Book Review: Make Shi(f)t Happen by Dean Dwyer

April 17, 2012 in Categories: by

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An increasing number of people are realizing that the diet and lifestyle recommendations made by the FDA and the medical establishment are not conducive to good health.  In fact, if you eat according to the food pyramid, you are almost guaranteed an eventual prescription for insulin, cox-2 inhibitors and/or statin drugs.  More and more, people are searching for solutions to their weight and health problems, and they are no longer turning to their doctors or the government for answers.  This is why it is so exciting to be a part of what some people call The Paleo Movement, a growing public realization that paleolithic nutrition is optimal for our health and for the environment. 

It is truly exciting to see such a surge in the number of paleo resource books available.  These books typically fall into one of two categories:  books explaining the scientific basis of paleolithic nutrition and lifestyle, or cookbooks.  However, Make Shi(f)t Happen by Dean Dwyer, the blogger responsible for, is neither.  Instead, it is perhaps the first of a new category of paleo resource books:  this is a motivational book within a paleo framework. 

Make Shi(f)t Happen focusses on preparing mentally and behaviorally for the change to both a paleo diet and paleolithic lifestyle (what Robb Wolf calls “the paleo template”).  Within the context of Dean’s own battle with weight and fitness, Dean presents 20 “shi(f)ts” that helped him lose 40 pounds and achieve a high level of fitness (and the physique to match).  These shi(f)ts represent a series of small(ish) steps you can make to change the way you approach food and exercise. 

The book is very approachable and Dean achieves his goal of being able to relate to his readers in a way that makes you feel as though you are having a conversation across the dinner table.  His self-deprecating humor and the personal stories from his past leave you feeling like “if this worked for Dean, then it has to work for me!”.  Plus, I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion.  Often, people approach paleolithic nutrition as a set of restrictions, which over the long term, can be incompatible with the challenges of modern life.  Make Shi(f)t Happen focusses more on our attitude toward food and approach to life, effectively deemphasizing the deprivation we all feel at times (and providing some ideas for how to cope with it too).  By providing strategies for changing behaviors related to diet and lifestyle, Dean seeks to help the reader maintain lasting positive change. 

Most of Dean’s shi(f)ts make such intuitive sense that I find it hard to believe they could lead to anything but success, not only in weight-loss and implementing a sustainable healthy diet and lifestyle, but in any venture.  Dean presents some truly insightful suggestions for simplifying life and finding personal solutions to the reader’s individual challenges.  Perhaps my favorite shi(f)t is Number 8: Be 911, where Dean suggest that fitness goals should be focused on one’s ability to survive (and perhaps be the hero of) an accident or disaster.  I absolutely love the concept of setting fitness goals and training with heroism in mind.  However, there are a couple of Dean’s suggested shi(f)ts that are the complete opposite of what has worked for me to lose 120 pounds (especially his firm belief in logging everything you eat).  Those particular strategies have not worked for me and ultimately contributed to my past failures.  However, Dean’s focus is not for you to implement every single one of his suggestions as the only way to find success.  Instead, Dean presents a list of ideas of what worked for him and what may help you to change your behaviors and improve your approach to diet, lifestyle, how you look at your body, and how you evaluate your success.

I am not the intended audience for this book.  I am someone who has already found my way to health, including forming lifelong habits to sustain my weight loss and learning how to incorporate the tenants of a paleolithic lifestyle for myself and my family.  That being said, I am still struggling to lose those last 10-15 pounds and Dean is jacked.  But generally, this is a resource for those seeking to adopt a paleolithic lifestyle who are overwhelmed by the amount of change required and who are struggling to make that change.  I think Make Shi(f)t Happen will find its niche as a companion book to one of the prerequisite science-based paleo resource books (like my favorites The Paleo Solution, The Paleo Diet, and The Paleo Answer). 


Thank you for the review. I will recommend it to my friends who say “there is no way I could give [x, y, z] up!”

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