Review of FULL-FILLED, by Renee Stephens and Samantha Rose.
Full-Filled , by Renée Stephens and Samantha Rose
review by Donald Pelles
If you are someone who struggles to control your weight; if you see the numbers on your bathroom scale going down and then back up every couple of months; if you feel that you have been beating yourself up long enough and want to feel good about yourself for a change, then this is the – not just a – book for you.
The subtitle is The 6-Week Weight-Loss Plan for Changing Your Relationship with Food – and Your Life – from the Inside Out. “Changing your relationship with food” is appropriate and it’s the only way to become a “naturally slim” person for good. Yes, there are a few of us out there who are able gut it out with rigorous and rigid self-discipline and self-denial, for years or perhaps even a lifetime. But is that really how you would want to live your life, even if you could?
How much better it is to be kind to and love yourself, clarify your motivations, resolve the conflicts and change the beliefs that have been limiting your life – all the while enjoying eating, more than you ever have, while you reach and maintain the size and weight, the you, that you want to be? This is what Full-Filled offers.
Renée begins with motivation. We have two kinds of motivations. Away-from motivations are the things you want to leave behind: poor health, unattractive appearance, extra effort moving and exercising. Toward motivations are what pull us forward: vibrant heath, looking good, being in control, and light on the feet. We need both. If you rely too much on away-froms though, once you have lost 20 pounds or so and are feeling somewhat better, there may be a tendency to revert to old habits and reverse your direction – the old yo-yo cycle. So you need those toward motivations in order to keep going as the away-froms weaken (because you’re feeling improvement).
Right from the start, Renée has you set up a good infrastructure: your support system of friends and allies and your Weight Release Journal, in which you record everything in this journey from Too Full to Full-Filled: your intentions, the progress you are making, your inner conflicts, your insights, and the exercises she has you do along the way. As you look back it can be easy to forget where you started and the progress you’ve made – now you will have it all right there, in your Journal.
Full-Filled barely mentions NLP – Neuro-Linguistic Programming – the philosophical and psychological principles behind much of what Renée is doing here (she is an NLP Master Practitioner), and that is as it should be: the point is not to teach you NLP but to utilize its wisdom for your benefit. One of these principles is that behind any behavior (no matter how much you may dislike it) is a positive intent: a part of you is trying to accomplish something good for you, though in an ineffective or a misguided way. For instance, the positive intent of overeating may be to comfort you, to make you feel better when you are upset. At best, this works only in the short run; beyond that it actually makes you feel worse by upsetting your stomach, adding to your weight, and leading you beat yourself up. But the intent itself is a gift, to be acknowledged and treasured. Renée leads you to recognize these conflicts and resolve them, replacing the old, undesirable habits with behaviors that fulfill the positive intents even better and without the negative consequences.
A caveat here: I wonder how many readers will be able by themselves to carry out the procedure described in the book, where the opposing parts (aspects of yourself) are imagined in each of your two hands, which are then gradually brought together to resolve the conflict (visual squash, in NLP terminology). You just may need a practitioner trained in NLP to help you with this.
One important innovation in Full-Filled is the emphasis on being kind to yourself – self-forgiveness. “In order to achieve long-lasting weight release, you must occasionally overeat,” and “. . . your belief that you must always be good and never overeat has prevented you from becoming slim and healthy for a lifetime.” Wow! Have you ever seen anything like this before in a weight-loss book? When you berate yourself for “being bad,” you make yourself feel terrible. And what happens when you feel terrible? – you eat so you can feel better! This is one of those counter-productive behaviors. The positive intent is to do better. And this is what Renée emphasizes, even to the point of saying that “slip-ups” are an integral part of her program.
There is no failure, only feedback (another NLP principle). The book lays out three important feedback mechanisms: self-correcting, the DIF concept, and Re-Do/Pre-Do. Self-correcting is what you do after you’ve been thrown off course, to get back to a feel-good balanced state. There are three levels: Level One are things you can do every day to balance yourself and get back on track, like working out, meditating, getting enough sleep, and eating a protein-rich breakfast. Level Two corrections are things you can do by reaching out beyond yourself, to people in your support network, say. Level Three means seeking help from a hypnotherapist, a life coach, a spiritual advisor.
DIF means Duration, Intensity, and Frequency – one more of the brilliant innovations here. The idea is, that rather than insisting on never slipping up, you instead record (in your Journal) and assess these measures (D-I-F) each time, and work systematically to reduce all three over time. This is a strategy of steady, incremental improvement as opposed to expecting yourself to maintain a direct course to your target without deviation – which is unrealistic and again, counterproductive.
The “Re-Do” is going over a past slip-up in your mind and imagining a different (and better) outcome, focusing on feeling good as you see yourself behaving in a positive way. (Notice how much of this program is about feeling good.) “Pre-Do” is the same thing but in advance – “future-pacing” as they say in NLP. Practicing both of these regularly helps you re-program yourself, replacing your previous behavior patterns with new and better ones.
Week 4 is all about limiting beliefs and triggers. Believe it! – you can change those beliefs that limit you into new, empowering beliefs, and Full-Filled shows you how. You start by introducing doubt into your thinking, then strengthen that by finding and writing down counterexamples – concrete instances when the belief is not true (“There was at least one time when I did resist a scrumptious-looking brownie!”). To cement the change Renée teaches you EFT – the Emotional Freedom Technique -- sometimes described as “self-hypnosis meets acupuncture.” There are no needles involved; after a positive affirmation you tap on the ends of the meridians (as in Chinese medicine) while focusing on your issue. Incredible as it may seem, this procedure actually works, and very quickly at that (I use it for pain, fears, and with smokers to eliminate cravings).
At this point you are ready to explicitly take on changing your food choices and eating habits. Note that this part has been deliberately put off while the groundwork – motivations, positive intents, self-correcting, and changing limiting beliefs – was being laid. As a first step, you must re-acquaint yourself with your body’s signals, your built-in system for telling when to eat and when to stop (this is common advice from weight-loss books and coaches – but they don’t tell you how). Chances are you have ignored these signals so long that the system has been disabled.
And here is another innovation unique to (as far as I know) this book: the Hunger Scale. 0 is drop-dead-starving-must-have-food-will-eat-anything and 10 is stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey, groaning with discomfort, barely able to move. You practice becoming aware, at any point in time, of where you are on Hunger Scale (keeping a diary in your Journal), and then use that awareness to decide whether or not and how much you are going to eat. As you develop that awareness, you will probably want to eat when you are below 4 on the scale and stop at 6 or 7. You even learn to enjoy a feeling of moderate hunger before a meal, knowing that it’s going to enhance your enjoyment when you do eat something.
There is a good discussion of how to move, step-by-step, from a diet of transfats, sweeteners, and processed foods to healthy eating replete with fresh produce, complex carbs, lean protein, probiotics, and natural fats. Learn to appreciate, also, the role of ritual in your life: Full-Filled suggests imbuing your meals with significance, eating mindfully and responsibly, making them a time for relaxation, renewal, and pleasure.
Finally, a celebration of how far you have come (another reason the Journal is so important), a look back, and ahead. The emphasis is on feeling good about yourself and maintaining a positive, relaxed intention around your weight release, inviting rather than demanding what you want. Now you have the tools and techniques to continue this new relationship with food – and with yourself. Renée suggests continuing to cycle through the program as-needed or repeating the parts you need until the concepts and practices are part of your psyche and your daily routine.
This is a significant book and the best self-help program I know of (and my weight loss clients are saying the same thing!). The writing is cozy, comfortable, jargon-free, and accessible – Renée is your Best Female Friend (I think the reader is definitely pictured as female, though it’s easy to translate), someone who has been there before and marvelously recovered, giving you the multiple benefits of what she has learned in the process. Moreover, there are lots (see below) of mini case histories, drawn from her extensive experience as a hypnotherapist and weight reduction coach.
If I have one criticism it is that Full-Filled is wordy – the multiple “Food for Thought,” “Dig-In,” “Someone Who Tried This Before You” sections are simply, in my opinion, more than enough. The reader may get lost in the length of it all, taking away from the focus and clarity of the otherwise wonderful content. (But it is well-worth persisting!)
Read this book if you are weary of struggling with your weight and want to feel good while you are doing good for yourself. You will be giving yourself a great present and most likely change your life.
 Full-Filled: The 60Week Weight Loss Plan for Changing Your Relationship with Food—And Your Life—from the Inside Out”, Simon and Schuster, January 2012
Renee Stephens hosts iTunes’ top motivational weight loss podcast show, Inside Out Weight Loss, with over 3,000,000 downloads to date. She is a featured expert in the new film “The Inner Weigh” and has consulted with Weight Watchers International as a behavioral weight loss expert.