It’s only taken me about 15 years to figure this out, so hopefully, my revelation can help cut that time down for you.
There are no short cuts when it comes to weight loss.
I know we’ve all heard that before, yet we still buy into it because of so many mixed messages. It’s difficult to decipher what is real and what is marketing hype when it comes to food.
We were living on pre-made dinners purchased at Costco for years. I tried to buy “healthier” ones, but now I know it was CRAP. I’m a busy person, I don’t have time to cook. That’s how I thought, though, until a month or so ago when I finally, FINALLY felt like I understood good nutrition and healthy eating.
A Review of The Skinny Rules by Bob Harper
My husband, who has battled with his weight for many years actually heard about Bob Harper’s new book The Skinny Rules and informed me he was getting it. We’d been trying to eat healthier (read: not as many Costco frozen dinners) for a few weeks. I was doubtful about this book that had the word “skinny” in it. To me, it just seemed like another diet book. (He listened to it on audio, and then ended up buying the physical book so we could use the recipes and refer to the meal suggestions.
I was so, so wrong. I totally judged the book by it’s cover. Don’t let the word “skinny” fool you. The Skinny Rules is actually about eating right. Balanced meals. Good nutrition.
This book has changed our lives – well, as far as eating goes. And dieting, too, since we are both trying to lose weight. My husband has lost almost 10 pounds in the last month, and he is not exercising. He should be, but he’s not. He really likes that he has a set of eating “rules” to go by. I, on the other hand, have lost only a couple of pounds, but I really only have less than 10 to lose, so that’s actually quite a bit considering. I really like having HEALTHY, balanced meal suggestions and recipes. I like eating fresh, and I am LOVING cooking. None of the recipes are complicated at all. I HATED to cook. Now, I am starting to enjoy it. I’ve even made fish! And, now that I know some things about nutrition, I can even confidently make up my own healthy meals.
The Skinny Rules gives you 20 rules to live, er, eat by. Some of them are simple: drink two glasses of water before every snack and meal. But some of them are a little tougher: no carbs after 2 p.m. I’m pretty good at that one – I make a well-balanced dinner with protein and veggies, but then…popcorn. Oy. Popcorn is my kryptonite.
The best thing The Skinny Rules has done for me, though, is help me realize the CRAP I was eating and feeding my son and husband! All the chemicals and unpronounceable words that give us cancer and do other bad things to the human body. I don’t know why I hadn’t realized it – maybe I’d just never really thought about it.
Now, I’d say 90 percent of my grocery bill is spent on fruits and veggies. The rest is meat, fish, dairy and nuts…and maybe 1-2 percent on grains. Grocery checkers comment on how healthy I eat nearly every time I go to the store. It’s kind of nice — it’s like encouragement.
Eating healthier is not easy. But it’s not that hard. You have to think a little more, plan a little more, prep a little more and cook a little more. I make chicken breasts and hard-boiled eggs ahead of time to have ready for salads for lunches. I’ve always been a dinner planner, so that wasn’t hard for me to do. I’m too busy to be able to think up dinner “on the fly.” And Bob (we’re on a first-name basis) has a section in the book that will help you stock your fridge and pantry with everything you need to eat well.
Yes, eating healthier isn’t cheap, but it isn’t that expensive. My grocery bill is about the same as it was before we started this whole nutrition journey. I know, if I were really diligent, I could even cut the costs down. I think just most people don’t want to plan, and then they end up spending more money at the store.
If you want to lose weight; if you want to be healthy; if you want to feel better; YOU HAVE TO WORK AT IT. It’s just like anything. You can’t go out and run a marathon without training. You can’t lose weight without training either — training yourself to eat better.
To me, this book is way more than a set of rules to lose weight by. It’s a way to LIVE by. Here’s an example of what my food looks like on a typical day:
- Glass of water when I wake up.
- Breakfast: 2 glasses of water, 1 slice of Ezekial bread (with the tiniest amount of butter on it), coffee with fat-free half and half (no sugar!), and a smoothie made with water, whey protein, and some combination of fruit (usually half a banana, blueberries and strawberries).
- Morning snack: 2 glasses of water, an organic Pink Lady (apple), and 1 Tablespoon of peanut butter.
- Lunch: 2 glasses of water, a whole-grain tortilla wrap (with Dijon mustard, half a small avocado, alfalfa sprouts, tomato, 2-3 ounces of chicken breast meat, spinach and I throw some basil leaves in there – yum!), and a cup of sliced fruit with a Tablespoon of Greek Yogurt on top.
- Afternoon snack: 2 glasses of water, homemade hummus with half an English cucumber
- Pre-dinner: A handful of almonds
- Dinner: 2 glasses of water, Bob’s stir-fry (made with 1+++ pounds of veggies, olive oil spray, red pepper flakes and lime juice) with tofu. Sometimes I have a glass of red wine.
- Dessert: I don’t usually have dessert, but last night, I used the Yonanas machine to make strawberry sorbet with frozen strawberries and a few dark chocolate chips.
- Sometimes I have popcorn (made with 1 T of oil and 1/8th t of salt), later when I’m not supposed to. LOL
And, in case you are wondering, I am rarely hungry. When I do get hungry, I eat something. I’ll have a hard-boiled egg. Or an apple with a little cheddar cheese. Or a few almonds.
The Skinny Rules and Exercising
The one thing I wish the book touched on a little more is how to properly fuel or refuel if you exercise. Bob doesn’t have you counting calories, but the meal plans put women on about a 1,200-1,300 calories a day. What if I run 10 miles that day? I know I need to eat some more calories. I struggled with this at first. I was trying to eat all those calories I burned, and I was trying to track them and…I wasn’t losing weight. But then I realized, after listening to a Jillian Michaels podcast, that I shouldn’t be eating ALL those calories I burned. So, now, I just eat something reasonable — like an extra protein smoothie after I work out. And voila! that’s working. I’m not tracking calories anymore either. That’s because I’m learning the right way to eat. And I’m losing weight…very slowly, but I know that’s the best way.
I don’t feel like this “review” is doing this book justice. I kind of want to buy a ton of them and stand on the street corner handing them out to strangers! I feel like the book has information about food that everyone should know. Even people who don’t need to lose weight should read this book. That’s honestly the way I feel. I want everyone to feel better. I want everyone to eat right so they don’t get cancer or diabetes or heart disease or…
Do you have questions about the The Skinny Rules? I’d LOVE to answer them! I could go on and on forever about this book!
I literally just posted about this book at the same time you did! Great minds. Anyways, I feel the same way about this book- LOVE IT! Easy to follow and very satisfying. I am not too certain about the way to fuel and recover from long runs either. Bob needs to help us runners out 🙂
OMG – so funny!
Oh this is great! I’m seriously going out and buying this book this week! Does Bob say anything about eating too much fruit?
He says you should limit some fruits, but not to really worry about it. I think he says try to only have 1 banana in a day or something like that. There’s not eliminating anything that comes from the earth. The only thing he wants you to eliminate are chemicals basically.
Geez, I forgot a bunch of stuff.
Let me put it this way….the way I describe this book to everyone I preach too. I struggle “dieting” because I don’t want to think about it so much. I don’t want to count things, or fret over the number of calories I have left. 20 easy to remember rules. I now can look at food and know if I can eat it, how much I can eat of it, etc. It’s almost automatic now.
An awesome thing Kerrie forgot to mention….SPLURGE MEAL! One splurge meal a week (not a whole day, just a meal). Eat whatever, and don’t splurge alone, but just fully know what you are eating BEFORE you eat it. Knowing first helps you not over do it. 🙂 The problem with spluging for a whole day is if you are dieting, you can undo a whole week’s work of dieting in one day. It’s really hard if you limit it to one meal.
Hi honey! Oh yes, splurge meal! I just used mine when I went out with Mel and Chelsea and Jill the other day. 🙂
This is AWESOME. Thank you so much for sharing. I requested it from the library the first time you mentioned it but the line is LONG. (And I’m weird and try to never buy books!) Even just your guidelines gives me some inspiration to try harder to clean up my meals. I usually eat very well on weekdays until I get home. The snacking at home after work is bad though, as are my weekends. I think making a purposeful effort to drink more water would help a LOT. THANK YOU FOR SHARING!
A lot of people have posted a list of the “Skinny Rules” on pinterest, so you can get an idea of what they are while you’re waiting in the queue for the book. Also, Kates over at lifeonthepavement.com is doing a series where she’s introducing a new rule every M and Th with a little explaination on each.
Thanks for this Kerrie. I’ve been thinking about getting this book and now this review makes me want to buy it. But, 1,200 calories is not much, in fact it’s minimum for bodily functions. Throw in workouts (of any kind) and we definitely need to be eating more, but it seems you have figured that out already. I hate to cook too; I hope it helps me get over that.
I actually think with all the fruits and veggies, it is more than 1,200 — fruits and veggies have calories, too, but I don’t think he’s counting them in his estimation. Hope that helps!
I read this book a while back and loved it. My problem is implementation. He has great rules and they are really easy – I just need to stick to them.
Yes. You definitely need to be in the mindset. Here’s what I’m going to do and do it. I think if you’re mentally not in it, it would be difficult to make a life change like this. YOU have to make up your mind to do it. Know what I mean?
I am interested in this book, too. I am debating getting it on my nook. Do you feel like you actually need to have it handy when preparing meals and are flipping through it a lot?
Interesting about not talking about re-fueling when exercising . . . that is a bummer. I keep reading people’s posts about this book, maybe I will get the basics down without buying it! Ha.
I like being able to flip through it like I would a cookbook. But you could probably make it work on your nook.
I really like these 20 rules though they’re NOT easy for me to follow. I drink too many calories in the form of alcohol. 🙁 But, I’m going to keep plugging away at them. Good to hear you guys are having success. That gives me more motivation to keep at it.
Yeah, the alcohol one is tough. I drink a small glass of red wine while I’m making dinner sometimes if I feel like I want an adult beverage after work. That usually curbs the craving.
I’m having trouble getting as much protein as he recommends. Any tips?
Do you drink Whey protein smoothies? I have one as part of my breakfast and it gives me an easy 27 grams of protein. (To figure out how much protein you should eat, take your weight and divide it in two. I’m 153 pounds, so I should get 76.5 grams per day.) The protein smoothie gives me almost half of what I need. We get the vanilla-flavored CytoSport by Muscle Milk brand at Costco. As long as you are taking the protein smoothie as a meal replacement and NOT IN ADDITION to regular meals, it can help you lose weight. Taking it in addition to regular meals will add bulk, or so I hear from listening to Jillian Michaels’s podcast. 🙂
For my snack, I sometimes have 6-8 ounces of Greek yogurt with fruit. The yogurt has about 20 grams of protein per cup. Also, egg whites have about 3.5 grams — have three whites in your lunch salad. That’s 10.5 more grams. Now, I’m already at 57.5. If I have 3 ounces of chicken on that salad, I’ll get another 20 or so grams. So now I’m at my goal. And there’s still dinner. I actually needed to cut my protein back a little. If I was looking at what I was eating on this day, I’d take the chicken out of the salad and save it for my dinnertime protein instead.
Other ways I get a little extra protein: peanut butter (1T has 4 grams) with my apple for a snack, or 1 ounce of cheddar cheese (1 oz. has 7 grams) with my apple for a snack. Black beans (1 cup has 14 grams) at dinner time with tofu (a half-cup has 10 grams).
Hope this helps!
How in the world do you not eat carbs after 2?! I’m a total pb&j sandwich addict for late night snacks lol I’m terrible!
It takes some practice and some diligence, but it wasn’t too hard. I usually have yogurt and a cup of fruit (strawberries, blueberries) around 3 p.m. and I’m satisfied till dinner. If I feel I need something when I get home from work, I’ll have 8 or so almonds (dry roasted, unsalted, gives me a good crunch).
One of the rules is to not eat in the three hours or so before you go to bed, which is why he’s all about the protein and veggies for dinner — fills you up. He wants you to go to bed a little “hungry.” That way your body continues to use the protein while you sleep. Your body breaks down the carbs for quick energy, while protein is a long, slow burn. Does that make sense?
I’m terrible about the not eating too close to bedtime rule, however, because I always want popcorn when I’m watching TV (which happens to be in the hour or so before bedtime). I am still working on this rule. 🙂
Very interesting! I’m not looking into loosing weight but I’m looking into eating healthy. This sounds like a good book! I will check it out. Thanks 🙂