In 2012, ABC News reported that the annual revenue of the US weight-loss industry was $20 billion. This includes the sales of diet and weight-loss books. How does a person decide between the proliferation of choices? South Beach, Atkins, Paleo, Weight Watchers, gluten-free, dairy-free… the list goes on. There is an overwhelming amount of information on dieting, and every book promises a miraculous method for losing weight and keeping it off. Is there space on your bookshelf for just one more? If so, enter Stan Spencer’s The Diet Dropout’s Guide to Natural Weight Loss.
Spencer has a background in biology, research science, biochemistry, botany, evolution, and genetics. As such, he credibly backs his suggestions with science. And, he makes it apparent in his introduction that his book is not a so-called diet book; it is instead focused on “natural, permanent weight loss.”
Spencer is also clear in his introduction that the text is for those who want to find out the root of their weight problem—and for those who appreciate a precise, no-frills read. If you’re looking for a short-term remedy or an exercise plan, put his book down.
The book begins with various reasons why people might carry extra weight. It could be because of a less-active lifestyle or a fattening food environment, Spencer writes. Perhaps the only foods in the home are high in calories and low in nutrients. The author also looks into why diets fail: “In reality,” he writes, “most diets are so unpleasant, inconvenient, boring, complex or expensive that they are difficult to stick with for very long.” Once you stop following a diet precisely and return to old habits, the weight begins to pile back on.
The majority of the guide covers various methods for losing weight. Many may seem like simple approaches: eat less, move more, watch less television. However, there are several other tips that Spencer gives to create specific, healthy habits: Eat junk food only with generally healthy meals, for instance; while working out, choose endurance exercises to increase your metabolism. Spencer also includes methods for warding off emotional or binge eating. A chapter is devoted to calming cravings and keeping a small “slip” from becoming a full-on binge-eating session.
The final chapter includes a 56-step weight-loss plan. Spencer presents the steps as a simple list to slowly work through. These steps, he writes, are to help create new habits, and are meant to be used over time. Readers should go through the steps slowly, not in a day or even a week (and, many of the steps cannot even be done in such a short amount of time). A few of the items on the list are:
- Master one method for calming cravings.
- Eat vegetables or fresh fruit with breakfast most days.
- Don’t watch television most days.
- Eat breakfast mindfully.
For the reader who does not like to cook or has very little cooking experience, Spencer provides healthy and nutritious recipes in the appendix section. The recipes are broken into three sections: vegetable, whole grain, and yogurt. These sections provide a good starting point for the reader who is just beginning to break into healthy cooking. However, one will certainly need recipes beyond those in the book to create a developed meal plan.
Overall, Spencer’s approach to weight loss is simple, concise, and well researched. In 91 pages, he provides a plan for his readers. His tone is direct, with very minimal cheerleading — there aren’t those exclamatory “You can totally do this!” lines that can be found in other diet books. I appreciated the bluntness of his book. He does not sugarcoat his topic, the reasons behind weight gain, or the methods for losing the weight. There is no fluff, no distracting charts, graphs, or cartoons. However, because of this lack of infographics, there may be some readers who are turned off. It may not be the ideal book for all readers looking to lose weight. It is, however, a definite option for those who have hit a wall and want a plan not bogged down by details or pictures. If you want the straight truth about losing weight permanently, this book delivers.
The Diet Dropout’s Guide to Natural Weight Loss: Find Your Easiest Path to Naturally Thin
Fine Life Books, January, 2013
Paperback, 152 pages