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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Weekend Cooking- The Shift by Tory Johnson

This post is part of Beth Fish Reads' Weekend Cooking.  If you have anything related to food, cookbook reviews, novel or non-fiction book reviews, recipes, movie reviews, etc., head over to Beth Fish Reads and add your post. Or, if you want to read food related posts, head over to read what some interesting people have to say about food.

The Shift by Tory Johnson
Published by Hyperion, ISBN 978-1401324926
Hardcover, $22.99, 250 pages

I first saw Tory Johnson on my local ABC News station, WABC in New York City, where she did a segment called 'Steals and Deals'. She would have four or five products that people could get for 50% off. I liked her friendly personality and her professional demeanor, as well as her rapport with the news anchors.

Johnson brought her 'Steals and Deals' to Good Morning America and now she had a national audience. But I noticed that she began to lose weight; not drastic, but over the course of one year, she lost 60 pounds. That is a huge accomplishment, but as she states in her book, The Shift: How I Finally Lost Weight and Discovered a Happier Life, that is just barely one pound a week.

When the head of ABC Talent asked Johnson to lunch, she dreaded it because she knew what the topic would be: her weight. Barbara Ferdida told Johnson that her clothes weren't doing her justice and gave Johnson the name of a stylist. But Johnson got the message: she had to lose weight.

Although she felt humiliated, and Ferdida handled the matter with kindness and never threatened her job, this was the catalyst that Johnson needed to do what she had tried many times before: lose weight and get healthy. She drastically cut her carbs, completely gave up her favorite drink, Diet Pepsi, and got serious. She was the main breadwinner in her family and she needed this job.

I liked that Johnson didn't whitewash this; completely changing her lifestyle was not easy, it was downright difficult. Over the objections of her husband and twin teenagers, she emptied her cupboards of any food that would tempt her.

When she went to parties, she would watch what and how thin people ate: grazing, taking a few bites of things and eating slowly. She incorporated all these into her eating habits, and slowly, one or two pounds a week, she lost the weight.

Johnson tells the reader that until you are serious about this, you cannot lose weight. She references what she calls "preference versus priority." Losing weight became her priority and every decision she made had to reflect that priority. Although she may prefer to have chocolate, her priority to lose weight beat her preference.

The book is mostly about her struggle, though there is a page that lists her "tried-and-true guidelines" that include about a dozen specific rules that helped her, including:

  • Limiting carbs to under 25 per day
  • Avoiding fruit, juices and smoothies
  • Replacing food rewards with inedible ones, like a manicure
  • Weighing herself daily
She recounts a trip she took with her daughter to Los Angeles, and the challenges she faced. She wanted it to be fun for her daughter, but she feared if she fell off the wagon, she would lose all the progress she had made. It is an honest portrait that most of us can relate to.

I really liked this book; it's not so much a diet book, but more of a memoir of a year where Tory Johnson overcame a lifelong struggle. In telling her story, she reminds us that to make significant life changes, you have to be serious, but once you do that, the rewards can be great.

rating 4 of 5

For more information on how Tory Johnson succeeded, her website is here.


  1. This does sound interesting. I am curious about the fruit as I am trying to add more to my diet, but I guess it's all about the sugar.
    thanks for dropping by and visiting!

  2. I really like this idea. Losing weight is about lifestyle change, not a drastic, temporary shift in behavior. I'm glad to hear it worked for her. Thanks for the review!

  3. Sounds like an interesting read, and a potentially much more sustainable weight loss method than losing lots of weight quickly. I like the idea of preference versus priority.

  4. I think the lifestyle change has to fit in to any successful diet plan. You change the way you think, eat and live altogether.
    Nice review!

  5. It is hard to lose weight. Changing your lifestyle is so hard.

  6. another one added to my tbr list... now to find the time..

  7. I like the honesty here. I also like that she didn't hire in professional cooks or a personal trainer (or maybe she did). And I agree, you really have to want it to make it work.

  8. sounds interesting I am going to look it up-she is right about her suggestions.

  9. This sounds like something I would like. Approaches that are serious but gradual seem to get the best results.

  10. This sounds an intriguing book, i hadn't heard of it before. Thanks for your great review.

  11. Watching how thin people handle a party, good idea. preference vs priority, yes, that gets me. I still eat the chocolate but have an easier time giving up other items. I'm off to check her website.