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This review is from: The Skinny Rules: The Simple, Nonnegotiable Principles for Getting to Thin (Hardcover)
My wife saw Bob Harper on morning television around the book launch and said she was ready to try it. She's lived the high carb, low protein, and low fat lifestyle and never struggled with her weight. But as we've gotten older, managing weight has gotten a little harder for her too, and she would like to drop a size or two. As an avid biggest loser fan (in the early seasons), I thought Bob would have a good plan for eating. Based on the few snippets my wife told me, I thought this might be a plan we could both use. It would increase my wife's protein (which I've always thought was not enough). So we decided to buy the book and give it a try.
I have struggled with my weight most of my adult life. Been 30-50 lbs overweight for most of it. I have been following a low carb Atkins-inspired diet for about 6 months. Not "no carbs", but carbs limited to veggies, nuts, low carb wraps, and recently select fruits. No bread or white potato. Almost no sugar or HFCS. Lots of protein and not worried about fat. I've lost 25 lbs, and 6 inches from my waist. I've been exercising and getting closer to my goals. But the hard part about Atkins is adding back more carbs. Its the point in the diet that people struggle the most, and the reason many regain the lost weight IMO. I have been trying to alter my diet into something "healthy" for the longer term, but with so many changes as to what healthy eating even means, I needed an expert to instruct me. With high hopes I bought the book. There are lots of positives but a few negatives too. I feel I am pretty objective, but you'll have to be the judge for yourself.
Here are my comments on the book and diet:
1 - This is very well researched book. Lots of good information. If you are interested in not just the whats, but the whys, this book is very good at taking you to a satisfying level of detail without being boring or turning into a text book. A+
2 - There are 20 rules in this book. Wow! Atkins had 1. This is a lot to take in.
3 - Some of the rules make a ton of sense and are easy to follow. Drink a full glass of water before every meal. (Bonks self on head). Very easy to remember and do. Great tip. Been doing it. But others are near impossible (no carbs after lunch). Huh? Who can really do that? Lots of advise for eating whole grains which requires planning and prep time, and lots of little baggies. Would I do all of that? Probably not. My wife? Maybe once or twice. After reading the book I was left feeling a little overwhelmed with preparation details and foods I've never heard of.
4 - Splurge meal sounds good, but few specifics. He hints this doesn't mean eating everything is sight. What are the rules? Can I go out and have chips and salsa, fajitas, and a couple of Margaritas or not?
5 - One thing that was sorely missing and disappointing is that there was absolutely no discussion of exercise, and how exercise impacts how and what we eat. I consider exercise the single most important ingredient in managing my weight. Not that I expect to exercise away every extra calorie I eat, but it limits my appetite, makes me feel good, gives me positive feedback as I reach exercise goals, makes positive impacts on my appearance that make me want to watch what I eat, as well as burning extra calories. Even Atkins advocates exercise, while Bob, the "fittest of the fit" completely ignores the topic? Wow. I think there should have been recommendations around exercise, and info about how exercise affects eating. He could have explained what to eat before and after heavy strength training, and before and after cardio. Would exercising in the evening affect the "no carbs after lunch" rule? A chapter on exercise would have made a big difference to me (easily taken me from 3 stars to 4)
6 - One tremendous appeal of Atkins is the ability to walk into almost any restaurant and get something to eat without cheating. Steak and salad, chicken and broccoli, eggs and bacon, hot wings and bunless burger. Much harder with the Skinny Rules IMO. I think the only way I'd feel I was with the program is to eat at home a lot more than the 10 times a week he suggests.
Bottom line. I think this book has a lot to offer to someone who is truly serious about not only losing weight, but eating healthy based on current diet research. Embracing the diet will have you eating more protein, eliminating refined carbs, exploring new foods, and learning food preparation techniques. It would be an investment of time and effort, but would definitely have you eating about as healthy as is possible without hiring a private nutritionist/chef to do all your cooking for you. But many will find fully embracing the diet impossible or at least impractical, but will still pick up valuable tips and recipes to improve their eating habits. I am in this group. I've found that several of the rules were relatively easy to implement and I've incorporated them into my eating habits. Many others I already do (increase protein, cutting refined carbs, cutting out high-carb drinks) based on low-carb lifestyle. But others like no artificial sweeteners, no carbs after lunch, and advice around grains are just too much for me.
I think reading this book would benefit most everyone that reads it, and help them make at least some positive changes in their eating habits. Definitely recommended.
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Showing 1-10 of 22 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 3, 2012 10:37:20 PM PDT
L.A. Tripp says:
I agree. Great book. Fantastic book. And much of what Bob says in here was actually taught to my wife by her personal trainer already. Dude, cutting out afternoon carbs and sugar is too much for you? I guess you don't want to lose weight THAT badly then. My wife cut afternoon carbs out before this book and lost five pounds her first week of doing that. Dude, don't short change yourself...or your wife!
Posted on Jun 4, 2012 3:41:31 PM PDT
Chris Harris says:
I read an article in the Costco Connection Magazine and in it Bob stated that he doesn't talk about exercise in this book because he's already done a book about exercise. He also stated that changing your diet is actually more important (for losing weight) than killing yourself in the gym. Which is probably true since it's easier to get in the habit of exercise than eating "clean."
Posted on Jun 5, 2012 7:55:07 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 5, 2012 7:55:39 AM PDT
Mike K. says:
I hear what you are saying about exercise but personally I'm glad it's not included. I bought the book for my mom who is in her 80's, very overweight, and uses a walker. She does simple sitting exercises but that is all she can manage. If Bob had included a lot about exercise she would feel like the book is not for her. There do need to be some books that target this audience--those who can't exercise. They want to lose weight just as badly and this book will be more inclined to change those habits she does have control over.
Posted on Jun 5, 2012 9:55:28 AM PDT
Lisa Nixon says:
Have to agree with others about the lack of exercise talk in the book. Weight loss is primarily diet. Exercise is obviously extremely important, but you need to tackle the diet end first, so that if you can't always get your exercise in, you have the foundations of making good food choices to fall back on.
Posted on Jun 5, 2012 5:05:28 PM PDT
Paine Whitney says:
Agree 100%. I bought and read this book (it is a fast read) and have lost 3 pounds in 3 days. Store lists would have been nice and a more realistic expectation set regarding the first few days and weeks on the plan. Carbs are THE KEY to avoid grumpiness and honestly, severly limiting carbs initially means there will be alot of unhappy campers. That said, I do plan to space out the carbs I am given (deviating from the rules, I know) and up it a bit then gradually taper them down to the recommended amounts. While I'd like to shave off a few pounds, I don't want to be angry doing it. I think if I can stick with it, my stomach will shrink but I am hungry on this one.
Posted on Jun 6, 2012 5:25:14 AM PDT
I am glad to see people responding positively to the book and seeing early results. And sticking with the "skinny rules" will help you lose the weight and keep if off if you stick to them. I do have a few quibbles but don't want that to detract from my overall opinion that this is a very healthy way of eating.
First on this "no carbs after lunch" rule. I generally agree that eating carbs early in the day is better than late in the day. Why? Because extra carbs in your stomach when you go to bed are stored as fat. But what is a carb? Green veggies are carbs. Starchy veggies are carbs. Fiber is carbs. Sugars are carbs. Fruits are carbs. Grains are carbs. If you say no carbs after lunch, are we really ruling out all of it after 1PM until breakfast the next day? And if not, what are the "rules"? Fruit has some fiber but a lot of sugar too, is that okay to eat fruit as an afternoon snack? And on veggie days, tofu only after lunch? And what if I skip lunch - can I ignore this rule ;). I just think this is too confusing, and leaves too much up to the reader to interpret. And how important is this? From my reading, when you eat your carbs is much less important than limiting them overall.
For an avid exerciser, fueling your body in conjunction with your workouts becomes important. And since this is NOT a diet book, but a lifelong way of eating, it should not have inflexible rules that only apply when you are a sedentary person trying to lose weight. Maintenance is, IMO, tremendously harder than losing. As proof, Studies of the Atkins diet have shown it hugely effective at helping people lose weight, but not in helping people keep it off.
Next on exercise. Exercise is the single greatest predictor of long term weight loss success (search the internet and you'll see this expressed on many medical web sites backed by studies). Seems very weird this book by one of the most well-known personal trainers on the planet doesn't mention exercise. You might think you can diet your way to your goal weight. Most obese people have done it at least once in their lives. The key is keeping it off. And you'll be the rarest of the rare if you can do it without exercise. If readers get the message that because this book doesn't mention exercise that they should not be doing it, that is very unfortunate.
I think one of the skinny rules should have been on exercise.
So whoever you are, eat healthy and exercise! Good luck!
Posted on Jun 10, 2012 11:17:15 PM PDT
Breezy soprano says:
Bob's other book "Are You Ready?" addresses the workout portion. So, it's just in another book....
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 7:11:31 PM PDT
L.A. Tripp says:
OldandSmart, eat fruit, sugar, carbs, etc first thing in the morning. Kick your metabolism in the rear and get it moving. Cut out carbs after lunch/noon. The rest of the day, whole grains, fish, other things. Just NO fruit after lunch. NO sugar after lunch. Potatoes and pasts are JUST sugar. That's what the body converts them to. Make sense?
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 12, 2012 5:46:58 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 12, 2012 5:49:59 PM PDT
Kate McCallister says:
No, that doesn't make sense, Anthony. You say cut out carbs after lunch, but then in your next sentence you say to stick to WHOLE GRAINS, fish, and "other things" (?) after that. Whole grains = carbs. Bob is not clear when he says to avoid carbs after lunch. He doesn't say to avoid sugar, or refined carbs like Wonderbread and cookies (those are a "duh," I'd think); he just says to avoid carbs. Well, vegetables are technically carbs. Low-calorie, water-dense, and super healthy for you, of course. But carbs nonetheless. What about lentils, which are both a protein AND carb? Are those okay for dinner?
Not all carbs are created equal, and I wish Bob didn't lump all carbs in the "AVOID" category without explanation.
Posted on Jun 12, 2012 8:12:08 PM PDT
100% agree. Thanks Kate!