Another book sent to me by Penguin Group, The Body Fat Solution:5 Principles for Burning Fat, Building Lean Muscle, Ending Emotional Eating, and Maintaining Your Perfect Weight is a lifestyle plan written by an experienced body builder and personal trainer. Tom Venuto has explored various aspects of the health industry over the past 20 years, ranging from coaching people about nutrition, fitness, and motivation to being a fitness model and health club manager. Authors who have conducted research and studies may inspire more confidence in the reader, but that personal experience aspect of being in the field is essential to understanding how best to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and it is this that Venuto focuses on.
When I first heard about this book, I admit that I was judgmental in assuming that it was a scam fad diet type of book. Even on the inner flap, the statement “The Ultimate Plan for Permanent Weight Loss” is stamped across the top. These marketing aspects tend to turn me off at once, so I was skeptical going in. As I read through the book, however, I was impressed with many of the concepts and advice that Venuto puts forth. Much of it is solid and logical; this is sound information that anyone can put to good use. The marketing strategies make sense after having read it; it is the kind of book that will at first glance appeal to people who typically are influenced by fad diets, but this one offers real and practical advice. It’s a great way to get the attention of that particular demographic so that they can become healthier.
Addressing the mental aspect of losing fat, building muscle, and maintaining a healthy weight is a key component of this book. I really approve of the attention paid to how our minds work and how we can change our ways of thinking to adapt to a healthier lifestyle. The writing style is comfortable and friendly, an easy read for anyone looking for some tips to tweak their outlook and nutrition/fitness plan. Right in chapter one, Venuto goes into an amusing hypothetical dialogue of what would happen if various health experts got together to discuss “the real cause of obesity”. Engaging in discussion involving a supplement company sales rep, a registered dietitian, a couple research scientists and different diet book authors, as well as a bariatric surgeon among several others, Venuto demonstrates that there are many contributing factors to the issue of our current state of health. He recognizes that “body fat isn’t an isolated issue, but rather it’s a bundle of physical, mental, emotional, and social problems… Removing body fat is not simply a matter of going on a diet- it’s a much more complex issue, involving every area of your life” (Venuto 6).
The five principles themselves are each supplied with their own chapter: mental training, a nutrition solution, maximizing your metabolism, gaining lean muscle, and gathering social support. The idea is that to successfully achieve these things, we need to 1) understand cause and effect, 2) think differently, and 3) act on the answer.
This book is peppered all the way through with various problems we face and the reasons why we think the way we do, suggesting that the way we perceive things shapes our reality. Adjusting our attitudes and beliefs will then affect our behavior, and Venuto offers a number of different ways in which we can do this. Because he has worked as a motivation coach and helped many people lose weight and keep it off, he has a good grasp of the excuses we use and how we can turn those around and find solutions to our justifications and negativity. If you like the concept of The Secret, you are bound to enjoy this book.
When we increase our own awareness and identify how we are sabotaging ourselves, we are much more capable of making progress. Each of the principles developed in this book revolve around reprogramming and reshaping our lives. I was pleased that Venuto pushes for eating natural foods (which we can determine by asking the question, Did this food come directly from a tree, from a plant, from out of the ground, or did it walk, fly, or swim?). It was refreshing to find an author who isn’t suggesting we include nutrition bars in our diet every day. This is a sensible approach to nutrition that aims at giving our bodies the fuel to live with energy.
There is not much in the way of a specified diet or exercise plan in this book; rather, it works as a way for us as individuals to cobble together our own regime. It explains the basics so that we can know how to begin and accommodate it to fit our personal needs. However, he does offer a few photos of different exercises and suggests a brief weight training schedule with an explanation of reps and sets to alternate between two workouts that he lays out.
Finally, we look at the social aspect of living healthily and the obstacles that we might come across and how to overcome them, including ways of dealing with people who are unsupportive (categorized as different types), before explaining the necessity and importance of practicing all of these principles in conjunction. He concludes by pointing out the differences in attitude and behavior by people who maintain and people who regain so that a “relapse” can be prevented.
Although I picked up this book with such a skeptical frame of mind, I am really happy that I took the time to read it. It was time well spent and if you are struggling with the mental aspects of maintaining a healthy weight or lifestyle, then this could definitely benefit you. Even if you are not currently struggling with it, it could be worth it to give this book a read anyways- it’s all about preventing ourselves from veering toward an unhealthy lifestyle, after all.