, is that your own subconscious will come up with its own amazing and surprising ways to exercise, eat properly, etc - just as Paul "suggests".

    As you use this CD, you'll discover that despite the extremely simple 4 rules Paul presents in the book, they're difficult to follow consistently, particularly if you stop listening to the CD.  Get used to this, as you work with your weight, and with the CD, and stay with it until you achieve your goal.

    A key step for many people will be simply making the time each day, and creating an environment to listen to the CD.  I find morning works best, because the suggestions are fresh as you begin your day, and begin the cycle of meals/eating opportunities.

  •  I Can Make You Rich Too ! (8+ / 0-)

    Paul Mckenna  can make you thin and Rich. LOL   What more can you ask for?

    American Heart Association: Diet Soda can cause type 2 Diabetes.

    by jeffrey789 on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 08:48:22 PM PST

  •  I have "I can make you Rich" (5+ / 0-)

    The book is longer than "I Can Make You Thin", and it requires more work than simply popping in the "I Can Make You Thin" CD - there are a number of exercises to "I Can Make You Rich" you have to work through in conjunction with the CD.  Haven't found the time yet to give it the due it deserves, but I know that mindset is hugely important when it comes to money (just ask T Harv Eker among many others).  Incidently, "I Can Make You Rich" is about abundance in general, not just about money.  Get the abundance mindset right, and the money will follow.

    •  If this kind of thing seems to work for you, (4+ / 0-)

      far be it from me to say it doesn't or shouldn't work for you.

      But one thing we've learned from each other in WHEE is that one size or shape definitely does not fit all, and that applies to the parts of us we can't see as well as the parts we can.

      "Positive thinking," whether the hypnotic or plain vsnilla kind, can so easily be a chimera: to change reality, just change your thinking.

      If reality doesn't change? That just proves you ned to work harder to change your thinking. There is logically no evidence that could disprove such a claim. I tend to agree, at least in my experience, with Barbara Ehrenreich, who has just come out with a book on the excesses of positive thinking, Bright-Sided.

      I don't know if these particular books fall into that area, but it's a common approach to weight loss as well as other personal problems. Most authors of such works also seem to rely heavily on anecdotes about people with pseudonymous first names who allegedly changed their lives -- for how long, who knows.

      I tend to disagree with the offered hypnotic suggestions, in my case. I've tried, "just responding to the natural cues of the body," and I can tell you, what my body does when left to make the decisions is GAIN WEIGHT!

      The "natural cues" approach might work for somebody else. Not all of us here, I know, are plagued with the compulsion to overeat anything loaded sith salt, sugar and fat, which happens to be my situation.

      Who knows, hypnosis might even work for me, WITH THE RIGHT SUGGESTIONS.

      In my case, the right suggestions would be more like:

      "I am going to stick to my grocery shopping list."

      "I am going to choose the least-hyperpalatable alternative in the restaurant."

      "I am going to plate out the meal in the kitchen and not bring big serving dishes to the table, except the salad."

      "I am going to start eating last and finish last in the group."

      Which are the kind of things that have brought me modest success so far -- all of which require engaging the conscious mind as well as the unconscious.


      •  Check out this great video interview (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Edward Spurlock

        of Ehrenreich with Laura Flanders that was posted over at Open Left a few weeks ago. Scroll down the comments (don't worry, there are only eleven) and you'll see what I wrote!

        Homer: "Marge - I'm going to a hardcore gay club and I won't be back 'til three in the morning". Marge: "Have fun!"

        by Oaktown Girl on Thu Dec 03, 2009 at 10:19:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Another issue regarding the kids in the study (8+ / 0-)

    done in the 1930's: they weren't bombarded every few minutes with junk food commercials on TV aimed straight at them. I recently had the misfortune of watching the Disney Channel with my friend's two boys (ages 10 and 7), and the commercials were pumping junk food at them non-stop. Not surprisingly, both the boys are overweight. The older one is probably technically "obese", and the parents seem clueless about healthy eating. I saw the younger one last week was eating 2 pieces of white toast with jelly for breakfast last week.

    Same for adults. It seems sometimes the worst thing you can do when trying to turn around a lifetime of bad eating is to watch TV. It's hard to keep a grip on mindful, healthy eating when you are constantly bombarded with commercials for those addictive, highly palatable foods.

    Homer: "Marge - I'm going to a hardcore gay club and I won't be back 'til three in the morning". Marge: "Have fun!"

    by Oaktown Girl on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:28:35 PM PST

    •  My sons have been almost (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      advertising free, thanks to PBS.  When we do run across television commercials outside the home, it's amazing how they react - like the perfect test audience.  It's disturbing.  They all but stare with their mouths hanging open.  It's the sound, the music, the action, the everything.

      I'm plenty old enough to know how advertising works.  They are young enough that even if you explained exactly what ads and marketing was all about, they'd still go "WOW!  Look at that Mom!".

      Show me the POLICY!

      by Fabian on Thu Dec 03, 2009 at 04:17:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's so important to watch and read (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        advertising with kids when they are young and talk with them about it. Kids are so much more intelligent and perceptive about those things than we give them credit for.

        Here's my personal story on that: back when I was a young whipper-snapper of 24,  I started dating a guy who grew up in a household with no TV. And in college, he never watched TV either. Long story short he was a almost a total dupe for advertising, any kind of advertising - print as well as TV. I had to train him basically from scratch about how the manipulations of advertising work. He majored engineering, so I guess having so few liberal arts classes also kind of stunted his growth in that knowledge area. Anyway, as I'm sure you know, keeping kids as isolated as possible from TV and advertising is not the answer. Educating them about it is!

        Homer: "Marge - I'm going to a hardcore gay club and I won't be back 'til three in the morning". Marge: "Have fun!"

        by Oaktown Girl on Thu Dec 03, 2009 at 10:30:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I think I will settle for not being obese. (8+ / 0-)

    the idea that I need to be thin rubs me the wrong way. I need to be healthy. Thin is for super models. Healthy is another thing entirely.

    I am cranky, I have a nasty cold.....  

    •  As it happens... (6+ / 0-)

      In one of his better responses to Frequently Asked Questions in the book, McKenna agrees with you. Paraphrasing (because I don't have the book with me at the moment), the exchange goes something like this:

      Q: I want to look like a supermodel!
      A: So do most supermodels. The pictures you see of supermodels in magazines, on TV, etc are Photoshopped and/or favorably photographed to make them look better, thinner, etc than they look in real life.

    •  I am now technically (7+ / 0-)

      just at the BMI borderline between "normal" and "overweight".  I like the way I look, though, and it's been hard for me to be obsessed about getting a whole lot thinner.  

      I do not want to look like these women that I see in my dance classes that have clearly focused too much on being thin...little stick arms, little stick legs, hollow cheeks, collarbones that stick way out, and just a general dried out, wound way too tight look.  They look different from the people in the classes who are naturally thin -- you can tell who just tends to be thin and who's gotten there by working it lower than their body is naturally inclined to go.  It makes me feel stressed just to see them bouncing bonily about.

  •  His rules sound like the eating disorder (7+ / 0-)

    recovery plan I follow.

    Though of course for me how I eat is less about getting thin than avoiding the triggers that give me a migraine and worsen the fibromyalgia or IBS, I found I lost some weight when I first originally started doing what I referred to as a self-directed eating plan rather than anyone else's diet.

    One of my rules is, "You can eat whatever you want, you just have to cook it." This is actually excellent for dropping my consumption of sweets, as it takes a pretty strong craving for brownies to snack on of an evening to get me off my ass to actually go make them from scratch. (But also when I want a brownie, I don't want just any brownie, I want the ones I make from my grandmother's recipe with the cream cheese marbling, and nothing else will do.)

    I also drink a glass of water and check the time, because I may be thirsty, not hungry, or it may actually be time to eat a proper meal, and I should do that rather than munching randomly. That's proving an issue on the Adderall. It drops my appetite to such a degree that by the time I get hungry, my blood sugar is affected and I have problems making anything. So as a rule I now just plan "It's five pm, time to go make myself my dinner," and not wait to get hungry. Obviously other people's mileage is going to vary widely on this.

    Speaking of which, it is time I went and cooked us lunch.

    •  The point about thirst is a good one (5+ / 0-)

      Another thing with me...I tend to look for sweets when I'm tired. Somehow I often think a sweet will pep me up and enable me to keep going.

      It would be better -- when possible -- to be aware that it's fatigue speaking and not hunger, and to take a nap or go to bed, as applicable.

      Of course that's not always possible. In that case, sometimes a little bitty sweet will seem to help, like one or two peppermints. A big serving of sweet never does, but I keep trying it...if I forget to think, that is.

  •  Self monitoring is always a good idea. (3+ / 0-)

    It IS a learned skill, though.  

    People who are always busy, busy, busy and always have something to do probably don't check in with themselves often enough.  Am I thirsty?  Am I hungry?  When was the last time I ate?  Should I stop and get something to eat?

    If you don't make a point of doing that, you'll probably find yourself hungry, short of time and making choices based on convenience more than anything else.  

    The more conscious, deliberate choices you make, the more likely you are to make good choices.

    And like anything - the more you do it, the better you get at it.

    Show me the POLICY!

    by Fabian on Thu Dec 03, 2009 at 04:28:22 PM PST

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