A Course in Weight Loss: 21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight Forever.
Article Type: Book review
Author: Ventline, Lawrence M.
Pub Date: 03/22/2011
Publication: Name: Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association Publisher: American Psychotherapy Association Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Psychology and mental health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 American Psychotherapy Association ISSN: 1535-4075
Issue: Date: Spring, 2011 Source Volume: 14 Source Issue: 1
Topic: NamedWork: A Course In Weight Loss: 21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight Forever (Nonfiction work)
Persons: Reviewee: Williamson, Marianne
Accession Number: 258131238
Full Text: A Course in Weight Loss:

21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight Forever

by Marianne Williamson

Published by Hay House, Inc.


A journey and movement from the false to the true self, New York Times best-selling author Marianne Williamson's 13th book is about surrendering.

In the final, 21st lesson on surrendering to weight, Williamson warns: "This is the path you will walk for the rest of your life--not just to manage your food issues, but in order to find and live the truest version of yourself."

Her litany of lessons include, among others: Starting a love affair with food, tearing down the wall, invoking the real you, feeling your feelings, forgiving yourself and others, birthing who you really are, soul surgery, and the body brilliant.

With a foreword by medical doctor Dean Ornish and empty journal pages at the conclusion of the final lesson, in brief chapters, the author reminds the reader that this problem with weight started where one's divine perfection was forgotten.

The course takes the participant through lessons involving self examination, getting honest, facing fears, and writing letters to and from different aspects of one's self, such as "Thin-You" and "Not-So-Thin-You."

Williamson prods: "You can play this shallow or you can play it deep." Quickly, she warns that this is a long process and not one for the faint of heart.

What this weight book is not about is discipline or willpower or counting calories. The book takes a holistic approach to weight control and eating.

"The problem is not that diets or exercise programs don't work, because they do," she notes. "The problem is that when someone is deep into a compulsive or addictive pattern, no matter how much they keep with the diet or the exercise, time and time again, oceanic subconscious forces lead them to put the weight back on. In order to heal, we must address not only the issues of the body, but the issues of the mind and the issues of the Spirit."

So, how does one surrender when one is used to getting through life on one's own? By learning to surrender to the divine design, to the love that is in all things. After all, we are already programmed to become the people God designed us to be.

Remember the Baltimore Catechism question, where is God? "God is everywhere" is the response. Therefore, God is in all things. Williamson takes the positive approach of learning to love food, be its friend and come to the awakening that brings to light the subconscious and sabotaging tapes in one's head.

Chocolate cake, for example, is not a comfort food to one's body, Williamson says. The aim is not swearing off prohibited foods nor attaining an iron will, but like Trappist monk Thomas Keating reminded, the solution is in a transformation of the self.

People don't want to overeat. It's not an exertion of conscious will. It's that they ideally do not want to overeat.

Retraining one's mind seems to be the answer here--correcting widely held beliefs like the notion of "comfort food" and eating too much because one loves it. Unwise eating is not an act of self-love; unwise eating is an act of self-sabotage on every level.

One chapter prescribes starting a love affair with food. Initially, that may sound confusing, since readers would think they are to do the opposite: end the love affair with food.

"An unwise or compulsive eater does not have a love affair with food," Williamson says. They have an obsession with food. And obsession and love are not the same thing.

"Many people who eat most unwisely are actually lacking a relationship with the sort of culinary delights that we all are afforded on this planet. They are also denying themselves the joy of living with themselves in harmony with their own body and their own needs."

Hard work is required in this effort at harmony. "But is it not hard to damn yourself to a life that's an endless cycle of self-hate and self-abuse? A compulsive, addictive life is not an easy life. The disease gives you this illusion of comfort and this illusion of freedom. But it's a life full of self-loathing at its core," she notes.

The journey is worth the price, Williamson reminds. Short-term pain for long-term results is the road less traveled.

"With any kind of transformation, it's like taking out a splinter. You can either deal with the sharp pain of self-discovery that lasts for a second, or the dull pain of denial and illusion that, if left uninterrupted, will last your entire life and severely limit your possibilities for joy and creativity. Sometimes, it's in the difficulty of the quest that we find the richness of it."

A good read. Williamson wants people to have a lifelong love affair with food beyond a fight. The book is worth the price. It could save your life, and your heart, for sure.

Reviewed by the REV. LAWRENCE M. VENTLINE, DMin, DAPA, BCPC, a pastor and psychotherapist who is a Diplomate with the American Psychotherapy Association, a board-certified professional counselor, and nationally certified spiritual director, personal trainer, and nutrition consultant. A longtime religion writer for The Detroit News and The Michigan Catholic, he currently writes and blogs for The Oakland Press. Reach him at www.interfaithwork.com.
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