Tory Johnson is one of us. A “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” kind of person. She definitely takes life’s lemons and makes lemonade. Her success has been nothing short of a fairy tale and she did it with hard work and grace.
Now she is tackling her last demon … her weight … and while I applaud her efforts and want to give her a hug, I don’t want you to follow any of her advice. Except for the nail polish.
Tory Johnson The Shift: The Good
Here’s what I liked about the book. Tory’s writing style is very engaging. I immediately felt pulled into her story and I was rooting for her to succeed. I was smiling when she had a dressing room moment and realized she was a size 6. It’s gotta be so hard to drastically change your body size in full public view and she did it with as much grace as anyone I’ve ever seen. She does have a story to tell and, if you’re a Tory Johnson fan, you’ll enjoy reading the book.
The nail polish, by the way, is a neat trick (can’t remember the last time I came across a diet tip I’d never heard before). If you’re having a munchy attack, put on a coat of clear nail polish, so if you indulge, you’ll ruin your nails. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes for the polish to set and by that time you’ll likely be over your craving.
The Shift Diet
Tory Johnson makes it clear she wrote “The Shift” about her journey, not about how she lost weight. However what the reader gets is a month-by-month, occasionally bite-by-bite account of how she did it. And she was all over TV and the web yesterday giving out diet tips. So, denying that this is a diet book is a bit silly to me.
Here’s how Tory lost the weight …
- Only 25 grams of carbohydrates per day.
- Daily weigh ins to keep on track.
- Peeing on a ketosis stick daily to make sure that she is, in fact, in ketosis.
- Frequently skipping meals, particularly breakfast, which even she admits is against common medical advice.
- Very little exercise for the most part, but gradually adding in walking, tennis, and hiking.
- Zero medical supervision! She admits that she hasn’t gone to a doctor in years and does not get checked at any point during her year of weight loss, even though I’m guessing she was clinically obese.
Low-carb diets are all the rage these days and they do work, BUT at a price. Don’t take my word for it … I had the chance to interview David Grotto, one of the leading nutritionists in the country about eating low-carb, and we talked about what is ketosis and the effects it has on your body. (For the record, I am definitely more conservative than he is.)
One issue that Grotto discusses is that ketosis long-term can lead to “inflammatory markers in the system,” which can lead to things like diabetes and heart disease. Grotto also says that not one single culture around the world follows a ketogenic diet. It’s not natural for humans because it’s just not sustainable.
If you go into severe enough ketosis, you die. I’ve been in severe ketosis (when I was pregnant due to a medical issue) and I can tell you, it’s not pretty.
Also 25 grams of carbs per day is really, really low! The USDA recommends 180 to 260 grams of carbs per day for women to maintain their weight. In the book, Tory mentions that an apple has more grams of carbs than her daily intake. How can eating an apple be evil? Yet Tory shuns them along with lots of other “starchy” vegetables such as carrots (which she also mentioned as verboten).
Many people disagree with the USDA carb recommendations and think they should be lower … BUT what Tory was ingesting was 10% to 15% of the USDA guidelines. Way, way too low. I hope she sees the doctor soon!
I would also say skipping meals is potentially dangerous and certainly won’t make your day more productive. Not exercising means it’s likely she lost quite a bit of muscle during her weight loss, which means her daily caloric needs have plummeted. This sets her up for a big struggle if she ever does come off this diet. The four days she spent off-diet while on vacation netted a six-pound weight gain, even though she wasn’t hugely over-eating. If she ever transitions away from this type of eating, she’s going to have the same problems. I feel for her.
The Psychology of The Shift
I was a bit squeamish at the start of her journey as she goes through what I think is sugar withdrawal and writes about her mental struggle to stay on track. Not only is she going through withdrawal, but she’s slamming into ketosis, and that can cause some pretty bad mood swings. (David Grotto refers to carbs as “happy food” because they help keep serotonin levels at an even keel.) Tory shares a lot of internal dialogue in the book and it’s mostly centered on negative thinking as she tries not to eat this or that.
It made me uncomfortable to read and I wondered if she crossed the line into disordered eating. I’m not an expert here so I can’t say, but I have recovered from an eating disorder myself, and her struggles definitely resonated with my own past experiences. One line particularly stood out to me … the satisfaction of peeing on her daily ketosis stick and seeing the “eggplant color” bloom before her. Eggplant is the level of ketosis just before really bad things start to happen and it makes me uncomfortable that she’s glorifying it.
The Shift Diet Business
Tory Johnson will do quite well financially from “The Shift.” She’s got book sales and a big promotional media push. She’s got a book tour with tickets ranging from $40 up to a VIP-level $940. Back-of-the-napkin math shows she could net upwards of $200,000 during her six-city tour. Then there’s the local and national sponsorship opportunities surrounding her tour and the “Shift Clubs” she’s looking to start up where Tory will be your virtual guide.
I was talking to a very savvy online marketer and we both agreed Tory has an impressive formula. September could be a million dollar month for her. And if the book and tour do well, there will likely be more products available in January. If only I believed in the product.
At the end of the day I hope Tory Johnson has truly found her happiness. If you’d like to buy “The Shift” to get to know her better by all means enjoy it.
But please don’t take her diet advice, and please, if you’d like to lose weight, make sure you see a doctor before you try anything. I can tell you tales of clients over the years who were strongly urged by their trainers to see a doctor and it saved their lives.
What do you think?