A few weeks ago, I noticed that actress/activist/superwoman Cameron Diaz released a health-focused book entitled The Body Book: The Law of Hunger, the Science of Strength, and Other Ways to Love Your Amazing Body. At first, I dismissed the book as another self-important, self-promoting book on how eating more kale will magically turn you into Gisele Bundchen.
Spoiler alert: I was wrong (except about the kale)
While Cameron’s Hollywood peers have written diet-focused books, this one is completely different. It dives into the science of our bodies – how do we digest food? How to we use that food as energy? How do we burn energy? How do we create positive energy? These are the book’s major questions, which gain insightful answers in the 250 or so pages. It really, truly is not a diet book. It is a guide to our female bodies and the ultimate goal of being healthy.
Cameron shares her scientific research (the product of years of research with leading scientists and nutritionists) with a girlfriend’s touch. It feels like you two are at lunch on a SoCal strand, sipping lemon water and eating a fresh salad. She’s telling you this great information she just learned, and you’re admiring her beautiful skin, her glowing complexion, and her healthy, slender frame.
I was looking forward to reading the Nutrition section the most. In fact, I considered just reading this section and skipping the other two (don’t do that). The section starts with the history of modern eating. When did we go from a civilization of hunter-gatherers to drive-thru-ers? How did this affect us? In short, it is killing us. Our reliance on unnatural, modified, processed foods, rather than whole foods, is leading to obesity, diabetes, kidney problems, and a life sentence of one-piece bathing suits.
Cameron goes through the following crucial pieces to whole nutrition: carbs, sugar (or lack thereof), protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water. She de-vilifies carbs and fats, and shares the cold, hard truth about sugar. The book is filled with charts, tables, menu ideas, and tips on how to integrate this information into your life.
This was the section I was least looking forward to. I assumed the flawless, ever-so-fabulous Cameron Diaz would rave about how I have to do Bikram yoga and Barre Core four times a week or else.
…I was so wrong. The purpose of this section is to encourage and embrace movement. Again, Cameron starts at the beginning – we used to run from lions to survive. Times changed, as did our activities – to things like chopping wood, walking to the store, and even washing our cute designer jeans by hand. All these activities regularly worked our muscles and bodies, and all of these things are now automated by a machine.
We need to move. We need to walk more, jump more, stand more, and do more. The section encourages us to move more in our everyday lives, like walking instead of e-mailing, taking the stairs, and other easy changes. It also encourages us to find a fitness regimen we are passionate about. Find a routine that you love, and love it forever. If you run, practice yoga, or attend a class three to five times a week forever, you can retain your health and your amazing body forever.
Cameron also goes through every part of the body, from bones to muscles to girly parts. She shares information on each part, sharing how it works and how we can best keep it healthy. Every fiber of our being can benefit from fitness, whether we are strengthening muscles, building bones, improving our complexions, or finally wearing that Stella McCartney for Adidas outfit you spent a fortune on.
Again, I wasn’t so keen on learning about my mind – it is pretty crazy up there. I figured Cameron would preach about yoga, meditation, and bringing peace to the world. Again, I was wrong.
The first part of this section focuses on your mental image of yourself. You have to believe in yourself, because when its 11 p.m. and you want a double cheese burrito and a hot fudge brownie, that inner belief is the only thing that will get you through it. Tell yourself that you are amazing. Eat an apple. Believe that you can do these crazy things – cut out sugar, drink your weight in water, etc.
She also talks about how your appetite works and how to manage it. The book looks at how habits are developed – both bad and good – and how you can use that knowledge to your advantage. She discusses how to shop for groceries and plan your fitness routine. By the end of the chapter, you are totally equipped to put this knowledge into action.
Cameron shares a ton of tips, but these are my favorites:
- Drink a liter of water as soon as you wake up. During the eight or so hours we are asleep, we lose plenty of hydration. Cameron places a bottle of water on her bathroom counter before she goes to sleep, and as soon as she wakes up she chugs the whole thing.
- Break up with sugar. I know. You are going to ignore this one, and continue with your cookies and sweet tea. But think about it – how does a brown liquid from a brown plant turn into a white powder?
- Move. Whenever you can! Run to the bathroom (because you will have to go to the bathroom. Every half hour. Thanks, water). Park in the very last spot at Bloomingdales. Take the stairs. Pace the living room when you’re on the phone. Do sit-ups while watching Real Housewives.
- Develop a sleep routine. Some nights, you go to bed at 1 a.m. Some nights you go to bed at 8 p.m. Wherever, whenever, train your body with a sleep routine. Every night, go through the same steps (wash face, brush teeth, put on satin pajamas). Eventually, your mind will be triggered by these steps and you’ll fall asleep more easily.
- Love your amazing body. Yes, this is the book’s tagline. But it is TRUE. Your body does amazing things. And it is amazing. Tell yourself what an amazing body you have, every day, and mean it. Your body isn’t perfect – no one’s it, not even Cameron Diaz – but it is amazing.
Overall… I loved the book. Most of the information was new to me – despite my thorough education and multiple college degrees, I had no idea what a carb is. I could relate to the content and the anecdotes, which Cameron intersperses throughout the book. These glimpses into her life, her struggle with nutrition, and her personal health decisions make these changes seem realistic.
I have tried to follow health websites, weight loss blogs, and fitness gurus before, but none of them stuck. I couldn’t relate to the mom who was doing jumping jacks at the playground. I didn’t believe the people who lost a dozen pounds by just drinking a putrid juice. But a successful, powerful, beautiful, independent woman with a closet full of designer handbags? Someone who looks good, feels good, and lives fabulously – now that was someone I could believe.
As soon as I started reading the book, I started making changes. First it was more water, then it was more movement, then it was better nutrition. I broke up with sugar, which is a daily struggle. I
sweat glisten every day. And every night, while I’m going through my sleep routine, I think through what I did, what I ate, and how amazing my body is.
Would I recommend this book? Oh, absolutely. I took the book very seriously, covered the pages in notes, and took the knowledge I gained and turned it into action. And now I might just be in love with my amazing body.