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Reading the 90-Day Fitness Challenge

Bill and Amy Parham were contestants on season six of The Biggest Loser, and while they didn’t win the competition, together they had the highest percentage of weight loss of any married couple on the show. Ever. And their dedication to a new, healthy lifestyle didn’t end when they left the show—the Parhams turned their experience on the ranch into a program to help other overweight people find a healthier, happier way of life.

Here’s where I make a confession: I don’t watch The Biggest Loser. It’s not because I’m making any grand statement or anything; it’s more a matter of having too many shows crowding my DVR already. If I’m going to watch people working out, I prefer to watch a DVD that’s getting me to sweat, too.

Anyway, the newly fit couple held their first 90-Day Fitness Challenge event right after returning home from the competition, attracting more than 1,000 people from various states. The Parhams began traveling across the country to conduct events, using online communities, churches and other organizations to spread the word. As the events became more popular, they realized a book would help them reach even more people.

The 90-Day Fitness Challenge: A Proven Program for Better Health and Lasting Weight Loss begins by explaining Bill and Amy’s backgrounds, so those who don’t watch The Biggest Loser (like me) will have a full understanding of the massive life changes the couple made. They don’t shy away from the difficult details, either—Amy even admits that, at her lowest point, she thought about hanging herself, talks about how, even after losing the weight, she still saw “fat Amy” in the mirror and had to take pictures of herself next to people to see what she really looked like.

The book, which is divided into two main parts (the first describing the DREAM principle, and the second offering daily fitness challenges and tips), differs from most weight-loss books I’ve read in that the Parhams are devout Christians, and the book is peppered with Bible verses and references to how their faith helped them overcome obstacles.

Here’s where I make my second confession: I don’t really go to church. Sometimes I go on Christmas Eve, and of course, for weddings and baptisms, but I’m nowhere near devout. Because of this, I was concerned that I’d find the faith-based aspect of the book distracting. The truth is, I really didn’t. The Parhams include their faith in their book the same way a runner might talk about running—it’s part of their lives, it helped them through and this is how they used it. It’s not preachy in the least. If you’re religious, you’ll find the references to faith uplifting and helpful. If you’re not, I think it’s safe to say they probably won’t bother you.

There’s a lot to like about this book. Bill and Amy are able to give advice from multiple perspectives, giving them added credibility. They know what it’s like to have a major amount of weight to lose, so they’re sympathetic to the challenges, but they constantly remind you that their lives are better in many, many ways now that they’re healthier. And while being able to fit into smaller jeans is great, isn’t feeling energized and happy the real goal?

There’s a chapter for each day of the Challenge, each beginning with a note from either Amy or Phil. The note might be a memory or anecdote, a health tip (like making sure your poo floats—hooray!), or an inspirational story from a 90-Day Fitness Challenge veteran. Each chapter also includes a mini-challenge (try a yoga class, drink more water, etc.), a space for you to write down your food and calorie intake, and a spot for you to journal your thoughts. Some of the chapters are more interesting than others, but they all offer solid advice and inspiration. The book also includes five appendices, including a place to write down your goals and progress, a shopping list, meal plans, recipes, and workouts. Again, totally helpful.

I can’t say this was a particularly riveting or eye-opening read for me—the tips and advice they provide is all great, but nothing that was terribly new to me. It is, however, inspirational. Those who have followed the Parhams’ success, are fans of The Biggest Loser or are looking for a well-written weight-loss book that incorporates the Christian faith will really enjoy this, and anyone looking for daily accountability as they work toward their weight-loss goals will certainly benefit from the daily challenges and journaling. —Kristen

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