I haven’t done a book review in a while, and since there have been quite a few new ones lately I figured I should probably take a look at some of them and see how good they are. It was an easy decision to crack open Dean Dwyer’s “Make Shift Happen” because I consider him a friend and colleague of sorts.
I’ve only spoken with Dean over Skype and exchanged emails about various projects, but he is the kind of person that befriending is difficult to avoid.
It definitely has something to do with his great sense of humor and funny self-deprecating manner, but probably more than anything you can just tell from his writing and speech that he has a great passion for what he does. One can’t help but root for him and follow along with what he’s up to.
So, Dean wrote a book. And, it’s really, really good. I’ll try to elucidate succinctly why I believe it is so.
First and foremost, Dean’s book is about losing weight.
Writing a book about weight loss, in today’s cynical and oversold marketplace is incredibly brave. I think that Dean accomplished a seemingly impossible task, in that he wrote a book giving advice about how to lose weight, while giving tips that one could easily consider to be healthy and manageable, while still retaining his integrity and not appearing to try and filch more money from his audience through unnecessary supplements or products.
One of the reasons that Make Shift Happen is so effective, is that Dean has credibility - he use to be fat.
He wasn’t morbidly obese by any rate, but you can tell right away from his frequently shared before and after photos, that he managed to lose a significant amount of pudge while sculpting some impressive musculature and a six-pack to boot. Knowing that the author has shared your plight, and overcome it through their own efforts, is a very motivating and helpful feeling.
Personally, I’ve never been fat or overweight so I basically have zero credibility in the weight loss department. I don’t say that to appear smug, I’m just stating a fact. And as such, I avoid giving any kind of advice on weight loss (happily directing people to Dean’s website) since I don’t have any real experience or personal revelations to share.
Tangent: my problem has actually always been about gaining weight. I’ve always been skinny (sometimes inappropriately called anorexic in my youth) and it took an extraordinary amount of effort (and food) in order to bulk up. It was mainly for this reason that my football career ended before it ever began, since I couldn’t amass the kind of bulk that my cousin Larry attained on his road to the Hall of Fame.
After establishing his credability (former fatty boombalatty) he then goes on to demonstrate the next big reason for his book’s effectiveness by doing what most other weight loss experts don’t do. Right away he presses home the concept that most people fail in their weight loss efforts because they continuously seek out the ultimate solution to their problems, but the sad truth is that each one of us is slightly different, and so there is no solution that can help everybody. That kind of thing only exists in the minds of the greedy and the desperate.
He gives you actionable advice, that should be tailored to your individual needs, rather than a universal solution to weight loss that helps nobody.
Each section of the book is divided up into different “Shifts” which are organized into different steps and changes you should make in order to successfully navigate your journey to a healthier and slimmer you. Along the way, he offers up personal anecdotes of his own success and failures, providing you with a charming and instructive back-story to Dean’s journey. It might surprise you to learn that for most of his adult life, Dean was a vegetarian. Commonly lauded as the healthy way to eat, being a vegetarian inadvertently made him get fatter and was an unknown stumbling block during his efforts to lose weight.
An important aspect of his story, is that Dean didn’t just sample some different diets and make hasty conclusions as to their effectiveness. He made an honest go of it, and you can tell that he sincerely wanted them to work but ultimately they didn’t pan out.
Dean has lived various diets, like vegetarianism, vegan, etc. for many years, and with a sincere effort to make them work was able to truly grasp as to whether or not those diets really helped him to be at a healthy weight.
The book presents a fabulous build-up to what becomes Dean’s biggest revelation – that the paleo diet worked marvelously for him. As to the real meat and potatoes of this book, if you come expecting pages of workout regimens and cooking recipes, you will be disappointed. But honestly, that kind of stuff is what just about every weight loss book provides, and how many of them are really helpful?
The biggest reason that Make Shift Happen is such a great weight loss book, is that Dean tackles a core problem with losing weight, which is the collection of mental processes and self-defeating behaviors that get you into trouble in the first place.
Further, he does this not by giving you some semi-inspiring but largely ambiguous advice, like “work harder”, but by taking you on a little trip through your own head and pointing out some of the psychological under-pinnings of human behavior. Just about every chapter provides a reference to some kind of book, most not even about weight loss, that provided him with amazing insight into the changes he needed to make. If nothing else, Dean has provided a fantastic reading list that is sure to expand your horizons in beneficial ways.
So, why would some guy like myself, who has never had a problem with weight loss, enjoy Dean’s book so much? It is a credit to his writing ability and charisma, that he crafted such an inspirational and helpful weight loss book that it actually kind of motivates you to make positive changes in all areas of your life. Just reading Make Shift Happen has re-energized me to tackle some of the projects I’ve always wanted to do, and to stop letting failures and disappointment from bogging me down.
Dean rightly suggests that resistance and that self-defeating inner monologue is at the heart of most of our problems. If you can learn how to defeat this kind of negative thinking, and engage your conscious and sub-conscious mind in a way that facilitates (rather than hinders) your goals, then accomplishing just about anything is within your reach.
Lose weight, start a business, be happier… it’s all possible if we make the right shifts in our life.
But don’t just take my word for it, check out some of the other reviews of “Make Shift Happen” over at Amazon.com