A debut step-by-step guide focuses on achieving a healthier lifestyle through diet and exercise.
Digenio opens his well-designed manual with some sobering observations about American life in modern times: increased stress, high intakes of saturated and trans fats, increased portion sizes, and a growth of what the author calls “sedentarism,” adults spending more and more hours sitting around. These and other factors have led to an upsurge in chronic health problems, and the solution is obvious: a shift from curative reactions toward preventative approaches that modify unhealthy behaviors in order to circumvent future long-term complications. To combat sedentarism and obesity, the author—a Uruguay-born physician with extensive training in cardiovascular care who lives in New Jersey—developed a PulseStep Lifestyle Program. He illustrates this plan throughout the book with the example of Jason, a 43-year-old overweight man with Type 2 diabetes. When Jason’s doctors urge him to go on a weight-loss program, he and his wife, Brenda, conduct some research on various dietary plans. After considering alternatives, they decide to use PulseStep, which is based on three pillars: “a healthy, low-calorie Mediterranean diet, an increase in physical activity, and behavior-therapy strategies.” Jason is encouraged to assess his current level of exercise and dietary health, equipped with a pedometer (and told that he should add at least 500 steps to his daily goal each week), and reminded of the basics: “Fewer calories in and more calories out.” Progress is to be monitored with weekly weigh-ins.
In clear and heavily bullet-pointed prose, accompanied by extensive full-color images by debut illustrator Ponce, the guide takes readers through the three pillars of Digenio’s program. The details of a Mediterranean diet are explored: more fresh foods, fewer processed items, healthy fats, fish, and moderate amounts of wine (a useful food pyramid and daily portion breakdown are provided). A plan for regular walking is laid out with sensible goals and cautions against overdoing things—a demonstration of the sympathetic approach the author employs throughout the book. He anticipates all the usual excuses people make to avoid exercising, and he gently but firmly short-circuits all of them. This is first and foremost an achievable weight-loss regimen, complete with Digenio’s common-sense advice on the whole range of smarter eating techniques, from devouring smaller portions to consuming food more slowly and simply waiting when the urge to snack surfaces. The manual’s recurrent use of Jason as an Everyman example of somebody seeking to lose weight and get healthier, combined with its copious charts and graphs, makes it easy for readers to grasp the whole program and visualize its possible outcomes. The author examines both the customary discouragements of starting to learn so many new habits and the typical advantages that result from sticking with the course. All of it is presented in such straightforward, optimistic tones that even readers who’ve tried and failed at other dieting routines should find this one easy to embrace.
A well-illustrated and comprehensive low-stress program for eating and exercising better.