“In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan and My Nutritionist.

A great way to start a new year and each day is by giving our body the energy to have an amazing day. 
Michael Pollan’s book “In Defense of Food” is a great foundation for how to approach choosing, buying, growing, and cooking food. While the book gives away its main lesson in the first sentence of “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants”, the journey Michael takes you on from that point on is enlightening.

What was interesting was how the book worked in conjunction with my nutritionist’s advice. I’ve struggled with a bit of intestinal annoyance for two decades – until very recently when I began working with a nutritionist. My nutritionist was unaware I was reading this book and so his suggestions were completely independent of the book. Would the book and my nutritionist conflict against each other?

Just 3 days of following my nutritionist’s advice resulted in completely eliminating my intestinal issue. The solution? Eat LOTS more healthy fats such as olive oil, macadamias, avocado, wild fish, and grass-fed meat (if I wasn’t lactose intolerant, butter would be included in this list). Ironically all of those foods follow the main guidelines this book teaches. “Mostly plants” is precisely what I was eating – more than ever.

Here were some of my highlights from the book:

  • Eat food your Great Great Grandma would recognize 
  • “Don’t eat anything incapable of rotting.” 
  • “You are what what you eat eats.”
  • Garden and be part of the process
  • Cook and be part of the process
  • “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.” 

For those of you like me who have seen the documentaries discussing the dangers of eating meat, my nutritionist addressed that concern. Meat only becomes unhealthy when eaten excessively and without veggies. When meat sits in your system and rots, that’s when the meat goes from good for you to potentially harmful. However when you combine it with veggies, the veggies clear/cleanse your intestines – not letting anything sit there. Thus, you get the best qualities of everything. 

Please know that I am NOT a doctor or health professional. I am a person who read a book on eating that combined with the guidance of a nutritionist helped me.

Do you Think Like A Freak?

Think-Like-A-Freak-Steven-Levitt-Stephen-DubnerIn the world of Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner’s book Think Like A Freak, they pose some great examples of why you might want to think like a freak.

This book came to me from the inspiration of listening to their podcast titled Freakonomics (listen to by clicking here). When I’m driving to a campus, military installation, organization, or an event to conduct a training or present a session, listening to Freakonomics (and a few other great podcasts) makes the drive seem much shorter and regularly gets me thinking in new ways.

The book Think Like A Freak is written to get us thinking – for you to question what you have been taught to think AND how you’ve been taught to think. Think Like a Freak is filled with lots of great concepts and discussions.  My favorite takeaways from listening to this audio book were:

  • Admit you don’t know. Doing so leads to much more room for learning and success.
  • Quit. Yes, be willing to quit. As I looked back through my life, I can see times where my choice to quit was the right choice. Sadly, too often we taught “Quitters never win and Winners never quit” which couldn’t be farther from the truth. Knowing what and/or when to quit can make a huge difference in one’s life.
  • Plan for Failure. Instead of only asking what it will take for a project to fail, ask yourself and those you work with, “If this project would be determined to be a complete failure 6 months after we completed it, what would have had to have happened?”  Then reverse engineer to insure those possibilities are eliminated. Now, you have a much more sound approach to your project.
  • Think like a child. Question. Ask, “Why?” and do it frequently. Consider that maybe you are asking the wrong question – the question everyone else asks and not the question everyone is forgetting to ask. One of my favorite sections is how they show this concept through a world champion hot dog eater.

If you choose to listen to the Audio Book instead of reading the book, the authors, Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner, are the actual narrators and they do a great job. They are engaging throughout.

If you’ve read or listened to Think Like A Freak, please share your thoughts in the COMMENTS section below.


Tao Te Ching: A Book about the Way and the Power of the Way by Ursula K. Le Guin

LaoTzu-TaoTeChing-Ursula-Le-GuinThe depth within the simplicity of Ursula K. Le Guin’s book Tao Te Ching: A Book about the Way and the Power of the Way is inspiring.

The Tao Te Ching is an ancient Chinese writing by Lao Tzu consisting of 81 very short chapters (typically one-page each and sometimes as short as a paragraph). Ursula makes the clear distinction that this book is her rendition of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching and not a translation. While the book is short in length, the thinking and reflection you may find in it is endless.

While MANY words, lines, and paragraphs impacted me, here are just 14:

  • “To give birth, to nourish, to bear and not to own, to act and not lay claim, to lead and not to rule: this is mysterious power.”
  • “Anyone who doesn’t respect a teacher or cherish a student may be clever, but has gone astray.”
  • “So the wise soul keeps away from the extremes, excess, and extravagance.”
  • “Knowing other people is intelligence, knowing yourself is wisdom. Overcoming others takes strength, overcoming yourself takes greatness. Contentment is wealth. Boldly pushing forward takes resolution. Staying put keeps you in position. To live till you die is to live long enough.”
  • “In not wanting is stillness.”
  • “Because there is no where in you for death to enter”
  • “Lie low to be on top, be on top to lie low.”
  • “Study the hard while it’s easy. Do big things while they’re small. The hardest jobs in the world start out easy, the great affairs of the world start small. So the wise soul, by never dealing with great things, gets great things done.
  • “The tree you can’t reach your arms around grew from a tiny seedling. The nine-story tower rises from a heap of clay. The ten-thousand-mile journey begins beneath your foot.
  • “Mind the end as the beginning, then it won’t go wrong. That’s why the wise want not to want, care nothing for hard-won treasures, learn not to be learned, turn back to what people overlooked.”
  • “I have three treasures. I keep and treasure them. The first, mercy, the second, moderation, the third, modesty. If you’re merciful, you can be brave, if your moderate you can be generous, and if you don’t presume to lead you can lead the high and mighty.”
  • “The best captain doesn’t rush in front. The fiercest fighter doesn’t bluster. The big winner isn’t competing. The best boss takes a low footing. This is the power of noncompetition.”
  • “So hardness and stiffness go with death; tenderness, softness go with life.”
  • “Nothing in the world is as soft, as weak, as water; nothing else can wear away the hard, the strong, and remain unaltered. Soft overcomes hard, weak overcomes strong. Everybody knows it, nobody uses the knowledge.”

Consider treating yourself to this wonderful gift!!

Have you read any renditions or translations of Tao Te Ching? If so, what were your reactions and thoughts? Please share in the Comments section below.