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on May 26, 2008
See update for Jan. 2013 below.
First, I thought it was very interesting that when I searched for this just now, Amazon suggested to pair it with The Beck Diet Solution, which I discovered last summer and am using as well. Dealing with emotional eating is where I thought Beck fell short. This book helps fills that gap and so much more. I did a two-weekend training course on stopping emotional eating 27 years ago, but there was no follow-up, and it involved a lot of gimmicky things like 'selling" your right to overeat, and affirmations that would somehow magically make you act differently. Thousands of affirmations later-no such luck.

I definitely disagree with a few reviewers who said that it doesn't have any solutions. It has a sequence of recommended activities. The problem is when it comes right down to it is that a person is going to have to CHOOSE not to eat sometimes when he/she really, really wants to! No book can make you do that, unless firearms are involved, and that would be a temporary fix anyway. The book tries to help the reader realize that it is really more painful to continue emotional eating than it is to stop it, no matter how hard it seems at the time. A person must also choose to do something else besides eat. That is the bottom line. What would you do if you didn't overeat?

Another plus is that Gould does not recommend any certain diet, though he does advocate eating regular meals and choosing mostly wholesome food. It's up to each person to determine what foods will allow her/him to eat amounts that provide the peace we are looking for. (Beck says research shows few people maintain weight loss without some kind of systematic plan, but regimented systems are contraindicated for healing emotional eating. To each her path.) He also doesn't recommend substituting some low-cal food to replace the junk we want to eat when we aren't hungry. Drinking a lot of water, trying to fill up on celery, all those tactics, in my opinion, just make things worse later. Bite the bullet and face not eating at all until you are hungry for real food! Eating is not going to solve the problem!

In my years of trying to diet (I actually stayed on them only a few times, but I learned a lot about what healthier foods taste delicious to me and let me eat amounts I want often enough), I have changed what I eat for meals so much that I can't imagine putting a bag of chips in with my lunch, but you could do it, if that's what pleases you most. My downfall wasn't meals; it was a bag of chocolate kisses at a time, or 3/4 of a carton of ice cream, or a package of cookie dough-many of you know the drill. And it wasn't necessarily mindless, I KNEW I was eating the whole package. When I was in the middle of it, I couldn't imagine what it was going to take for me not to do it. But it has happened, for now, at least.

I've not binged for nearly two weeks (okay, I know that is a short time, but I've been working up to it, not just jumping in for the honeymoon), and I've been more active. I'm more comfortable in lots of clothes, and there is even a pair of fallback cords that are very close to going to the thrift store pile. I used to adore Geneen Roth, the queen of emotional eating writers, and definitely credit her with my having a much gentler attitude toward my body and habits, plus with eating, even overeating, everything without guilt, which I think also helped lay the foundation, but Gould made it more me-centered. Finally, without his even mentioning anything religious, his approach dovetails quite well with a spiritual practice i've been implementing in other areas of my life. I'm very grateful I found the book.

I will say that i do recommend trying to find a support group in your effort, either live or online. I haven't done his online program, so I can't speak for that, but I joined (for free) Sparkpeople.com and got on a message board team called Living Binge Free that has also helped me have a place to kick around ideas and share success, as well as be lovingly made accountable. There is also a team there devoted just to Shrink Yourself.

Good luck in your quest. If you had given up for awhile, I think this will be a good bet to return to the issue.

UPDATE February of 2012. I have now been using the No S Diet program (by Reinhard Engels http://www.amazon.com/Diet-Strikingly-Weight-Loss-DietersRaving-DroppingPounds/dp/0399534040 or a modified version free online at nosdiet.com)for a little over two years. It's not written for bingers, but it's helped me immensely. I've lost 25 lbs. (13% of my weight) and fat is still getting slowly whittled off. I still appreciate Gould's work, but find that most books aimed at the binge crowd spend too much time on emotions and not enough on the inner thoughts that we have that give us permission to eat at inappropriate times. Also, though a strict regimen is contraindicated for bingers, most programs have too little structure. I find the three-meal structure five days a week a Godsend. It's ironic, because 25 years ago, I thought that was impossible. (It was the recommendation from OA at the time.) Now, I think of it as integral. Giving ourselves the option to make decisions to eat or not countless times a day is not productive. No one has to starve on three good meals a day, and deprivation becomes a just another fantasy hunger issue.

Read Shrink Yourself for emotional savvy, but use No S for structure. And weekends are for the grown-up in you to be in charge of all the decisions. It's a great way to live.

Update Jan. 14, 2013. Finished my third year of No S. Down another 5% of my weight for a total weight loss of about 18% of my weight. I can't say I never want to overeat or that I never do, but it's so manageable in comparison to how I used to live. Most of the time, I really do prefer to eat sanely and it is not a struggle. The biggest struggle is the onslaught of diet madness and food pushing, but I can be in lots of situations that used to be a nightmare and not feel any anxiety.
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on May 17, 2007
I stumbled upon Dr. Gould's book after listening to a radio interview he gave promoting his book. I am glad I wrote his name down because I could not remember the title. (A little gimmicky) I was skeptical that a psychiatrist could really help you lose weight through therapeutic techniques. I mean, just start exercising and eating less, right? I read the Beck Diet Solution and found it rather dull.

Anyway, I could not put his book down, I finished it in 2 days...which for me is huge. And I have been on my best eating behavior. I am now consciously controlling my appetite...no binge eating and no late night snacking. I think Dr. Gould gave me great advice on how to understand the signals that lead to fill yourself with food. I think it would work for other applications as well, but I guess that is for another book. BTW, There are practical lessons in chapter 3 that I keep re-reading.

Now I bought it for some co-workers who I thought would benefit.
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VINE VOICEon July 19, 2007
It's really wonderful to see a book that offers an intelligent approach to permanent weightloss, that explains why diets don't work and offers solutions.

We eat, in many cases, to stop the pain. We learned this most basic food instinct in infancy, and we've refined the concept of pain to include physical and emotional pain. It is really helpful to understand that when you are nervous, you grab something to eat, in part, because one of your oldest memories is of feeling better after your bottle.

And when you understand that years of eating has programmed us to know that food equals relief and comfort, then it's easy to understand why we return to that behavior in times of stress. Fortunately, in this book, you will learn how to change those behaviors by identifying the specific stressor-prompts that cause you to over-eat, and how to disempower them.

This is a powerful must-read book for anyone who wants to lose weight.
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on December 28, 2010
This book is basically a promotional tool for his online website. To sign up for the website its $119. Grant you its smart marketing. Authors don't make a lot of money on book royalties but they get all the money from their own website, so I don't blame him. But the bottom line is that I felt that he was more interested in making money than helping people to overcome their emotional eating habits. If this is the case he should have really come out and said it in the book, which he never does. He should really say, "it will be quite hard for you to get control of your emotional eating on your own. I strongly recommend that you try my online program that will help you overcome your emotional eating issues." That is how the book should end, but it does not.

First, I found the book was NOT well researched. There were almost no reference which is very odd for a book of this type. I guess he based everything on his own experience with emotional eating, which seems to be extensive.

Next, there are frequent reference to the website and kind of saying its the complete program and the book is only a "taste".

Many of the thoughts in the book are not very well developed. For example there are a number of exercises that describe an exercise but don't actually tell you what to do! This tells me that the editor did a bad job on this book and anyone who had read it and tried to apply it would also be scratching their head.

There are some good points. The self-analysis of the negative things you say to yourself and teaching you how to respond to those negative thoughts are the most valuable contribution this book has to make.

Also, many of the exercises are really quite good and have helped me. What I have gotten into the habit of doing is reviewing my notes every morning when I first wake up of what Harriet (my inner critic) is telling me when I'm feeling a binge coming on. By reviewing first thing in the morning my answers to Harriet and my hunger are easier to respond to. Also, I review my other healthier ways to cope and it puts in my mind to choose one of those too. I'm surprised that this has help me deal with my binge feelings when they come on. I never thought I could effectively deal with those feelings. I thought I was stuck forever responding to my emotional binge urges by eating, but now I am implementing new strategies that hopefully will be able to help me keep the weight off forever.

However, many of the other solutions are incomplete and just don't seem to be as developed as they should have been. It just felt like this book was rushed out there to the public to promote the website. I hope with a second edition the author will correct some of these problems. I guess increasing the book size by 30% and adding some solid research to back up his claims would improve the book immensly.

Another distirbing thing is that the book does not tell us the prior results of his program. Sure there are some testimonials, but when an online program has been around for several years there should be some quantifiable results. None are given and this is a red flag to me.

So, I say to you Mr. Gould you could have done a lot better. You're a doctor after all, and it seems that a doctor should have the attention to detail that this book lacks.
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on June 27, 2007
It is an excellent Book. I have read only half of it. I have lost 30 pounds
gone from 240 to 210 and still losing. I am 75 and am having to get smaller pants.
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on October 31, 2007
this is the first time I have ever written a review for a book before. I have read tons of diet books, been on just about every diet there is, have reached my highest weight yet, and was just about to give up!

I bought this book with some skepticism. I knew I ate for emotional reasons, but just was so tired of failing time after time. I cannot tell you this book has changed my life, but I have some real hope that it will. It is not a diet - in that it doesn't tell you WHAT to eat. But it will help you identify WHY you eat.

I was so tired of white knuckle diets that I could never maintain for a lifetime. In church one day, the homily was about spiritual growth. What does this have to do with losing weight? Well, it was compared to a diet, in that so many of us start a diet, and then end up at some point going off of it, returning to our old "habits" and end up regaining most all of the weight back, and then some. For lasting change, it requires CONVERSION, a change of heart, a change in lifestyle!

This book is not easy. But it is about transformatiom, creating a new life. One where food returns to its correct place in our lives - for fuel, not for tranquilizing. For once, I have hope that I can do the work necessary, and change my life for the better. What about the weight? Well, I trust that it will slowly come off as I do the work to change the reasons I eat in the first place.

I feel like a tightly closed bud of a flower, and as I do the work to change and grow emotionally, it will open up and become a beautiful flower. Need another analogy? I am a caterpillar, locked into a cocoon that food has placed me in. As I learn new habits and release old fears, I will break open the cocoon and finally be FREE!
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on June 11, 2011
Shrink Yourself is a clever play on the word "shrink," where you shrink your size by being your own psychotherapist. Author Roger Gould presents a solution for emotional overeating based on transisting from powerless forms of personal expression to more powerful ones. A pause in between the urge to eat when not physically hungry and the automatic response to it makes it possible for another more creative response to emerge. The best and most original material is about going into and getting out of a food trance. Another provocative idea is the link between a stifled passion for life and self-destructive behaviors. Unfortunately, Gould doesn't fully develop this theme.

Instead, he rehashes a lot of ideas that have been around a while and sometimes slips into psycho babble. For example, does anyone really "reinterpret the experience of emptiness to see exactly what it means to you?" And how do you "catch yourself in the mystery layer of emptiness." This is a bit convoluted for my taste. Then there's Gould's 10 healthy eating habits which include suggestions like portion control and eat when hungry, stop when full. Haven't we already heard this about a thousand times already?

Another big turnoff with this book is Gould's clinical "expert" writing voice which leads to a flat, uninspiring reading eperience. He didn't engage me. He didn't call me to action in any way, and his diagnostic and self-awareness exercises were too involved and impractical to implement. When I got done with the book, I was relieved I only spent $5 on a used copy instead of paying the full price. Every now and then Gould actually says something new and interesting, and that's the reason I gave the review a 2 instead of a 1. Mostly, though, Gould makes feeding yourself with sanity more complicated that it needs to be. Instead of this book, I recommend anything by Geneen Roth.
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on December 15, 2008
I've had this book sitting on my nightstand for quite some time. I've started it, then got busy, so I had to start again, and on and on. After being at my highest weight EVER and having three weeks of bingeing on sweets, I finally sat down and decided to read it. I only wish I'd read it when I got it.

I've read and heard others say this, but after starting the parts where the real work begins my cravings stopped. I literally stopped craving sweets. I thought it was a gimmick when people mentioned that, how could I ever NOT crave sweets? For the past three weeks I could think about nothing but donuts, Milk Duds, chocolate everything, pie, etc. and would go out of my way to get them. Today I thought some sweets would be yummy, but I couldn't even tempt myself to eat some chocolate that was right in front of me. It was like a switch had been flipped and I saw food as nourishment and not a comforting friend.

I highly recommend reading this. If you're on the road to being obese like I am, this could literally save your life.
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on January 12, 2009
I have spent 40 years trying to lose weight without success. But, after reading this book and doing the on-line course (I'm still in the final, 12th week) I can say that my emotional eating has been greatly reduced--as has my size. 30 pounds lost in a period that included Christmas and some of the sort of stressful events that, in the past, would have me gorging on food in order to zone out and escape the problems. During those 11 weeks, I followed no diet, just the advice in this book that enabled me to cut down on emotional eating. I also enjoyed all the usual Christmas fare--plum pudding, mince pies, chocolates--the lot--and I enjoyed them all the more because I didn't stuff myself sick.

The journey Shrink Yourself encourages you to take isn't necessarily an easy one. Honestly facing fears, seeing the benefits being overweight has brought you, working out more productive (or, at least, less damaging) ways to deal with problems than eating are called for and, at times, are highly uncomfortable. That, said, the process is an empowering one. At the end of the day, you are helped to take real control of your life. Losing weight is only one of the improvements you can make with the help of this book.

Best of all, I do not fear slipping back into my old patterns of emotional eating. Seeing through emotional eating's empty promises of comfort is like seeing through the Emperor's new clothes. You can't go back. I'm not sure I ever would made these changes were it not for this book.
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on April 10, 2008
I've had issues with my weight my entire life. In 2004 I lost 117 lbs on one a popular commercial diet plan. Sure, I was thrilled, and although I swore I wouldn't gain a pound of it back, I managed to put on 30 lbs over the last 2 years. Anyone can lose weight if they follow a diet plan. Shrink Yourself immediately gave me the ability to look at the reason I reverted back to my old destructive ways-I am an emotional eater. There are a lot of written exercises that help the reader with self examination, however this is extremely time consuming, but I "get it". Now I feel I have the right mindset to distinguish between my emotional needs and physiological hunger.
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