Growing up, I remember hating it when people said things such as, “I’m a Christian, but I hate organized religion,” or, “I’m spiritual, but I’m not religious.” In my mind, there really isn’t a way to separate the two. Of course, now that I’ve only stepped into a church a handful of times in the past ten years, I’m really at no place to judge. It’s not that I hate church - I really don’t. I hate Christians. I say that as a bitter, angry Christian.
With that explained, you can see the irony that I’m part of a book review mailing list from a Christian publisher. A couple times a month they email me a title and subject of a book, and I can opt-in to the blog tour. It’s why I reviewed Matthew Paul Turner’s Churched and why I’m writing this review. Despite the appeal of free books, I have turned down several offers. It’s not that I’m unwilling to soften my callous soul to read a Jesus book. It’s just that some subjects are not ones that I necessarily want to broach on a blog that my father reads, like books about my marriage’s sexual relationship. But when an opportunity to review a book about one of my passions, diet and exercise, comes along, I’ll definitely take that carrot.
Chantel Hobbs wrote Never Say Diet based on her experience losing 200lbs. She believes she was able to accomplish her goal and keep the weight off because five “Brain-Change” decisions. These “Brain-Changes” allow a person to shift to a healthy lifestyle without dieting. Hobbs also lays out a 17-week plan to slowly ease the reader into a healthy lifestyle to avoid burnout or binging. In addition to her story and plan, she provides scientific reasoning behind various exercises, helpful tips, and a chapter on getting your family on board with a healthy lifestyle.
Chantel’s story is inspirational. She truthfully tells of her highs and lows, and how she finds enlightenment along the way. There were moments that I found myself nodding along with her insightful thoughts, and when she described eating an indulgent meal, her thoughts really struck home with me:
“At the time I was so concerned and aggravated that I thought about skipping breakfast. No, that would just make me hungrier later. Then I thought about doing an extra hour of cardio to punish myself. Finally I got a grip. This was not a race. I didn’t need to redouble the speed of my progress, because there was no finish line! Since I wasn’t on a diet, I couldn’t have cheated; therefore I didn’t need to be punished.”
This is a Christian book, but it’s not an overly Christian book. One of the five “Brain-Change” decisions is to surrender, which includes surrendering yourself to God. You start off every day with a “Surrender Statement” (basically a prayer), but Hobbs is quick to point out that prayer is not going to make you thin. She repeats throughout the book that God wants you to be the best that you can be, and she’s very blunt in saying that requires hard work on your behalf.
Though I enjoyed reading her book, I can’t say I learned anything new. I’ve focused on healthy living for several years now so it’s rare that books teach me something when based on someone’s personal experience. There are moments when she seems to be contradicting herself. For example, in weeks 9-12, your goal is to make food boring and, thus, making food a less desirable reward. She believes you can accomplish this by eating a limited variety of foods for four weeks, and she provides a list of acceptable foods. Though it’s just four weeks of a 17 week program, that sounds pretty much like a diet, which goes against the whole premise behind Never Say Diet. My only other complaint is one that I often have when reading books written by non-professionals. She spends the first portion of her book hyping up her “Five Brain-Change Decisions” without telling the reader what they are. In fact, she doesn’t disclose them until page 75! If I hadn’t committed to read her book for the blog tour, I probably would have tossed it to the side by page 40.
Overall, I think it’s a good book. Her story is definitely inspiring, and I agree with pretty much everything she says. Her program is long and requires dedication, but as she points out in the book, it’s about a lifestyle change. It’s not a short diet where someone tells you what to eat and when they stop, you gain your weight back. I’d recommend it to someone who has 50lbs or more to lose. If you had less than that, the program would probably be too long to keep your attention.
Like my last review, I have a copy of Never Say Diet to give away, which comes with the Never Say Diet Personal Fitness Trainer. (I checked it out - it’s not a bible study. It is a workout and food journal.) If you’d like to win it, email me at sleepingKelly@sleepingKelly.com. I’ll have Chris pick a random number on Wednesday night after the baby goes down.