Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Repost: Life Inside the "Thin" Cage by Constance Rhodes

Instead of reviewing the traditional (for this time of year) weight-loss diet or exercise book, I decided to re-post my review of this excellent book.

book cover

Life Inside the "Thin" Cage
by Constance Rhodes

Trade Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Shaw Books
First Released: 2003

FINDINGbalance website

Source: Bought from Half.com.

Back Cover Description (slightly modified):
"I don't have an eating disorder. I just watch what I eat..."

For millions of women, "watching" what we eat has become an outright obsession. Frustrated by the unrealistic standards of beauty presented by today’s media, many women have become trapped in a never-ending pattern of chronic dieting. Daily, they endure destructive self-talk such as “I can’t eat that or I’ll get fat” or “If I could just lose a few more pounds everything would be better.”

Chronic dieters may be any shape or size but they have one thing in common: They are often left to suffer alone with an undiagnosed “sub-clinical” eating disorder. Such sub-clinical disorders include eating habits that are unusual, even unhealthy, but do not fit the technical classifications of anorexia or bulimia. Because sub-clinical disorders are largely unrecognized, we may refuse to admit to our friends--and even to ourselves--that there is any problem at all.

*Do you categorize some foods as "safe" and others as "off-limits"?

*Do you believe that if you were to gain weight then people would no longer like you?

*Are you tired of worrying about weight, dieting, and food all the time?

If this sounds like you, discover a new road to emotional, physical, and spiritual health--and freedom--that lies beyond Life Inside the "Thin" Cage. Readers will find personal stories, insights into their secret patterns and habits, reassurance that they are not alone, checklists, self-tests, and, best of all, a new road to emotional, physical, mental and spiritual freedom.

Life Inside the "Thin" Cage is a well-written and helpful book for women and men who are dissatisfied with their bodies (specifically those who "feel fat").

I don't think I've ever done a diet in my life. I simply try to eat a moderate amount and eat a large variety of foods. However, I read a different book that briefly touched on eating disorders (including sub-clinical ones) which included the "I just watch what I eat" quote from this book as well as a recommendation for it. Since I'd say "I just watch what I eat," too, I began to wonder what the difference was between me and someone with a problem, so I got this book.

I agree that it's excellent. It reinforced my contentment with how I look, and I suspect it would be very helpful for anyone who struggles with "feeling fat," who's stuck in a constant cycle of dieting, and/or who has set rules when it comes to eating.

The book had five parts. Part One explained what was meant by "chronic dieting" and "disordered eating." It explored some motivations for chronic dieting as well as self-tests and questions to help the reader identify if they have a problem. She also listed the signs of health problems caused by disordered eating.

Part Two explored the factors that lead to chronic dieting and disordered eating. Part Three explained what keeps people trapped in chronic dieting and helps the reader to identify things that trigger the desire to diet. Part Four gave the reader truths to replace the lies that trap them in disordered eating habits. Part Five gave steps to help the reader break free from chronic dieting and disordered eating.

Throughout the book, author openly shared her struggles with chronic dieting and also shared stories from many others. She also included medical information about disordered eating. The author occasionally referred to God and sometimes included a sample prayer at the end of a chapter, but God wasn't the focus of her suggestions (as in, this wasn't a "Christian book.")

The book was easy to understand, encouraging, and practical. Overall, I'd highly recommend it to anyone dealing with "I feel fat" and eating issues.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
"I don't have an eating disorder. I just watch what I eat..." These were the words I repeated time and again to anyone who suggested that I was overly concerned with weight and dieting. After all, I reasoned, isn't it normal to take pride in maintaining a slim figure?

In Western society today, it is culturally acceptable and even expected that women who want to be successful and respected will be on a never-ending diet. At every turn, we face images of smiling, beautiful, thin people. We can't walk through a shopping mall without realizing that unless we go to extreme measures, we're just not going to be able to stack up against the ideal of beauty that we see hanging in store windows. Even if we don't leave home, an innocent evening in front of the television supplies multiple reminders of the standards we consistently fail to meet.

So we have learned how to force our often rebellious bodies into the crippling corset of conformity. We have exercised, skipped meals, switched to low-fat or no-fat foods, or gradually decreased our overall intake of calories to a point that ensures continued weight loss. As time has gone by, some of us have learned the art of replacing a burger and fries with a Diet Coke and a fruit plate, while others live from diet to diet--a never-ending cycle of feast, famine, elation, and self-loathing.

Even if we are successful at losing a few pounds, it seems we only find new things to dislike about the size and shape of our body. "If I could be just one size smaller," we lament, "then everything would be better."

And so the vicious cycle continues, sapping us of time, energy, satisfaction, and self-esteem. Without realizing it, we've become trapped in the "cage" we so lovingly call "thin"--endlessly striving to meet an ideal that seems like the answer to our discontent.

Read the rest of the first chapter.

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