The Shift: How I Finally Lost Weight and Discovered A Happier Life
As people start to get older, they begin to discuss their weight more often. Usually, the topic of conversation is frustration at their growing and changing bodies, their inability to keep weight off with the ease they once did. I do not chime in on that last one. I have never had a flat stomach. I have never been skinny. I’ve always been chubby. At first, in that adorably chubby child way. Later, in that way where people swoop in to laugh at you because the majority of people are just horrible once they know they have something they can use to make you feel awful. A couple of years ago, I lost fifty pounds because I was finally in the mindset to lose weight. And then I regained most of it because I stopped paying attention to my food intake. I was too busy. But as of late, I’ve decided it’s time to recommit myself to my health. Not because I want to look good, but I want to feel good. In an effort to rediscover my motivation, I picked up The Shift: How I Finally Lost Weight and Discovered a Happier Life by Tory Johnson.
For anyone who doesn’t know, Tory Johnson is a contributor on Good Morning America, runs Women for Hire, a business that offers recruitment services for women, runs Spark and Hustle, a business that helps small business owners, and hey, all of a sudden, runs a “movement” on weight loss. So, basically, she’s an entrepreneur. She was once overweight, but has since dedicated herself to losing weight. She credits her discovery of a “Shift” in mindset with helping her to find weight loss success. The book covers Tory’s journey, beginning from the moment she is told by her boss at GMA that she needs to lose weight, or rather is strongly advised to see a designer to help her image - a moment she views as a positive and life changing push. It continues through her battle with weight loss for an entire year, culminating in a look at where the journey has taken her.
I should have liked this book. It was more memoir than weight loss journal, was extremely honest in its discussion of food addiction, the struggles with avoiding cravings and the way you are perceived when you are overweight. On many levels, I could relate to her. I have had many of the feelings she has about food and about my own self-esteem.
But I hated this book. Reading it was a chore for many reasons. Despite some similar struggles and a clear self-esteem problem, I couldn’t like Tory. Tory seemed to spend much of her time working as a shill for her own businesses rather than discussing her weight loss. Her use of the word Shift in a way that felt like it should have a ™ tacked to it didn’t help matters. I didn’t feel like I was being informed. I felt like I was being marketed to. But that was the LEAST of my issues.
Ms. Johnson should seriously consider a visit to the psychologist. That sounds harsh, but it truly isn’t. Her relationship with food post-Shift is flat out disturbing. She spends much of the book sharing pro-tips on how best to push food around your plate and seem like you’re eating at public functions. She deprives herself at every turn. She quotes Kate Moss’ controversial quote “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” as if it is the gospel. She (in perhaps the most horrendous moment of the book) comforts her daughter, who is crying after being bullied, by telling her that she might feel better if she lost five pounds. Her daughter is pictured numerous times in the book. She is a perfectly healthy weight. It took an act of sheer will not to throw my iPad off of the train at the next stop just so I didn’t have to read another word of terrible parenting spouted by this woman. She repeatedly states that she didn’t want to take her whole family dieting with her, and then throws out all of their food without telling them.
This is not how you diet. You diet by eating healthily, not cutting your carb count to a potentially dangerous 25g a day, overnight. You diet by eating good foods such as fruits and vegetables vs. high fat foods, not by eating as little as you possibly can. You diet by giving yourself the occasional treat, so it is not a form of torture, this new lifestyle that you are going to be living with for awhile. You do not diet by dangerously criticizing yourself for making a mistake, and everyone around you for allowing you to make that mistake. If you are constantly starving, you are doing it wrong. And this woman constantly complained about being hungry. You eat something healthy when you are hungry. If you do not eat at all, your body begins to store fat because it thinks you are starving and you actually reverse your progress. You do not maintain horrible, judgmental, and cruel views about anyone who is overweight because you were there once. You do not become an arrogant jerk who tells your daughter to lose five pounds and scoffs at a friend who is interested in your results, telling them they aren’t ready to lose weight.
I would not recommend this book to anybody who wants to diet. I would recommend this book to anyone who needs to rev themselves up to be angry in order to more effectively compete in an MMA match.
Strangely though, the one thing Tory Johnson did give me was this - a reminder that I do know how to diet. That I was once good at eating healthy and exercising and was happier and healthier when I wasn’t eating so much chocolate. Tory’s discussion of her absolutely miserable dieting experience reminded me what I should be doing while simultaneously reminding me of all of those things that are not worth losing in the effort to lose weight. So, in that way, I suppose I should thank Tory after all.