Thursday, August 16, 2012

Being Fat: It's an attidude? Review of Ryan Andrews's Drop the Fat Act and Start Living Lean

What if being fat was not primarily about how much of we eat or how little we work out?

What if being fat were, first and foremost, an attitude? Not a physical state, but a state of mind? And what if being fat (or lean) is simply a  direct consequence of those attitudes?

This idea -  that fat is an attitude  - is the premise of Ryan D. Andrews's new book, Drop the Fat Act and Start Living Lean: that being fat or being lean is very much first and foremost a state of mind, and those states will lead, inevitably to being fat or to being lean. 

To make his case, Ryan looks at the perspectives of the Fat Eater, the Fat Exerciser and the Fat Life. He looks at, effectively, the approaches to living that people with Fat Attitudes (or "fattitudes" ) have around everything from  meals (fattitude: skip breakie; make dinner the largest meal), food preparation (no time for it), processed foods (refined foods form a large part of the fat diet) calorie counting (fat people count calories), recovery (fat people don't get enough sleep), exercise (fat people are lazy). to approaches to life (fat folk focus on short term gains, and put themselves in fat-inducing situations).

Does this sound like a bit of tough love? Simply to use the term "fat people" seems rather strong, doesn't it? "Fat people are lazy" sounds down right abrupt. But that's what this book is about and what makes it so refreshing. Pulling very few punches to get real about the reality of fat-ness it cuts to the chase on the fattitudes that keep us being "fat people" living a fat act, rather than living lean - and being healthy and healthful.

The book, to be clear, is a wake up call to put the diet down and take a look at ourselves - not our diets - to assess whether leanness and health is really in our future. Do we need to drop the fat act to start living lean?

This is a fabulous book *because* it focuses not on the lean practices first but on the attitdues that keep us Fat, that keep us from DOING those lean practices like finding time to exercise, to prepare food, to get enough sleep, to think about others (yes, fattitudes are selfish).

The book is also an fun, fast read. Drop the Fat Act is something i have enjoyed reading in an evening myself and have had some rather profound "hmm" moments with it. I've also returned to it frequently to check up on a fattitude. The book is also  something one can share easily - with love - with anyone we know who may be looking (possibly for the nth time) for a path of getting lean. It's certainly informed how i've been chatting with clients of late, putting copies into their hands.

This book is so atypical of other tomes around body comp change (losing weight/losing fat - whatever we call it)  - if not the least because of its rather straight talking stype - but also because it cuts to the chase-ness about attitudes.

There are a bunch of great books on how to build better strategies towards eating. I've recommended the Four Day Win as an example. Some folks like the Beck Diet Solution - each of these get at building up new behaviours to succeed with food - and i really dig the four day win in particular. It's fun and effective - "your way to thinner peace" - that's a trip.

Where Ryan's book is delightfully different is that, based on clinical training as an RD,  graduate
Ryan D. Andrews: Lean Attitude-inist
degrees in nutrition, work developing nutrition textbooks and coaching programs, and especially, practical experience with 1000's of clients, he summarizes this knowledge into a handful of well tested, inescapable general traits that mean "fat person."
Rather than focus on the individual (though in the book he does talk to "you") he says, basically, if you're fat it's because you've got these attitudes

The great asset of the book, too, is it makes getting lean pretty simple: address the attitudes, and leanness is inevitable.
Ryan gives the rationalizations for why having a fattitude is doomed to, well, a slow and painful death, and he also does have suggestions for getting to lean attidudes and what the lean life is like. But he's not trying to be a cognitive behavioural therapist: he's telling it like it is. Drop the fat act; start living lean.

He does have a great chapter on the Fit Life  and Fit People ("surprise! fit people think like fit people") and he even has a plan that one can just plug and play: progressive additions. Yes, that's right: additions. One of the miracles of joy in Ryan's approach is that he ADDS stuff in rather than takes stuff away. For instance, in his plan he suggests in week one to just focus on ADDING more vegetables. Every week a little some more of something good is added. And it's grand.

To model the attitude of Ryan's book, let me just say this is a great book. Buy it; you will like it. You can read it right now on kindle and nook, or order a hard copy via your favorite supplier. And Ryan does walk the walk. One of his lean attitudes is around focusing on others rather than one's self. So please note, buying this book is not only good for you, it's good for others too: "50% of all author proceeds from the sales of my book are donated to hunger relief efforts and improving school lunch programs."

Because i just can't say enough good things about this wee most excellent book, i've asked Ryan if he'd tell me a little more about the inspiration for the book and what inspired this novel approach to Fat as and Act and Living Lean as an attitude. I'll be posting that interview soon. In the meantime, do yourself a favour, and grab a copy of Ryan Andrew's Drop the Fat Act and Start Living Lean. Let me know what you think.

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