Saturday, April 12, 2008

Review: Look Great, Feel Great



Look Great, Feel Great by Joyce Meyer caught my eye at the library. I had never heard of Meyer, but a book about weight loss and fitness from a Christian perspective intrigued me. I am glad I took the time because I picked up a few pointers that I hope will pay off.

The book is well-organized and direct. Meyer sets out 12 “keys” to optimizing how you look and feel, focusing on healthy eating and exercise, but also emphasizing the spiritual side of her recommended endeavors. The keys include things like “mindful eating,” limiting stress, drinking water, and taking personal responsibility.

After discussing each key, Meyer provides a list of five suggested ways to implement each idea. She urges readers to chose just one of the five, write it down, and do it every day until it becomes a habit. In fact, her suggested plan is to go back after reading the book and focus on one key each month, making a habit out of one of the implementation tips, with the idea that you would have a different, healthier life in a year.

The book is definitely aimed at those at a “beginner level” of health and fitness. Some of her information is pretty basic (deep fried food is bad for you, stress causes high blood pressure) and some of her tips are hackneyed (get more exercise by taking the stairs, herbal tea counts as drinking water).

But there is enough substance there for those who have reached the “intermediate level” to make it useful. She does a very good job of explaining the science behind diabetes, for example, instead of simply propounding a ban on sugar and starch. Her chapters on how stress leads to overeating and the health benefits of water have similar depth. And her menus of implementation ideas provide something for everyone – either as a first step or a gentle reminder.

For me, the ideas for how to be a “mindful” eater made the reading worthwhile. Ideas like “stop eating if you are no longer hungry” may seem mighty simple, but that alone could make a huge difference.


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Cookbook Library: The Silver Palate

Other than The Joy of Cooking, which I bought when I was still in high school just because I loved it so, The Silver Palate was the first cookbok I ever owned. The recipes now seem “so Eighties” to me — but that isn’t a bad thing. I am often nostalgic for those ‘80s treats I used to make, like these “Toffee Bars” that are easy and very good: 1 cup butter (2 sticks) 1 cup light brown sugar 1 egg yolk 2 cups flour 1 teaspoon vanilla 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts 1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×12 baking pan. 2. Cream butter and sugar. Add egg yolk; beat well. 3. Sift in flour, mixing well, then add vanilla. Spread batter in greased pan. Bake for 25 minutes. 4. Cover cake layer with chocolate chips and return to oven for 3 or 4 minutes. 5. Remove pan from oven and spead melted chocolate evenly. Sprinkle with nuts. Cool in pan completely before cutting. About 30 bars. The only change I made was adding a little salt to the batter because I used unsalted butter.


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