Healthy as F*ck by Oonagh Duncan [8/10]

A Canadian fitness trainer espousing “fitness feels good,” Oonagh Duncan has commandeered the “F*ck” title provocation in the service of her training philosophy, principles, and methods. And in keeping with such provocation, “Healthy as F*ck: The Habits You Need to Get Lean, Stay Healthy, and Kick Ass at Life” is saturated with plain-spoke language, including a heap of swearing. If that is a turn-off, so be it, but I’m here to tell you that she is a genuine force and treasure. In the panoply of How-To books, no area is potentially more lucrative than wellness and no area is harder to deliver the goods in. In my half century of exercising and fussing about diet, I’ve sampled many instructional books and only a handful have stuck with me and made a difference. “Healthy as F*ck” is one such. One of her key strengths is a take-no-prisoners attitude that adds the necessary intrinsic motivation to her core idea, namely that health and fitness are not a function of willpower but of habits. Duncan offers seven core habits, which I won’t spoil here other than to say they’re not quite what you might expect but are, in my humble opinion, a marvellous, well-rounded blueprint for modern life. She explores how to render those habits easier to achieve, how to recruit support, what bad thoughts (aka “bullshit”) get in the way, how to “half-ass” the habits (i.e. how to flex within something less than 100% adherence), and then finally, how to deal with the dreaded “fuckit,” that surrendering-in-the-moment impulse that can derail any dietary/exercise regime. None of this is completely new but as a whole, it sparkles, and reading this book challenges one to become healthier in all the right ways. Overall, an apt, cohesive lifesaver.

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