Healthy Habits Suck: How to Get Off the Couch and Live a Healthy Life… Even If You Don’t Want To by Dayna Lee-Baggley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a fun and informative little book written by Dayna Lee-Baggley, a psychologist who discusses exactly why healthy habits are so hard to adopt and sustain. In short, they are hard because, in her words, they suck. They go against years of evolutionary conditioning that values energy conservation. Unfortunately, in a world where calories are all too accessible and where the physical demands of life are no longer sufficient to promote fitness, adopting healthy habits, no matter how inconvenient or difficult, is key to both longevity and a good quality of life as we age.
Hate to exercise? Too bad. According to Baggley, many of us hate getting up to go to work, but we do it because we value the pay check. Exercise or eating healthy is no different. It would be great if every healthy choice was easy, convenient, or welcome. But at the end of the day, sometimes they are necessary and that alone should be reason enough to push forward.
The key, in her opinion, is to tie the healthy behaviors into something we value. Make it personal. So maybe we don't like to get up early to exercise because it's much more satisfying to hit the snooze button, however, we do value health because it allows us to enjoy our kids, spouses, or other activities. So the exercise is a means to an end, even if it isn't always "fun."
There is a lot here for someone who is a chronic "excuse maker." The "I don't like exercise" or "I just don't have time" groups. It also offers a lot of useful advice for emotional eaters. Those who eat to sooth some emotional need or dull some uncomfortable emotion.
I've read quite a few of these types of books and what I liked about this one was that Dayna doesn't sugar coat the truth. She also doesn't feel the need to overwrite the book. It's short, and instead of filling it with fluff to beef it up, she simply says what needs to be said, which I appreciate. Too many authors try to fill up pages even if it means going off topic or being overly repetitive. This is concise and to the point.
Relational Mindfulness: A Handbook for Deepening Our Connections with Ourselves, Each Other, and the Planet by Deborah Eden Tull
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If I could summarize the essence of this book it would be to stop and smell the roses, really smell the roses.
Deborah Eden Tull spent several years mastering the practice of mindfulness while living as a monk in a Zen monastery. Abandoning all her worldly belongings and living as part of a self-sustaining community built around simplicity, sustainability, and harmony with oneself and ones surroundings, Tull routinely practiced meditation and mindfulness.
After leaving the monastery, she embarked on a journey as a teacher, speaker, writer and activist to share what she refers to as relational mindfulness.
In a nutshell, relational mindfulness is the practice of abandoning the separatist state of "I" for the inclusive state of "We." It requires us to move beyond our innate conditioning and allow ourselves to experience the moment with curiosity and kindness. As we allow ourselves to feel connected to others and the world around us, we can make decisions that not only honor ourselves but also honor the world we live in.
So much of how we respond to life is reactionary, automatic, conditioned knee-jerk responses that often lead us to assumptions that are inaccurate, unfair, and overly judgmental. Rather than judging, Tull encourages us to simply consider what is with openness and curiosity. Mindfulness is simply the act of being present in the moment, fully and with compassion. It's about breaking free of expectations, learned responses, and critical judgements of ourselves and others. It's about making choices that honor our connectedness to each other, the world we share, and all the creatures we share it with.
The book itself is well-written and logically organized, and offers the reader insight that while not earthshattering is certainly something worth contemplating, especially in today's fast paced, social media driven, technological society, where our interaction with nature and each other has changed dramatically in a very short period of time, and that often leaves of feeling disconnected from ourselves, each other and the earth that sustains us.