Tuesday, October 12, 2010

PBG Book Club: These Books Changed My Life

About a year ago a friend of mine suggested I read a few books he had recently read.  He told me that he had read them recently and they had changed his perspective on food and exercise in a big way.  I have always tried to be healthy and active, and generally speaking I think I have been mostly sucessful.  I am the kind of person that read everything, love to learn and I am always looking for a new perspective, so I borrowed the books and started to read.

I can honestly say the following two books changed my life.  I know that is a big statement.  And, for the most part I am not a dramatic person.  But, the following books really did have a huge impace on my life and the choices I choose to make going forward.

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall


If you haven't read these books, you should. They will open your eyes to some issues and ideas that you may not have thought of on your own.  Now, don't worry, this is not a book report.  I don't want to bore you to death with too many specifics or details but what I will do is highlight the points that hit home for me.

In Defence of Food
Eat food.  Mostly plants.  Not too much.  Sounds so simple, doesn't it?  Pollan keeps coming back to this point over and over again throughout the book.  But, if it was so simple why aren't we all doing it?  I am not a vegatarian, and I don't plan to be. But, thanks to Pollan I am now a Flexitarian.  If you are like me and had no clue what a Flexitarian is then let me explain.  A Flexitarian is a vegetarian, most of the time but occasionally eats meat and other animal products.  I can do that, I thought.  And I did.  I still eat meat, but not every day.  I rarely buy processed foods and I try to buy local when I can.  Pollan offers a lot of information and statistics about food production, nutrition and the business of food.  There are so many scary statistics it is mind boggling...even a little overwhelming but it does make you think.  A lot.  I could not stop talking about this book after I read it. 

Born to Run
Born to run documents the epic adventure of the author, Christopher McDougall, that all begins when he questions why he can't run without pain.  This question leads him to discover the Taramahura tribe in Mexico who seem to have a superhuman ability to run very long distances with frightening ease just for fun. We meet an inspiring cast of characters including a star ultramarathoner, a beautiful young surfer, and a barefoot wonder.  Each character offers his or her perspective on running and offer some amazing inspiration along the way.  As I have discussed before, I do not consider myself a real runner.  But this book is so inspiring it makes me WANT to love running.  It makes me WANT to get out there and just pound the pavement.  Even if you are not a runner you should read this book.  I promise, you will be inspired.  I could not put this book down, it was that good. 

When read together these books had the power to change my entire mindset regarding food and exercise.  Food should be real and exercise should feel good.  While these might seem like pretty straight forward concepts I think sometimes we lose sight of the obvious.  Trying to strike a balance between what is good for me and what is good for the planet can be tough.  Right now, I am making small changes everyday to the best of my ability.  Big changes are scary...small changes are easy.  So, what does that mean for me?  That means, that right now my food choices are based 50% on nutrition and 50% on ethics.  It means that I eat less meat and I am making more of an effort to know where my food comes from and how it is treated.  It also means that I have to exercise consistantly to maintain my health but I do not have to run a marathon or even run any races to be happy with my level of fitness. 

I hope you take the time to read these books.  They changed my life, maybe they can change yours.  The next book on my radar is Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.  I saw an interview with him this morning on television and I am interested to read his perspective on eating animals.

Have you read any books that changed your life?

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