What a relief to finally find straight scientific answers about exercise! There is so much BS in this industry, so many late night infomercials making...moreWhat a relief to finally find straight scientific answers about exercise! There is so much BS in this industry, so many late night infomercials making big promises in exchange for big bucks, so many personal trainers paid $80/hour to regurgitate urban myths, so many exercise videos and books by people with big muscles and small brains. You'd think there would be scientists out there, testing all this stuff, and there is, but it's so hard to find it through all the crap.
This book gives the straight dope. It dispels myths, illuminates the latest research on fitness, lists a ton of benefits of exercising that I found quite motivating, and gives lots of great tips for everything: nutrition, mind and body, fitness gear, physiology, aerobics, weight training, flexibility, injuries, aging, weight loss, and competitive sports. It's organized as a collection of frequently asked questions, like "Why should I do cardio if I want to build my muscles?" "Is weight loss simply the difference between 'calories in' and 'calories out?'" "What should I eat and drink to refuel after working out?"
I got a lot out of this book, but it felt incomplete. I still have a lot of questions. That's understandable, as this is a huge subject, and there's only so much one book can cover. Plus, this book is all about the science, so if the science isn't there yet, this book doesn't address it. He was quite honest about the limitations of where science is currently. Often he could only talk about some preliminary findings, and leave it at that. This helped, because it showed me why I never feel like I get straight answers: there are none. Yet.(less)
If you're passionate about running and meditation, you'll probably enjoy this book, but I doubt you'd get much from it. It's mostly just his thoughts...moreIf you're passionate about running and meditation, you'll probably enjoy this book, but I doubt you'd get much from it. It's mostly just his thoughts on meditation, running, and some of the parallels he sees between them. He talks about some of his marathons. He uses animal analogies, the tiger, lion, garuda, dragon, and windhorse, to represent the phases of advancements, both in running and in meditation. Reminded me a little of martial arts. Some of this book inspired me somewhat in my running and meditation, but otherwise, I got nothing from it.(less)
Pretty typical pseudoscience BS. You know pseudoscience by its label "New Science." Is that like New Coke? There is no New Science. There's just Scien...morePretty typical pseudoscience BS. You know pseudoscience by its label "New Science." Is that like New Coke? There is no New Science. There's just Science. Imagine a book labeled New Science Fiction or New Fiction. Of course it's new. Everything is new when it comes out, until it's not new. I'd expect a new book on science to contain the latest research. Otherwise, it would probably be called History of Science. So the fact that this book isn't called Science but New Science is a dead giveaway that it's not actually Science but Pseudoscience. And if that isn't a dead giveaway, then surely the subtitle is: "Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter & Miracles." Um, Miracles? Those phenomena attributed to supernatural powers? Science is the study of nature. Supernatural means above nature. Ergo: Miracles are not science.
Pseudoscience is very compelling for people with no background in science. People have always wanted answers, and are easily entertained by outrageous answers. That's the purpose religion has served, but now that science is considered a more legitimate form of inquiry, people expect modern answers to have the scientific stamp of approval. So pseudoscience includes enough legitimate science to seem authentic, but comes to outrageous conclusions, which the evidence doesn't actually support. End result: People who don't know better are wowed, which sells books while diluting real science and confusing public understanding of it.
This particular book is by a nut who was suicidal and had a spiritual awakening through his research. He claims that he submitted his research to journals, but they were rejected because Science is an old boys club. Translation: His research was rejected because of insufficient evidence and/or repeatability. Real scientists are used to failure, and they learn from it. Pseudoscientists write books about it and call it New Science.
Just a taste of some of the silliness in this book: Cells membranes help them function, therefore we're not limited by our genetics; matter and energy become interchangeable as the speed of light is approached (Relativity), therefore all matter is therefore just energy, and we can pick up on one another's "vibes"; at the subatomic level, traditional Newtonian physics no longer applies, therefore traditional physics is done for and quantum physics can be applied at the cellular level; beliefs can affect a medication's potency (Placebo effect), therefore we can radically change our bodies just by thinking differently; and my favorite: HLAs are effectively unique to each individual, therefore our "selves" are spirits which are reincarnated to whomever acquires our HLAs.
Trust me, if scientists found evidence for any of this, you'll know about it. It will be published in journals, the scientific community would be embroiled in controversy (controversy doesn't imply falsehood in science; it's part of the process, with healthy debate among scientists who try to prove and disprove each other's works, eventually leading to a consensus), and the media would be having a field day with it. You won't need to read about it in some suicidal scientist's pop science book.(less)
An overly-enthusiastic book about Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Sometimes I was amused, but usually I was just annoyed, by this misplaced enthusiasm...moreAn overly-enthusiastic book about Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Sometimes I was amused, but usually I was just annoyed, by this misplaced enthusiasm. The author seems to think HSAs are the panacea for all of our health care problems. If only it were that simple. An example of the kind of thing this author says repeatedly: "High-deductible health insurance and other consumer-directed health benefit tools will do much more than just save money on paperwork--they will cause nothing short of a revolution in how and where medical care is delivered." Viva la revolution! Seven years after this book was written, and I'm still waiting for my revolution. He's another amusing one: "I am gushing with American patriotic pride in our free enterprise system."
That's not to say this book won't give you plenty of information about HSAs, but it's not worth a whole book, and certainly not worth having to listen to this guy drone on about how excited he is about them.(less)
Extremely well-written book on the connection between global warming and food production. It's honest yet inspiring, well-researched yet down-to-earth...moreExtremely well-written book on the connection between global warming and food production. It's honest yet inspiring, well-researched yet down-to-earth. There are a lot of details in this book, but it usually finds a way to stay engaging. It's clear this author has a penchant for debating skeptics and greenwashers, as she devotes much of this book to answering false claims.
Anna Lappe is the daughter of Frances Moore Lappe, author of the classic, Diet For a Small Planet. It's obvious that she's riding on her mother's fame, naming this book after her mother's famous book. However, unlike her mother, and other books that start with "Diet For a ..." Anna Lappe is not a vegetarian, and this book scarcely even mentions it, though it does recommend cutting back on meat consumption. This book addresses the whole issue, advocating locally-grown, organic, sustainably-grown, whole foods. I found her arguments persuasive, and I'm glad I finally found a decent case for organic agriculture, as I have been a skeptic for many years.(less)
The "cure" suggested in this book looks promising. Most of it is treatments I've seen before, from reputable sources, persuasively adds a few more, an...moreThe "cure" suggested in this book looks promising. Most of it is treatments I've seen before, from reputable sources, persuasively adds a few more, and gives some novel ways of applying them. It boldly claims it will completely cure 95% of cases in 6 weeks. I'm skeptical, but I'd be happy if I could just find a cheaper form of maintenence. I'm going to try what this book suggests, and depending on the results, update my rating of this book accordingly.(less)
I was skeptical about this book because it's common knowledge among dermatologists that the acne-diet connection is a myth, but in recent years I've n...moreI was skeptical about this book because it's common knowledge among dermatologists that the acne-diet connection is a myth, but in recent years I've noticed that there has been more research on this, and it's possible that it's not a myth. This book explains why it was thought to be a myth, and mentions the few, out-dated, flawed studies that this belief is based on. Then it spells out the nutritional research that has been done in the last 10 years, after the discovery of cultures that were completely acne-free.
I haven't actually tried the diet this book recommends, so I don't know if it works, but I give this book 4 stars because of its content and style. I love books that are thorough but concise, not wasting pages on excessive verbiage. Every page in this book is useful and important, and it covers everything: the biology of our skin, how acne happens, how various molecules from our food interact to cause it, and finally a laundry list of which foods to avoid and which to focus on. It's packed with details and dozens of references to nutritional and biological research.
I also really like its 30-day elimination trial. It's a way for someone to know for sure whether this diet works or not, and if so, start adding back in their favorite foods to see if it causes their acne. This is especially fascinating considering that some people have extremely severe acne. Would this actually clear them up in 30 days? That would be miraculous.
The problem for me is that I'm vegetarian, while this diet is based heavily on lean meats, particularly seafood. I have ethical issues with this, but I really just don't want to eat meat. This diet would mean cutting out most of what I eat, so I don't think I could do the 30-day trial. But I only have mild acne, so maybe it's enough to know which foods to avoid and which to cut back on.(less)
McDougall makes it easy to cook vegan, low-fat meals. I read The McDougall Program and the effectiveness of this simple program for weight loss and he...moreMcDougall makes it easy to cook vegan, low-fat meals. I read The McDougall Program and the effectiveness of this simple program for weight loss and health impressed me. I would highly recommend reading that book first, but this is a great addendum, for quick and easy vegan meals. It may sound weird to say I "read a cookbook," but I skimmed the recipes, while a quarter of this book consists of 1-page summaries of the McDougall philosophy. These summaries may seem more like rants, though, since he's so serious about low-fat, plant- and starch-based diets.
I'm interested in ethics of food, not weight loss, so it might seem odd that I like the McDougall diet so much, but he's just so good at making sense of food for me, making it easy to become vegan.(less)
A memoir of a city girl who does the unimaginable and decides to stop eating at restaurants. Initially, she was just trying to save money, but it turn...moreA memoir of a city girl who does the unimaginable and decides to stop eating at restaurants. Initially, she was just trying to save money, but it turned into a whole lifestyle for her, as she discovered freeganism (dumpster diving), urban foraging, supper clubs, cook-offs, and a whole subculture of foodies just like her.
I am definitely not a foodie, so I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book, but she's a good writer. She writes with such passion for cooking, which I found fascinating since I've never understood how anyone could have such a passion. The subtitle made me expect a book about someone who learned how to enjoy cooking, but alas, the subtitle was misleading: she's always loved the stove, and she proved tremendously good at cooking, winning awards almost from page one.(less)
This is one of the pivotal vegetarian advocacy books. Now I understand why. Reading this book made me a vegetarian all over again. My understanding of...moreThis is one of the pivotal vegetarian advocacy books. Now I understand why. Reading this book made me a vegetarian all over again. My understanding of the issues that led to my decision to become vegetarian is only a fraction of what this book covers. I was truly astonished by what this book revealed. I really understood how so much of the meat industry depends on ignorance and deception.
It starts out by going straight for the heart. It talks about what animals are like--what they're really like, not the popular misconceptions. It really shows just how sentient these creatures are, how they can obviously feel compassion and pain. Then it shows just how awfully these sweet creatures are treated as they're raised for slaughter. It's horrific. Truly, terribly horrific. No living creature should be treated like that.
The next section is devoted to the endless list of health problems that have been tied to excessive meat consumption. He does fall into the fallacy that correlation implies causation, but much of the data presented here was nonetheless persuasive. My favorite part here was the dispelling of the myth that people can't get their protein needs without meat or animal-based foods.
The last section talked about some of the pesticides and poisons used in the raising of animals for slaughter, and the effects these have had on the ecosystem, water, and human breastmilk. But the very last chapter was a disappointment. In its discussion of the environment, it never mentioned global warming and the power of vegetarianism to limit greenhouse gases. It made claims that world hunger could be solved with the efficiency of vegetarian diets, ignoring, as such claims often do, the positive feedback loop of population growth caused as surviving children produce offspring they wouldn't have otherwise produced had they died of starvation. World hunger is insoluable without population control. The last chapter also makes wild claims that our economic woes can be solved with vegetarianism, not to mention world peace.
Nevertheless, this book is a win, overall. I can't imagine anyone remaining a heavy meat eater after reading this book, and I challenge every meat eater to read it, to see all the ways they've been ignorant about what they put in their bodies, and this enormous industry they employ in order for them to do so.(less)
I had no idea running could be so fascinating and inspiring, but Dean Karnazes wit really drew me in and kept me engaged. Karnazes isn't just a marath...moreI had no idea running could be so fascinating and inspiring, but Dean Karnazes wit really drew me in and kept me engaged. Karnazes isn't just a marathon runner. He's an ultra marathon runner, which means he likes to run for days at a time, nonstop. Call him crazy--he wouldn't disagree with you--but people are always told they're crazy when they try to push the limits of human ability. That's what's fascinating about Dean Karnazes. His quest is almost spiritual more than athletic.
He treats his body as a laboratory for experimenting with the limits of human endurance. It often sounds masochistic, but he lives for it. It sometimes sounds suicidal, as at times he's unclear whether some of what he does might be fatal, but nothing great was ever achieved without sacrifice. What's so great about running? Nothing really, which is what's so great about it. It's so simple and primal. Anyone can do it, and yet few can do what Karnazes does, although as he puts it, it's just a simple matter of running and not stopping. I don't really feel inspired to become a runner after reading this book. That's not really the point. What inspires me is the idea of training our minds and bodies and pushing the limits of we think we're capable of.(less)