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Book Review: “The Body Fat Solution” by Tom Venuto

February 9, 2009

Another book sent to me by Penguin Group, The Body Fat Solution:5 Principles for Burning Fat, Building Lean Muscle, Ending Emotional Eating, and Maintaining Your Perfect Weight is a lifestyle plan written by an experienced body builder and personal trainer. Tom Venuto has explored various aspects of the health industry over the past 20 years, ranging from coaching people about nutrition, fitness, and motivation to being a fitness model and health club manager. Authors who have conducted research and studies may inspire more confidence in the reader, but that personal experience aspect of being in the field is essential to understanding how best to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and it is this that Venuto focuses on.

When I first heard about this book, I admit that I was judgmental in assuming that it was a scam fad diet type of book. Even on the inner flap, the statement “The Ultimate Plan for Permanent Weight Loss” is stamped across the top. These marketing aspects tend to turn me off at once, so I was skeptical going in. As I read through the book, however, I was impressed with many of the concepts and advice that Venuto puts forth. Much of it is solid and logical; this is sound information that anyone can put to good use. The marketing strategies make sense after having read it; it is the kind of book that will at first glance appeal to people who typically are influenced by fad diets, but this one offers real and practical advice. It’s a great way to get the attention of that particular demographic so that they can become healthier.

Addressing the mental aspect of losing fat, building muscle, and maintaining a healthy weight is a key component of this book. I really approve of the attention paid to how our minds work and how we can change our ways of thinking to adapt to a healthier lifestyle. The writing style is comfortable and friendly, an easy read for anyone looking for some tips to tweak their outlook and nutrition/fitness plan. Right in chapter one, Venuto goes into an amusing hypothetical dialogue of what would happen if various health experts got together to discuss “the real cause of obesity”. Engaging in discussion involving a supplement company sales rep, a registered dietitian, a couple research scientists and different diet book authors, as well as a bariatric surgeon among several others, Venuto demonstrates that there are many contributing factors to the issue of our current state of health. He recognizes that “body fat isn’t an isolated issue, but rather it’s a bundle of physical, mental, emotional, and social problems… Removing body fat is not simply a matter of going on a diet- it’s a much more complex issue, involving every area of your life” (Venuto 6).

The five principles themselves are each supplied with their own chapter: mental training, a nutrition solution, maximizing your metabolism, gaining lean muscle, and gathering social support. The idea is that to successfully achieve these things, we need to 1) understand cause and effect, 2) think differently, and 3) act on the answer.

This book is peppered all the way through with various problems we face and the reasons why we think the way we do, suggesting that the way we perceive things shapes our reality. Adjusting our attitudes and beliefs will then affect our behavior, and Venuto offers a number of different ways in which we can do this. Because he has worked as a motivation coach and helped many people lose weight and keep it off, he has a good grasp of the excuses we use and how we can turn those around and find solutions to our justifications and negativity. If you like the concept of The Secret, you are bound to enjoy this book.

When we increase our own awareness and identify how we are sabotaging ourselves, we are much more capable of making progress. Each of the principles developed in this book revolve around reprogramming and reshaping our lives. I was pleased that Venuto pushes for eating natural foods (which we can determine by asking the question, Did this food come directly from a tree, from a plant, from out of the ground, or did it walk, fly, or swim?). It was refreshing to find an author who isn’t suggesting we include nutrition bars in our diet every day. This is a sensible approach to nutrition that aims at giving our bodies the fuel to live with energy.

There is not much in the way of a specified diet or exercise plan in this book; rather, it works as a way for us as individuals to cobble together our own regime. It explains the basics so that we can know how to begin and accommodate it to fit our personal needs. However, he does offer a few photos of different exercises and suggests a brief weight training schedule with an explanation of reps and sets to alternate between two workouts that he lays out.

Finally, we look at the social aspect of living healthily and the obstacles that we might come across and how to overcome them, including ways of dealing with people who are unsupportive (categorized as different types), before explaining the necessity and importance of practicing all of these principles in conjunction. He concludes by pointing out the differences in attitude and behavior by people who maintain and people who regain so that a “relapse” can be prevented.

Although I picked up this book with such a skeptical frame of mind, I am really happy that I took the time to read it. It was time well spent and if you are struggling with the mental aspects of maintaining a healthy weight or lifestyle, then this could definitely benefit you. Even if you are not currently struggling with it, it could be worth it to give this book a read anyways- it’s all about preventing ourselves from veering toward an unhealthy lifestyle, after all.

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33 comments

  1. This sounds great. I think that working on breaking down the mental blocks on the road to health is the hardest thing to do, whether you are trying to lose weight or otherwise. Very thorough review πŸ™‚ I’ll try to find it at my library.


  2. Sounds interesting!

    BK and I are going through something like that: he wants to lose weight for the wedding, which I don’t support (he’s got 28 inch hips and claims he’s fat), so I might maybe get this for him (or recommend it if he asks).

    I don’t want him to fad diet away weight he doesn’t need to lose.


  3. Glad you liked the book after all!!


  4. I lovelovelove Tom Venuto. He was my first foray into strength training and I still go back to his principles when I need something tried-n-true. Thanks for the review!


  5. sounds interesting… oh how our mind sabotages things!


  6. You know Sagan, you may have a new career in book reviews. The New York Times has some appear in Sunday’s section that don’t even come close to your take. Very good read and I’ll be the author will be happy with it too.


  7. I hope the weekend was fantastic! πŸ™‚


  8. am i the ONLY person in the world who hasn’t read The Secret?!


  9. Maggie- it’s so tough to break down the mental barriers!

    Tricia- that’s a really good idea. I think it might help him to realize that he’s already healthy.

    VeggieGirl- me too. It’s such a nice surprise when that happens.

    Charlotte- he’s got some really good stuff!

    ttfn300- no kidding. It’s scary how good we are at tricking ourselves.

    Tom- aw thank you:)

    Mark- it was indeed! Hope yours was too.

    Leslie- I haven’t read it either. I tried to but it wasn’t quite my thing (I figure I live like that anyway so I don’t need a book to tell it to me- but the concept is definitely a really wonderful one. And I know a ton of people who really love the book).


  10. Tom’s pretty famous from his books and program.

    Maybe one day he’ll read my book 😦

    Maybe one day, I’ll write one πŸ™‚


  11. As unfortunate as it is, probably the most intelligent part about this book are the LCD (lowest-common-denominator) slogans. After all, as you’ve implied, the segment of the population to which such slogans do not appeal already understand most of the principles of fitness, and thereby a book like this would be redundant. Some well placed trickery, I do say.


  12. This is why I love book review, yours in particular. I probably would’ve passed on this book, just because of the marketing blurbs, but after reading your review, I’m thinking it might be worth a read! Thanks, Sagan!


  13. I’m so glad you liked his book. I’m always up for a good Tom Venuto quote. I’ve read his online blog quite a bit, and my Hubby is a huge fan. My claim to fame is that Tom sent me a tweet once on twitter =) Silly, but the guy cares, and is real and down to earth about how to get healthy. He knows what he’s talking about and is walking proof of everything he says.


  14. I really enjoyed this book as well…for the very reason there isnt a diet or exercise plan but a HERE ARE THE FACTS AND INFO, PEOPLE NOW *YOU* INTEGRATE IT.


  15. That sounds great – thanks for the review! I also would have probably passed on this book, now am interested in checking it out.


  16. I think one of the most telling lines in this review was where you said the book encourages you to “cobble together your own regime.” For me, that’s what living healthier and being fit has been all about. I’m pretty independent (read: anti-authority) so if I had to stick with someone else’s “plan” for life, I wouldn’t be able to.

    Learning to develop my own routines and habits — and, most importantly, learning how to make adjustments to deal with different challenges that arise — has been the most valuable skill I’ve ever worked at acquiring. It’s a work in progress, of course, but I’m working on it.

    Great review, Sagan. Sounds like a good book.


  17. Dr. J- book! Book! Book! Book!

    Westwood- ha, yes. But if your interest lies in that sort of thing, you tend to gobble it up anyways. It’s getting almost silly how many books I have on health-related topics, most of which I already know… and yet I keep getting more of them. Love it.

    Cammy & Missicat- am glad to be of help!

    Fitness Surfer- ah twitter. It IS cool to get a message from someone “famous” πŸ™‚

    MizFit- precisely.

    Dara- “anti-authority”, hehe. We definitely have to personalize plans to fit what works for OUR needs.


  18. I am always kind of skeptical of diet books (they always seem so skewed in their views), but after reading your review, I think this one definitely worth a second look. Thanks sagan for the great review.

    ~rupal


  19. I love that much of what Tom teaches focuses on mindset. Its really about taking the knowledge and putting it into action, and getting your head in the right place. Great review.

    Sheila
    http://www.livewell360.com


  20. Hm. Sounds interesting! Do you read a lot of books like this? Sounds like a great book to have nearby on those tough days when the mind is telling me to eat things I really shouldn’t..


  21. Rupal- it can be difficult to sift through them and find the good ones.

    Sheila- absolutely! Once we’ve got our mind in the right place, the rest (usually) follows.

    Juliet- I’ve got a fair amount of books like this:) I’m willing to read just about anything health related so figuring out the mental/emotional health is high up there on that list.


  22. Great review Sagan! After I read this post I ordered the book on Amazon and it arrived on Monday. I’ve been reading a couple of pages a night before bed and I can see why you spoke so highly of it! Thanks for recommending it! πŸ™‚


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