In Cameron Diaz’s first attempt at a published work, The Body Book, the 41-year-old abandons her Charlie’s Angel-face to play the all-knowing, flawlessly-fit stepmom we never knew we wanted. Full of girl-power shout-outs like “Hello, Lady! and “Hey, GIRL!”, the book reads like a 400-page endorphin-induced love letter, but it’s more than that with a panel of experts who explain “the law of hunger, the science of strength, and other ways to love your amazing body.” And while a “you do you!” manifesto is harder to swallow when delivered by a top-ten placer in Maxim’s hot 100 list it’s a positive message worth exploring.
Divided into three parts-nutrition, fitness, and mind/body awareness-the book is touted by its by publishers as a “holistic, long-term approach to…living a long, strong, happy, healthy life.” The back to basic approach comes with a cringe-or two. (“So we BREAK our night of FASTING by eating BREAKFAST”). But despite a slightly moronic delivery, Diaz’s message is smart: Your body is the best instrument you’ll ever own.
Bottom line, if you can get over the inane fact that a former Charlie’s Angel has written a book “sharing her formula” for happiness and health, you may find it useful. If you can’t, I understand.
Here are 10 tips that won’t hurt you either way.
1. Track your energy level like you do your iPhone’s.
“Do you leave the house with a phone that isn’t charged and ready to go? Of course you don’t. You always make sure it’s powered up before you leave for the day. Eating whole foods and giving yourself all of your essential nutrients is like plugging in your iPhone: it charges up your whole life.”
*Brb, checking phone battery.
2. Eat nutrient-dense food
“Empty calories are, well, EMPTY CALORIES. If you respond to the feeling of hunger by eating high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods like processed foods, fast foods, and overly sweetened desserts. But when you eat cherries instead of cherry pie, grapes instead of grape soda, carrots instead of carrot cake, and homemade tacos instead of drive-thru burritos-in other words, nutrient-dense foods-every bite you eat powers up your engine… Just because you can put something in your mouth, chew it, swallow it, and then poop it out doesn’t mean it’s food. It just means you can chew it, swallow it, and poop it out.”
3. Decide who your fat friends are
“Think of fats like a bunch of people at a party. Some people are wonderful and well worth your time and some are jerks, and it’s your job to judge each of them on merit. While some fats-the saturated and trans fats-are like the alluring but ultimately destructive guy you really shouldn’t date, others are like the nice guy next door that your best friends keep wishing (rightly) that you would fall for. So olive oil, yes! I’d love to spend more time with you. Margarine, no, I’m afraid I’m busy washing my hair on Friday night. With so many heart-healthy fats out there to try, you’ll always have something delicious and full of vitamins and minerals to pour, whisk, and drizzle.”
4. Eat lots of carbs-but make sure they’re the right ones
“I love carbs. I love them! LOVE THEM!! They are what give me the energy I need to do all. Choosing the right kind of carbohydrates allows me to get the most out of my day. The right carbs are whole-food sources: foods like hearty grains that are still the way nature made them, not refined into a pizza crust or a pretzel twist, whole fruits that haven’t been turned into juice and aren’t swimming in sugar, and vegetables that are eaten fresh or cooked with some olive oil or another healthy fat.”
5. Steer clear of sweeteners
“I say, don’t eat them…just don’t go there. Training your taste buds to appreciate the delicate sweet flavors of natural fruits is the way to keep your body healthy and enjoy your food. And besides, those sweeteners admit what they really are: ARTIFICIAL sweeteners. They’re faking it. Because they contain a bunch of chemicals that may have originated in nature long ago but are no longer being used in the way nature intended. If you really need to have something sweet and fruit just won’t satisfy, I’d rather see you use plain refined sugar than those man-made fakes.”
6. And of diets in general
“Over the past few decades of diet and weight-loss crazes, each of the macronutrients has been subjected to smear campaigns [low-fat, low-carb, low-animal protein]. These trends have been confusing, and they’ve also been dangerous for our bodies and minds. Let’s face it: if diet trends were effective, we’d all be eating fat-free, low-carb cookies in our bikinis instead of throwing money away on one diet program after another. It’s time to relearn our basic biology.”
7. Make your body strong
“Squeeze your butt muscles. Yes, right now, while you’re sitting. Pull your abs in, too, while you’re at it. Hold . . . now release. That’s all it takes. Squeeze and contract any muscle. In your body, and you can get stronger, even while you’re sitting here reading this book. With the recognition that we can build muscle by engaging it anytime, anywhere, all of our movements can become strengthening movements.”
8. Which means you need to workout
“When I was doing Charlie’s Angels, and Master Cheung-yan Yuen and my trainer Tiger Chen told us that pain would become our best friend, I had no idea just how right-on those words would prove to be. One of the most important things they taught me was the difference between PAIN and INJURY. So let’s be really clear: you do not want to get injured. You want to get STRONGER. “One of my favorite sayings is “Pain is weakness leaving your body.” Isn’t that such a great thing to know? When you push through to the other side of pain, you are stronger for it.”
9. Study your pee
“Your body needs about ten cups of water a day to stay hydrated. Feeling thirsty doesn’t just mean that you need water. It means you’ve needed it for a while. Thirst is your body’s way of saying that it’s been toooo long…What color is your pee when you wake up and throughout the day? Generally speaking, a pale yellow color means that you are well-hydrated. A dark yellow color and infrequent urination suggest dehydration”
10. Unpack your habits
“There is no magic potion for health. There is no trick, no pill, no incantation. But there is knowledge, and there is action. And information without action is just a set of facts. If you want health, you must turn information into part of your daily routine, or else all of the time that you invested in reading this book is useless. You might as well use it as a doorstop now.
Information is power only if you USE it. Only if you practice it.”
– The Daily Beast