Reviewed by Carol Kurtz
Never Say Diet by
"Hobbs gives us the tools to change our lives, inside and out, whether we want to lose ten pounds or two hundred."
“Learn the secret that helped me lose 200 pounds” the cover beckons. “Make five decisions and break the fat habit for good.” With this irresistable cover, Chantel Hobbs has me hooked. This beautiful woman who has appeared on Oprah lost 200 pounds without gastric surgery or diet pills. Now a personal trainer and marathon runner, Hobbs gives us the tools to change our lives, inside and out, whether we want to lose ten pounds or two hundred.
With generosity of heart she shares with us her love of food as an overweight child, confessing her secret tricks with humor. She isn’t ashamed to say that food, especially sweets, was her obsession. It’s a painful journey, enduring the “You have such a pretty face” comments, all the way to her first self conscious walk into the gym. But it’s our story too - how we can avoid the same mistakes. Hobbs reminds us that God will help us if we depend on Him, and His principle of forgiveness is important for us to move past our slip ups and failures.
She has nothing good to say about the diet industry, even hinting at a conspiracy to keep us from success and dependent on their frozen entrees, membership fees, bars, and shakes. And she debunks the theory that obesity is genetic with: “Gaining weight doesn’t come about by accident, and it’s not forced on us. We gain weight through a series of poor choices made on a regular basis over a long period of time.” What she says we need is a “brain change”. When we sign the contract in the book, making the 5 Brain-Change Decisions, we’re ready to embark on Hobbs’ sixteen week plan to health, eating right and exercising in a way we can maintain forever.
Hobbs doesn’t sugarcoat the hard work it takes to lose weight and stay fit. “Getting fit wasn’t easy–there was plenty of pain, deprivation, tears, and hunger along the way. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I won’t try to sugarcoat any of that. But, honestly, I didn’t give myself a choice. Once I made the unconditional decision that I was going to lose weight and get healthy, nothing could stop me. And nothing will stop you if you make the Five Decisions to break the fat habit for good. That’s a guarantee.”
The plan is graduated and not overwhelming. For the first four weeks we are told not to even address our eating habits (other than to make sure we eat breakfast). We focus on establishing the habit of 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. She gives us lots of ideas to get us started, but it’s our decision what type of movement we enjoy. There are plenty of diagrams and specific exercises involved when she later incorporates strength training, using dumbbells and a stability ball. The goal is to gradually increase our strength and stamina.
When she does address eating better, she wants us to eat five small meals a day, and she gives us lots of simple suggestions for making that work. The idea is to actually make food boring in the early stages, to break our addiction to it so we start eating for energy more than for pleasure.
Probably the simplest and clearest explanation I’ve ever heard for nutrition, she introduces us to the Three Musketeers - protein, fats and carbs. Once we understand how they work, we learn to distinguish the good ones from the not so good. Hobbs believes that the key to staying on track forever includes some splurges, like a free meal once a week.
Peppered around the book are “Never-Say-Diet-Tips” which are nuggets of wisdom to help us through. But the most inspiration comes from Chantel’s personal story as she works the very program she is presenting. We live through the low points and the high points of her weight loss, the pitfalls and the victories. We experience the hard work and the euphoria that comes as she meets her exercise goals and even runs some marathons. “You could say I traded the pleasure of sugar for the pleasure of peak moments, which is a far more exciting way to live. I firmly believe that if I could take every person in America who has a food issue and let them experience a genuine peak moment - an earned achievement - most of those food issues would disappear. People would realize what they are really after, and it isn’t made by Ben and Jerry.”
Suddenly three full pages titled “Considering Plastic Surgery” appear towards the end of the book. Certainly anyone who’s lost 200 pounds would have enough excess skin that restorative surgery would be completely understandable. When Hobbs tries to explain her own breast lift and augmentation it feels like an unnecessary, almost uncomfortable moment. It’s really none of our business.
But she really does deliver here an approachable way to make healthy changes stick, living by the 80/20 rule - 80% of the time eating clean food and exercising, 20% of the time enjoying special dinners, parties, showers, and rewards. And she inspires us to reach for our dreams, those peak moments in our lives, even when they seem impossible. You can feel the joy that comes from changes in your appearance and feeling strong. It’s not a quick fix or a magic solution, but after reading “Never Say Diet” there’s no turning back.
Carol Kurtz Darlington is a certified personal trainer and a certified group fitness instructor who works with people who want to lose weight as well as those who just want to enjoy better health. She enjoys empowering and encouraging others to reach their health and fitness goals, feel better about themselves in the process, and enjoy more energy to stay active in all areas of their lives. She is the founder of Totally Fit With Carol, a Christian weight loss website featuring workout videos, health tips, exercise advice, and more. She loves her morning cappuccino and her beloved grand-dog. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and haunting Starbucks.