Book Review: S.A.S.S. Yourself Slim

SASS Youself Thin book cover imageI’m pleased to be participating in another TLC Book Tour. This time I’m reviewing S.A.S.S. Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds, and Lose Inches* by Cynthia Sass, originally published last year under the title, Cinch!: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds, and Lose Inches. More on that later.

Before I start, I’ll assure you that while the book was provided to me at no charge (value: $15.99), I received no additional gifts or compensation, and I’m under no obligation to write a favorable review. {rubs hands together gleefully}

The Overview

S.A.S.S. Yourself Slim (hereafter known as SASS because I’m already tired of typing the periods) is primarily a diet plan (seven chapters), with one chapter each devoted to emotional eating, exercise, common problems/questions about the plan, and advice for going forward. Success stories of people who have followed the plan are interspersed throughout the book. Lots(!) of them.

The 30-day eating plan has three basic rules:
#1 – Eat like clockwork, or every 3-5 hours.
#2 – Eat 4 meals per day and one snack. Each meal has five components, or “puzzle pieces”: produce, whole grain, lean protein, plant-based fat, natural seasonings. The snack is a “mandatory” square of dark chocolate.
#3 – Focus on flavor (which is kind of redundant, since seasoning is one of the meal pieces). Every meal should include one or more of these seasonings: vinegar, citrus zest/juice, hot peppers, tea, and/or herbs and spices.

The book covers in great(!) detail the reasons for these rules, citing lots(!) of studies and research.

Another element of the SASS plan is an optional “introduction phase”, called the 5-Day, 5-Food Fast Forward. During this period, participants eat only these 5 foods: spinach, raspberries, yogurt, almonds, and eggs. After that, they move to the plan described above. A brief questionnaire is included to determine if the Fast Forward option is a good fit for you. If not, then you would move straight to the core plan.

There are over 100 recipes as well as examples for “swaps” to customize the plan to individual tastes and preferences.

Things I Liked About This Book

  • The 5-piece core eating plan is almost somewhat close to how I eat, so of course I liked that. I manage to incorporate all of those elements into most of my meals. Let’s not talk about the ones I don’t.
  • The book includes good information about the health benefits of different types of foods and includes all food groups, except cupcakes.
  • In addition to suggested meals, the author walks through the steps of compiling a meal based on individual preferences, including options for vegetarians and vegans.
  • It’s a good guide for those (formerly ME) who could use some help in planning healthy meals.
  • While brief and fairly general, the chapters on exercise, emotional eating, and strategies for success are well worth reading.
  • I especially like that she emphasizes the benefits of walking, not just because it’s one of my favorite ways to exercise, but because I think it’s accessible to most readers at all income levels. I also think it’s a good building block for introducing additional exercises at a later date.
  • The strategies for success include a suggestion to plan four to eight “foolproof meals” for those times when you’re too lazy tired to cook. This has saved me more times than I can count, even if it does lead to the occasional food rut.
  • Believe it or not, there is a potato provision (buried in the questions section) that allows for 2-3 potatoes per week in exchange for the grain serving. She even writes about all the health benefits of potatoes! Hard to find many “diet books” these days that do that!

Quibbles and Nitpicks

  • The 5-Day, 5-Food Fast Forward plan got under my skin. A lot. I don’t like the strict food limitation, the low calorie count, and the promises for “big results”. I’m not a nutritionist, and it may very well be healthy, but it reminds me of every fad diet I ever tried. (It bears mentioning again that this part of the plan is optional, and the author acknowledges that it is very restrictive.)
  • Many folks, especially folks who work, might have problems with the four full meals per day and the timing of those meals. I would, if I didn’t have my yogurt “sundae” (yogurt, fruit, nuts) at night. Even that doesn’t officially qualify since it doesn’t include a grain.
  • The exclusion of red meat completely. The statistics cited were based on studies in which people ate red meat every single day. Personally, I don’t think leaner cuts of red meat periodically are a problem, but then again, I’m not a nutritionist.
  • The author uses lots(!) of studies to support her plan. I don’t know if I’m in study overload or what, but my eyelid began twitching every time I saw another “a study showed” or “studies show”. Also, some studies were cited specifically and others were generalized. I would like to have seen specific citations, so I could see the whole picture for myself. (Note: I’m not doubting the author’s truthfulness or accuracy; I just like to check things out for myself sometimes. I skipped eating whole eggs for too long because of “studies.”)
  • I love reading success stories (present company included) as much as anyone, but these success stories were all short-term successes. I think for what’s basically a re-release of Cinch!, updated success stories showing how the original participants are doing now, a year later, would have been more useful. Have they lost more weight? Do they continue to follow this plan for eating? Do they still find it so satisfying?
  • Unlike with potatoes, there is no cupcake provision.

Who Would Benefit From This Book

Honestly, I think there’s something for everyone in this book, even people who already almost somewhat closely follow this way of eating now. Even if you can’t/don’t want to follow the plan exactly, you can definitely find ways to improve your diet and eat healthier overall. Plus, there are those 100+ recipes to entice you.

For me, reading SASS was a good reminder to include healthy fat at every meal (breakfast is a problem for me), and I picked up some good ideas for future meals. Other than that whole 5-foods thing, I thought it was well worth reading and appreciate TLC’s request that I review it.

[Edited 04/24/2012: I followed up with more opinion on Loose Ends and Follow-ups]

Author info:

Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian, co-author of Flat Belly Diet*, and contributing editor to Shape Magazine. Links to her web/social media connections below:

tlc book tours logoDon’t just take my word as gospel (as IF!). Click HERE for other bloggers’ opinions about S.A.S.S. Yourself Slim.

My previous TLC Book Tour reviews:
Body Confidence by Mark Macdonald.
Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life by Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Lilian Cheung

* denotes Amazon affiliate link. I receive a teensy commission on Amazon purchases made through this link.

14 thoughts on “Book Review: S.A.S.S. Yourself Slim

  1. Shoot! I had the opportunity to participate in this book tour and let it slip by me. Now I wish I hadn’t – would like to read the book. My bad! If you are done with it for awhile, could I borrow? Bring it with you Saturday and I’ll have to make a trip to return it to you!!!

    The Fast Forward part was interesting to me, although I totally agree with what you said, because all five of those foods are my total favorites and all five are something I normally eat every day anyway. Think that’s what caught my eye.

    Debby is in TENNESSEE! We are making yogurt today and she’s getting the grand East TN welcome. Lots of fun!

  2. Very nice and detailed review, Cammy! It’s funny, I didn’t mention the success stories, but I didn’t find them all that inspiring. Especially from someone who went from an 8 to a 0 because I thought her before was fine. Same thing with the wedding dress picture. But then, it’s not for me to judge how *they* feel in their skin. I would like to see a longer trial period as well.

  3. Any book that does not recognize cupcakes is a book that I cannot buy!!! LOL! Thanks for the book review. I agree with you about the low calories in the fast forward plan. I have to admit though- I am often attracted to those quick, lose a bunch fast plans. Especially after a vacation when I put on a few pounds. I want to lose them quickly- so I look at plans like that. I know- BAD Jill!!!

  4. Great review, I forgot to mention the success stories in my review but I agree with you that it would have been nice to get their updates and how theyre doing now. The book has done me and my fiance a LOT of good and I definitely feel there is something for everyone to take away from it… if nothing else the recipes like u said. So many of them are SOOO good :0)

  5. What no cupcakes!

    Thanks for the review, I like reading those kind of books because just as you said you gain some new ideas, recipes and tips that can be helpful.

    Five foods for five days sounds like a very boring five days!

  6. Great book review, Cammy. This one sounded pretty good at the start, especially with the smaller meals – I’ve always wanted to try doing that to see if it regulates my blood sugar a bit better – but the restrictions were a bit of a turn off. It’s not that I couldn’t do it; just that I’ve spent many, many years already doing that; going back to that way of eating could prove difficult for me.
    Thank you again for this. Very interesting.

  7. About the cupcakes…always leave em wanting more! Next book — Be SASSY & Have Your Cupcakes too!

    Great review. I think I like the sound of this approach, including the absence of red meat.

  8. GREAT REVIEW!!!! Like many, I may read stuff like this & gather info BUT I like making my own plan & one that suits me & my life. Lots of good things there but I agree with you on your NOT points… AND I really dislike too many studies & footnotes like you. I read a book & reviewed it quite a while back & although the info in the book was good, that drove me crazy! – crazier than I am! 😉

    Have a great one Cammy!

  9. This plan sounds somewhat similar to the Zone plan, where you are supposed to eat a good carb (veg/fruit), protein, and fat every time you eat. Recently, I’ve been thinking about what’s common among ALL of the plans. Rice and regular bread is out, red meat is limited, healthy fats are in, most saturated fats unless from coconuts are out, and anti-inflammatory foods and lifestyles are recommended.

    Thanks for the review!

  10. Pingback: Loose Ends and Follow-ups

Comments are closed.