Image result for roar by stacy simsRoar by Stacy Sims is not your average fitness book.  A book for women, Roar analyzes the differences between men and women in terms of fitness and how this affects your performance and life.

Her mantra:  Women are not small men so quit eating and training like one.  The book discusses how hormones are the driving factor in these differences and how women need to adjust their training to take that into account.

In essence, for decades all fitness advice was based on men’s bodies.  Women are fundamentally different and if a woman wants the results she desires, she had to treat herself as different.

Sims begins with a discussion on the menstrual cycle and how women’s bodies are affected.  At the beginning of the cycle (low-hormone phase) women’s bodies are most like men’s because estrogen is low.  It is the time of our peak performance and strength gains.  The end of a woman’s cycle (high-hormone phase) work will seem harder.

This book is full of facts on how women’s bodies make muscle, how we keep this muscle, the importance of recovery time and rest time, nutrition and hydration.  She covers pregnancy and all stages of a woman’s life.  Her goal is to help you gain top performance, great health, and a strong lean body for life.

Fascinating book that made sense to me especially as I’m getting on towards menopause.  There are some days where I feel horrible, bloated, can barely drag myself to the gym, and downright blah!  This book explains why.

I knew a lot of this before since I’m a fitness geek and am currently working on tweaking my eating for life, but I did get some take aways:

  1. The importance of protein to women.  I’ve just now figured out the kind of protein you want (leucine and casein and whey) and what they do.  Also, the importance of BCAA’s (branched-chain amino acids) and the importance of recovery time.
  2. Her discussion of hydration was fascinating as she describes the actual process, how your body needs sodium and a sugar (not fructose) for optimum performance.
  3. The importance of carbs as a recovery drink.  For a while now I’ve been cutting my recovery drinks because they were high in carbs.  Sims says no.  We need all that protein and carbs in order to build muscle and keep it after a hard workout.
  4. Caffeine helps your performance. This verified my coffee habit.
  5. How women’s bodies cool down differently than men and sweat differently as well.
  6. Lift heavy (something I already knew) to build muscle.  Women are so scared of looking bulky they only lift minimal weight which is not doing them any good. This will make strong bones as well and help you keep more of your muscle that you will naturally lose as you age.

These were just some of my favorite facts.  I highly recommend this book for women.  It will confirm things you already know (the Zone Diet is the way to go) and give you more information on hormones, aging, and the effect on your training.  Excellent read!

Chop Wood, Carry Water

Image result for chop wood carry waterChop Wood, Carry Water by Joshua Medcalf is a book that will change your life if you apply all its principles.

In this book we follow John who as a child had a dream to be a samurai archer.  As a young adult, he travels to Japan to make this a reality.

Little does he realize that it takes years to become an archer, not a few weeks.  In fact, he’s not even allowed to touch a bow for months.  First, he had to learn to chop wood and carry water, which he did every day he lived in the complex.  Chop Wood, Carry Water is a euphemism for the process, both internal and external, one must go through to be great.  It’s the fundamentals.  It’s the person you become in the process, while achieving your life skills.

In total, John spends 10 years in Japan before he graduates as an archer.  However, he has gained what most people don’t:  a character that dares to do what others won’t, who works hard in the process, and someone with a purpose in life.

This book is so full of life nuggets that it’s hard to cover all of them in such a short post.  Here are some of my favorite principles from this book:

“Choose to do what others won’t, and eventually you will be able to do what others can’t.”

“My value comes from who I am, not from what I do.”

“You are building your own house.”

“Choosing to believe that anything that happens is in your best interest…will develop within you an ability to change the world.”

“The setbacks of today become the forging blades of greatness for tomorrow.”

“Every little thing we do matters greatly when it is multiplied by the number of times we do it.”

“Focus on the process; control the controllables.”

“In order to reach your greatest potential you must operate with a heart posture of gratitude, commit to the controllables, surrender the outcome, and trust the process.”