Is there anything better than the promise and clean slate of January? I have made all the resolutions, bought all the essential oils, and started all the new journals to make this year my very best year of wellness yet. I’ll admit—I’m a bit of an annoying wellness pusher this time of year.
Below are the wellness books I’ve got on my nightstand (or in my kitchen) this January, a month when I’m all about resetting my intentions for the year. I’m kicking off the year with the Whole30, so forgive the two books related to this program.
The Whole30 Day by Day: Your Daily Guide to Whole30 Success by Melissa Hartwig Urban
The first time I heard about the Whole30 was from a personal trainer I used while preparing for my wedding. The idea of no alcohol, no sugar, no grains, and no dairy (at least) was a bit too daunting for me. The first time I actually attempted the Whole30 was after my first son was born. I lasted 10 days, then uncorked a bottle of wine. So this January is my second try, and this time I’m definitely doing it (I write to you from Day 12, but feel free to check in on Day 30). The reason why? This time I’m not just trying to lose weight (although yes, that’d be great), and I’m using this Whole30 journal to inspire me and keep me on track. The Whole30 Day by Day has truly been my secret weapon to staying on course. Already my skin is clearer, my joints are less swollen, and I’m sleeping better. Apart from the Whole30 101 you’ll get in the beginning of this journal, each days breaks down how you’re likely feeling (it’s eerily accurate), offers some motivation directly from Urban, and includes a spot to record what went well, what didn’t, and what you’ll do tomorrow. You also get space to record your meals, your Non-Scale Victories, and—best of all—a spot to make a big ol’ check mark to say that you completed Day X. (This is especially gratifying.) I’ve always struggled with making time to journal at the beginning and end of each day, but this journal has had the side benefit of getting me into this practice. If you’re doing Whole30—or playing around with the idea of doing it—this journal is worth every single penny.
The Whole30 Friends & Family: 150 Recipes for Every Social Occasion by Melissa Hartwig Urban
There are now a number of Whole30 cookbooks, and while I find myself cooking more regularly from The Whole30 Fast & Easy and The Whole30 Slow Cooker, I’ve been loving the newest addition, The Whole30 Friends & Family. The ultimate test of the recipes in this book was serving for the results to friends not on Whole30 and having them exclaim over how delicious the creamy buffalo dip and warm artichoke dip was. (I’m into dips; what can I say?) The Spicy Pumpkin Power Bites were a popular addition to a team meeting at work, and my husband and I enjoyed the Buffalo Chicken Frittata for a few breakfasts last week. I love that Urban is solving the problem of how to be social while undertaking the Whole30. In real life, it’s nearly impossible to find a month that doesn’t have some sort of occasion that could serve as an excuse to deviate from this clean eating reset. Even January is riddled with post-holiday parties and celebrations for those pesky people who have the audacity to be born this month. In chapters such as Game Day (February Whole30 anyone?), Date Night, Office Potluck, and Road Trip, Urban makes staying social and healthy possible. This food is tasty, and filling. You won’t feel like you’re depriving yourself, and if nothing else, this book will give you a new appreciation for everything you can do with the humble cashew.
Martha, Martha, Martha! As a longtime reader of Martha Stewart Living, I’ve always been envious of Martha’s monthly calendars where she schedules activities like “sharpen gardening tools,” “organize holiday photos,” and “take inventory of spring cleaning supplies.” Let’s just say that this is more aspirational than realistic for me, a person who frequently wears mismatched socks. But just looking at this beautiful book makes me feel calm and happy, so I’m letting Martha guide me through the three sections: “Organize Your Year,” “Organize Your Home,” and “Organize Your Routine.” Organize Your Year is a year of monthly calendars, the Martha way. Organize Your Home takes different rooms, like Kitchen, then breaks them down into smaller areas to organize, like Refrigerator and Freezer or Kitchen Island. I’m a sucker for the “Organize Your Routine” section, which could be subtitled “How to be like Martha.” Sections like Laundry, Garden, and Home include strategies and schedules to keep your house and life running smoothly. The Supplies lists of “Essentials” versus “Extras” are especially helpful for me in sections like gardening where I have no idea what I’m doing. I would love the luxury to spend a week with just this book to get 2020 on track. Please check in with me in January 2021, when I will be known as “Sarah Gelman, a Seattle-based Martha Stewart.” Hey, it could happen.
The Self-Care Solution: A Year of Becoming Happier, Healthier, and Fitter—One Month at a Time by Jennifer Ashton, M.D.
I’m generally someone who reads books in one gulp, but with this one, I’m going to take it month by month. So while I’ve read the Introduction and January chapters, I’m not reading any further until it’s closer to February. This book is organized into months, and provides readers with a monthly challenge to improve their happiness and health. I looked at this book for a preview a few months back, and was terrified of January as a dry month. But here I am, doing the Whole30 (per above) and not missing wine anywhere near as much as I thought I would. Ashton—the ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent, as well as a doctor and nutritionist—not only details her personal experience with each challenge (My Story), but also the science behind the why and motivation and success tips for the reader (Your Story). From the Dry January chapter, I learned “that drinking one glass of wine daily gives you 850 extra calories per week and nearly 3,500 extra calories per month—the equivalent of a pound of fat.” I love the idea of having a book for the year, and my inner Gretchen Rubin tells me that breaking the year into manageable chunks will ultimately lead me to be more successful in improving my wellness than trying to bite off more than I can chew on January 1. I’ve already given this book to a friend and recommended it to my mother—it’s one of those kinds of books you just want to share. I’ll try to provide regular updates on how I’m doing with Ashton’s monthly challenges.
You might also like:
- Wellness Wednesday: Sarah Adler on real food, rituals, and morning bevvies
- Editors' picks: Best books of 2019
- Celebrity picks - See what your favorite authors are reading and loving
- All ears: The Amazon Book Review Podcast
- Editors' picks: Best books of the Month
- Book award winners
Sign up for the Amazon Book Review: Best books of the month * author interviews * the reading life * and more