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9 Essential Reads For A Healthier You in 2019

health and fitness books

I’m often asked which diet books I recommend for someone looking to get fit and start eating healthy. But…I suggest not reading diet-focused books at all!

Why? 

Because starting down the fitness track isn’t only about finding the right meal and exercise plan. It’s about changing your Mindset, using Psychology, and building healthy Habits (MPH)…AND tying it all together with a daily dose of support and accountability.

mindset psychology and habits

So, to help you start 2019 off on the right foot, I am going to share my 9 essential reads to help you change the way you think, understand why you do what you do, and build rock-solid habits.

Here we go!

1.) Better Than Before

better than before

Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

When you change your habits, you change your life. So instead of asking, “How can I get fit?” the question should be, “How can I change my habits?” And Gretchen shows you how to do just that using the four pillars of habits: Monitoring, Foundation, Scheduling, and Accountability.

My favorite quote: “Accountability is a powerful factor in habit formation, and a ubiquitous feature in our lives. If we believe that someone’s watching, we behave differently.” — Gretchen Rubin

There are only a handful of books where I own the electronic, hard copy, and audio versions. And Gretchen’s “Better Than Before” is one of those rare few!

2.) The Four Tendencies

the four tendencies

The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin

  • Are you good at keeping New Year’s resolutions? (Even if no one else knows?)
  • Do you meet work deadlines?
  • If someone is counting on you to show up on time, will you be there?
  • Do you hate any type of commitment?

Gretchen finds that pretty much everyone falls into one of four behavioral categories (or Tendencies): Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels – based on how we respond to:

  1. The expectations placed on us (like a deadline at work), and
  2. Those we place on ourselves (like a New Year’s resolution).

When it comes to getting fit or eating healthy, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. (Be careful of anyone that tells you there is!)

A strategy that works like magic for one tendency may be an epic fail for another. So a plan that works for your husband, wife, or coworker might not work for you.

But once you discover how you deal with expectations and which “Tendency” you lean towards, “The Four Tendencies” is essentially a guidebook for success.

My favorite quote: “The happiest, healthiest, most productive people aren’t those from a particular Tendency, but rather they’re the people who have figured out how to harness the strengths of their Tendency, counteract the weaknesses, and build the lives that work for them.” ― Gretchen Rubin

3.) The Willpower Instinct

willpower instinct

The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal

“If I only had more willpower, then….”

Have you ever blamed your failing diet or lack of desire to go to the gym on willpower? (I’m raising my hand too!)

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. According to an American Psychological Association survey, participants named willpower as the #1 reason for not following through on change.

But what is willpower? And do your thoughts about willpower actually sabotage your goals?

Kelly dives into the science and gives practical exercises to help you kick that sugar addiction, stick to a workout plan, and take back control. 

My favorite quote: “When we’re stressed, our brains persistently mis-predict what will make us happy. This means that we’ll often talk ourselves out of doing the very thing that will actually make us feel better.” — Kelly McGonigal

4.) Change Anything

change anything

Change Anything by Kerry Patterson and Joseph Grenny

You ate great all day, just to dig into a pan of brownies at night. But did that happen because you are lazy or don’t care? Not at all! You are not lazy and you absolutely do care.

So what’s going on here?

It could be that you walked into this battle blindfolded and outnumbered. And you simply don’t see all the hidden factors working against you.

If you’re looking to get fit:

  • Is your husband, brother, or friend encouraging you to make the right choices or no?
  • Are you going at this alone or do you have help?
  • Does your pantry, refrigerator, and kitchen table help or hurt your decisions?
  • Do you love or hate the change you’re trying to make?

In Change Anything, Kerry and Joseph shine a light on the forces that can make or break our success. And with their Six Sources of Influence framework, you start to see the factors at play and how to use them to work in your favor!

My favorite quote: “Changing deeply entrenched habits invariably requires help, information, and real support from others. Get a coach, and you’ll make change far more likely.” ― Kerry Patterson

5.) Atomic Habits

atomic habits

Atomic Habits by James Clear

“Why do I keep doing the things I know I shouldn’t do?!” 

Here’s the deal: the problem isn’t with you, it’s with your system. James teaches us that, “You don’t rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.”

Say your goal is to run a 5K by Summer, it is your system (not the goal itself) that will get you there. It’s the daily actions, performed consistently that lead to success. 

James is an absolute genius in habit formation! And, in “Atomic Habits,” he gives clear, actionable steps to build the habits you want and break the ones holding you back. 

My favorite quote: “Some people spend their entire lives waiting for the time to be right to make an improvement.” ― James Clear

6.) Predictably Irrational

predictably irrational

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

I think we can all agree that texting and driving is dangerous. So why is it such a problem?

(On your way to work, how many drivers do you see with their faces lit by the glow of their iPhone?)

I think we can also agree the key to getting fit is:

  1. Eating healthy,
  2. Exercising, and
  3. Doing both of those consistently.

So why is it so hard to choose vegetables over donuts and the gym over Netflix? 

We know the rational, logical choice we “should” make, but we don’t act rationally? Too often we chose the exact opposite of what we say we really want. So what’s going on?

Dan is a master at understanding human motivation and why we behave the way we do. In “Predictably Irrational” he gives us scientific insight into how we think and how we make decisions.

My favorite quote: “Giving up on our long-term goals for immediate gratification, my friends, is procrastination.” ― Dan Ariely

7.) The Obstacle Is the Way

the obstacle is the way

The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday

The truth about change is: it IS uncomfortable.

When we continue to do what we normally do, we feel comfortable. So we hit pause on change because that’s where things feel familiar, safe, and cozy.

But, if your goal is to be fit and healthy, you cannot continue to do what you have always done. And with change, you will feel discomfort. And that discomfort may be the single biggest obstacle to building healthy habits.

But:

  • What if you didn’t see discomfort as an obstacle at all?
  • What if, instead, you saw it as an opportunity to become better…stronger?

When you start to see challenges from a new perspective, your mindset shifts from a place of pain to one that welcomes change. And when you learn to turn obstacles into opportunities, what can possibly hold you back?

My favorite quote: “Where the head goes, the body follows. Perception precedes action. Right action follows the right perspective.” ― Ryan Holiday

8.) Mindset

mindset

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” — Henry Ford.

Truer words were never spoken!

So I ask:

Before you start a new diet or exercise plan, Do you believe it will work? And if your answer is, No, I ask, Why is that?

Do you believe you don’t have the skill / the ability / the drive / the grit to make it happen? I say: 

  • You might not have the right skills…yet. But you will!
  • You might not think you can handle change…yet. But you will!

How you think about your ability to overcome a challenge (your mindset) is a powerful influence on your success.

So what is your mindset?

My favorite quote: “The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.” ― Carol S. Dweck

9.) Grit

grit

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

With every new MyBodyTutor client, I ask, What types of diets have you tried in the past?

And so many have said they have started and failed ten, twenty, or even thirty diets. And now, they feel like there’s no hope left.

But when I read their responses I don’t see failure, I see persistence. I see Grit! They get knocked down, pick themselves up, and start again.

In fact, it’s not a matter of “if” they will become successful in their quest to become healthy, it’s a matter of “when.”

And what I love about Angela’s work is that she sees that there is no plan without error.

  • You will make mistakes,
  • You will get knocked down, and chances are…
  • You will fail.

But if you keep seeking what you are after, if you develop the persistence to keep going, you are almost sure to find it. 

My favorite quote: “Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.” ― Angela Duckworth

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