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Book Review: Master Your Metabolism: The 3 Diet Secrets to Naturally Balancing Your Hormones for a Hot and Healthy Body! by Jillian Michaels and Mariska Van Aalst

January 17, 2015 Leave a comment

cover_masterSummary:
Jillian Michaels became famous for being a personal trainer on The Biggest Loser, a show she has since left.  In addition to being a personal trainer, she is also a woman with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), an illness that messes with hormones and often makes the sufferer gain weight due to these hormonal problems.  Jillian, with the help of her doctor, takes her years of experience both dealing with her own hormonal issues and training others with them and offers up advice on how to adjust your diet and lifestyle to optimize your hormonal balance for easier health and weight loss.

Review:
Despite its title, this book primarily focuses on achieving health through making permanent changes to your lifestyle, advocating a gradual overhaul with the focus on improving health, with weight loss as a side bonus.

The book opens with an introduction from Dr. Christine Darwin.  It then moves to Jillian giving a brief introduction to her own health journey.  It was fascinating to learn about how she became a trainer in her late teens, got her job on The Biggest Loser, and was diagnosed with PCOS.  This lends a personal touch to the entire book.  Jillian isn’t “naturally fit.” She works hard at it and has an illness that actually makes it more difficult to maintain a healthy weight.  This book is honest about the fact that achieving fitness is varying levels of difficult for people, but also takes a no-nonsense, if you want health you’ll fight for it, attitude.  That attitude may rub some readers the wrong way, but I appreciate it.

The book next tackles explaining how your biochemistry impacts your health and weight and why it’s therefore important to keep them balanced.  Readers who enjoy knowing the why’s behind certain bits of health advice (such as keeping your stress levels low, getting enough sleep, not eating after 9pm) will particularly enjoy this section, as it explains the biochemistry behind this advice.  Readers who prefer to just get the advice without knowing the why’s can easily skip this bit and just partake of the advice if they so choose.  My favorite part of this section is how kind Jillian is about how people may have beat up their bodies so far in life.  She’s very encouraging that what’s in the past is in the past, and every body can be improved.

No matter how you’ve abused your body up until now–and I’m willing to bet you have, even if you didn’t mean to–you can make it better. (loc 583)

The next section talks about how various chemicals and hormones in our environments contribute to messed up hormones.  Jillian is quite passionate about how things like BPA in cans and hormones in non-organic dairy can pile up to mess up human hormones.  Jillian makes a point of saying that even changing one of these things (for instance, buying organic dairy) can help your body, because every little bit helps.  However, she is also so passionate about these hormonal and chemical pollutants that it can sometimes seem as if she is telling the reader to change everything all at once, and that can be a bit overwhelming.

Next the recommended diet is tackled, and it’s actually fairly straight-forward.  Limit processed foods (and all the HFCS and artificial sweeteners and preservatives that come with it).  Focus on eating only things that grew in the ground or had a mother. Limit starchy root vegetables (less than 2 servings a day), alcohol (1 drink per day), caffeine (stick to green tea), soy (2 servings per week), full fat dairy and fatty meats, and canned food (to avoid BPA).  She encourages including power nutrients, such as: legumes, alliums, berries, meat and eggs, colorful and cruciferous fruits and vegetables, dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, organic dairy, and whole grains.  Perhaps the most difficult part of the diet, besides cutting out processed food, is the timing of eating she recommends.  Eat within an hour of waking up. Eat three more times in the day, once every four hours.  Eat until you’re full but not stuffed. Don’t eat after 9pm.  The explanation for the timing issue is to help balance your hormones.  She also states that you must have fat, protein, and carbs at every meal, but to aim for higher protein, particularly in the evening meal and as you age.  The reasoning behind this is you feel more satisfied with all three macros and also are more likely to not lack in any particular nutrient.  Two other reasons are that protein increases your metabolism and as people age they need more protein to retain muscles.  This is not a particularly challenging diet, nor is it far off from what is generally recommended by doctors and nutritionists as a healthy diet.  Again, the most challenging part is the timing issue.  Not everyone’s life lets them perfectly space out their meals.

For those readers who are new to eating a whole foods, unprocessed diet, the book includes a sample menu (I believe it covers two weeks, but can’t double-check as it was a library copy).  The recipes are perfect for beginner cooks with nothing too complex and not too much time required.  Jillian teamed up with a professional for the recipes, and is straight-forward about that.

The book next tackles the six most common hormonal disorders, including PMS, hypothyroid, metabolic syndrome, and PCOS.  These hormonal issues require special recommendations and guidelines, and Jillian explains them quickly and clearly.

Finally the book ends with some tips on how to live out the recommended lifestyle, including how to afford and/or find organic food, how to clean your house without chemicals, etc…  Just as earlier, Jillian is so passionate about this that it’s possible for the reader to feel overwhelmed at the thought of doing everything, even though Jillian does make a point to state that changing even one thing, or one thing at a time, will help.  Perhaps it would help if the book ended with a checklist of the most important changes or how to adapt gradually or something like that to make it feel less overwhelming for the reader.

Besides the fact that sometimes the book can make the lifestyle feel a bit overwhelming, my only other issue with the book was when Jillian recommends that women stop taking hormonal birth control pills and use condoms instead.  Condoms are nowhere near as good a form of birth control as hormonal methods, and randomly recommending everyone stop using hormonal birth control is more than just a bit irresponsible.  It would have been far more responsible to do something such as suggest that if the reader is concerned about the level of hormones in her birth control to speak to her doctor about lower level hormone options, such as the mini-pill or the IUD, and see if those may work for her.  Just flat-out saying everyone use condoms is not helpful.  Plus, there is a risk/reward calculation that every individual must make for themselves.

Overall, this book mostly recommends diet and lifestyle changes that would also be recommended by most doctors and nutritionists.  The timing of eating is something that is up for debate, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt the reader to try it.  Jillian sometimes gets so passionate about all of the lifestyle and diet changes that it can feel overwhelming to the reader.  Recommended to those interested in the science behind generally recommended lifestyle changes.  Just remember that you don’t have to do everything at once and take the advice with a piece of salt. Do your own research and talk to your doctor before dropping medication/birth control.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Library

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Friday Fun! (Exercise and Zombies)

August 13, 2010 8 comments

Hello my lovely readers!  I hope you all had lovely weeks and are enjoying your Augusts.  Remember that scientific studies have proven that you’re more likely to have a bad Friday the 13th if you believe in the curse, so just don’t believe it. 😉

I’ve had a busy, but fun week.  As a way to try to strategize against my anxiety until my doctor’s appointment next month (where I’m hoping to finally get some anti-anxiety meds), I’ve been seriously increasing the amount of physical activity in my week.  If I’m exhausted then maybe I’ll be too tired to be anxious, eh?  Well, it worked in uni anyway.  So I started doing the 30 Day Shred again and found myself barely able to walk up and down stairs the next day, haha.  I’ve also returned to biking now that the weather has cooled some, and I’ve started doing the evil pilates dvd some of my friends from uni and internships may remember.  Ana Caban’s pilates dvd really kicks your ass.  Er, abs.  I highly recommend it.

One of my pepper plants is blooming!  But the blooms tend to wither up after one day and die.  I have no idea if this means I’ll be getting peppers or not.  Are the blooms supposed to whither?  Anyone know?

So I’ve been thinking a lot this week about the increasing zombie trend.  (If you haven’t heard much about it yet, trust me, you will be).  Where is this obsession with a global pandemic coming from?  I think maybe, on some level, everyone knows that the way we’re going right now isn’t sustainable.  We have too many people using too many resources.  A key element of a lot of the zombie lit is that it wipes out the population to a sustainable level, and the survivors are forced to return to the ways of our ancestors–growing their own food, going to sleep when it’s dark out, being physically active, etc…  So people clearly know that two of the main issus are overpopulation and over-use of resources, and yet most people do little to nothing about it.  What used to be a key element of our survival as a species–the instinct to reproduce as much as possible–is now our downfall.  Whereas we used to lose a lot of people in childhood (seriously, as a history major I can tell you, kids were so disposable, some families named all the boys the same name because statistically only one would survive.  It was that bad), now you pretty much have a really good shot at living a long, healthy life as long as you live in a western nation.  And of course there’s that problem on top of the overpopulation problem.  We currently have plenty of resources, but they’re unevenly distributed.  I’m not saying there’s something wrong with there being some variance in the levels of comfort, but it’s so incredibly wrong that we have some people with multiple million dollar homes and an entourage they pay for and clothes that cost thousands of dollars while other people are living on the street or in dirt huts or are starving to death.  And the thing is, I think everyone knows that the world is fucked up, but we’re tired and we’re beaten down, so we just figure the world is coming to an end, may as well have fun imagining it.  My friends and I started talking about whether banding together to fix things was possible or if it’s just too late.  One of my friends thinks it’s just too late.  I’m inclined to agree with her.  I think there’s just too many people who would rather live in happy ignorance than face the facts they know and make drastic changes to fix it.  Of course, that’d be a lot easier if so much of the population weren’t debt slaves…., but that’s another rant for another post.

Anyway, so that’s what’s been going on here this week!  Lots of physical activity and lots of philosophical discussions, lol.  Oh also, I bet you’ve figured out by now that there’ll be a review of a zombie book next week.  Those of you who follow me on Twitter already know which one. 😉

What do you guys think about zombie lit?  Where’s the popularity coming from?

Happy weekends!