Thursday, February 14, 2008

Natural Superwoman

By Uzzi Reiss and Yfat Reiss Gendell. Penguin, 2007. (review copy) When I saw that Mother Talk was hosting a blog tour for this book I jumped right in. I am always interested in books about how to live healthier. Natural Superwoman is the kind of book that is loaded with information about nutrition, diet, exercise, and supplements that are recommended to optimize your energy and renew your health.

Riess structures his program on something he calls the "four basic principles, or four pillars woman can arm herself with: the nutrition pillar, the activity maintenance pillar, the hormone balance pillar, and the mind and mood pillar." The book is broken down into sections describing and explaining the details of each "pillar". I found much of the information to be very basic things that are commonly presented as principles of good health. Whole foods, less caffeine, moderate regular exercise, deep, relaxed breathing, visualization for stress-reduction, healthy social connections, and knowing your own body's signals for good health are all discussed extensively. I didn't find anything particularly new on these subjects.

Reiss has a lot of information on bioidentical hormones, which he highly recommends. He says, "Once you understand how powerfully and safely your hormones can support you and your goals when their lives are optimized, you will understand why I believe that all Natural Superwomen should make the personal decision to supplement their hormones." Later he adds, "I invite you to consider what it would be like to recapture the parts of yourself that you consider to be the best; that is, aspects of your identity that you may no longer be able to experience. You can begin recapturing that power today." To me that reads like an informercial. I'm at an age where I have begun to pay attention to the debates over hormone replacement and I am interested in his theories and programs. I have to say though that I'm skeptical of his claims because of his presentation. He strikes me as a mite condescending.

I'll tell you the things he says that I like to hear:

In the chapter on Stress he recommends a three fold approach to managing stress.
  1. Identify the onset and source of stress.
  2. Visualize: acknowledge your agitated reaction with an inner discussion and with visualization of a calm scene.
  3. Breathe - take several deep and full breaths.
He says that just by recognizing, acknowledging and responding to stress triggers we can make a difference in how our body manages daily stress. Addressing the underlying causes allows you to make necessary changes to reduce the stress. Reintroducing calm, relaxing activities into your life keeps you healthier. Makes sense to me.

In the chapter on how to use diet to control depression her recommends high-quality, high-cocoa-content chocolate (among other things). YES. I am down with that.

For the rest of the book, I could take it or leave it. You can read more reviews from other women that liked the book more than I did at the Mother Talk blog tour here. You can read about it at these links too:

I'd love to hear what books you've read about women's health. What have you found that you really love? What would you suggest? What are you looking for?


Los Angelista said...

Very interesting stuff that sounds very common sense. I don't know why I don't read more about women's health, but I don't. I should really change that.

Lela Davidson said...

I was torn between wanting to believe it all so that I would be a superwoman, and feeling like all that tweaking might make me more of a Stepford wife!
I love love love Christiane Northrup. She wrote Women's Bodies Women's Wisdom. She's got another one out on menopause, but I haven't had the heart to pick it up yet! I'm not sure what her stance on hormones is, but I love her perspective on other things. Thanks for stopping by Bubbly.

Cloudscome said...

Lela that is exactly what I thought. "All that tweaking..." gives me the willies.

I woke up this morning thinking that I hadn't really said enough in this review about all the hormones stuff in the book. It's really the heart of his book: every detail of why he wants us to be taking a long list of bioidentical hormone supplements. I just don't have the interest to dissect all his prescriptions. I'd rather eat whole foods in balance, do tai chi, go for a walk and play with my kids.

Maybe in a few years I will be more interested in reading a book by a man who says women flock to him. Who knows.

Songbird said...

You had me at "high-quality, high-cocoa-content chocolate."