BOOK REVIEW: 'Down Size': Laughter May be Best Medicine for People Seeking the Right Weight, Shape

Reviewed by David M. Kinchen

If the Reader's Digest category "Laughter is the Best Medicine" is still true, perhaps Ted Spiker's weight-loss wisdom that he delivers with abundant humor in "Down Size: 12 Truths for Turning Pants-Splitting Frustration into Pants-Fitting Success" (Hudson Street Press, an imprint of Penguin Group USA, foreword by  Mehmet C. Oz, M.D., 288 pages, $25.95) may be the solution to your weight problem.

Or maybe not; Spiker's pear-shaped body can't be changed, he tells us in a book that could be shelved in the humor section of a bookstore just as easily as it could be in the health and fitness section.

BOOK REVIEW: 'Down Size': Laughter May be Best Medicine for People Seeking the Right Weight, Shape


About that pear-shaped body: Men's pants aren't designed for pear-shaped people,  whose weight is concentrated in the butt, Spiker reminds us. So it will surprise absolutely no one that his wife's post-pregnancy "Mom Jeans" turned out to be the best fitting pants he ever wore (Page 86).

When I observe the weird world of human size and shape, hardly anything surprises me these days. So I wasn't shocked to find that Swedish advertising executives interviewed potential models outside an eating disorder clinic. (Page 97). Considering the gaunt look of the the mostly Eastern European women who are fashion models these days, I'm not surprised at Spiker's revelation. 

The twelve truths each have a chapter and are herded into three parts of four chapters each: Up Size: Getting Stuck; Down Size: Getting Going; and  Your Best Size: Getting the Body You Want -- for Good.

I don't know what there is about the magic of 12-step programs, but we're stuck with them, so we might as well get used to thinking in those terms. Among the  twelve truths about successful weight loss, Spiker discusses such areas as temptation, frustration, nutrition, and inspiration. Some truths:

• Redefine the Definition of Data

• Leave Behind Your Extra Gland

• Think Process, Not Outcome

• Train Shorter, Train Harder


Not long after I finished the book a week or so ago, I heard "Prairie Home Companion" host Garrison Keillor sing about males suffering from bleeding nipples on long-distance runs. I'm a dedicated walker, not a runner, and -- if anything convinced me to stay away from joint-jarring running -- those bleeding nipples did it! Does Spiker discuss this tender subject in his book? Of course he does! How could he resist the topic? And he not only participates in marathons and shorter runs, he also partakes of Iron Man competitions! One such race is detailed in the final chapter.

About that pear-shaped body that's dogged Spiker all his life. He was asked by his own childhood doctor if his “feminine shape” embarrassed him at the beach. What a ridiculous question! Of course he was embarrassed by his girly shape: What guy wouldn't be?

In the course of his writing numerous  bestselling diet and health books, he's consumed numerous burritos and other forms of no-no foots for those concerned with keeping in shape. He's also eaten a 76-ounce steak (he doesn't say where, but J&R's on Long Island specializes in such gastronomical excesses (youtube: There's also a place in  Amarillo, TX that specializes in 72-ounce steaks: If you can eat one in a certain time period, it's on the house. 

Spiker combines science, personal stories, expert interviews, and advice in "Down Size", making it an entertaining, field-tested, and research-based look at how men and women can finally find the body they want.

Ted Spiker
Ted Spiker


About the Author

Ted Spiker is co-author of the bestselling "You: The Owner's Manual" series with Drs. Mehmet C. Oz and Michael Roizen and the bestselling "Abs Diet" series with David Zinczenko. An associate professor of journalism at the University of Florida, Spiker has worked as an editor at Men’s Health magazine, writes for many magazines, and is the author of Big Guy Blog for He lives in Gainesville, Florida.

Comments powered by Disqus