The Don’t Diet, Live-It! Workbook

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
September/October 1999 Volume 10, Number 5
©1999 Gürze Books

The Don’t Diet, Live-It! Workbook: Healing Food, Weight and Body Issues (Andrea LoBue and Marsea Marcus, Gurze Books, Carlsbad, CA; 215 pp., 1999, paperback, $17.95)

The Don’t Diet, Live-it! Workbook represents a humanistic-psychology orientation that focuses on journaling as a means of self-exploration. The book’s guiding metaphor is that recovery is a journey, and participants are invited to journey repeatedly through the workbook, doing the various exercises over and over again, seeing how they change and evolve as time goes on. The levels of focus concern the emotions that are associated with, perhaps underlying or perhaps resulting from, issues concerning food, eating patterns and weight. “Travel tips” for the journeys include: “travel at your own pace,” “be spontaneous” (periodic spontaneous rode trips are included), “keep your belongings in a safe place” (including the workbook so that others don’t peek in), and “don’t travel alone in dangerous territory” (suggesting that having a psychotherapist, support group or other close and supportive person is essential when embarking on deep self-discovery).

The book crisscrosses various issues, questions and self-explorations, addressing a broader list of issues than usual CBT with four stages of recovery: denial, transition, early recovery, and ongoing recovery. After each “journey,” a list of checkpoints is included for individuals to self-assess their status and progress. The exercises are more open-ended than those of most CBT based programs. While there are clearly CBT influences, exercises also suggest other humanistic psychology, Jungian, Psychosynthesis and Gestalt psychology perspectives. At each stage (or journey), participants go over the same issues from different vantage points, working them through. Participants are asked to explore issues such as their usual outer solutions vs. inner solutions (i.e., what others have called alloplastic vs. autoplastic emotional self-regulators); isolation vs. reaching out, thoughts vs. feelings; all-or-none vs. complex thinking (colorfully called “black and white vs. rainbow thinking), criticism vs. praise, competition vs. camaraderie, holding on vs. letting go, and “human doing” vs. “human being.”

While the organization of the book may seem confusing at first, the idea of reworking these issues at different times is appealing. Although to my knowledge this program has not been empirically tested, some may find this orientation to be inviting and some may even wish to supplement more structured CBT programs with exercises from this workbook. Helpful lists of national organizations, advocacy groups, websites, and recommended readings and tapes are included, and there’s a special chapter for professionals who wish to lead Live-It groups, describing in detail how these therapy groups are established and conducted.

— J.Y.

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