We live in an obesogenic environment. It’s a world of fast living, sedentary jobs and leisure activities, labour-saving devices, and an overabundance of cheap, accessible, energy-dense, nutrient poor, highly-processed foods. It’s also an environment where a growing majority of people are overweight or obese and those who succeed in shedding weight will often find themselves regaining it (and possibly more) in the 12 months after the fact.

NeuroSlimming looks to address some of these problems and get people to really stop and think about how and why they eat, rather than getting too hung up on what they consume.


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The Man Plan is a no-nonsense health and fitness book specifically designed for the modern individual. It is targeted at men in particular and those who have become complacent about their health and confused by the inundation of messages about fad diets and fitness plans while the Western world battle a burgeoning obesity epidemic. The Man Plan is designed to be practical and offer some real solutions to some big problems that are often overlooked.

The manual is written by former NRL champion, Adam MacDougall. It includes testimonials from MacDougall’s former colleague at the Newcastle Knights, Andrew Johns, coaches Paul Roos and Craig Bellamy and three everyday people who have tried and had success with this program. This book is one that is clearly dear to MacDougall’s heart as he lost his friend Dennis to various lifestyle diseases at an early age. Also, after retiring from professional rugby league in 2011, MacDougall turned to the nutrition industry and started up the Man Shake Company.

This guide features 10 man rules for success and some are quite sensible like always reading nutrition labels, sleeping for at least seven hours a night and eating a good breakfast as well as the very practical “measure it” and “move it”. This book is for people who have let their health take a back-seat because they’re too busy or swamped by the daily grind. MacDougall says that just ten minutes of high intensity exercise using a series of primal moves which he outlines as well as eating properly are a good foundation for success and these don’t necessarily require costly visits to the gym or expensive grocery shopping at organic food stores.

The book also includes 50 recipes that are protein rich. There are options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, sides and snacks. This is not a guidebook filled with rigid or unrealistic dos and don’ts or expensive and inaccessible ingredients. Instead, the recipes use lots of lean meat, vegetables and fruits and even offer tasty favourites like a meat pie and hamburger among the many mouth-watering options.

The Man Plan simplifies the health and fitness message and encourages people to “man up” and be accountable for their health and well-being. This is not about impractical and unachievable solutions, it’s all rather straight-talking and rational and in some ways it argues that it could even save you money. The Man Plan is ultimately a realistic guide from someone who knows their fair share about these topics and at the same time makes it accessible to the modern and everyday man and woman.

Originally published on 3 July 2015 at the following website:

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have we

They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. But if you’re anything like writers Alisa Piper and Cheryl Strayed then it’s also a good idea to have a pen and some paper in your pocket. These two strong and fearless women appeared in conversation with Caroline Baum for the 2013 Sydney Writers’ Festival. What ensued was a frank discussion and description of their unique, life-altering journeys.

Strayed set off on her walk after her mother – and her self-confessed “only parent” – had died. At the time Cheryl was only 22. After some navel-gazing and soul-searching four years would pass and in 1995 she embarked on a 1770 kilometre trek along the Pacific Crest trail through California and Oregon. It was a different world back then but it would ultimately spawn the New York Times best seller, Wild.

Piper’s journey was a thoroughly different one, which she had initially intended to be the subject of a theatre monologue. She walked from Granada to Galicja in Spain chasing an idea not seen since the Middle Ages. She had read that slaves were once paid to carry the burden of people’s sins to the holy land. So she decided to do the same thing for her nearest and dearest. Only problem was that the road was a long one – even for a self-confessed walker – and she came perilously close to committing a misdemeanour or two of her very own.

Neither woman’s tales were designed to be a how-to or survival guide. In the case of Strayed it was almost the opposite, as she would set out with “an impossible to lift pack” that weighed over 35 kilos. Her boots were also the wrong size resulting in her loosing six toenails and both women carried large libraries of books with them. These included ones that they had already read in what was a most impressive form of sadistic punishment.

Although the masses have caught Eat, Pray, Love fever, it’s fair to say that these two women have embarked on their own individual, thought-provoking journeys that ultimately lead towards redemption because they took charge of their own destinies. And as this particular day’s session proved, they completed their mighty tasks with dignity, courage and unreal levels of stamina.

The pair would eventually exorcise some demons and experience some intense feelings and emotions but above all, the exercise was an important one in the getting of wisdom. Having shared their experiences with such forthright honesty there is no doubt in my mind that they had inspired at least a few audience members to go forth and take a walk.

Originally published on 26 May 2013 at the following website:

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bridges book

For many people, keeping their weight under control and making exercise a regular occurrence is often thrown into the “too hard basket”. The Biggest Loser trainer, Michelle Bridges knows all too well about this. The author of six health and fitness books should be left with nothing more to say about these issues. But her latest work, Your Best Body looks set to become as popular as her previous books, Losing the Last Five Kilos, Crunch Time and the No Excuses Cookbook.

In Your Best Body Bridges adopts a holistic approach. She says it’s not just about diet and exercise; it’s about re-empowering people to seize control. This involves adopting the best thinking processes, completing the best training and accompanying this with the right diet to ultimately get those coveted “slammin’ shoulders”, a tight mid-section and “shapely legs”. It all sounds great on an aesthetic level but there are also the added health benefits. She also keeps things simple by recommending that you track your progress with just two sets of numbers- your waist measurement and blood pressure.

Bridges has heard every excuse in the book. She’s worked as a personal trainer and fitness instructor for over two decades and she got her first taste of this world when she ran fitness classes at her own high school. Perhaps as a result of this experience, she teaches us first and foremost to change your mind-set. You should look at your body as being “perfect” (no matter if it’s 10 or 20+ kilos overweight). She describes the body as an enduring and efficient mechanism that is only in part determined by genetics and one that responds well to changes to routine with time.

The book is a quick but interesting read. There will be some things you already know, other things people should know (but perhaps ignore) and some important new ideas and thoughts. She focuses first and foremost on thinking better and steering clear of negativity or beating yourself up (over not sticking to new year’s resolutions and diet plans, to ultimately show that gradual, progressive improvements will lead to more successful long-term results.

In addition to the section dedicated to psychology and thought processes are stories from some of the people she’s helped. There is also an extensive section about training. It is here that cardio and weight-training exercises are described in detail and accompanied by useful photographs. Bridges also gives us a two-week sample program and an example of an exercise logbook. The former is a one-size-fits-all approach that may not suit all fitness levels but it should give people something they can build towards.

The final section of Your Best Body is dedicated to information about food and nutrients, including Michelle’s own list of superfoods and recipes. To qualify as a superfood in Michelle’s mind, it had to be readily available, naturally low in calories, inexpensive and have its nutrition claims adequately backed up. Most of these superfoods are naturally fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains, but some types of meat and fish are also included.

The recipes are generally accompanied by large, full-page photographs which show off all of the colourful and tasty ingredients. There is a simple sardine salad sandwich, baked apples and a tomato, and mushroom and parsley Bruschetta for novice chefs. Some more advanced options include a red prawn curry, baked dessert ricotta, Chinese steamed whole whiting and a beef and silver beet stir-fry. The cooking and preparation times range from just five minutes to over two and a half hours.

It seems like the health and fitness brigade may have been fighting a losing battle against obesity and inactivity for some time. But Michelle Bridges is just one individual that’s on a crusade to get people fitter and healthier than ever before. Your Best Body contains the useful and fundamental building blocks to help train and re-program your thinking and to shake-up your daily routine. The holistic approach offers handy tools that are vital to know and to incorporate into daily life. And as Bridges says, your body underpins everything, from relationships with family and friends to careers and other expectations. And there is nothing in life that’s more important than that.

Originally published on 15 February 2013 at the following website:

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