Presto! How I Made More Than 100 Pounds Magically Disappear and Other Big Fat Tales by Penn Jillette (5 out of 5)
This is a book that I knew I had to read the moment I saw it in the August edition of the Ingram Advance catalog. I sent Wendy, my ARC-angel (get it?) at Simon & Schuster, an email with this and several other titles. My tastes are odd and varied, and she said she would send what she could. I was very excited to see this was one of the titles she had. Thank you, Wendy.
This isn’t Penn’s first book, for the record. I have read and enjoyed his previous books. I enjoy the way he writes, as well as his caustic sensibilities. Obviously, I am also familiar with his first gig, the vocal half of the world-reknown magic duo and longtime Vegas staple Penn & Teller. You can get the black rabbit in the hat that most of you know him for that gig, rather than his books. Side note: his books are worth checking out.
Penn has a close call with skyrocketing blood pressure and a heart blockage that make his doctor level him the cold, heart truth- he needs to quit eating as he has for years or he is going to die. The doc recommends a stomach sleeve. Penn doesn’t have a great reaction to this, and talks the doctor into letting him try to lose some weight over the next few months before he gets the operation. He behaves himself and eats healthier and tries to lose some weight on his own. Penn’s buddy, a former NASA scientist named Ray Cronise and nicknamed CrayRay by Penn in the book, has a unique diet plan that Penn decides he wants a piece of. Ray begins by telling Penn he is going to spend the first few weeks eating ONLY potatoes. He is allowed only a little pepper and has to cook them using nothing. Surprisingly, he doesn’t mind it as much as he thought. He drops a shit ton of weight in a short amount of time, and he’s a believer. He gets another close friend in on the plan, but is sworn to a vow of silence by Ray, so no one around Penn has any idea what the fuck is going on with him and the new love affair with the spud(not the stud). Penn learns how difficult things are going to be on Ray’s unique plan..including one of the most intriguing parts of the book (for me, at least)..contrast showers. What? Exactly! Penn’s realistic and acerbic outlook makes this book a hoot to read, but he is dead serious about the diet..as in, he needs to be serious or he’s going to drop dead. I learned a lot from this book. The high protein diet being a myth, the importance of being able to piss out amino acids, the damage of the phrase “Eat myself sick”, and the shameful double standard to those who have successfully lost weight. You Shane them into losing weight, they do, and then you shame them into believing they went too far. I have a friend who has lost a ton of weight, yet every time I see him, I think he’s lost too much. So many people do it, and there’s a strong argument over why it’s so wrong. Good for you, Penn, for calling us out on the carpet of shame. You’re completely right! Penn has his goal set for success by the time of his birthday, and damned if he doesn’t do it. A book like this doesn’t come along often. I have lost a good amount this year, and there were a lot of things in here that I suspected and that he confirmed. There is a lot of good and meaningful advice, too, that the reader can follow or tailor in their own diet. Again…disclaimer…this diet may not be for you, or for many, but you have to give Penn the bronze set of balls for laying bare his struggles and successes. Anyone who has tried to tame the wild animal of weight loss that stays off, needs to read this. I loved it, and hope that Penn’s story will inspire others to seek a plan that works for them. In the meantime, pick up a copy of his book. It’s out August 2, brought to us by the fine folks at Simon & Schuster.