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Anxiety Disorders
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by Robert E. Thayer
Oxford University Press, 2001
Review by Liz Bass on Jul 3rd 2002

Calm Energy

Calm Energy is a weight loss book that takes a scholarly look at the subject. Rather than hammering away at all the "do’s" and "don’ts" of fitness, Professor Thayer takes the high road and tries to help the reader understand the way moods can affect patterns of behavior, particularly when it comes to ingesting food. He goes even further and suggests that once a person understands how moods operate, he or she can regulate them to the extent that they do not become a factor in over-eating.

He goes over some familiar territory when he writes that over-eating is one way of reducing the tensions associated with boredom, anger, and loneliness. No news there. But Thayer takes the reader further by developing some interesting constructs that can help understand the physiologic relationship between those tensions and the body’s attempt to mitigate their impact by replenishing the energy they deplete. That replenishment often comes in the form of food, but it can also come in the form of exercise. Not unexpectedly, the Professor suggests that exercise is the wiser choice because it is the one that will lead more quickly to a desirable state of calm energy, which by its nature, holds hunger at bay.

Thayer also suggests some conventional weight loss strategies -- such as daily diary entries, a reasonable exercise regimen, and targeted, distractive thinking -- but he does it in a way that encourages a reader to give these methodologies a second look through the focus of mood regulation. The Professor suggests ideas in the way that the best teachers do -- thoughtfully, gently, and with respect toward the student. The charm of Calm Energy lies in the author’s attitude toward the subject and, most importantly, toward the reader. He seems genuinely interested in both, and the reader gains confidence from the message he sends.

Be forewarned that Calm Energy contains fifty-two pages of notes following the text, and another nineteen pages of references. For the general reader, I think that level of scholarship may be over-the-top. In any event, aside from some repetition in the main text, this book has much to recommend it. Its best idea is that if a person will take the time to understand what is occurring within himself or herself, that person can -- with work -- change negative, destructive behavior to behavior that results in positive outcomes.

And that is certainly something worth thinking about when those dark moods descend upon us.


© 2002 Liz Bass



Liz Bass is a retired teacher and principal who lives in Northern California.