on 29 November 2013
This was an excelent book full of handy tips about how, in small ways, you can change your life and become healthier in the process. The good thing is that none of the suggestions are radical or going to be onerous to put in place. The hope is that by making small changes you can make a significant cumulative difference to the way you live. I have already made a number of changes. I am moving more, eating and sleeping better! Its a book I shall go back to again and again.
The tagline of this book - "how small choices lead to big changes" - will possibly polarise your initial opinion - either it is a "doh, obviously!"-type of response or a "bulls-t, impossible" equivalent. What is the true reality?
That answer is a bit harder to determine. A large step for somebody might be a little tiny baby step for another. Looking through the author's guide to a better life seems fairly obvious (if not possibly out of reach for everybody) such as exercise when you can, sleep a bit longer and have better quality sleep, eat quality rather than quantity and watch what you eat. Maybe the key or formula to success is a totality of steps put together in a certain way rather than just a list of what might be common sense items.
The author notes that he has been developing his own pathway (to eventual success) whilst managing a series illness for over 20 years, yet this is no dry, academic, theoretical book but a more informal, conversational, friendly style. Even if you initially disagree with this book or remain sceptical, the book is not a hassle to read through and you might find that you nod with each "obvious step" along the way. Although as said, putting it into practice might not be an overnight affair and it does require an element of sacrifice and change from the reader. But even if you can only change a few things, it is still a few steps better to the good.
This review cannot take a position as to the veracity of the information given in this book. For that you should possibly consult your doctor or other healthcare provider. Yet unlike many books in this vein, the author has resisted the temptation to use hyperbole, faux friendliness and overt "rah, rah, you can do it!" methods to "guarantee" success. It is not exactly a laid back "take it or leave it approach" either but to this reviewer, at least, it appears to be more workable methodology, presenting opinions and information, giving a motivation or reason for adopting a certain pathway and gently suggesting you follow that route. The rest, dear reader, remains entirely up to you!
The price of this book might be a bit off-putting, especially if you already have a shelf-full of part-consulted, similar books that you can't give away. Yet if you find that you can work with this sort of book and you "gel" with it, then the investment is going to be very modest over the longer term. It is a book worthy of more detailed consideration and it does appear to stand out from the crowd - so that is part of the battle already won!
In a previous book, Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements, co-authored with Jim Harter, Rath explains that in addition to their own research for this book, he and Harter consulted an abundance of research conducted by the Gallup Organization with which they are associated. Moreover, "Gallup assembled an assessment composed of the best questions asked over the last 50 years. To create this assessment, the Well-Being Finder, we tested hundreds of questions across countries, languages, and vastly different life situations."
They focus on five factors that are the currency of a life that is worthwhile: Career Well-Being, Social Well-Being, Financial Well-Being, Physical Well-Being, and Community Well-Being. (Note: In Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, John Ratey explains why there is a direct and decisive correlation between a healthy lively body and a healthy lively brain. Those who have a special interest in this important subject are strongly urged to check out Ratey's book.) To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time someone has analyzed hundreds of Gallup's global surveys involving millions of respondents and correlated, indeed integrated what they reveal within a framework that embraces five major dimensions of human experience.
Rath's focus in Eat Move Sleep is on what any individual needs to know about how to improve their nutrition, increase their physical exercise, and sleep/rest more effectively. Based on a tsunami of research, Rath's recommendations are specific, realistic, and eminently doable. They involve incremental actions (I call them "baby steps") that can help achieve major results in those three separate but interactive dimensions of human life. This approach takes into full account the reasons why, at the conclusion of each calendar year, millions of people with the best of intentions commit themselves to resolutions that -- they believe -- will improve their mental, physical, and emotional health. And then, usually within the first three months of the New Year, these resolutions are abandoned.
I know of no one else who knows more about patterns of human behavior that reveal human strengths and weaknesses than does Rath. Most of the information, insights, and counsel in his previous volumes is provided within a workplace context. Note that in Wellbeing, three of the five factors are Career, Financial, and Community. I agree with him: "No matter how healthy you are today, you can take specific actions to have more energy and live longer. Regardless of your age, you can make better choices in the moment. Small decisions -- about how you eat, move, and sleep each day -- count more than you think." In fact, the sum of one's choices and habits determines one's life span and the quality thereof.
He invites his reader to test his program during a period of 30 days. "I've noticed that making better choices often becomes automatic after just a couple of weeks. However, it takes some initiative -- on your own, with a friend, or as part of a group -- to take the first step." Actually, reading and then re-reading this book is the first step. Then, accept the "Eat Move Sleep First 30 Days Challenge" (Pages 209-218) and stay the course. Long ago, Aristotle observed, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." How simple it seems: "Eat right. Move more. Sleep better." That is difficult for most people. So, begin and then continue a series of small choices to complete small tasks.
* * *
You may wish to check out the resources here:
1) Eat Move Sleep Plan (online functionality allowing readers to get their own personalized EMS Plan)
2) Reference Explorer (over 400 references supporting ideas/advice in each chapter)