Like most women, particularly those of us with kids, I’ve struggled with my weight over the years. In the past decade and a half, I’ve yo-yoed between a scale-busting 200 lbs (I figure I can hardly believe even now) and a weight of 115 lbs that made me look like a cross between a coat-hanger and a stick bug. With each of my babies, I’ve battled to shed the extra pounds, and these days, while I wouldn’t consider myself obese, I’ve definitely got a few excess pounds still hanging around.
But I hate dieting. I just hate it. By my lights, there’s nothing worse than a diet that tightly restricts what you can eat, forcing you to parse and dissect everything you consume against a laundry list of “no-no” foods from carbs to gluten to fats to sugars. It’s exhausting, which is why I was immediately captivated by Jon Gabriel’s method, which promises a “no-diet way to transform your body.” Seriously, who wouldn’t be captivated with a promise like that?
Gabriel’s story is pretty inspiring on its own. Prior to 9-11, he was a 400-lb bonds trader in New York city who had tried literally everything to lose weight. Every diet and exercise program from Atkins to South Beach to juice cleanses and fasts had failed, until two things happened.
The first was that Gabriel had an epiphany. His body simply wanted to be fat, he decided. Until he could convince it otherwise, it didn’t matter what weight-loss strategy he tried to shed those pounds. Until he could make his body believe that it wanted to be thin, everything else was futile.
Weeks later, Gabriel was preparing for a business trip. He wanted to take a direct flight from Newark to his destination of San Francisco but his thrifty business partner booked him on a longer flight to save $150. The flight that Gabriel had originally intended to take was the now-infamous United Airlines Flight 93, which was hijacked by al-Qaeda terrorists in the 9-11 attacks and crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, killing everyone onboard.
The 9-11 attacks did more than just give Gabriel a new lease on life thanks to his narrow escape from death – they also bankrupted his business, forcing him to re-evaluate his life and seek out a new direction. What resulted was the Gabriel Method, a weight-loss book which promises followers that, through regular meditations and simple changes in eating habits, you can learn to communicate with your body and change the way it processes food and stores fat, leading to a healthier, fitter, thinner you.
Gabriel suggests that humans are biologically hardwired to be either fat or thin. Being fat is a useful survival mechanism in times of famine or harsh weather, and the human body tends to interpret the stresses of everyday life as just such a circumstance. When your body is determined to stay fat as a means of protecting you from harm, any diet you try is destined for failure, as your body will simply slow down your metabolism, decimate your energy levels and crank up your cravings to ensure you not only don’t lose weight, you gain even more.
His method involves changing your body’s determination to be fat by sending alternate messages to what he calls your “animal brain” through a series of meditations and mental exercises, as well as simple changes to your diet. By using powerful visualizations combined with the meditative state that he refers to as the “SMART Zone,” your body will naturally stop craving junk foods and empty calories and start craving healthy, vibrant foods. Energy levels will peak and exercise will no longer be a chore but something you look forward to. The claims pretty lofty – can any program honestly deliver these kinds of results?
What I like about this book is that there are no off-limit foods, nothing you can’t eat. In fact, Gabriel orders you to give in to your cravings. Instead of restricting, his only requirement is that you add certain things to your diet, including omega-3s, fibre and protein.
Also, I’m a firm believer that meditation is a good thing, no matter what you’re trying to achieve. Meditation has helped me through a lot of tough patches including divorce and depression, so it makes sense to me that these same practices can help with weight loss.
There are a few things I’m not sold on in this book, however. While Gabriel makes himself out to be an expert on all things weight-loss related from biochemistry to tai chi, and he cites an impressive list of sources at the end of each chapter, some of his reasoning seems a little specious. I keep running across the phrase, “I heard of…”
In one case, Gabriel cites a railway car worker who froze to death simply because he was afraid of dying by freezing, even though the railway car he was locked into wasn’t even refrigerated. However, the actual factual data behind this case is pointedly missing, even though Gabriel includes pages of citations at the end of the chapter for virtually every other point he’s trying to get across. There are several instances of this in the book that seem a little contrived and lack proper source material to back up Gabriel’s claims, relying on secondhand data and supposition rather than fact.
That being said, the Gabriel Method seems much more sensible to me than The Secret, and that book sold millions and millions of copies with much the same premise. The idea that you can influence your mind to control how your body processes food and stores excess weigh isn’t as far-fetched as it might have seemed five or ten years ago. For those who have struggled with restrictive diets and trendy exercise programs that promise the world (Body For Life, anyone?), this might just seem like a dream come true.
Did it work for me? I’ll keep you posted!