Thursday, December 30, 2010

Laugh Yourself Thin!

Share of hands: Who has ever made a resolution to lose weight (and with it find more happiness) in the new year? You can join a diet program, start going to the gym three times a week, cut carbs... The list of options is endless. Or, you can laugh!

Melanie W. Rotenberg's new book Laugh Yourself Thin: Making Happiness, Fun, and Pleasure the Keys to Permanent Weight Loss teaches you how to do just that! This accessible, entertaining, and humorous book describes scientifically proven methods that will help people have fun while permanently losing weight.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter One to help inspire and motivate you to just laugh it off and be happy in the new year!

Turn Your Head and Laugh: Happiness, Joy, and Pleasure in the Pursuit of Weight Loss

Laughter is the key to weight loss. Well, really, it’s those things that cause laughter, like happiness, fun, and pleasure. But we can use laughter as a good gauge of how happy and content we are. Stress, negative emotions, and misguided thought patterns are a leading cause of obesity.

Yet diet books almost never address an overweight person’s mental state or level of joy. They might have pages of dietary restrictions and recipes, but rarely is there more than perfunctory prose on relieving negative emotions. There might be a chapter or two on exercise, but nowhere is there a description of the cardiovascular benefits of a good pillow fight.

And we all need a good pillow fight on a regular basis. The way to lose weight and to keep it off permanently is to lower stress, depression, and other negative emotions through positive thinking, humor, fun, and lots of laughter. A lighter approach to life leads to a lighter waist line.

A recent study by Dr. Mark Wilson at Emory University brings home this point. He offered unlimited nutritious food to two groups of monkeys, high-status, contented, happy ones and their miserable, stressedout, low-status subordinates. All the monkeys ate about the same number of calories. However, when Dr. Wilson substituted high-fat and sugary junk food pellets in unlimited supply, the high-status monkeys ate about the same calories as previously, but their stressed-out brethren couldn’t stop munching. Those miserable primates continued to eat the junk food all day long and well after sundown, similar to human snackfood grazers. The researcher concluded that eating high-calorie foods is a common coping mechanism to deal with daily life stressors, even in those who don’t have a cranky boss, prolonged commute, or nasty mother-in-law.


Concentrate on losing weight for the joy of feeling and looking better, rather than because of the fear of illness or the fear of being lonely. Toss guilt, fear, and shame (the three most common emotions in dieting) out the window, and embrace joy, compassion, and contentment as part of your new attitude about weight loss. Learn to accept and like yourself as you are right now. Understand that you are not perfect and are a “work in progress.” We all are. Do not become defeated by lapses in judgment while you are on your weight-loss journey. Don’t go there. If you learn to like yourself right now, even with imperfections, this will lead to greater happiness and better follow-through with weight-loss behaviors.

Eliminate self-criticism. Overweight people contribute to their negative emotions by being very harsh on themselves. In the business world, it has been demonstrated that an uplifting management style is a much more eff ective way to change behavior permanently than a negative one. Concentrate on positive feedback when things are going right, and leave it at that.

Successful permanent weight loss occurs through laughter and happiness. Develop joy through positive physical and social activity. Happy people are busy, unself-conscious, productive, fulfilled, and realistic in setting goals. Accept mistakes. Forge close, loving relationships, and focus on the positive. Then watch how easy it is to slim down forever.


10 important things to remember from Laugh Yourself Thin:
  • Weight loss should be approached as painless. Eating is pleasurable. Having fun and laughter around meals and playing with food are important. Additionally, exercise and activity are not burdensome but invigorating. If you want to get skinny for the long term, it’s time to embrace laughter, compassion, and contentment and abandon anger, cynicism, and pressure.
  • I believe eliminating stress is one of the keys to permanent weight loss. You can be very busy and not be stressed. They are not the same thing. Indeed, having too little meaningful work to do results in boredom, which is a pervasive but often overlooked cause of stress.
  • Learn more about yourself by carefully studying your reactions to everyday events. Start examining what really makes you happy and what turns you off . Gravitate toward those things that really give you pleasure, and don’t worry about what others may expect of you.
  • While you are examining what brings you more joy and less stress, think about things like walking, biking, singing, dancing, meditating, music, and sounds of the beach or the woods. I’m always surprised how few people I see outside enjoying nature and using their muscles. Exercise is an antidepressant and works as well or better than medications, so not only will it help you to lose weight, it will also relieve stress and improve mood.
  • Make a point to have fun around meals, with lots of laughter. ... What’s wrong with playing with your food? Try doing this with a straight face: put black olives on all your fingers, then eat the rest of your meal. You’ll be laughing so hard, you might forget to clean your plate.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask yourself daily, “What is my passion? What is my purpose, and what gives meaning to my life?” Answer carefully, always keeping an open mind. A happy life is driven by meaning and purpose. The best, easiest stress-reducing activity that also lowers blood pressure and improves daily coping skills is physical touch. This includes hugs and cuddling.
  • If you take a drink when you get home from work and then a couple more before you can face the kids or the spouse and make dinner, is that the best way to treat your body and your mind? What would benefit you both physically and spiritually and be better for you and your family? How about stopping for yoga class on the way home, walking in the park on the good weather days, meditating for 15 minutes in pure silence before the gang gets home, or dropping that extra project at work that’s been causing you all those extra hours?
  • Think of a list of easy, stress relieving good-for-you activities. These can be as simple as taking a walk, getting into nature, listening to calming music, or having game night with the family. They might include reading a joke book, calling a supportive family member, or sharing time with friends. These do not need to be time-demanding activities but should be included every day in your schedule. Add more active things to do, not because you have to but because you want to.
  • It is unnecessary to spend large quantities of money to be healthy. The most precious gift that you can give yourself, the gift of excellent health, should not be expensive.
  • Another very important way to bring more positive emotion into your life is to give more of yourself to others, but not in a stressful way. Make a positive difference through volunteering, giving, and showing compassion. Donating time and money is not only emotionally rewarding, it’s been shown to increase immune function!


  1. This is an ongoing resolution for me! I need less stress and more fun in my daily life. There is some great advice here! Especially: "Concentrate on losing weight for the joy of feeling and looking better, rather than because of the fear of illness or the fear of being lonely."

  2. This has been my resolution for the past 5 straight years, but it has never sounded fun before. I have to say, I just might try this next time I have dinner with my parents:

    "...put black olives on all your fingers, then eat the rest of your meal. You’ll be laughing so hard, you might forget to clean your plate."

  3. I love to laugh, I love to eat. Doing a little more of one and less of the other sounds like a great goal -- and this sounds like a cool book!