Let’s start with full disclosure: I’m biased. I’m a Vinnie Tortorich fan. I’ve talked to him privately on the phone, he has interviewed me as a guest on the podcast, and mentioned my blog enough times I’d say we can form a mutual admiration society. But this bias comes from a legitimate place: his podcast and advice really have changed my life. I judge the book and the podcast by similar criteria, and before the podcast, we did not know each other. This book is simply an extension of the things that already have me singing Vinnie’s praises, so if that’s bias, so be it. Since first finding my way to No Sugar No Grains as a template for health, I’ve finally gotten the missing piece of my puzzle, and I am moving forward.
So let’s talk about the book. It’s not a diet book as such. The plan is as simple as a four-letter hashtag on twitter. Even so, you get plenty of common sense, plain truth information about why this is so fundamental to weight loss and heath. But instead of bogging down this book with the heavy duty clinical details, Vinnie refers the reader to sources he has mentioned on the podcast for the nuts and bolts of the science. Now, a cynic would call this a flaw in the book, saying that if we’re to believe you, you have to show us the evidence, not just give a bibliography of who can. Well, if this were a book trying to be the latest 12-week plan, then that would be what you’d expect.
But this isn’t that book. This book isn’t the next Body-for-Life, or Sugarbusters, or whatever Jillian Michaels is plastered all over this week.
This book is for people who like to read. That may sound obvious, but it’s worth saying. A lot of books that feature words like diet and fitness look like reference books, and read about as easily. This is a narrative. This book starts with the simple premise of “avoid these things in your diet” and follows up to answer the logical question “well that sounds too simple. Why should I listen to you?”
The title of the book indicates the non-traditional format we get, in that Vinnie has said he was inspired by the landmark Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. Both are straight-shooters whose bluntness reveals an honesty that you can’t help but trust.
And trust matters a lot. Everyone is pushing an agenda. Beyond selling a book, Vinnie has no agenda. His podcast is free, and only recently added some commercials and swag options for superfans. He’s not recommending any product, supplement, gear or magic pill. You won’t have the experience of getting to chapter 10 and finding out that, by the way, as luck would have it, the author happens to own a huge supplement company which just coincidentally sells meal replacements exactly like what you’ve just been told to consume 2 to 3 times a day.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying it’s a low-information book. But instead of promoting some kind of new profound, never before heard insight, Vinnie simply walks through the solid fundamentals of not only the food, but exercise, what to expect when walking into a gym, and how to pick a personal trainer. Beyond that, you get the personal story of a guy who has seen it all, and this story is worth reading.
You will, in my opinion, want to “supplement” the book with the podcast, the website, and maybe the facebook group, which are all free. That is, if you are interested in the ongoing discussion of the ins and outs of promoting the NSNG message in a culture that is soaked with the mainstream message bought and paid for by subsidized, politically connected industries and shill advocacy groups. Why? The book has everything you need. But you should consider the others because the podcast, R-rated as it is, is awesome, and the community developing around it is made of good people.
I could go on and on, but I don’t want the review to be longer than the actual book. I have to give a lot of credit to Dean Lorey, Vinnie’s co-writer. Dean is an experienced writer who puts this all together, yet Vinnie’s distinctive voice comes through. His non-linear narrative style which is well-known from Arrested Development is put to good effect in the way Fitness Confidential is told.
Like I said, I’m a Vinnie fan for a reason, and I assumed I would like this book. But I don’t go in just as a blind fanboy. I went in knowing Vinnie’s voice, and it came through as well on the printed page as it does on the podcast.
Some random things:
I’m surprised at a few things NOT in the book: no mention of Oprah, Vinnie’s friend ultra-athlete Rich Roll, no mention of the fact that Serena is a Bond Girl, and I really fully expected a chapter simply entitled F^$# Quinoa! – You’ll have to listen to the podcast for all that fun stuff.
I had no idea there was someone in the world who quoted Rocky movies as much as I did.
I wouldn’t have thought our lives were as similar as they are. I mean, the guy hangs out with celebrities, is lean as can be, and trains the wealthy. I live in flyover country, I’m still overweight, and I serve a working class community of laborers and farmers. But we both spend a ton of time in our cars, between visits with people who share things with us in their vulnerable moments. Though I’ve never been asked to check anyone for lumps, (that story is not exactly medical) I’ve been shown many things in hospital rooms that I was just fine not knowing anything about. Vinnie’s relationship with organized religion is pretty far from mine, but he calls himself the priest of fat. And it works.
In volume two, I hope to see not only the Oprah story, but the story of sitting with kids’ television network executives when he pitched the health segments and their response.
Anna refers to one picture as the Fat Borat. Yeah, that mustache was hardcore.
You never told me I couldn’t have Coke. – Kevin – Just read the book. You’ll see.
The playful jab at Tim Ferriss is priceless.
OK, that’s enough. Read the book. Unless you like life sugar-coated and fed by approved mass media darlings that tell you the same tired schtick that we “all know is true” but never seems to work. If you want it straight, go to Vinnie.