Fondren’s fitness and diet approach is based on her experiences running her Shape Up program in Mississippi.
Fondren begins with a summary of her background. She was one of 13 children in a Vicksburg, Mississippi, family that struggled to put food on the table. After her mother’s death, Fondren became a teenage wife and mother, but the marriage soon ended, and she moved to California. After a string of bank jobs, Fondren relocated to Nevada to join a legal brothel where she met her second husband, Jim. The two became financially secure and eventually moved back to Vicksburg, where Fondren opened a gym called Shape Up Sisters in reaction to her own sister’s death from cancer and obesity. In 2009, Fondren launched the program Shape Up Vicksburg, which helped participants lose a total of 15,000 pounds. She used this experience to develop a diet and fitness plan based on the idea of starting small—cutting calories by making small changes and becoming more active in little ways—as well as a homemade version of the circuit workout. She also includes healthier, lighter recipes for classic Southern dishes. The recipes, however, don’t list nutritional data or even calorie counts, an odd omission in a diet book. Fondren’s approach is somewhat oversimplified, but this is understandable considering her goal is to motivate reluctant women to embrace fitness and smart food choices. Her suggestions for shopping healthy on a budget are clever and helpful, and the “home circuit” fitness plan is a great way for a sedentary person to start working out. Fondren also offers tips for spreading the word to others and for starting a program similar to Shape Up Vicksburg in other communities.
A good starting place for diet and fitness newbies, but it’s best supplemented by more heavily researched, detailed approaches.