A very strange thing has happened. All my winter clothing has shrunk in my closet. Gone are the days of summer, with breezy, flowing warm weather dresses, and stretchy pants worn with easy cotton T-shirts. Since I can’t afford a whole new wardrobe, I must reduce my body to fit back into what I own. Goodbye ice cream, hello celery.
Who better to help me out than Bob Harper, host of “The Biggest Loser”? Harper got the idea for THE SKINNY RULES from Ben, the husband of Season 11 winner Olivia. Ben followed Harper’s tweets at home, and when he came to the taping of the finale, he’d lost 100 pounds. Harper decided the time was right to put all the fundamentals of weight loss into a book that everyone can access. Written with Greg Critser, the guide includes some tried-and-true tips, such as drink plenty of water; and don’t eat anything after dinner, the better to burn extra calories. He’s also suggesting some rather novel methods, such as planning a splurge (not a binge) every now and then. Menu plans are included, as are some tasty looking recipes.
While we have skinny on our minds, why not investigate THE SCIENCE OF SKINNY? Dee McCaffrey, CDC, is an organic chemist. Familiar with such chemicals as sodium lauryl sulfate, McCaffrey was surprised to find just how many similar substances are in our packaged food. Since she herself has battled a weight problem her whole life, McCaffrey began to wonder if there might be a correlation between the chemicals we ingest, and the obesity epidemic in this country. McCaffrey uses the subtitle “Start Understanding Your Body’s Chemistry-and Stop Dieting Forever” to express her philosophy. The information that she lost 100 pounds in thirteen months attests to the fact that her program really works. Not only that, but the author has kept off this weight for over twenty years, an astonishing feat when 95% of all dieters regain weight. An added bonus to following McCaffrey’s advice is the possibility of lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar levels, relief from arthritis symptoms, and better quality of sleep.
Who wouldn’t want to look like gorgeous model Carol Alt? Along with Leda Scheintaub, she’s written EASY SEXY RAW to tout the benefits of a raw food eating regime. Alt understands that the transition from cooked to raw food is challenging, and she considers this a primer for those who want to transform their method of eating to attain better health. Getting slimmer is just one of the benefits. Others include curing headaches, fatigue, and certain stomach issues. Alt includes a wealth of information (who knew that wild rice isn’t rice at all, but a grass). Some of her recipes, like Lapsang Souschong Wild Mushrooms sound a bit exotic for most home cooks, but others, such as Tuna Rolls, sound eminently doable.
Very often reducing sodium intake is part of healthy dieting. Nutritionist Robyn Webb has found a way around bland, boring meals with YOU WON’T BELIEVE IT’S SALT-FREE. Webb has included “125 Healthy, Low-Sodium and No-Sodium Recipes Using Flavorful Spice Blends.” Webb contends that there’s no reason so many Americans have to suffer from high blood pressure, and that many could be helped if they lowered their intake of salt. Webb provides a special section on marinades, including instructions on how to make them, and how to get the most out of them. Are her recipes dull? Not hardly; consider Chinese Five-Spice Melon Soup and Sea Bass With Tandoori Spice, to name just two mouth-watering dishes.
THE 30 MINUTE VEGAN’S TASTE OF EUROPE: 150 PLANT-BASED MAKEOVERS OF CLASSICS FROM FRANCE, ITALY, SPAIN AND BEYOND is Mark Reinfeld’s follow-up to the popular “The 30 Minute Vegan.” Reinfeld also focuses on using interesting herbs and spices in dishes; since most of the dishes are gluten-free, it’s not hard to find many that are weight loss friendly. Raw foods are an option here, too. Focusing on what he calls “Vegan Fusion,” Reinfeld has broken down the recipes into eight regions: France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The author emphasizes that cooking and eating should be fun, and that the kitchen should be a peaceful, harmonious place.
There’s just no way to get around exercising if we want to stay healthy. In THE FIRST 20 MINUTES, award winning journalist Gretchen Reynolds believes that “Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer.” Reynolds is an iconoclast, proposing that stretching may be bad for muscles, overdrinking water can kill, and weight training makes us smarter. 45 million Americans are engaged in some sort of exercise, whether in a gym or at home, and most of us just follow without question what we’ve been told to do. Reynolds, who writes the widely read “Phys Ed” column for the New York Times, tackles questions of how much and what kind of exercise we actually should be doing, and discusses the right equipment, form, and routine we need to get the most out of our exercise, while avoiding injuries.
It’s great to have so many options at our fingertips. And I’m happy I can enjoy reading these terrific books while I’m on my treadmill.
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Michall Jeffers is an accomplished Cultural Journalist and an avowed bibliophile. She writes extensively, both in print and online. Her eponymous cable TV show is syndicated throughout the tri-state area, and features celebrity interviews, reviews, and commentary. Michall is a voting member of National Book Critics Circle. www.michalljeffers.com