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December 2001
Vol. 4, No. 12, pp 19–20.
for your health
Read and resolve to be healthy
The new year can bring new insights with a little light reading.

For many people, the last page of the calendar holds a special meaning. At the same time that you begin to contemplate a trip to the store to buy a new 12-month collection of puppy photos or Dilbert cartoons, you also begin to reflect on what has happened since you opened the first page of the current calendar. The end of the year is a time for examination and rejuvenation.

To that end, this month’s For Your Health is dedicated to books that (hopefully) address mind, body, and soul—a little light reading to enjoy while you digest turkey dinners that were and contemplate turkey dinners to come.

Fed up | Eat up | Fit up
Fed up
You’re restless, cranky, and have a couple of pounds that you just can’t get rid of. Your boss has given you one too many deadlines to meet, and your partner is only capable of complaining about his or her job, never listening to what’s going on at yours. And it’s only Monday. To the outside world, you have a good job, you’re physically fit, and you have a joie de vivre that just won’t quit. But internally, you’re getting a little sick and tired of being perpetually sick and tired. Jesse Lynn Hanley and Nancy Deville know just how you feel and may be able to offer a few solutions in their new book, Tired of Being Tired.

Hanley is a pioneer in anti-aging medicine and is the founder and medical director of the Malibu Health and Rehabilitation Center. Deville has written several health books, including The Schwarzbein Principle series. Together, they have culled several of Hanley’s medical cases to develop a health discipline that addresses the whole person—mind, body, and spirit.

The first part of the book describes the basic problems associated with an adrenaline-rush lifestyle, examining the multiple stages of burnout. The authors then describe what they call the “psychogenes”—cause and effect relationships picked up in early life that motivate our behaviors and attitudes. An example: Your father was a failure at everything he did and therefore drove you hard to succeed. Thus, you learned to associate money with security and happiness, which made you a workaholic. This caused problems in your marriage, and your anxiety led to heart problems.

Hanley and Deville then analyze each step in the process and offer a series of steps toward better health, suggesting that rather than make large behavioral changes (at which few succeed), it is better to make numerous small changes. They start by saying that rather than diet to lose weight, we should eat smaller meals more often, maintaining blood sugar levels. Furthermore, we should exercise less, take a chill pill (gamma-aminobutyric acid), and get some sleep. Other secrets to health include letting go of caffeine, using supplements only as supplements, breathing deeply, having fun, and taking control of your life and ambitions.

Each step is carefully laid out, with the authors using real-life examples of patients at different stages of burnout. The two women explain the metabolic challenges in plain language and are quick to insert medical warning notes about many of their recommendations. This is not to say that there aren’t gaps. The authors go to great lengths to tell you to avoid fluoride in water and toothpaste, but they never explain why. And they talk about having silver dental fillings extracted to eliminate mercury but never recommend a replacement.

One aspect of this book that was particularly refreshing was that not only do the authors tell you to eat better food, but they also offer recipes for two weeks of meals. Hanley and Deville also offer recipes for power drinks and guide the reader in finding some of the more unusual ingredients and supplements that they suggest.

Whether you’re looking for an answer to life, the universe, and everything, or just an alternative to your current lifestyle, this book will give you food for thought and friendly advice. –RCW

Fed up | Eat up | Fit up
Eat up
In my 30s and with an ever-increasing ability to do some power lifting with a fork and knife, I jumped at the opportunity to review Eleanor Brown and Robin A. Dotson’s book, Healthy Cooking for Singles and Doubles.

Not prone to eating the healthiest of meals, I decided to conduct a weekly peer review of some of the recipes. On three consecutive Fridays, I brought in a dessert and let the Modern Drug Discovery office staff be my critic. Each time they took a sample, they had to vote on how much they did or did not like the treat-of-the-week. I started with the Carrot Bread, progressed to the Almond Rosewater Cookies, and concluded with the Gingerbread Delight. In each case, I took care to use the ingredients specified and measure them judiciously, following the directions to a “tea” (forgive the pun!). That’s where I went wrong.

The recipes that I tried cooked fine and presented well, but they tasted healthy, which in this case can be read as bland. Although the recipes in the book provide a good starting point, they often needed just a little something extra to make them desirable. So don’t be afraid to stray from the recipe and throw in some raisins or spices. After all, the success of any life change results from finding the joy in it.

Also, this cookbook is rather basic and assumes that the reader knows nothing about preparing food or which foods go together well. In some cases, the recipes are simple to the point of being just instructions, such as how to make Parmesan Toast or a frankfurter meal.

Still, I was delighted to learn about things such as the benefits of replacing sugar with honey; and I was thrilled to find a cookie recipe that didn’t call for a single ounce of butter. I was disappointed, however, not to find more discussion about the use of dried fruit or fiber in some of the recipes. The number of recipes that called for frozen veggies or prepared foods—probably understandable in an age when time is such a precious commodity—also disturbed me. Just watch the sodium content when buying these items.

Any attempt to change an unhealthy lifestyle is laudable, and Healthy Cooking for Singles and Doubles fits in that category. For many people, this cookbook, along with Web research on healthy eating (e.g., www.mayoclinic.com) and regular exercise, could be the start of a healthy life. –SN

Fed up | Eat up | Fit up
Fit up
You may have heard it discussed in hushed, excited voices at your health club or among some of the trendy twentysomethings at the office. “It’s just the latest fitness craze, a passing fad,” you thought. But then you kept hearing about it. What have these people been talking about with the passion and exaltation usually reserved for a hot stock tip or sale prices on haute couture fashion? Piñatas? Pavarotti? Parcheesi? No, it’s Pilates (puh-la-tees).

Even if you haven’t heard about Pilates before, it’s growing in popularity so fast that you’ll likely hear more about it in the future. The Little Pilates Book by Erika Dillman is a compact, informative introduction to the basics of the Pilates exercises. In Pilates, where the emphasis is on precise, correct form rather than endless repetition, covering even the basics is a tall order. Dillman recognizes this, recommending several times that readers contact a certified Pilates instructor before commencing the exercises. Nevertheless, the author delivers a surprisingly thorough overview of the method in this diminutive volume.

Tired of Being Tired
By Jesse Lynn Hanley, M.D., and Nancy Deville
G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 2001, 384 pp.
$24.95 hardbound
ISBN 0-399-14749-7

Healthy Cooking for Singles and Doubles
By Eleanor Brown and Robin A. Dotson
Fitness Publications, Ojai, CA, 2001, 128 pp.
$15.95 softbound
ISBN 0-961-88055-4

The Little Pilates Book
By Erika Dillman
Warner Books, New York, 2001, 166 pp.
$9.95 softbound
ISBN 0-446-67827-9

To begin with, Dillman explains what Pilates is—a series of 34 exercises performed sitting or lying on the floor that focus on using the “powerhouse” muscles of the abdomen, back, and buttocks. The method was created in the early 1900s by Joseph Pilates, a German fitness trainer who designed his regimen to condition and strengthen the body and mind through controlled, precise, and fluid movements. “Pick up any health and fitness magazine and you’ll read the same advice that Pilates extolled in the early 1920s—to live a happy life, you need to take care of your body and mind through exercise and healthy living,” Dillman points out. The revival and popularity of Pilates, therefore, is linked to growing recognition of the power of the mind–body connection.

Of course, the Pilates method also offers an impressive array of benefits, including, according to The Little Pilates Book, stronger abdominal muscles; improved posture; reduced risk of lower back pain and injury; increased total body strength; increased flexibility and energy; improved concentration, coordination, and balance; and greater confidence.

Instead of jumping right into explaining the exercises that offer such lofty promises, Dillman wisely takes her time, offering readers a thorough primer on the “guiding principles” of Pilates (concentration, control, flowing movement, breathing, and more), a tour of the powerhouse core muscle groups used during Pilates, a glossary of Pilates-specific jargon, and even advice on finding a Pilates instructor.

Dillman includes instructions for 15 of the 34 exercises, as well as tips to help beginners stay on track with the complexities of each movement. For each exercise, she includes the name, its benefits, step-by-step instructions, and an illustration of the movement. Each exercise is labeled “beginning” or “intermediate”. Cautions are given, along with “tips and modifications”—a particularly useful summary of the common pitfalls of the specific exercise and of ways to increase the challenge as you advance through the Pilates regimen.

The Little Pilates Book is by no means exhaustive. But if you want to find out about Pilates, it offers more than a little information, guidance—and indeed inspiration—to get you started on the journey to a stronger, more flexible and toned body and mind. –EZ

Scott Neitzke is the art director and Randall C. Willis is an assistant editor of Modern Drug Discovery. Eileen Zagone is the production editor of Today’s Chemist at Work. Send your comments or questions regarding this article to mdd@acs.org or the Editorial Office by fax at 202-776-8166 or by post at 1155 16th Street, NW; Washington, DC 20036.

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