Also From the Library of No-brainer Fitness

Books, Reading, Exercise, Brain

Books: So much knowledge, so little time to read!

A brief pause in the flow of coaching- and diet-related posts.

Time to briefly talk about some of the books I read lately. This won’t take long…

Spark – The revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain

I had started reading this book by John J. Ratey, MD, and Eric Hagerman, when I wrote my first post on my library. It was very promising, and it kept its promises.

Meanwhile, the news has been filled with related findings and even a few mentions of Dr. Ratey. This book remains well worth the time, even if you are up to date on current health news about the proven and possible benefits of exercising.

In a nutshell, there is strong evidence that vigorous and regular exercise is at least equally as effective as the best medication out there for problems like ADHD, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorders, to name just a few. There are hints that with a good exercise regimen, medication can be banished or at least reduced, provided things are done in the right order.

The most important aspect of the book, in my scientific opinion, is that the authors do not simply state such conclusions, but also indicate what the physiological reasons might be according to the most up to date research.

They are also making it clear that of all the possible interventions, by which I mean medication, diet, talk therapies, only physical activity appears to have a mechanism to bring about long-term improvements.

I highly recommend this book. It should be mandatory reading to all doctors, as well as to anyone half-serious about fitness and health.

Reaching Another Level – How Private Coaching Transforms the Lives of Professional Athletes, Weekend Warriors, and the Kids Next Door

This very light book by the founder of CoachUp, Jordan Lancaster Fliegel, is a high benefit-price ratio for coaches and would-be coaches.

Although it is heavy on the professional athlete side of the ledger, and it risks playing into the dangerous notions entertained by many parents of seeing their kids become such athletes, the lessons about the role a good coach can play are very real.

There is little to learn, and little wisdom for coaches with years of experience, but the reading is light, and the examples quite interesting. I do not regret the time spent reading it.

I have yet to make use of CoachUp, but you might want to look it up as well.

SCRUM – The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

Not all of us can live from coaching and writing a health and fitness blog. And although not all of us are involved in the design and development of high tech toys, er, products, there are very interesting lessons to be gleaned from this book about the now-ubiquitous development methodology (or philosophy) dubbed “Agile.”

Jeff Sutherland is one of the original group of people who together gave birth to the Agile Manifesto. Not just happy with writing such a radical declaration, based on his vast experience, he went on to formalize what is often erroneously referred to as the Agile Methodology. The result is the SCRUM Methodology, which is promoted by his company, also called SCRUM.

Now, what was most interesting about this book for the rest of us not involved in software development and product management is that the teachings about how to approach problems and provide solutions is completely general.

Sutherland spends a few chapters, certainly among the most interesting of the book, showing how an Agile way of thinking can be used to solve the world’s problems.

I read the book primarily from the standpoint of a product manager frustrated by organizations paying lip-service to the Agile approach, but I ended up learning about how to solve any problems, and how to get more done in any sphere of life.

Perhaps not a book for everyone, but certainly not a waste of time for healthcare professionals, environmentally-conscious folks, and the rest of the generally curious population.

That’s it for this installment.

Oddly enough, and totally by accident, I just realized that all three authors are living in or around the Boston area; both Scrum Inc. and CoachUp are based in Boston, and Dr. Ratey is at Harvard. One does not need to be in Boston to make it on my reading list: It just happened that way.

Have you read any interesting books lately?

Have you read any of these books, and do you have insights you would like to share?

Photo from the library of Sacha Veillette

From the Library of No-brainer Fitness

Books, Exercise, Diet, Willpower, Happiness, Paleo

So many books, so little time…

A really short post, for a change. You probably did not think it possible coming from me, yet here it is.

Here are books I’ve recently read, or am currently reading, and that I highly recommend. Perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon…

The Paleo Diet for Athletes: The ancient nutritional formula for peak athletic performance. By Loren Cordain, Ph.D., and Joe Friel, M.S. Not exactly a day-to-day guide to nutrition since I don’t subscribe to everything that is “paleo”, but certainly an inspiration for reducing carbs and eliminating processed foods and NOT FOOD (a work in progress). I particularly like the pragmatic approach to eating paleo when doing endurance sports, which is of course not a strict paleo diet.

The Willpower Instinct: How self-control works, why it matters, and what you can do to get more of it. By Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. This book is structured like the lecture series she gives at Stanford University, and contains exercises to be done week after week, so it takes a while to get through it in order to really benefit from the material. But it is worth the effort. One of the key elements for having more willpower is to be fit (exercise, sleep well, etc.), and of course some willpower is useful to keep us moving everyday. So it is a positive feedback loop.

Spark: The revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain. By John J. Ratey, MD. I just started this, after first encountering him in a FranklinCovey lecture and then listening to his TED talk, so too early to give a review, but very promising.

Eating on the Wild Side: The missing link to optimum health. By Jo Robinson. This is from an investigative journalist in the field of food (agriculture, nutrition, “field”, get it?). What’s really interesting is the discussion about changes some 10,000 years of human selection and hybridization of plants have made to what we put in our digestive systems. Basically, a truly paleo diet is impossible nowadays, because the food that existed then no longer exists. Case closed. A quick read, and quite enlightening, and many interesting tips that can be consumed over time.

The Happiness Advantage: The seven principles of positive psychology that fuel success and performance at work. By Shawn Achor. A bit of a personal thing, but highlighting how important it is to have a balanced life, to exercise, eat, and sleep well. Let’s face it: it is all inter-related.

All of the above are easy to find in either paper or electronic versions.

Next on my list is to read Dr. David L. Katz’s book on nutrition and health; once I’ve done that, I’ll likely spend much more time talking about it.

Good reading!

Photo from Pixabay.