It was my love of Bob Harper that made me want to buy this book in the first place - not that I thought there would be anything at all in the book that I didn't already know after 25+ years of off and on dieting, . That, and a I had a gift card to the book store :)
The first part of the book is The Skinny Rules and consists of 20 Rules that Harper says he insists that all his clients and his Biggest Loser contestants use. They cover a wide range of tactics including Rule #1 Drink A Large Glass of Water - Before Every Meal - No Excuses!, Rule #7 No Carbs After Lunch and Rule #15 Eat at Least 10 Meals a Week at Home - and Cook Them Yourself. Each of the rules is expanded on and explained, sometimes with Harper's own experiences as backup and sometimes with scientific and medical studies.
Here's the thing: I happen to agree with most of his rules, even though some of them are easy for me and some not so much. As it happens Rule #18 Go To Bed Slightly Hungry. is one I'm working on. This is difficult for me at best, since my 'dinner' time ranges anywhere from 6:30-8:00 and my bedtime is somewhere between 8:30-9:00. My approach has been to cut back a bit on what I'm eating when I eat very late and the results have been that I've been waking up at 4 am already hungry! So I guess I'm burning a lot of fats and sugars because most days I do not have time to put one bite of food into my mouth prior to about 8 am.
Bob suggests that if you can just get yourself to follow the rules for 30 days, you will see changes and have set yourself up for success.
The second part of the book is called The Skinny Way and includes a Set Yourself Up for Success chapter followed by four weeks of menu plans. The menu plans are differentiated between gender (yep, men get more food) and are mix and match. So on week 1 you can choose any breakfast, any snacks, any lunch, and any dinner listed. The plans contain very 'normal' foods, i.e., normal proteins, vegetables, and grain/starch carbohydrates. As the weeks progress, the plans change and there is a lot of variety.
The third part of the book is The Skinny Tools which is 100 pages of recipes that go with the menu plans.
In summary, I have to admit, the thing that surprised me most about the rules, being that it is Bob Harper who wrote the book, is that not one single rule pertained to exercise. I know a lot of people in his field have come to the conclusion that while exercise is important for overall health, getting your food healthy and in correct portions is more important. Perhaps that's where he stands on the issues.
I very much like the menu section and have been using some of his ideas in my own eating plan. It's really nice to not have to think up something to eat but rather pick the plan up and look at those ideas and choose one. As I said before, it's all very common foods that most of us already have in our homes. I would say if you are a person who is trying to get started losing weight, or get started again, this section of the book could be a dynamic tool in that process. I really like that the plans are broken down by gender so that would make it terrific for couples who might want to lose some weight together.
The recipe section is terrific as well. Not only are they quite easy recipes but most of them make only 1-4 portions so you're not going to be stuck eating the same thing 7 days in a row. Bonus: some of the recipes really are just 'assembly' and don't require a lot of thought or ingredients. I'm sure it was designed this way as Harper is trying to get some folks to actually follow Rule 15 and he's dealing with people who eat out a lot.
The one thing that gave me pause with the food is that Harper suggests women eat only 1200 calories per day. Not that 1200 is bad, I'm just not sure it's enough for people who work out a lot. (Maybe that's why those people on the show lose so fast?) However, he allows what he calls "Harpersizing" of most vegetables (there is a list and very few are excluded) and when tracking you don't count those things at all. Though I haven't personally tried it, I suppose if one was to eat according to his guidelines the 1200 calories might just work as the additional calories from the things not counted would bring the total number of calories consumed higher.
In conclusion, I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It is actually easy to read, full of very good advice, and well worth the money, especially for someone wanting a bit of structure. Bob Harper said:
You want a way that makes sense in your real-world daily life.
Something convenient and
Something you can always fall back on.
Something permanent, nonnegotiable, and simple.
I agree that this book would be a great tool to move one in that direction.
**By the way, I purchased this book and all of the opinions expressed here are my own. Bob Harper and/or his publishers do not know I exist.