A Successfully Sardonic Look at Diets and Dieters

by Maricela on December 30, 2012

Why Your Last Diet Failed You And How This Book Won’t Help You on Your Next One

By Charlie Hills

(Lockshire Press, 2007)

Pages: 210

ISBN: 978-0-9749732-6-5

Price: $16.96, paperback

Books dedicated to dieting abound. How to diet, how not to diet, instructions for specific diets…the public’s demand for guidance seems to grow exponentially on a daily basis. Its rise propelled by the increasing number of diets and dieters. This trend is precisely what Charlie Hills’s book, Why Your Last Diet Failed You And How This Book Won’t Help You on Your Next One, seeks to address.

While Hills’s book may share a shelf with other diet books, it shares little else. And that, in my opinion, is a good thing. Hills’s book does not try to capitalize on readers’s potential insecurities. It does not try to promote any one diet or exercise plan. Nor does it try to sell: equipment, shakes, pills, or special foods. What it does do is speak frankly and honestly; from one dieter to another.

Charlie Hills is not a doctor or a dietician. He is a dieter. He has in fact tried many diets; a good portion of which are discussed in this book. By adopting the voice of a witty commentator, Hills shares the failures, successes, and revelations that came with his 192 months of diet-hopping. Neither his failures nor his successes are new. Many a dieter has fallen victim to the yo-yo effect, and the curse of the “dietlet”. But that is what makes his book so appealing. He has been there. He is one of the dieters he is writing to. He’s “one of us,” his target audience can chant. What are new, or at least rare, are his revelations. And the way in which they are presented.

Hills’s book has two purposes. To explain why diets fail, and why diet books do not help. (Hence the title). What Hills learned over the course of his dieting is that diets are not all-powerful. That any success a person has while on a diet is not because of the diet itself. It is because of the person. It is the dieter, not the diet, that makes the changes happen. Or not happen. To back this up he breaks down the most popular diets; including Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, South Beach, and Body for Life. He does not harp on any of these diet plans. In fact, he recommends them all. Because, as he rightly points out, every person is different, thus every diet can aide at least one person. Choosing a diet is a personality match. There is no right way or one way to approach weight loss. Despite the many tag-lines that claim otherwise.

Hills also tackles these tag-lines and plethora of claims. The mixed-messages they send that dupe the common dieter into repeatedly trying and failing. While all the while praying for the magic pill or plan to come their way. These mixed-messages, Hills argues, cause dieters to believe that the diet should do all the work for them. That if the dieter fails, it is the diet’s fault. And if the dieter succeeds, it is the diet’s victory. By discussing the popular diets of today, Hills points out how they, and all diet plans, are essentially the same. The bottom line being that every weight-loss plan tells its followers to eat less and exercise more. Everything else is a marketing technique.

Having tackled diets, Hills can more easily make his case against diet books. He does admit that such books can provide helpful tips and suggestions. But he argues that like their diet counter-parts, these books are all relatively the same. And all typically serve only a short-term purpose. They lay out guidelines and instructions and provide motivation. But basically state the same old fine print: eat less, exercise more.

Hills uses a fine tuned balance of personal experiences, observations, analysis, facts, and figures to successfully argue his two points. His honest, witty, and at times sardonic, voice speaks to his audience. Not at them, or down to them. He approaches his readers on their level. Because, as I said, he is one of them. He seeks only to share with others like himself the lessons he has learned while bouncing from one weight-loss attempt to the next. Why Your Last Diet Failed You And How This Book Won’t Help You on Your Next One, is a fun and quick read for novice and professional dieters alike. It will help its readers take dieting and themselves a little less seriously. And manages to teach a few things in the process.

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