Book Review: Fitness Confidential

Some of you may already be familiar with Vinnie Tortorich, The Celebrity Fitness Trainer, AKA, America’s Angriest Trainer, but others of you may not. For those of you that have never heard of Tortorich, he is a personal trainer who has made his career training celebrities in LA. Something else that you should know, right out of the gate, is that he very strongly advocates a No Sugars, No Grains (NSNG) lifestyle, not only as the secret to weight loss, but to better health in general.

I first heard of Tortorich on an episode of The Adam & Dr. Drew Show. In the episode, Tortorich talked with Adam and Drew about what #NSNG is. He always sums it up quite nicely, and simply, as eat what you want, just stay away from sugars and grains. The corollary to this advice is don’t be afraid to eat healthy fats, like grass fed butter or a high quality olive oil. The advice he gave on this particular podcast episode sounded a lot like the advice given by Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple. This piqued my curiousity and led me to visit Tortorich’s website and checkout his podcast on iTunes.

After Tortorich was diagnosed with lukemia in 2007, he decided to capture the stories of his fight with cancer, his childhood, and his career in an autobiography. The autobiography was co-written with Dean Lorey and titled Fitness Confidential.

Vinnie and co-host Anna Vocino always give out a ton of information on their podcast, but I always appreciate having a written reference to refer back to more concisely than a large collection of hour long audio files. In conjunction with hearing the book referred to so many times on the podcast itself, I thought “oh, what the hell, Vinnie sounds like a nice guy, and it sounds like all of this #NSNG business is explained better in the book” and ordered myself a copy.

Section One

Upon starting the book, I almost immediately found it to be exciting. Vinnie delivers his content in a way that feels like your watching a Fox TV reality show. The first section of the book begins by Vinnie differentiating himself from other trainers. One example he gives is as a heavy hitter called in by desperate producers who are at their wit’s end to slim down their budding starlet on short notice.

Section Two

The next section of the book spends some time establishing support for why #NSNG is a better method than most out there for being healthier and losing weight. Vinnie begins by pointing out how pervasive the thought of “needing to lose weight” has become in our society, exhibited by such things as morning news shows almost always having some sort of fitness or dietary expert on. He then points out how the average American diet is stacked in such a way that it causes obesity in many people. This is of no surprise given how significant the large food corporations are; they need people to eat more of their products in order to remain profitable. He also spends some time discussing common dietary misconceptions, such as, the French must be thin because they eat a lot of baguettes and the Italians must be thin because they eat a lot of pasta. But the reality is that the French traditionally don’t eat a lot of bread, instead, emphasizing dietary fats like creams, cheeses, and olive oils. Similarly with the Italians, pasta was typically a small side dish with dietary fats and meats once again being emphasized.

Vinnie goes on to talk about conventional dieting logic and feelings. How can results from a diet last when a diet is only temporary? He introduces the idea of #NSNG, a lifestyle change with two simple rules: No Sugars and No Grains. For one to understand how #NSNG works, they have to understand why the old mantra of Calories In, Calories Out over simplifies things. Vinnie addresses this in his comedic usual way, telling of asking a gym fitness trainer what exactly a calorie is.

Section Three

The next section of the book talks about Vinnie’s childhood and how he developed such a strong interest in fitness and exercise. This was actually my favorite section of the book. Vinnie starts by retelling a disturbing tale from Catholic school, where he was forced to kneel on uncooked Mahatma rice on a hardwood floor for “deliberate disobedience.” In addition to the trouble at school from the nuns, Vinnie was teased and bullied by many of his classmates. He took solace by watching the Wide World of Sports on TV, and it was on an episode of this show where he was first exposed to Jack Lalanne. Jack made such an impression on Vinnie that he put together a make shift gym in his parents’ backyard with pieces of pipe and bricks. The story then goes on to share Vinnie’s transformation into a personal trainer and his experiences.

Section Four – Conclusion

The final section of the book was what I found to be the most touching. Vinnie is training to accomplish a lifelong goal of completing the Furnace Creek 508, an ultramarathon bicycle race through one of the nastiest places on Earth; Death Valley. In the midst of his training, Vinnie is diagnosed with Lukemia. Vinnie’s heart really comes out here as he shares in detail about his treatments, trials, and tribulations, culminating with a detailed accounting of his competing in the 508 and finally finishing it.

Final Recommendation

Overall I thought the book was good, in that it was entertaining to read and I did learn from the book. I was expecting to learn more on the #NSNG side of things and was half expecting the book to go into more detail on this and workout regimes. However, I don’t think this was a fair expectation because Vinnie himself says that the book isn’t that. If you’re looking for an entertaining book or you’re looking to learn more about Vinnie, then I’d have to say read this book.

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