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

Exercise and Diet, With a Shift

Upon opening your typical magazine, book, or website dedicated to diet and exercise, you're likely to find recipes, workout routines, and all sorts of advice on how to pump yourself up for doing what is, in many ways, an unpleasant thing for the rest of your life.

Of course, watching what you eat and working out on a regular basis are essential for developing physical fitness. Staying motivated is probably more important because the best diet and exercise program in the world will fall flat on its face if you only do it once an expect Adonis/Aphrodite-like results.

However, there is a different approach one can take, and it is this alternate path that is explored by Dean Dwyer in his book "Make Shi(f)t Happen".

The story is familiar. Dean was middle-aged, out of shape, and out of luck. He had struggled with low-fat diets and "calorie burning" workouts for years with little to show for it. Actually, he had a lot to show for it. There was a sizable "tire" around his midsection that seemed to be the ultimate insult, undulating as he ran as if to say "Keep on runnin!  See if I care!" while simultaneously flipping him a flabby bird.

Dean "before"

Expending energy without experiencing results is a situation that would break most people, causing them to give up and give in to the inevitable entropy that gradually overcomes all things. This would make for a rather depressing story, and a poor set up for a book about making things happen, so clearly that was not how things turned out.

Dean "after"

Rather than giving up, Dean channeled all of that frustration into trying to understand how to understand, how to think about his thinking, and how to systemize his doing. The result was that, for the first time, Dean was a lean mean fighting machine. Sporting a shiny new six-pack, he brought his message to the people, first with a successful blog, and ultimately, with his book.

While "Make Shi(f)t Happen" could be read in an afternoon, it is the type of book that lends itself to careful consideration and repeat viewings. Rather than giving you a diatribe about what you should and shouldn't eat (although diet is addressed towards the end of the book) Dean presents you with a list of "Shifts" that you can cherry pick from, tailoring what you get out of the book to what you need.

Each shift could be a book unto itself, but the power of "Make Shi(f)t Happen" is that 20 of these powerful ideas are collected in one place. There are psychological shifts (#14, "Squash the character flaw theory"), practical shifts (#7, "Smash the scale"), and physiological shifts (#2, "Discover your carb threshold"). Each one is expounded upon with detailed examples, action steps, and personal anecdotes. Additional books and resources are also listed, with many of them free on Dean's website.

Getting My Shift Together

I received a copy of the book to review several months ago, but I wanted to put it to the test before I put some words on the page. To say that it was significant would be downplaying what has turned out to be "seismic" in it's implications. After spending a few weeks reviewing the material, a few key shifts jumped out at me.

The first was shift #16, "Log Like Captain Kirk". I had been recommending that clients provide me with food and activity logs for years, but I secretly thought it was something only "weak" people lacking "self-control" did. In my mind, I was above the menial labor of "writing things down". I spat at the very thought of it.

While reading about Dean's own experience, where he essentially avoided taking action by dismissing the idea offhand, I realized that I was selling myself a load of bull shift and determined that I would begin logging immediately.  Concurrent with shift #16 ("Ships log...We are boldly making bacon for breakfast") was shift #15 ("Run your body like you would run a business") and shift #17 ("Think in beta"). The combined effect was that, for the first time, I began religiously logging my diet and exercise.

Shift just got real! The 6-pack is making a come back! (Ok, maybe it's more like a 4 1/2 pack but whatever.)

Using the "beta" mindset, I didn't stress about my log being perfect. I used a little pen and pad of paper that I  already owned and didn't bother counting calories or crunching macronutrient ratios.  My goal was to simply give myself the information I needed to handle my "business", the business of running my body like a Fortune 500 company.  To do that, I needed to be able to see what I was doing and to take a long-term view, rather than allowing myself to be tossed about on the sea of random daily fluctuations.

Months have passed since that pivotal decision, and I am happy to report that the weight loss and body composition plateau that had seemed so intractable before has fallen before the might of my shifted sensibilities.  The "cheat" that used to send me off into a spiral can now be viewed in the context of a solid week of healthy eating.  The feeling that I am not "exercising enough" can be assuaged by a simple flip of the page, and a reminder that, yes, I am in fact due for a rest day.


I just checked my stats and found that, from the time I started food logging (May 18th) to today (August 6th), my bodyweight has gone from 193lbs to 183.5lbs and by bodyfat has gone from 13.5% to 10.6% (weighing and checking with bioelectrical impedence under the same conditions every time). This is total loss of 9.5lbs and 2.9% bodyfat.

The Bottom Line

Reading "Make Shi(f)t Happen" is akin to talking with a friend. A thoughtful, intelligent, and understanding friend who actually cares about you succeeding.  With humor and sincerity, Dean speaks from personal experience and does not over-represent his qualifications. He has no problem giving credit to those who inspired his ideas, and in fact, embraces the notion that you should "steal like an artist", drawing insight from all facets of life and all manner of resources.

You should not steal this book, however, you should purchase it legally. You could even purchase it here -> ("Make Shi(f)t Happen") and Amazon will toss a give me a little change for my coconut oil fund.

You can also check out Dean's blog here -> Make Shift Happen

And, his sweet podcast here -> Make Shift Happen Podcast

Bonus! A Couple Real Life Shift Successes!

Read more about this success story here

Read more about this success story here
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About Unknown

Tony is the host of the Paleo Magazine Radio podcast, author of "Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman's Guide to Cooking with Fire", and Cofounder of Powerful PT, an innovative information resource for Fitness Professionals. He has appeared on numerous local and national television and radio broadcasts and regularly hosts healthy cooking workshops and informational lectures. He is also a full-time Personal Trainer and Wellness Consultant who lives in Jacksonville Florida with his wife Jamie.
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  1. Oh man, I love before and after pics, they're so inspiring!