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Maye Musk

Fitting the Mold


by Linda L. Richards


Maye Musk's message is a positive one. She's saying a lot of things that people want to hear and should be listening for: find your natural body levels, stop feeling guilty about what you eat and how you eat it and -- most of all -- feel good about yourself. It's the subtext of Feel Fantastic: Maye Musk's Good Health Clinic, the Toronto dietitian's book from Macmillan Canada, that should be raising eyebrows.

Musk says -- sometimes even using the words -- that you should feel good about yourself, but you'll feel better if you fit into a size six dress. "It's a disadvantage to carry extra weight around," Musk said in a recent interview in Vancouver. Studies, says Musk, link excess weight to chronic disease and, "Carrying extra weight is a disadvantage in the work market."

While she concedes that it's unfortunate that society and the media force people in general and women in particular, into shape molds, her response is to help mold people into that shape.

The ex-model has a half dozen degrees of varying levels: all related to diet and eating, so it's a good guess she knows what she's talking about when she gives her no-nonsense, largely common sense advice. And she looks great. At 48, this mother of three adults is even more lovely than the slightly-out-of-focus book jacket photo indicates. Lithe, energetic and attractive in the way of ex-models: like she's expecting a fashion shoot to break out any moment.

Those looking for the secret that will unlock their fatty woes and turn them into willowy ex-models will need to keep searching. In various sections Musk tells us to eat right, eat sensibly, exercise regularly and get some self-esteem. No secrets or breakthroughs here: just all the stuff everyone since our mother has been telling us. If anything, this version is at least slightly more simplistic and less creative than previous attempts.

People come to her Toronto practice, says Musk, because they need a bit of help organizing their lives and their diet. The questions she answers in Feel Fantastic are simple. "They were actual questions from my clients. I'd get them and write them down."

Musk answers these simple questions with equally simple answers. To Musk, "It's about making choices. Small changes you can live with for the rest of your life."

For instance, Musk tells people who are "closet eaters" to come out into the open. "Don't say, 'I can't have that chocolate.' Just don't have it unless you can eat it in front of someone." Simple things like this, says Musk, can make a longtime difference in people's eating habits.

"If you want to have a lovely dessert after a nice dinner, don't make excuses. After all, you're having it because it's delicious!" Getting rid of the guilt is a part of the battle.

Musk's personal trick for dealing with the dinner-out dessert blues is insisting that her dinner companion share her dessert. "If they won't, I'll pout and have a cappuccino or something," says Musk. But if they do, she knows that at least half of the dessert won't end up inside her.

Through the ex-model-turned-dietitian conversation comes some very good advice. "People need to eat when they're hungry. Not just when they're bored or tired or angry and distressed." Be aware of what you eat and how you eat and plan some sort of exercise program into your day.

"All people want to see is that there's hope to just lose the weight gradually. A chance again to be successful." And if success does indeed equal dress sizes, Feel Fantastic will be a huge seller. -- 1997