Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Interview with Susan Maiava, Author of Fat Chance! The no-going-back Weight Loss Workbook

Welcome, Susan. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi Cheryl,

Thanks so much for the opportunity to introduce Fat Chance! The no-going-back Weight Loss Workbook to your readers. A bit about myself? Well I have had an interesting range of life experiences from being an overseas volunteer (like a Peace Corp volunteer) to being a university lecturer, from being a mother to being an author and business owner.

But my chief qualification here is that I was significantly overweight for many years, so I can identify with anyone who is overweight and wants desperately to lose weight. I was tired of the debilitating effect it had on my life and when I looked into the future I didn’t want to be like that for the rest of my life. I couldn’t keep up with my children. It was hugely embarrassing to tell the shop assistant that the XXL was too small. So I gave up shopping for clothes.

Physically I snored, I got headaches and heartburn, my skin chaffed and I was borderline pre-diabetic (all those are gone now). It was hugely embarrassing to walk at normal speed with friends, trying desperately to hide my puffing. So I dropped out of activities (or was not included). I was an observer rather than a participant and I desperately wanted to participate in life.

But for me personally one of the biggest issues was that I had a lot to contribute but was not taken seriously. I was undervalued and overlooked in my professional career. Despite my size I was invisible. I wanted to be taken seriously – that was a key motivation for me.

What made you decide to write Fat Chance! The Weight Loss Workbook?

When I was losing weight I was always looking for good advice but I never found what I was looking for on the bookshelves. There were certainly inspiring personal stories of weight loss. There were prescriptive books full of diet plans written by professionals who had never been overweight (many of these did contain good technical advice which, incidentally, overweight people already know). And there were a range of ‘wacky’ restrictive pseudo-science options.

But most focused on dieting or sticking to diets and there was nothing (in my view) that combined a comprehensive approach to changing your lifestyle, including dealing with emotional hunger, changing your thinking, habits and behaviors, eating better, working with your body and getting active, with a personal, reflective, interactive workbook format.

So after I had lost weight I decided to research and write it myself. I had written a book before and I know how to research so I decided to fill what I believe is an enormous gap in the market. So when I wrote Fat Chance! I combined the best current research with my insider knowledge of what it was like to be overweight and how overweight people think. That combination is key.

How is it different from other weight loss books on the market?

The Fat Chance! slogan sums it up in a nutshell: “Forget about how fat people diet. Focus on how slim people eat.” The key point of difference is Fat Chance! is absolutely definitely not a diet. Instead it facilitates a lifestyle change focused on learning to think and eat like a slim person, forever.

The greatest misconception people have about losing weight is that you lose weight by dieting for a certain time (and then going back to your old behavior). One of my first insights was the realization that if you eat the amount of food needed to maintain your goal slim weight every day, you would, over time, reach and maintain that weight, just as slim people do, keeping the weight off forever.

With Fat Chance! you learn to eat for your slim weight from Day 1. The new skills and strategies you adopt to do this are yours for the rest of your life. I think that is the key difference and is why this is not a diet. The end goal is to live differently. The weight-loss will happen as a result of changing your lifestyle.

The second major point of difference is the engaging, interactive workbook format. Research has shown that food journaling alone is a very effective weight loss tool but it is more than that. The question and answer format enables the reader to slow down, become much more self-aware, reflect deeply and draw out of themselves and make the changes they need to make at a very personal and individual level.

How easy is your book to use and understand for someone who hasn’t tried anything other than traditional diet plans?

I agree that it seems strange to not think you are supposed to be dieting. After all we have always been taught that is how you lose weight. But think instead of how slim people naturally maintain their slim weight.

Fat Chance! is extremely easy to use as you work through it just one day at a time. The journal style has several advantages. It provides a very safe environment in which to deal with weight issues, especially emotional issues; a sort of “dear diary.” Many people have written to me describing it as their new best friend. The workbook itself becomes the encourager, the friend who walks beside the reader on their journey each day.

Fat Chance! is well designed and organized so everything is covered. Each day of the week has a different theme: The six themes are: Thinking like a slim person, Working with your body, Establishing new habits, Dealing with emotional hunger, Getting active, Enjoying a healthy balanced diet and Day 7 is a Debrief and reflection. Groups can come together on Day 7. So each day is interesting and new but the full picture layers and builds week on week.

How much time does it take to implement the plan in your book?

Fat Chance! The Weight Loss Workbook is a colorful and stylish but very practical, interactive workbook which engages the reader every day. It can take as little as 15 minutes or up to 45 minutes a day, depending on the reader. Many prefer to delve into it both morning (to plan) and evening (to reflect).

The program is 12 weeks long, but because it is life-changing, in this sense it never ends. There is no going back to old ways. I don’t mean that you have to diet forever (a terrible thought). Instead you reach a healthy new equilibrium; a new lifestyle where you think and eat like a slim person forever.

It is important the workbook journey is undertaken one day at a time. It does take time to identify the changes that have to come from within and discipline to slowly and deeply embed those changes. The discipline is not in resisting food (we know that doesn’t work) but rather the discipline is in changing your thoughts and habits. And that is where Fat Chance! walks with you as you journal your progress.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone considering a lifestyle change?

Completely abandon the idea of dieting, and completely embrace the idea that you are going to change your lifestyle and there will be no going back to your old behavior. If you are not prepared to change, don’t do it!

But also know that it is absolutely possible, and Fat Chance! will be there right there beside you, showing you the way. Ask yourself (Fat Chance! asks you a lot of questions): Do I want to live differently or do I want to be fat? It really is that simple.

Where can readers purchase Fat Chance! The Weight-loss Workbook?

Readers can purchase a hardcopy of the Fat Chance! Weight Loss Workbook from Amazon or Links to the specific buying pages are found at (note it is also called “Fat Chance! Forget how fat people diet, Focus on how slim people eat” – I like that!).

Recently I have created an interactive Online web-based version of Fat Chance! which is available globally from

Do you have anything else to add?

I’m absolutely delighted with the response Fat Chance! has been getting. As well as individuals it is being used by groups of friends (meeting on Day 7) and health professionals working with overweight clients. Apart from the fact it really works, people love the design, colors and the layout of the book which is really stylish and fun as well as practical.

I’d love your readers to read the success stories of people who have used Fat Chance! lost weight and changed their lives at Some of the stories and photos are just amazing and are why I know Fat Chance! works.

Your readers can also read and download the Introduction from and everything and anything else they want to know is there as well.

Thank you for allowing me to share Fat Chance! with you.

I wish all your readers all the best in their weight loss journey!

Kindest regards,
Susan Maiava PhD.

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