I need to start this review with a caveat. I didn’t actually finish this book. I debated whether to post a review of it because of that fact. Also, I wasn’t sure I wanted to post what would clearly be a bad review. But I don’t enjoy every book I read* and I certainly don’t want to give that impression. I also need to come clean up front; I don’t like Jillian Michaels and so may have read the book with a slight bias. I think she is self-absorbed, and her my-way-is-the-only-way approach to diet and fitness just don’t resonate with me.
All that aside, I wanted to see what the hype was all about surrounding this book. The first chapter is a lengthy story of Jillian’s troubled woe-is-me childhood. You know the story – her parents divorced, she turned to food, she gained weight, food became her comfort, and on and on in a vicious circle. She grew into an angst-y teenager and young adult, and “fell into” training, eventually landing a job on The Biggest Loser. I’m not trying to make light of this situation, and I feel for anyone in it or a similar situation. I just thought it was a bit tacky to use the first nearly 50 pages to tell this autobiography. It does, on the other hand, lend some credibility to hear her weight loss story.
Also, she points out several times that she is “tv’s toughest trainer”. I’m not sure this “fact” adds much to the text, but it seems to pop up in nearly every chapter.
The next few chapters deal with hormones and the science of how and why they make some people fat. This is where my issues began to surface. Not everyone’s body reacts the same way to every hormone. Some can handle more, some less, some none. Yes, there are general guidelines, but she bases the entire diet portion of the book on these generalities and her own experiences when writing the rules to the diet.
Which leads me to my biggest issue with the book and ultimately the point at which I could no longer read. She gives MANY rules for her diet and the diet that everyone should adopt. Several rules that I routinely break. While I understand that some people looking to lose weight need this kind of structure, I just don’t see rigidity in eating patterns as a healthy, long-term, sustainable option. These rules, by the way, were preceeded in the first chapter by Jillian’s story of her past food restrictions and how they nearly killed her. And yet, here she is, prescribing more ways to restrict. Sure, these are “healthier” restrictions (if such a thing can exist), such as eat protein at every meal, stop eating after 8 pm, and don’t eat more than 2 starchy vegetable servings a day (all things I don’t think are necessarily good for everyone), as opposed to her fat-free, sugar-free, preservative-filled food choices of the past.
Maybe when push comes to shove, I just didn’t like the book because I have never been overweight, nor am I trying to lose weight. Or maybe it’s just because Jillian rubs me the wrong way.
**In the interest of fairness, I read and LOVED Making the Cut, another book written by Jillian. Making the Cut is more about fitness though, which might explain why I didn’t have as many issues with it.