Book Review: Winning After Losing by Stacey Halprin
Book: Winning After Losing: Keep Off the Weight You’ve Lost — Forever by Stacey Halprin
Genre: Weight loss
Publisher: Warner Wellness
Publication date: 2007
Summary: Stacey Halprin lost over 350 pounds. The little thrills of accomplishment kept her going through her weight loss phase but she knew that the statistics about gaining weight after losing are scary. When Halprin looked for books to prevent yo-yo dieting, she didn’t find any. “I decided to write this book because even though there are hundreds of books that tell people how to lose weight, I couldn’t find a single one that explained how to keep the weight off.” (p. xxvi) She talked to experts in both physical and mental health and to other people in the “Winner’s Circle,” people who, like Halprin, have maintained a weight loss. All of these people are quoted liberally in this book which is filled with tips, lists, and strategies for winning after losing.
Thoughts: I attained my goal weight a couple of weeks ago. Yay! It’s been less dramatic than I thought it might be, kind of like having a birthday and not feeling any older than you did the day before. Also, I set my goal weight at a nice round number, but it happens to be two pounds higher than the weight where the CDC would call me normal weight instead of overweight (CDC BMI calculator). I discussed that with my doctor a few months ago and he confirmed what I had already suspected — there is no magic in reaching that number. The seventy pounds I lost is obviously much more significant than the two pounds I have yet to lose. I find, now that I’m here, that I want those last two pounds! While I attained the goal that I set, I’ve already set a new one so I’m not feeling quite finished with this journey. Still, I’m plenty close enough to be concerned about how, after attaining this weight loss, I will now maintain it.
“Depending which source or research study you read, between 90 and 98 percent of people who lose weight gain it back within a year or two, and many of them gain back more than they lost.” (p. xxvii) That’s the sort of statistic that librarians are taught to question.
- Are they counting the people who lost twenty pounds but needed to lose seventy? I did that several times. If they are, then the percentage of people who attain their goal weight but then regain the weight is going to be lower, possibly much lower.
- Will this statistic change in the future if people start taking heed of the maxim that losing 10% of your body weight is a significant and important goal, contributing to one’s health? I might have kept that twenty pounds off if I had defined it in my head as success instead of failure.
- Does the statistic change if the length of the weight loss phase is taken into account? It’s taken me nearly two years to reach my goal weight. My habits and tastes in that time have changed so that I have little interest in abandoning my new lifestyle. But if I had lost the weight in six months using a severely restricted plan, I might be more keen to get back to normal, and normal would likely be the way I ate before, causing me to regain the weight.
While being a bit skeptical about the chances of regaining the weight, I am still sold on the idea that analysis and strategy will continue to be an important part of my weight maintenance and Winning After Losing provides plenty of that. Several of the strategies are the same ones that I used to lose the weight and serve as a good reminder that I can’t abandon them and expect to maintain my loss. I will continue to need a food plan and a fitness plan and regular monitoring of my weight. More interesting were the social and mental aspects of maintaining a new lifestyle: what to do about a social circle that continues to assume you are always ready for a restaurant meal at the drop of a hat, how to develop new friendships that support your new lifestyle, and ways to update the mental image of yourself to match the reality that others are seeing.
I skimmed the sections on plastic surgery, but if I were younger those would be of interest. At my age, fortunately, I feel more comfortable with a lightweight cardigan over sleeveless tops and probably would even if excess weight hadn’t contributed to the hanging skin on my upper arms. Since Stacey Halprin is single, there is also much material in here about the minefield that is dating after a significant weight loss. For myself, well, let’s just say that weight loss improved my self image and that improved my marriage.
The final chapter is about hopes and dreams. As much focus and energy as it takes to lose weight in modern America, that isn’t, after all, the point of living. With several inspiring examples (including Halprin’s desire to write a book), some basic goal-setting advice, and specific ways of how to move from food temptation to outward focus, Halprin ends the book on a positive and self-affirming invitation to stay in the Winner’s Circle forever.
Appeal: This is a great book for anyone who has lost any amount of weight, whether at their goal weight or still desiring to lose some more.
Have you lost weight? Do you think a book like this would be helpful?
Is Halprin right in that first quote that there are no other books on maintaining weight loss? I found one called Joining the Thin Club by Judith Lederman, also published in 2007, but her story didn’t speak to me in the same way that Stacey Halprin’s did so I didn’t get very far in that book.
Going to have to put that one on my list to read as a possible recommendation for my patients.
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