Posted on September, 7th 2017
Although I could read philosophy forever.... and hopefully will. I decided to focus my theme around "health" this month. I'd been hearing a lot about fasting and wanted to educate myself. Additionally, my routine in the gym was inherited from a friend, but I never really understood it. I'd hit a plateau and thus was in search of something new. With that said, I read four books to help me reach these goals:
The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day and Extended Fasting -Jason Fung with Jimmy Moore
I'd been reading various articles online... all of which were great, but none of which provided consistent information. I'm interested in experimenting with my diet and body and thought fasting would be a good place to start. I'd never done anything like it before, and typically schedule my day around meals, so thought this book could be a great resource. Granted, I only read one book on fasting, so I'm by no means an expert on the subject, but at least I'm a little bit more informed.
The authors details their personal experiences with fasting sharing their difficulties and their triumphs. They then dive into what fasting is and why its good for you. Followed by different types of fasts and fasting "best practices". Lastly they provide additional resources and recipes.
A brief list of benefits:
- When your body is deprived of food, it switches from burning glucose to burning glycogen.
- Improved mental clarity
- Lowers blood sugar levels
- Increases energy
- Reverses aging process
Although I don't currently struggle with any of the above, I very well might one day in the future. I wanted to fast now because I want to change my relationship with food. You can regularly find me eating when I'm upset, sad, angry, drunk or hell, even happy. Along with the stoic perspective of "eat to live" I needed something to change my mental state. After reading this book, I challenged myself with a three day fast. As it was when I gave up drinking, I surprised myself that it was incredibly easy.... hunger pains came when expected, but never woke me up at night. The hardest part was overcoming social settings revolving around food - luckily I have (mostly) supportive friends.
Fasting directly challenges most of the social norms "you must eat breakfast", "you must eat 3+ meals a day", you must not go hungry" etc etc.... blah blah blah. Hunger has become an increasingly interesting topic for me and one that I can now see exists in different forms and for different purposes. I'm going to challenge all of them.
Thinner Leaner Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Female Body - Michael Matthews
Quite frankly this book was better than I was expecting and provided me with a solid basis of both nutritional aspects and training plans. It's divided into five major sections that allows space to dive in depth into each.
Section One focuses on fundamentals. This section is largely spent debunking myths and discussing gym mistakes. Included is also a list of definitions where terms such as supplements, saturated fat, unsaturated fats, calories, metabolism, sugar, glucose, glycogen, fatty acids, fiber, and WAY MORE are explicitly defined. Section || revolves around the mental aspects of fitness and asks you to drop your assumptions. Section ||| is all about nutrition and diet. Section |V was my favorite simply because it dove into the training aspects. Prior to this I started a gym routine with my friend here in Austin. Although it was just fine, and in fact great in many ways, I never fully understood why. The days we couldn't train together I was left wondering where to start and how to structure weightlifting sessions. Luckily, Matthews answered all of my questions and then some.... hopefully there is a "before & after" blog post somewhere in my future!
Lastly the book concluded with a chapter on supplements, highlighting the pros and cons of the most well known supplements. This chapter also covered various caffeine and oils as well as an effective system for eating or taking everything you may need.
Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy - Bret Contereras
The reality of my lifestyle is that I travel more often than the average person. This combined with the fact that sometimes "life happens" prevents me from making it to the gym regularly. I would still, however like to make time to train at home on those days and this book shows me the way. Not only does it identify and label all of the muscles in the body, but it explicitly demonstrates exercises to enhance those muscles in an easy to understand way. Think of all of those magazines with small sections that talk about how to work out at home accompanied by lackluster descriptions and demonstrations.... this is that but on steroids - aka. way better! I know feel confident that I'm able to put together a routine for days that I'm on the move.
The Champion's Comeback: How great athletes recover, reflect and reignite -Jim Afremow
This was a quick and easy read that I thoroughly enjoyed. I had read another of Afremow's books back in January and appreciated his fluid writing style and storytelling. Although I quickly realized that this book's target audience is perhaps a high school student looking to make it in college or professional sports. As such, I found it a fun read chalk full with detailed comeback stories of truly elite champions, but otherwise didn't take much of value away. I've been doing some summer coaching with the junior rowing team at Austin Rowing Club and have found it valuable to pass on to these kids.
The first half of the book profiles athletes such as Johnny Manziel, Jason Lezak, Nicola Adams, Arnold Schwarzenegger and more detailing their unique journey and breaking down how these individuals made their triumphant returns. Then, the book moves into actionable steps and ideas that the reader can directly and immediately utilize in their life. Visualization tactics, how to deal with anger, self-talk, animal spirits are all discussed in detail. Again, totally worth a read if you're looking for something fun and motivating!