While your journey towards fitness might have started as a pursuit to drop a few pounds or say goodbye to stress, you probably have come to understand that wellness is the ultimate goal. You don’t want a plan to last 30 days; you want tools to help you change your life.
Here are five books — perfect for the plane, beach or pool — to help you find the true path to wellness as you enjoy your summer journeys.
Learn How to Be “Better Than Before”
Who doesn’t love a good quiz? In her latest book, Gretchen Rubin (The Happiness Project) starts with the premise that we all fall into one of “the four tendencies: upholder, questioner, rebel or obliger.” Answer her questions in Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits — to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life, and learn your tendency.
Once you understand your tendency, you can unlock the secret to finally sticking to your vegan diet on the road or kicking the habit of staying up too late. Her framework helps you understand why the strategies that work for your best friend or your boss may not work for you. You can also have fun at your next team meeting trying to match your coworkers with their tendency.
Find Out About “The Upside of Stress”
Stress doesn’t have to be a four-letter word. In The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It, health psychologist Kelly McGonigal describes a “stress-free” life as both boring and unproductive — instead of avoiding stress, we need to embrace it. McGonigal offers ways to work with stress, and to use it as a powerful tool for growth. Her techniques and exercises teach you how to think differently about stress, and to stop the pointless battle to eliminate it. It will make you think twice about saying, “I am so stressed out.”
The Importance of “The First 20 Minutes”
Take everything you thought you knew about exercise and sports nutrition, and throw it out. New York Times columnist and blogger Gretchen Reynolds, in The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer, crushes long-held beliefs, like stretching before a run, with the latest research on fitness and health.
Reynolds has compiled the best science in one place to help you make smarter decisions about your workouts, your grocery cart and your overall health. For example, research suggests that the first 20 minutes of exercise seem to matter the most, especially when you go high-intensity. That’s food for thought the next time someone asks you to take a 90-minute hot yoga class.
How to Be “10% Happier”
Is meditation the new caffeine? In 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works, ABC News correspondent Dan Harris shares this theory along with his struggles with depression and panic attacks (including one he suffered live on Good Morning America).
His professional stories alone are fascinating, but his journey to mindfulness offers the real value of this book. Searching for a “guru,” he interviews Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra with a healthy dose of journalistic skepticism. His research and experiences will help you let go of the cultural trappings around meditation and stay mindful no matter where you are.
Life Lessons in “It Was Me All Along”
It Was Me All Along, a gripping memoir by writer and recipe developer Andie Mitchell, chronicles her struggles with binge eating and weight loss, and how she eventually learned to redefine and repair her relationship with food. Her exploration of the emotions behind food and why we eat is one with which many will be able to identify. If you are struggling to make peace with food and your body, this is a must-read.