I was always really active throughout my childhood and into my teens, between swimming, softball and running. In my junior year of high school I got really interested in weight lifting. I was always lean but not super skinny, and I admired the muscle tone on the women I saw competing in fitness competitions. I hung pictures of these women, especially Monica Brant, on the walls of my parents’ basement, where I would lift weights in an effort to look like them.
I never had the hopes of competing in fitness competitions; I just liked the way they looked. They weren’t the super scary muscular body building women; rather, they looked toned and strong but still feminine.
When I got to college and was no longer involved in organized sports, I got out of the exercise routine I had been in for most of my life. I worked out sporatically, and then when I got out of college I went through periods where I didn’t work out at all. A few years ago, of course, I back into running and started doing triathlons, but I haven’t really ever gotten back into the weight lifting that I once really loved. And I have always struggled with the diet part of health and fitness.
That’s why I was really interested in reviewing The Natural Way: The Holistic Guide To Total Mind-Body Health & Fitness by Beth Horn, a professional fitness competitor and trainer who competed on American Gladiators as Venom.
Even though Horn is an accomplished fitness champion, as someone who in general wants to learn more about strength training and healthy eating, I found her to be very relatable. I love that Horn’s goal is to be a positive role model for women of all ages, naturally.
The first part of The Natural Way deals mostly with diet. Horn states that whatever your goal is, eating is 75% of the total package that will make or break your success. Yikes!
For me – and I think a lot of people are in the same boat – when I have a big goal in mind, sometimes knowing how far I have to go to accomplish it can be seem too daunting. So one of the things I liked about Horn’s approach is that it’s not all-or-nothing. She encourages the reader to start with one goal at a time – and it can be a small one, like drinking more water or cutting soda intake in half.
Another thing I took away from the book is that eating is all about balance. I tend to skip breakfast a lot, or just eat an energy bar or a bowl of cereal, but reading this reminded me that first of all, I shouldn’t be skipping breakfast, and second of all, I need make sure I’m adding enough protein into my meals. I tend to eat a lot of carbs just because they’re easier to grab on the go. A little planning ahead will go a long way.
Horn says that cheat meals are okay (yay!), as long as you don’t get carried away with quantity, and the book gives various helpful examples of different eating plans to follow depending on your goals.
Another helpful thing is that Horn recommends various foods to eat, indicating which are the best choices, which are good choices, which are fair choices – and foods to avoid completely (along with acceptable substitutes for things you may be craving). The book even includes a food log to use as a guide, as well as handy nutritional information for various foods.
In figuring out a workout routine that best suits one’s needs, I like that Horn uses examples of real people – indicating their current fitness levels, how they eat and what their goals are – so readers can find someone they can identify with and follow the recommended exercise plan associated with him or her. It’s another way that this book is relatable to “real” people who are interested in accomplishing their health and fitness goals.
Horn covers the best strength training exercises for the entire body, and includes helpful workout plans to follow. She includes pictures of herself doing the exercises, which is a great motivator, but also photos of real people, which is helpful in showing that strength training is something we can do right at home. It doesn’t have to be intimidating and it’s not necessary to have tons of expensive equipment.
Horn also includes a section at the end about athletic teenage workouts, which is something I would have loved to have when I was in high school trying to emulate fitness professionals like Horn!
I really enjoyed The Natural Way and look forward to following the tips, advice and workout regimens Horn recommends!