Calories in. Calories out. Eat right. Exercise. It seems like such a simple formula, yet there are always more people who write more books about dieting and more dieters who cannot get enough. Let’s face it: deep down (and perhaps not even really that deep) we all know how to lose weight, yet we rarely do it with much success. With so many diet books boasting about weight loss success stories, it’s a refreshing change to read Why Your Last Diet Failed You (And How This Book Won't Help You on Your Next One), which actually boasts about the weight-loss struggle.
In Why Your Last Diet Failed You, yo-yo dieter Charlie Hills chronicles the ups and downs on his scale and says the situation is not unique. While most traditional diet books bet on the fact that readers will shell out money for the slim chance that their plan is the magic one, Charlie Hills bucks this trend by actually writing an entire book about the fact that the magic just does not exist. When he sticks to a diet and exercises, he loses weight, and when he eats junk food and stops exercising, he gains. Crazy stuff, right?
Perhaps the biggest irony of this book is that, despite Hills’ inability to maintain his weight (particular during the holiday season), he has few harsh words for any particular diet. In fact, he actually highly recommends most of them (with perhaps the exception of his self-titled pizza diet) and is confident that the plans will work—if followed. However, his point is that there is no particular diet that guarantees success or failure, but rather that the outcome will turn upon whether the dieter can stick with the plan.
The back cover prominently displays a quote that the book is “like a blog, but on real paper!" and, while it is credited merely to "some guy on the Internet," it actually is quite an appropriate description. Hills provides a refreshingly honest and humorous account of his weight losses, gains, and plateaus which will likely parallel the experiences of most of the people who would be inclined to pick up a book with this title in the first place.
Why Your Last Diet Failed You does not offer a “new and improved” weight-loss plan, and I cannot even say it offers anything new. Therein lies its charm, since Hills does not apologize for his successes and failures but chooses to laugh at the absurdity of it all—and then brace for the next dip on the journey.