Books: Recent Recommended Reads

Books | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr Books are such a gift. It's such a gift to be inspired, to be informed and to be swept away by a story.

Here’s the best of what I’ve been reading lately. Click on their titles for more information.

1. All In: You, Your Business, Your Life

by Arlene Dickinson

2. Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself

byAlejandro Junger

3. Clean Gut: The Breakthrough Plan for Eliminating the Root Cause of Disease and Revolutionizing your Health

by Alejandro Junger

4. Joyous Health: Eat and Live Well Without Dieting

by Joy McCarthy

5. Listen to the Squawking Chicken: When Mother Knows Best, What's a Daughter To Do? A Memoir (Sort Of) 

by Elaine Lui

6. Maximize your Potential: Grow your Expertise, Take Bold Risks and Build An Incredible Career

by Jocelyn K Glei

7. Meals That Heal Inflammation: Embrace Healthy Living and Eliminate Pain, One Meal at A Time

by Julie Daniluk

8. Money: A Love Story

by Kate Northrup

9. Off the Beaten Path: A Hiking Guide to Vancouver's North Shore

by Norm Watt

10. Relaxation Revolution: Enhancing your Personal Health through the Science and Genetics of Mind Body Healing

by Herbert Benson

11. Running With Nature: Stepping Into the Life You Were Meant to Live

by Mariel Hemingway and Bobby Williams

12. Super Rich: A Guide to Having It All

by Russell Simmons

13. The Body Book: The Law of Hunger, the Science of Strength, and Other Ways to Love your Amazing Body

by Cameron Diaz

14. The Better Mother

by Jen Sookfong Lee

15. The Body Ecology Diet: Recovering your Health and Rebuilding your Immunity

by Donna Gates

16. The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph From the Frontiers of Brain Science

by Norman  Doidge

17. The Great Canadian Bucket List: One-of-a-Kind Travel Experiences

by Robin Esrock

18. The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-free Living

by Amit Sood

19. The Signature of All Things

by Elizabeth Gilbert

20. Thrive Energy Cookbook: 150 Functional, Plant-based Whole Food Recipes

by Brendan Brazier

Books: Recent Recommended Reads

Books: Recent Recommended Reads

Books | The Life DeliciousBooks are the best, three cheers for books!

I'm a huge library junkie, I'm there at least once a week. It never ceases to amaze and delight me that you can get so much life-changing and enriching information for free.

I hope you'll find some of these titles that I've had out from the library (and often ended up buying because they're so awesome) as inspiring, informative and eye-opening as I have.

Here’s the best of what I’ve been reading the past few months. Click on their titles for more information.

1. Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence

by Daniel Goleman

2. Forks Over Knives: The Cookbook

by Del Sroufe

3. Hollyhock: Garden to Table

by Moreka Jolar and Heidi Scheifley

4. Living Yoga: Creating a Life Practice

by Christy Turlington

5. Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind

edited by Jocelyn Glei

6. Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation

by Daniel Siegel

7. Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation

by Sharon Salzberg

8. The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter, and Miracles

by Bruce Lipton

9. The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are

by Daniel Siegel

10. The Magic of Thinking Big

by David Joseph Schwartz

11. The Mind's Own Physician: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama on the Healing Power of Meditation

edited by Jon Kabat-Zinn and Richard Davidson

12. The Parisian Diet: How To Reach Your Right Weight And Stay There

by Jean-Michel Cohen

13. The Sprouted Kitchen: A Tastier Take on Whole Foods

by Sara Forte

14. Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers: An Updated Guide to Stress, Stress-related Diseases, and Coping

by Robert Sapolsky

15. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

by Therese Anne Fowler


Workout Wednesday: Yogalosophy

Yogalosophy | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr

In August, I read celebrity trainer Mandy Ingber’s book, Yogalosophy: 28 Days to the Ultimate Mind-Body Makeover. This is how much I liked it: I bought it after reading my library copy cover to cover.

It's a pretty big deal for a book to make it onto my sacred bookshelf. Only the best get a coveted spot.

The book is full of inspiring quotes and anecdotes, is rooted in self-love, and combines yoga and strength training moves in multiple sequences for an awesome, challenging, energy-enhancing, grace-building workout.

Plus, each chapter ends with an action checklist. I love taking action and I love making checklists! This woman is awesome.

10-minute Yogalosophy Workout

Here’s a fantastic video from PopSugar Fitness – a great resource for workout videos and fitness information – where Ingber (she’s Jennifer Aniston’s trainer! Have you seen Aniston’s body?!) leads a fun but tough little 10-minute workout. Hope you enjoy!

Book: The Immune System Recovery Plan


I just finished reading a great book called The Immune System Recovery Plan, by Dr Susan Blum, that teaches you how to help prevent or treat any autoimmune disease – like celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease – by fixing these foundations:

  1. Food
  2. Stress
  3. Gut
  4. Liver

The book also has over 40 delicious recipes that are free from gluten, dairy, corn and soy.

The Four Foundations of The Immune System Recovery Plan

  1. Use food as medicine – identify foods that trigger inflammation and remove them from your diet
    • “You will learn how to evaluate and understand what makes you biochemically unique, and then I’ll show you how to use this information to create your own personalized nutrition plan.”
  2. Understand the stress connection– stress hormones have a huge impact on your immune function
    • “To get healthy and stay that way, you must learn skills to keep your mind from dwelling on particular thoughts so that you don’t damage your body with chronically high levels of cortisol.”
  3. Heal your gut– fix your intestinal flora
    • “Seventy percent of your immune system is located in your digestive tract so it’s easy to see why it’s critical to keep this area healthy.”
  4. Support your liver – help it do a better job of clearing out toxins  
    • “Preventing and treating toxin-related illness involves a combination of identifying what you’re being exposed to and removing it, then helping the liver cope by giving it nutrients to support metabolic detoxification.”

Here’s a list of dietary changes I'm implementing after reading this book:

  1. Eat more cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and bok choy, as well as dark leafy greens like kale, chard, collards and spinach
  2. Get creative with salads – try adding different kinds of beans, nuts and seeds
  3. Get creative with porridge – add ground flax, chia, cinnamon, coconut oil, sunflower seeds, chopped Brazil nuts, and chopped apple
  4. Make dips, like hummus, to have with chopped vegetables for snacks
  5. Discover more tasty lentil, millet and buckwheat recipes
  6. Use coconut milk as an alternative to dairy in cereal, shakes and chocolate milk (made with organic cocoa powder)
  7. Add a probiotic to my daily supplement regime

Notice that I’m not denying myself anything – just adding lots of healthy choices to leave little room for unhealthy ones.

My dad has celiac disease so I'm trying to eat as little gluten as possible to reduce my risk of developing a sensitivity or the disease itself.

But I'm not quite ready to completely remove every source of gluten from my diet because I love to treat myself to a crusty baguette or gooey cinnamon bun every once in a while, and I haven't found any gluten-free varieties that do the trick.

I highly recommend this book if you regularly suffer from any of the following:

  • bloating or gassiness
  • exhaustion upon waking
  • fatigue during the day
  • irritability
  • brain fog
  • joint pain
  • nasal congestion
  • muscle stiffness

These symptoms could suggest an autoimmune disease or lead to one in the future.

For more information, visit the book’s companion website,

10 Books on Brain Chemistry

Books About Brain Chemistry | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr It’s no secret, I love talking about brain chemistry! Have you heard about my “Winning Trifecta of Wellness”? The trifecta includes stress management, exercise and nutrition, which are actions that produce optimal brain chemistry.

When you cultivate optimal brain chemistry, you feel good.

When you commit to consistently cultivate optimal brain chemistry, you look good.

If you strive for optimal brain chemistry, everything else will fall into place.

Isn’t it incredible how your thoughts and actions directly affect your health and happiness? Isn’t it empowering to know that you’re in control of what you think and how you act?

The following ten books have given me tangible new insight into improving my health and happiness.

They’ve helped me become more aware of the effects of my thoughts and actions – and more empowered to improve my health and happiness.

I hope you’ll find them interesting and insightful too!

1. Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-body Medicine by Candace B. Pert

2. Must Have Been Something I Ate by Peggy Kotsopoulos

3. Your Brain on Nature: The Science of Natures Influence on Your Health, Happiness and Vitality by Alan C. Logan and Eva M. Selhub

4. The Mars and Venus Diet and Exercise Solution: Create the Brain Chemistry of Health, Happiness, and Lasting Romance by John Gray

5. Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom by Rick Hanson

6. The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can: Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer by Gretchen Reynolds

7. The Happiness Diet: A Nutritional Prescription for a Sharp Brain, Balanced Mood, and Lean, Energized Body by Drew Ramsey and Tyler G. Graham

8. Love 2.0: How our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become by Barbara Fredrickson

9. Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey

10. Super Brain by Deepak Chopra & Rudolph Tanzi


5 Things I Learned From Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz

The cover image of Dearie, pictured above, was taken by Paul Child. Used here with permission from Bob Spitz.

Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child, by Bob Spitz, was an enormous (576 pages) yet wonderful and captivating book. I didn’t know much about Julia Child going in – I know, I know, it’s crazy – but was absolutely fascinated to learn about her life, and Bob Spitz told her story with such respect and spunk.

I adored this book and am both looking forward to reading more by Spitz and more about Child. What a firecracker of a woman she was!

Here are five rules to live by that I gleaned from her life through the book.

1. Be confident in who you are. She seemed to have incredible self-confidence and a capacity to quickly charm people into her corner by being authentic, friendly and open.

2. Follow your heart, gut and stomach. She sought pleasure and passion at every turn – through the incredible love of her husband Paul, the conviction that she could learn to cook and teach others to do the same, and food, glorious food.

3. Seek out friendship and companionship. The Childs always seemed to have either friends over for dinner or dinner dates with friends. Even after her husband was moved into a long-term care facility and after his passing she regularly sought out social engagements with a very wide circle of friends.

4. Stay positive and uplift others even in the face of tragedy or discord. Nothing seemed to get this woman down! She seemed to keep her eye on the desire to live a life highlighted by happiness.

5. It’s never too late to discover your life’s purpose. Her journey to becoming The French Chef really struck a chord with me, as I struggled with finding a fulfilling career throughout my 20s. She didn’t even learn to cook until she was in her 30s and was 50 when she made her first TV appearance.


Books On My Night Stand


I love books, that's no secret! Often, when I hear about books I'd like to read, I put them on hold at the library and they usually trickle in at a reasonable pace.

But sometimes they pile up, as they've done now. If only I could steal away to a deserted cabin in the woods – with good lighting – and spend a few days disconnected from the world and surrounded by books.

Spatopia by Amy Rosen

I got this book for a little writing inspiration. I had the pleasure of meeting Amy on a press trip last year, and she's hysterically funny and an excellent writer.

She's the acting food editor at Chatelaine, the former food editor at House & Home, and a very successful freelance writer. Check out this long list of awards on her website. Wow.

­ Discover Italy by Lonely Planet

My wonderful friend Caralyn gave me this book after learning that I wanted to go to Italy for my tenth wedding anniversary this summer.

Sadly, it looks like that might not pan out, but at least I can plan my dream trip so I'll be ready to jump into action when the time comes. For now, just keeping this book by my bed makes Italy feel a little bit closer.

­ The Sunshine Coast Trail, 3rd Edition by Eagle Walz

Eagle Walz is one of those people who leaves his mark on your heart. He's a gentle and passionate wilderness crusader and, through the Powell River Parks and Wilderness Society (an organization he founded), has saved countless acres of old growth trees by building the 180-kilometre-long Sunshine Coast Trail.

­ A Dream of Giants: The Story of the Sunshine Coast Trail by Emma Levez Larocque

This is a beautiful and inspiring picture book that "tells the fascinating story of the land the Sunshine Coast Trail passes through, as well as that of the people who have worked to protect the giants of our forests for future generations."

­ Us: Transforming Ourselves and the Relationships That Matter Most by Lisa Oz

From left to right: Brian Mullins, Catherine Roscoe Barr, Lisa Oz, and Corin Mullins.

I got to meet Lisa Oz, co-author of You: The Owner's Manual along with her husband Dr Mehmet Oz, at a press conference following her keynote address at CHFA West (the annual Canadian Health Food Association conference), where she was promoting her new book, which I got a signed copy of.

Her appearance was sponsored by Holy Crap Cereal, a local company started by husband and wife team Corin and Brian Mullins (who appeared on CBC's TV show Dragon's Den with their gluten-free, vegan, and certified organic cereal).

­ Contents May Have Shifted by Pam Houston

I haven't dug into this one yet and can't remember who recommended it but it sounds like a good story and I like the cover. Here's a snippet from the publisher's synopsis:

"Stuck in a dead-end relationship, this fearless narrator leaves her metaphorical baggage behind and finds a comfort zone in the air, feeling safest with one plane ticket in her hand and another in her underwear drawer."

­ The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron

This is another one I haven't started reading yet but it sounded totally up my alley – I love self-help stuff. It's written in the form of a 12-week guide and activity book. Here's a snippet from the publisher's synopsis:

"The Artist's Way is the seminal book on the subject of creativity. An international bestseller, millions of readers have found it to be an invaluable guide to living the artist's life."

­ Foundation: Redefine Your Core, Conquer Back Pain, and Move With Confidence by Eric Goodman and Peter Park

This is a book that absolutely everyone should read. Here's what the publisher says: "Foundation training shifts the focus from the front of your body to the back. By strengthening the full posterior chain and correcting poor movement patterns, you will maximize power, flexibility, and endurance and say goodbye to back pain."

The video above is co-author Eric Goodman talking about Foundation Training and the video below is co-author Peter Park (Lance Armstrong's strength and conditioning coach) showing four awesome core exercises.

­ Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr

I test drove this book at the library and loved it so much that I bought it. Kris Carr is one heck of an inspiring woman! Here's what Carr's website says about the book:

"Crazy Sexy Diet comes on the heels of Kris Carr’s best-selling cancer survival guidebooks and her acclaimed TLC documentary. Infused with her signature sass, wit and advice-from-the-trenches style, Crazy Sexy Diet is a beautifully illustrated resource that puts you on the fast track to vibrant health, happiness and a great ass!

"Along with help from her posse of experts, Carr lays out the fundamentals of her Crazy Sexy Diet: a low-glycemic, vegetarian program that emphasizes balancing the pH of the body with lush whole and raw foods, nourishing organic green drinks, and scrumptious smoothies. Plus, she shares the steps of her own twenty-one-day cleanse, and simple but delectable sample recipes."

­ The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer by Gretchen Reynolds

This is another book that everyone should read. I have this out from the library but have already ordered my own copy because it's so darn good. Seriously, who doesn't want to know how they can exercise better, train smarter and live long? And in only 20 minutes? Awesome!

Here's a snippet from the publisher's synopsis:

"With the latest findings about the mental and physical benefits of exercise, personal stories from scientists and laypeople alike, as well as researched-based prescriptions for readers, Gretchen Reynolds shows what kind of exercise – and how much – is necessary to stay healthy, get fit, and attain a smaller jeans size.

"Inspired by Reynolds's wildly popular 'Phys Ed' column for The New York Times, this book explains how exercise affects the body in distinct ways and provides the tools readers need to achieve their fitness goals, whether that's a faster 5K or staying trim."

­ Weeknights With Giada by Giada De Laurentiis

This is a great cookbook and I have a long list of recipes I'd like to try from it. I've already made one, the Mediterranean halibut sandwiches, and they were divine.

Stay tuned for the recipe, it will be up on the recipe blog I contribute to at, called What I Made For Dinner, late next week.

Fabulous Fitness Books

I’ve just been rooting around on my bookshelf for some fitness inspiration and look at all of the fabulous fitness books I have! These are all fantastic reads and full of great advice.

The Mars and Venus Diet & Exercise Solution by John Gray

Filled with insight on how diet and exercise affect men and women differently, this book delights with classic John Gray humour and charm. I had the privilege of hearing him speak as the keynote at a fitness conference in Toronto when this book first came out and I remember laughing so hysterically that my dear friend Aida and I practically had to hold each other up. After his talk, I rushed to the booth where he was selling and signing books and I was right behind the person who purchased the last book. I did, however, get to shake his hand, and it’s a moment I’ll never forget!

Fit for the Love of It by Uche and Kary Odiatu

I first became aware of this dynamic duo at the same fitness conference in Toronto where I met John Gray, Can Fit Pro, but the previous year. Kary is a former Ms Fitness Universe and Uche is a dentist, and together they are internationally known speakers, authors and fitness experts. They are one of my hero couples – an inspiring and vibrant team – and my husband and I have adopted their yearly practice of writing down goals (dreams with deadlines) at the start of each year. This is an inspiring book that I read again and again – and they’ve just published another fabulous book called The Miracle of Health.

Thrive Fitness by Brendan Brazier

OK, I know I can stop mentioning Brendan Brazier (as evidenced here, here, here, here and here) but this guy is good! This is a great book with great content (including a 6-week workout plan) from the vegan and former professional Ironman triathlete.

5-Factor Fitness by Harley Pasternak

I’ve also mentioned this fellow Canadian and trainer-to-the-stars a couple of times recently (here and here) but he is also very good. The 5-week plan from this book photocopies perfectly onto a double sided piece of letter-size paper and has been a frequent companion on my visits to the gym – it’s a great workout.

Your Best Body Now by Tosca Reno

If you haven’t heard of Tosca Reno, her story is truly inspiring. As a 40-something single mother she was overweight, out of shape, and sick and tired of being sick and tired. Then she found fitness and became a model (gracing the likes of Oxygen, one of my favourite fitness magazines), best-selling author (check out her Eat-Clean series), motivational speaker and wellness consultant.

Tracy Anderson’s 30-Day Method by Tracy Anderson

I’ve been adding the exercises from Tracy Anderson’s 30-Day Method to my workout routine (which she wouldn’t approve of because she implores her students to follow only her program, but I currently feel like doing a whole whack of things) and think her “Method” is pretty darn cool (and have recently mentioned it here, here and here). If it’s good enough for Gwyneth Paltrow, it’s good enough for me!

Body-for-Life for Women by Dr. Pamela Peeke

I loved Body-for-Life and Eating for Life by Bill Phillips so I was excited when Body-for-Life for Women came out, and it didn’t disappoint. Pamela Peeke is a great coach and addresses issues unique to women, especially as we age. Cindy Crawford is a fan and even wrote the forward for this lovely book.

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J Ratey

This is such a great book, and has inspired me to get moving many a time when the urge just wasn’t there. John J Ratey takes a fascinating look at exercise and the brain and gives lots of scientific backing to his discussion of the effects of physical activity on learning, stress, anxiety, depression, addiction, hormones, and aging. He includes this quote from Plato that I think nicely sums it up:

“In order for man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul and the other for the body, but for the two together. With these two means, man can attain perfection.”

Strength Training Anatomy by Frederic Delavier

An absolute must for anyone interested in human anatomy, especially as it pertains to strength training. This is a detailed and thorough look at the muscles involved in a great selection of resistance exercises.

How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy by Paul Chek

I’ve been to a number of sessions with Paul Check at Can Fit Pro conferences over the years and he is one holistic health guru not to be reckoned with. He’s a very intense and slightly intimidating chap (I quietly and discreetly cower in the back of his sessions) but his “personalized 4-step guide to looking and feeling great from the inside out” is a very insightful, impactful and holistic approach to fitness – just take a look at this super-fit and feisty fellow in the video below and you’ll see what I mean! This book even has a section on bowel movements, complete with cartoons of "bowel bandits" and the great advice I like to share with clients (partly to see them squirm): "the sign of a healthy digestive system is excreting at least 12 inches of poop each day." Do you poop 12 inches a day?

"No road is long with good company" ~Turkish Proverb

Wedding season is upon us and, if you’re already married, nothing beats watching other people say their vows to remind you of what you once promised. The following excerpt from the Bishop of London's sermon at William and Kate’s wedding is brilliant and one of my favourite takeaways from the service:

“Marriage should transform, as husband and wife make one another their work of art. It is possible to transform as long as we do not harbour ambitions to reform our partner. There must be no coercion if the Spirit is to flow; each must give the other space and freedom.”


Hanging around other couples who shower each other with respect and adoration is another positive force for a relationship. Just as great friends elevate you to your best, inspiring couples rub off on your coupledom.

We just arrived home from four days in Las Vegas with some of our best friends, a beautiful couple who’ve just celebrated their first wedding anniversary. I love the way these two pepper each other with thoughtful compliments, are affectionate without being gross, and are quick to resolve disagreements. They are both also incredibly upbeat people who love to have fun and anyone in their company is bound to do the same.

Another way to inject more sparkle into your relationship is to glean advice from relationship books. I love self-help books and below are a few of my relationship faves.

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by John Gray

This is a classic for a reason – it’s an easy (and hilarious) read and has really great advice.

Here’s what the publishers have to say about the book:

“Based on years of successful counseling of couples and individuals, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus has helped millions of couples transform their relationships. Now viewed as a modern classic, this phenomenal book has helped men and women realize how different they really are and how to communicate their needs in such a way that conflict doesn't arise and intimacy is given every chance to grow.”

The First Years Of Forever by Ed Wheat

Even though this book is written from a Christian point of view, it doesn’t matter if you’re religious or not, it has wise advice for building and maintaining a strong marriage for anyone.

Here’s what the publishers have to say:

“It is written as a marriage handbook to be read and then referred to again and again. Dr. Ed Wheat, co-author of the best-selling Love Life for Every Married Couple, draws on his training and experiences as a family physician and certified sex therapist to prepare couples for their lifelong journey together. The First Years of Forever provides the practical wisdom most people have to learn the hard way – or not at all. It tells how to develop skills in communicating with each other and resolving conflicts.”

Hitched: The Go-Girl Guide to the First Year of Marriage by Julia Bourland

From the publisher:

“If you're like most brides, you've spent more time pondering wedding favors and exotic honeymoon destinations than considering all the ways marriage will change your relationship. In Hitched, Julia Bourland provides the ultimate insider's guide to the joys, hopes, challenges, conflicting emotions, and endless compromises of the year that follows the 'I dos'.

"Drawing on dozens of interviews with newly married women, plus her own real-life experience, Bourland offers wise answers to crucial post-knot questions about sex, finances, friends, in-laws, and everything beyond, including:

  • • What to do when your libido soars (yay!) or sinks (eek!)
  • • How to keep important friendships – and nourish new ones
  • • The pros and cons of name changing
  • • How to carve out personal space within marriage
  • • The best ways to divide household responsibilities
  • • How to start planning for your financial future

"Candid, witty, and wise, HITCHED will steer you through the ups and occasional downs of newlywed life and set you on the path to a loving, happy, and secure future together.”

As a personal trainer, I’ve worked with a lot of brides-to-be and newly married gals, and the one thing that always irks me to no end is the way that so many people focus on the wedding, and not the marriage. I’ve seen a lot of women dust off their hands, their work done, once the wedding is over, expecting the rest of their lives to sail on smoothly. A good marriage takes some work and attention, and this is a great book for reminding you to mind the little things.


A Story of Loss and Gain, and Women Food and God

I recently finished reading Portia de Rossi’s memoir, Unbearable Lightness, and can’t stop thinking about it for a number of reasons. First of all, she recounts, in excruciating detail, the absolute horror of her struggle with anorexia and bulimia, and the pain of keeping secret the fact that she was gay until 2005, when she was in her early 30s. It was such a stark reminder that you can never judge a book by its cover, and even though people may seem to have it all on the outside (as she did, with her success on Ally McBeal and Arrested Development), they may be facing a very private, very painful, very different reality on the inside. Spoiler alert – the book has a very satisfying ending with de Rossi overcoming her eating disorder and finding love with Ellen DeGeneres.

It’s also very interesting to hear her describe how she was able to overcome her eating disorder. She appeared on Oprah to discuss her new book and shared her recovery on the show.

Oprah: “What’s your diet and exercise like now?”

Portia: “Well, exercise is an interesting word. I don’t like to use it and I don’t like to do it. But let me qualify that statement. I live a very active lifestyle. I love walking my dogs around the neighbourhood, I do it every day.”

“The only way I recovered from my eating disorder, and from chromic dieting, was to never ever restrict any kind of food, not even portion size. And that really is the only way that food loses its power over you. If you can have something every day, as much as you want, you tend not want it as much anymore. And after a period of time you actually eat what your body needs, you eat what makes you happy, and you don’t think about food ever again.”


You can see the whole Oprah interview, in four parts, on YouTube.

As Portia detailed her recovery it reminded me of another book I read a few months ago by Geneen Roth called Women Food and God. Roth – who has also appeared on Oprah – says, “If you pay attention to when you are hungry, what your body wants, what you are eating, when you’ve had enough, you end the obsession because obsessions and awareness cannot coexist. When you pay attention to yourself, you notice the difference between being tired and being hungry. Between being satisfied and being full. Between wanting to scream and wanting to eat.”

One of my best friends has a very sensible attitude towards food and it just so happens that she also has one of the most amazing physiques I’ve ever seen. When I first met her, I thought she must be one of those girls that obsessively counts calories, weighs and measures herself. She had to, I thought, she was so lean. But, it turns out that she marches to the beat of the same drum as de Rossi and Roth, she pays attention to what her body wants and doesn’t restrict any kind of food. And the result is a confident, self-assured, healthy, content and inspiring woman.


Books and Magazines On My Night Stand

I didn’t realize how much reading material I actually had on my nightstand until I lined them all up for this post. Whoah! This is a stellar lineup and I can’t wait to cram all of the following into my head!

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Not one, but two of my girlfriends recently gave me a copy of this book, and half of the ladies in my book club have already read it, so it must be good! Here's a review on along with the book's companion website,

Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession by Julie Powell

This is another recent gift from a friend, and a follow up to Powell's first book, Julie and Julia (which was also made into a movie starring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep).  Click here for's review of the book, and see video below for synopsis.

The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell

I can’t remember how I found out about this book because I put it on hold at the library a while ago and just picked it up the other day. But I love career-help type books (check out my Books on Creativity post) so it should be an interesting read. Also, looks like an interesting, resource-full website,

How It All Vegan: Irresistible Recipes for an Animal-free Diet by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer

I’m not a vegan but I’ve been exposed to a lot of veganism lately. My brother is exploring a vegan lifestyle, I’ve been contributing the odd Meatless Monday recipe to’s What I Made for Dinner food blog, and I recently had the immense pleasure of interviewing vegan author and athlete Brendan Brazier. This book, on its tenth edition, is packed with great vegan recipes, and there’s also an accompanying website,

Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain by Portia de Rossi

I love a good memoir and this one is fascinating and beautifully written. The tortured private life that Portia de Rossi shares in the book is heartbreaking and, at halfway through, I’m hoping that there will be a happy ending. Click here to read about and watch videos of her appearance on Oprah last year to promote the book.

5-Factor World Diet by Harley Pasternak

How cool is it that just days ago, in my last post, I mentioned Harley Pasternak’s new book and now it’s sitting right here next to me?! I love you, Vancouver Public Library! I haven’t dived in yet but the idea reminds me of a book I loved: French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano.

Whole Foods to Thrive by Brendan Brazier

This is Brendan Brazier’s fourth and newest book, and it just came out yesterday. As I mentioned above, I recently interviewed him – a dream come true because I’ve been a huge fan of his since his first book, Thrive, came out in 2004. Click here to read the article I wrote about Brazier for

The Pleasures of Slow Food: Celebrating Authentic Traditions, Flavors, and Recipes by Corby Kummer

This is a big book that has tantalizing, full-page pictures. First on my list of recipes to try: the risotto wrapped in cabbage leaves, mmm! And there's apparently a 13-part TV series in production, hosted by the author. See trailer below.

******* I’m so lucky to have a number of magazine subscriptions, and each month a little piece of heaven is delivered to my door when I receive my favourites:

Modern Dog magazine, Spring 2011

Gorgeous Nikita star, Maggie Q, graces the cover of the latest issue of Modern Dog. This is an awesome magazine, even if you don’t have a dog (I was reading it before I got one), and their Stuff We Love - Spring 2011 has me hankering for the Springer, a “bike attachment that allows you to safely bike with your dog.”    

Flare magazine, May 2011

Zooey Deschanel looks super fabulous on the cover of this month’s Flare (although Hailee Steinfeld beat her to the punch by wearing the same Prada dress to the SAG Awards in January of this year, and ditto for Amanda Seyfried who wore it on the cover of Elle’s April 2011 issue).

Fashion magazine, May 2011

Supermodel, Ukranian-Canadian, and Lancome spokeperson Daria Werbowy is Fashion’s May cover girl. Click here for a behind-the-scenes look at her cover shoot. 

InStyle magazine, May 2011

A radiant Kate Hudson, who’s expecting her second child this year, lands her third InStyle cover this month (I think I still have her first cover somewhere, where she appeared with her equally buoyant mother, Goldie Hawn, in 1996).


Books on Creativity

It’s no secret that answering the what-do-I-want-to-be-when-I-grow-up question has been a toughie for me. I’ve been an environmental educator, an aerobics instructor, the social director at a retirement home, and had my own personal training business as well as worked in a number of gyms and managed a sport and recreation facility. I’ve dropped out of teacher’s college and massage therapy school and I've auditioned to be a fitness expert on reality TV.

My epic quest for career contentment and fondness for non-fiction have gone hand in hand, and perusing the self-help section at the bookstore always gives me a rush. Maybe one of these books will contain the answers I’ve been seeking. Many have been stinkers, but the following three books have been truly helpful and insightful, and helped convince me that I wasn’t crazy to think I could (discover and) follow my dreams.

The Career Guide For Creative And Unconventional People by Carol Eikleberry

As I shared on my About page, I felt like a square peg in a world of round holes for an uncomfortably long period of time. Reading this book was like turning a corner and coming upon a field of happy, dancing square pegs eager to share the secrets of their success. Eikleberry breaks down the six basic personality types according to psychologist John Holland – Artistic, Social, Enterprising, Investigative, Realistic, Conventional – and further dissects the creative personality. She prompts and encourages the reader to discover the specifics of what their ideal career would look like and provides valuable tools to define or design that career by listing 25 categories that encompass 270 different creative occupations.

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson

This is a brilliant book by a brilliant and very forward-thinking man. Sir Ken Robinson, an internationally respected educator, speaks on encouraging different types of intelligence with characteristic British wit. Robinson describes The Element as “the point at which natural talent meets personal passion.” And, he says, when people arrive there, “they feel most themselves, most inspired, and achieve at their highest levels.” Included are the stories of famous creatives such as Paul McCartney, Meg Ryan, Arianna Huffington, and choreographer Gillian Lynne. Robinson encourages the reader to think differently about intelligence and to discover themselves by finding their tribe: “For most people, a primary component of being in their Element is connecting with other people who share their passion and a desire to make the most of themselves through it.” Watch his TED Talk on creativity below.

My So-called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire by Michelle Goodman

As a follow-up to Goodman’s The Anti 9-to-5 Guide, My So-called Freelance Life provides a detailed map for navigating the freelance world. With 15 years behind her as a successful freelancer she brings weight to her advice on time management (especially when working from home), pursuing ideal clients, and shunning the “notion that artists have to starve” by creating a business plan. This book is easy to read, filled with knee-smacking humour, and leaves you with the hopeful epilogue “I Am Freelance (And So Can You!)”