9 Books That Will Guide Your Health Journey

Is there anything as delicious as a summer afternoon with a book? Time seems to slow down and it’s just you and the words in front of you, whether they’re on a page or a screen. Most people are settling into entertainment reading, but I find reading about health, wellness, nutrition and fitness endlessly interesting, so sue me. I love feeding my brain as well as I feed my body in the summer and learning about what I can do to make my whole life better is the best form of summer self care. 

Good overall health lives at the intersection of mind, body and spirit–and it’s what keeps us going. I’d love to share with you some great books I’ve found that address all three of these things, either separately or in tandem. 

Body

Heal Your Gut Hilary Boynton and Mary Brackett

When I learned I had Hashimoto’s (after 10+ years of misdiagnosis by doctors + loads of inappropriate prescriptions for my symptoms), no one talked about gut health. I had to learn to heal my gut + reclaim my health. I found farmers (grocery stores in my area didn’t carry clean, real food). Thankfully access to information + resources has gotten MUCH better. I’ve been living gut health + functional nutrition longer than most of these resources have been around. My current state of health is evidence that food is medicine. But, food can also be poison, depending on what we eat.

Anyone eating the Standard American Diet has leaky gut. The issue is not if, but how it will show up inside each individual. And, left untreated what chronic illness will surface first. Inflammation shows up in the form of depression, anxiety, skin conditions, arthritis, digestive issues, and 100’s more ailments. Ailments for which you can easily get a prescription to suppress your immune system–but that won’t treat the root cause.

This cookbook is full of easy recipes anyone can follow. It’s one of my go-to’s for healthy meal ideas. If you’re ready to take ownership of your gut health, grab a copy and start cooking real food (and healing your gut)–and enjoy!

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat Samit Nosrat

I’m sure you’ve seen this title around a bunch and with good reason–it’s a super fun way to approach healthy cooking by breaking hard recipes into their very simple elements. Salt enhances flavor, fat adds texture, acid balances flavor and heat is what makes it all come together. Using these four elements together and mindfully will make even the quickest lunch come together like a fancy chef came to visit. 

Samit’s website for the book also has a great vault of recipes to try if you want to sample before buying and she even has a series on Netflix if you want to get inspired!

Superlife Darin Olien

Speaking of Netflix, I didn’t know of Darin Olien until I saw the Netflix documentary, @zacdowntoearth (also very good and well worth checking out!). Watching that led me to read Superlife by @darinolien not so much because I want to become an exotic superfood hunter like him (but who knows!), or because I want to eliminate meat from my diet (I don’t), but because I find him intriguing and I’m always interested in learning different perspectives on health. I find his arguments to be solid.

 He discusses his ‘Life Forces’: Quality Nutrition, Hydration, Detoxification, Oxygenation and Alkalization. Sound technical? Luckily Darin breaks things down in very easy to understand terms and also offers a kind of global view that is fun to experience from your hammock or your deck chair.

Mind:

80/20 Principle Richard Koch

Have you heard of the Pareto Principle? It’s a superfancy way of saying that 20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results. Richard Koch explains how we really spend so much time on things that won’t give us the outcome we most want and how to better tailor your energy to make things happen. 

How can you see this in action when it comes to your health? Well, look at it this way–if you eat healthy 80% of the time, not only will you refuel your body with the energy and nutrients it craves, but you’ll also get to sneak in a glass of wine or a cupcake every now and then. Or, if you spend 80% of your time on low-intensity exercise when you work out, then push it to your higher (or highest!) intensity for the remaining 20%, you will be doing what top-tier endurance athletes have been doing for years. (It also protects from injury and gives slow but permanent results).

Atomic Habits James Clear

Another popular title for all walks of life, Atomic Habits is a crucial read when you’re focusing on your health and well-being. Clear even discusses health as a major focus of this system because creating new habits is exactly what we need to do when we are making a conscious effort to get healthy. 

Any long term goals have to be built on a series of short term ones, also known as habits. We’ve all had that big January 1st resolution fall apart by the end of February and it’s usually because we come up with GIANT! HUGE! CHANGES! ALL! AT! ONCE! Atomic Habits shows how to take that dream of healthy living and longevity and make changes that last.

Why We Sleep, Dr Matthew Walker PhD

I didn’t know how important sleep was for most of my young life. It was not something I learned at home or that was taught in school. When I think about the health I left on the table by not taking care to make sure I got a good night’s rest, it’s tempting to feel disappointed in myself.

But we do better when we know better, right? That’s the journey of life. There’s no point in belaboring what we could have done differently because it is done.

What I have learned has changed my game in major ways and that is what I pass on to my clients. As a starting point for any lifestyle change, getting the WHY firmly in place is important. This book by Matthew Walker, PhD @thesleepdiplomat is a great place to begin educating yourself about sleep and why it matters so much to the quality of your life.

Spirit:

Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown

@brenebrown published this book ten+ years ago and it remains at the top of my recommended reading list. In fact, I would put this under “game-changing books every human being should read and then read again.” It’s THAT good. Every chapter, if not every word of this book touches on key areas of growth that are key to living strong, free, and healthy in a world that will limit your unique beauty given the power to do so. ⠀⠀

As I often say, if you want to live from your strong, healthy core, you need to start with AWARENESS. If you want to grow in your self-awareness, and being to recognize and remove the layers of oppressive ideas and thoughts that have been spoken into and over your life–and into your subconscious thought life–from the time you were a child, this book is a must-read. If you breathe air in your lungs, this book is a #mustread.⠀⠀⠀

Writing Down the Bones Natalie Goldberg

If you’ve been a friend of mine for a while, you know how much I value journaling. Writing your thoughts, dreams, fears and plans in a journal is an integral part of your health and fitness journey–it helps you process all the swirling everything in your head and also makes you realize all that you can do if you put your mind to it. 

This book is a classic of exploring your mind, full of practical advice and energizing ideas that will help you get past the noise and right to the very heart of what YOU want and need…and that makes your path ahead into a healthy life clearer than ever. (and it very kindly kicks you in the butt, like any good trainer would!)

A Warrior’s Faith Robert Vera

Such an inspiring story!!! If you are feeling like every hill is a mountain, reading the story of Ryan Job, Navy SEAL who was blinded in an Iraqi firefight will show you the true measure of believing in yourself. This book follows what happened after that day and how much Ryan was able to achieve because of his strength of will. It explores faith, courage, love and friendship–all of the things that you need to have all around you as you work to become a better version of yourself. 

📸 Frank Holleman

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