Recommended Reading

Eating in the Light of the Moon: How Women Can Transform Their Relationship with Food Through Myths, Metaphors, and Storytelling             Anita A. Johnston PhD.

Summary:  By weaving practical insights and exercises through a rich tapestry of multicultural myths, ancient legends, and folktales, Anita Johnston helps the millions of women preoccupied with their weight discover and address the issues behind their negative attitudes toward food.

“Storytellers speak in the language of myth and metaphor,” Johnston explains. “They tell us a truth that is not literal, but symbolic. If we hear the stories with only the outer ear, they can seem absurd and untrue, but when listened to with the inner ear, they convey a truth that can be understood and absorbed on a deeply personal level. In this way, stories help us connect with our inner world, to the natural rhythms and cycles of the earth, and to the power of our intuitive wisdom.”

Takeaway:  I love this entertaining way to explore disordered eating, the reasons behind disordered eating and the relationship women have with their bodies. We can all learn something about how we may have lost touch with our bodies and have become disconnected from our inner feminine and our hunger, and how to increase our self-awareness. It guides us through insights and practical exercises, toward empowerment, explaining how to regain the power of intuition and get in touch with feelings, instead of stuffing them down or numbing them away. Whether you are in recovery for an eating disorder or not, it is truly a book about the beauty of women and our inner strength.

I’ll Push You: A Journey of 500 Miles, Two Best Friends, and One Wheelchair         Patrick Gray and Jason Skeesuck

Summary:  Friendship takes on new meaning in this true story of Justin and Patrick, born less than two days apart in the same hospital. Best friends their whole lives, they grew up together, went to school together, and were best man in each other’s weddings. When Justin was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease that robbed him of the use of his arms and legs, Patrick was there, helping to feed and care for him in ways he’d never imagined. Determined to live life to the fullest, the friends refused to give into despair or let physical limitations control what was possible for Justin.

So when Justin heard about the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile trek through Spain, he wondered aloud to Patrick whether the two of them could ever do it. Patrick’s immediate response was: “I’ll push you.”

I’ll Push You is the real-life story of this incredible journey. A travel adventure full of love, humor, and spiritual truth, it exemplifies what every friendship is meant to be and shows what it means to never find yourself alone. You’ll discover how love and faith can push past all limits―and make us the best versions of ourselves.

Takeaway:  A story of strength – physical, mental, spiritual, but the highlight for me is the strength of relationships and the importance of holding space for those in our lives. We are so much stronger together than we are by ourselves. Learning to open ourselves up to those relationships allows us to let go of the need to control and let others into our lives to help; it allows others joy that contributing creates and therefore gives us joy in return. These experiences and relationships create a much richer life.               

Stop Saying You’re Fine: The No-BS Guide to Getting What You Want      Mel Robbins

Summary:  This hands-on guide from Mel Robbins, one of America’s top relationship experts and radio/tv personalities, addresses why over 100 million Americans secretly feel frustrated and bored with their lives and reveals what you can do about it.

Mel Robbins has spent her career teaching people how to push past their self-imposed limits to get what they truly desire. She has an in-depth understanding of the psychological and social factors that repeatedly hold you back, and more important, a unique set of tools for getting you where you want to be. In Stop Saying You’re Fine, she draws on neuroscientific research, interviews with countless everyday people, and ideas she’s tested in her own life to show what works and what doesn’t. The key, she explains, is understanding how your own brain works against you. Because evolution has biased your mental gears against taking action, what you need are techniques to outsmart yourself.

That may sound impossible, but Mel has created a remarkably effective method to help you do just that–and some of her discoveries will astonish you. By ignoring how you feel and seizing small moments of rich possibility–a process she calls “leaning in”–you can make tiny course directions add up to huge change. Among this book’s other topics: how everything can depend on not hitting the “snooze” button; the science of connecting with other people, what children can teach us about getting things done; and why five seconds is the maximum time you should wait before acting on a great idea.

Blending warmth, humor and unflinching honesty with up-to-the-minute science and hard-earned wisdom, Stop Saying You’re Fine moves beyond the platitudes and easy fixes offered in many self-help books. Mel’s insights will actually help vault you to a better life, ensuring that the next time someone asks how you’re doing, you can truthfully answer, “Absolutely great.”

Takeaway:  Learning that you stand in your own way to accomplishing what you want to accomplish is mind boggling. But how many times have you considered a change, then spent time over-thinking it, decided it would be too much and finally decided that the status quo was easier. Even though it isn’t what you really want and it doesn’t inspire you or excite you? Change is scary. But you can learn how to live a more fulfilling life by making progress toward and reaching your goals. You may also find interesting opportunities along the way.

Your Body’s Many Cries for Water: A Revolutionary Natural Way to Prevent Illness and Restore Good Health             Dr. F. Batmanghelidj

Summary:  In his best-known work Dr. B outlines the breakthrough medical discovery, that if we drank more water daily degenerative diseases such as asthma, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, bulimia, Alzheimer’s disease and many other afflictions could be prevented and sometimes cured. This book explains a new discovery that lack of water in the body-chronic dehydration-is the root cause of many painful degenerative diseases, asthma, allergies, hypertension, excess body weight, and some emotional problems, including depression. The book explains the damaging effects of dehydration in the fourth dimension of time.

You will learn how to use water to:

  • Prevent and reverse premature aging
  • Eliminate pains, including heartburn, back pain, arthritis, colitis pain, anginal pain, and migraine headaches
  • Cure asthma in a few days, naturally and forever
  • Cure hypertension without diuretics or other medication
  • Lose weight effortlessly and naturally, without strict dieting

Takeaway:  The majority of the population spends each day dehydrated. This book explains the science behind how your body uses water and how it compensates when there isn’t enough water. This dehydration impacts our bodies in different ways, and long term dehydration can turn into disease. It seems so simple to just add water to improve your overall wellbeing and health!

Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment       Tal Ben-Shahar

Summary:  Can You Learn to Be Happy? YES . . . according to the teacher of Harvard University’s most popular and life-changing course. One out of every five Harvard students has lined up to hear Tal Ben-Shahar’s insightful and inspiring lectures on that ever-elusive state: HAPPINESS.

HOW? Grounded in the revolutionary “positive psychology” movement, Ben-Shahar ingeniously combines scientific studies, scholarly research, self-help advice, and spiritual enlightenment. He weaves them together into a set of principles that you can apply to your daily life. Once you open your heart and mind to Happier ’s thoughts, you will feel more fulfilled, more connected . . . and, yes, HAPPIER.

If you’re a “rat racer,” who lives in the hope of being happy in the future, and yet is unable to enjoy the here-and-now . . .

If you’re a “hedonist,” who finds some pleasure in the good things in life–good wine, good food, good company–and yet is unable to enjoy lasting fulfillment . . .

If you’re a “nihilist,” who’s completely given up on finding happiness . . .you can learn to be happier!

Thousands of Harvard University students have discovered that you can become happier. They learned the secret to lasting fulfillment from acclaimed teacher Tal Ben-Shahar’s class on positive psychology–a branch of psychology that combines the latest scientific research with good old common sense. Now you can join his class and learn how positive psychology can make you happier right now–no lottery windfall, job promotion, or new love required.

Think of Happier as your own personal workbook. As you read each chapter’s illuminating discussion on happiness and incorporate its simple exercises into your daily routine, you will see every aspect of your life with new eyes and a new sense of purpose.

When you learn how to live for today and for tomorrow at the same time, you learn how to balance your immediate personal needs with long-term goals and enjoy life as you never have before.

Takeaway:  These same principles apply to our health and wellness. We can learn to balance pleasure in food and fitness today, knowing that we are also building for our future well-being.

The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor          Mark Schatzker

Summary:  A lively and important argument from an award-winning journalist proving that the key to reversing America’s health crisis lies in the overlooked link between nutrition and flavor.

In The Dorito Effect, Mark Schatzker shows us how our approach to the nation’s number one public health crisis has gotten it wrong. The epidemics of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes are not tied to the overabundance of fat or carbs or any other specific nutrient. Instead, we have been led astray by the growing divide between flavor—the tastes we crave—and the underlying nutrition.

Since the late 1940s, we have been slowly leeching flavor out of the food we grow. Those perfectly round, red tomatoes that grace our supermarket aisles today are mostly water, and the big breasted chickens on our dinner plates grow three times faster than they used to, leaving them dry and tasteless. Simultaneously, we have taken great leaps forward in technology, allowing us to produce in the lab the very flavors that are being lost on the farm. Thanks to this largely invisible epidemic, seemingly healthy food is becoming more like junk food: highly craveable but nutritionally empty. We have unknowingly interfered with an ancient chemical language—flavor—that evolved to guide our nutrition, not destroy it.

With in-depth historical and scientific research, The Dorito Effect casts the food crisis in a fascinating new light, weaving an enthralling tale of how we got to this point and where we are headed. We’ve been telling ourselves that our addiction to flavor is the problem, but it is actually the solution. We are on the cusp of a new revolution in agriculture that will allow us to eat healthier and live longer by enjoying flavor the way nature intended.

Takeaway:    Explores how nutrition is related to flavor -> the flavor of real food. The evolution of food has led us to bland, which has led to chemically flavored food. More real food flavor = more nutrition.

Mindless Eating:  Why We Eat More Than We Think            Brian Wansink, Ph.D.

Summary:  This book will literally change the way you think about your next meal. Food psychologist Brian Wansink revolutionizes our awareness of how much, what, and why we’re eating—often without realizing it. His findings will astound you.

• Can the size of your plate really influence your appetite?
• Why do you eat more when you dine with friends?
• What “hidden persuaders” are used by restaurants and supermarkets to get us to  overeat?
• How does music or the color of the room influence how much—and how fast—we eat?
• How can we “mindlessly” lose—instead of gain—up to twenty pounds in the coming year?

Starting today, you can make more mindful, enjoyable, and healthy choices at the dinner table, in the supermarket, at the office—wherever you satisfy your appetite.

Takeaway:  Eliminate 100-200 calories a day (mindless margin) by simply knowing what our environment is telling us about eating:  container size, placement – desk, restaurant, parties, snacks, meals, labels, distractions.  Use food tradeoffs, food policies to reengineer.  Power of three-doable changes to make a habit using checklists.

The FastDiet:  Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting            Dr. Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer

Summary:  Is it possible to eat normally, five days a week, and become slimmer and healthier as a result? 
Simple answer: yes. You just limit your calorie intake for two nonconsecutive days each week—500 calories for women, 600 for men. You’ll lose weight quickly and effortlessly with the FastDiet.

Scientific trials of intermittent fasters have shown that it will not only help the pounds fly off, but also reduce your risk of a range of diseases from diabetes to cardiovascular disease and even cancer. “The scientific evidence is strong that intermittent fasting can improve health,” says Dr. Mark Mattson, Chief of the Laboratory of Neurosciences, National Institute on Aging, and Professor of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University.

This book brings together the results of new, groundbreaking research to create a dietary program that can be incorporated into your busy daily life.

Far from being just another fad, the FastDiet is a radical new way of thinking about food, a lifestyle choice that could transform your health. This is your indispensable guide to simple and effective weight loss, without fuss or the need to endlessly deprive yourself.

Takeaway:  While I don’t support dieting or restricting, it is interesting to note that science has shown the health benefits of fasting – improved blood sugar levels, lowered cholesterol, anti-aging effects in the brain, lowered insulin-like growth factor hormone.  By emptying your “tank” twice a week, you are allowing your body to go into repair mode rather than constant growth mode (a high level of IGF-1 is a risk factor for cancer) and to use fat stores for fuel which helps to eliminate visceral fat in the abdominal area (which is a risk factor for diabetes).

Wheat Belly:  Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health       William Davis, MD

Summary:  Every day, over 200 million Americans consume food products made of wheat. As a result, over 100 million of them experience some form of adverse health effect, ranging from minor rashes and high blood sugar to the unattractive stomach bulges that preventive cardiologist William Davis calls “wheat bellies.” According to Davis, that excess fat has nothing to do with gluttony, sloth, or too much butter: It’s due to the whole grain wraps we eat for lunch.

After witnessing over 2,000 patients regain their health after giving up wheat, Davis reached the
disturbing conclusion that wheat is the single largest contributor to the nationwide obesity epidemic—and its elimination is key to dramatic weight loss and optimal health. In Wheat Belly, Davis exposes the harmful effects of what is actually a product of genetic tinkering and agribusiness being sold to the American public as “wheat”—and provides readers with a user-friendly, step-by-step plan to navigate a new, wheat-free lifestyle.

Informed by cutting-edge science and nutrition, along with case studies from men and women who
have experienced life-changing transformations in their health after waving goodbye to wheat, Wheat
 is an illuminating look at what is truly making Americans sick and an action plan to clear our plates of this seemingly benign ingredient.

Takeaway:  It seems our American diet has shift to a diet heavy on grains and processed food, which can cause a myriad of health problems. There are lots of science-y explanations (which I appreciate, but you may not) about how the body manages wheat and the effects on the body. I think it’s important to recognize that elimination of the consumption of wheat may improve how you feel. Removing wheat from the diet may not be for everyone. But perhaps a reduction in the amount of wheat products consumed would have a profound effect on health and weight.

Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss      Joel Fuhrman, MD

Summary: Hailed a “medical breakthrough” by Dr. Mehmet Oz, EAT TO LIVE offers a highly effective, scientifically proven way to lose weight quickly. The key to Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s revolutionary six-week plan is simple: health = nutrients / calories. When the ratio of nutrients to calories in the food you eat is high, you lose weight. The more nutrient-dense food you eat, the less you crave fat, sweets, and high-caloric foods.

The Eat To Live 2011 revised edition includes updated scientific research supporting Dr. Fuhrman’s revolutionary six-week plan and a brand new chapter highlighting Dr. Fuhrman’s discovery of toxic hunger and the role of food addiction in weight issues.  This new chapter provides novel and important insights into weight gain. It explains how and why eating the wrong foods causes toxic hunger and the desire to over consume calories; whereas a diet of high micronutrient quality causes true hunger which decreases the sensations leading to food cravings and overeating behaviors.  It instructs readers on how to leave behind the discomfort of toxic hunger, cravings, and addictions to unhealthy foods.

This is a book that will let you live longer, reduce your need for medications, and improve your health dramatically. It is a book that will change the way you want to eat. Most importantly, if you follow the Eat To Live™ diet, you will lose weight faster than you ever thought possible.

Takeaway:  This book teaches you how to move away from the Americanized diet of low fiber, low nutrient, over sugared and salted foods. When you learn to fill your body with plant foods rich in nutrients, your eating habits change and your health improves. This reinforces the fact that many of us need to eliminate processed foods from our diet and increase our intake of fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruits and vegetables are the key to health. Here is a tip from the book:  To help you remember the importance of raw vegetables, put a big sign on your refrigerator that says, “The Salad is the Main Dish.”

Fight Fat After Forty: The Revolutionary Three-Pronged Approach That Will Break Your Stress-Fat Cycle and Make You Healthy, Fit, and Trim for Life           Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH

It’s a fact: stress makes you fat. Renowned clinician and scientist Dr. Pamela Peeke goes beyond diet and exercise with a lifestyle program that shows women how to stop being diet “POWs” (“Prisoners Of Weight”) or victims of “Toxic Stress” and how to evolve into physically and mentally stress-resilient individuals. Peeke helps women identify their stress-eating profiles (Are you a stress-overeater? A stress-undereater?) and explains that to remove weight, you have to lift weight. She explains what to eat and, equally as important, when to eat by navigating the afternoon “CortiZone,” the hours of highest vulnerability to stress eating. Learn how to put it all together through the fine art of regrouping.

Women can tailor this accessible program to their individual needs using Peeke’s three behavior templates:
* Stress-resilient nutrition
* Stress-resilient physical activity
* Stress-resilient regrouping

Dr. Peeke’s program is a must for women who want to break the stress-fat cycle that has thickened their after-forty waistlines.

Takeaway:  Women’s hormones change around the age of forty, requiring that we step back, assess ourselves and adjust our lifestyle to cope with the changes. Stress creates an environment of distress for your body and creates a hectic reactive mode to live in. By recognizing what stress does to you and your reaction, you can create a plan to manage it. You can live with stress – and all the bumps in life’s road that tend to throw you off-track, and prevent weight gain by incorporating a plan for healthy eating and both aerobic and strength training exercise into your life. The key is to have an everyday plan and a backup plan! Dr. Peeke gives insight into these areas and how you can do this.

Love Your Body, Love Your Life: 5 Steps to End Negative Body Obsession and Start Living Happily and Confidently      Sarah Maria

Eating disorders. Steroids. Plastic Surgery.
We’ll do anything to look better—and yet we still feel bad about how we look. Self-loathing has reached epidemic proportions. But there is a way to end self-destructive thoughts and behavior. In this book, noted body-image expert Sarah Maria presents her proven five-step plan anyone can use to overcome negative body obsession (NBO). She helps you:
• Commit to change
• Identify and detach from negative thoughts
• Discover who you really are
• Befriend your body
• Find your purpose
• Love your body, love your life
Complete with exercises, case studies, and testimonials, you can learn how to stop obsessing over food and your body and achieve permanent peace with both. You’ll banish NBO forever, and feel healthy, radiant, beautiful, and desirable—every day!

Takeaway: Negative body obsession can affect all parts of your life, including self-worth, confidence, relationships with people and food, and emotional and physical stability. Teach yourself to see and value the beauty you are today. Learn how negative body obsession came to be, how to recognize it, how to manage it, how not to let it run your life by moving beyond it. There are valuable lessons and exercises to help you.

Superfood Super You     Dr. Josh Axe

The statistics are stunning! 34% of Americans are obese and 32% are overweight. 32% of kids are overweight…. And 16% of American children are already obese! We don’t just need to lose weight to look good in a swimsuit, we need to lose weight to live and fulfill our God-given missions. Research shows that obesity doubles your risk of heart failure and triples the risk of breast cancer in women! By eating the right Superfoods, you won’t just lose the weight, but you’ll be changing your life, your legacy, and changing your world. Download Dr. Axe’s Superfood Super You and discover the nutrients that have been scientifically proven to help your body burn fat and lose weight.

Takeaway:  A short e-book available at A suggested list of foods to add to your real food intake with an understanding of why you should be eating them.