Book Review: "The Best Life Diet"

Monday, June 11, 2007 - 4:04pm

By Erica Lesperance, RD, LD

We have all seen Oprah Winfrey struggle with her weight over the many years she has been in the public spotlight. Remember when she went on a liquid diet and lost a lot of weight quickly? Unfortunately she put it back on, and then some, when she began to eat again. This is the typical story of the yo-yo dieter. Like many Americans, Oprah had tried every "get-thin-quick" scheme in the book, but could never keep the weight off. That is, until she met exercise physiologist and personal trainer Bob Greene, who she credits with helping her achieve a better way of eating and a better way of life.

A Realistic Approach and Phase One

In his book The Best Life Diet, Bob Greene has revealed the approach he used to help Oprah achieve her dramatic weight loss...and keep it off. He also claims to give you the tools you need to change your life and reach your weight loss goals. However, he does not promise that it will be quick or easy, which is a good indication that his program has credibility. He takes his time moving clients through the three phases of his program, on the premise that drastic life change will not stick, but that a step-by-step approach will lead to lasting change. In fact, Phase One of the program, which lasts at least four weeks, focuses on increasing activity and changing meal patterns, but not necessarily changing or eliminating foods. This differs significantly from other programs that offer a "jump-start" by eliminating all of your favorite foods, restricting your calories, increasing your exercise, and changing your mealtime habits all at once. In my opinion, Phase One of The Best Life Diet sets you up for success. It may even be enough for some people to reach their weight loss goals.

Phases Two and Three: Introspection and Healthy Choices

Phase Two concentrates on developing an understanding of your hunger and discovering what leads you to misuse food. This is the most critical component, as well as one that is missing from many diet programs. Phase Two is also difficult--it challenges you to delve deep inside yourself and deal with the emotions and feelings that cause you to overeat (something that many people would rather not do). I am impressed by the amount of time Greene dedicates to understanding emotional eating, which can easily sabotage all weight loss efforts. If you can reach the level of introspection required to complete Phase Two successfully, then I believe you will experience the type of success Greene promises. Phase Three helps you make healthy choices for the rest of your life, but that will be easy once you have conquered Phases One and Two.

Blind Trust

While I agree with Bob Greene's overall approach, I must offer a word of caution about any diet that has sponsors, as The Best Life Diet does. Do not trust that a product is a good choice just because the company that produces it, or someone who receives funding from that company, tells you it is. When there is money involved (and there always is), you need to be educated and do your own research. For example, Wish-Bone® Salad SpritzersTM have received the "Best Life" seal of approval. However, with high fructose corn syrup as the third ingredient, I would not recommend this product to my clients, as it is highly processed and may potentially play a role in the epidemic of obesity. This does not mean that The Best Life Diet is not an excellent program; it just means that you must always be conscious of what you choose to put into your body.

A Great Program...With or Without Oprah

I applaud Bob Greene for his effort to tackle the real issues around dietary change and weight loss, and for not trying to offer another quick fix. This program has received a lot of attention simply because of Oprah's success, but I feel it deserves attention based on its own merits. If you are serious about making lasting changes in your life, I highly recommend that you give The Best Life Diet a chance.