Fit To Print
With many good choices, it comes down to a few special books
I would not only buy "Fit KIDS"" (DK, $20), I'd give it to friends with little kids. The 203-page hardbound book is produced by the experts from KidsHealth.org as a practical guide to raising healthy, active children. I found it immensely helpful, exceedingly clear, and pleasant to look through. It feels especially essential as news about the health of our children seems to grow worse with each year.
"Fit KIDS" tackles issues of weight, fitness and nutrition in a concise, constructive manner. It is divided into color-coordinated chapters for a series of age groups: newborns, toddlers, preschool children, kids 6 to 12 and teens. Included, are those "special cases" kids with disabilities; kids with food allergies; heavy kids; kids driven to become top athletes.
It provides recipes and tips to get your kids to eat healthier, leave the couch and remove themselves from TV and computer screens. Here are a few of the overall strategies it tries to get across:
You control the supply lines.
You offer the food options; kids choose which ones to take and whether to eat them all or not.
Drink the right calories. Pop crowds out nutrition.
Be a role model. Show, not just tell, your child how to be healthy and active.
I learned a lot reading this book and began applying it to my kids, ages 10 and 13. Because of an injury, my daughter had to sit out of gymnastics for the summer. I devised a jogging challenge for her and even sucked it up and joined her. Soon, one of her friends joined the effort.
For more information: KidsHealth.org.
In the 300-page "Complete Book of Running," edited by Amby Burfoot, executive editor for Runner's World magazine, a number of world-class runners and coaches provide insight. They suggest and advise on everything from how beginners can get hooked to what to eat.
The women's guide is peppered with pep talks. In the opening chapter, titled "Inspired Running," author Sam Murphy (a woman) addresses the common reasons not to run: too boring, too hard on the knees, too hard, not competitive enough, too embarrassing. She discusses in the 170-page book how to start, build and endure a running program. She describes proper posture, how to tackle hills, the advantages of going off-road.
Both books are attractive, filled with full-color illustrations and logically designed. I'm not a runner, but I found myself going the distance through both of them.
Yee, a well-established instructor with 26 fitness videos to his credit, works with writer Nina Zolotow to bring a tranquil presentation of yoga's benefits amid the screech of marketing that has surrounded the ancient discipline. The "8 weeks" part of the title screams gimmick, but the book itself struck me as a calm, relatively easy-to-understand program.
"Being present" represents the first week and is explained as "the act of engaging your mind in a physical sensation that is arising," or "the way the breath is moving is a great way to train your mind to be present."
Yee's perfect poses will be the easiest part of the book for beginners to understand, but it is his goal to integrate the whole of yoga.
"Conquering Depression and Anxiety through Exercise" (Prometheus Books, $20) is a bit off the beaten fitness path, but it tackles an important and intensely studied subject. The book can't compete with the fancy designs that highlight the other books on this list, but it is worthwhile in the population it seeks to help.
Keith Johnsgard, emeritus professor of psychology at San Jose State, writes it. He has long explored the subject and has run more than 32,000 miles in his life.
A chapter I especially liked comes near the end and is titled, "Doing It." That's where he takes on the excuses, such as why we "can't" walk somewhere instead of drive and why we "can't" take time out for ourselves.
Richard Seven is a Pacific Northwest magazine staff writer.
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