When I was obese, I spent a LOT of money on diet books. I would try the diet for a couple of days and then quit and pick up a new book. It wasn't until I did my own thing that I lost all the weight!
So when I received an e-mail asking if I would be interested in reading and reviewing a diet/exercise book called "The Swing! Lose the Fat and Get Fit with This Revolutionary Kettlebell Program", I immediately started to write a "Thanks, but no thanks" response. Before I sent it, however, I checked out the book to see what it was all about, and it actually interested me.
The author, Tracy Reifkind, has lost 120 pounds by reducing calories and doing a workout called "The Swing" with a kettlebell. You all know that I don't really do strength training, even though I know that I should, so I had the thought that maybe I would enjoy using a kettlebell. I changed my mind and said I would be happy to read and review the book.
I did find the first section pretty motivating, and I found myself wanting to buy a kettlebell. The author and I actually have a big commonality--we've each lost 120 pounds through diet and exercise, in about the same amount of time. I found myself agreeing with a lot of points she made. One thing that really stuck out was when she said something like, "To be thin, you have to stop doing what is making you fat." It sounds so obvious, but it's very true!
One thing I disliked in the first section was that the author definitely seems to discourage using any other aerobic exercise--she negatively mentioned running a few times, which didn't resonate well with me, a runner. I like to stay positive about all exercise. I'm not a huge fan of swimming, but I'm not going to say that it's a bad exercise--it's great exercise for people who enjoy it! So I wish that the author hadn't "put down" other forms of exercise.
In the second section, she talks about the actual workout called The Swing. It looks very simple to learn, and I went through the motions (without the kettlebell, because I don't have one). It wasn't hard to learn, and it felt very natural. She said you can do just the one movement, where you swing the kettlebell with both hands out in front of you and then between your legs. She has variations as well, but said that all you really need to do is that basic move. I can even see how it would be pretty fun. I would like to buy a kettlebell and give the workouts a try after I'm done with my marathon.
The author claims that you only need to do The Swing 2-3 times per week to see results. This is because The Swing is both aerobic and anaerobic (like doing cardio and strength training) all at once. She recommends walking for exercise in-between The Swing days. She also claims you can burn 1,200 calories per hour doing The Swing--I find this very hard to believe because I only burn about 600 calories per hour while running--so burning double that by swinging around a kettlebell?
I think that this may give people unrealistic expectations, and if they don't get those amazing results, they will be disappointed. She talks for a few pages about loose skin, and if you do The Swing, you won't get loose skin from weight loss. Almost anyone who is very heavy and loses a lot of weight is going to have some loose skin, no matter how much strength training they do. I would suggest keeping in mind that any claim that sounds too good to be true, probably is. But I do agree that strength training is very beneficial to your health in many ways, so if the workout is enjoyable, then great!
The third part of the book is about diet. This is where the author lost me a bit. Not because I didn't understand, but because I disagreed with her. She recommends that women eat just 1,200 calories per day--which I think is very low (especially if the claim of burning 1,200 calories per hour of doing The Swing is true!). I tried eating 1,200 calories a day in the beginning of my weight loss, and it made me miserable. I felt like I was starving, and it only lead me to binge. Something I really liked, however, is that she isn't 100% precise with calorie counting. She doesn't count when she take one bite of a food, or something tiny like two almonds. She doesn't count the very low calorie veggies either--but she will estimate (and write in her food journal) 100 calories per day for all those little add-ons that she didn't count.
I like this idea because I tend to get VERY perfectionist about tracking, and that isn't a good idea for the long haul. Since you need to make your diet fit into your life, it helps that you don't have to be 100% precise all the time. That is something I've always had a hard time with; the "all-or-nothing" approach.
I like that the author stresses eating whole foods that you prepare yourself. I am always preaching that you should prepare your own foods rather than eat out, so I agreed with her there. She doesn't believe in highly processed foods, which is great, and she gives a lot of cooking tips for people who may not be used to cooking. The best part is that to follow her program, you don't have to buy much of anything--just a kettlebell. No bars, supplements, vitamins, workout videos, gym memberships, etc. Just real food and a kettlebell.
She suggests having a high-calorie day once a week--but ONLY if you've earned it by meeting your weight loss goal that week. I like that idea (earning a high-calorie day)--it's similar to what I did. On my long-run days, I would treat myself to something special, but only after I did the run.
Do I recommend this book? I really did enjoy it, and with a few tweaks to personalize the program, it sounds great. It's motivating, the exercise is simple (simple is much different from easy, remember), and the diet is based on whole foods. It's written for someone who is looking to lose weight--so I didn't feel that it was written for someone like me, who is looking to maintain weight and start a weight training program.
I didn't get the feel that the book was "gimicky", like
If this book sounds like something you might enjoy, you're in luck--because TLC Book Tours is offering a copy of the book to one of you! One lucky Runs for Cookies reader will receive a copy of The Swing!. (For readers in the U.S. and Canada only, sorry). To enter, fill out the form below. I will select the winner (by random number generator) on April 21 at 4:00 p.m. EST. Only one entry per person--multiple entries will be deleted.)
*The Swing! book was provided to be by TLC Book Tours, but opinions of the book are entirely my own honest opinions.*
This giveaway has now ended.