Reading Into It: The Body Fat Solution

by Rachel on February 23, 2010

When I lived in NYC, I’d often go to Barnes and Noble in Union Square and sit for two or three hours flipping through the latest diet books. I mean, I can’t afford to buy every new one on the market, and God knows, so many of them just repeat the same info in a different way. Since I’m a fast reader, I’d get the run-down and then decide if any of them were worth buying.

I haven’t had a chance to hit up B & N and read all of the books that flooded the shelves for New Year’s, but sometimes companies send me books to review, which is tight. One of the books I received this month is Tom Venuto’s The Body Fat Solution.

Tom Venuto is a body builder, so I wasn’t quite sure how much I’d get out of his book. The subtitle to the book is “Building lean muscle, ending emotional eating, and maintaining your perfect weight” and the part about emotional eating is essentially what this book is all about — which surprised me, but which I also liked.

Usually diet books are like…the chapter on why diets don’t work, the chapter on why this diet does work, and then the rest is all meal plan/exercise/recipes. This book sort of follows that format, but I read for something like 150 pages and there was never a diet plan outlined. This actually wasn’t a bad thing…it’s because there’s so much info on ending emotional eating.

I liked this because so many people know how to eat to lose weight. The problem isn’t that you don’t know what to eat or how to workout — especially if you’ve lost weight and then gained it back. The problem is there’s some other reason why you want to eat. And whether it’s because you’re an emotional eater or you’re just f*cking hungry because hey, that’s biology for ya, I’d say desire to eat is a big part of what keeps people from losing weight and keeping it off.

Although I don’t agree with every point he makes (he argues against genetics and weight; I completely disagree), I really started to get into the book when he got into the emotional eating stuff. Some ideas I liked:

  • Physical hunger is usually a general desire for food; emotional hunger is usually a desire for a specific food.
  • You should establish new beliefs about food and the right reasons for eating (ex: food is fuel, food is for nourishment, fruit is nature’s candy)
  • He talks about good goal setting and the law of attraction! WIN!

He outlines “Beliefs and Affirmations About Food for Balance, Happiness, and Long-term Success.” I loved a lot of these! A few faves:

  • “It’s OK to eat for enjoyment or for social reasons if I do it consciously and mindfully and I stay with in the rules I set for myself in advance.” I LOVE that it’s the rules YOU set for YOURSELF.
  • “I don’t have to be perfect.” True story!
  • “Food can be one of life’s great pleasures and completely depriving myself of foods I enjoy is not productive in the long run.” Mmmmm…foood…heh.
  • “Everything I eat will have some effect on my body, but I realize that what I eat once in a while doesn’t impact me that much.”
  • “What’s most important is what I eat habitually, so I’m very conscious about what I eat repeatedly day after day. I understand and have great respect for the power of habit.” I love this one! The things that you buy every week or eat every day should be the good stuff!!

Then he gets into the diet/exercise stuff. His diet plans is basically whole, natural foods, fruits, veggies, good carbs, healthy fats, and frequent snacks! Weight loss is achieved through creating a calorie deficit. He supports the 90/10 rule: eat healthy 90 percent of the time, and you will be healthy and successful and happy. And workouts should be efficient and enjoyable and you should have a plan that allows for progression.

Later in the book there is a whole part about social influences. He talks about the different types of people in our lives…the good (the cheerleader, the optimist, the accountability partner) and the bad (the pessimist, the temptress, the dream destroyer…I had to LOL at “dream destroyer”). More important, he talks about how to handle these people, the kind of support we need, and where to find it.

At the end he talks about something I found particularly interesting — the 80/20 principle. Basically, this says that 20 percent of your nutrition, training, and lifestyle habits will produce 80 percent of the changes in your body. It’s weird, because you think, “Wait, then what the hell am I doing?” but really, the point is to not sweat the small stuff. You should identify your main barriers to health and then put your effort (your 20 percent) into that. A good example is just how caught up we get on, say, the benefits of organic food. Your first thing needs to be to eat more fruits and veggies and whole grains…and then worry about pesticides or fresh versus frozen. Don’t get so overwhelmed feeling like you have to run that you just skip the gym completely when walking would have been fine. Yes, the small stuff adds up and matters, but are you really losing weight because you are spending an extra 10 minutes a day in the gym…or because your healthy mindset is influencing you to do a lot of good things in your life? I had never thought about it like this before (and it’s hard to paraphrase this whole idea) but I found it very interesting!

The end of the book is about how to be a maintainer and I loved his advice, “Listen to maintainers, not losers.” He points out that listening to the details of the latest celeb to drop weight on the cover of US Weekly is a waste of time because they so often gain it back. So he says look up to maintainers, and then outlines several of their healthy habits.

The nutrition and exercise advice, is, I thought, healthy, but pretty standard…but I’m OK with that. If you need to focus on your head more than your ass (be honest here), then I think this book is definitely worth a read!

And I swear I’m not saying that because Tom Venuto has the kind of arms that make me want to do very emotional/unhealthy/not mindful things.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Veggie Booty February 23, 2010 at 8:44 am

While a lot of this sounds like things us “healthy living” people already know, it never hurts to have it reinforced! And, I really like that 80/20 rule thing. Sometimes, I have to be at work a little earlier and end up skipping the last ten minutes of my workout classes, and I have to remind myself, “This ten minutes is not going to make or break my lifestyle!” It’s so true!

And I’m with you on the arms ;-)
.-= Veggie Booty´s last blog ..I’ll Be Back. =-.


2 Teri [a foodie stays fit] February 23, 2010 at 8:47 am

I love this: “Physical hunger is usually a general desire for food; emotional hunger is usually a desire for a specific food.” It’s so simple but I’ve never thought of it like that!
.-= Teri [a foodie stays fit]´s last blog ..Still Pushing It =-.


3 Rachel February 23, 2010 at 8:50 am

Teri — I had that same “OH DUH!” moment too!! Another good tip I read somewhere is that if you aren’t sure if you are emotionally hungry or physically hungry, eat an apple. If it’s physical hunger, the apple will work. If it’s emotional hunger, it will not, and then you need to find another way to channel that!


4 Suzanne February 23, 2010 at 2:08 pm

“Physical hunger is usually a general desire for food; emotional hunger is usually a desire for a specific food,” is SO interesting to me. Much to the irritation of my dining companions (usually my bf), I am often get hungry, but don’t have a “craving” for anything…which, coupled with being generally an indecisive person, makes it hard to determine what restaurant to go to or what to cook. So, I guess that it’s not such a bad thing after all- I’m more often physically hungry and emotionally!


5 Girlwithnoname (Jackie) February 23, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Hands off, lady. I saw him first!


Great review. One of my fave books too. Tom Venuto rocks (he sat for an interview for me late last year too, check it out if ya wanna):
.-= Girlwithnoname (Jackie)´s last blog ..Are You In Your Comfort Zone? Or a Combat Zone? =-.


6 katie February 25, 2010 at 1:16 am

Have you read Intuitive Eating? It’s amazing! It takes like 20 minutes to read because they had to use really big type, since its so much of what should be common sense, it shouldn’t need to be a book in the first place. It really helps you stop thinking of foods as inherently “good” or “bad” and the guilt you associate with them, which often leads to diet disasters and becoming obsessed with food (eating it or not eating it)


7 Rachel February 25, 2010 at 7:36 am

I haven’t read it but now I want to!!


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