Top positive review
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The author makes good points, but the book is a bit disjointed
on April 27, 2012
I've really come to enjoy books about healthier living, from fitness to improving one's food intake ('diet' is a dirty word!). I've lost a lot of weight myself through improved eating habits and more exercise. Roll's life story is similar to a lot of folks, who struggle with bad diet and addiction (in his case primarily alcohol, but food can obviously be an addiction too). He makes radical changes and voila, he's one of the fittest guys on the planet, competing in ultras.
I generally liked the book, particularly some of the information about becoming vegan, and the hidden dairy in products one wouldn't expect to find in some everyday foods- the dairy thing really opened my eyes and has made me begin to look even more closely at what I eat. He reaches a point where he decides to make wholesale changes in his life, and that is a moment I reached as well. It was the point of the book that I most identified with the author; the single moment when we decide that we must make sacrifices to grow and become better people spiritually and physically.
What I didn't like was that early in the book, he details his struggles with alcohol, and subsequent stint at rehab for several chapters, but then suddenly there's a chapter about his PlantPower diet, and how great it will make you feel. The enthusiasm for his diet did not match the preceeding chapters and felt really out of place- almost like a commercial break. The diet really had nothing to do with his recovery, since the fitness bug didn't truly hit him until several years into his sobriety. Also, it struck me as somewhat bogus that after having been a college swimmer at Stanford before succumbing to alcoholism, he suddenly remembers that he's this amazing athlete after going out for a casual run (that happens to be a near marathon in length). I think beginners will struggle mightily if they think they will try to exercise and get fantastic results immediately. There's never any acknowlegement by the author that his previous athleticism might have played a factor in being able to pick it back up easily, and this omission to me seemed glaring.
Overall, there's a wealth of good information about healthy eating and lifestyle changes, and for that reason I give it 4 stars. Taken for what that's worth, there are some good ideas that can be used to improve one's diet, regardless of whether you want to go vegan or not. I admit I've been critical of some of the points in the book, but I want to clarify that these are small gripes. I don't discount the author's experience one bit, and applaud him for pushing his body to new heights.