Interesting facts about food and the body I learned from reading “The Body Book” by Cameron Diaz
Hope you had a great weekend! Buckle up for a long one today!
It’s time for our second official book review of an A Lady Goes West Book Club book, and this time we’re talking about “The Body Book” by Cameron Diaz. Rather than do a straight review, I wanted to put this information into a post with tips and insight for anyone, whether you’ve had a chance to read the book or not, because there’s some great content in the book worthy of sharing.
Book review of “The Body Book: The Law of Hunger, the Science of Strength and Other Ways to Love Your Amazing Body” by Cameron Diaz
This book is several years old (from 2013), but I had always heard good things and so I really wanted to read it. Here’s the deal with this book — it somehow is good for people with all levels of health and fitness knowledge — from the newbie to the more well-versed. While I was way into it for the first half, I found that I lost a bit of interest toward the second half, as it started to slow down a bit in the middle — but overall, it’s full of delicious and easy-to-understand valid information that you don’t always see in all the latest trendy wellness articles you may read online. I’m talking details on your cells, the intestines, micronutrients, the functions of certain muscles in the body, how the heart works, real chemistry and so much more.
“In this book, there is no goal to reach in 7 days of 30 days or 365 days. The goal here is forever. And what you will earn is measured not in pounds or inches lot, but in what you will gain.”
There’s a ton of science in “The Body Book” and it’s well-written for sure. The chapters are broken up this way …
- Part 1: Nutrition – Love Your Hunger
- Part 2: Fitness – The Body Wants to be Strong
- Part 3: Mind – You’ve Got This
Cameron Diaz, a Hollywood celeb and an unlikely author, wrote the book because she grew up pretty unhealthy and when she finally started exercising and learning about nutrition, her whole life changed, and she wanted to share it with the world. She used a co-author, and together they created a textbook. A good one. And she says:
“Educating yourself about your body is one of the most important things that you can do. Because nutrition and fitness and awareness and discipline are not just words: they are tools.”
I love the fact that this book is about understanding the science of the body to have the power to know the truth — rather than have to be a bystander hearing a bunch of misinformation.
Three cheers for being knowledgable and empowered to take your health and fitness into your own hands. Now let’s get to those facts.
1. The actual health benefits of exertion, exercise and movement
Our bodies are meant to move. And exercise is WAY more than improving your aesthetics.
Even though modern society is trying to make everything we need in life as convenient as possible so that we don’t have to leave our chairs, we’re built to move, to seek, to hunt, to build and to find. So you’ve got to move! In addition to exercise, moving around during the day is key. And how cool is it to see the actual tangible benefits of a walk, workout or physical game?
Here’s what happens when you start to exercise and move, pulled directly from the book.
Within seconds of exerting yourself (exercising) …
Your heart rate increases, blood is delivered to your muscles, you start burning carbs and fat for fuel, you get an almost immediate mood boost and you breathe faster and deeper, making more oxygen available to your working muscles.
An hour after exerting yourself …
You’ve strengthened your immune system, your mood is still boosted and your body continues to burn energy at a higher rate (your metabolism is increased).
Later in the evening after exerting yourself …
Your muscles are recovering and rebuilding, your blood lipid (cholesterol triglycerides) profile will improve, your body will clear glucose more rapidly from the blood, which prevents hearts disease and diabetes, you feel alert and focused and your sleep quality will improve.
A week into your exercise program …
You have improved your endurance and aerobic fitness (you can go longer and harder than before), your body is benefiting from a stronger immune system, a better mood and lower blood pressure.
Three to six months into your exercise program …
You’ve improved the fitness of your heart and lungs, your heart rate is lower at rest and recovers more quickly after exercise, you have improved the size and strength of your muscles, you’ve decreased your body fat, you’ve reduced your risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis, you’ve reduced your risk of depression, anxiety and stress and you’ve improved your overall quality of life.
I mean, wow. That’s a HOST of benefits just from moving your body more often and more regularly.
The takeaway: Everyone needs to exercise in some way. You don’t have to go hard, you don’t have to go to a gym, but you must move. Being active all day (rather than sitting) is important, but so are little sessions of getting your heart-rate up regularly. It’s not just about appearance, it’s about all of the benefits for your body and mood and life shown above. How to start? A daily power walk, maybe 15-20 minutes, swinging your arms and going a quick pace. Then you can add on from there.
2. You are what you eat. Literally.
Our bodies are made of cells. Our cells need nutrition. We get nutrition from food, and food has macronutrients (carbs, fats and proteins) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). However, a lot of what we’ve started eating in the modern American diet isn’t helping us, it’s hurting us. It’s devoid of those important micronutrients. Cameron says …
“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, and poop it out.”
As we’ve created more convenience in our lives and let other people become responsible for our nutrition and make what we call “food” over the past 100 years (yes fast food and packaged food has not been around very long), we’ve lost the true knowledge we need of seeking out, preparing and eating quality and real food for ourselves.
When Cameron was younger she ate a ton of fast food. She was always pretty skinny so thought she was just lucky, but she struggled with acne, low energy, bloating, poor digestion, etc.. When she finally started eating mostly whole real foods instead of packaged, processed and fast foods — her skin cleared up, the brain fog lifted and she felt like a new person. She realized that you really are what you eat. The quality of the food she consumed directly related to how she felt and how she saw life too.
The food we consume over the course of the day creates the experiences we have that day. Because what we eat carries the stuff of life — our lives.
Although fast food and junk is on every corner, that doesn’t mean we should be eating it regularly. While I’m not saying (and Cameron is not saying) that you can’t swing through a drive-through every now and again, it shouldn’t be the base of your diet. Eating foods that you cooked or that someone else healthily cooked for you is a smarter choice, when food is closer to its natural state. Like scrambled eggs, sliced apple and avocado and even some grilled fish. This type of meal feeds your cells macronutrients and valuable micronutrients WAY better than a fast food meal or processed food full of chemicals, artificial colors and preservatives, which disrupts your hormones and bodily functions, ultimately leaving you feeling like garbage.
Nutrition is truly worth your attention. And this book is a great reminder, that if you are having health issues — look to your nutrition to begin, rather than immediately searching for medicine.
The takeaway: Eat more fruits, veggies, lean meats, whole grains and food in its natural state in order to get all the valuable micronutrients and feed your cells the way nature intended. If you’re a big processed food/fast food eater — replace just one meal or snack a day with fruit or a home-cooked meal to start and go from there.
3. Quick facts
The most common nutrient deficiency in the world is iron deficiency, which causes anemia.
- Women are more likely to be deficient than men, and pregnant women, vegetarians, people with intestinal disorders who can’t absorb iron or women with heavy periods are more likely to be anemic. Tiredness, dizziness, shortness of breath, cold hands and feet and rapid heartbeat are symptoms. Foods that boost your iron include meat, fish, poultry, whole grains, eggs, legumes, dried fruits, dark leafy veggies like spinach, collard greens and kale, fortified cereals and grains. The body needs a little help to absorb iron from plant sources, so add vitamin C to help with the process, by including lemon juice, strawberries or tomatoes when you’re eating your iron-full veggies.
Your digestive system is the epicenter of your health.
- When you eat or drink, the food or liquid enters a tube in your mouth, which is approximately 30-feet long inside the body, and digestion can take up to 72 hours total, depending on your body type and what or how much you’ve eaten. The healthier your digestive system, the better it processes food and absorbs the nutrients from the food. Digestion begins in the mouth with chewing, continues down the esophagus and into the stomach — in the stomach food is mixed with gastric juices and enzymes, then much of the digestion and absorption of nutrients happens in the small intestine. A lot of stuff goes on in the small intestine, with help from the pancreas as well, and macronutrients are broken down there too. From there, everything moves to the liver, and then finally the energy that is extracted from the food is delivered to your cells via blood, and your body eliminates the excess leftover waste in three ways: sweat, pee and poop. (This is a tiny bit of an over-simplification, but a helpful way to look at digestion, nonetheless.)
Your body is trying to talk to you and your body wants to survive.
- Many people try to ignore what their bodies are saying, but really your body is talking to you. Your body has created a lot of warning signs to alert you when things aren’t quite right. For instance, you may get indigestion when you eat something that isn’t the best for your body, you may get a headache when you’re dehydrated, and you get sleepy and your eyes close when you’re tired and need more rest. It’s our job to learn to pay attention to these signals from the body and answer and respond naturally — without just jumping to medicine and quick fixes. If you have trouble listening to your body, try to take time to relax, make space, sit quietly and see how your body feels. Breathe a lot and deeply, in through your nose and out through your mouth and just soak it up and think about what your body is saying to you. It may sound airy, but I think it’s a great idea to check in with your body as much as you can. Makes so much sense, right?
Pros of “The Body Book”
- The science. The chemistry. The research.
- The writing. I love the personal stories from Cameron and her career, mixed in with the facts and research. It’s pretty enjoyable, especially when she throws in tidbits from filming movies and getting in shape for roles. In fact, it was her role in “Charlie Angel’s” that forced her to get into fitness to prepare for the stunts, and she never looked back.
- Chapter 10 — All about what different micronutrients do for your body and which foods you can get them from. Such a helpful list.
- Chapter 21 — All about the lady parts. An essential chapter for women to read and soak up about your body, period, hormones and more. So much yes to this chapter and monitoring and understanding your cycles!
- The final portion, all about mind/body connection talks so much about loving yourself, aging gracefully (YESSS), how to meal prep, learn to find fitness activities that work for you and how to slow down and relax. It’s the perfect end to a pretty meaty book with real tips you can use. Love that.
Cons of “The Body Book”
- Not too many.
- Because it’s a few years old, there aren’t any sections of some of the latest Eastern techniques, holistic medicine or any of the popular diet crazes. While I don’t want to read about keto or intermittent fasting again, I do think some new research has come out about some of the food choices she mentions. For instance, Diaz suggests soy milk as a great way to get calcium and protein, and I mean, nobody’s drinking soy milk any longer. Are you? However, being armed with the knowledge of good nutrition and good movement will always be relevant.
- Oh and Cameron doesn’t like sugar foods and talks a lot about the danger of sugar. I know the danger of sugar. But I won’t live a life without dessert, so I didn’t particularly latch onto that section. 🙂
Overall thoughts on “The Body Book”
Overall, I really loved that this is a celebrity-based health book, but it’s full of facts and not fluff. I absorbed a lot of new stuff, had a refresher of some of the things that I’ve learned while studying to become a certified personal trainer, and just felt motivated to live my best life — taking control of my body with what I eat and how I move — ultimately thinking about how the body really works.
And once you know how your cells need micronutrients and your body needs to move — that doesn’t mean you can’t have cake and lounge days — it just means you try to make the best choices you can most of the time, and sometimes the right choice for you will be to hit up Taco Bell with your friends, but MOST of the time, it won’t be.
“The Body Book” is definitely a valuable book, and one that I’ll keep on the bookshelf to refer back to in the future when I need it. And if you know someone trying to learn more about their health and change their life, I’d totally recommend gifting them a copy.
We’re going to read something MUCH lighter for the next A Lady Goes West Book Club, so hop on over and join the group if you’re interested.
Other posts you may also like …
- Three important health lessons I learned from reading “The Longevity Book”
- Positive thoughts and a book review of “You Are a Badass”
- Three health and wellness books that changed my life
- The best health, wellness and fitness podcasts
Thanks so much for reading! Have an awesome day, my friends!
Questions of the day for YOU …
Have you read “The Body Book”? What did you think?
Fiction or non-fiction, what’s your favorite to read?
Do you have any recommendations for the next book club book? Fiction or non?
I’m only part way through this book but the 2 parts you pointed out that resonated with me most are: you are what you eat and your digestive system is the epicenter of your health. Since going through years and years of digestive struggles, these two go hand in hand for me. I don’t remember what it’s like to eat and not have pain afterwards. But I have been able to narrow down a couple things to eliminate, which definitely has helped.
I like the fact that she mixes normal experiences with science. It makes it relatable yet informative.
Thanks for the takeaways! I was interested to see what you’d say about this even though I haven’t finished it yet. Happy Labor Day to you and your boys ♥️
Hi Court! I hate to hear about your digestive issues, because I imagine that’s SOOO hard and affects a lot of things. I hope you keep trying new methods and are able to figure out how to manage it better and better as time goes by. But yes, about this book — it’s a good one to keep working through, even if it’s slow and you read other things at the same time. Happy Labor Day to you too! Enjoy your day!! 🙂
Thanks friend. I appreciate you understanding that it does affect so many other things because it really does. It definitely stinks but it’s the hand I’ve been dealt and that’s ok. Yes I for sure will continue trying new things and exploring eastern medicine options. Xo
Yessss to all the Eastern medicine options available. Sending you lots of love! 🙂
Loved reading all of this. I haven’t read the book, but had not idea it had so much science backed in it. I love reading facts about health and fitness. I’ll be adding it to my must read list. You know I usually like getting lost in fiction books and am currently reading A Stranger in the House, which I think I’ll finish in just a few days because of the suspense! I’ve found regardless of what you’re reading it’s a great way to spark conversation with friends.
Hi Patricia! Totally, and I went for several months when Brady was young without having a book or reading at all and I missed it — it’s nice to have something you’re working through (like The Body Book) even if it takes you a while. I totally need to read more fiction! Have an awesome day, lady! 🙂
I enjoyed her second book as well, just as well written! I find fiction more enjoyable to read, but I listen to plenty of nonfiction books and read ones I’m very interested in, rather than listen. So many good books, so little time!
Hi Jessie! Good to know, maybe I’ll buy her second book too! 🙂 And you know, I’ve never listened to an audio book — I totally should. Hope you have a wonderful day, lady!!
Love this review! I’m always hesitant to read health type books from celebrities but this one sounds like it is very research based which I always appreciate!
I just started reading “girl wash your face” because I’ve heard SO much about it and am enjoying it! It’s a quick read which I like right now!
Look forward to hearing about the next book club choice!!
Hi Marielle! I actually ended up ordering “Girl Wash Your Face” too and it should be here soon. I just wanted to know what all the hype was about. And I feel you on celebrity books, not always excited about those, and I’ve read some bad ones (like the Kristin Cavallari) one — so not worth it hahah. Hope your Labor Day is amazing! 🙂
I am reading it now, and am really enjoying it. There is lots of information I learned in school (I am a Nurse Practitioner) but still find it a great review and reminder of things I had forgotten. I agree with much of her advise thus far, however, I don’t believe you need to eliminate sugar. I love my daily treat. I must finish my day with a little ice cream!
Hi Eugenia! That’s awesome you learned a lot of the stuff from the book in school — what a cool job you have! I also DO NOT like the eliminate sugar advice. Life is too short to say no to cake or ice cream. I mean, not after every single meal, but you know heheh! Thanks so much for saying hello, lady! 🙂
Amen about sugar!
I did the audio version of “Girl, Wash Your Face” from Hoopla (it’s free!) and absolutely loved it. I really liked how she structures the book by starting with “lies I’ve believed” and ending the chapter with “things that helped me”. Looking forward to seeing what you think, Ashley!
Oh cool! I look forward to reading it! I didn’t know you could get free audiobooks! That’s awesome! 🙂 Thanks for that, lady!
I didn’t either, but I found out about it via a blog and I think it’s the greatest thing! All you need is the Hoopla app and a library card.