Thursday, April 19, 2012

"The Swing" Book Review and Giveaway!

I will have a "regular" post later (and announce the winner of the Garmin), but I wanted to get this review up today as well...




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.

The book is organized into three sections: the first section is made to motivate you and inspire you to change your lifestyle; the second is about The Swing workout; and the third section is about diet.

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 many most diet books are. As long as you have realistic expectations going into the diet/exercise program, and tweak it to what works best for YOU, I think it could be a great program.  I'm excited to finish marathon training so that I can start doing The Swing workout and see if I can see results from it. (Starting a strength training program during marathon training is a no-no).



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.

29 comments:

  1. Great review, refreshing to get a "real" write up and opinion. I hope you get to do more reviews in the future, I think you had some solid points.

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  2. What a coincidence! I just picked up this book today. Along with another,more indepth kettlebell book from Lauren Brooks. Im very eager to try both as working out with kettlebells is supposed to be very effective. Looking foreward to hearing about when you try it out.

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  3. Great review of the book. A friend of mine from high school is really into kettlebells to the point where she opened a kettlebell gym somewhere out in Oakland county. She's lost lots of weight doing that and is very into it. I haven't tried it myself as it looks like it would totally pull my arm out of its socket LOL, but I agree with not knocking an exercise that works for people just because one doesn't like it.

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  4. I have heard a lot about kettlebells.. But I personally am hesitant to try it. I find if I don't everything I am eating, I tend to overeat. I have a small bite or something, than pretty soon it is another bite, and so on. I need to track accurately.

    Have a good day!!

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  5. I bought a kettlebell and have tried that very swing motion (I found a YouTube video about it on someone else's blog and thought it looked easy enough). It's such a simply motion, and while it's not difficult, it's still a GREAT workout! Even after just a dozen of them the first night, I couldn't figure out WHY my shoulders were killing me... turns out they are more effective than you think ;) This is also something easy to do while watching tv or during commercials, which I like - multi-tasking! I just need to get more consistent about doing it :(

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  6. I loved your honest review! I like kettlebell workouts and do them alot in bootcamp so could be very interesting to see what her take is on it. Thanks for another giveaway!!

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  7. Thanks for the review! I've been interested in incorporating kettlebells later this year. I looked at Kettleworx but then saw people said the instructor was uneven and there were a lot of repeated moves and I know that would bug me. I probably wouldn't buy the book but you know, if I won it, I wouldn't be upset! HA!

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  8. I do not doubt the 1200 calories, everytime I workout with weights, I always have a higher burn than when just doing aerobic type exercises, and I box and kickbox. Also, I got a kettlebell workout that came with this rinky dink mini kettlebell and I thought, WHAT THE HECK this thing is whimpy, I couldn't even finish the workout, that's how exhaustive it was. Kettlebells are heavy and it takes a lot of energy to move that thing.

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    1. Kettlebells do burn that amount of calories. See this article.

      http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2kLAnT/www.acefitness.org/getfit/studies/kettlebells012010.pdf

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  9. I too believe it burns more than running. I wear my heart rate monitor when I run and also in the gym when working out. It's surprising what strength combined with cardio can burn.

    Why is strength training during marathon training a no?

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    1. Strength training during marathon training is actually good, but STARTING a strength program is not. Since I wasn't strength training before (I know I SHOULD have been, but I wasn't), it would be best for me to wait until after the marathon to start a program.

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  10. Yay for an HONEST review! I agree with you 100% - it's not appropriate to speak negatively against any form of exercise... ANY exercise is great, especially for the sedentary! I do believe it's best to incorporate strength training with cardio (to avoid the "skinny fat" look) - but again, any exercise a person is willing to do is awesome!

    1,200 calories is really low - especially if someone is regularly exercising! Creating too high of a calorie deficit can actually be counterproductive. Of course, a person will get more "bang for their buck" if they eat a lot of fresh fruit, veggies and lean meats (homemade).

    Haven't "played" with kettlebells myself - but I think they're pretty cool.

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  11. I only eat 1200 calories a day and I'm rarely hungry. In fact some days I have to force myself to meet that...and I do work out 4 to 6 days a week. I think it depends on the person, and their metabolism. But I get where you're coming from, it isn't safe to just up and recommend it for everyone, people have to feel out what makes them comfortable.

    Thanks for the honest opinion, very refreshing to read. :)

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  12. I experimented with a kettlebell workout - dvd set that Bob Harper advertised. While I loved the high calorie burn, I just didn't enjoy or get into the workouts. It just wasn't my thing. I want to enjoy - even just slightly - my workouts. :)

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  13. Thanks for such a detailed, honest review of this book. I was doing Crossfit for a while and a lot of the "WODs" (Workout of the Day) incorporate kettle bells. They are deceiving!! (Not sure about a 1200 calorie/hour burn deceiving...but definitely quite the workout.

    I used to think, 'oh, how hard can kettle bell swings be? psh' HA! Done correctly, they are an awesome workout - and there are lots of exercises to do with them. Hm - I may enter for your giveaway :) I've been mentioning lately that two things I'd actually like to purchase to have at home are a kettle bell (or 2) and an AbMat.

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  14. Now this is my kind of work out! There is so much you can do with a kettle bell. Would love one for my home. Great review as well! Good luck!

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  15. I reviewed the book as well and disliked the diet portion. I completely disagreed with her on eating 1200 calories a day tops and I also disliked her opinion on gyms and other workouts. Glad I wasn't overly sensitive about that! :)

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  16. I have played with the kettlebells at my gym a few times, but never really did much with them, mostly because I didn't know if I was doing it correctly. I wouldn't think they'd burn as much as running unless you did them very intensely, but who knows. I couldn't imagine having 1200 calories every day. I usually eat 1600-1700 and I haven't lost weight super fast (132 lbs in just under 2 years), but I don't feel deprived. I am the same way when I feel restricted, I just want to binge. About the loose skin...I have tons of it and have done strength training from the beginning, and I do all kinds of it, videos, weights at the gym, use my resistance band and dumbbells and exercise ball. I think some people who are lucky might not have as much, but I have been fat my whole life and so my skin has been stretched out for a long time. My arms are very muscley and so are my legs, but still have skin hanging off so they look terrible. It sucks to be so in shape, but still have the body of a fat person. I still need to lose 40-50 more pounds, and I know my skin issues aren't going to go away. I even have skin that hangs on my neck. It sucks.

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  17. I recently bought a kettlebell workout DVD. I've watched it once, but have yet to try it since I sprained my ankle just before I received it. It looks like an awesome workout! I can definitely see how you could burn a ton of calories doing it.

    With kettlebells, it is typically recommended to lift a very heavy weight. Add to that the fact that you get a good cardio workout while doing strength training moves, and I could see how it could add up to 1200 calories...provided your session was long enough!

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  18. I have a friend who loves kettlebells and the workout they provide. She is even working on becoming a certified instructor. If we lived anywhere near one another, I would get her to teach but since she isnt, I'd love to check out the book!

    Thank you for the honest review!

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  19. I too have spent a lot of money on diet/exercise stuff (books, equipment and videos) but nothing has clicked so far.

    Haven't tried kettle balls, wonder how it will be on my back

    thanks for the giveaway!

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  20. I love kettlebells (they have them at my gym so I don't have to purchase my own)! I was lucky to be able to try them with a trainer at my gym so they gave me a "program" with the kettlebells that I work on with my husband :)

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  21. Love the balanced review -- so many times the reviews are as gimicky as the books!!! Thanks for your honest opinion!

    I got a kettlebell for my birthday, but have yet to use it because I'm just not quite sure how! Would love to read the book!

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  22. I'm interested and entered to win! Honestly, kettlebells scare me. All I can think is what if I accidentally let go?! haha!

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  23. No diet or exercise book is perfect for everyone but it sounds like you did get some useful information from this one - I'm glad to hear it!

    Thanks for being on the tour.

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  24. The benefit of incorporating strength training into a cardio-based weight loss program is that it builds muscle. Muscle is what burns calories. The more muscle fibers you have, the more calorie burning furnaces you have. Ladies won't bulk up like a body builder unless they have some help (read doping).

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  25. I have never read this book, however, I, too have lost 120 lbs. through diet and exercise. When I was about 20 lbs from my goal, I had joined a gym and took the kettlebell class 2-3 times per week. Prior to joining, I had been doing Beachbody workouts and kickboxing that had toned me and gotten much of my weight off. But, when I took the kettlebell class...wow. The last 20 lbs melted off and people started noticing my toning after a week of kettlebells! I wasn't able to keep going to the gym, but did purchase my own kettlebells after learning proper technique and form which I believe is essential to maximizing the results! I would also recommend going heavy. I use 15-30 lb kettlebells. THAT is how you burn 1200 calories per hour. :-)

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  26. Fat is problem for health. I am looking for the body building web site. I hope your "The Swing" book is great for me. Thanks for your upload.fat burning furnace diet

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  27. I've been reading your blog for the last few days - I really like it. :)
    I have a kettlebell and after reading you review I've ordered the book. It looks and sounds good.
    Thanks for the great review.

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I'd love to hear from you! I read all of my comments, and if you have a question, I do my best to respond; sometimes, however, I get busy and forget to go back to reply, so if it's important, just email me! :)