Skip to content
Summer is loaded with events that call for less clothing and more muscle. If getting in shape is one goal for the warmer months, there's little time left to do it. These books promise results in weeks (or less) - but require total commitment.
2 weeks to fitness
"Training for Life: Walk Your Way to Fitness and Weight Loss in 14 Days," By Debbie Rocker (Springboard Press, 2007), comes with audio CD.
If you're ready to give yourself over to Debbie, then two weeks might be enough time to see some results. Rocker is a former elite athlete and the inventor of the WalkVest, a weighted vest that, not surprisingly, figures prominently in her walk-based exercise routine.
Rocker's philosophy doesn't include quick fixes or on-again-off-again diets. Her regimen is designed to kick-start major lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, a balanced diet and a positive attitude. She emphasizes awareness of everything - body placement, exercise intensity, food choices - so don't plan on checking out during those daily walks. Walking regimens vary in intensity to build strength and endurance, and workouts include basic exercises such as push-ups, triceps dips and leg lifts.
Although she advocates treadmills, they're not a necessity, making this a reasonable plan for those on a budget (if forgoing the $80 WalkVest, of course). Rocker makes an enormous push for her invention (designed to add increasing resistance while walking), and the hard sell is wearying after a while - as is her two-week diet, which includes two days of near-fasting on vegetable broth and cooked vegetables. Only the most dedicated disciples will be able to adhere to it for the full two weeks. And some of her workouts may be too intense for rank beginners.
Not so extreme makeover
"12-Day Body Shaping Miracle," By Michael Thurmond (Warner Wellness, 2007).
Fans of plastic surgery reality show "Extreme Makeover" will recognize author Thurmond as the beefy exercise guru who helped many a surgically enhanced contestant go from flab to fab.
For those aching to know the whys of diet and exercise, Thurmond goes to great lengths, explaining - among other things - how the body burns fat and the differences between fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibers. Strength exercises mostly rely on low-cost ankle weights and bands, and he advocates walking and slow jogging for cardio. For the most part, his plan is sensible and probably will result in lower weight and improved muscle tone, providing one can just say no to the fries.
Thurmond extols the virtues of doing cardio in a fat-burning zone, then turns around and says interval training is important too, creating some confusion. He also claims that machines such as elliptical trainers and stair climbers should be avoided, because they'll bump users up to an anaerobic level. That's absurd - workouts can simply be done at a lower intensity. Thurmond recommends drinking 12 eight-ounce glasses of water a day, way more than most people can down, and an amount some health experts say has no merit.
Can you cut it?
"Making the Cut," By Jillian Michaels (Crown Publishers, 2007).
Jillian Michaels is another made-for- TV trainer, with appearances on "The Biggest Loser" propelling her to fame. Her latest book is for those who want to drop the last 10 to 20 pounds, usually the toughest to lose, and she gives them a month to do it. Michaels makes it clear that this is not for wimps - she doesn't even allow girl push-ups. It's also not for those who are completely out of shape.
Michaels includes numerous recipes in her book, a nice alternative to some books that offer only meager diet guidance, such as "Eat two ounces of lean turkey." Some look tasty, such as the Bombay Curried Shrimp, and make ample use of nonfattening spices and herbs.
Also refreshing is Michaels' strong caution against using colonics, laxatives and fasting as a means to a thinner end, discussing the dangers of each in detail.