Friday, February 21, 2003
The Philosopher’s Diet
posted by Julie |
I’m fairly convinced that the next best thing to writing (besides eating differently and exercising more) to support your fitness efforts is… reading. I look especially for well-written essays and articles by thoughtful people who work hard at physical achievement. Please recommend your favorites back to me, will you? I’d love to read them and recommend them here.
Here’s one of mine: The Philosopher’s Diet: How to Lose Weight and Change the World by Richard A. Watson.
***Here’s a caveat, Watson wrote this work quite awhile ago when we didn’t know that extreme calorie restriction can actually make you fatter in the long run. So when he recommends calories lower than 1200, ignore him, but attend to everything else.***
Watson is not a nutritionist, an endocrinologist, or a kinesiologist.
He’s an anthropologist, a philosopher, a spelunker and a mensch. He never had a great deal of weight to lose, but a goodly amount. And like everyone, he struggled along the way to losing it.
And, he thought about it. Quite a bit, it turns out.
And so, feisty academic that he is, he developed a philosophy of dieting that is frank, warm, engaging, direct, and, yes, inspiring. It’s worth not one but several reads. For instance, he opens his book with a chapter on fat with:
“Fat. I presume you want to get rid of it. Then quit eating so much.”
See what I mean? This book is full of great advice. He writes with warmth, humor, and generosity about fat, food, roughage, running, sex, how to live, and how to die. It’s a wonderful read.
“The diet industry (philosophical analysis reveals) is part of the entertainment business. It belongs to a specialized branch that manufactures unnecessary things to do.”
It’s a laugh out-loud book, this book.
Watson received the American Health Book award for the Philosopher’s Diet in 1985 and a Pushcart Prize for best essay in 1990, among his life achievements. He is a professor of Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. His career as a geologist, anthropologist, philosopher, and writer make his vitae a fascinating read and help to explain his confident, wise, and warm voice.
This book has remained in print for years and years because it’s the sort of book that gets under your skin and travels around from hand to hand, among friends. My mom gave it to me. I’ve given several copies to people I love. But because it contains no get-skinny-quick scheme, and in fact embraces the hard work that long term weight loss and maintenance requires, it’ll never get 5 stars on the Amazon rating list.
Most of the books I recommend will not be runaway best sellers, for this same reason. But then, you’re too smart to imagine that weight loss and maintenance could ever be easy, right? Of course you are.
Do read the Amazon reviews anyway, because you’ll get the sense right away if this book is for you. It is. Enjoy,
The Book, Philosopher’s Diet
The Writer: Watson’s Curriculum Vitae