Getting your new year off to a healthy start is hard, especially if you’ve got leftover sweets and goodies from the holidays. Reading a few books can give your fitness plan a kick-start with detailed workout plans, schedules, healthy recipes, and lots more. Plus, they make excellent gifts to help others who are on the resolutions track!

However, there are so many health and fitness books that it can get overwhelming very quickly, so here are several books to help you improve every aspect of your health.

Books can help you understand why you do what you do and inspire you to make changes.

If you have self-control issues, The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control, by Walter Mischel, is the book for you. It’s based on knowledge that the author gained conducting studies. Children were presented with a treat, such as a marshmallow, and told that they could either eat the marshmallow now or wait and have two later. Mischel delves into influence of self-control on all aspects of life. He also teaches readers how to master and use their self-control. For anyone who’s trying to change old habits, like smoking or overeating, this book is a great choice.

Real Happiness at Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement, and Peace, by Sharon Salzberg, is perfect for anyone who’s stressed at work. Full of different exercises and snippets of wisdom, this book helps you learn to keep your cool at work. According to its description on Amazon:

“It’s about being committed without being consumed, competitive without being cruel, managing time and emotions to counterbalance stress and frustration.”

This book has also got lots of ideas for quick, private meditations to keep your stress levels down, like pausing and taking a deep breath before answering the phone.

There are tons of cookbooks and food-centered books, but some are particularly great at helping you figure out what to eat to stay healthy.

If you want to eat healthier but don’t want to count calories or carbs or anything else, look at The Fit-Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet: 10-Minute Fixes to Get the Body You Want and a Life You’ll Love, by Jennipher Walters and Erin Whitehead. This fitness book is about becoming healthy and happy. The authors present ten principles to encourage readers to follow their hunger cues, find fun ways to work out, and become more confident. Additionally, some of this book’s glowing reviews are from men, so don’t hesitate to pick this one up just because it says “girls” in the title.

Another book that can help you form healthy eating habits is Foodist: Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dieting, by Darya Pino Rose, Ph.D. This book focuses on helping you learn how to make healthy living a habit. Even if you’re not trying to lose weight, this book can get your eating habits on a healthy track. Also, check out, the author’s website, to see a trailer that goes into detail on what this book is about.

Unique fitness books can help you find the inspiration to exercise.

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, by John J. Ratey, M.D, isn’t exactly a book of workouts and exercise, but it will still make you want to get moving. The author digs into the effects of exercise on the brain. Dr. Ratey presents case studies suggesting that regular fitness can decrease stress, improve memory, control anxiety and depression, and more. This book will get you excited to exercise.

If you’re looking for a fitness book about yoga and exercise, The 21-Day Yoga Body: A Metabolic Makeover and Life-Styling Manual to Get You Fit, Fierce, and Fabulous in Just 3 Weeks, by Sadie Nardini, is a great way to jumpstart your fitness plan. It has daily plans for 21 days, and each day’s plan covers yoga poses as well as meal plans. If you’re hesitant about learning new yoga poses from a book, the author has lots of exclusive videos online to accompany the book, so you can do the poses along with her.

Body by Simone: The 8-Week Total Body Makeover Plan is by Simone De La Rue, personal trainer to many Hollywood stars. This fitness book contains a self-assessment test to figure out if you’re at the beginner, intermediate, or advanced level, and the workout plans are all customizable to each level. Many of the exercises are dance-based, so this is a great choice if you like to turn up the music while working out. You can also pick up several recipes for juices, smoothies, and meals from this book.

Other books cover it all, from fitness to healthy eating.

You might expect a book written by actress Cameron Diaz to be full of hyped-up workouts and fad diets, but her The Body Book: The Law of Hunger, the Science of Strength, and Other Ways to Love Your Amazing Body is a science-grounded, down-to-earth book about healthy living. It discusses the importance of making good food choices, as well as the importance of movement and exercise. Instead of a jumpstart plan lasting a week or a month, this book gives ways to make long-term changes for a healthier overall life.

Mark McClusky’s Faster, Higher, Stronger: How Sports Science is Creating a New Generation of Superathletes – and What We Can Learn from Them takes a hard look at today’s athletes, from genes to nutrition to technology. The author then examines ways that everyday people can apply this information to their lives and put it to use. It’s also a great read for anyone interested in sports in general, particularly the profound effect of technology on sports.

Make Your Own Rules Diet, by Tara Stiles, is a lot more than a diet book. It encompasses food, yoga, meditation, and a tension-free life. The big focus is on changes that can make you feel amazing, which the author helps you do by giving tips and tricks to make your rules for living. To hear her describe the book in her own words, check out the video on her website (scroll down a little to find the video).

If you’re still looking for that perfect health or fitness book for yourself or gift-giving, there are lots of ways to find it.

There are tons of lists about the best fitness books, so look around online for reviews of great health and fitness books. has a list of The 20 Must-Read Fitness, Health, and Happiness Books of 2014. The Huffington Post has a slideshow of the Top 50 Health Books.

If you find a book you really like and want more like it, look up the book you liked at a website like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Alibris. Then check out the “customers also bought” suggestions. Likewise, hit up your local indie bookstore and ask the savvy staff for their own recommendations. Don’t forget about audiobooks, either. You can buy audiobooks on CD through book venues, or you can get digital copies through iTunes,, or other sites. You can also check out your local libraries for both books and audiobooks.

Do you have a favorite health or fitness book?

Image by Ginny via Flickr


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