Monday, April 22, 2019
Your Fittest Future Self: Book Review
Happy Easter Monday to those who celebrate!
If you are one of millions of North Americans who wants to improve your lifestyle and/or health but do not know where to start, this book will be of interest to you.
What struck me several times while reading Your Fittest Future Self by Kathleen Trotter, is that it is the book (one of about 20) that I planned to write! I write books in my head on a regular basis and fantasize about actually writing them, but then decide it's way too much work.
But ultimately, this means that Trotter, a personal trainer, motivational speaker and author, is totally on the same page I am when it comes to perspectives on fitness and nutrition.
But that's no surprise as she graduated from my alma mater (Department of Exercise Sciences at the University of Toronto) and also wrote a fitness column for the Globe and Mail that I used to enjoy.
The book has sections on nutrition, fitness and mindset (i.e. motivation and ways to avoid self-sabotage). Trotter has also included a series of workout plans, complete with photos to illustrate each exercise.
Trotter's writing style is very down-to-earth, and peppered with enough personal information to give readers a bit of insight into who she is as a person, not just as an author and trainer.
I find Trotter's overarching philosophy to be similar to that of Yoni Freedhoff (author of a book I often recommend to my clients, The Diet Fix), which is basically, live the healthiest life you can enjoy and maintain long-term. This means, for most people, figuring out a lifestyle tailored to your own personal preferences and needs, not following the diet trend du jour or the advice of some dumb-ass celebrity.
In her discussion of mindset, she brings up an issue that I see often with my therapy clients that often drives emotional eating or poor health choices/behaviours: self-pity, resentment, and/or anger. Going into a spiral of, "Why do I have to stop drinking pop? Other people drink it. It's not fair, why can't I drink pop and be skinny/healthy?"
Just to add to this, I often ask clients if their choices are (often unconsciously) a fuck-you to someone or something. Frequently, clients realize they are giving the finger to someone who nags them to lose weight, to society for judging them based on their weight, etc. I remind them that using food as a way to hurt others usually just hurts them due to the long-term consequences, even if their anger and resentment is fully justified.
Trotter addresses the destructive effects of perfectionism, which can contribute to an all-or-nothing mentality about food/exercise (i.e., I ate a cookie and messed up everything, so it doesn't matter if I eat 6 more, etc.). Related to this is the self-loathing that also often interferes with people's efforts to make positive behavioural changes (i.e. I missed my workout today, I am such a lazy pig, there is no point in continuing at all).
Another recommendation Trotter gives readers, which is similar to what I tell my clients, is to constantly be exploring how to make improvements/find the right fit when it comes to nutrition and fitness. I tell my clients to be guinea pigs: try different things and if something flops, rather than give up altogether, move on and try something else.
Overall, I think this is a great book. I am still miffed at Trotter for stealing so many of my own thoughts and ideas (just kidding!), but I guess it's my own fault for never actually writing any of the books that are in my head.
Do I recommend this book? Absolutely. I think it will be very useful for anyone wanting to make positive changes to their health or lifestyle who feel overwhelmed and do not know where to start. In fact, it's going on the shelf at my office and I will probably be recommending it to many of my clients.
Disclosure: The publisher sent me the book to review but all opinions on this blog are my own.