New weight-loss book emphasizes ‘shift’ in mindset

10/14/2013 12:00 AM

08/08/2014 10:19 AM

Tory Johnson enjoyed a highly successful career and happy family life. But there was one area of her life that caused anxiety, frustration, even shame. It was also the one thing that made Johnson, a motivational speaker and contributor to ABC’s “Good Morning America,” feel like a complete failure: her weight.

When a network executive told her, “I don’t think your clothing does you any favors,” Johnson heard something else: “Lose weight, or lose your job.”

Something clicked. Battling a lifetime of obesity, the 41-year-old who rotated through fad diets decided to finally lose the weight once and for all. It wasn’t so much about the diet, but what she put in her head (steely determination) that made the difference.

Losing weight isn’t about being good; it’s about being good to myself. Most diets work but it’s the mentality (lose the weight easily and quickly!) that fails us time and time again.

She calls her new mentality “the Shift.” And it worked. Johnson, who was obese but doesn’t reveal the number on the scale, lost 62 pounds in one year. She’s since lost 10 more.

It’s also the name of her book,“The Shift: How I Finally Lost Weight and Discovered a Happier Life” (Hyperion, $22.99). Released only a few weeks ago, the book is already on The New York Times Best Sellers List, and women across the country are joining shift clubs (

Q: This is not a typical diet book. And you talk about what you put in your head matters more than what you put in your mouth. Will you talk more about that?

A: Initially, when I thought about writing the book, I was asked: “What’s the gimmick?” Every diet book has a gimmick. I said there is no gimmick. This is not a diet book, it’s not a temporary pause on bad behavior. This is very much a lifestyle change. When I looked back at how I did it, I realized I made a mental shift and truly committed myself to changing my mindset for a better life.

For the first time in my life (and I am a smart woman), I realized there is no pill or potion or plan that offers a quick fix.

To help me stay on track, one, was the clarity of my goal. It was the first time ever I was so fed up with being fat and so clearly determined to change that, I felt like nothing was going to get in my way. I was going to steamroll my way through this no matter what. The other one of the elements was having accountability. For me, that was weighing myself every day.

Q: You talk about a simple, three-rule plan – and that you keep it with you in your purse. Please talk about the plan and do you still keep it?

A: I still have the card with three points, but it’s a little different than it was in the book.

It is now: 1. Eat a whole lot less. 2. Choose smarter. 3. Move more.

In the book, I talk about restricting carbs. I am not a doctor or a nutritionist. I am an ordinary person and this is what worked for me. But really, it’s about choosing smarter foods. I stopped drinking soda, not even diet soda. I look at the nutritional labels before I eat something. I really want to be able to pronounce the ingredients.

The third one – move more – was pretty easy because I was not moving at all. … I hated exercise, but instead of having to start exercising 30 minutes a day, I started with five minutes a day. If someone says ‘exercise for 45 minutes,’ you can say you are busy. But it’s really hard to argue you don’t have five minutes. And then it was well, if I can do five minutes, I can do 10.

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