Book Review Archives

Focus on Fitness: 5 Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle

By: Jerry B. Williams, MD
Reviewed by: Bruce Alford
Lambert Book House, 2003
$24.95, Paperback

You want to lose weight. Eat God-given foods. This is the cornerstone prescription in Focus on Fitness: 5 Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle. “Eating a plan based upon God-given foods is not a diet. It is a way of living,” states author Dr. Jerry Williams, MD.

The book’s five steps include Strength Training, Cardiovascular Fitness, Eating God-given Foods, Overcoming Obesity, and Avoiding Inactivity. Dr. Williams thoroughly lays out these steps while avoiding overly-specialized language and medical terms. Because Williams is a practicing physician, readers can trust what he says. (Williams practices cardiology, critical care medicine, internal medicine, and pulmonology).

The book does have faults. For one, its audience is unclear. At times it reads like a text for a health class, including charts for example that show Medicare spending for heart-disease treatments. At other times, passages are refreshing but also jarring because of their personal nature, for example when Williams talks about his addiction to the candy Hot Tamales: “Hot Tamales gave me that much needed energy boost during the day. The only problem was that I would need more frequent servings of Hot Tamales to reach that feeling of being full and satisfied.”

In other popular health books, such as Bill Phillips’ Body for Life or Suzanne Somers’ Eat Great, Lose Weight, personal material appears in sections. These books also provide a “hook” for readers that don’t like to read about health. They do this by either cashing in on celebrity, by using inspirational stories and photographs, or by shocking readers: “Eat fat and lose weight,” says Dr. Robert Atkins.

In Focus on Fitness, personal snapshots appear randomly. Still, one can’t help but smile at these quirkisms, such as when Williams refers to his sugar addiction as “the white powder addiction.”
“I am a sugar addict,” he states “and find myself dreaming of Krispy Kreme doughnuts at night. I can even taste those delicious doughnuts in my sleep….Just the taste of sugar will set off pleasure responses like the injection of cocaine or morphine.”

The book’s copyright is its greatest flaw. Williams states that L-Tryptophan, a nutritional supplement used for sleep and weight loss, is no longer available. The FDA lifted its 1990 ban on L-Tryptophan in 2005.

The book also contains no mention of Alli, the super weight-loss drug that hit Wal-Marts last year. However, smart readers can infer that Alli, like its predecessor Orlistat (Xenical), which Williams does mention, can cause diarrhea and other entertaining side effects if one cheats and eats fatty food.

For readers new to health books, this is a good one to start with. There are no gimmicks—just plain common sense. Read this book to get a basic understanding of health.

Bruce Alford is a certified Spinning® Instructor and teaches at Omni Health and Fitness in Mobile.