Modern Ayurveda (Book Review)

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Ayurveda is complicated, there’s no doubt about it. You need a guide. You also need a guide on how to navigate Ayurveda in the modern world, since it was developed in Ancient India, and most of us don’t even live in modern India.

Ali Cramer does a wonderful job demystifying Ayurveda so that it’s livable in our modern times.

Why should a runner even care about Ayurveda? Have you ever had digestive issues that effected your running? Following Ayurvedic principles can help you sort that out.

Fairytales and Fitness

Disclaimer: I received a pre-publication edition of this book from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review.

Ayurveda is about more than just how to eat

What’s in the book?
The first third of Modern Ayurveda (Amazon Affiliate link) explains the major principles of Ayurvedic eating, determining your dosha (remember my post on the doshas? Read it hereif you missed it), what sorts of foods are appropriate for which doshas, and the 6 tastes — and which of those tastes are most balancing for your dosha.

I’ve just thrown out a bit of Sanskrit and some terms you’re probably not familiar with — that’s okay, because Ali does a great job of explaining it all in easy to understand language.

Here’s a list of the chapters in the book:

  • Essential Ayurveda
  • Ayurveda and You
  • Modern Ayurveda Lifestyle
  • Recipes for Healing and Detox
  • The Healing Recipes
  • Remedies & Practices for Specific Ailments
  • Kickstart Plans
  • Ayurveda Every Day
  • Resources

Modern Ayurveda is about a lot more than just eating right, though. It’s about how to move (including yoga flows tailored to your Dosha), even when is the optimal time to move, destressing rituals, and more.

What drew me to this book
I’ve dabbled in Ayurveda, even before I learned more about it in my YTT. Learning more, as usual, is the key to igniting interest and yet leaves you with more questions. Here’s a snippet of the book description on Net Galley:

Ayurveda is an ancient South Asian system of holistic health and wisdom that’s been practiced throughout the world for thousands of years. It teaches us to live in harmony with the world around us by balancing our naturally-occurring physical and mental tendencies with the limitations of our lives. Modern Ayurveda introduces you to the basics of the Ayurvedic way of eating and lifestyle choices, with everything from recipes and morning meditations to daily routines, personalized yoga practices, and more.

Ali Cramer, the author of Modern Ayurveda, is the director of the Ayurveda program at Laughing Lotus Yoga Center in New York City.

According to Ali, Ayurveda is:

A complete system of based on the elements of nature and  living life in accordance with the natural rhythms of our world.

Kichadi: Indian comfort food

So how does it taste?
There is a clickable index of recipes at the beginning of the recipe section, broken out by Dosha.

Recipes are clearly marked by Dosha icons

Some recipes are tridoshic (appropriate for all doshas), some are good for a couple of doshas, and the vast majority are aimed at your particular dosha. There are also suggestions for how to eat by season.

Recipes in the book, also clearly marked by Dosha

There are recipes for:

  • Kichadi (a rice and bean dish)
  • Breakfasts
  • Spice Mixes
  • Soups
  • “Burgers” (veggie burgers)
  • Sauces
  • Snacks
  • Tonics
These are what the Kapha Burgers look like — and they taste great!

All the recipes I tried from the book were simple, tasty, and didn’t require a long list of strange ingredients, although they most likely will require spices you may not have in your spice cabinet.

Who is this book for?
You don’t have to be into yoga to explore Ayurveda (although the two really do go together). If you’re interested in how to tailor your eating to your body type, not somebody else’s, Modern Ayurveda can help you get started. If you eat healthy and clean, but still struggle with digestive issues, this book is for you. If you just want some healthy tasty recipes, this book is also for you!

Does having a diet tailored to your individual needs — one that changes and adapts with you, the seasons, your age — sound good to you? Then learning a little more about Ayurveda could be helpful to you.

Baby stepping into doing the right things for your Dosha

The Kickstarts
There is a seven day kickstart program all laid out for you by your dosha. It’s not what you think, though — it’s not really about your food (although there are suggestions for a meal plan for each dosha and food lists with best foods for your dosha).

No, it’s about how you live your day. There are simple suggestions for what you should add to your day — and when. It starts out with small changes, and each day builds on the previous day with additional small changes.

I didn’t try the kickstart, but most of the small changes that are suggested are not time-consuming. Change is hard, though, and even the simplest changes require a willingness to change. We can’t feel better if we aren’t willing to change.

Chickpea pancakes. Super quick & simple — they’ve become a staple!

Final Thoughts
I love how simple Ali Cramer makes Ayurveda seem. A lot of information is packed into this book, in addition to the recipes. It’s about so much more than food, though. Because Ayurveda is about so much more than food — it’s really a lifestyle. Perhaps the original holistic lifestyle.

Ali gives you lots of suggestions, but realizes that baby steps are the way to go and most of all tells you to do the best you can.

The book itself is very visually appealing. All of the recipes are clearly marked by dosha. If I’ve piqued your interest in Ayurveda, then I highly recommend checking out Modern Ayurveda!

Have I managed to at least make you curious about Ayurveda?

Do you enjoy Indian food?

Are you curious about your Dosha? (I link to Dosha quizzes here)

Eat Live Thrive Diet (Book Review)

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I know that when I first started to run, I overate for the amount of calories I was actually burning — not intentionally, but it’s easy to do. Eventually I figured out how to train and not gain weight (for the most part).

I’ve noticed, though, that I can no longer eat as much running the same amount of miles. 10 years has put me firmly into menopause, and as our bodies change, so do our needs and our ability to burn off what we eat.

So what’s a curvy runner to do? When I read the description of Eat Live Thrive Diet (Amazon Affiliate link), or ELTD as I’ll refer to it, I was intrigued that it targets older women  — and is actually written by two women who are on the other side of 50 . . . and beyond. I mean seriously, look at the authors — I’ll have what they’re having!

Disclaimer: I received a pre-publication edition of this book from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review.

What’s in the book?
ELTD spends a lot of time on what and how to eat, obviously. It always touches on exercise and sleep. The one thing I didn’t realize when I requested this book to review: it also talks some about God.

The whole book is not about God, and it’s not preachy, but I wasn’t expecting it and as a person of faith who happens to be Jewish, I’ll admit I found it somewhat annoying. It may not interest you, either, but it’s a small part of the book and don’t let that prevent you from reading it. And I also appreciate for some people weight can be a spiritual issue.

Here’s a list of the chapters in the book:

  • Yes, you can eat, live, and thrive!
  • Making the program work for you
  • You are what you think
  • The power of self talk
  • Fat-burning diet trends
  • The eating window
  • The elimination phase
  • The discovery phase
  • The lifestyle phase
  • What’s exercise got to do with it?
  • The irreplaceable power of sleep
  • Beauty and the beast
  • Recipes

The “diet” is split into three phases:

  1. Elimination: removing problem foods completely for 2 weeks
  2. Discovery: slowly reintroducing the foods, one at a time, noting how they make you feel — once you’ve tried out one food, you remove it again as you go on to the next (I am still going through this phase)
  3. Lifestyle: fine tuning how to eat the rest of your life for your body

This isn’t a diet, despite the title, but more a deep dive into problematic foods that may be sabotaging your weight loss journey, and how to fine tune your diet (way of eating, not restriction!) to your body.

I liked the fact that ELTD isn’t a fad diet. The authors briefly touch on Keto, for instance, and why they don’t suggest it — which jives with my own personal opinion: it’s too hard to sustain and it’s not balanced.

They do encourage Intermittent Fasting, although a kinder, gentler version. They suggest that you work your way up to fasting 16 hours, starting with 12 hours (or less, if you’re not used to going a long time without eating) and slowly extending it over time — and only fast for 16 hours at most a couple of times a week.

I’ve dabbled in IF, but I didn’t find it did much for me. This time I found that IF coupled with the foods I eliminated plus a few tweaks to my nutrition in general worked well for me. I started running again, and unlike the last time, I didn’t notice an increase in appetite on the days I ran.

Did the weight melt off? No — but it’s not supposed to. Any loss over 1-2 lbs per week is most likely muscle loss, not fat loss — we’re prone to muscle loss as we age, so we certainly don’t want to do anything that will cause more of it! Slow and steady wins the race.

What drew me to this book
Let’s face it, there’s a ton of books out there about how to eat (most of them contradicting each other). Here’s a snippet of the book description on Net Galley:

A practical, science-based diet book that unravels the mystery of why women gain weight as they age and includes a sustainable plan to permanently lose the pounds and inches.

Almost all women who are fast approaching menopause — or on the other side — know that keeping our weight in check gets harder and harder with every decade. I’m on the other side, weight is often a struggle for me — so yes, a book aimed at “mature” women appealed to me.

Positivity
If you follow me for any length of time, you’ll find that I’m really big on positive affirmations, mantras, and meditation. I wasn’t always, but I have learned that our self talk is often the most important part of the process any time you want to change a behavior. The authors agree. 

In fact, they suggest “potty talk” — using a trigger to get you into the habit of doing positive affirmations. One trigger is when you’re in the bathroom. Much better use of your time than being on your phone, right? And your phone will stay dry (and germ free). There are several audio recordings from the author, as bonuses, that you can play during the different phases.

The book also has a lot of positive affirmations for you to use. Some of both the audios and the affirmations do invoked God or Jesus, but there are many that don’t. You are sure to find some to work for you — which is the point of the whole book, finding out what works for you!

Elimination Phase
The Elimination Phase removes foods that are problematic for many women for 2 weeks. There are three different levels:

  1. Level 1: Grains & sugar (the most common culprits in weight gain)
  2. Level 2: Also eliminate beans, nuts, and dairy
  3. Level 3: Let’s just say there’s a whole lot of food to eliminate

It’s suggested that you do some form of the elimination diet every change of seasons, and try the highest level at least once a year. I liked the fact that the first level wasn’t very strict. I had every intention of trying to cut out dairy, but then I found myself struggling to get in enough protein and really needed my Greek Yogurt!. I did cut out beans, even though they’re not on level 1. The authors say it’s fine to sort of mix and match between levels.

After just implementing a few changes even before I began and then following Level 1 + beans for 2 weeks, I lost a little weight, while reducing cravings at the same time. Did I feel my energy skyrocket? Um, no, sorry, no. I definitely noticed a flatter stomach and some inches lost.

Discovery Phase
After eliminating the foods you decide on, you begin to test your sensitivity to them. There’s actually a suggested order to test food. Each grain will be tested separately (in my case, rice, oats, quinoa, then wheat).

To test a food you will eat a serving of that food twice a day for three days, while monitoring how you feel and your weight. On the fourth day you will eat as you did in the elimination phase; the reasoning is that it can take a couple of days for a reaction to show up. Common reactions for each food group are listed, and it’s noted that a reaction just indicates you might have a sensitivity to that food.

Then you’ll move on to testing the next food on the list, but you won’t add back in the food you just tested previously until you have gone through all the foods you want to test. Basically, that allows you to test each food without muddying the waters by eating the other eliminated foods.

The Discovery Phase allows you to find out if you react to certain foods — and how much. You may find that there are foods you really just need to eliminate from your diet altogether, while there may be other foods that are fine for you occasionally.

My Thoughts on the Discovery Phase
I discussed this book with Mr. Judy, and he liked the fact that the authors take a quasi-scientific look at food. He pointed out that the testing phase is probably not long enough; I agreed with him. I also know that weight fluctuates naturally on its own, so if you do have a gain you can’t always attribute it to a certain food.

I gained weight one day when I was on that day in between testing foods. My guess is it was much more about the fact that I’d run 5 miles the day before, which can also cause a temporary bump on the scale.

Normally I do not weigh myself every day, and for some people, this can be triggering. For years I didn’t even own a scale. Mr. Judy bought this scale; I had never used it until reading this book (and don’t plan to be using it once I’m done testing).

I found the “data” from reintroducing foods coupled with monitoring how I felt and my weight fascinating. I know some people have no desire to spend that much time and thought on food, but it’s interesting to me. I calculate the discovery phase will take me about 2 weeks, so that’s a month before getting into the Lifestyle phase, the phase that is about tweaking your food so that you can lose and then maintain your weight.

So far I haven’t really found anything that truly seems to be a problem for me. After  eating beans and the one day off, I did find I gained a pound. I believe that that simply means that I don’t need to eat beans twice a day every day, which is not something I did anyway — not a true sensitivity. I didn’t really expect to find sensitivities. I think some people, if they’re willing to do the work, might be surprised by the results.

Eat Live Thrive Academy
If you’re wondering what happens after you finish all the testing, or you feel that you need support, you might want to check out the Eat Live Thrive Academy here. It’s a monthly paid site with a private Facebook group for more support.

The authors, Danna and Robyn, are active on the site, answering questions, commenting, posting FB Live Videos. They also hold live coaching calls within the site. I haven’t had time to attend one live, but I’ve watched some of the videos and there’s definitely interesting information.

You can download a digital version of the book if you join. Membership happens to be discounted this month. I joined using my own money. I haven’t yet made up my mind whether or not I want to stay a member, but you can cancel at any time. It seems a very nice, supportive group. Right now the other resources at the site, aside from the coaching calls, are rather sparse (recipes — the same ones in the book, a few exercise videos, and worksheets and guidelines for moving through the different phases), but my guess is that there will be more with time — or maybe not.

The price is very reasonable and it’s discounted during the month of April (I have no affiliation with them).

Who is this book for?
Older women who find that they are struggling to maintain (or lose) weight. Whether that’s because they’re not eating a healthy diet, or eating a healthy diet but have not pinpointed healthy foods that are sabotaging their efforts. Also for people (not just women) who think they may have food sensitivities.

Final Thoughts
I will not lie: the discovery phase is time consuming. I wasn’t testing a lot of foods, but since you test every single grain separately, each one for three days — yes, it adds up. And you need to keep track of how you’re feeling and your weight every day (which could be a trigger for someone with an eating disorder).

I didn’t find the elimination phase at all difficult, except for going out — but I did go out to eat once a week, as we usually do.

I enjoyed the recipes from the book, but if you’re a vegetarian — you’re SOL. Pretty much completely; I’d love to see a vegetarian option! I personally would also like to see some sample meal plans. Each recipe has a suggested category (breakfast, entrees, desserts, etc.) and also is tagged by which level it is appropriate for. I’d love to see just a few sample meal plans to see how the authors suggest you put it all together.

This is not a weight loss plan, although the aim is to eventually get to a weight you’re comfortable at — and can sustain. It’s about tailoring your diet to work for your body. I am always searching for ways to do that! It’s about finding the right foods for your body. Yes, you may have to change the way you eat, but if you’re not getting the results you want, it’s worth it.

It’s not a fad diet, it doesn’t eliminate any food group (unless you truly find you have a sensitivity to it), and it connects mind, body and spirit.

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Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

Change your morning, change your life

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What is the first thing you do in the morning? I’ll bet for many the answer will be check their phone: email, facebook, instagram, etc. Maybe before you even got out of bed.

Now think about this, and be honest with yourself: do you feel energized to tackle your day after that? Does it make you feel less stressed? Do you wake up looking forward to all a new day holds for you — or are you dreading what the day will bring you?

Start as you mean to go on
Everyone is busy; I get that. We all think we don’t have enough time to stop and smell the roses — or start our days with a little self care. What do you think you’ll regret most at the end of your life — not checking your email the minute you wake up or having a peaceful morning that sets you up for a great day?

I loved this quote I found in this post (here) on morning routines:

How you start your day is how you start your life.— Drew Canole

I believe it’s true. If you’re rushing around like a crazy person, feeling stressed, can’t remember what you meant to bring with you — how do you think the rest of your day is going to go?

What if you spent a little time on gratitude before you got up. Breakfast was ready for you to grab. Your workout clothes were laid out. You spent a few moments visualizing how you want your day to go. How do you think your day would actually go if you started it that way?

Yes, you, even YOU, have the time
Right about now I bet you’re thinking “but Judy, I just don’t have time to do all those things”. I know a lot of people hate this saying, but it’s the truth — we all have the same 24 hours in a day. It’s up to us how we use them.

What are you really telling yourself when you tell yourself you just don’t have the time? That you’re not worthy. You are not good enough. You are not important.

Maybe you have kids, and I understand, with kids, you have so little time for yourself. What do you think you’re teaching them by not taking care of yourself? How do they act in the morning? Get them involved. Try to set up a morning routine for them, too, so they start the day happy.

You set the tone. You have the power.

Spend a few minutes at night to set up your mornings
Let’s face it, I know you’re going to resist this. You’re too busy, you’re too tired, you just don’t have the time. How much time do you spend on your phone again? Is it really helping you relax?

Give up a little online time. Spend a few minutes on the weekends or the night before making yourself a breakfast you can just grab. Write down your to-do list (you’ll remember it better if you physically write it, but at the very least have one on your phone) so that you know exactly what you need to take with you the next day — and then get it ready so you don’t have to think about it.

GO TO BED EARLIER. Yes, I’m shouting at you! Go to bed earlier, and you will have the time to get up a little earlier. Consider actually physically shutting your phone off — if it’s not on, there’s no Facebook meme hole to fall down and keep you up all night.

Maybe I should have titled this “Change your evening, Change your life”, because taking a little time the night before frees up time for you in the morning.

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For many years Gizmo was a big part of my morning routine

What my morning routine looks like
Let go of your perfectionism here — this is supposed to make you feel better, not just one more thing to tick off your to-do list. Some mornings it just won’t happen, and that’s ok. It doesn’t make you a failure; it makes you human. Believe me, there are mornings it doesn’t happen for me.

My best mornings start with my routine, though, and this is what it looks like:

  • Make a glass of warm lemon water with a little ACV (apple cider vinegar) in it to sip on
  • Do a short — or longer, if I have more time — yoga session
  • Guided meditation — generally about 5-8 minutes
  • Reading from several spiritual books, roughly 5 minutes: Louise Hay’s Heart Thoughts and Inyanla Vanzant’s Every Day I Pray (Amazon Affiliate links) are favorites.
  • Make/eat breakfast
  • After breakfast, read a magazine while sipping my tea

That’s it. It doesn’t have to take a long time. And while Gizmo was still alive, the first things I did in the morning were scoop the litter boxes and feed him. Don’t start with all of this. Pick one thing that would make you smile in the morning, and start with that. Or pick something from the resources below. Small steps to a happier you.

Final Thoughts
A few minutes in the evening, a few minutes in the morning — give it a try. A real try. See if it makes a difference. Do the things that make you happy. Because you’re worth it.

What does your morning routine look like? How does it make you feel?

What do you do in the evening to make the next day go smoother?

More morning routine resources:

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Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

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Let Your Mind Run (Book Review)

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My running group is trying to revive our book club. Mind you, we did one book. In 2017. We chose Deena Kastor’s memoir, Let Your Mind Run (Amazon Affiliate link) this time. Learn more about Deena at her Website here.

I absolutely loved this book. Most of  my sole sisters did, too, although one person was somewhat on the fence about it, and there were varying degrees of like/love. Did you know that I actually met Deena briefly? It’s true.

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Deena was so sweet!

Oh, how I wish her book had been available back then (a few years ago). I’m always star struck when I meet a famous runner, and I really never know what to say. She put me at my ease, though, and asked about my training, and really listened. Such a fangirl moment.

Deena is not just incredibly talented, she’s also smart. How I wish I could sit down with her and pick her mind even more now!

Did you know we share a birthday? Eleven years apart, but still, that might explain why I have also been practicing visualization, gratitude, affirmations and so on for a long time. Now, If I could just have a smidgen of her speed (or her metabolism) . . .

What’s in the book?
Let Your Mind Run is part memoir, part mental tricks, and part a “run down” of many of Deena’s races. I am so impressed by her recall of races stretching all the way back to herself as a very young runner, but knowing how much she emphasizes mental training (more on that later), it’s not too surprising that she has taken such meticulous notes.

Here’s a list of the chapters in the book:

  • Winning
  • Losing
  • The Magical Vision of the Malboro Man
  • Getting Schooled in Running
  • Assembling an Athlete
  • What are You Thinking?
  • A Well of Strength
  • Strategic Joy
  • Seeing is Believing
  • Positivity Has a Passport
  • Love Makes You Stronger
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Optimism
  • Going the Distance
  • Running on Joy
  • Go! Go!
  • The Meaning of Winning
  • A Sandwich on the Deck
  • The Positive Path

You definitely don’t have to be an Olympic athlete, a national or world record breaker, or even a good runner to appreciate the wealth of information in this book — obviously I am none of those things. I scribbled down so many notes from this book, though — and I know I will be rereading this book again. I’ve read many books on building your mental game, but I truly believe that this is one of the best I’ve read/listened to (since I listened to the audiobook — not on the run, though).

If you’ve never watched it, I suggest watching “Spirit of the Marathon” — you can buy it on Amazon for $2.99 here(Amazon Affiliate link) — in conjunction with Deena’s book — maybe after you read the chapter on the Chicago Marathon — it follows several different runners in that marathon, from marathon virgins to elites (including Deena, obviously) — and I have watched it many, many times for inspiration.

So many great ideas!

Just a few of my takeaways
When I opened my journal and everyone saw I actually had notes, they were so surprised! I didn’t buy a physical book — I probably won’t, but I will buy the kindle version at some point — and there was so many great tidbits to glean from this book:

  • She had a great way of explaining adaptation succinctly: you push your body; you rest; and your body adapts. In fact, I was impressed with how much time she took off running — completely — after marathons. It’s something recreational runners so rarely do — many nagging injuries can probably be traced to the fact we don’t take recovery seriously enough (although of course that’s not the only reason for injuries).
  • As Deena writes on her Website, the one thing she hopes we take away is that a positive attitude and gratitude — for even the smallest things — can make huge differences in our lives.
  • Don’t compare yourself to last season, last year, years ago. Find a way to be the best you can be in the present moment (let the past go).
  • Consider with running what do we take and what do we give back? That question really caught my attention, and it’s something I’ve been pondering on the run. What exactly is my running giving back to this world?

There’s so much more in the book — for instance, Deena talks about how to train for heat when you’re not in a hot environment. Which is something I’m doing presently, as my half is in GA. The South in February can be extremely cold — even snow! — or extremely hot and everything in between. I know; I lived in TX for 17 years.

If it’s cold, that’s not a problem for me. It will never be as cold as it’s been here at home! If it’s hot, though — that can be really tough and I don’t have as much time to acclimate to as I’d like. I was already practicing some of the tips I used for training for my NOLA Half two years ago (read about it here). It’s nice to know an elite athlete doesn’t think that’s crazy!

If it’s not hot, no worries. Those uncomfortable runs build mental toughness — toughness can carry you far.

Who is this book for?
I was discussing the book, before I’d gotten too far into it, with one of the other members of our group. She said that it would probably only interest runners, because it goes so heavily into the details of running. After finishing the book, I think she might be right. Yet Deena mentioned so many books from athletes in different sports that helped to inspire her — many of them old — I wanted to read them too! Alas the only copies available of some of the older books are very expensive.

There is so much information on building your mental strength, so many ideas that I am now trying to incorporate into my own running. Would an athlete from another sport find this book as interesting? Maybe. 

I do know that I would recommend this book to any runner, whether they are BOTP like me or winning AG awards all the time. It’s so important to keep growing and there’s just so much information in here to help and to inspire.

Final Thoughts
The Sole Sisters all agreed that Deena’s emphasis on finding the positives in everyday life and every run are game changing. We all know this, of course, but to see how it could change her training and her races was inspiring — and yes, I tried to put those ideas into play with several challenging runs last week (with varying degrees of success).

One last final thought: Deena, please, I want a cookbook from you, too!

Want another opinion on this book? Check out Wendy @ Takingthelongwayhome’s review here. And Liz’s @ Sedateladyrunning here.

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Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

Hit Reset: Book Review

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Hit Reset Book Review

I am not usually a fan of yoga books, at least not yoga books that actually are about yoga routines — it’s too hard to do yoga while reading out of a book. Hit Reset: Revolutionary Yoga for Athletes (Amazon Affiliate link) may just have changed my mind on that score.

A Quick Peek
Here’s a list of the chapters in the book:

  • Intro
  • Rediscover Balance
  • Breathe & Focus
  • Strengthen Your Core
  • Balance Your Foundation
  • Save Your Knees
  • Unstiffen Your Hamstrings
  • Wake Up Your Butt
  • Mobilize & Stabilize Your Hips
  • Sort Out Your Shoulders
  • Unstick Your Side Body
  • Epilogue
  • Routines
  • Glossary

If you have not found at least one chapter that speaks to your weakness, I’d be shocked. I’m willing to bet you’ve found multiple areas you need to work on.

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Problems, solutions, and self tests

A Little more detail
Each chapter begins with several common problems and their solutions. There’s also a very short self test to determine whether or not this is really one of your problem areas. Then it’s on to one or more routines that help you with that particular weakness, with plenty of instruction and photos (and at the back of the book, just the entire routine in photos).

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Moves in a flow & detailed instructions for each pose

One of the things I really love about the book is all the information you get on the nuances of the poses It’s almost like you’re in a private class with Erin instructing you.

Is it more difficult to do a flow of yoga poses while reading a book? Well, yes, yes it is, there’s no getting around that. One of the things Erin emphasizes, though, is there’s no need to stick to the routines exactly as written. If you have the time, it’s great, but if not, just pick a few poses here, a few poses there.

Yoga is meant to be a practice, not something you do for an hour once a week. Imagine getting good at playing an instrument when you only practice one hour a week? Your body is an instrument, too. Your most important instrument.

Eventually you’ll come to know the poses well and you’ll be able to do them without the book, at least your favorites — probably not an entire routine, unless you have a much better memory than I do.

bhitreset3
Photos of each pose in a routine (and when to use it)

Which is exactly what I do: a few poses before heading out on a run, or when something felt off, and often right before I went to sleep (bed yoga, anyone?).

I only have one teeny, tiny complaint about this book: because the spine is glued, not sewn, it’s not strong and it didn’t take much use before the cover separated from the spine. As a person who used to work in printing many years ago, I know that this is cheaper than a sewn spine — although it does’t mean the book has fallen apart; I’d just rather a sewn spine so that the book laid flat easier.

I highly recommend Hit Reset for any active person, and use it frequently myself.

It’s even better with the videos
Hit Reset does not come with videos, but the author, Erin Taylor, is the instructor behind Jasyoga. I knew several runners who were posting about Jasyoga, and several months ago I subscribed — and I’ve never looked back.

Many of the routines in Hit Reset are available via Jasyoga. But there’s much more: meditations, recovery, yoga for triathletes — just to name a few categories. There are routines from 5 minutes up to about 40 minutes. I use many of them on a regular basis and I really enjoy my practice.

I was lucky that I subscribed when Jasyoga was still $4.99/month and got grandfathered in at that rate; now the monthly subscription is $9.99 — which I think is still a bargain. You can try it yourself for a month free with the code FREERESET — not an affiliate link — I am just a happy customer.

I did, however, reach out to Velopress and request this book to review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own and I was not compensated for this review.

Tor-box

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

coachescorner

All the miles . . .

. . . all the food

Oh, how I wish that was true: that I could just eat whatever I wanted to because I run. I found out quickly, training for my first half marathon, that that is just not the case. Nor for me, anyway.

But I do love the fact that I do have more wiggle room with eating when I’m running more miles. And these days, I’m often turning to Real Fit Kitchen recipes to fuel and recover from my runs with real foods.

brealfitkitchen

Real Fit Kitchen: a review
I wanted to delve into nutrition in February. Nutrition absolutely fascinates me, and I’m always tinkering with what I eat, how I fuel my runs, and how I recover.

Real Fit Kitchen is written by Tara Mardigan, who has many credentials, including nutritionist and runner, and Kate Weiler, a sports nutritionist and triathlete. You pretty much know that you’re in good hands.

I had never heard of this book, but I am so glad that I picked it up. The following quote sums up the aim of the book (which I think they fulfill nicely):

The mission of this book is to help you eat real, delicious food. We want to introduce you to some wonderful ingredients, ones that you may not know about or may not know how to incorporate into your diet. We want to help you move awy from products concocted by food scientists in a lab and empower you to create your own food: food that will give you more vitality and strength than you can imagine.

The authors lay out what they call real fit values:

  • Plant Based
  • Sustainable
  • Strong
  • Pure & Simple
  • Colorful
  • Consistent
  • Balanced
  • Intuitive
  • Yours, Not Theirs
  • Real

Real food requires no health claims

They introduce you to the Five Fingers approach to eating a balanced diet, which is to include these five ingredients in every meal:

  1. Fruits/Vegetables
  2. Carbohydrates
  3. Proteins
  4. Healthy Fats
  5. Fluids

They also introduce the Powerful Plates concept, which is how your plate should look, loosely by percentages, if you’re an endurance athlete, working on strength + endurance, at a healthy weight, or less active (and give guidelines on how to adjust if you’re trying to lose or gain weight).

Finally, they talk about the healthy ingredients you should have in your kitchen.

The Recipes
The Recipes are broken down into categories:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch & Dinner
  • Snacks & Portables
  • Vegetables & Salads
  • Dressings, Marinages, Dips, & Spreads
  • Desserts
  • Sports Drinks, Energy Drinks, & Juices
  • Smoothies & Milks
  • Anti-Inflammatory Solutions

The recipes don’t have nutrition informaton, but they do have nutrition tags: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan, Low FODMAP. They also includes tags on the best times to consume the recipe:

  • Preworkout
  • Postworkout
  • Nutrient-Packed Mainstays
  • Nutrient-Packed Treats

Some of the recipes call for ingredients you may not have heard of — or don’t normally stock in your kitchen (hello, mochi — except now I’m obsessed). Some are extremely simple (banana with salt and chia seeds for post workout) — most are a bit more complicated than that, but none of them are super time consuming.

But how do they taste?
Really, really good. Even the odd combinations like the salty bananas, although I did find myself having to decrease the amount of salt in those simple postwork recipes — and I like salt!.

bmochi
My beloved PR Mochi Bites

Some of the recipes have already been made multiple times in my kitchen, and will become a staple in my recipe repitoire:

  • Maple mustard glazed tempeh
  • PR Mochi Bites (my favorite recipe!)
  • Not Your Mama’s Cookies
  • Maple Chia Sweet Potato Chunks
  • Biked Apples (my second favorite recipe!)
  • BQ Bars
  • Chocolate Recovery Pudding (I made it a smoothie)
  • Mint Chip Smoothie
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Cherry Recovery Smoothie

I think there was only recipe I made that I felt was just okay — that would be the Marathon Muffins. It’s not that the muffins were bad, just that I don’t feel moved to make them again — which is too bad; they sounded really good! Actually, the Madzoon soup, which sounded so good, was too soupy for me. Go figure. It’s a yogurt based soup — I actually like the simplicity of it, but I think I might enjoy it more with less broth in it.

There are still many, many recipes i haven’t yet tried, and I’m excited to experiment with more recipes from this book.

Who is this book for?
Anyone that is interested in fueling their workouts with real foods — and for people with an open mind and a somewhat adventurous palate, as some of the recipes may be quite different from what you’re used to eating — but not all.

There are quite a few recipes that will appeal to vegetarians, and quite a few that will appeal to Paleo eaters.

If you need nutrition information and macronutrient information, you’ll be disappointed: there isn’t any.

My only real complaint about Real Fit Kitchen? That there aren’t more recipes! I am so glad I picked up the kindle version of this cookbook. Disclaimer: This post includes Amazon Affiliate links, and when you buy the book via my link, I make a small amount of money — thanks! I bought this cookbook with my own money, though, and the opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Other cookbook book reviews you might enjoy:

Tell me in the comments:

Real food or packaged gels and bars?

What’s the weirdest thing you’eat/drink for recovery?

Is there a cookbook you’d like to see a review of?

I’m linking up with with MCM Mama Runs, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and My No Guilt Life for the Tuesdays on the Run linkup.

Tuesdays on the Run

The 4 x 4 Diet (Book Review)

4x4

The 4 x 4 Diet (Amazon Affiliate Link) is a fairly simple book about clean eating and a healthy lifestyle geared to beginners and experienced exercisers alike. It includes:

  • Relatively simple, tasty, healthy recipes
  • A simple to follow clean eating program
  • Tabata-style routines from beginner to advanced
  • A meal plan/exericise schedule

I reviewed an ebook, so I can’t speak to how the physical book looks.

Who is The 4 x 4 Diet For?
Anyone interested in trying to eat healthy and stay fit (and maybe lose some weight) by eating and exercising sensibly.

But What’s in the Book?

  1. The Clean and Healthy Lifestyle
  2. Eating Clean
  3. Getting Lean
  4. The 4 x 4 Diet

Erin Oprea lays out her philosophy of getting, and staying, healthy in four sections. She calls it the 4 x 4 Diet because the clean eating is based on 4 simple rules and the tabatas are 4 minutes each. Don’t be fooled by that simplicity; they can get you results!

The first section, The Clean and Healthy Lifestyle, is an overall roadmap to Erin’s take on clean living.

In Eating Clean, Erin delves deeper into what she calls clean eating, and that consists of 4 basic guidelines:

  1. Cutting out starches at night
  2. Reducing sugar
  3. Reducing sodium
  4. Reducing alcohol

Erin guides you through how to stock your pantry, and arms you with simple recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and the occasional treat.

In Getting Lean, Erin gives you a little bit of history on tabatas: interval workouts where you go hard for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and repeat 8 times for 4 minutes of exercise.

Erin lays out a variety of tabatas for you to do, and they are broken down into beginner, intermediate, and advanced.

Erin ties it all together in The 4 x 4 Diet, where she gives you a 4 week meal and exercise plan.

What I Tried
I tried many of the tabata workouts, at least a few from all the levels. The ones from the advanced level seem so simple, but they kicked my butt — in a good way.

You are supposed to aim to get 4-5 tabatas a day; I usually did 4, with a warmup and a cooldown, and that basically was 30 minutes of exercise.

I’m not sure I’d term them fun and addicting, as Erin does, but I did enjoy them, and I especially love that you can do just one or a couple at a time, and more throughout the day. My philosophy is that small bouts of intense exercise like that throughout the day keeps your metabolism burning all day long.

Erin does say it’s better if you do them back to back, but it’s okay not to. Many involve short bursts of cardio: jumping jacks, burpees, mountain climbers, etc. I had to modify them since I was dealing with some ankle problems, but I still felt I got in great workouts.

 

Protein Brownies

I tried a few of the recipes: Asian Tuna Steak, Mashed Cauliflower, Honey Roasted Butternut Squash, and Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownies (which I thought were really good, but my husband thought they were dry).

There are actually a lot more recipes I’d like to try, but just didn’t get around to. Most are pretty simple and don’t take a lot of time or strange ingredients. Lunches were heavy on salads, which I do enjoy, except it was quite cold while I was reading the book, and I’m not as into salads when it’s cold.

Some of them are so simple I wouldn’t call them recipes and are actually things I already make, like the Peanut Butter Apple Crunch and the Not-so-boring Brown Rice Cake (only I use a dark chocolate rice cake which really makes it not so boring!).

The only thing I didn’t try was the exercise schedule/meal plan. I’m never good with being told what to eat — I like to do my own thing.

What did I think?
I really enjoyed the workouts. I enjoyed all the recipes I tried. I don’t drink, so that was easy for me. Reducing sugar consumption is always an aim for me, because I have a wicked sweet tooth.

The reason Erin suggests no carbs at night is that we tend to be less active at night, and therefore can’t burn off carbs consumed at night as easily as those consumed earlier in the day, when we’re more active.

I’m not a doctor, or a nutritionist, but even this layperson thinks that’s probably untrue. For the most part, my understanding is that if you eat more than you need, it will be stored as fat, whether or not it’s carbs, protein, or fat.

I was never a fan of the whole “I’m not eating past a certain time” thing. If I’m out late, and I can’t eat til late, you better believe I’m going to eat — otherwise I’ll be starving and much more likely to overeat the next day.

Erin even suggests that you shouldn’t be eating the fruit higher in carbs after 4 pm — apples, bananas, for instance. Again, I highly doubt there is scientific data to prove that a banana after 4 pm will make you fat. I did try to adhere to that rule, and stuck more to mandarins and berries at night, but I won’t lie: there were nights I had the second banana of my day or an apple. I still lost weight.

You are allowed a couple of dinners a week that can be heavier on carbs, and that made it workable for me. I found myself adding back in more carbs during the day, which did seem to make me less hungry towards the evening anyway.

I did lose weight while going through the recipes and the exercises, but it’s unclear if it was due to the tabatas and reducing carbs at night, or simply the fact that I normally start to lose the winter weight around this time of year.

Would I Buy This Book?
Yes, I would. I really enjoyed the recipes, I really enjoyed the workouts, and I plan to keep using both.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

Blogging for books

Discalaimer: The links in the post are affiliate links. If you decided buy this book through my link, I’d earn a small amount of income. I was provided with a copy of the book in exchange for this review, and all the opinions in this post are my own.