By Tina Haupert
If you've ever tried to lose weight, you probably know that there are thousands of books that concern dieting and exercise. I've always enjoyed reading about health, wellness, and nutrition, and often find that this type of information provides me with motivation for maintaining my weight. But where do you start? Here are a few of the books that helped me lose weight and continue to motivate me to live a healthy lifestyle.
Fit from Within
When I started losing weight, I read about a book called Fit from Within: 101 Simple Secrets to Change Your Body and Your Life—Starting Today and Lasting Forever. Even with a cheesy title, this book helped me change my outlook on eating, weight loss, and life in general. The book includes 101 "simple secrets" to change your body and your life. Some of the secrets seemed like common sense, but others really made me think. I definitely had a lot of "Aha!" moments while reading this book! Here are a few chapter headings that continue to resonate with me: "Focus on Living a Quality Life," "Get Up, Get Dressed, Get Going," "Accept Yourself Today," and "Walk More." I still pick up this book from time to time when I need some motivation.
My favorite “simple secret” from Fit from Within is "Get Up, Get Dressed, Get Going." The author relates it to overeating, but it applies to other parts of life as well. Basically, when your body is occupied, your mind is too. When you get up, get dressed, and get going, you’re ready to live your day with purpose and get things done. I might not feel like getting going, but once I do, I notice a difference in my attitude, which transfers to watching what I put into my mouth and sticking to my workout routine. For example, I like to shower before I get dressed, but I don’t like to shower more than once a day, which means I regularly exercise first thing in the morning. After taking a shower and putting on clean clothes, my day gets off on the right foot, which really makes a difference in my healthy outlook for the day.
I adore Bethenny Frankel, and I’ve been a fan of hers for years. Her book, Naturally Thin: Unleash Your SkinnyGirl and Free Yourself from a Lifetime of Dieting, is great for someone trying to lay the foundation for their eating habits. Bethenny’s approach is a good reminder to practice a little self-control every now and then. Much of Naturally Thin is about eating in moderation, not denying yourself, and satisfying cravings.
Naturally Thin is split into two sections: "The Rules" and "The Naturally Thin Program." All of Bethenny’s rules are great advice for someone wishing to lose or maintain her weight. A number of the rules hit home for me and changed my thinking about how, when, and why I eat:
- Your diet is your bank account. This is basically the thinking behind my blog Carrots ‘N’ Cake. You can have your cake as long as you eat your carrots! Bethenny explains that you need to balance your food choices. She suggests balancing a carb-y meal (oatmeal) with a protein-packed meal (salad with chicken breast) and a final meal that combines both carbs and protein. This rule opened my eyes to the lack of protein in some of my own meals—no wonder I am a bottomless pit after eating two carb-heavy meals in a row!
- You can have it all, just not all at once. I’ve actually repeated this rule in my head when dining out or attending special events with lots of yummy food. Obviously, I don’t deprive myself, but I don’t need to allow myself every delicious treat that passes my plate. For instance, when eating out, I don’t need to have a piece of bread from the bread basket, a glass of wine, an entrée, and dessert! Bethenny suggests picking what you want most and enjoying it. You can always have dessert another time; it’s not going anywhere.
- Good for you. This was my favorite rule out of the bunch, mostly because I blog about what works for me every day on Carrots 'N' Cake. For example, I eat oatmeal with nut butter almost every morning, but that doesn’t mean that other people should eat the exact same thing. Maybe you dislike mushy foods. Maybe the thought of breakfast makes you sick to your stomach and dinner is your favorite meal of the day. You need to find out what is good for you and do it. You are the only person who really knows what works best!
The second section of Naturally Thin goes through a week of Bethenny’s eating and shows you how to implement the rules in everyday life situations. In this context, a number of her rules made perfect sense to me. In other instances, however, it seemed like she wasn’t eating enough calories. Bethenny is doing what is good for her, but I prefer to eat a lot more! Even though I didn't love the second part of the book, there is something to be gained from Bethenny’s approach to eating. It calls on you to be accountable and responsible for your own food choices, but also encourages you to enjoy what you really want to eat in moderation. It is important, however, to remember that this book was not written by a doctor or registered dietitian, and what works for Bethenny may not work for you.
Michael's Pollan's Food Rules: An Eater's Manual is a pocket guide for healthy eating. It's simple, sensible, and easy to use, especially for people who might be struggling with their weight. Food Rules definitely gave me a different outlook on what and how to eat!
This book is broken down into three sections: What should I eat? (Eat food), What kind of food should I eat? (Mostly plants), and How should I eat? (Not too much). Each section includes 20 or so rules that you can pick and choose from in order to eat a healthy diet. Some of the rules seem like such common sense that it is almost laughable to include them, but that is why this book is so important. It takes complex and often conflicting information about food and diets and turns it into something relatable and accessible to everyday life. Basically, it takes the confusion out of eating healthy.
Here are a bunch of my favorite rules from the book:
- Rule No. 7: "Avoid products containing ingredients a third grader cannot pronounce."
- Rule No. 11: "Avoid foods you see advertised on television."
- Rule No. 19: "If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don't."
- Rule No. 20: "It's not food if it arrived through the window of your car."
- Rule No. 23: "Treat meat as a flavoring or special occasion food."
- Rule No. 39: "Eat all of the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself."