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The Wellness Project: How I Learned to Do Right by My Body, Without Giving Up My Life Hardcover – May 16, 2017
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"Making good food and lifestyle choices is the best medicine for curing what ails us. For those suffering from autoimmune or other chronic health problems, The Wellness Project is an invaluable look at how one woman learned to apply best health practices and still enjoy all that makes life sweet."
—Terry Wahls, MD, author of The Wahls Protocol Cooking for Life
“The Wellness Project is a smart, funny, and incredibly helpful guide to the complexities of not just what makes us sick, but what makes us well.”
—Robynne Chutkan, MD, FASGE, Integrative gastroenterologist & best-selling author of The Microbiome Solution
"I couldn't agree more with Phoebe Lapine when she says 'healthy choices can't happen in a vacuum.' This incredibly informative, delightfully human (and fun!) chronicle of her path to sustainable wellness is an inspiring read that makes living well feel approachable. Whether you're looking for support as you take an honest inventory of your health or are seeking inspiration for long-lasting changes, Phoebe has been there and done that and shares it all."
—Julia Turshen, author of Small Victories
"As a practicing physician focused on how nutrition, prevention and wellness factor into today's cutting edge medicine, I’m constantly urging my patients to consider how the small daily choices we make impact our bodies. Like so many people with chronic conditions, Phoebe discovered that true healing begins with food. But through her year-long odyssey, she illustrates that our wellness is made up of so much more—the products we use, our daily movements, and how we tame stress out in the world. The Wellness Project is a must-read for anyone wondering how all these pieces fit together, and ready to tackle them in their own life."
—Robin Berzin, MD, CEO and founder of Parsley Health
"If you're struggling to figure out why you're not feeling like you should, and are overwhelmed by all the wellness information online, then start your journey with The Wellness Project. Phoebe Lapine's experiments are fun and doable. You'll not only learn so much valuable information in this book, but you'll learn a lot about yourself and your potential for feeling good again!"
—Alisa Vitti, functional nutritionist, hormone expert, author of WomanCode, and founder of FLOliving.com
"In her recipes, Phoebe always finds a refreshing balance between the practical and the indulgent, with foods that are both healthy and comforting. Her engaging debut memoir gives readers a roadmap for finding that same middle ground in all aspects of our lives. The Wellness Project is living proof that approaching every day with your body in mind need not be a compromise."
—Jason Wachob, founder and CEO of mindbodygreen and author of Wellth
“With a witty tone that'll have you laughing out loud, this book is a must for anyone wondering if drinking lemon water or giving up alcohol ACTUALLY makes a difference.”
—Mind Body Green
“Not only do I respect Phoebe endlessly as a chef, I’m also in awe of her unique and refreshing approach to wellness. She manages to impart so much knowledge in an entertaining, non-preachy way, and you’ll come away with many realistic tips for how to live your best life.”
—Serena Wolf, creator of Domesticate Me, and author of The Dude Diet
“Phoebe is like The Skimm of the wellness world. She describes wellness as a journey not a destination and makes reading about health fun and accessible, which is so rare.”
—Alexandra Stafford, creator of Alexandra's Kitchen, and author of Bread Toast Crumbs
“A great, funny, and down-to-Earth read. I loved every minute of it. There’s something in there everyone can relate to (adjusting to moving in with a boyfriend, starting an exercise regimen, regulating your ‘cycle’). The recipes are easy and approachable, just like Phoebe’s writing!”
—Ali Mafucci, creator and best selling author of Inspiralized and Inspiralize Everything
“Phoebe’s book, The Wellness Project, has been a faithful companion over the past month, a reminder that no matter how busy I am, it’s ok to take a breath, ask myself what I need, and deliver that nourishment however possible. Without judgment. With love. Phoebe’s words feel less like gospel, and more like conversation exchanged with a wise best friend. That friend who knows you, knows just what you need, and knows exactly how to make advice feel like innate wisdom you’ve known all along.”
—Lily Diamond, creator and author of Kale & Caramel
“I love Phoebe’s 'one change at a time' approach...Her story is so inspiring and her book offers readers loads of practical advice.”
—Pamela Salzman, author of Kitchen Matters
“This inspiring story about one 20-something's journey from illness to wellness is perfect for natural-living newbies, those on the fringe of going all in, and anyone looking for simple ways to improve their health without sacrificing life’s pleasures. Part memoir, part game-plan, all good.”
—The Chalkboard Magazine
“An engaging memoir about creating your own path to wellness.”
—New York Post
About the Author
Phoebe Lapine is a food and health writer, gluten-free chef, wellness personality, culinary instructor, speaker, and author of the award-winning blog, Feed Me Phoebe, where she shares recipes for healthy comfort food and insights about balanced lifestyle choices beyond what’s on your plate. Lapine is a regular contributor to Mind Body Green, The Huffington Post, and Food & Wine, among other publications. Feed Me Phoebe was a finalist in the Saveur Blog Awards 2015. She lives in New York.
Top customer reviews
The author of this book is no exception. Starting in with a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Gluten allergy, she is already dealing with some health issues.
She decides to tackle an overall look at her habits to see if they can be better. This book is a rough outline on what she did and can provide a rough guide so we can attempt or steer clear of the same.
The first thing that I noted in this book is the reliance on a variety of people outside the mainstream of “health care” and sources, I would consider a bit shaky. Many of these self styled practitioners require no training or certification. Some people may be truly helpful and others might just be interested in taking your money, especially if they have something to sell. There are also others that think they are helpful, but tragically have no clue what they are doing, nor take the time to know what your issues are to help. Instead they may well harm.
Her first choice of “healer” Gloria, though she walked away with good advice, to give up Sugar, Caffeine and Alcohol as her first challenge, loaded her up with some natural supplements, that unfortunately included wheat germ. A true medical professional would have taken enough history, to know this was actually harmful to the author. This created an issue of all its own due to her gluten sensitivity, luckily another reference of her’s Heidi, her acupuncturist, noted her issues and got her on the right track. Ideally the author should have been enough of an advocate of her own, to review what she was purchasing and putting into her own body. I have several friends and family with Celiac disease which is the more serious of diseases where people can’t eat gluten, so I know how careful you need to be. This author clearly was not.
Reading in different sections, however, this book has some gems and some decent logic. I especially like the term “pantry loaders”, which captures all the junk we buy and have no real ability to use. Stuff like jalapeño chutney and Jordanian lamb spice. ( I actually have this stuff).
But somethings like the healer supplements, the overly restrictive inflammation diet, the app that shows all the bad skin products out there. Who do we trust in this glut of information. I can’t say I agree with some of the author’s choices. I do like the fact she did cover a nice range of issues however.
The areas in her life she looked at improving:
Vice detox: Giving up Alcohol, Caffeine and sugar
Green Beauty: Using healthier make up
Gut Guilt: Eating low inflammation foods only
Skillet skills: Cooking for yourself more
Water Works: Drinking water, how clean is it?
Back it up: Back issues
Making Moves: Exercise
Pillow talk: Sleep
Rag Time: Menstrual cycle
Eater’s digest: What goes in, comes out
Relaxation station: Relaxing
The author pointed out in the section on make-up; how untested it is and how Europe has stricter standards (as do some states). I didn’t know that. I alway hear about protests on animal testing?? From the sound of this section, this stuff we put on our face is really trash. I tried to look up one app she mentioned “Skin Deep” and it does not appear to be available any more. I downloaded the “Think Dirty” app and not one of my supermarket bath products were rated less than a 9 or 10, which is the worst they can be. This included Dove soap, Neutrogena hand lotion and body oil, Pantene shampoo, Johnson baby oil, Lip Medex chapstick and Aveeno face moisturizer. To be honest since 100% of the items I checked were found so “dangerous”, I’m struggling at the believability of all this. Even Burt’s Bees gets some 3s.
Regarding the low-inflammation foods, when she finished with the list so many items seemed forbidden, that I didn’t know what could be eaten. It also seemed the author didn’t either as that section was pretty short and more of how to passably try to do this, than to truly conform. Makes this hard to be useful for most of the population.
Through reading sections in the book, I have reheard several keywords: How lemon juice becomes alkaline (basic chemistry, disproves this), inflammatory foods (will this concept be around a few years from now) and “clean” foods. Clean is relative and here it a bit of a buzzword. Every generation has a bunch of buzzwords. In the 50s they pushed canned and frozen food and packaged cereal. It was all about convenience. Now they are pushing Organic, Low inflammation, Clean and are questioning what the government calls the food pyramid. “They” is who we need to keep an eye on and make decisions by ourselves based on information we can back up. All very confusing, but before you take some charlatan’s word on anything do your research.
Regarding exercise, the author tried a variety of exercises to get moving. Some I have never heard of. Many might be stuff you would only see in a large city. She really didn’t try the gamut and recognized this. The bottom line, you need to find what works for you and what you keep doing. I personally don’t do gyms. I do yoga in a work class 2X per week, a recumbent bike in my family room, dancing class 1X per week and walking when I can. I do kayaking and hiking in the summer and to be honest, it really is not enough. My doctors are always pushing swimming and I can’t think of anything I would hate to do worse… You have to do something you can keep up and the author emphasizes this as well.
The author hit on a number of areas I found compelling. The use of antibiotics for acne, birth control pills use to regulate your menstrual cycle and the over abundance of antiseptic cleaners. So much of this is creating a toxic environment for us. We seem to adopt, the newest poison for inconsequential things and miss the big picture. Reading a prior book “Pandora’s Lab; Paul Offit”, shows how we jumped on the bandwagon using opiates for everything before their real danger was known. Eliminated DDT before we realized the substitutes were worse, adopted high doses of Vitamin C for health reasons and opened the door to cancer and all sorts of other things when we leaped before we looked. A grain of salt goes a long way.
In the section on sleep, the author makes a wonderful point about sleep studies never considering beyond the solo person. In that case they are looking for apnea or medical reasons for poor sleep. However many of us know our sleep issues have to do with our partner. Snoring is a big deal. Odds are snoring is caused by apnea, but the person that snores seems to sleep like a baby, regardless and is not inclined to be tested. So we continue to be woken up through the night by an “inconsiderate” person who considers this our problem. Good luck fixing that. I wonder how many people who snore would consider it more seriously if you hit them with a 2 x 4’ when they have woken you up the 30th time in one night (Just kidding, but….). Pets also cause issues but, the significant other seems to be the biggest issue.
At the end of each section, the author provides two recipes (even ones not pertinent to food) and some key points. I can’t find fault with the advice she provides, as it is generic but logically sound, but some of the science in each of these sections, that she researched is a bit soft. I’m not say medical doctors are the way to go, but I can’t imagine going to a self styled healer, or some of the other professionals she decided to try.
Overall the book is good for getting you thinking. I think she should have been a bit more careful about who to consult in some areas.
For me it was the type of book where I would read a chapter, then wander off to think about what I'd read and how I might apply it to my own self and family's situation. So the chapters did not fly by.
Phoebe was diagnosed, by the way, with a thyroid and auto-immune disorder. Searching for relief, and in an effort to get her old health back, she examined just about every part of her life. Everything from alcohol consumption to fiber intake, from birth control to poop, exercise, water purity, makeup, fabric, surroundings, and more.
Ms. Lapine is an open minded woman so her search took her to doctors, alt-medicine cures, and quacks. My only dislike of the book is that there isn't science or verification for every 'cure'. I couldn't find, for example, any 'proof' that lemon in water detoxifies. Certainly lemon in water is not dangerous, but the lack of rigor is something some readers might want to keep in mind.
Oddly enough though, the author's openness to both traditional and non-traditional health aids is one of the features I enjoyed about this book. I really liked that Phoebe was open to investigating and trying different options. And I think the usefulness of this book to readers like me and others comes from the fact that not only does she examine so many different aspects of health, but also that she professes a very practical try-it-and-see how it makes me feel approach.
Being as old as I am I can confess that I have seen a variety of doctors for a variety of complaints over the years. And it's been my own observation that you must listen to their advice, but assess the results yourself. They can tell you what the tests say, but sometimes you know that something is wrong even when the xrays say not. (Third doctor identified that yes, indeed, the dog that had bitten my finger had broken off a piece a bone. Why the other two doctors and their xray techs couldn't see that.... Well my point in trusting yourself is made.). And Phoebe's approach seems logical to me.
So if you want to a guide to things you might try to feel better. Or even if you want to just know what toxins are out there that might do you and your family harm, you might want to read through THE WELLNESS PROGRAM.