Humorous and Insightful

Michelle McKinney Hammond is well-known for her books on relationship advice for single men and women. The Real Skinny on Losing It is her first book about dieting.

The first three-quarters of the book chronicles Hammond’s personal struggles with try to lose weight and believe me, she seems to have tried it all. From Jenny Craig to Weight Watchers to the cabbage soup diet to the master cleanse, she has seen her share of pounds lost and pounds gained back once she went back to her old eating habits.

With an emphasis on attitude and directing your thoughts toward all things positive (she has coined the acronym D.I.V.A.–Divine Inspiration for Victorious Attitude), Hammond speaks to us ladies like a trusted girlfriend, sharing some of her secrets along the way. She says at one point in the book, “It is not what I put into my mouth but rather what comes out of it that can cause me more damage than I know.”

The final few chapters gets down to the nitty-gritty of a new diet plan, which Hammond calls the Ultimate Diva Diet. She uses information from the science of both the Blood Type Diet and the Abs Diet and combines them with some other principles to creat the Diva Diet.

I have personally tried a few diets and done quite a bit of reading and The Real Skinny on Losing It had some information I had not heard before. For instance, did you know that your body can digest fruit in 30 minutes but when you combine that fruit with other foods, your stomach gets confused and doesn’t know what to do with that fruit so it stores it as fat?

The Ultimate Diva Diet plan does seem a little extreme to me (especially the cleanse she suggests doing before you start) but implementing some of the idea into your routine would assist in weight loss. Over all, the conversation was engaging, new information was brought to light and there were some very good reminders of how our attitudes affect our weight loss (in the author’s words, we have a totally different outlook when we say “I lost a pound” as opposed to saying “I’m fat.”

***A copy of this book was provided to me free of charge from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review of the book. I was not compensated in any way for either a good or poor review.

Resolution Check In

Ok, here we are, three weeks into the new year. This is the time when most resolutions have gone by the wayside. Although, judging by the number of people at my gym on Saturday morning and the full capacity in my Zumba class, it looks like a pretty good number are sticking to their commitment to exercise.

I thought it was a good time to check in and be honest about where I am with my 2011 resolutions. I have completely failed on one, am doing pretty well on a couple of others and haven’t even really began on some.

So, let’s start with the bad news. I haven’t been running twice a week like I planned. I know I shouldn’t have excuses, but here’s mine anyway ;). It’s too cold outside!! Nashville has had record snows and extremely cold temperatures for January and who wants to go outside and run in 20 degree temperatures. What’s that you say? Why don’t I use the treadmill? Well, I absolutely do not like to run on treadmills. It’s boring and I get too distracted. I end up playing the the buttons or zoning out and watching tv or other people in the gym and then I end up walking way more than I run. So far, that resolution is a bust but not forgotten. I am still hoping to get back to it soon (it just may be a Feb 1 or March 1 resolution).

Now, on to better news. I have been pretty good about keeping up with my blogging. If I’m not blogging here, I’m blogging on Spark People so that’s been positive. I’ve also been good about eating more healthy and sticking to my 80/20 plan (If I’m good 80% of the time, it’s ok to be bad 20% of the time–after all, no one is perfect). And I’ve lost seven pounds since the beginning of the year (maybe a little more, tomorrow is my week 3 weigh in).

I have been on spark people every day this year tracking food, checking in with my teams, and emailing my team members. It has been good for me to be accountable not only to myself but to a couple other people. Even if I haven’t met them in person, they are my cheerleaders through this journey. I have also been earning swagbucks every day on that website. If you have friended me on facebook, I’m sure you’ve seen I’ve been racking up the swagbucks :).

And finally, the year is young so I have not yet planned my trip. I do, however, have over a week of vacation time already saved up so that won’t be a problem when I decide when & where I’m going. The frittata has also not yet been made. Although, I have tried a couple of new recipes. Last weekend I made some beef stew that was a hit at my house and last night Sarah and I made Bison Stir Fry that we ate over rice which was very flavorful.

I guess so far with keeping to the resolutions I give myself a solid B. How about you? Have you given up or are you still sticking to it?

Test Me In This: Stories of Tithers

We’ve all heard stories of someone who was down to their last twenty dollars until payday a week away and instead of buying groceries with the money, they put the twenty in the offering plate. And then, when they arrived home after church or work, they find one hundred dollars worth of groceries were left on their front porch. There are many variations to this story but they are fairly common in Christian circles.

After reading a couple of reviews of this book that shared that the book was a series of stories of people who engage in the practice of tithing, I was looking forward to reading and reviewing this book for myself anticipating more stories like those others.  But, after slugging through all of the background and religious name dropping of the first chapter, I was quickly bored.

The book uses the Scripture in Malachi 3:10 where the Lord says, “Test Me In This…” as the basis for the whole book. There is little other Scripture reference regarding tithing throughout the entire book (in Randy Alcorn’s story, he does mention another Scripture). Very often, it felt like the author was trying to promote communal living or bare-bones existences in order to give tithes. In today’s society, this would be more of a turnoff than an “aha” moment for most Christians.

It seemed to take a while to get into each story, Douglas Lablanc spends so much time giving each chapter so much background and Christian pedigree, I found myself wanting to skip ahead every time just to get to the point of the chapter. I only recognized a couple of the names of the people the stories were about and there weren’t really any amazing stories of God’s provisions.

Heavy on A&E

If you’ve seen the preview for this show, you may have wondered if it is just a rip off of The Biggest Loser. After watching the first episode, I can tell you, it is nothing like the other.

Heavy follows two individuals who have serious food addictions for six months in their journey to lose weight. The people on the show are extremely overweight. The first episode featured Tom, who started at 638 pounds and spend most of his day lying in bed because that was all the could do, and Jodi, a wife and mother who started at 367 pounds.

The first month of the weight loss journey begins at a facility where the two people are removed from all distractions. Just like drug rehab, the trainers go through each person’s bags to make sure nothing that might enable them has been brought along. Telephone and television privileges are taken away.

What I liked about this show was that from the first workout with two personal trainers, the two people are told they are going to be partners in this journey. They are going to be accountable to each other when they leave the weight loss facility after a month. I also liked that they were only isolated for one month. After that month, each person is sent home to lose weight in real-life situations.

While they are sent home, they are still given tools for the next few months. Each person works with a personal trainer and a dietician show them how to make healthy choices. The final month of the program each person is left on their own. It is meant to be a measure of whether or not they are ready to finish the weight loss journey on their own.

I enjoyed the show and found it inspiring. Jodi lost 77 pounds and Tom lost 155 pounds during the six months. I would have liked to have seen where each person is now and am keeping my fingers crossed for a “Where are they now” episode in the future.

Assurance of Purpose in the Midst of Suffering

Randy Alcorn’s The Goodness of God: Assurance of Purpose in the Midst of Suffering is a condensed version of If God Is Good. Using Scripture throughout the book to support him, Alcorn examines the origins of suffering as well as our inherited sin. He urges his readers in the introduction to not let their feelings invalidate the need to hear the truth of God’s word.

Alcorn uses powerful illustrations and stories to help the reader understand his points. He tells of how very often when people are asked to create two columns and write in one the bad things that have happened in their lives and in the other the good things that happen in their lives very often one or more events will be listed in both columns. He equates this to being in the stands at a football game and seeing a marching band for the different shapes. If you are standing on the sidelines, you do not see the whole picture and it might not make sense to you.

Although there is a note to non-Christians at the end of the book, it is definitely geared towards those who do have a relationship with Christ. Alcorn encourages the reader to find perspective in their suffering. He writes, “Whenever you feel tempted in your suffering to ask God, ‘Why did you do this to me?’ look at the cross and ask, ‘Why did you do that for me?'”

***A copy of this book was provided to me free of charge by Multnomah Publishing. I was not compensated in any way for either a favorable or a poor review