Food & Fitness

Book Review and Giveaway: “101 Things to Do Before You Diet” by Mimi Spencer

I received this book from Rodale Books not too long ago and “ate it up”, as it were. 101 Things to Do Before You Diet (because looking great isn’t just about losing weight) by Mimi Spencer is a practical guide full of useful tips on how to prepare yourself to be really, really, ridiculously good looking. As a fashion and beauty journalist based out of the UK, she has put together this book because feeling good and looking good are often interchangeable. She says that it’s okay to want to lose a few vanity pounds or to be a little slimmer. This book encourages the reader to figure out where our strengths are and to emphasize those strengths.

We learn throughout this guide little snippets of personal information, such as the fact that Mimi Spencer doesn’t love the way her stomach looks but that she has beautiful ankles to flaunt. Somehow these personal anecdotes- which are included just enough to make them interesting rather than irritating- are incredibly endearing. Her writing style is easy-going and her voice makes me want to sit down and have a chat with her. Sometimes books such as these, when written in the first person and thus incorporating personal stories, just seem narcissistic and boring. Not this one! I liked how her voice shone through. She doesn’t sound like she’s trying to sell anything. She’s just offering helpful advice that we would otherwise be completely ignorant of.

101 tips is a lot to ask for. Off the cuff, you might assume that they would all be of the same repetitive genre (drink water, walk for a few minutes each day, smile when you answer the phone ad nauseam*), but although some of the tips are of that ilke, most of them are genuinely useful for day to day life.

All 101 tips are separated into 10 chapters so that they are neatly categorized. The categories include topics such as changing your mindset, a step-by-step program to get out of a fattening rut, what to eat, how to dress thinner and create illusions, make up tips, ideas on how to get fit, and how your diet is your lifestyle. There’s a little something for just about every aspect of your life.

This book is specifically aimed at women, and especially targets an upper middle class group starting at about 10 years older than myself. Even so, I’m better off for having read this book. There are a couple recipes tucked in there and an entire explanation about the various kinds of shoes, and how certain types are slimming and others should be avoided. I like shoes. If you like shoes, you should read that part. Tip #68. It’s five pages of wonderful shoe-filled glory.

I really enjoyed reading this and some of it was stuff I knew, but with 101 thoughtful tips, there’s bound to be a fair amount that you hadn’t heard about before! I learned a few techniques that I’ll be putting into practice. Did you know that any kind of stripes, vertical and horizontal, are counter-productive to achieving a slimmer look? I sure didn’t (I should have read that section before I threw on a striped shirt at a party this past weekend…). If you ever wanted to learn the exact way to walk like a supermodel, improve your posture, or trot around in high heels, this book gives a crash course how-to. There are also many amusing quotes from various celebrities incorporated into the tips.

This is a lovely little book and a fun read. One of you can win this book for the price of a comment below! Tell me your favourite piece of advice for looking or feeling great. Who knows, maybe Mimi will write a sequel if we gather up enough quirky and unique tips πŸ˜‰ I’ll be using the random number generator to choose the winner unless someone comes up with a tip that really rocks my socks off (because challenges are fun!). This giveaway lasts a week and the winner will be announced next Monday, October 12.

*These kinds of tips all very true and things that we should be doing, but we also hear them everywhere. They become redundant. I start to wonder if people even listen to them at all anymore, or if instead they just go in one ear and out the other so that we don’t even take away the message…


  1. The Candid RD

    I think the best advice for looking and feeling great is simply to listen to your body!! If you are tired, don’t drink coffee, rest your eyes for a bit! If you are hungry, don’t chug some water or ignore your growls, eat something! If you are in pain or sore, take a rest and get off your feet! It sounds so simple, but for some it’s really hard not to just ignore your body, I fall into the trap too sometimes.

    This book sounds fantastic. And even if I don’t win it, I will HAVE to check it out!

  2. Anony-mum

    “Remember to Breath”…..sounds silly I know, but we often forget to breath deeply, slowly, inhaling to completely fill our lungs, and then exhaling slowly and completely to empty.

    When I don’t make time for yoga, the breathing exercises really help with anything life throws at me. Interesting, this is one of those “tips/pieces of wisdom” that was constantly drilled into us when I was taking all of my acupuncture, chiropractic and physio/rehab certification courses. It is a great way to stay focused.

    May I borrow your “101 things” book to read?

    FYI: Mother dear is flattered she has achieved the flattering age of 33…perhaps adding 20 to that may be more realistic, however you are certainly up for “daughter-of-the-year” awards.

  3. Gena

    I can’t remember where I heard this, but always wear something that you love. It can be your favorite pair of earrings, or some warm socks that you love – not necessarily your whole outfit. It’ll make you that little bit happier, and sometimes that little bit is all we need to feel confident and strong all day.

  4. Danielle

    I loved this book as well! I thought it was practical and realistic, and wonderful that she incorporated so many tips that do not require a change in size or shape, just a better way of presenting yourself so that you can feel confident in the way you look. It was on our giveaway table at my internship πŸ™‚ of which I frequented often for new reading material.

  5. Cammy@TippyToeDiet

    No entry in the giveaway for me, since I also rec’d a copy.

    I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. I pick it up every few days and skim through it again. For some reason, it keeps opening to the page on the benefits of a properly-fitted bra. Think someone’s trying to tell me something? πŸ™‚

  6. Sagan Morrow

    MizFit- I like!!

    Gina- sometimes it’s the most simple things in the world that are the best for us.

    Anony-mum- you may indeed! You’ll like it.

    Gena- I like that one! You’re right, it does make a really big difference *slips on a favourite ring*

    Danielle- ooh I want to join your internship πŸ˜€

    Cammy- ahaha, yes, that tip is a good one! And something that for some reason most people tend to neglect.

    JavaChick- wonder if I can use the sleep tip to skip out of class today… no? Darn.

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  8. Pubsgal

    Ooo, thanks for sharing the review. Sounds like a fun book! I found a copy at the library, so no need to enter me in the drawing.

    My top 4 for helping me feeling better:

    – Move around outside during the day, even if it’s just for a few minutes (trite but true!)

    – Gratitude – taking a moment to think of something for which I’m grateful.

    – Hot cup of my favorite tea.

  9. Margaret

    Scents: use a lotion, perfume, hair product, scented candle etc. whose aroma you really LOVE when you want to give yourself a special treat.

    I have another tip for putting tips into practice, which I should follow more often myself. If there is something you know you should be doing, but you are balking, don’t wait for motivation, will power, or desire to do it. Just get up and do it anyway even if you don’t feel like it.

  10. Laura E

    I recently(and gradually) transformed my outlook on life and my confidence level. I feel great about myself and the way I look all the time and I think once a woman realizes how much they’re hurting themselves by comparing themselves to others then they can too feel great all the time!

  11. Sagan Morrow

    Pubsgal- I’m a big fan of the tea drinkage. And hugs are the best!

    Dr. J- indeed it is!

    Margaret- SO IMPORTANT. We can have all the tips we want at our disposal but if we don’t put them into practice, they’re pretty much useless!

    Laura- confidence is big big big.

  12. Kelly

    My tip: Always fix your hair and put on makeup when you are out clothes shopping. NOTHING looks good in the dressing room when your hair is in a messy ponytail and your face is all splotchy! LOL. It cuts way down on the frustration of thinking that nothing in the whole mall looks good on you! πŸ˜‰

  13. Sagan Morrow

    Maggie- very important. We all need personal days.

    Darcy- that’s a great one. Retail therapy is only going to be useful if we use it wisely!

    Bronwyn- your idea makes for such a good challenge. We can turn any negative into a positive, right?

    Westwood- I’m ON it. And it is a fun read! I should lend it to you along with about 50 other books.

    Hanlie- for sure! It’s all about being present πŸ™‚

    Kelly- SO TRUE. Thanks for that one!

  14. wendy

    Clothes that fit you, whever your CURRENT size. Any time I have been focussed on losing weight, I’m reluctant to spend money on what I consider “fat” clothes. I end up making do or shopping thrift shops to get something to cover me until I’m the weight I want. But it is much harder to get there when you feel frumpy and awful!

    One or two great outfits that FIT at your current weight give you the confidence to be motivated, and feel great, during the process.

  15. Brenda

    My tip would be drinking a lot of water in the day and getting in exersize. WHen I know I’m working out regularly I seem to have a confidence that radiates out. Even though I’m not at my goal weight or as trim as some are, I seem to own what I have and have pride in it. And when I’m feeling great about myself, healthy eating just comes naturally.

  16. andrea

    Personally, I always feel better when I take a little bit of time to be active every day. It’s not necessarily about burning tons of calories (although those workouts are fun too!) but just getting up and doing something, so I can focus the rest of the day.

  17. Nicole

    Sounds like a great book. Lately, I have been practicing living from the heart vs the head. I tend to be so analytical or thinking about a million things. So now, I image a bright light coming from the middle of my chest, from the inside, like a big sun and image light coming from all parts of my body. I instantly connect with my body and my heart and feel like a million bucks! Keep up the great blog!

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