Brought to you by the health editor of the British edition of Vogue, this diet and exercise guide has lots of sound nutrition and sensible exercise routines packed between its slick covers. The book, divided into two 24-week "programmes," one for diet and one for exercise, is also packed with Britishisms that are sometimes charming, occasionally annoying and often confusing. What is the normal American dieter to do with the information that when a meal contains "pulses," one should add only a single vegetable, not three? Only an inveterate reader of British mystery novels knows that pulses are dried peas. Then there are the courgettes, kidneys and grilled streaky rashers that one can choose for various meals. My personal favorite: an "indulgence" of 200 calories allowed during an early week of the diet: "1 crumpet with scraping of butter and 2 tsp honey, jam or marmalade."
But put these linguistic considerations aside, and you'll see that the 24-week, graduated program of recipes make a lot of sense. They offer a diet that is rich in complex carbohydrates, low in refined foods and fat, moderate in protein and high in fresh fruits and vegetables. The editors make no rash promises, instead delivering the rational message that a long-term commitment to balanced diet plus regular exercise is the only way to achieve long-term weight loss at nearly every age.
After determining how much weight you want to lose, and what kind of dieter you are (this information comes from a test that measures your "restraint index"), you pick your starting week. Want to lose more than 28 pounds? Then follow all 24 weeks; eight weeks of 1,500 calories a day, 11 weeks of 1,200, and a final five at 1,000 calories a day. The menus are flexible and relatively easy to follow; and the recipes, in both Imperial and American measures, look good.
The exercise program, outlined in the second half of the book, is straightforward and safe -- a gradual approach. Training suggestions for running, cycling, swimming and skiing programs follow. There are also pre- and postpartum exercises, nicely illustrated with lively line drawings. A selection of therapeutic exercise for such complaints as headaches, cramps and menstrual pain conclude the book.
Throughout, smashing Vogue photographs illustrate the text. If a dieter can end up looking like the T-shirt and jeans-clad model whose twisting torso opens the exercise section, she will probably be happy to give up shortbread and chocolates, even if it does mean eating a beetroot open sandwich with curd cheese. After all, there's always that weekly crumpet with marmalade.