52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You Paperback – Jan 3 2012
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About the Author
Brett Blumenthal is co-founder and CEO of Be Healthy, Inc., a wellness promotion company whose mission is to create a healthier America, one city at a time, by holding unique events that educate, inspire, and empower members of local communities to live and maintain healthy lifestyles. She is also founder of Sheer Balance and the Healthy Road Warrior, which provide information, classes, and seminars, along with wellness coaching to educate and motivate individuals interested in living a healthy lifestyle. She earned her bachelor’s degree and M.B.A. from Cornell University and is certified by WELCOA (Wellness Counsel of America). She writes for several online media companies, winning multiple awards for her influential blogging; has appeared on NBC and is a regular contributor on CBS; and is the author of Get Real and STOP Dieting!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Three days is usually my limit and I am back to treating myself poorly - short sleeping hours, fast food instead of cooking healthy meals for myself, and no exercise except walking from my mail box to my front door.
With Brett Blumenthal's new book, I have got a good shot at Paris in 2012.
Brett's 52 week plan follows three basic rules:
1. One Big Change Takes Many Small Changes
2. Extreme's Don't Work
3. Small Changes Feed Our Need to Succeed
Each week is setup with tips and tricks to help you make one small change that balances your life.
Let's take a look at January:
Week 1 - Hydrate (provides tips and tricks for getting adequate H20 in your life)
Week 2 - Get 7-8 hours sleep (shows you how to create your own sleepy time nightly routine and setup a sleep inducing environment)
Week 3 - Keep off the couch (gently encourages you to create a routine of activities that get you moving)
Week 4- Keep a food journal (teaches you how to keep a food journal and identifies false hunger triggers, etc.)
If you are ready to make a commitment to living a balanced life this book can certainly help you take baby steps to get there.
I also recommend Brett's previous bestseller Get Real and Stop Dieting!
"Many of us yearn for instant gratification, and when something takes too long, we give up or move on. Unfortunately, the instant gratification we crave is the exact thing that hinders us from achieving success in our quest for change. The secret to making change that lasts is to acknowledge and accept that change takes time and that patience during the process is essential."
I agree with Blumenthal that 'small changes feed our need to succeed." To that end Brett Blumenthal's book 52 Small Changes actually spans the entire year. She has come up with one change per week that we can incorporate on our way to becoming a "happier, healthier you." The book has four target areas: Diet and Nutrition, Fitness and Prevention, Mental Well - Being and Green Living.
Week One's topic is water - drinking more of it. A basic tenet that we're all aware of and recognize the importance of, but really don't carry out. By just having the one goal for an entire week and following through, one could achieve a feeling of success and the desire to continue on with other small but beneficial changes.
Blumenthal targets a lot of other 'known' issues such as adequate sleep, food choices, additives, vitamins etc. Some of the suggestions such as breathing right, taking at least a half hour a day for yourself, cleaning products and identifying additives provided lots of food for thought. Each topic is explored and the benefits explained. If you're already following that week's suggestions there are ideas for taking it up a notch.
I think the idea of one small change a week is great. However I think some of the ideas would require greater introspection and thought, such as Participate in Your Life (mindful thinking), Find Your Own Spirituality and Living with Purpose. However, that being said, 52 Small Changes does introduce the ideas for consideration.
The book is cleanly laid out, easy to read and includes pictures, graphs and blurb boxes. I think a reader could pick and choose ideas from the book that are pertinent to the changes they would like to see in their lives. I don't think every idea would work for everyone. Do I think I could make 52 changes this year? No, but I will be making some and 52 Small Changes has given me some ideas.
At the end of the book there are some useful charts that you can use to log your progress, and a listing of web sites and books if you want to do more research. Overall, this is an interesting approach to making some improvements in your life.
That being said, I found that a lot of the suggestions aren't very practical, at least for me. For example, in the chapter on keeping dust under control, it says that if you have window drapes you should wash them once a week in hot water. I could probably manage the washing, but not taking the drapes down and putting them back up once a week. But I might consider doing it every three months.
Also if you want to follow this book to the letter, prepare to be "greened". A lot of the chapters have to do with things like eliminating processed food, eating only organic food, reducing dairy and salt, etc. Okay, some of that may be good, if you accept all of the current theories about what you should and shouldn't eat. But like many other books, this one falls prey to the fallacy of "everyone is the same, so the same diet will work for everyone".
I'm sorry, but that flies in the face of biological fact. We are NOT all the same. We come from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, and have heritages from different parts of the world where people have lived on diffeent diets based on available resources, and adapted to them over thousands of years. A diet that one person may thrive on, might actually damage another person's health. I have a friend who tried to live on a vegetarian diet and became very ill until she started to eat meat again. Diet can not always be completely a moral or philosophical choice.
I'm 6' 4" tall and weigh 245 pounds. Although current government guidelines would probably classify me as "obese", I am in very good health (aside from some of the side effects of being over 60 years old). This book says that my portion of meat should be the size of a deck of cards, and a serving of vegetables is the size of half a baseball. I can have a slice of bread (whole wheat) and half a cup of grains or starch. I know from experience that I would not do well on a diet like that. But the book only talks about "appropriate portions", with no consideration that one size does not fit all.
So take some of the recommendations in this book with a grain of salt. (No, it won't kill you!) If the organic, whole food, low-fat diet works for you, great! If not, adapt it so that it does work for you while still improving your life.
I've harped on the diet issue a lot because I think it detracts from the rest of the book. Most of the chapters have good suggestions in other areas, such as reducing clutter, exercising, and improving relationships. I recommend this book. Just don't be disappointed if you can't master all 52 changes. If you can tackle even half of them, you should be able to feel a lot better about your life.
What wellness coach Brett Blumenthal presents in this book is a way to motivate readers in the right direction by making one small change a week. The changes are realistic from healthy eating habits, to stress relief, mental wellness, and even your home environment. 52 Small Changes is a step by step road map to a happier, healthier you.
What I really like about 52 Small Changes is that each week is that not only is the change a small tweak in the way you do life already... but the chapter goes on to tell you the benefits of this change, how to do it, options and keeping it real....
For instance chapter one is called Drink Up! Water is one we are all suppose to be doing, but few of us get the amount of water we really need daily. It goes on to give you a road map to success, assessing your needs, how to remind yourself, and keeping it real. While you might think this is a no brainer, actually reading the chapter gave me tips to getting my water intake in each day as well as back up substitutes (like tea) or adding things to make it taste better - like fruit or cucumber slices.
Moving on, chapter 2 is about getting enough sleep, chapter 3 is about getting off the couch, and chapter 4 is about keeping a food journal, etc... etc...
I like that each chapter is doable, you stay on it for a week, then add a second one and so on.
My primary issue with this book is that I tend to disagree with some of the "small changes" she encourages the reader to do. For example, Week 13 calls for you to "Eat Your Wheaties" by consuming whole grain cereal or oatmeal. But grains are incredibly unhealthy for my body based on all we have learned about them from books like Going Against the Grain: How Reducing and Avoiding Grains Can Revitalize Your Health and Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health. The same thing happens again in Week 15 when you "Put the Whole in Your Grains." No thank you! Week 19 encourages "For The Love Of Fruit" to eat all kinds of fruit--regardless of their sugar content. This can be potentially hazardous to people with blood sugar disorders like diabetes, hypoglycemia, and metabolic syndrome. I guess people could just skip the small changes that go against their core beliefs, but it was worthy of mentioning in this review.
Overall, the concept of 52 SMALL CHANGES is a very good one and I applaud Blumenthal for making an effort to provide a means for people to make change happen because it doesn't come about automatically. It requires a little effort on the part of the person desiring change to bring it about. The format of this book is so user-friendly and most of the "chapters" are only a few pages each giving you the background on the topic, how to implement "The Change," and then some "Extra Credit" for you overachievers out there (like me!). You get a running checklist of the changes that you are accumulating over the course of the year as you see things beginning to happen for you each week. There are some awesome resources in the back of the book, including a food journal, accomplishments, activity, commitments and priorities in your personal, professional and social life, budgeting and more.
It's unfortunate that the archaic high-carb, low-fat conventional wisdom is sprinkled throughout this book or I could give it a higher rating. Sure, lasting change begins with one small change after another for people who are willing to commit to doing most of these things and making them a habit. The flaw is in thinking that all 52 are a good idea for everyone when very clearly they are not.