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Julie Jones says Gwen Shamblin saved her life. Jones, a fortysomething homemaker and mother of two who was overweight since her teens, had tried "every diet under the sun—Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, the grapefruit diet. If you've heard of it, I've tried it." But Jones could not manage to keep off the weight. Even when she "successfully reduced," the pounds slowly crept back. Every month, Jones combed the health and dieting sections of her local Borders bookstore, looking for a new dieting scheme that would make the difference.

"Then I found Gwen," Jones says, describing her introduction to Shamblin in terms some reserve for Jesus. And, in a sense, Shamblin's book was her salvation. "I opened The Weigh Down Diet and I knew then and there that it was going to change my life forever. Really, it saved me." At a size 14, Jones was in little danger of death due to medical obesity, but she was contemplating suicide. "I was in despair. I felt ugly and fat, and my husband had lost all interest in me. He made it quite clear that he did not want to touch me until I got the weight off. I thought I may as well just end it, you know. Life that fat just didn't seem worth living."

What was the message that distinguished The Weigh Down Diet from the other dieting guides? "Shamblin," says Jones, "tells overweight women what we want to hear: you don't have to starve yourself to lose. Overeating is a problem of the soul. Put your spiritual life in order and you will lose weight, without cutting out the foods you love from your daily diet."

People should not be obsessed with food, Shamblin argues, and counting calories is every bit as obsessive as compulsive overeating. The real problem is spiritual: get right with God, stop trying to fill your ...

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September 4, 2000

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