• Eating Less by Gillian Riley
  • This is one of the best books I have ever read on sorting out emotional eating. It is written by Gillian Riley who is an ex-smoker, ex-emotional eater and now works as a counsellor. She has also written books about stopping smoking. Her premise is that overweight is caused by an addiction to overeating, and overeating can and should be treated in the same way as other addictions. It is not your weight that is the problem, it is your addiction to eating. By trying to deal with your weight without dealing with your addiction, you are bound to fail and end up back where you started but feeling even worse about yourself. It is like a smoker saying that his smoking isn’t his problem – if you could just sort out his bronchitis he’d be fine. The book makes an enormous amount of sense (except where she goes outside her remit and tries to explain science, which she clearly has no understanding of), but the behaviour change stuff is excellent and I am finding it very helpful. Can’t recommend this highly enough.
    Buy It (UK) Buy It (US)

  • The Body Fat Solution: Five Principles for Burning Fat, Building Lean Muscle, Ending Emotional Eating, and Maintaining Your Perfect Weight by Tom Venuto
  • Tom Venuto is an ex-champion body builder, yet despite his undoubted expertise in the fine tuning of transformation, he has a very common sense approach to the simple improvements that ‘ordinary folk’ can make to massively improve their health and fitness. This book claimed to be about overcoming emotional eating, and that comprises the first half of the book, and it was something in this book that finally got through to me and has been propelling me throughout the year. But there is also some very sensible nutrition stuff in there, general guidelines that will get you to where you want to go without turning it into rocket science. (There’s also workouts, but you don’t need to follow these – they are extremely TT-like with the exception of additional isolation exercises – no doubt, a throw back to Tom’s body building days – that add little other than time to your workout. Still, it is an easy read and I would recommend it.
    Buy It (UK) Buy It (US)


  • The Metabolism Advantage by Dr John Berardi
  • Like most fat people, I like to blame a slow metabolism and big bones for my excess weight, not really wanting to admit to being a lazy pig, after all. So when I came across The Metabolism Advantage, “An 8-week program to rev up your body’s fat-burning machine – at any age”, I quickly added it to my shelf of books promising to change my life. When I did eventually get round to reading it though, I found that unlike most of the others, this was not just another diet book filled with old news reworked with lots of ‘motivational’ waffle by some wannabe guru cashing in on us poor, desperate, calorifically challenged folks. Rather, it was brilliant, scientific, well researched, and well written guide to the nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle changes needed to turn you into an awesome fat-burning machine. Even more than that, it was actually inspiring. It made me want to go out and make those changes. Even more amazingly, I did. And I’m still doing. Highly recommended.
    Buy it (UK) Buy it (US)

  • New Optimum Nutrition Bible by Patrick Holford
  • Does exactly what it says on the tin. A massive and up-to-date book on all aspects of nutrition from the founder of the of the UK Institute of Optimum Nutrition. Like the man says, “Who wants to be average?” From antioxidants to Alzheimer’s, homocysteine to hayfever, supplements to superkids, it’s all in here. And if you can’t be bothered to read it all, you can always bench press it!
    Buy it (UK) Buy it (US)


  • The New Rules of Lifting for Women: Lift like a man, look like a goddess by Lou Schuler, Alwyn Cosgrove, and Cassandra Forsythe
  • This is a well written, thoroughly researched book with a light tone and a nice easy going style which makes it a pleasure to read. Despite being a qualified personal trainer and experienced lifter I learned several things I did not already know about muscle physiology and the workouts, by Alwyn Cosgrove, included (six months or more worth) were different from everything else I have seen of late.
    The nutrition section provided little that was new to an experienced lifter but would be a good resource to someone who doesn’t know how to eat to maximise metabolism and get the body they have always wanted. The recipes, unusually for a book of this type, actually sound delicious, and the advice is more practical and aligned to a normal lifestyle (i.e. 3 meals and 2 snacks per day, plus post-workout shake on lifting days rather than the six mini meals often recommended in lifting tomes). I would have liked some more recipes, but there is a support forum and recipes abound there.
    One caution, the lifting programme itself look a little confusing when viewed as a whole. But is explained well, and if you take it one step at a time it should become clearer. I would recommend this book for any level of lifter, from the novice who can’t even do a single full press-up (adequately catered for in the exercise choice options) to an experienced lifter who would like a new programme to shake things up plus an update on what’s new in muscle physiology.
    Buy It (UK) Buy It (US)

  • The Complete Book of Abs by Kurt Brungardt
  • An oldie (1999) but a goodie. Every ab exercise under the sun, for every level, from complete “what’s an ab?” level to underwear model droolability. As well as well illustrated exercises, the book includes suggested programmes to get you from where you are to where you are going, as well as suggestions on how to create your own. There are also good sections on back care and strengthening, and general health, nutrition, and wellbeing. Despite a newer book ‘for women’ the original is perfectly suitable for both sexes and many of the exercises are demonstrated by women in the accompanying photos.
    Buy it (UK) Buy it (US)

  • Kick the Fat by Anne-Marie Millard
  • This great little book is a terrific introduction to kickboxing, and a smashing fun workout to boot. It takes you from absolute beginner status to confident fitness kickboxer in no time at all, while providing sweat-pouring, endorphin-pumping workouts, from complete beginner through to advanced levels.
    The kicks and punches are clearly explained, with unfussy and helpful photographs to accompany each move. When I started this book, I couldn’t even balance on one foot for more than a few seconds. I have been fairly slack and used it erratically, but am now comfortably an intermediate. I have since undertaken personal training with martial arts instructors and they have all commented on my good form – I tell them I learned it all from a book.
    Buy it (UK) Buy it (US)

  • Swimming for Total Fitness by Jane Katz
  • Another old book (1993) and apparently, some of the technique teachings are not the most current, but this fantastic book is ideal for people who are not blessed with the water baby gene. It takes you from afraid-to-put-your-face-in-the-water to beautifully balanced butterfly. The five basic strokes are broken down and taught through a series of exercises and drills and there are progressive fitness swimming workouts for every level. Also very cool, it teaches you those cool turns you see on the TV when you watch the pros. I learned breast stroke as a kid but that was it. Taught myself crawl as an adult, rather badly, I might add. After doing one of her stroke development exercises at my local pool, I knocked 4 strokes off my lap time, and completed my lengths in 3 fewer strokes than another swimmer I was watching who was obviously stronger and more experienced than me. It’s all in the technique.
    Buy it (UK) Buy it (US)

  • Fitness Swimming by Emmett Hines
  • This is a more up-to-date book and includes the latest thinking on stroke dynamics but it’s focus is much narrower. It deals only with freestyle (front crawl), and is not for people who are nervous in the water or who can’t already swim. But if you can swim, this book will develop you from beginner to competitive swimmer, if you want to go that far, through progressive fitness and technique drills to help you improve your technique, your strength, and your endurance.
    Buy it (UK) Buy it (US)

  • Heart Monitor Training for the Compleat Idiot by John L Parker Jr
  • And yes, it really is spelled like that. The science and practice of getting the most out of your training and your body using a heart rate monitor. It’s aimed mainly at runners (and including 12-week training plans for different level runners from beginner to competitive) but is equally suitable for any cardiovascular activity, from walking, to cycling, to swimming. Teaches you to train efficiently, improve your endurance and fitness levels, reach your fitness goals more quickly, and remain injury-free while doing so.
    Buy it UK
    Buy it (US)


This is obviously part of fitness, but it is such an important part of my life (pilates helped me manage and eliminate chronic low back pain and now I am a pilates instructor) that I have given it its own section. Pilates teaches you body awareness, good alignment, how to move. It can create a strong, lithe body, and add apparent inches to your stature (posture, baby, posture). If you’ve never done it before, I would recommend getting a good private teacher or going to classes before starting to work out on your own. Not because it is so difficult, but because it seems so easy. It isn’t really. You need a qualified instructor to teach you the basics and analyse your posture and movement patterns. Then, of course, practice away.

  • Standing Pilates: Strengthen and Tone Your Body Wherever You Are by Joan Breibart
  • Correct posture and movement patterns while upright, ie. in the position you are most likely to need them in real life. Very challenging.
    Buy it (UK) Buy it (US)


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