Sunday, January 09, 2005

Sunday Book Review

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It's easy to review these two books together, because they're so similar. It's obvious that Dave Ramsey had seen Bill Phillip's excellent Body for Life when he wrote Total Money Makeover. The layout of the two books is the same, the nuts-and-bolts, no-frills, no "trick" advice is the same, and the solidity of the facts is the same.

Bill Phillips was a pro bodybuilder who decided to start a fitness company for the average Joe. Body For Life is a distillation of his bodybuilder knowledge compacted into a program that you or I could do.

Dave Ramsey has dabbled in all kinds of financial techniques, from "Nothing Down" real estate to day trading, and has finally settled on a batch of basic, no-risk financial fundamentals. And I do mean no-risk--there are no get-rich-quick schemes here. He likes to brag he gives, "The kind of financial advice your Grandma would give you."

If you want the two books that best combine the most basic of foundations with the most solid production of results, they're probably right here.

Both books dedicate long sections to dispelling "Myths" about health and finance, ideas that are considered to be sane in the conventional wisdom, but are actually nonsense. These chapters alone are valuable to anyone who's just starting on a fitness or financial journey and trying to get a handle on what's true and what's not.

But these books don't just toss around ideas--they're also handbooks. They contain step by step instructions on how to implement the ideas they teach. In other words, they tell you what to do, today, to find yourself in a better place, physically or financially, than you were before.

Both books were also originally marketed as "contests," and the people who got the best results were given prizes--or will be, because even though the deadline for Total Money Makeover has passed, the winners are still being decided.

I don't agree with everything in these books, and some of it may not be practicable in your current situation. For instance, to do the Body For Life workout as outlined would require access to dumbbells. Canceling the gym membership was one of the things I did to save money. But with his explanation of principles, it becomes easier to adapt the program to my (or your) current situation.

It was Body for Life, along with The Business Plan For The Body that helped me lose nearly 50 pounds two years ago. Look for a review of the second book in a few weeks, but in the meantime, here's the first one.

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