The Wellness Project — Summary and Review

The Wellness Project Book Cover

The Wellness Project: How I Learned to Do Right by My Body, Without Giving Up My Life

by Phoebe Lapine

Published: 2017 | 384 pages
Rating Amazon:  stars rating 4.7 
Rating by reviewer:  stars rating 4.5 
Author of the article: Abdul Saboor Khaliq
Date of the summary: Aug 27, 2020

The Wellness Project book, written by Phoebe Lapine, is an interesting guide to living a healthy and long life.

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The Wellness Project Book Cover

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Introduction

In, The Wellness Project: How I Learned to Do Right by My Body, Without Giving Up My Life, the writer explains the key factors needed to live a healthy life. The book is written in a way that even the laymen can benefit. The book never gets boring and is written fluidly. At the end of every chapter, the writer gives an overview of the section's highlights and yummy recipes for healthy meals. The writer presents a complete lifestyle which we can adopt to live long and stay healthy. Additionally, for our convenience, she has included a proper timetable and schedule for all our routine activities, such as diet, walking, and exercise. She guides us to observe even the minor things we are unintentionally doing wrong. She explains how to have a well-functioning body and calm soul, even if you have an autoimmune disease.

Interesting quotes from the book

If you could tell someone to make just one lifestyle change that would have a profound effect on their general well-being, what would it be? The answers I got to my One Big Question (henceforth referred to as the OBQ) were surprising. People stopped talking about SoulCycle and superfoods and started talking about the bigger picture.

— Phoebe Lapine, The Wellness Project


'Insulin plays 'good cop' and 'bad cop' in your body', writes Brooke Alpert and Patricia Farris, the dietician-dermatology duo behind The Sugar Detox: Lose Weight, Feel Great, and Look Years Younger. 'It's the good guy when it jumps in to control the sugar riot in your bloodstream. Yet it's also the bad guy because, while it is controlling the sugar situation, it is depositing fat in places you don't want it, like around your belly.'

— Phoebe Lapine, The Wellness Project


'Replace the 'no pain, no gain' mantra with 'work smarter, not harder' when exercising,' said barre3 founder Sadie Lincoln in her response to the One Big Question. 'One simple and highly effective way to do this is to modify postures so you feel really good while you're working out and even better afterward.' In group scenarios, there's no shame in resting in child's pose, taking a water break ...

— Phoebe Lapine, The Wellness Project


Summary of the book The Wellness Project

The Wellness Project: How I Learned to Do Right by My Body, Without Giving Up My Life is a book by Phoebe Lapine, a renowned private chef. Lapine suffers from an autoimmune disease known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis, which affects the structure and function of the thyroid gland, hence impacting a wide array of bodily functions ranging from basal metabolic rate to complex gastrointestinal and neural functions. In this book, the writer narrates her personal experience of going from crappy food to nutrient-rich meals while keeping balance in her life.

CLEANSING

Living like a social bee in the hustle and bustle of the busy streets of the United States and keeping your diet nutritious amongst all the junk food restaurants is more exhausting than it seems. The wise way to move towards a nutritious diet is to it take one step at a time. The first thing which we should focus on at the start of this healthy eating journey is "cleansing".

The best way to go about cleansing is by adding detoxifying drinks into your morning routine. For instance, the writer added a drink made from the juice of one lemon dissolved in lukewarm water. It certainly does wonders in cleaning your gut and liver.

VICES TO LEAVE BEHIND

The next important step is to examine your dietary habits and look for the hidden vices. For Lapine, three vices in her diet were sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.

Getting rid of these poisons is the main thing you will have to do in your journey to a healthy lifestyle.

Getting rid of sugar

Sugars are a form of carbohydrate which range from simple to complex and it is well-known that an excess of carbohydrates is harmful. They increase body weight, disrupt metabolism, cause a large amount of insulin-release, and excess carbs are stored in the form of chubby fat molecules.

If you check the ingredients of every processed food you eat, you will be amazed to notice how much sugar you are unknowingly consuming. Southern and Asian cuisines are especially high in sugar. You should opt for Mexican, Middle Eastern, Indian, or Greek foods because they have a lower sugar content.

Skip all the sweet juices and drinks. Avoid drinking fruit juices such as apple, peach, or grape. These sweet juices are high in sugar. Avoid drinking soda as well.

Raw honey has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal qualities. So, if you cannot live without sugar, use raw honey as a sweetener.

Getting rid of alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol can be bad for your liver and other organs.

If you do get lured towards alcohol, do not drink it without taking a bite of something high in fiber, like peanuts, cornflakes, or oatmeal. These high fiber foods slow alcohol absorption and save you from future misery. Now you may understand the reason behind bars serving peanuts and walnuts. Moreover, take a capsule of activated charcoal before going out if you are anticipating drinking. It will absorb the toxins.

Getting rid of caffeine

Next on the list of vices is caffeine. It is only a myth that caffeine boosts the basal metabolic rate. Caffeine causes blood sugar and cortisol spikes. It competes for precious enzyme resources that process estrogen.

It is not easy to get the caffeine out of your system if you are dependent on it for waking up.

You should rather opt for a cup of green tea in the morning. Green tea is low in caffeine and high in antioxidants.

THE GOOD ATTRIBUTES

Up against the three vices, we have the three loveable attributes. They are water, exercise, and sleep. Drinking a lot of water does wonders to all the organs of your body, including the skin. Seven to eight hours of sleep saves you from many diseases and dark circles under your eyes. Exercise determines the basal metabolic rate of your body.

SKINCARE AND MAKEUP

The next important thing is to cleanse your skin and dressing table of makeup and cosmetics. Start reading the product ingredients and find out what substances your cosmetics contain. From face washes to final concealers, nothing should be high on chemicals. Almost all makeup materials are high on chemicals, so you should not wear makeup. Go with the natural no-makeup look. Other people, and more importantly you, will accept the natural look eventually. Even if you deem it necessary to wear makeup, wash it off before going to bed with proper makeup removing oils. Wash makeup brushes regularly and use a separate towel for your face.

Moisturizers, lotions, and day-creams are things you cannot get rid of, as they stay on your body and face for a long time. You should be cautious while using them. Try to use moisturizers and lotions made of natural and organic ingredients. Do not use anything high in unhealthy chemicals.

Avoid applying deodorants directly to your skin. Apply them to your clothes instead. For men, studies have shown that deodorants decrease sperm-count.

Sunscreen is a mandatory care item. Ultraviolet rays are deadly and cancer-causing. You should use sunscreen whenever possible.

DIETARY PLAN

Assessing and analyzing yourself on your road to a healthy lifestyle is important. You should do your self-assessment by keeping a journal. Record all the food you are eating and try to slowly eliminate the bad food and add in the good food. Meat does the body no good. You can have occasional fish and salmon, but other than that, avoid taking in meat in all its forms. Try taking in more vegetables. You can start slow. To begin, 50% of your diet should be vegetables. An easy trick is that the brighter the vegetables are, the more anti-inflammatory they will be. What is fancier and healthier than a bright neatly cut and cooked bowl of vibrant veggies? If you are having trouble getting rid of meat, you can start by skipping meat one day of the week. You will eventually reach your goal. Do not substitute animal proteins with soy products. You can use almond and coconut milk in your smoothies and eat legumes if you are looking for proteins.

When you try to keep to a healthy diet, you will face a myriad of obstacles. It is necessary to address those problems if you want to stick to the plan. Let us discuss them one by one.

  • Cooking organic and nutrient-rich meals every day is a hectic task. There are certain tricks you can implement. For instance, you can assign one day of the week for cutting vegetables and freezing them in packs. You can even pack one serving per bag, so that when you have to eat you just take out that bag and off you go.
  • You should make a proper menu of your meals, keeping in mind your budget.
  • Buying in bulk saves a lot of money. Things off the shelves are expensive.
  • Use healthy oils. Try sticking to coconut oil and olive oil.
  • Most non-stick pans have Teflon coating which is toxic. When you are being cautious in eating purely organic food, you should also keep it away from toxins while cooking it. You can do so simply by cooking with a pan made of cast iron. Leftover vegetables like lemon zest, coriander, and asparagus can be used in salad dressings. The bottom line is not to waste any food.
  • Try to join communities that provide you with fresh, organic vegetables weekly. It will make your life easier.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. What you take in for breakfast decides how your body is going to process the whole day. Go for a high fiber meal. Add cleansing drinks and green tea into your breakfast.

WATER

We have become so busy in our social lives and advanced in our technology that we prefer processed food. We like to have a glass of mango juice while watching our favorite TV show, but processed drinks are just sugar. You should stay away from them just like you should stay away from alcohol. Nothing can replace water. Water is there to quench your thirst. You should keep a water pitcher on your bedside table to measure your water intake and to remind yourself to drink more water. You can infuse the water with something like a cucumber slice or herbal tea leaves to get a nice aroma and flavor. Do not use plastic water bottles because plastics have hazardous chemicals. Use stainless steel bottles to carry water. You should have a home filter for drinking water. You should even use a filter on your showerhead because your skin can absorb toxins from unfiltered water. Most of us have PVC waterproof shower curtains but it is better to use fabric curtains. PVC curtains can also be a source of toxins that your skin can absorb.

SALT

Next on the list of things we should examine is salt. Iodine from salt is necessary for your thyroid. However, too much iodine is not good for you either. The writer suggests using Himalayan salt.

EXERCISE

Spending most of our weekends in front of the TV, laptop, and drinking soda has made us obnoxiously sluggish and lazy. We need to change that. We can try the following tricks:

  • Answer phone calls while walking, running, jogging, or squatting.
  • It is best to involve both sides of the body, right and left, in daily chores. For example, you should not always use your right hand to brush your teeth or pick things up. Use both hands.
  • Use trolley bags instead of backpacks. Too much load is not good for your back.
  • Add stretching into your daily routine.
  • Sleeping on your stomach is the worst position. The best posture for sleeping is to sleep on your back with a pillow underneath your knees and arms at your sides.
  • Long term usage of high heels causes permanent changes in spine curvature and foot arches. Try using flats as much as you can.
  • Do exercises to strengthen your feet.
  • If you cannot hire someone for body massages, just roll a tennis ball underneath your back and feet. It will do the job.

After you adopt simple measures to flex your muscles and move your joints, you will move on to the bigger step of incorporating actual exercises into your routine. You should keep the following things in mind:

  • Have a fitness tracker.
  • If you do not afford anything fancy, at least use a pedometer.
  • You should jump during your free time. For instance, you should pass time waiting by doing movements such as sit-ups or jumping. If you do that, the world is nothing but a gym for you.
  • Just like we eat to calm our body, our mind needs soothing. Find your sweet spot in your mind and go for it. It can be music, yoga, painting, etc.
  • The only way to take time for exercise is to dedicate space to it in your schedule. You will have to take the time for it.
  • You should consider yourself very lucky if you are privileged enough to afford a gym and trainer. Nothing beats the gym and expertise of an experienced trainer.
  • Buy tracksuits, exercise outfits, and a sportswear. It will keep you motivated.
  • Most importantly, no amount of exercise can cope with bad eating habits. You should make your eating habits better at every cost.
  • Do not become an exercise freak. Take care of your body. Do not overindulge. Give your body enough time for recovery. Do not take on too much strenuous exercise too fast.

SLEEP

  • Adopt a regular sleep-wake cycle.
  • Try to go to sleep at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning.
  • Sleeping at night regulates your cortisol, growth hormones, and other hormones.
  • The time you take between opening your eyes and getting out of bed should not be more than half an hour.
  • If you have insomnia, try drinking warm milk or herbal tea. It helps. Taking a hot shower before going to bed can also help. If your insomnia is severe, consult a physician as soon as possible.
  • Nighttime is sleeping time and the time when your brain should relax and get maximum blood flow. Eating or drinking too soon before sleep disrupts that. Try to not eat or drink alcohol two hours before bedtime.
  • Keep a record of your quality of sleep in a diary. Add minor details too.
  • Write down the things making you anxious and preventing you from sleep.
  • Try to keep your mind off any anxious thoughts. Think of good things before going to sleep.
  • Do not use the phone in bed.
  • Do not watch television or movies in bed.
  • Studies have shown that jasmine, vanilla, and lavender oils have a calming effect because of their fragrances. Rub just a few drops on your chest.

LIFESTYLE AND HORMONAL REGULATION

The purpose of a good and balanced diet is to provide your body with a calm and comfortable environment to thrive in. Our endocrine glands and hormones are very sensitive to slight changes. You should try to keep track of them. Here is a list of things that you can do:

  • Keep an eye on your blood sugar.
  • Birth control pills disrupt the absorption of vitamin B, magnesium, and zinc. You should consume a nutrient-rich diet if you are taking birth control pills.
  • Women need fat for proper functioning menstrual cycles. Women of childbearing age should also take in fats, not just rely on veggies and green salads. Fish, coconut oil, and olive oil are all rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Women need to track their periods well and relax during this time. For example, they can put a hot water bottle on their belly, read a good book, and lie down. They can also take Epsom salt baths.
  • Mucosal surfaces can absorb toxins even more rapidly than the skin. Use safe and organic methods of birth control.
  • Selenium is mandatory in thyroid functioning. It has a role in the conversion of the primary thyroid hormone t4 to the active t3. It also fights against iodine toxicity. The Brazilian nut is known to be rich in Selenium. Eat at least three Brazilian nuts a day to protect your thyroid.

MISCELLANEOUS

There is a myriad of habits you should be implementing for a sane mind and body. For example:

  • Use antibiotics only when they are necessary. Antibiotics damage the gut bacteria and their use by the wider population has resulted in antibiotic-resistant microbes.
  • Do not use antacids unless prescribed.
  • Being overly hygienic can cause you and your children to have weak immunity. Kids develop antibodies and immunity against weak strains when they face them. Excessive cleaning never allows them to interact with any strains.
  • Chew your food well before swallowing.
  • Develop good bowel habits. The method of squatting is good for pooping. You can still recreate that method by putting a hollow stool on top of the toilet seat. Your defecation reflex should be natural, not forced or refrained.

SANE MIND

The whole purpose of your life should be to make yourself and others happy, which you cannot do unless you have a sane mind in a sane body. Thus far, we have talked about having a sane body and how it will indirectly give you a sane mind. Now it is time to talk about the things you should be doing to have a sane mind. You should start your day with cleansing drinks, a brisk walk, exercises, and meditation. Meditation is the key to having a sane mind. Adopt these practices to your schedule. Do all the parts of it as a ritual. When you are making progress towards bringing calm into your life, you will get comfort and your mind will be at peace.

Key Lessons from the book The Wellness Project

Lesson 1: Cleansing

Incorporate detoxifying drinks into your morning to cleanse your gut and liver. It will do wonders.

Lesson 2: Throw the vices in trash

Try to get rid of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol as soon as you can.

Lesson 3: Pick up the good attributes

Drink a lot of water, exercise, and have adequate sleep to stay healthy.

Review of the book The Wellness Project

In this book, the writer has given a complete guide to living a healthy and long life by narrating her personal experiences. The writer is a private chef and suffers from Hashimoto Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease. The writer has simplified things for her readers. The book itself clearly states the impact of exercise, sleep, water, alcohol, caffeine, and sugar on one's health. The best part of the book is that you don't lose interest and can read it all in one sitting. Additionally, the book does not ask you to go over the top in adopting a healthy lifestyle. A countryman with no amenities and a person living in a busy city can both adapt to the meal plans and lifestyle described.

Conclusion

The book can give hope and inspiration to all of us, regardless of age, gender, and medical condition. Likely everyone can benefit from living according to the prescribed program. Adopt this healthy lifestyle starting today and live a healthier life.


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