“Balanced Days, Balanced Lives” Book Review

balanced-days-balanced-lives-bookA book of recipes, personal stories, food photography, and answers the ongoing question “How do I lose weight in a healthy way and keep it off for life?”

With the rising obesity rates all over the world, the challenge of losing weight and subsequently controlling it in a healthy and happy way has become an obsession.

The publishers of the 306-page book, Balanced Days, Balanced Lives (ISBN 978-1-936292-00-4) at PrePak products are starting what co-author Jim Ray likes to call “a quiet revolution” in the way people view diets and food choices.

The book itself contains 402 color photographs of people who have solved this riddle, as well as gorgeous food photography that accompanies the simple recipes that make up 42 nutritionally balanced days. The book was written and compiled by family members Jim, Pam and Michael Ray, and includes personal success stories of several individuals. It also introduces NutriMirror.com, a free online tool for tracking calories and exercise that focuses on health, rather than weight loss.

You Cannot Manage What You Cannot Measure

Everyone who has ever considered a fad diet knows that the basic tenets of long term, sustainable weight loss are always the same:

  • Eat fewer calories than are burned in exercise and activity.
  • Learn proper portion control.
  • Don’t cut enjoyable foods entirely, but exercise moderation.
  • Exercise.
  • Eat wholesome, nutritious foods.

Ostensibly, that seems very simple. However, based on the project management catchphrase “you cannot manage what you cannot measure,” nutritional labels are full of valuable information about the products packaged behind them, but few people know how to decipher the numbers and percentages, let alone how to add them up in any useful way to monitor day to day food intake.

Navigating this maze can feel close to impossible. Not to mention the fact that many food items have been intentionally mislabeled as “healthy” for marketing purposes, suggesting that they benefit weight loss and weight control when they offer little to no tangible proof of these benefits.

Jim Ray and his family discovered that the key to lifelong health and weight maintenance was to be able to measure, monitor and track food intake, and exercise output, using a nutritional “mirror” in the same way people can monitor daily appearance and comb a stray hair with a real mirror.

Balance is the Ultimate Goal

One of the guiding truths of Nutrimirror, and Balanced Days, Balanced Lives is this: “The key to lifelong health is finding pleasure in the choices that bring us to balance.”

The casual observer will notice that there are no “bad” foods in this book. Nothing is off limits.

There are plenty of calories, sugar, and fats in many of the dishes, as well as whole grains, fresh vegetables and delectable meats. Treats, desserts and processed foods still find their ways onto the pages. This is because the message is that this unforgiving “all or nothing” approach that people have become accustomed to is severely out of balance with their lives.

The message behind Balanced Days, Balanced Lives is a simple one: one bite at a time, one day at a time, members are given the information they need in order make good choices that help them lead full, healthy, and happy lives that don’t revolve around weight loss or “diet foods” or limitations.

Balancing is Lifelong, There is no After

Out of this comes “Balanced Days, Balanced Lives,” the stories of 42 members of Nutrimirror. These individuals tell their stories of struggling with weight loss or gain, and how the online food log has helped them meet their weight and health goals. In addition to “before” and “now” photographs of each spotlighted member, each person’s entry also includes a typical day of balanced, healthy eating, including recipes and ideas for achieving balanced nutrition for readers.

The book includes “superstars” from the social community on the website, including Lynn Matava, who is a blogger and writer in her own right. Lynn is known for her love of ancient grains like quinoa and amaranth, and has coined the key phrase “Love the foods that love you back.” Also featured is Nutrimirror’s weekly columnist Kel Beaudoin, who often remind members “do what you’ve always done, get what you’ve always gotten.”

The Nutrimirror founders, Pamela and Jim Ray are also featured in the book, along with a number of the other leaders in the community, known to many only by their usernames, like USAndyD, who is traveling the country camping in state and national forests and still living with balanced nutrition and wholesome foods.

One of the things the book and the website offer to the general reader is the relief of knowing that he or she is not alone in struggling to take back control of health and weight issues. The vulnerable, first person accounts are tear-jerking and filled with hope.

One Piece of the Puzzle

The book illustrates how people can strive to balance out the slice of chocolate cake with a helping of leafy greens. Recipes include everything from each individual’s personal “green” day, which is the website’s terminology for a day with the optimum number of calories for that individual, without too much cholesterol or sodium, and with plenty of fiber, iron, and other essential nutrients. These recipes encompass filling and fun breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks.

Nutritionists, MDs, DOs, nurses and naturopathic physicians all approve of and recommend Nutrimirror.com and the book is a nice introduction to the tool.

It has been very well received among the membership of the site, given that many of those covered are familiar online friends. To those unfamiliar with Nutrimirror, or with the community there, the book may feel incomplete. There’s a mention of this tool online, but no way to achieve these results without it. Though the site is free, and there is no “catch,” there are some who might feel like the book does not offer enough information on achieving nutritional balance without the online tool.

The book presents the site as an antidote to the packaged lies that are hidden in processed foods and industrial messages about health. “Unfortunately, it’s much easier to sell a miracle — or rather a mirage — than to sell the difficult truth that the only guaranteed method for lifetime weight control does not come in a package” (Balanced Days, Balanced Lives, Jim Ray, p 12).

Courtesy of Suite 101.

You may also like:

Healing With Whole Foods

Dance For a Great Workout

My Favorite Fast and Furious Fitness Moves

© Copyright 2011  Allison Stuart Kaplan  www.Askinyourface.com LLC

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