Welcome!Hey there! I'm Holly. A 40+ year old insurance-nerd wife, mom, beauty lover, and about a million other things in between. This is the place where I share about our lives, what I'm currently loving, books I'm reading, plus-size style, beauty recommendations, health + fitness endeavors and anything else I'm finding interesting at the moment. Thanks for stopping by!
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Category Archives: Books
I finished my first book of 2016 and the only word I could think of to describe the experience of reading it was COMFORTING. The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin was a literal delight. It was short, sweet, light hearted, and warm, but it’s most notable quality was that it screamed: FOR BOOK LOVERS!
“A book for book lovers” is an expression I hate a little. I’d put it right up there with “The Next Gone Girl.” But in this particular instance, it is completely warranted. A lot of the book is spent exploring themes surrounding how much meaning books can have in someone’s life physically, emotionally, and in their relationships.
Spoiler Free Summary
It follows a bookselling curmudgeon named AJ Fikry who owns his own small shop on the fictional Alice Island. His wife has passed away and his life has turned into a depressing little mess. He drinks himself silly on the regular and one night during one of these episodes he pulls out his very valuable copy of Edgar Allen Poe’s Tamerlane, passes out and wakes up in the morning to find that it is missing.
Meanwhile, he comes upon a mysterious package left in his bookstore that ultimately changes the entire course of his life. I won’t add too much more as part of the pleasure of the book is just meeting all of the characters surrounding this town, the store, and AJ Fikry himself, and seeing how their intersections unfold.
A lot of what happens involves the bookstore, the publishing industry, and mentions of contemporary novels. It is an environment and setting I always love reading about, and the tone of the novel is just easy and enjoyable.
It is not perfect — there were parts that were predictable, or where I thought things moved too quickly or that characters could be fleshed out more. But while I was reading it I just didn’t really care because it was so charming.
I listened to it on Audible (It is strangely not showing up there now) and I think it was something like 7 hours, so it was so quick that I was almost sad to be coming to the end. It is the kind of book you don’t want to end because you just want to keep the characters around for a bit longer.
I generally characterize myself as a mystery/thriller reader and I love books that are plot driven and page turning and sometimes a little tense, and this book was really focused on the people and their stories, but I still found it just flying by. In the past when this book was recommended to me I kind of put it in the back of my mind because I didn’t think the cover was appealing and it sounded a little boring, but now being on the other side I’m almost sad I waited.
If you are on the fence about this book, or if you are looking for a charming little book to read this winter, my recommendation is to pick it up. It’s a quick and easy story that rewards you while reading it. I haven’t read any other books by Gabrielle Zevin but I’m thinking I’ll have to pick one up. If you have any recommendations for one of her books, or just another warm and fuzzy novel feel free to let me know in the comments!
With lots of wedding, work and life stuff going on this year I’m trying to make an effort at penciling in some good downtime. (So Necessary!)
Here’s some of my downtime favorites from last month.
You guys I FINALLY FINISHED A FREAKING BOOK! I used to be an avid reader but in 2014 I only read 4 books. I was starting to think I’d forgotten how to finish books. Big Little Lies kept my interest from start to finish, was a unique little mystery, and kept me so entertained I bought the kindle version so I could always have it with me. Two thumbs up!
I’ve also been cracking this book open quite a bit this month but it’s in no way as fun as the first.
We watched a ton of fun things on TV this month (especially sports) because we were breaking in our new television. WOOT! It’s funny, when we first got it I totally thought it was gaudy and ridiculous and now one month in I think it’s looks just perfect. Funny ow that happens (Garrett is relieved!)
We watched spent A LOT of time cheering in front of the TV watching Ohio State football:
But we also managed a little nostalgic trip down memory lane by watching the entire Back to the Future trilogy.
The first one happened to be on TV one Saturday morning and we got sucked into it. Then that evening we had to bust out the DVD boxed set just because it was so cute!
My other TV obsession in January:
Even Garrett is into it and recently as we were watching it on that freaking giant television he looked over at me and said “This might be my favorite show on tv right now.” And that, my friends, is the definition of marital compromise.
I listened to a whole metric ton of T-Swift in January — so much so that Garrett finally bought me the album. I don’t even remember the last time I bought an actual, physical cd! This one is totally worth it though — so so good!
I could also listen to this on repeat, no problem:
Anything you read // watched // listened to that you are dying to share?
*****some links above are affiliate
I mentioned recently that I really struggled to read this year. My ratio of books checked out from the library to books actually read is EMBARRASSING. In 2015 I want to get back to it, but I feel a little out of practice — you know what I mean?
I was hoping if you are a reader (and I am using that term very broadely to describe all people who read books for pleasure — there are no “number of books read” pre-requisites or anything) that you would do me a solid and answer the following questions just for fun:
1. When do you do the most reading? (Mornings, evenings, weekends only, etc)
2. Do you have reading goals or do you just fly by the seat of your pants?
3. Where is your favorite place to get book recommendations?
4. Are you a library person or do you buy most of your books?
5. Do you use an eReader/Kindle?
6. How many books, on average, do you read every year?
7. Any other helpful advice, I’m all ears!
You are not being graded on this I promise, I’m just curious how you all are getting it done. 🙂 Thanks, friends!
The longer I go without writing here the more exciting and triumphant I feel the next I post I write needs to be. I want to be here telling you all about fabulous tales and exciting developments that have kept me from writing, but instead I think today we are just going to get right back on the horse and talk about something really important: Ben Affleck’s junk.
I went to see Gone Girl this weekend – a movie that I was incredibly nervous about seeing because I devoured the book and something about it didn’t seem to be structured in a way that would really lend itself to film. It was built to be a page-turner and the whole book/movie/etc was just so full of hype that it seemed to be just ripe for disappointment ya know? But I was determined. Almost determined enough to re-read the book but man I just HATED the way it ended (it left me pissed off for days) and I still haven’t actually finished a book since Brandi Glanville (despite my book club meeting four times now –OH, THE SHAME) so that just wasn’t going to happen.
I went to see the movie on opening weekend. Sidebar: I spent my entire youth being corrected every time I would say “I went and saw a movie” when apparently the correct grammar is “I went to see a movie.” Why is this correct? Like, I seriously have PTSD every time I mention seeing a movie and when I hear other people say they “went and saw” a movie it is like nails on a chalkboard and I don’t even actually understand why this is correct. I know I was an English major, but clearly not one that focused on grammar so I need someone explain this to me. Whew — ok, let’s back up on that dirt road!
Garrett was out of town and even though it was opening weekend I had been sick all dang week and though seeing Gone Girl would be a nice Sunday Afternoon reward for like, surviving my first (and hopefully last) “Mystery Illness of the Season”. Important note: I chose to see it alone, which may sound supremely anti-social but might actually be my favorite thing to do, like ever. I show up totally early because I’m a dork and very particular about my seat, I park, I get my buttered popcorn (sorry/not sorry), and then if you can believe it – I READ A BOOK (currently reading this, cross your fingers I finish it along with the rest of the internet) while I wait for the movie to start. I am a die hard extrovert, but there is something that just tickles me to death about strung together hours of alone-ness and silence and pure entertaining enjoyment! I mean, I am still there doing it with other people – which I enjoy – I just don’t want to actually talk to anyone or be bothered and leave me alone I am reading my book – oooooooh are those previews? Yes let’s get this (silent) party started! I dunno. I just love it.
The night before I was watching Entertainment Tonight or Extra or whatever monstrosity lets Mario Lopez gossip about celebrities and overexpose his dimples and all of a sudden there was all of this talk about Ben Affleck’s full frontal nudity in Gone Girl. Now this is where I need to tell you that I unabashedly love Ben Affleck. I just do and I just can’t apologize for it. I love him when he is douchey. I love him when he is socially conscious. I loved him during the J. Lo period. I loved him in The Town (MEOW!), I just love him and it cannot be explained. Ben Affleck, full frontal? I mean, I just wasn’t sure I was ready to take our (non-existant, creepy celebrity love) relationship to this next level. But I mean, come on: I was intrigued. And then I came across this picture from Regan on Instagram and just about died laughing when I read the comments:
A girl after my own heart asks “Did you spot Ben’s wang?”
And Regan eloquently articulates that it was more artful side-wang.
Artful. Side. Wang.
And with that in mind, I eagerly put down my book and watched the movie.
But you guys, I TOTALLY MISSED THE ARTFUL SIDE WANG! I mean, I don’t know if I was like really into my popcorn, or daydreaming about something else — but I completely missed it. This is the story of my life. I always seem to be looking the other direction when faced with side wang! Artful or not, I can not tell you where it was in Gone Girl. (But you can tell me! WHERE WAS IT?) What I can tell you is that the movie was alright. In some ways it was better than I thought — the casting was great, the feel of the movie felt pretty true to the book. But in others it felt a little rushed or lackluster, so I’m on the fence about whether I would actually recommend it.
If you read the book (and liked it) I think you have to see it. If you didn’t read it, I’m not sure you would have the pulse-quickening, suspense building experience with the movie that the book will give you. If you read the book and hated it, I’d say skip it. I mean it’s clearly not worth seeing it for the wang alone (but is any movie? Let’s be real.) So I don’t know. Undecided. What I am totally *decided* about though is that Rosamund Pike is basically flawless. I mean where did she come from, what has she been in? I know, IMDB could tell me all that, but you guys are more fun to talk to than IMDB. So that’s the unofficial review! I hope you are glad you just read 1000 words to get to that opinion. That’s some Roger Ebert Realness for you right there.
I feel like there is a two thumbs up style dick joke here that would totally wrap this post up nicely, but I’m a bit out of practice and I just can’t quite string it together. So instead, tell me — did you see the movie? The artful side wang? Did you read the book? What did you think?
I asked for book recommendations the other day and you guys totally came through. Thank you! So much good fodder for my library hold list! My To Be Read list is super long right now but my library queue was low. Then the other day I stopped by and there was a jackpot of awesome material available for checking out. I love when that happens! Here are a few that came home with me:
*Paris: The Novel by Edward Rutherford — I was thumbing through an old issue of People Magazine and Tim McGraw said this was the best book he read all year. Random, yes? Did I totally add it to my library hold list? Also yes.
*Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without A Date by Katie Heaney — I keep hearing rumblings about this book and it was on the New Books shelf the other day so it came home with me. I always love a good story about a late bloomer. This could go so many ways.
I’ve also been having fun scouring Pinterest for new recipes to try — I always find it exciting when I feel inspired to cook! I’m also have a bit of a Pork Moment (that sounded weird, but I can’t think of another way to describe it. Also, PORK HAS BEEN ON SALE, so there.)
Here are some of the recipes that have piqued my interest
*Pork Chili Verde — Because I love just about anything with Pork and Verde in the title. GUARANTEED.
*Sticky Balsamic Ribs — I’m intrigued by the balsamic addition, and also I LOVE LOVE LOVE cooking ribs low and slow on a cold, rainy day. It’s perfection!
*Southwest Chorizo Burgers — Chorizo is my love language, hands down. And I’m looking for the perfect flavored burger in which to incorporate it. I hope this is it (though I don’t have any venison, so I’ll definitely be using Grass Fed Beef.) Confession: I have a giant bag of sweet potato tots (TOTS!!!!) in my freezer so I’m thinking the two might be a match made in heaven.
It’s supposed to rain over the next week so I’ll give you one guess as to what I’ll be doing! I anticipate lots of Instagram food photos. You’ve been warned. 🙂 You cooking or reading anything fun?
‘Tis the season — the season for chatting about books, I say! I’ve been a bit lazy about logging my reads over at Goodreads during the last few months but I’m in the process of playing catch up.
I love that site!
I thought I’d share the cliffs notes of what I’ve been reading, what’s on my nightstand, and what’s waiting for me on the shelf.
1. Crossbones Yard by Kate Rhodes
This was a super quick read about a psychologist and a British serial killer. It’s one of those books that – yes, is a bit problematic when you get to the end – but man, WHILE YOU’RE READING IT – is awesome. I don’t know if the font was just large but it only took about a day and a half to get through. Worth it!
2. The Expats by Chris Pavone
Spy novel meets thriller full of suspense – this whole book felt like a movie. Again, the ending was a bit problematic, but I found the pacing and the energy of the book made me overlook it.
3. A Twisted Ladder by Rhodi Hawk
HRMPH. This book did such a GREAT job of creating a gothic, southern New Orleans setting, but the story itself was just a hot mess. I want a good moody book about the south that is AWESOME. Suggestions?
4. Quiet Mind: A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation by Susan Piver
Because my mind is NEVER quiet. I enjoy Susan Piver and her perspective. I don’t really enjoy meditation (but I think I need to try! ha!) I picked this up at the library because it looks like a good, quick, instructional read. So far, so good.
5. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
I am totally reading this book because I love the cover. Also because lots of folks whose book advice I trust have said they think I’ll love it. I’ll keep you posted.
6. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
This month’s book club pick. Our book choices have been all over the place this year, but I’m so happy we are still doing it because I’ve read some books this year I’d never pick up. Oh, reading this reminds me of this video. I’ve been really enjoying Ashley’s You Tube Channel Climb the Stacks and her general book talk. Do you know of any other people talking books on You Tube you could recommend?
7. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
I asked and YOU answered. A couple of weeks ago when I did a little call out for books as addicted as that damn Twilight series (I know, I know I’M SORRY. IT’S AWFUL) this book was by far the most popular recommendation. Naturally I hit up Amazon immediately. 🙂
8. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
This was another popular recommendation via email and in the comments of that last post. I’ve thought about reading this for years but have heard mixed reviews. I think this is the perfect season to finally dive in and see what I think.
9. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
So this book is on just about every Best of 2013 list I’ve read this year. Looks heavy, but like it will probably be great. Have you read it?
So tell me, what have you been reading?
What should I eat? How do I exercise?
Should I count calories or not? How can I deal with all my stress?
Should I meditate? See a Chiropractor? Take a pill? Talk to a Naturopath? Never see a doctor again?
When is it time to give up?
What does health mean for me?
The only one of those questions I can actually answer is the last one. Health, for me, is like happiness — it is a constant journey and not a destination. Some days it seems like the easiest thing to manage, and some days it is hard fought and I am still not successful.
There is no magic recipe I can tell you that will make you Wake Up and Be Healthy. It is something that will always take work, and also strangely enough will evolve as you pursue it — but mostly because WE evolve. And this is the most frustrating as well as exciting thing! Sometimes what worked yesterday, isn’t quite so relevant tomorrow.
That is exactly why the books that have helped me the most aren’t “Here is the magic secret” type books. Rather they are books that have given me solid strategies that I have relied on all along the way. Rather than telling you to run and out in buy a book that will give you a road map, I thought I’d share 8 books that may help you become a become more of an equipped adventurer!
In some ways these books have really anchored me over the years of my adult life. Some might not even seem directly related to health! But all have shaped my philosophy on personal wellness, and also being human — which in turn has allowed me to take responsibility and positively affect my own health. Maybe one or two will meet you wherever you are on your own healthy journey?
1. You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay
Book Jacket Line That Drew Me In:
> Life Is Really Very Simple. What We Give Out, We Get Back
When I Read This
In my early twenties while living in LA, naturally.
This book is hippy-dippy and touchy-feel TO THE MAX. But it honestly helped me have one of the biggest realizations that I have ever had in my life: You are the only person who ascribes meaning to things in your life. Think about how powerful that is, really. Louise Hay is such a powerful proponent of personal healing, and while the book is a little left of center, she has absolutely been a beacon of light in some dark times in my life. Times where I may have let stress get the best of me and my health. Definitely worth reading if you need a pick me up.
2. Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler
Book Jacket Line That Drew Me In:
For any woman unhappy with her current method of birth control; demoralized by her quest to have a baby; or experiencing confusing symptoms in her cycle, this book provides answers to all these questions, plus amazing insights into a woman’s body.
When I Read This
When deciding to ditch hormonal birth control since I had a nagging feeling it wasn’t helping my pursuit of good health.
It is one thing to not want to have a baby at a particular time, and it is quite another to mess with your body’s natural cycles to do so. I’m not saying that hormonal birth control is a terrible thing (IT’S NOT) but I took it continually for 15 years without really having any idea about my own body worked and that there were other ways. This book was so informative to me. I always thought fertility was only relevant if you wanted to have a baby. When I put this book down I really understood what a HUGE indicator of health our fertility is. I wish I could have known and understood that my entire life, instead of learning in my early 30s.
3. Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing by Caroline Myss
Book Jacket Line That Drew Me In:
Based on fifteen years of research into energy medicine, Dr. Myss’s work shows how every illness corresponds to a pattern of emotional and psychological stresses, beliefs, and attitudes that have influenced corresponding areas of the human body.
When I Read This
I read this book when I was 20 and still reeling from my father’s death. (Also, living in LA. Yep, my crunchy phase again! Who knew all those experimental ideas would resonate for so many years!) When I first heard of energy medicine, I laughed. And then because I was 20 and not world-weary or cynical yet, I saw an energy practitioner in a small office in Santa Monica. I can’t believe I’ve never told this story. In a one hour session she basically did a head to toe rundown of what she could “feel” and she was startlingly on point. She was also a “Psychic Healer” (OMG you guys, I just cringed writing that) and I didn’t buy it AT ALL until right toward the end of my appointment when she said she had a message from my dad, and then proceeded to rattle off an inside joke that he and shared. Energy Medicine Believer over here ever since.
Caroline Myss has a less mystical, more practical approach to energy medicine, but this book really clearly outlines how the energy centers of our bodies (chakras) can be in or out of balance. I think that is something all of us feel on a regular basis whether we are attuned to it or not, and this book gives you a roadmap of how to tune into that, and what some of the consequences are if you don’t in a really easily digestible and non “Out There” kind of tone and format. There is even a guide in the middle of the book about symptoms and what energy centers they tie back to. I have found it to be 100% accurate. It was a game changer for how I approached what ailed.
4. Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar and Survival by T.S. Wiley
Book Jacket Line That Drew Me In:
When we don’t get enough sleep in sync with seasonal light exposure, we fundamentally alter a balance of nature that has been programmed into our physiology since Day One. This delicate biological rhythm rules the hormones and neurotransmitters that determine appetite, fertility, and mental and physical health.
When I Read This
After a long discussion with my Naturopath where he said to me “If you don’t learn to sleep, it WILL kill you.” YIKES. I’ve written before about my experience with a Naturopath and how, most notably, that led me toward a Paleo approach and to losing 100 lbs, but probably the most influential thing he did for me and my health was to help me understand how sleep affects your body, physiologically.
Sleep isn’t just a nice to have. It is actually the foundation of hormone health, mental health and muscle recovery — and if you don’t have those things — well, ya don’t have much! And when it doesn’t come naturally or if you a person who just “doesn’t need a lot of sleep” that is your body waving A GIANT RED FLAG. Sometimes sleep takes effort, and it behooves you to put in the work.
5. It Starts With Food by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig
Book Jacket Line That Drew Me In:
It Starts With Food shows you how certain foods may be having negative effects on how you look, feel and live – in ways that you’d never associate with your diet.
When I Read This
Right when it came out, obviously. 🙂 But most notably, after I did my first Whole 30
I think when you are a person who has struggled with health and weight and all things related, it can be really confusing to know what to do or where to turn. What I love about this book is that it gives you the tools to understand YOUR body. It is easy to understand science, and very basic facts about the human body. Unfortunately it is the kind of basic facts that most people never learn, and so when it comes time to troubleshoot it is very easy to get going down a dirt road that isn’t going to take you anywhere. This, again, is a book I wish I would have read in my 20s. But I’m so glad I’ve read it now. It’s not condescending, it doesn’t tell you what you NEED to do, it just arms you with information about the human body. After that, you are left to connect the dots about your own health.
6. The Hormone Cure by Sara Gottfried
Book Jacket Line That Drew Me In:
All too often women are told that feeling moody, asexual, tapped out, dried up, stressed out, and sleep deprived is just a part of being female.
When I Read This
Earlier this year when I was really struggling to manage my stress. After hearing the author on The Balanced Bites podcast I basically had an instant girl crush. I felt like she was talking DIRECTLY TO ME.
All roads lead back to cortisol. Ha! Well, not exactly, but this book outlines the delicate hormone balances and imbalances that cause common “Female Symptoms” that sometimes just get brushed under the table and considered part of being a woman. I really appreciated the depth of information she provided and the wonderful advice about where to start to help get yourself back to vital again. She makes a very complex topic easy to understand, and gives a voice to something that I personally think is sort of marginalized in the realm of health care. Her advice is actionable from the moment that you put the book down and I LOVED THAT.
7. How to Eat, Move + Be Healthy by Paul Chek
Book Jacket Line That Drew Me In:
The way we respond to food, exercise and stress varies person-to-person just as much as our fingerprints. This book will identify YOUR individual needs and teach you how to address issues that may be preventing you from looking and feeling your best.
When I Read This
About 6 months ago after hearing the wildly popular Paul Chek on the Underground Wellness Podcast while I was digging through the archives. Holy Moses is he an entertaining wild card of a character. He’s so passionate I would probably buy anything he sells, but man is he sort of uncensored!
There is not a singular blueprint for wellness, and actually different people have different dietary and exercise needs (the book has a GREAT thorough quiz in it that help you determine what your needs are.) But there are some smart strategies that all people can benefit from, and if you are a person concerned with your own health, you really MUST at the very least have a strategy. I like Paul Chek’s zeal and his Live Your Life On Purpose kind of attitude. He is also just a phenomenal wealth of information and this book is so densely packed I imagine I will use it over and over in the years to come.
8. Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort + Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach
Book Jacket Line That Drew Me In:
In the past a woman’s spirituality has been separated from her lifestyle. Simple Abundance shows you how your daily life can be an expression of your authentic self … as you choose the tastiest vegetables from your garden, search for treasures at flea markets, establish a sacred space in your home for meditation, and follow the rhythm of the seasons and the year.
When I Read This
When I was 19, living at home and really kind of depressed.
The most valuable lesson that this book, a daily meditation on gratitude, taught me was that we are all standing knee deep in water dying of thirst. Sometimes you have to look up or down to find joy, but it is always there. I have found that the purposeful ability to cultivate gratitude in my life has been a key part of my own resilience as I’ve gotten older. I’m not sure I have ever learned a more value life lesson or one that has impacted my overall health so dramatically.
They aren’t all Paleo-centric and some of them won’t even tell you, specifically, what you should be doing to “Get Healthy.” But I promise you this, every single book above is filled with infinite wisdom. And if you are in the market for some, I’d highly recommend you get reading! 🙂
A few weeks (crap, maybe months. OY!) a blog reader sent me an email after I posted about needing to get my weight loss jump started again. She recommended Jorge Cruise’s The Belly Fat Cure: Fast Track and mentioned that she emailed me the recommendation because she didn’t want to write about it in the comments and risk people being critical.
Wait a minute, people being anonymously critical on the internet? THAT NEVER HAPPENS! 🙂
Well, luckily it doesn’t happen too much around here (LOVE YOU GUYS FOR THAT) but I knew where she was coming from. Especially because my first thought was “UGH. Jorge Cruise? Isn’t he the 8 Minute workout dude? I don’t know about this.”
I am kind of over Info-tainment health people, you know? Nutritionists on Good Morning America, Doctors hosting TV Shows, Celebrity Trainers — OH MAN, don’t even get me started on Dr. Oz. I am 100% NOT a fan, but that is a conversation for another day. Maybe never. Dang, it gets me riled just thinking about it. Anyway, all of that to say: I was a skeptic. But I also love blog-reader recommendations (Seriously. Email me anytime) and so I immediately put it on my Library Hold List like the good little book nerd that I am. No harm, no foul — if I hated it, I would just return it to the library. Win-win.
When I picked it up I was pleased to see that it looked fun: square and spiral bound — almost a mini-binder instead of a book — but it still had Jorge Cruise’s giant picture on it exclaiming we could all lose 14 lbs in 14 days. I mean, listen — I lost 30 lbs in a month when I first started eating Paleo, so I know it can happen, but when a diet-book puts that on it’s cover I am EVEN MORE skeptical. But I began flipping through the glossy pages…
The first thing I found was the foreward was by Christiane Northrup — who I LOVE LOVE LOVE. She’s a doctor who talks about chakras! Rock and roll! Such an awesome combination of women’s health/hippie healing and I love a good advocate like that. I have a bookshelf stocked with her books that have changed my understanding of my own body and I have to admit I was a little surprised to see her addressing what I thought was going to be a gimmicky diet book.
Next, the book delves right into the causes of weight gain and how to avoid it. I expected to read a mix of recommendations encompassing the Eat Less, Move More mentality, but lo and behold the entire first chapter explains simply and succintly that if you want to lose weight, you need to understand how insulin works in your body. Period. He immediately calls out sugar (and even more insidiously) hidden sugars as enemy number one. He doesn’t demonize carboyhdrates, but he does break down how they work in your body, and how they relate to weight gain. I was starting to get on board.
But this is also the chapter where he discusses the concept of “Losing 14 lbs in 14 days” and whether or not it is healthy, and I still wasn’t sure I’d be down with that. Right from the start though, he owns the fact that losing 14 lbs of fat in 14 days is NOT healthy or desirable (or frankly even possible, really.) But he talks about the idea that there are many things involved in weight gain, not only just fat. In this chapter he introduces a concept called “Hidden Belly Fat” that I can totally identified with and understood. He goes on to explain that “Hidden Belly Fat” isn’t really fat but it sure looks like it. (You may know it too — that soft spare tire layer that springs up out of nowhere after a few weeks of eating garbage.) In reality it is a sign of that metabollic disconnect that happens to a lot of people (myself included!) when they don’t keep the insulin/hormone situation in their body in check, and I have to applaud Jorge Cruise for discussing some of the consequences of Metabollic Derangement in such easy to understand terms. I think this is one of the most revolutionary concepts in his book and I was happy to think about it with new analogies. (Sidebar: Stacy from Paleo Parents wrote a great blog post on this exact topic of hidden belly fat, although from a different perspective, that I think is a really worthwhile read.)
The next section is pages and pages of testimonials and pictures of people who have completed the program (he has yet to outline it at this point, but of course all of the results pictures are pretty impressive) and then he finally gets on to outlining what the Fast Track program is based on. I was really intersted to see — would it be an elimination diet, would it be about timing your food intake, would it be more of this “eat 5 small meals a day by properly combining foods” crapola — WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE??? I was very curious at that point. Curious and surprised. Surprised that I was enjoying his voice and that so far all I had done was nod my head at his information and his references.
Speaking of references, each chapter begins with a quote — and when he gets into the section about what to eat — guess what person he choses to quote?
I was floored. Was Jorge Cruise about to espouse eating Paleo? I read on…
Turns out Jorge Cruise is all about an Ancestral Diet. Who knew? (I sure didn’t, clearly.) He leans more towards a Primal approach (including dairy and wine…woo hoo!) but his book outlines very well researched (the appendix at the end is large) nutrition advice that is not only completely sane and unscary or restrictive sounding, but the book also includes meal plans and recipes at the end that look really delicious. And he even talks a little bit about high intensity exercise and why it is such a more effective replacement for chronic cardio, so obviously he got some points for that!
The Belly Fat Cure: Fast Track is smart, easy to understand, and is a new interpretation of Paleo that isn’t so tied to food politics and nutrient density. It’s mostly just a functional weight loss book that doesn’t really espouse any food philosophy, so I think it might appeal to people who are scared off by the words Paleo or Primal but want an easy guide on how to lose weight that also explains how your body works. I’m obviously very pro-Paleo, so I don’t really mind that label, but not everyone is down for that so I think this book could have good mass appeal. I was so happy that I read it and really, really surprised I liked it. Maybe you know someone who might too?
We haven’t had much book talk around here lately — let’s remedy that! Here’s what I have recently read, what I’m currently reading, and what’s in the queue.
I’ve been on a bit of a non-fiction kick lately, clearly:
1. Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon — Billed as 1 part Science, 1 part Traditional Wisdom, 2 parts Cookbook, I really loved this insight into the Weston A Price school of thought.
2. Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg — Billed as modern day career advice mixed with memoir, I thought this book was insightful and interesting and helped me ask myself questions that illuminated what I want in my own career.
3. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity — A detailed guide to taking care of business in a foolproof way. I loved just about every page of this.
While I’m traveling I intend to full immerse myself in some distracting fiction and a promising memoir:
4. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker — A coming of age tale with beautiful writing? Right up my alley!
5. World War Z by Max Brooks — While I am generally not into zombie stories, I hear this one goes so much deeper and that the movie obliterated the book. Best read it first.
6. My Life in France by Julia Child — Our book club pick this month and I could not be more excited to dig in!
And here’s what is waiting for me at the library:
7. The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice and Sustainability by Lierre Keith — I hear some really interesting facts about this book recently that made me really think. Curious to finally read this book after hearing so much about it over the years.
8. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson — What is not to love about Kate Atkinson? I’ve heard so much about her unique new novel. Curious to see if I’ll love it or hate it.
9. The Round House by Louise Erdrich — Intriguing plot? Amazing Writer? Yes please.
What does your Currently//Recently//In The Queue look like?
The world does not lack “Paleo” Cookbooks and lately I have one of two feelings about this:
For one, I think it is so exciting to see awesome glossy photos as inspiration for this way of eating that has truly changed my life. Three years ago when I started down this path, the inspiration was a little bit lackluster. It didn’t feel like having a shelf full of beautiful cookbooks could overlap with a Paleo diet. That has truly changed.
But as with all good things, there comes a bit of a saturation tipping point. And sometimes when I see the Next! Best! Paleo! Cookbook! I’m going to be honest — I get that cynical feeling like “Oh great, another book telling me to wrap bacon around something and pretending it’s a mind blowing idea.”
This is probably not a popular thing to say, and who knows, maybe the cookbooks I receive from publishers may slow down because I say it — but I have to think some of you may feel the same way. I think we are sort of in this tenuous time where the QUANTITY of books available is slightly disproportionate to the QUALITY. This isn’t something I’m losing sleep over, and I’m certainly not the arbiter of good Paleo taste, so in the big scheme of things, who cares what I think. But I do think it is important to mention because I want you to know when I talk about a cookbook on this website, I am doing it because I appreciate the QUALITY of a cookbook, and not just because I just want to say HEY LOOK, I GOT THIS COOKBOOK TOO!
Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest. I feel like we are all friends here, so I want you to know when I tell you about a cookbook I really enjoy (or anything else for that matter) I want you to know that I mean it.
Paleo Cooking from Elana’s Pantry just recently came out, and it is blowing up the internet right now. But here’s the thing: Elana Amsterdam has been making Paleo Cooking look cool even before it was cool. In fact, the first grain free cookbook I ever bought was her Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook and when it showed up at my house I just remember sighing with relief. I could enjoy a slice of bread still! I could bake a tart! Gorgeous birthday cakes were at my fingertips without being full of crappy gluten and ridiculous amounts of sugar.
That sigh, of course, was because back then I thought Paleo was 100% or NOTHING, and while I have loosened up on those percentages, I still so appreciate the idea of gorgeous food inspiration and dishes you once loved — without the grains.
This is why, when I heard Elana was writing a Paleo cookbook I was ECSTATIC and couldn’t wait to get my hands on it, instead of furrowing my brow and thinking “ho-hum, will these be more bacon wrapped recipes?” She makes very simple, delicious food that is incredibly accessible. And on a completely superficial note – I just love the way her cookbooks look and feel in my hands. They are square-ish, soft covered and with clean design and nice photos. It’s a cookbook you want to look at and use and it fits neatly in any kitchen cupboard. Also, her ice cream recipes are what helped me rationalize my recent ice cream maker purchase. Thanks, Elana! 🙂
OBVIOUSLY I was game to talk about it on the blog but I just want to be clear with my disclosure: I was provided a free copy and one to giveaway, but was in no way obligated to write post about it. All opinions are my own and no one is compensating me to give them (although the Amazon link to her cookbook is an affiliate one. Thank you contributing to the coconut milk fund in our household. You are singlehandedly fueling our Paleo Ice Cream addiction. OHMAHGAWD YUM!)
If you are interested in owning this cookbook (and as you can tell, I think you should be:)) Ten Speed Press is giving away one copy to one of my readers.
- This giveaway is limited to U.S. and Canadian residents 18 and older.
- Enter by leaving a comment on this post telling me what your favorite flavor of ice cream is — or anything else you feel like, frankly.
- One entry per person
- The giveaway begins today June 20, 2013 and ends on June 24, 2013 at 12:00 am pacific time.
No purchase is necessary. Odds of winning are based on the number of entries. The winners will be randomly chosen and will be contacted by email. The winners will have 24 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond, a new winner will be randomly chosen.
The Paleo Bread Recipe
Serves: Makes 1 Loaf (12 slices)
- 2 cups blanched almond flour
- 1/4 cup golden flax meal
- 2 tablespoons coconut flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 5 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Grease a 7 by 3-inch loaf pan with coconut oil.
- In a food processor, pulse together the almond flour, flax meal, coconut flour, baking soda, and salt.
- Add the eggs, coconut oil, honey, and vinegar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
- Scoop the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
- Let the bread cool in the pan for 1 hour, then serve.