Tired of the frothy romance novels you’re tossing in your beach bag? How about a little “home” improvement reading? Here are a few recent releases to have you moving, thinking and eating in new ways.
Strong & Sculpted: The Total-Body Training Program for Shaping Your Ultimate Physique, by Brad Schoenfeld (Human Kinetics)
Fitness expert Brad Schoenfeld, who has a doctorate in health science and has written or consulted for loads of publications and fitness sites, weaves the scientific with the practical in this large-format softcover book that breaks down a total-body muscle-sculpting program into 11 chapters. In addition to explaining the phases of his program, there are separate chapters for the upper and lower body and the core area, as well as chapters on warming up and cardio (it’s not a long chapter and he’s a big fan of interval training). With clear instruction and color photos, the book illustrates moves that are either done on health-club weight or cable machines or with barbells or dumbbells, and each chapter explains exactly which muscles are activated with each exercise.
The Big 5: Five Simple Things You Can Do to Live a Longer, Healthier Life, by Dr. Sanjiv Chopra (St. Martin’s Press)
Dr. Sanjiv Chopra, a Harvard medical professor and author (and brother of Deepak Chopra), has written a concise, little book that outlines just five things to help ensure a better life, and one of them involves drinking coffee — something we can totally get behind. The other chapters tout the benefits of vitamin D in sunlight, exercise, meditation and eating nuts — all relatively simple and enjoyable practices that can lengthen our lives. Did I just give you a huge spoiler alert on the book? Perhaps, but instead of you having to wade through studies that may or may not be too complex or have biases, Dr. Chopra analyzes data from reputable universities and outlines how that venti coffee and handful of almonds can help you live longer.
The Yogafit Athlete: Up Your Game With Sport-Specific Poses to Build Strength, Flexibility and Balance, by Beth Shaw (Ballantine Books)
Beth Shaw, founder of YogaFit, has long believed that yoga is for everybody and has designed programs for sports teams and pro athletes. This book features sport-specific moves to help you in your athletic endeavors, whether you’re a softball star, a bodybuilder, kickboxer, CrossFitter or a weekend swimmer of jogger. Plenty of photos help you get in the right position. In addition to the sport-specific poses, there’s also sections on warming up and cooling down, the use of props and weights, breathing, visualization and guided imagery.
Natalie Jill’s 7 Day Jump Start: Unprocess Your Diet With Super Easy Recipes, by Natalie Jill (Da Capo Press Lifelong Books)
Personal trainer, sports nutritionist and social media superstar Natalie Jill knows a thing or two about turning things around. Not that long ago she found herself overweight, financially strapped and facing a divorce. Wanting to be healthier, she unprocessed her diet, started working out at home, and it worked out so well for her that she became a fitness model at the age of 39. Now in her mid-40s, Jill teaches others how to jump-start their own health and fitness journeys with simple guidelines (no eating in front of the TV, at your desk or standing up), bodyweight workouts that don’t require a gym membership or lots of equipment, and simple clean meal plans. The new book is a recipe-intensive version of the online program that she has offered through her website, nataliejillfitness.com. The book lays out a seven-day meal plan with 77 recipes including a Raspberry Twist Smoothie, Lime Guacamole, and Pesto and Sun-Dried Tomato Turkey Meatloaf. There’s also a chapter on exercise with simple bodyweight exercises for every body part.
The Eat Your Way Healthy at Trader Joe’s Cookbook, by Bonnie Matthews (Skyhorse Publishing)
Let’s end with something yummy and inspiring. Bonnie Matthews credits Trader Joe’s with helping her lose 130 pounds while working at the store as a demo person — you know, the person who hands out bits of cheesecake and muffins while you peruse the aisles.
Not only did Matthews develop the 75 recipes in the book, she also took all the lovely photos of the dishes that include Trader Joe’s items. But we’re not talking Cookie Butter — these dishes are all healthy, loaded with fruits and vegetables, quick and easy. Some of her dishes include Thai Red Curry With Vegetables and Garbanzo Beans, Pork Tenderloin With BBQ Coffee Rub, Pumpkin Spice Shake, and Banana Date Roll-Ups.
What books are on your summer reading list right now? —Gail