By LMQC Battle of the Bulge blogger, Alan Sivell, St. Ambrose communications professor, RAGBRAI-er, pizza lover and longtime weight watcher.
I still have my first diet book. It was The Fat Boy’s Book, written by Elmer Wheeler, who was regarded as “The Greatest Salesman in the World” in his day – the 40s and 50s (Google him. He’s a pretty interesting character).
I was in 5th grade. I wasn’t particularly overweight at the time, but was beginning to think more about girls than baseball cards. I needed to get my game on.
The book was on my dad’s nightstand and the title caught my attention.
Inside I found clever cartoons of Elmer that charted his progress from the beginning of the book and his diet (big guy breaking the scale) to the end of his book and his success (slim guy strutting on the beach).
Wheeler’s book, published in 1950, is still fun to read, but a bit dated.
Wheeler was writing a book for men, but he had advice for the women in their lives: Don’t let your husband get fat in the first place.
“Too many thin bachelors go to pot as soon as they get married,” Wheeler wrote.
“That’s because their wives feed ‘em too well on the wrong things … It is up to you wives, you know, whether or not Old Lard Face makes good on his dieting sprees.”
The latest addition to my arsenal in the “Battle of the Bulge” is Become a Fat-Burning Machine: Lose the Belly, End Sugar Cravings, Gain Energy, by Michael Berland.
Berland’s day job is surprising. He’s a political consultant and pollster. His book caught my eye after reading an article in the New York Times about him and his book, in which he suggested the cause of our current political candidates’ problems was food-based. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
Mr. Berland … is certain he has identified Mr. Bush’s key problem: He is not eating enough fat.
“The Paleo diet is not helping him come across as an effective leader,” said Mr. Berland, 47, referring to the diet emphasizing unprocessed foods that is favored by the former Florida governor. Mr. Bush, a meat-and-potatoes conservative, needs to eat things like avocados and almonds throughout the day to sustain energy, Mr. Berland said. “The debates happen late at night, and by then, he barely is holding it together.”
He also has some advice for the Republican front-runner, Donald J. Trump: Eat more vegetables and less simple sugars, Mr. Berland said: “He’d be less frenetic. Look at him, his cortisol is raging.” (Cortisol is a hormone that in part helps regulate blood sugar levels.)
Like a lot of the books I’ve read over the years, Berland’s is packed with directed meal plans and recipes.
But it’s the ideas, research and reasoning behind the plans that interest me most. This is the strong section of the book and worth the price.
Berland offers good tips and motivation for changing our diets.
For example, he says he doesn’t care about willpower. It’s more about brain power. Just as we’ve been trained to love fatty foods, we can train ourselves to love healthful foods.
Rather than having feelings of regret that everyone else is eating cake, we should congratulate ourselves that we don’t need cake!
If you need some motivational reading to jumpstart your spring training, Fat-Burning Machine is worth adding to your library.