How Not To Die

How Not To Die book coverThe next step on my journey into nutrition was How Not To Die by Michael Greger, M.D., with Gene Stone. This book is filled with interesting information whether you are working toward a healthier you or if you just like general knowledge about the society we live in. The focus is on the 15 leading causes of death in the United States and each chapter focuses on an individual disease, what pharmaceutical options have been created to address it, and what foods have been used to address and reverse the disease. Basically, this book discusses using food, or diet, as medicine with plenty of interesting facts that may surprise you. The second half of the book is Dr. Greger’s daily dozen foods he recommends to promote and maintain a healthy lifestyle that will add years to your life.

I’m not recommending this book because I want to shift your entire focus to your diet or make you feel bad for wanting to eat a burger. Why read a book about diseases if you are healthy? Well, this book is more than just about diseases (though many of the diseases discussed can begin years before being detected). I am recommending this book because it is an interesting read and can be a very useful reference tool to help you or perhaps someone you know. To put it simply, the standard American diet is not healthy and often leads to the leading causes of death in this country. If a few small changes to your eating habits can drastically improve your health, why wouldn’t you give it a shot?

With nearly 150 pages of notes (out of the book’s total 560 pages) that reference the many papers, studies, and other medical and historical publications, Dr. Greger took evidence from the vast resources of medicinal studies and created an easy-to-read book to help us better understand how our diets impact our health. He doesn’t promote any fad diets or specific eating restrictions. He even promotes eating foods in less healthy forms if that is what it takes to help you eat healthier than you are now and hopefully help create a trend upward towards an even healthier you.

It is crazy how little the average person knows about nutrition. I remember growing up learning about the Food Pyramid which has since been debunked, and I wouldn’t dare follow it given what I know now. My recent dive into nutrition proves how little I knew, and I am glad my current focus is creating a better future for me. I know many people want to be healthier and many know how to be healthier, but they just don’t have the motivation or commitment to make it happen. If you fall into this category, I think books like this can help with motivation because it helps you focus on your future with encouragement to act now. Reading about studies on heart disease makes you want to ensure you don’t develop heart disease. Dr. Greger’s daily dozen foods is available in an app simply titled the daily dozen. The best part is you don’t need to sign up or create an account. It is simply a checklist with access to other information about the food groups to help you begin healthier habits. He has a website NutritionFacts.org which is filled with short videos and articles centered around nutrition. Interested in a new type of food or a natural way to decrease blood pressure? There are dozens of videos averaging 3-4 minutes long to help you learn and better understand your body and how the food you eat can help or hinder your health.

I’ve been focusing on my health recently for a multitude of reasons, but primarily to build a sustainable nutritional and physical regiment to maintain a healthy body and mind. My aim is to be healthy and live as long as possible for my family. The fact I have more energy and feel much better physically and mentally is a testament that it is working. I’m even starting to exercise and eat healthy because I enjoy it. My hope is that you also want to feel great and live as long as possible. I may not know you, dear reader, but I care about you nonetheless. You matter, and I want you to live a happy life.

Happy Reading.

Eat & Run

Eat and Run book coverI had no prior knowledge as to who Scott Jurek was or even that ultramarathons existed before I dove into Eat & Run by Scott Jurek with Steve Friedman. I am not a runner and I do not know anything about the sport except that races exist. I thought marathons were the longest type of race. A marathon is 26.2 miles. An ultramarathon ranges from 50 to 100+ miles. The Spartathlon is a race in Greece that is 152.4 miles (and people run this voluntarily!).

Eat & Run is part memoir, part running, and part nutrition. Altogether, it is a story about Scott Jurek’s life and his experience in the world of ultrarunning while being a vegan. I think, more importantly, this book delves into what drives us as human beings and what is important as we spend our precious time on this earth. As you can imagine, running 100+ miles is a monumental task for the average person and even those who regularly participate in these races often struggle, but part of what entices them to run such distances is the way they push beyond their limits and push through barriers to better understand themselves, physically and mentally, and the world around them.

There is naturally a very small group of individuals who gather around this niche sport, but most of them are minutely aware of their physical needs and capabilities as this is necessary to complete these types of runs. Scott researched and experimented with nutrition to help him become a better athlete, but also to be a healthier individual. His journey into veganism is purposeful despite many fellow runners thinking it wasn’t possible to compete on such a diet. Scott also delves into what drives him to compete in these races and what compels him to continue to push beyond his limits to the edge of what is physically possible.

You will never find me running for 24 hours straight, but what drew me to this book, and how I first learned about it, was the combination of exercise and nutrition. Someone recommended this book to me after a discussion of these topics. I do not plan to become a vegan (each chapter features a vegan recipe FYI), but I am interested in eating more simply to gain the benefits of being healthier and ultimately happier. I’ve begun a journey to improve myself physically through diet and exercise and I already feel better and more energetic. I want to explore this further and fine-tune both areas to maintain a healthy lifestyle so I can enjoy life as best I can but also to spend as much time as I can with my family.

I think we can all improve our eating habits for a better life. Modern foods are not designed to keep us healthy but rather to keep us fed (and often wanting more), and exercise can be difficult to fit into busy schedules and sedentary jobs. Even if you are not interested in running or a vegan diet, you may find Scott Jurek’s journey interesting. At the least, I hope it may inspire you to take a step, especially if it is a first step, toward a healthier and happier you.

Happy Reading.

The Genius Life

The Genius Life book coverThe Genius Life is Max Lugavere’s follow-up to Genius Foods, which I have recommended in the past. Genius Foods focused on a detailed breakdown of nutrition and how our diets impact our bodies and, more importantly, our minds. The Genius Life looks at other factors alongside nutrition that may be hindering our physical and mental health and is split into seven chapters that cover food, our circadian rhythm, the importance of sun and sleep, exercise, the various chemicals found in day-to-day products that disrupt our body, depression and anxiety, and how to incorporate some or all of the suggestions found in this book into your life and make them habits.

Like Genius Foods, this follow-up is chock full of great information broken down for easy reading. All data and research referenced in the book is cited if you want to dive further into any specific area. Many statistics were surprising to me. For example, the average person spends approximately 93% of their time indoors thanks to our modern lifestyle. I thought there was no way this could be correct, but then I examined my own time. I currently have a job where I work from home. Many of my hobbies are sedentary such as reading, writing, playing video games, or watching movies all of which often take place indoors (I do try to read outside when possible). Even most of my exercise is inside, at least for weight training, though I do try to get outside to go for long walks. The 93% of time spent indoors has subsequently led to 42% of the U.S. population being deficient in Vitamin D. So get out and spend at least a little of every day getting some of that beautiful sun.

I really enjoyed Genius Foods which helped me become more conscious of my eating habits and how my diet impacted my health, physically and mentally, and I believe I’ve come a long way with improving both since first reading it. Naturally, I picked up The Genius Life to learn even more and help refocus my attention on ways to be even healthier. The benefits are invaluable. I have much more room to improve, but I already have more energy, feel better mentally and physically, and hopefully will maintain great health and extend my life as long as possible so I can spend it with my family. I say this now having been exercising regularly for 3-4 months and losing almost 30 pounds in the past year (not including the 10 pounds I had put back on last holiday season, whoops!).

We only get one life and I think books like these help us realize how much better off we can be if we paid more attention to our environments and what we put into our bodies. It is never too late to get on a better, healthier path in life. This book has helped me do just that, and I hope it can do the same for you.

Happy Reading.

A Reading Slump

I hate to say that I’ve been in a reading slump lately. Nothing seems to be of much interest on the book front and I think there are three reasons for this. First, I think I’ve been avoiding a return to Blindness by Jose Saramago. My pause on this book was caused by some disturbing content which makes me reluctant to return to it. I’m not one to force myself to finish a book, but I am/was interesting in seeing this one out. However, I’m not sure I will return to it now. This may be the first book I’ve abandoned after reading more than halfway through. The book is interesting but delves into the worst parts of humanity which I don’t need to explore further, but as a writer I feel a need to finish the book to see not only what happens but how Saramago presents it (and if there is a silver lining or hopeful ending). It’s a bit of a dilemma but thinking of how the last few chapters disturbed me enough to put it down makes me think it is best to just leave it put and move on. I can always return to it later if I really feel a need. I just don’t feel any need to finish it now so I’m just going to let it go.

The second reason is a bit two-fold. I’ve been spending much more focus on other areas which has also made me more physically tired. I’ve been focusing of course on my daughter who will soon be nine months old. She is absolutely everything to me and she is constantly on the move. When not wrangling her, I’ve been focusing a lot on my physical health through food and exercise. This has added to my being physically tired more often, but I know it will pay off by giving me more energy as I adjust to the routine. This will help me keep up with the little one. I’ve also been spending little spurts of free time learning Spanish. This may seem like a lot, and it is, but I typically have my mind split across a million endeavors, so it’s not out of the ordinary.

Lastly, I have been spending a good deal of mental energy on my own novel. Unfortunately, I have not been making any progress on physically writing it, but I have been working through the story in my head. I do need to get to work putting it down on paper/on the computer though. I think this last one has been a large part of my reading slump because I’m focusing on my own story instead of focusing as much on reading others.

All that aside, I am still reading. I am slowly making my way through Pity the Reader: On Writing with Style by Kurt Vonnegut and Suzanne McConnell. It is good and can easily be read intermittently. I recently read The Getaway Car by Ann Patchett which was really good and more of an article than a book being only 30 or so pages. I’ve also been reading Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa. I loved the show and am enjoying the manga. So I have been reading, but just in small spurts compared to my usual pace. This actually may be a perfect time to be reading a short story collection now that I think about it.

I can’t change too much of the above if I’m going to accomplish some of the goals I’ve set for myself, but I think putting Blindness away and forgetting about it will be helpful. Hopefully, actually getting back to the nitty-gritty of writing my novel will also help me open up to new stories as well. The slump will pass sooner or later.

There are plenty of good books to discover. I hope you are in the middle of a great one now.

Happy reading.

A Note on Recent Adaptations

I previously posted about a few film and television adaptations I was excited to see that were all based on books I had read. I wanted to follow up about those adaptations and have a little discussion about adaptations in general from a the viewpoint of a fan of the original work.

DuneFirst, I absolutely enjoyed the film adaptation of Dune. I thought the film followed the book pretty well even though it has been a few years since I had read it. I am excited for the second movie that should wrap up the content of the first book. I hear rumors that there may even be a chance for a third movie that I assume would delve into a few of the sequels. I am okay with that of course. The story, and the adaptation, is great and having to wait an additional year to see it was worth it in my opinion.

Next, The Wheel of Time as adapted into a television series by Amazon. I read this series a few years ago. It is a huge series at 15 books (including the prequel) with an average book length of approximately 800 pages. It is one of the longest series I have read and I enjoyed it immensely.

Wheel of Time' Recap Season 1 Episode 3 — Questing Party Splits Up | TVLineThe fans are split on this one and reasonably so. The television series finished the first season in December and it consisted of 8 episodes. Those 8 episodes covered a lot of ground but changed nearly all aspects of the story aside from the characters themselves and the core story meaning the general events are in the show but the details are altered or omitted entirely which I think is what many hardcore fans dislike. I understand the issues they take with the adaptation, but I stand more in agreement with the same hardcore fans who are simply thrilled to see their favorite series on screen. Am I bothered by the many changes and implicit disregard for detail? Of course, but not to the extent that I would review-bomb the show or hope that they cancel it altogether. I think that is ridiculous. You don’t have to continue watching a show if you don’t like it, but why would you go out of your way to complain or bash a show that others do enjoy. Especially at the very beginning of the series.

I’ll admit, the changes and progression of the story did seem lacking to me, but I still want to watch it. I may be less excited to watch it, but the production is top-notch and seeing some of the cities and monsters and magic that are within this story is simply awesome.

Netflix's live-action Cowboy Bebop is canceled - The VergeFans getting upset and throwing tantrums like spoiled children is always a bad look. Which brings me to the next adaptation I want to discuss: Cowboy BebopThis series, produced by Netflix, is a live-action adaptation of an anime that first released in the 1990s. I am a fan of the original series and must admit that I loved the adaptation. Yes, the adaptation is almost entirely different from the original series, but I think it works for a variety of reasons. The first being that the original series is almost more of an anthology than a story-driven series, meaning each episode was it’s own mini-story that involved our main characters. I think the live-action kept (almost) all the characters true to their original personas. It includes a lot of similar mini-plots while alluding to others from the original series. We get more backstory on a few major characters which I liked too. The graphics were top-notch and some of the fight scenes were incredible.

However, so many so-called fans were upset and disliked the show enough that season two was cancelled. There is a petition by fans to have the second season made, and I hope it does get made. I would like to see more. One last note on this one: nearly all live-action adaptations of anime shows have been treated harshly (many for good reason), and this show may be the best live-action adaptation out there.

There are a few more adaptations that I am looking forward to or need to catch up on. For example, I need to watch season two of The Witcher and I am looking forward to watching Amazon’s new show The Rings of Power which is a Lord of the Rings show that will take place presumably well before the original story. Some “fans” have already bashed the show simply because of the title. They know nothing else about it but are already mad simply because of the title. I mean….really?

I guess my main point of this post is that there are too many people complaining about an adaptation not following the source material verbatim or that it is taking too many liberties or isn’t what they wanted and therefore are complaining like they were entitled to get their version of it. Even if it is a quality show on its own. Fandoms can be toxic and can bleed into any medium. All I’m saying is let things be, especially if other fans do enjoy the adaptations. Re-read the book or simply watch the original show again.

Every reader envisions the story, or a character, a bit differently. They make it their own. That is what is great about books. They are a personal experience. If an adaptation doesn’t live up to your specific vision or experience, then let it go and move on. Let the people who do like it enjoy it.