Saturday, January 16, 2021

New Book Tells Women to Stop Fretting About Their Health

January 5, 2010 by  
Filed under Eating Disorders, Fitness, HAES

According to this New York Times blog post, Dr. Susan M. Love, one of the country’s most respected women’s health specialists, offers a new rule that I think will surprise many women (who are being inundated with New Year’s resolution messaging about getting thin NOW): stop worrying about your health.

In her new book, “Live a Little! Breaking the Rules Won’t Break Your Health,”  Dr. Love contends that perfect health is a myth and that most of us are living far more healthful lives than we realize.

I don’t know about you, but I want to get my hands on this book, STAT.

We should know seeking perfection when it comes to your health is just as dangerous as seeking perfection in life, love, work, finances, etc. Perfection –of any kind–doesn’t exist.

But I have to admit, even knowing perfection doesn’t exist isn’t an easy pill to swallow for Type-A people who are prone to wear ourselves down on our quest for personal nirvana.

Ironically, when it comes to our health, seeking to be the epitome of health (i.e., orthorexia) can be decidedly unhealthy — especially when our health is seen in extremes.

Per the article:

“Is the goal to live forever?” she said in a recent interview. “I would contend it’s not. It’s really to live as long as you can with the best quality of life you can. The problem was all of these women I kept meeting who were scared to death if they didn’t eat a cup of blueberries a day they would drop dead.”

The book, written with Alice D. Domar, a Harvard professor and senior staff psychologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, explores the research and advice in six areas of health — sleep, stress, prevention, nutrition, exercise and relationships. In all six, they write, the biggest risks are on the extremes, and the middle ground is bigger than we think.

“Everything is a U-shaped curve,” Dr. Love said. “There may be times in your life when you’ve gotten too much of this or too little of that, but being in the middle is better, and most of us are probably there already.”

Of course, this acceptance of this U-shaped curve doesn’t mean those of us who are passionate about healthy living  should go to extremes, from obsessing about health to throwing out our sneakers, sleeping 4 hours a day, starting a diet of fast food, drinking like we perhaps did back in our college days.

Likewise, the book doesn’t preach that those who don’t exercise or eat balanced diets should suddenly become obsessive gym-rats on restrictive meal plans.

But maybe the notion that we are better off than we think, that we are healthier than we think and don’t need to obsess so much about our health … that maybe what many of us are doing is, indeed, “enough” … isn’t such a bad one for us to embrace.

Imagine how much less stress we’d have and how many more minutes we’d have in our days if we didn’t worry about getting in exactly 60 min. at the gym; the size of our butt; how many cups of fruit we ate; how many calories we consumed; how many hours of sleep we got.

In the end, we’re all seeking balance of some kind, aren’t we? Isn’t life one big balancing act?

A book like this is a good reminder that the equilibrium might already be tipped in our favor. Maybe instead of questioning it, maybe we need to just go with it.

How about you? What do you think of this book’s messages? Would you be interested in reading it?


10 Responses to “New Book Tells Women to Stop Fretting About Their Health”
  1. WendyRG says:


  2. WendyRG says:

    Amen (again, this time with the right URL).

  3. CandiceBP says:

    Wow, that sounds like a really interesting book. During a period in my life after I lost a lot of weight and was fairly effortlessly keeping it off, I thought about writing something called, “I lost 100 lbs, now what do I do?” because there was this HUGE hole in my life – both in my actions and thoughts – where weight-loss related activities and thinking previously held a lot of space. Since then I’ve thought a lot about the time and energy we spend/waste on this pursuit of perfect when other spots in the u-curve are just fine.

  4. G says:

    This sounds like the perfect antidote to the extreme health advice/warnings that are so prevalent these days. I’ll definitely put this on my list.

    [aside: While we’re talking books, I wonder if WATRD would consider a regular book review slot? It would be really helpful to those of us new to issues like FA, HAES, body image etc. Maybe a mixture of ‘101’ stuff and new releases like this one lissa has posted about?]

    • lissa10279 says:

      BEAUTIFUL idea–we’re relaunching the site soon, so maybe this will be something we can consider–I’ll talk to MamaV! 🙂 Definitely a good idea. If you search “book reviews” I know a few things will come up, but a space dedicated to reviews is a great idea–thanks, G!

  5. love2eatinpa says:

    this book looks great! thanks for bringing it to our attention!

  6. Meems says:

    I’d definitely read this book!

  7. Nell says:

    Find the middle ground, eh? Sounds like good advice, only… Like Lissa said, us A-typers will probably end up on one end of the curve or the other. I try not going to extremes whenever I start a new activity, but I kind of spiral out of control and let it consume much more of me than intended. Maybe this book will help? I’ll definitely look into it!

    <– would love a book review section, too!

  8. Lisa says:

    I will definitely be reading this book.


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