Great Lakes Geek Book Review

Fitness for Geeks:
Real Science, Great Nutrition, and Good Health
by Bruce W. Perry

Let's face it. Many of us who qualify for the moniker Geek (or Geekette) tend to spend a lot of time seated in front of a computer. We also tend to eat and drink items that are convenient and tasty which usually is a synonym for 'unhealthy.'

People like us are always looking for a clever or unique way to solve a problem. So if fitness is the problem, we approach it as a hackable goal. When a book like Fitness for Geeks: Real Science, Great Nutrition, and Good Health proposes to lead us to fitness in such a manner, especially with the credibility of being part of the O'Reilly family, we have to check it out.

Geeks are often left-brain dominant and hence more logical, analytical and objective. So I expected the book to be full of such strategies. The author mentions METs, the metabolic equivalence of a task, in the Preface. METs are a numerical index of the energy you output in a day. We all know that there is no magic solution to fitness: you have to eat better and exercise more and better. Need to lose weight? Chemistry tells us to burn more than we consume. Very left-brain.

But such logic is few and far between in the rest of the book. We learn that reclining in a chair is 1 MET, while actively raking leaves is 2.9. There are a couple other examples but for the most part these quantifiable units are ignored. I wanted more like that but instead got page after page on mediation, fasting, whole foods from local farms and other non-geeky stuff.

I liked the idea that the author puts out that Gear doesn't equal Health but then a lot of pages are spent on tracking devices and apps. Some is interesting such as the feature of Endomondo that let you track how many burgers you burned or how many trips around the world you have run/walked/cycled. That's geeky.

But most of the book isn't up to the quality of these nuggets. Much space is spent on Vitamins, Minerals, Micronutrients and all the components of our foods. Geeks already know that too much of their light comes from a monitor and not enough from the sun.

I also liked the example of a dieting site called FitDay that lets you track and total vending machine and fast foods, We already know that too much of those foods are bad but the scary numbers might lead to some behavioral changes.

Lots of the info is already out there and the few intriguing ideas ended up being disappointing. For example, I was interested in the Airport Fitness Hacks section. It turned out to be only about 2 pages and included such items "Always take the stairs instead of the escalators" and "Refrain from stuffing your gullet with all that crappy airport food." Duh.

So while the book is a comprehensive look at some approaches to fitness, I don't think it falls under the 'Geek' umbrella. Now pass that Twinkie.

Great Lakes Geek Rating:2 out of 5 pocket protectors.

Reviewed by Entreprenerd Dan Hanson, the Great Lakes Geek (10/12)

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