Monday, February 1, 2010

Some reviews...

Well, you already know by now that I have been following The Maker's Diet since the beginning of the year (yeah, I know - a really long time).  In addition to reading the book, I also picked up The Maker's Diet: Shopper's Guide.  Recently, I checked a book out of the library that has a similar approach to nutrition that The Maker's Diet has, Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats (wow, that's a really long name!).  This book was written by Sally Fallon, the current president and treasurer on the board of directors of the Weston A. Price Foundation.  While this book is - as the title suggests - primarily a cookbook, it is also loaded with information that challenges current tenets of nutrition.  So, how do these books fit together?

Essentially, the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) "is dedicated to restoring nutrient-dense foods to the human diet through education, research and activism. It supports a number of movements that contribute to this objective including accurate nutrition instruction, organic and biodynamic farming, pasture-feeding of livestock, community-supported farms, honest and informative labeling, prepared parenting and nurturing therapies."  Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats is based on the nutrition principles promoted by the WAPF.  It exposes the dangers of processed foods and other things that are commonly accepted as health food.  About 90% of the book is devoted to recipes and preparation instructions in addition to information about the various recipes.  Honestly, I have only read the first section of the book and briefly scanned through the various recipes but I am impressed thus far.  I would definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting to move away from processed foods and toward a more natural diet.

The Maker's Diet is essentially a subset of Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.  It takes the tenets of the WAPF and goes a little further.  Where the WAPF allows for the consumption of bacon and other pork products (though Nourishing Traditions does mention that "in the laboratory, pork is one of the best mediums for feeding the growth of cancer cells.") while The Maker's Diet does not.  The Maker's Diet takes a look at nutrition as detailed by the Bible.  For example, the Old Testament labels pork as 'unclean' and not intended for human consumption.  Similarly to the WAPF, The Maker's Diet rules out all processed foods including refined sugar and white flour.
As to the differences between The Maker's Diet and The Maker's Diet: Shopper's Guide: both books are, of course, describing the same diet.  The former has a lot more text describing and supporting the diet while the latter is very streamlined.  There is essentially no new information in The Maker's Diet: Shopper's Guide.  It is a compact version of the original book.  I provides a more expanded listing of sample meal plans, but other than that it simply repeats the recommended food lists and recipes (most of which are actually reprinted from Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats) from the original.  I would not recommend buying both books - you simply don't need them both.  However, I was grateful that I had them both when I loaned one to a friend and still had the other to refer to.  Of the two, I would suggest that you pick up The Maker's Diet and not The Maker's Diet: Shopper's Guide.  If you plan to have a partner participate in the diet with you (that does not live in your household), have your partner get a copy of The Maker's Diet: Shopper's Guide so that you can swap and get the benefits of both books.

As previously mention, I had rented The Biggest Loser for the Wii.  I have since been able to give it a try.  I have to say that the workout it offers is a lot more intense than that offered by the Wii Fit Plus and it can be used with or without the balance board.  The Biggest Loser 'game' provides the opportunity to record an estimated caloric consumption while also providing a recommended calorie target based on your height, weight, and weight loss goals. 
After entering my personal data (using the balance board in order to record my weight), I started to explore the options in the game.  For exercise options, you can select from preset programs, make your own program, choose from individual exercises, or participate in challenges.  I decided to try out a preset program first.  The choices of programs are focused on various goals - you can choose among programs for upper body, core, lower body, and more.  Prior to starting the program I was given the chance to do a warm-up.  Even though I could not do a couple of the exercises called for in the program that I chose, the game still registered activity and gave me credit for doing it - though not as much as it would have had I actually done them.  As I was using the balance board in addition to the remote, it did take into account when I stepped on and off the board.  After I finished the program, I was given a chance to do a cool down.  As I planned to continue trying out the game, I declined.  I next decided to try to create my own program.  This option allows you to choose up to 9 different exercises.  Once you have determined which exercises you want, you then choose how many circuits you would like to do up to four.  Again, you can choose to do a warm-up prior to your program and a cool down following it.  After running through my program, I wanted to look at the challenges.  The challenges each utilize a couple of exercises.  You alternate from one to the other - depending on the challenge you chose - in an attempt to beat your opponents.  Each challenge lasts for up to 8 rounds depending on your performance.
I found the preset programs and the challenges to be the more intense workout options.  The other options provided too much 'down-time' between movements.  There is a bit of a learning curve involved with the game - learning the various movements as well as making the best use of all of the options.  As well, it seems that getting the most out of the game requires inputting data at least a couple of times per day (calories consumed, activity level, etc.).
I want to give this one a bit more time before I decide how much or little I actually like it, but my early feeling is that it is a good one.

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