Alumna’s new book argues brain and behavior are keys to maintaining a healthy weight
Achieving a healthy weight may be more about what’s going on between your ears than between your lips.
That’s according to Eliza Kingsford (Psych’03) in her new book, Brain-Powered Weight Loss. It’s getting rave reviews.
Indeed, it’s a bit different than the never-ending menu of diet book options. In fact, Kingsford says her offering isn’t a diet book at all.
“It’s a practical guide to changing your relationship to food and body,” Kingsford says. “It walks you through the steps to take to change behaviors that aren’t working for you, and it gives you a blueprint for how to create new behaviors that will help you meet your goals — whatever those may be.”
The book doesn’t tell readers what to eat or how to exercise, but instead examines why and how people make food choices, and shows them how their behaviors affect outcomes. It also includes exercises that readers can also download from the author’s website at www.elizakingsford.com.
So what’s the real secret to sustained, healthy weight-loss? “The key is consistency and time. You have to make consistently healthy decisions day in and day out; it needs to be your lifestyle and not a diet or a moment in time,” Kingsford says.
Specifically, she says there are two main rules to follow: “Eat nutrient-dense whole foods regularly and exercise enough to get your metabolism moving. Your health needs to become a lifestyle — not a goal.”
Kingsford says a key villain in weight gain is sugar. She explains that in the 1970s, our society began a war on fatty foods. But when fat is removed, food can taste bland. To increase flavor, sugar was added.
“Very little was known about the long-term effects of sugar at the time. And we gobbled it up. Fast-forward 40 years and we have a runaway train. Sugar is in everything — disguised as many different names. As more and more research supports the negative impact sugar has on our health, more scientists, doctors and practitioners are scrambling to undo the damage.”
Kingsford’s interest in health came from pivotal moments in her life. The first was in high school. She says when she was on the pom squad, she witnessed “how destructive someone could be to their body in pursuit of the thin ideal.”
Another came in a grocery store where she admits she had a “near meltdown” trying to decide what to put into her cart that would keep her healthy. “I left the store in tears and struggled to understand what was happening.”
The third moment occurred in a sociology class at CU Boulder while watching a video about eating disorders.
“The video said disorders developed in part due to social constructs and pressure from the media,” Kingsford says. “I was fascinated and wanted to learn as much as I could about how we perceive our bodies in relation to the messages we hear about what we should look like.”
She has since dedicated much of her professional life to healthy living, focusing on body-image issues and eating disorders. Today, she appears as an expert resource on several national television shows such as “Dr. Phil,” “Dr. Drew,” “Dr. Oz” and CNN, and speaks at conferences and workshops around the country.
Kingsford describes her time at CU Boulder as “incredible.”
“I have so many fond memories of friends and experiences. I loved walking to my classes in the psychology building and always felt extremely lucky to be… on such a beautiful campus. In fact, I loved CU so much that my husband and I were married in the quad and had our reception at the alumni center in 2006.”