Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Book Review: The Skinny Rules

The Skinny Rules: The Simple, Nonnegotiable Principles for Getting to THIN by Bob Harper, with Greg Critser**


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 to keep the weight off.
You want a way that makes sense in your real-world daily life.
Something convenient and healthy.
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.

22 comments:

  1. Great review, Helen. I have sworn off buying diet books some time ago, but I am going to buy this one. The information seems somehow to be more practical that the usual "lose weight quick" premise of so many of the weight loss books out there. About the 1200 calories--that would probably be OK for me, because I don't work out. But for someone like you, Helen, you're right--you would likely need more. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Agree with Jane - it is a great review. It sounds like a really sensible and sane food plan. For myself, I think I need to gradually taper down to 1200 calories, and that would be after I start counting them! Like Jane - I may consider this book even though I have sworn off any more weight loss lit.

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  3. Thanks for the review Helen! I too think 1200 is way too low. And don't you wish Dolvett knew who you were?!

    Happy Hump Day!

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  4. Thanks for the review! It sounds like something I would be interested in. I like that one of the rules is eating at home. I find when I do the best at weight loss, I am not eating out much and preparing my own food and serving my own portions. Even when you pay close attention to the items you are ordering there is just no guarantee they are prapared in a healthy way or the way you would if you did it yourself.

    xo,
    Linda

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  5. LOL at your last sentence.

    Your review makes me want to buy this book!

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    2. Since you just want to bully without identifying yourself, you don't get to comment. It's my blog.

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  7. I think the reason there are so many (SO MANY!!!) diet and weight-loss books out there is that what speaks to one person does not speak to another. Obviously, what Bob wrote in this book spoke to you, and I think that's great. Also great is that you are still willing to read and discover what is out there...leaving yourself open to new suggestions keeps you from being jaded.

    Nice review, Helen. :)

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  8. I read diet books for fun. Really. I do not try any of them but I usually learn something here and there. This one sounds interesting.

    Twice in six months, I've tracked both points and calories to see how I was doing. Both times I found I was averaging 1200 to 1250 calories most of the time. That is for me to be able to maintain, but I am not super active and I'm short at 5'3". I've learned I can have a lot of food for 1200 calories if I plan it right. :)

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  9. Seems sensible enough - although the title right out of the gate being non-negotiable makes me want to break allllll the rules LOL!

    Really, exercise is a small part of weight loss. I do think it 80% nutrition. The exercise has other benefits, but not so much for the weight loss effect.

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    1. I'm with you - alllllll the rules. Oh, and I also could have said that the word "Skinny" turned me off too. That was definitely a marketing ploy on their part. But, I'm glad I bought it because it really is full of good, solid information - nothing fadish or silly.

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  10. Yep, the words "rules" and "skinny" turned me off too, but as Shelly said, the reason there are so many books out there is because what resonates for one will turn another off, etc.

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  11. Great review Helen. I'm sure Bob Harper and his publishers would LOVE to a) know you exist and b) be pleased with your review! Have a wonderful Wednesday.

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    1. Roz, if you could arrange for Bob to know I'm alive and also for some free training sessions, I would appreciate it!

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  12. Rule #471- Apply Duct Tape to your mouth at 7 pm.

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    2. Excellent rule. Would make following rule 18 easier, that's for sure!

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  13. Thanks for the review! I love to distract myself from wanting to eat by reading about healthy things. I love Bob too...he makes me swoon.

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  14. Helen thank you for the review. I had read about is book into Costco Conection and thought it sounded good. I like that he has all the meal/menu plans. Sometime I just run out of ideas.

    I know we are all different in our body type/ height /weight and level of exercise so the amount of calories needed each day varies accordingly. At 5'4" walking a fast paced 3 miles a day, working out with weights three times a week I had to cut back my calories to 1200 a day to lose weight. I also found that not having carbs past 2:00 pm made a big a big difference for me in losing weight. The less I weigh and the older I get the fewer calories I seem to be able to eat and not gain weight even though I am an active person.

    Sounds like a great book and I might pick it up just for the menu ideas.

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