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The Secrets of Skinny Chicks
Category: Happy Eating

Here's another fascinating book that Amazon recommended for me, The Secrets of Skinny Chicks by Karen Bridson. Sometimes I find it hilariously perfect that all of my recommendations are like kettlebells, chocolate chips, and books about weight. A couple of months ago, my main page was filled with suggestions for cardio DVDs and ice cream machines. Do they know me or what?! :-D

I have mixed feelings about this one because it goes back and forth between brilliant examples of naturally thin  happy-eatering, and straight up diet ninny lore. Here is the premise. The author, a personal trainer and health journalist, interviews 21 thin women, not naturally thin women, but women who work at it. In most cases, they need to stay lean professionally - athletes, runway models, actresses, fitness competitors, dancers, showgirls, and body doubles. For each of the 21 women, she lists:

- a full sample day of food with calorie totals

- an overview of their weekly exercise routine with calorie expenditures

- their height, weight, body fat percentage, BMI, measurements, and clothing size

- an interview about their food and workout philosophy

- an evaluation of their approach by a Ph.D from a health and weight loss research center, a personal trainer, and a dietitian

(At this point in the description, I'm buying the book. I don't even care what the rest of it is, I just want to know what body doubles eat and how big they are!)

So, that's the first part of the book. Throughout these interviews she highlights "Skinny Secrets" that the women use, such as - lift weights, stop dieting, work in the yummy stuff, get a portion size wake-up call, learn what your metabolic rate will allow. The second part of the book explains each one of these 50 secrets in more detail and then gives you suggestions and examples for making them happen in your own life. The third part is an action plan that I haven't even looked at yet.

All of this sounds good right? But just because you're thin doesn't mean you have any clue what you're doing! One of the models had a granola bar and a Dr Pepper for breakfast every morning. One didn't drink any water, only tea and Gatorade. One spent 40 minutes a day, 7 days per week on the elliptical trainer. The author talked about running 10 miles on Christmas Eve and another 10 on Christmas Day as a preemptive measure?!?!? Or calculating how many minutes of cardio you would have to do to burn off various foods. In the part about lifting weights, she suggests you start by putting 2, 5, and 10 pound "hand weights" near the television. She didn't even use the word dumbbells.

I'm sure some of my facial expressions as I read were fascinating. I'd be nodding in agreement one minute and rolling my eyeballs all the way out of my head the next. However, I still recommend this book because it is fascinating, I mean, FASCINATING! If you're carrying any delusions about what it takes to be a size 2 swimsuit model - how little you have to eat and how much you have to move - this book will cure you of your delusions. Most of these women eat between 1200 and 1600 calories per day and exercise as much as 2-3 hours per day 6-7 days per week. Not all of them. Some exercise much less and eat 2,000+ calories. Some of the women who exercise the most actually do eat the cookies in the break room at work every day, drink sugared soda, and eat bread with dinner. They're all different and they're all human with cravings that must be satisfied. What they have in common is the consistency. Nobody diets in the sense that they do something crazy for a few weeks and then go "back to normal." What they do every day IS normal. They all talk about how you can be dedicated and work hard, but it has to be in a way that you genuinely enjoy and can live with. You need your treats, your favorite foods, your holiday meals, your restaurant outings. They all have various ways of accomplishing that. 

The Secrets of Skinny Chicks is an incredibly interesting book. You just have to read it with your brain on, collect all the ideas that resonate with you, and disregard everything that seems cuckoo. The reviews on Amazon seem to be split between 5 stars from people who loved the skinny chick interviews and got something out of it they could use, and 1 stars from the sour grapes crowd who aren't interested in eating that little or moving that much. I don't think blindly imitating a runway model's routine was the point though. It was more like, what could I learn from the way she does things and how could I apply it to my own situation and goals?

Once again, I am hopping up and down waiting for someone else to read this and comment. Let me know what you think!

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