March 8, 2013

Book Review: Jillian Michaels’ Slim For Life

I’ve recently become a total podcast addict. I listen while I’m getting ready in the morning (which is still only 20-30 minutes despite my new focus on my appearance), I listen while I’m driving (in Dallas), and I listen when I’m walking/taking the subway (in NYC). I’ve been plowing through podcasts like crazy, but lucky for me, one of my favorites has quite a library of archives – the Jillian Michaels podcast.

For the last few months, Jillian has been talking a lot about a new book that she’s writing, Slim For Life.

I’ve read several of Jillian’s books in the past, and I think she offers great advice on losing weight by changing your attitude/lifestyle. While the advice is generally fairly simple, her tone is always so no-nonsense that you can’t help but get inspired. Of course that’s what I should be doing – I feel like an idiot for not thinking of it sooner! Knowing that Slim for Life wasn’t your typical weight loss regimen, but rather a whole series of little tips that you can put into practice in your daily life, made me definitely want to pick it up. Lots of little tips that I could seamlessly incorporate instead of having to follow some significant overhaul of my diet and exercise? Awesome.

As usual, I picked up my copy of the book from the library – which meant I didn’t have to either wait several months or pay the ridiculously overpriced hardcover price. However, I ended up kind of wishing that I had bought my own copy. One of the neat features of this book is that each tip has a point value (from 1-3 points); at the end of each chapter, you add up the points to see how significant the changes that you’re making will be. Because the chapters are logical groupings of tips within a specific category (i.e., Eating, Moving, At Home, On the Go, Staying Motivated, and Evading Pitfalls), seeing your relative scores for each chapter can give you an idea of how you’re doing in each particular area.

On the plus side, I found the book to be extremely comprehensive – for someone new to dieting/exercise, this book is a goldmine of useful tips and info that will probably provide a lot of “aha” moments. However, as someone who reads everything I can get my hands on with regards to diet, fitness, and wellness, there were a lot of things I already knew; I was kind of disappointed that there wasn’t much that was revolutionary. Fortunately, the structure of the book (quick individually-titled tips instead of one long narrative) meant that I could easily skip over the things I already knew and focus on the new things. I’d say I learned something new every five pages or so, but I will admit that it was nice to see some things I already knew reiterated for me as a reminder of good, healthy practices.

Some of my favorite “tips” were actually in the sidebar, which had small boxes to discuss diet/fitness myths or interesting studies. Two that were new to me:

-A study found that people who wore special cooling gloves while on the treadmill lasted longer than their hot-handed counterparts. To mimic the effect, Jillian suggests bringing an icy cold bottle of water to the gym and grabbing it for a drink every so often.

-While people joke about exercise making them ravenous, in truth, it releases more hunger-suppressing hormones (like ghrelin). This explains why I’m never that hungry after a marathon, even though that’s the time I know I could eat everything, guilt-free!

Overall, I think this was a worthwhile read. It went quickly if you already knew the tips, but was a wealth of knowledge if you didn’t. I really like that Slim for Life doesn’t force you to follow a specific and restrictive diet or exercise regime, but instead just offers principles that are well-grounded and not a passing fad. (At least, for the most part. I am not going to follow the tip about tying a ribbon around your waist, under your clothes, when you go out to eat – the idea being that you’ll feel the ribbon get tight and it will make you stop eating. Yuck, why would I want to make myself feel fat??) I could definitely see rereading this every year or so to get reminded of tips you had forgotten, and I think Jillian did a great job compiling a ton of healthy living knowledge into one source, while still making it digestible and easily implemented.


6 thoughts on “Book Review: Jillian Michaels’ Slim For Life”

  1. I love Jillian. I tend to stay away from dieting books, but your review of this totally made me want to read it!
    In general, my favorite time of day to run is late afternoon/before dinner and I think that is because I usually find myself hungry then and would just run home and eat, but I find that if I run, I can wait a few more hours before I need to eat. I concur about the hunger-suppressing hormones.

    1. Emily, what do you think of Jillian’s podcast? Like this book, I occasionally get annoyed by some of the tips (e.g., “gargle with sugar water instead of having dessert”), but I generally really like it.

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