I thought about reading a diet book or two for this blog. I was sent a slew of them in relation to that article I wrote about self help books, and I piece I just wrapped up for Oxygen magazine. But I don’t have the patience, nor the time. Besides, Marilynn Marter of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote a great round up herself, which you can read here.

Like self help books, some diet books are good, but a lot are crap, especially those that promise a Jessica Biel body on six minutes a day. It’s just not possible — well, without major surgery.

Aside from books, I write a lot about health an fitness, and I got into it because Inside magazine assigned me to take a six week boot camp through Body Physics Fitness in Haddonfield, NJ and write about it. That was September 2005. I still use the outline of their meal plan, though I’ve had to add in more carbs since, as a distance runner, I’m working out much more than one hour for three mornings a week.

Even over 2+ down the healthy lifestyle track, I can say this about ‘dieting’: it’s not easy, and it never gets easy. Why? Because of everything out there that you could eat, and it tastes so darn good. I hit a big snag over the holidays, not only because of all the wonderful food put in front of me, but also because I sprained my ankle, which took me off the road, and treadmill. How to get back on track? By doing what I’ve been doing for the last 2+ years: work out, and eat sensibly by steering clear of processed foods and instead loading up on fruits and vegetables (which do taste good if you give them a chance — can you think of nothing better to eat on a hot summer day than a ripe peach?) Switching to everything no fat isn’t going to help either. There’s a reasons nuts are fatty, as is a lot of fish. Fat is a fuel, and one we need, especially if you’re working out four days a week. Without that resource, you get hungry and dive right back into the M&Ms.

Now, I’m not perfect. I cheat all the time. Yesterday, for example, was a very stressful day in a series of stressful days, so I treated myself to takeout. And I enjoyed every single bite. But I was back at the gym today, and eating a sensible breakfast, small snack, lunch and second small snack after that. It’s all about moderation. If I told myself I couldn’t have that takeout because I needed to lose 5, 10, 15 pounds, I would have gotten pissed off. And that’s no way to love your meal plan, is it?

So a diet book that promises Hollywood results with as little work as possible? Pass. Pass on the Hollywood figure in general unless you have a nutritionist, trainer and possibly cook. And if you do, would you care to share?

If you’re looking for a great food/nutrition/workout blog, check out Fit in Real Life by Dara Chadwick. She was Shape’s Weight Loss Diarist for 2007, and still going strong.

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Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen A. Miller is a an author and freelance writer. Her memoir, Running a Love Story, was a Philadelphia Inquirer best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, SELF, Buzzfeed and the Guardian, among others.


  1. Omar Cruz on January 11, 2008 at 8:52 am

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  2. Jimmy Clark on January 25, 2008 at 6:26 am

    Does anyone recommend a good body fat scale that is accurate? I saw a post on thedailyskinny.com that was comparing body fat scales to calipers and it said they weren’t as accurate… is that true?

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