We all have books that change us forever. The following books have had a huge impact on my outlook, health and happiness. I've added this post to my "Happy, Regardless" tab because it just makes sense for it to be there. This website and blog is, after all, about being gluten-free AND Happy and Healthy. I have to admit that I'm a little self-conscious about revealing myself in this way. Some of the books are a little nutty sounding. I pride myself on being a practical, logical kind of gal, and I really had to suspend my usual practical mindset to be able to receive the gifts that these books had to offer. So, even if some of these suggestions make you roll your eyes, just know that I rolled my eyes too, and read them anyway, and they stuck with me.
Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman. I came by this book through my on-line weight-loss support system, PEERtrainer. When I decided to lose 30 pounds in 2009, my approach was to cut out high fat dairy and exercise more. I found I needed a bit more of a plan, and I found PEERtrainer, which is a very rich treasure trove of free resources for helping people improve health, lose weight and keep it off. They refer to and recommend Joel Fuhrman's materials regularly, so as I am want to do, I went to the library and checked out Eat to Live. I have to admit that I found it rather off-putting. He is judgemental and sort of preachy and it was very hard to not get all defensive about my diet choices for myself and my kids. Some of what he says sounds a little crazy -- like a 5'5" woman like me should weigh 114 for optimal health. 114! I started my weight-loss journey at 155 (at my heaviest I was in the 170's) and I thought 130 would be reasonable. At any rate, he challenges the reader early on to read the whole book before passing judgement. I figured I had nothing to lose (well, except the weight, of course) so I perservered and read the whole thing. I figured it couldn't hurt to try his suggestions for awhile. And the weight came off. And I feel good. And I have more energy. Hard to argue with it. This is a book I've actually bought for myself a number of times so that I can re-read it when I need a reminder. I keep loaning it to people and not getting it back, so I keep replacing it. I figure if anybody I loan it to reads it and makes sweeping changes for the betterment of their good health, then it's more than worth the $15.99 I paid. (Oh, and I got diagnosed with celiac after I adopted many of his suggestions and found that it was EASY to follow his plan and be on the GF diet.)
Happy for No Reason by Marci Shimoff. Marci's pretty famous in the personal development world, having authoring Chicken Soup for the Women's Soul, Happy for No Reason and Love for No Reason. I discovered Happy for No Reason at the libarary one day when I wasn't looking for anything in particular, but at a time when I was on a quest to boost my own personal happiness. I was perplexed about why I didn't FEEL happier when I had created a life that fit the description of exactly what I wanted. Her book offers concrete suggestions to develop habits that can truly increase your happiness set-point. Some of it is a little hokey, but hey, if hokey works and no one is the wiser, then go for it! She's got a lot of good free content at her website, including recordings and videos and downloads. There are tons of audio interviews with Marci out there that you can listen to for free too. Go to You Tube and type in her name. Or just check the book out of the library. I pick it up once a quarter or so if I'm feeling blah so that I can remember to practice or work on the tips for raising my happiness set-point.
Healing Back Pain by John Sarno. I'm kind of embarrassed for him for this totally cheesy website. I wouldn't put any stock in his material at all if I had seen this website first. Again, this was a book that I picked up at the library at the recommendation of
a friend when I was dealing with back pain that kept me from running (and comfortably getting in and out of chairs, brushing my teeth, etc.) In fact, the back pain was pretty darn debilitating, and I was afraid I was going to enter the legions of those who live a life constrained by pain. The book posits that our brains create very real pain in our backs (and other places) to distract us
from getting in touch with "unacceptable" repressed strong emotions -- primarily rage. It required a stretch for me to get there, but I figured that working on my repressed rage issues by journaling, etc was way cheaper than going to a chiropractor. And what do you know? It worked. The challenge is figuring out what you are mad about that you have repressed. The definition of
repressed, after all, is that you aren't aware of it. So, in the end, I figured that probably 80% of my repressed rage was connected to my parents, who have long since passed on. Following the suggestion of the book, I started journaling about it, and one morning while out running (with back pain) I had a mental conversation with my mom that went something like, "Hey, I know I'm still mad at you about everything, and I'm working on letting it go. In the meantime, would you please do me a solid and take on this back pain for me?" Believe it or not, it worked. Immediately. Right then during my run. No more back pain. If I even get a twinge, I talk to mom and it goes away. I hesitate telling this story because again, it's a little out there. On my morning runs these days I regularly talk to the universe, and my mom and dad, and thank them for all of my blessings. Call it prayer. Whatever. I just know that I have a real connection and I'm happy about that.
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. This is the true story of a tribe of Central American Indians, and ultra-marathoners, and barefoot running, and the bio-mechanics of running, all wrapped in an interesting and engaging story. A friend loaned me the book unbidden and told me I had to give it back when I was done reading it. Of course I resist reading books that other people foist upon me that I haven't asked about. But I cracked it open anyway, and though it was a little hard to get into, after about 50 pages I was hooked. My big take-away from it was that running can be fun! We humans are designed to run. My dad, who was a runner in his later life, used to joke that you never see a runner with a smile on his or her face. When I started running in the 90's it was only for a year or so, and as part of my cross-training for my black belt in Tae Kwon Do. After I got the belt, I stopped running. Didn't like it so much. In 2009 when I decided to lose 30 pounds I thought walking would be my ticket to sustainable exercise, but I got frustrated that each morning walk took so long, so I studied up, found the From Couch to 5K info on-line and started running, but I wasn't liking it much. Then I read Born to Run and realized that it is only a drag if I come at it with that mindset. It changed my whole outlook. Now my morning runs are much funner. I also learned that I don't need to spend a lot of money on running shoes. Not that I plan to become a barefoot runner, but I do regularly invest in inexpensive running shoes without worry. Saves me piles of money without the worry that I'm inadvertently causing injury. This is another book that should be pretty easy to find in the library.
Happy reading! Any suggestions from your must-read list?