on June 27, 2009
One of the commenters says it doesn't take a PhD to say that activity is good, but I have to say that I'm a PhD in a related area and I think this book is terrific. (I don't have any professional or personal connection to the author.)
Professionally: This book uses the best theories of health psychology to motivate readers to make changes in their lives. The main obstacles that most people face are not lack of knowledge or even the motivation to make changes. The most important obstacle is usually self-efficacy, people's beliefs that they are capable of making the necessary changes, including psychological thought distortions such as negative self-talk, perfectionism, etc.
This book prevents perfectionist thinking by asking readers to give themselves points. If you get more than 3/4 of the points for a 2 week period the book says you've been successful. By contrast, most books will assume you've done everything in the book, and people who have skipped steps may get discouraged and put the book aside. The book tries to build a reader's self-efficacy by asking her to work on other tasks, break larger tasks into components, and other experimentally proven techniques.
So, as a PhD in health, I can say that this book is cleverly designed.
Personally, I think this book is helpful because it reminded me that the time I'm spending at the gym isn't the only time that counts. After living in a walking/biking city for my whole life, I moved to a driving suburb and unsurprisingly gained 10 pounds. I'm going to the gym regularly and am careful with my diet and am gradually losing weight, but this book reminded me that I should think also about my non-exercise activity since that's what I'm doing for the 23 hours a day that I'm not at the gym.
I read the book 5 days ago, and it's really affected how I see my overall health picture. I've been treadmill shopping and am strategizing how to build an inexpensive treadmill desk (walking 1 mile per hour for 8 hours = 800 calories). I've read some blogs of people who have treadmill desks and am impressed at their weight loss no matter what weights they started out at. I have tried using my computer standing up and found that I'm much more efficient that way.
This book's plan does not replace regular diet and exercise, but it's an important reminder that the 23 hours you're not at the gym can help weight loss as well.
UPDATE: Four months after I read this book, it's still helping me. I did not get a treadmill desk, but I did buy a mini-elliptical and a 49" bookshelf, and it's a useful back up exercise. Especially useful now that the sun doesn't rise until after 7 am, I can get exercise first thing in the morning while watching TV or checking email and I truly look forward to this exercise. In addition, I also go to the gym, but the mini is a great backup.
on January 26, 2009
Okay, so I have to admit I was skeptical when I first heard about this book -- can you really lose weight without going to the gym or doing strenuous exercise? I'm a former runner and bikram yoga addict, so I'm used to having intense workouts. But now that I have two small kids, I just don't have the time to exercise like I used to. This book helped me realize that I can stay in shape just by finding ways to keep moving throughout the day, while doing everything I normally do: take care of the kids, shop, clean the house, talk on the phone. I even type on the computer while standing up now, and it's amazing what a difference that small change can make. This book isn't a gimmick at all, but really smart. Read it. It will change your life.
on January 22, 2009
Since reading this book, I have changed my life in small but important ways. I have a stepper in my office, I walk to my car (20 minutes each way) when I commute, I take walks with clients, I cook with my kids at night while dancing and I've completed several home projects I'd been postponing. I've not only slimmed down, but I've shifted the way I think so that I now welcome things that require energy and movement. I can't say enough about this book. Read it. Once you understand what sitting all day does to your body, you'll have no choice but to get up and dance and move and get healthy. And, the best part for a former sloth like me, you don't have to go to the gym.
on January 30, 2009
About a year ago, I traveled for a solid 2 months, in and out of airplanes, airports, hotels, all while pulling a suitcase behind me. When I returned home I was surprised to find I had lost 7 pounds without changing my eating habits. I tried to maintain the loss by going to the gym in the morning, but I was still sitting at a desk all day, then going home and sitting, so it wasn't long before I gained it all back. After reading this book, I realize I need to move all throughout the day, not just for 1 hour in the gym. Stand more than you sit, move more than you stand. Basic principles that work and are easy to incorporate into your daily routine. Great book, solid principles.
on March 3, 2009
What veggie girl fails to add in her comment is that cleaning, gardening, etc can be done for those 20 to 30 minute walks and is said in the book. ANYTHING that gets yourself up and moving instead of just sitting at your desk or on the couch watching tv all night counts. I guess she skipped that part. I am following Weight Watchers instead of the eating plan in the book which he says is fine to do. The whole point in the diet is to start you down a path to eating right if you aren't already. In the 8 week plan you work on upping your movement, eating, as well as some mental "NEAT Beats" as they're called to help transform you all around. My husband and I have both found the book very helpful in making us more active. If you automatlcally look at the book as another fad diet and don't give it a chance, no it won't help you because you're not committing yourself to it's concepts. Basically read the info on the following link. If you think it's BS then don't buy the book. [...]
Let me state right off the bat that Dr James Levine is a benefactor of humanity. I am writing this while walking on my treadmill, using a purpose-built desk. I have been doing this for the past three months: I feel energized and keep losing weight slowly but steadily, without any dieting. I am encouraging all my friends and clients to get a treadmill desk.
I began this regimen after seeing some article and bought the book for the background. The first 100 pages explain the concept, but after that the book slides into the usual silliness of giving you a workout plan for every day. Kindergarten!
The book is printed on grey paper that seems to have been sourced from the same roll as cheap paper towels. Dr Levine and his publishers do not believe in fact-checking. The Cro-Magnons are described as living `several million years' ago. The correct numbers are 50,000 to 23,000 years ago. Quite a difference, although it actually makes Dr Levine's thesis even stronger. He writes, incorrectly, that New York and London have instituted traffic congestion pricing. New York, where I live, does not have it - it is London and Singapore. Sloppy. Also, the amazon Author page has a photo of another James Levine - a famous conductor. Hello?
Whatever the shortcomings of the book, thank you Dr Levine for a brilliant, life-changing idea!
on April 7, 2009
If you choose to do what this author tells you, i.e., the walks, the "core chargers" and the "sunrise stretches", you ARE formally exercising (as opposed to normal day-to-day activity).
All of the early articles I remember reading on N.E.A.T. focused mostly on people who naturally tend to fidget rather than sit still. You can probably stretch the definition a bit to activities like hanging clothes on a line rather than using a dryer (for lots of people, a dryer is much easier to do without than a washing machine), and standing up when using a computer (or doing any other desk activities, for that matter), instead of sitting, if the computer is on a counter rather than a desk. However, once you get into using a treadmill, that is actively "exercising", whether or not you're doing something else.
Yes, you can fit more activity in your day, but there are other books out there (Too Busy to Exercise? by Porter Shimer comes to mind) that cover this subject better.
on January 19, 2015
I read the author's "Get Up!" and was impressed. This book though, which (in the second half -- the first half is a re-hash of "Get Up!") lays out a plan that theoretically allows one to "ease" into living the NEAT way, and it's insane. I can't imagine anyone who drinks coffee for breakfast and has a desk job, jumping in on day one (and every day thereafter) and eating fruit and then a full breakfast, finding a way to walk for twenty minutes three times a day, stretching in the morning, etc. It just isn't realistic to expect people to start living like that right off the bat.
I don't drink coffee for breakfast and I do have the time to take three twenty minute breaks during the day, but other factors prevent me from eating fruit and a full breakfast and taking those walks. The author seems to think we can all just shift everything. My husband, for example, gets physically ill if he eats breakfast (the author says to just eat anyhow), and Mike is stuck in a classroom from seven in the morning until three in the afternoon. Because he works in an L.A. barrio, he isn't allowed to leave his room except for three quick restroom breaks. If he paced ("walked") the room for twenty minutes, the kids would go nuts. That might not be the greatest example, but I think it makes the point that the author didn't think through his plan when he laid it out.
By all means read "Get Up! Why Your Chair Is Killing You and What You Can Do About It" by Dr Levine, but skip this book. The other provides the same information (and more of it), but doesn't give you an unreasonable plan that, if tried, would probably reduce most people to tears (or get them fired).
I'm asking Amazon for a refund. This book is just bad.
on February 9, 2015
This is the most fun I've ever had with a healthy-lifestyle program. I really followed the program, and it changed my head, the most important part. I haven't shed a lot of pounds, but I'm not that overweight, so it's going to take time. I have 2 more weeks to go before finishing the book/program and I expect to be down about 4 pounds on a goal of 10. That's a great start, and what's really important is that the book has helped me stop the gaining trend, even if I never lose more, I'm happy not to keep gaining.
The way this book changed my head is the most important thing of all. Instead of feeling guilty when I step away from my desk, I embrace movement. Instead of feeling like cleaning out the garage, cleaning the house, going shopping or going for a walk was tearing me away from my work, I embrace those things, for 2.25 hours every day. I feel freed up from the work-a-hol-ism that kept me chained to my desk at risk to my health. Now I view housework, yard work, cleaning the cars or "running" errands as opportunities for NEAT activity. (I walk to stores now.) As a result, I shed a lot of anxiety as well, stress from all the undone chores and activities around the house. Stress from not moving.
I benefited the most by carefully doing almost all of his suggested activities...because I wanted those rewards. You get to set your own rewards. Wow, now I also know how effective setting up rewards for myself really is. I'm going to do that more as well.
on December 11, 2010
If you think this is an exercise book or a diet book, you are mistaken. This is a book about living your dream, being kind to others and in the process shedding unnecessary or unneeded pounds.
For those interested in getting into this, like the book suggests, resist the urge to start right way. Read the book, then put it aside. Later on, pick up the book again and write down ideas that add activity to your life (re-work a closet, hang a shelf, get a treadmill work desk). Get a mini-cycle, a mini-stepper. Learn what a NEAT life is all about before you start the program.
I was always an active guy (hike, bike, the works), the problem is when I get busy with work, or school, or go on vacation, my exercise program is shattered. This book Move, a Little Lose a Lot, solves that problem by showing you how to be active while working, studying; it becomes a part of your day.
Additionally, here's the kicker: you can be 'active' and still sedentary: you can work out an hour each day and sit the rest of the day.
Another great point is, people who exercise a lot, always hit a wall with weight loss. There is a barrier you just can't break. Mine was 175 pounds. NEAT, as the author calls it, works on the weight that 'active exercise' does not get to -- especially your stomach.
Perhaps there should be a warning for sedentary people. This book teaches you to get on your feet and get out there. That may be a challenge but also this may be just what you need to get up and go.
One thing that is central is getting a treadmill at work or at home. It doesn't have to be new or expensive. I bought a used one for $125. If you have good money, buy the treadmill desk. If you are handy, build a desk to put around your treadmill. But I happened to have two chest of draws of the same height. I put one on each side of the treadmill. I had some shelves sitting around from a project that I never completed: I just lay the shelves over the two chest of drawers. I surf the internet and do all paper work (writing, reading) from my treadmill.
I just started the program two weeks ago. I don't have any dramatic weight loss to report. Like the author says, this not a quick fix.
But what I do feel at this early stage is my mid-section is tightening and I feel what the author calls 'the vibrancy of life': I got up to see the sunrise, I went hiking, I took a train ride, I went to the museum.
There is one thing I have learned: in order to have a fulfulling life you need energy and spunk, NEAT gives you that kick.
Five-week Update: Someone asked for an update. I have edited my review to add this update.
First let me say that the author Dr. Levine -- a rock star to followers of his plan -- has left the famed Mayoclinic and moved to Cleveland with the stated objective of to see if a city could revitalize its health, would it also revitalize its economy. This move -- to leave the cushy Mayoclinic to take on a project is so in keeping with what he teaches in the book: just go out there and live your life.
One of the contributors here, a psychologist, commented that the program is psychologically, clinically sound. Let me say -- I'm not a doctor, just a regular -- this is one of the great benefits of the program. It gets you away from the lose weight-at-all-costs and helps you to become a better person and in the process lose weight.
Let me say I have no incredible weight loss to report but I am not your average person, if I may say so. I have been exercising rigorously and eating healthy and have lost and kept off about 40 pounds over about three years before starting the program. My physical activity on the program is less or perhaps even in comparison to before I started. (This is not a criticism; the program allows me to be more consistent because I became terribly busy with college final exams and cold weather does not permit me to ride my bike now -- the point being I can do the physical activity of the program despite final exams and cold weather.)
Some one starting out as a sedentary person would definitely lose a lot of weight at this point. So far I am losing body fat. Yesterday I was brave enough to wear a large T-shirt; I usually wear an extra large.
Weight loss is just the half of it. This book has great benefit. I recommend this approach: remember the author is a practicing doctor and an expert on obesity. Approach it as if he is your family doctor. Trust him and his expertise: he has done all the research. Just go about living your life and follow your doctor's orders.