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on January 5, 2007
I'm a huge fan of Martha Beck's life coaching column in Oprah's magazine, so I grabbed this book to help me lose those last ten pounds. It definitely isn't the same old plate of beans--put your fork down after every bite! Use a smaller plate! Instead, it explains the latest findings in brain research, and how we're hard-wired to respond to dieting the way our ancient selves responded to any other kind of stress--by storing fat. No wonder the usual dieting always fails. Martha shows you how to "retrain your brain" with different exercises that won't make your body go into that stress response. She teaches you how to talk back to those voices in your head--the Dictator ("You WILL lose weight!") and the Wild Child ("Yeah, MAKE me!"). She shows you how to SIN (substitute inedible nourishment), so that every time you don't eat, you have to do something else small and nice for yourself, so losing weight doesn't feel like punishment. I've never seen this kind of advice anywhere. Plus the book is really, really funny.
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on July 6, 2007
I've never written a book review before, but this book has seriously changed my life -- and I've never had reason to say that. As silly as this may sound to some, I can now keep forbidden foods in my house until they go stale. I eat only when I want to, where I want to and whatever I happen to feel like eating -- no restrictions at all, only sanity. I have reached my goal for the first time in my entire 55 years on this planet without dieting, without binging, without ANY food-frantic behaviors. In fact, I now have to remind myself to eat at all; I am too busy being happy.

After reading some of the negative reviews here, I almost did not buy this book. But now, I have to suggest that perhaps anyone who has something flippantly negative to say about this book might not have actually read it, might not have applied any of the many wonderful and insightful suggestions. I've read many spiritual books on being the "observer", none of which have in the least affected my eating behaviors. This book is so much more than that; it's silly to suggest otherwise.

I'd like to say thank you, Ms. Beck, for taking those turtle steps towards getting this book published. You have truly made a difference in at least one person's life.
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on February 4, 2007
If you've never "met" Martha Beck before, you are in for a treat (non-fattening, of course). If you think you've read every diet book out there and this is just another one of "those" books - think again. Beck will quickly have you not only laughing - but laughing yourself thin. Really. Her quick wit and spot-on sense of humor had me forgetting that I was reading a diet book at all.

What's more: Beck gets it! Sure she's got the trilogy from Harvard (undergrad, Masters, Ph.D.) so she can back up her scientific musings - but within the first couple pages you'll learn - Martha Beck, Ph.D. gets it. And she'll tell you what it is in the first few pages. It's what we already know: To get rid of extra weight we need to (drum roll, please) eat less and move more. Period.

Yet, if this were the absolute answer to weight loss, we could all just close the book and end there. But you won't want to. It's just not that simple. We know we need to eat less and move more - yet most of the time we don't. Why? Beck tells us: By putting such tight restraints on ourselves, we actually berate our inner thin-ness and use this power to keep ourselves fat (Horrors!). In short - we're just not ready to be thin. Until we are.

How to get back to "thin-brain" thinking? Beck will show you. You'll use her simple, tiny "turtle" steps - four days at a time. In The Four Day Win - Beck uses her Harvard research tools to help you change the most important variable on the road to weight loss - your mind.

She does it in this way.

By mapping out for readers the way our mind thinks about creating change, Beck helps us take the small steps we need to create lasting shifts in thinking and body weight. She also gives us this information the way we can handle it - action and reward in tiny, manageable assignments (kind of like the way we should be eating). She first outlines the three steps our mind needs to work through to make positive and lasting change (Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation) . Then Beck walks us through action and reward steps on each rung of the weight loss ladder. Thus, changes become natural, permanent and fun.

As an added bonus, Beck teaches readers about the blissful state she calls: "Thinner Peace." Studying Taoism and aiming to always be on the "middle road" myself - I understand that life works best when we are in the ebb and flow of nature. By teaching us her ways of Thinner Peace -we learn how to maintain an "observers" view and how to get there when we're feeling stressed and out of sync. She also understands, by forcing our bodies to do the things we want it to do, it resists us. Thus, the reason why most fast-track weight loss programs fail. Beck teaches us to train our minds to be on our side - the thin side of life. Then to maintain this and return again; even if we have a relapse.

No, you won't get loads of recipes and eating suggestions in this diet book. Yet, you will get direction for gaining weight loss support and healthy eating habits according to your own personal archetype (of which Beck helps you define). Yes, you will get thin (even if you do subscribe to dieting Martha Beck Style - "eat whatever the hell you want") by adhering to one disclaimer - you must eat (and do everything else in your life) in a mindful manner.

The Four Day Win will be even more effective for those who:

-Have tried every diet imaginable and still have found their bodies clinging to extra weight

-Are interested in changing the habits associated with overeating and are aiming to work toward living a life of joy

-Want to know the ideas behind weight gain and particular eating triggers that can both be changed and healed

The three best things about The Four Day Win in my opinion are:

One: Beck has an amazing sense of humor and maintains it throughout the entire volume. I love this. True, most diet books are shelved in the diet book section of the bookstore. The Four Day Win could easily share time in the humor department. An absolute dieting bonus.

Two: Beck addresses the triggers behind overeating and the reasons why we often sabotage ourselves and our bodies with our minds. It's obvious (mostly to others) that we gain weight as a result of emotional variables - however, Beck invites us to take a step outside of ourselves to both identify what is going on inside our heads and then make real change - one "turtle step" at a time. I don't know about you dear reader, but I love turtle steps. I love them because I can handle them. To me, after taking a few tiny steps: suddenly, everything is possible.

Three: Beck helps you find the eating program that is associated with both your inner nature and your specific personality archetype. And surprisingly this step doesn't happen until mid-way through the book. Why? She spends a significant amount of time slowing down our minds to prepare them for change. As much as we'd all love to wake up one fine day and empty our lives like wastebaskets - then begin again - this behavior is absolutely dooming most of us to fail. Beck will tell you - permanent change happens naturally and it begins by softening up the brain to receive it. In my experience - you won't find this necessary information most diet books.

A Final Note: The Four Day Win is not a book you will finish, close, then never look at again. It is a reference book you can consult over and over. For me, I chose to take the Readers Digest tour first, then walk back through slowly - taking each exercise one at a time. The Four Day Win is a journey that can help you expand your mind and change your life for the better. Forever. By becoming more joyful and authentic, weight-loss is an added bonus. And, if you are anything like me, you'll close this book, then jump online to order Beck's entire collection.
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on January 3, 2007
Thank goodness, somebody who gets the concept that there's more to getting thin and staying thin than just eat less/move more. Sure we all know what to do, but we don't do it. Thank you Martha Beck for showing us how to heal our brains and bodies. This is the best weight-loss book I've ever read and I've read 'em all.
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on July 18, 2007
Most of my adult life, I have been able to maintain, with relative ease, the same weight. Then, here comes midlife. And with it, a crisis or two. Factor in stress and a slowing metabolism, a more hurried pace, various anxieties, and the softness glued itself stubbornly to me and would not let go.

I can't say I have ever been among those who follow the latest diet trend. Pshaw. None of them have ever made sense to me. I got it: eat less, move more. Everything else is doomed to fail. I'd seen it enough among friends and colleagues: longterm, diets fail. To remain healthy lifelong requires a lifestyle, not one of suffering and deprivation, but one that can be maintained with ease and, yes, even pleasure. That's for me.

I picked up Martha Beck's book with great interest. I had recently read and enjoyed her book, "Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live." Now, here was a respected life coach and psychologist who debunks diets and disdains suffering as a way to lead to healthy living. She speaks of attaining "thinner peace." Diets, after all, are stressful, and the last thing we need in the typical American lifestyle is more stress. Indeed, recent studies have shown that the same amount of calories ingested by stressed animals and animals at peace turn into fat on, you guessed it, the stressed animals, while the calm ones remain at a healthy weight. Beck is onto something scientifically sound.

Another important item Beck has understood well is our short attention span. Four days. We can do just about anything for four days. If we approach any change in our accustomed routines, if we do it in small bites, small bites eventually accumulate into a big pie (so to speak). If we do not overwhelm ourselves with immense and heroic goals, we might just be able to conquer this gremlin.

Her approach is almost frustratingly gradual. But that is as it should be. Gradual changes can sneak up on us to become life-transforming. And any change begins in the mind, in the spirit, deep in the heart where all our anxieties breed.

Since I began reading Beck's book, I can honestly say without any deprivation (I still eat at restaurants with my friends, still munch out of the party snack bowl, still eat popcorn while watching a movie), I have been shucking off, gradually but permanently, the extra bit of softness midlife gifted me. I am also feeling a thinner peace. Being at peace, for me, may have been the most crucial factor in this, as I have come to believe that in the past years, I was carrying the "weight of my emotions."

Beck's book is effective and it's downright funny to read. With various thoughtful questionnaires, she prompts us to think about what brings us stress, what brings us peace, and how to work with that. She teaches how to quiet the voices in our head, how to identify emotional hunger versus physical hunger, how to feed both. Have a nibble of chocolate - and read. Four days at a time.
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on January 14, 2007
Not only does Martha Beck have a wonderfully, spunky style to make the read FUN, but her advice is some of the best I have ever heard. I've not even finished the book, and am already using several strategies with great success. I love her suggestion of imagining two little figures in the palm of your hand (it's in the appendix, which you can quickly use to jump start your changes). This is powerful stuff. I recommend it to anyone wanting to live healthier, to anyone who needs help in jump-starting change, to anyone who needs to get back on track with their eating, and to anyone looking for a better life. Seriously, it seems this good.
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on January 7, 2007
Martha Beck makes learning so much fun. Her book transcends all other diet books because it addresses the reasons why a person is overweight. It's not about self control and discipline. It's about knowing who you are and learning how to make peace with that. From there your whole life improves. Weight loss becomes a result of living joyfully. If this sounds corny, it's not. Martha is as funny as Davis Sedaris. I felt a difference immediately in the way I saw food and kept chuckling as I thought about her words. Her research is the most sane and intelligent I've read on the subject. You get your life, not a diet. Thanks again Martha for another amazing book.
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on July 30, 2007
I really like this book's gentle approach and it coincides with things that I've noticed about myself in the past. For example, at times when I'm giving myself lots of options and not really worrying about my weight, I tend to stay the same or even lose weight. When I'm actively dieting, I have wider swings of either losing or gaining weight. Not to mention the fact that after 20 years of dieting more or less continuously, I am sixty pounds heavier than I was when I started.

Update: I wrote the previous paragraph in a review almost two years ago. Since then, I have done most of the exercises in the book and have lost fifty pounds. At first I used a non-diet approach i.e. eating what I wanted when I was hungry; stopping when I was no longer hungry. To lose the last fifteen, I've had to move to counting calories, but thanks to this book, I've been able to do so without feeling deprived or getting the diet crazies. I truly believe that my brain has fundamentally changed. I know it seems new-agey (not my cup of tea), but the exercises are grounded in science. Based on my success so far and the lifestyle changes that I have internalized over the last couple of years, I am confident I will have no trouble losing the last ten pounds and continuing to maintain a healthy weight. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Martha Beck!!
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on March 2, 2007
Wow. I would recommend this book to anybody who struggles with the problem of excessive self-criticism. After reading it, I lost 8 lbs in 3

weeks, but more important is that instead of resisting the urge to overeat, I actually don't have the urge at all. Right now I'm re-reading it and applying it to other areas of my life.

Of course sense of humor is a matter of taste, but I found the book to be hilarious and the author to be courageous in her willingness to discuss her own former problems on the topic of eating.
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on January 2, 2007
Martha Beck kept me entertained and alert throughout this terrific book. The exercises support her theory on how people change, which are in turn based on the latest research on what actually happens in the brain. This book will get you back on track for living a wonderful life, liking yourself, and treating your "creature body" gently.
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