Book Review – Side Effect Skinny: Denise Austin’s Fat-Blasting Diet

Normally when review books I try to stick to areas with which I’m most comfortable – pastoral care, family interests and church matters. Today, I’m stepping out of the comfort zone to let you know about a book that could very easily have a major impact on your life for years to come. Side Effect Skinny: Denise Austin’s Fat-Blasting Diet punches both your fat cells and your guilt gene in all the bad, bloated areas while encouraging the “skinny” you to run away from cravings and master those tough temptations.

Could it really have a major impact on your life for years to come? Absolutely. Too early in my marriage and ministry I neglected my physical health in the name of being “too busy” to go to the gym, both my marriage and ministry began to suffer. About four years ago that changed when I realized that I needed to pay more attention to my physical health so that I could remove stress, take care of myself for my wife and children’s sake and actually be more productive on a daily basis.

denise_austin_cover_4_resizedSide Effect Skinny backs up that hypothesis by teaching a balanced approach to a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, proper eating habits and getting enough rest. So, who is Denise Austin and what qualifies her to write her latest book?

 

According to her online bio Austin,

Denise Austin is a pioneer in the fitness industry who has sold more than 24 million exercise videos and DVDs, authored 12 books on fitness, and starred in the longest running fitness show in the history of television. Denise’s trademark zest for life, positive outlook, and can-do attitude have endeared her to millions of fans across the country — and around the world — and earned her the reputation as “America’s favorite fitness expert.”

A native of San Pedro, Calif., Denise started gymnastics at the age of 12 and earned an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Arizona. In 1979, she graduated from California State University at Long Beach with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physical Education with an emphasis on exercise physiology. She began her career teaching aerobic exercise classes in the Los Angeles area and went on to cohost The Jack LaLanne Show in 1981. (Denise considers the late Jack LaLanne one of her role models and remained great friends with the fitness icon until his death in 2011.) In 1982, she earned her own television program on KABC in Los Angeles and released her first two workout videos,Rock Aerobics and Rock Hard Abs. From 1984 to 1988, she was the fitness expert on NBC’sToday Show.

What the bio doesn’t say about Austin is one of the most refreshing aspects of this book. In a world where everyone seems to have an agenda that they want to see fulfilled regardless of the truth, Side Effect Skinny stood out to me because the author proved trustworthy with her objectivity. Ask most health food experts about whether we should eat overpriced organic produce and the chorus screams, “Of course!” In Side Effect Skinny Austin writes,

While there is currently no solid research that proves organic foods are better for you, there are several good reasons to buy organic, and several things to keep in mind when you buy organic.

She goes on to cite benefits to the environment and the lack of antibiotics and growth hormones in dairy and meat products. But, objectively urges caution by reminding us that organic is more expensive and the pesticides should be washed off of any non-organic grown produce whose peel you intend to eat.

So, with the biography and objectivity taken care of, I’d love to tell you both the strengths and weaknesses of Side Effect Skinny as I perceive them.

Strengths of Side Effect: Skinny

  • Austin encourages “Calorie Confusion” in her regimen. Like the increasingly popular theory of muscle confusion, calorie confusion is simply modifying your calorie intake every couple of days to trick your body into keeping your metabolism running at a higher rate. This allows you some cheating so you never feel like you have to starve yourself for days or weeks.
  • The book is easy to read. Its conversational style flows well and along with the publisher, Bird St. Books, Austin breaks up the material with bullet points, lists and quick tips. She writes well and provides a lot of great content.
  • The plan itself has practicality written all over it. Stretching, home workouts, quick meal ideas, and creativity all go together to make this a lifestyle change that virtually anyone could adopt. It is not a crash diet, but is promoted as a diet that could help someone lose stubborn pounds quickly and keep them off for a long time. You can even follow her personal blog for more tips and suggestions.

Weaknesses of Side Effect: Skinny

As with almost everything there are some downsides to Side Effect Skinny. You may not see them as such, but I feel like they should be noted.

  • I got the feeling several times while reading Austin’s book that some topics were dealt with repeatedly. It is true that we learn from repetition, but I felt like some topics could be arranged better to improve overall reading experience.
  • The book is not currently available through Amazon.com. It was released about 2 months ago, and one of the largest online retailers doesn’t offer it. Nor does Amazon say when the book will be made available. It is available at the Book Nook for $22.06. $3.89 cheaper than the list price.
  • Speaking of the price…as a hard back book it is a little steep for me, especially needing it shipped to Europe. A Kindle version would be great, and maybe that will one day be available.

My overall recommendation? Pick up a copy and start 2013 with a new outlook and determination to shed those extra holiday pounds with help from Denise Austin. A special thanks goes to NetGalley.com and Smith Publicity (on behalf of Bird Street Books) for providing me with a temporary review copy in exchange for my thoughts on the book.

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