A Review of The Joy of Weight Loss: A Spiritual Guide to Easy Fitness by Norris Chumley

Chumley’s own story is poignant enough, and his early diet, quite astonishing, involving something like 30,000 calories a day (on a very rough calculation), including pints of ice cream, frequent in between meal visits to fast food chains for multiple big macs and burgers, candy, doughnuts, cakes, shakes, and soft drinks, along with a diet meal. His move from a 400 lb, suicidal teenager, to a healthy, active, joyful man, is inspiring, and his focus on the spirit or mind before the body is important, since most overeating does seem to come from an emotional rather than physical need.
The Joy of Weight Loss comes with some lofty accolades, from Deepak Chopra to Susan Sarandon. Chumley’s premise is that, in order to truly lose weight, you need to surrender yourself to God first, and that philosophy sits behind everything in the book, which is otherwise a very straightforward guide to losing weight based on the USDA Food Guide Pyramid, and regular moderate exercise. Chumley&’s own story is poignant enough, and his early diet, quite astonishing, involving something like 30,000 calories a day (on a very rough calculation), including pints of ice cream, frequent in between meal visits to fast food chains for multiple big macs and burgers, candy, doughnuts, cakes, shakes, and soft drinks, along with a diet meal.

Chumley’s move from a 400 lb, suicidal teenager, to a healthy, active, joyful man, is inspiring, and his focus on the spirit or mind before the body is important, since most overeating does seem to come from an emotional rather than physical need. The book covers such things as the basic concepts of surrender, why you need a support group, and how to allow yourself to feel joy, along with a specific Daily Companion, a 30 day guide, with daily thoughts, things to do, menus, and activities, and a daily checklist. For those that need very clear instructions, and a lot of formal support, the Daily Companion will probably prove to be very helpful, offering inspiration along with instruction. Overweight and unhappy readers who are religious, or who are looking for the type of strong emotional support that religion can provide, will find this book to be a wonderful tool, for not only losing weight, but also for allowing themselves to feel good, and worthwhile. Non-religious readers, even those like myself who tend towards the spiritual, will probably find the extensive God talk a bit hard to take. Jesus’ sufferings, and the image of a wonderful, supportive male being willing to take personal weight problems into his hands, is simply not a metaphor that works for me. However, to be fair, Chumly’s approach to God is egalitarian, and his quotes include the Dalai Lama, Jung, Djuna Barnes, Virginia Woolf, and Spinoza, to name just a few, with most of these pointing to that sense of the bigger picture – those things beyond the self, which can help the overeater move beyond the desperate soul destroying and obsessive lose and gain cycle.

For the non-religious, the program can be easily summed up by eating 6 servings daily from the grains, vegetable, and fruit groups, and two servings daily from the dairy, and protein groups, along with 6 glasses of water, and 30 mins of activity.

While this is not particularly exciting, nor is it revolutionary in any way, it is sensible, and for long term regular eating, probably the only effective way to keep weight off and stay healthy. If you are looking for a self-help book which will teach you ways of liking yourself, and also need to lose weight, this book will be just the thing, combining the love of God, and God’s love of mankind, with a very reasonable health plan. However, if you aren’t religious, and find repeated holy affirmations hard to stomach, you would do better just obtaining a pamphlet on healthy eating from the USDA, and doing a little more regular exercise (go for a walk, or take a dance class).

The Joy of Weight Loss can be purchased directly from Amazon. For more information, or to purchase, click here -> The Joy of Weight Loss

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