Pretty Happy – Book Review

I’m a huge fan of healthy lifestyle advice books. I’ve been a fan of them for a long time. I read those by doctors and specialists as well as those by celebrities. The first celebrity one I read was by Miss Piggy. It was 1979 and I was 8. I don’t remember any of her advice, but I do remember enjoying the book enough to take it out twice from the library. It may have been a satire, but I was drawn to its glamor and beauty aspects. The humour went over my head. Hey, I was 8 and my idea of true beauty was in its early stage of development as was my sense of humour.

As an adult, I’m a bit more cynical, but still drawn to beauty and lifestyle advice books. Why? I like a good makeover. A transformation story is optimistic and demonstrates some sense of agency and control over your destiny. I like learning what I can do on a personal level to be healthy and happy inside and out.

Yes, I know in a way I am buying into the idea that celebrities have it all figured out, but I know enough on the science of well-being and aging (as well that people are not always what they appear to be) that I can read these books and take from them what *I* find beneficial.

Now onto my latest read — Pretty Happy: Healthy Ways to Love Your Body by Kate Hudson.

This book is Kate Hudson’s answer to the limitless amount of questions she gets about her supposed secrets to looking and feeling good. She goes into detail in the ways she has constructed her life in ways she cannot in quick 30 second sound bite of an interview. It all starts with being in touch with your body and learning to understand it.

For me, reading my body, paying attention to its signals and honouring its natural intelligence, is key to staying slim, fit, and healthy.
Kate Hudson

This is definitely something I have found key to my own road to well-being. In the past it was ever so easy for me to detach from my body and my feelings and engage in unhealthy habits – use food, drink, relationships and passivity as a pacifier in my day to day life. Connecting to my body and my emotions, observing them with gentle compassion has made a world of difference to me. reading this right off the top in Kate’s book made me want to read more about HOW she connects and what habits it involves. I like to always be adding to my toolbox of wellness strategies and habits.

She breaks this process down into what she calls her 4 Pillars of Health: Cultivate an Intuitive Relationship with Your Body , Eat Well (focusing on nutritional balance and Ayurvedic eating), Awaken Your Body (movement & exercise), and The Miracle of Mindfulness. The foundation of these Pillars is what she calls her Drawing Board – essentially a journal for various exercises and note-taking – that makes the reading the book and interactive process.

Things I liked: Her approach to mindfulness and meditation. I think doing a daily (or many times a day) scan of the body and checking how you feel physically and emotionally is such a useful tool.

Things I did not like: The word detox. I think it is overused and typically inaccurate.

Things I am now more curious about: Ayurvedic medicine body typing and eating.

I think if you are someone who enjoys self-reflection, then you will enjoy this book. I don’t think anything she recommends to be out of reach for the average person. I live a frugal yet very busy life with a small budget and many responsibilities. I was able to implement many of her suggestions without changing my spending habits. It meant more changing how I spend my time (like my sedentary habits of watching a few hours a day of TV).

Some people have not found the book as useful as I did – like the author of this snippy review. I’m not really into the online trend to hate on famous people. I get that people find it loathsome when a celebrity speaks from much privilege. But it is not like this kind of book is coming out of nowhere. Journalists and entertainment reporters are asking them ALL THE TIME what they eat, how they exercise and what they wear. I can see that they would want to take advantage of this interest by controlling the message with their own book. Plus, it makes financial sense for the 30 and 40 something actresses who don’t work as much as they used to in their 20s to take their celebrity and use it to continue to earn a living.

I much preferred this take on the celebrity lifestyle trend by Jess Allen. It’s a little more gentle and I think more self-deprecatingly humorous. Slightly in line with my 8 year old self and Miss Piggy’s book.

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