The other day I wandered over to my local bookstore and headed towards the health and fitness section. As I stood there, I realized that there are so many books out there making all kinds of claims that it can make anyone’s head spin; no wonder most of us are still confused about what a healthy lifestyle really is. Deciphering what’s legit and what’s hokum can be pretty tricky, especially when it comes to nutrition and fitness where there’s a new trend popping up each week claiming to be the best solution to your diet woes. So let’s take a look at that today and finally figure out what literature can be a good investment for you and what you should just walk away from.
Any book with the word miracle in its title should be your first red flag; there is no such thing as a miracle ingredient, diet or workout. The same goes for the words cure, wonder or phenomenon as these are all false claims. Remember, there is no one solution to getting you fit and healthy; when you put everything together and you eat a clean, balanced diet where all of your macros are in order with your goals and you combine that with regular, challenging workouts, hydration and plenty of rest, that’s when you’ll get into the best shape of your life and actually be able to maintain it throughout your life. Any literature that claims otherwise is a down right lie. Another popular word used in diet books is skinny. For me, the word skinny paints a picture of a stick figure with a gaunt looking face and quite frankly, an overall hungry looking individual, who may fit into a size 00, but can’t lift more than a 2 lbs dumbbell without dripping sweat. Before you buy another book with skinny written on the cover, ask yourself: Do you really want to be like that? Is that actually healthy? Will that make you feel good about yourself? If you answer no to any of these questions, then that should be enough for you to put the book down before you waste your money on it. Also, keep your eyes peeled for any title that says Lose 10 pounds in 10 days or Lose 30 pounds in 1 month, because those are not only unrealistic but unhealthy to have as goals.
The next aspect to consider is the author’s credentials. Many books may be written by celebrities who have lost weight and want to share their story, which is great, but what works for them may not necessarily work for you. Also they may have enlisted the extra help of a personal trainer, dietician and/or private chef all of which may be out of your budget. That’s not to say that a book written by someone famous has no validity; many choose to write alongside a health care expert who can support their claims and act as an additional resource. Some may be written by celebrity trainers that worked with people on reality TV shows and helped them lose tons of weight. Now granted these trainers are certified, but the contestants are usually away from home for months on end and all they do is workout and follow a very strict, low calorie diet, so be wary and keep in mind that healthy weight loss is that can be maintained long term is usually no more than 2 pounds per week.
Now let’s look at actual content. Before we go any further, think about what your goal is and what you really need to work at. Maybe right now you just need to tweak your diet because you’ve hit a plateau, you want to lean out or you just want to shake things up a bit and get out of your usual routine. If that’s the case then look for something that mainly focuses on nutrition and includes a meal plan, recipes and healthy cooking tips. Look for something that helps you calculate how much you should be eating based on your current goals and how to organize your meals and snacks each day. Maybe instead of nutrition, you’re looking more for something with a fitness focus. If this is you, then be on the lookout for something that includes a full workout plan with both cardio and strength training with different options for your workout split and schedule. If you’re new to fitness or if you want to start a new workout, then look for a book that includes a step by step how to guide with photos to show you proper form and to prevent injury. Maybe you’re starting from scratch and are looking to completely overhaul your lifestyle. If that’s your goal then you need a book that incorporates every part of a healthy lifestyle. You want to get as much information here as possible, so choose something that has the nutrition, fitness, hydration, supplementation, rest and recovery all included and detailed. Go for something that will give you the structure and guidance that you need to get to where you want to go.
Flip through the pages and read the jacket before you buy anything, but most of all choose whatever speaks to you and what seems like a good fit for you. It should be motivational and inspirational, it should be a tool that you can refer back to even after you’ve read it cover to cover. I must admit that I have quite the collection myself and over the years I’ve learned how to weed out the trendy one-hit wonders from the real science backed proven and effective resources that I can read over and over and use to tweak my lifestyle as I go along. There’s lots of stuff out there, so just pick something that you feel will help you the most and that will give you exactly what you need to succeed.
Here is a list of few books that I have in my personal library that I absolutely love and that have helped me learn and get into great shape:
The Body Book by Cameron Diaz – This book provides a very detailed explanation of how the human body functions and a rundown of what she currently uses to stay healthy. She enlisted the help of many healthcare experts so there’s lots of good and valid information here.
101 Body-Sculpting Workouts & Nutrition Plans: For Women by Muscle & Fitness Hers – This is one of my favorites, it includes tons of different workouts and breaks them down step by step while showing you how to create the best workout split. It also includes meal plans depending on whether you want to lean out or buff up. I refer back this book any time I need to change up my workout or tweak my diet.
The Oxygen Diet Solution: Your Ultimate 28-Day Shape-Up Plan by Susan M. Kleiner – This is a really excellent read; it provides an all in one solution to whatever your goal may be. It includes 28 day meal and workout plans for building muscle, losing fat and boosting immunity along with tips on how to stay fit while traveling, a guide on supplements and lots of recipes.
The Badass Body Diet by Christmas Abbott – I just bought this book and although I’ve only flipped through it, it definitely seems promising!
Start It, Finish It