I started my own fitness journey with two great books – Body for Life by Bill Phillips and Weight Training for Dummies. Body for Life taught me how to manage portions and eat a more balanced diet. (I was the vegetarian who didn’t eat vegetables.) Weight Training for Dummies taught me how to get off the treadmill and use those mysterious dumbbells.
After I started Thrive Personal Fitness, I felt I needed to read all the latest diet books. After awhile I came to the conclusion that while each one claims to have THE ANSWER and that their way is THE WAY to fitness, they actually all say pretty much the same thing:
- Eat less (by either cutting out entire food groups or with a specific meal plan/food combinations/nutrient timing).
- Eat better (give up sugar, wheat, animal products, dairy, processed foods or some combination of these).
- Exercise (although in some cases this is left out of diet books altogether).
I do believe you can learn just about anything from a book. I also believe an educated woman is a powerful woman. Instead of diet books, however, I recommend books to my clients that are going to increase their knowledge about the science of food, the brain and the body. Here are my current top picks that have been well discussed during workout warm ups and cool downs.
- Switch by Chip and Dan Heath
Change is hard, no question about it. The Heath Brothers break down behavior change using an easy to understand model (Direct the Rider, Motivate the Elephant, Clear the Path) that will not only help you change health habits but also influence others in any aspect of your life.
Learning the science of willpower is great. Theory however does us little good without a plan for action. This book is the action plan, a workbook for willpower. Each chapter has exercises for you try based on what has worked in her extremely popular willpower course at Stanford University. Pick your own willpower challenge and find the strategies that work best for you.
- Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Meditation has been a huge help to me in overcoming my sleep and stress issues. Mediation can seem like a very complicated thing but this book breaks it down into small and easy to understand chunks. Not only will you feel better with a regular mediation practice, you’ll be more present in every day life.
- The End of Overeating by Dr. David Kessler
You’re not imaging it. The food industry does know how to hit the button in your brain that says, “I must have the cookie!” When you’re educated about the ways in which food manufacturers manipulate you and your food choices it makes it easier to say “no thank you” to the drive up.
- The Hormone Cure by Dr. Sara Gottfried
Every woman should read this book. While she doesn’t “cure” anything, she does provide an excellent explanation of the complex relationship of estrogen, cortisol and thyroid hormone that I’ve ever seen. Lifestyle changes are front and center but she also gives you some great talking points for working with your doctor to solve hormone imbalances.
If we had our own fitness book club, what would you recommend we read? What book has made a profound effect on your fitness journey?