Very few people, especially Baptist preachers, really want to be fat, out of shape and/or sick. I sure don't. Like many people, I had some limited success in shedding weight in the past, but it always came back. My understanding of dieting was simple: "Eat food, gain weight. Don't eat, lose weight." Tom Venuto, in his massive eBook, Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle, explains why this is not just an incomplete explanation, but why it is almost always counterproductive.
The main question most people have when they read a book review is, "Is this book worth the money to buy, the time to read?" If that is your primary question, and if getting in shape is your goal, you can skip the rest of this review and just click here to buy the book! It is definitely worth the money!
Probably the second question people have is, "How much money are we talking about?" The answer is $39.95. Forty bucks for an eBook may sound steep. Fair enough, if you are into acid-free paper, quality bindings, gilt edges. Also fair enough if, like me, your budget is a little tight. However, if you are interested in information that can make a difference in your life, this book is not expensive. It's a wise investment. You are buying Tom Venuto's years of research, study and hard work.
The primary strength of this book is the vast amount of information it contains. Mind you, none of the information in this book is brand new; all of it is "out there" and has been for a long time. The value is having all the information in one place, integrated into one plan that you can (must) customize to fit yourself. It is not a "One size fits all/ Do it this way or else" approach.
The entire manual is written with references to getting leaner. Tom explains the difference between losing weight and losing fat. Somewhat counter-intuitively, these are not the same. He shows you how to lose fat and retain muscle; he even cautions against losing weight too fast, and tells you why.
We all know that a balanced diet does not consist of Freedom Fries, Coke and Almond Joys. We also know there is more to a good nutrition program than just eliminating tasty food. BFFM gives you the information you need to make informed, healthy decisions. Tasty ones, too!
The BFFM program is balanced, not extreme. It is moderate. This appeals to the Baptist preacher in me! It is not "high this, low that." In fact, Tom warns you to stay away from extremes in diet and exercise. This is a sane and reasonable approach, and contrasts vividly with, for instance, the "Hallelujah Diet," a so-called Christian approach based on heavy supplementation, questionable science and tee-totally wacked-out theology.
Tom takes, and encourages you to take, a positive point of view. He doesn't try to tell you that positive thinking will make you lean, but he rightly points out that it is a good place to start. Good Baptist preachers know the value and validity of thinking on those things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, or praiseworthy. I don't recommend getting this book so you can go kick sand in the face of the bully at the beach. I recommend it for getting and staying in good health so you can serve the Lord and others. You may even find that your testimony improves and any exhortations you give about moderation carry more, er. . . well, carry more weight!
The BFFM plan requires that you take full responsibility for your fitness (or, fatness, as the case may be). This isn't always pleasant to hear, but it certainly gives people hope, as any Baptist preacher who has ever counseled anybody could tell you.
Tom says that his plan is simple, but not easy. He tells you up front that it requires hard work. Everything good takes work, so this is not a surprise. Baptist preachers believe in hard work, so this resonates. However, compared to the typical way of dieting, it is more than easy; it's a cinch. That is, it really works, and that makes the hard work seem like a lot less work!
There is a good section on genetics, and how this affects the path you will take as well as the results you will see. I went into this endeavor figuring that my genetics were way off to one side of the standard derivational curve. Now that I've been on it for a while, my genetics have improved considerably!
The BFFM approach to fat loss includes exercise. Tom gives numerous suggestions for this, suitable for anyone from rank beginners (me!) to serious body builders. I had been dragging, pushing and sometimes lifting some dumbbells around for over a year before I bought the book. My exercise time is now more productive, safer and (here's the kicker!) takes less time.
The BFFM manual is over 300 pages long, so you won't master it all in one sitting. It isn't particularly entertaining, but it is very motivating – you don't have to read far before you realize, "Hey, I can do that!"
There are some typos in the book. This won't bother most people, though they are distracting and should be avoided and corrected in future editions. A few are a little confusing, such as the one on page 176 where non-essential amino acids and essential amino acids are both called "dispensable amino acids." Reading a little further clarifies that essential amino acids are really "indispensable." Could have guessed, I know.
Printing a book this big, even though it doesn't have any graphics, is a bit of a task. Once you've finished with that, what do you do with it? I suggest putting it in a three or four ring binder, just in case you ever need to replace a page. That, by the way, is an option you don't have with "real" books!
Tom Venuto has given me special permission to put his twelve-part mini-course, Big Fat Lies, into a PDF format and make it available to the readers of this blog. You can get the entire course in one handy document, which you can read at one sitting. This is an exclusive offer, not available anywhere else! Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for your copy. Following the general guidelines in this mini-course (parts of it are right out the book) will be enough to get you headed in the right direction.
To lift a phrase from Tom, "Train hard, expect success."