And you thought I’d never get around to posting this! 😉
I love this book.
That is all.
What, you want more? FINE.
First off, I have to say that if you read the first book, I’ve heard that there isn’t a WHOLE lot new with this one. (I haven’t read the first one, so I can’t comment, but just FYI: if you have a well-thumbed copy of the first one, you might not want to run out and buy the women-focused one.) Having said that, there is some female-specific stuff in here. Chris and Harry (the authors) address the prevalence of osteoporosis and the fact that heart disease is the number one killer of women, even though culturally it’s still viewed as a “man’s” disease. But if you have the original, just look for the women’s version at your library. 😉
Ok. Why do I love this book with a fiery passion? Because it circumvents all the “lose weight so you’ll be pretty and skinny” bullshit that women in our culture are so exposed to. This book makes me want to exercise and eat right JUST BECAUSE IT’S GOOD FOR ME. Bizarre, I know.
There are two authors, and they alternate chapters: Henry Lodge, M.D. (Harry) is the . . . well, the doctor. (You figured that out already, right? Based on the “M.D.” after his name? Right?) Chris Crowley is a self-professed “regular guy” and Harry’s patient. In the book, they tag-team each other, Chris giving you the folksier, here’s-how-this-plays-out-in-real-life approach, and Harry giving you the here’s-how-the-biology-BEHIND-the-real-life-approach-works approach . (Wow. I think I just confused myself with Harry’s approach.) If you like accessible science (I do – I’m a nerd that way), you will LOVE this.
Most of the book focuses on exercise, and how it affects your physiological systems. Turn out there are two sets of chemicals in our bodies, which Harry abbreviates as C6 and C10. C6 is what you get with stress, with a sedentary life, with too much processed food and too few social connections. C10 is what you get with exercise, a good diet and an active social network. But! Turns out you need both! Harry calls C6 the “demolition crew,” and C10 the “construction crew.” You need BOTH. When you run on the treadmill (or whatever), you stress your body. Your system releases a bunch of C6 (because you know, “Ack! Stress!”), which is your body’s signal to send in the construction crew: the C10 (because you know, “Things have broken down! Must! Fix!”). (You know how good you feel after exercising? That’s C10.)
But here’s the catch: a “normal” American life, sitting at a desk, not getting a lot of exercise, etc., releases C6, but NOT IN ENOUGH QUANTITY to trigger the signal to send in the C10. So we die a slow, decaying death from an excess of C6.
That’s the general gist of the exercise stuff. There’s a LOT more, obviously, including the difference between long, slow exercise, and more intense exercise (I’m looking at you, Interval Training). Chris even goes so far as to say that interval training will make you FITTER than long and slow, but long and slow will make you HEALTHIER. He recommends doing both. (Disclaimer: this was written a few years ago, and I’m too lazy to go look up the newer science. So that part might not line up with the newest research, but since it seems more balanced to recommend both instead of one over the other, I’m going with it. Besides, some mornings ALL I can do is walk, and I like to think I’m still doing something good for myself. So there. ;D)
And Harry explains how the C6 and C10 work in light of evolution: foraging, hunting, RUNNING FOR OUR LIVES. Ahem.
There is a little bit about diet (though again focused on health, not weight-loss – there’s even a chapter titled “Don’t You Lose a Goddamn Pound!” which made me go “Whaaa???”), and a fair amount about social networking, and how it affects our bodies: our stress levels, and so forth. I have to admit, I’d never considered the social aspect as part of general health, but it makes sense. We’re pack animals, after all. And Harry goes into the science behind that too, while Chris tackles the real-life impact of it.
The downsides of this book? Wellllll . . . the hot pink cover. How about that? (No, really. Why is EVERYTHING markted to women hot-fucking-PINK???)
Actually, Chris is 70-some years old, and his writing style reflects that in some ways. In my experience, certain older men can get away with saying things that might irritate me if those statements came from someone younger and/or more patronizing. Chris is the former: he gets away with it. He’s not patronizing, simply because that’s not his attitude. But he’s definitely a product of his time. Every once in a while I stumble across a phrase like, “you clever girl, you,” that might piss me right the fuck off if most people were to say it. But coming from Chris . . . it reminds me of a couple of elderly guys I used to do theatre with: they would say things like that, but their ATTITUDE wasn’t patronizing, so it didn’t bother me; in fact, I found it sort of charming. In this book, I find it sort of charming. But if that sort of thing ALWAYS makes you see red, go buy the first book – it’s oriented toward men, so I doubt there will be so much of the “clever girl” thing in that one.
If you are just getting started in fitness, there is loads of good, basic info here. And if you are farther along the fitness path, there’s some REALLY interesting science, so you’ll like it, too. AND it’s not weight-loss-focused, so for those of us with food issues, it’s good for us, too. (If you are a compulsive exerciser though, proceed with caution. I still think there’s interesting stuff in here, and Chris even says flat-out that if you’re exercising more than an hour a day, you’re doing too much – but only you know how fragile your head is. Just FYI.)
You know how some people keep religious books by their beds and read a little every night? Their books are well-thumbed, and show it. That’s how I feel about this book. I read it VERY regularly, even if it’s just bits and pieces here and there. And then every once in a while, I read the whole thing again, just to remind myself.
If you don’t own it, you should. (Unless you own the first one. In that case, you’re excused. ;D)