Book Rec: The Joy Diet by Martha Beck

I fell in love with The Joy Diet: 10 Daily Practices for a Happier Life in the introduction. (I love when that happens.)

The Joy Diet isn’t about eating or exercising, despite the title. Author Martha Beck (if you haven’t read her other books, you may know her from Oprah) uses the term “diet” in reference to a way of living, how we think and behave. About dieting, she says:

“[If] you’re looking for ways to shed that potbelly or firm your buttocks, I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere. As far as I’m concerned, your belly and buttocks are absolutely magnificent right now, not that I want you to send me photographs.”

Who can not love an author who thinks her (the reader’s) butt and belly look magnificent? Maybe she was just sucking up, I don’t know, but she had my attention. A few paragraphs later, she had my complete and eternal adoration:

“No matter what complex thing you’re learning, from playing the piano to solving calculus equations, the trick is to break the necessary actions down into trivial-seeming behaviors, then practice these behaviors until you can do each one half-asleep, while watching television with one eye and your children with the other.”

At the time I first read this book, which was early last year, I had just spent two of the best years of my life (so far!) realizing and learning to practice incremental changes. It’s the “Tippy Toe” part of The Tippy Toe Diet, and several of the ten behaviors described are ones I had already adopted for myself. What this book did for me was to remind me of the importance of each and every one, and in several cases, to enlighten me as to why exactly they had worked. It also made me wish I had known about this book when it was first published in 2003.

The Joy Diet’s ten “menu items”, as listed in the book’s jacket:

• Nothing: Do nothing for fifteen minutes a day. Stop mindlessly chasing goals and figure out which goals are worth going after.
• Truth: Create a moment of truth to help you unmask what you’re hiding—from others and from yourself.
• Desire: Identify, articulate, and explore at least one of your heart’s desires—and learn how to let yourself want what you want.
• Creativity: Learn six new ways to develop at least one new idea to help you obtain your heart’s desire.
• Risk: Take one baby step toward reaching your goal. The only rule is it has to scare the pants off you.
• Treats: Give yourself a treat for every risk you take and two treats just because you’re you. No exceptions. No excuses.
• Play: Take a moment to remember your real life’s work and differentiate it from the games you play to achieve it. Then play wholeheartedly.
• Laughter: Laugh at least thirty times a day. Props encouraged.
• Connection: Use your Joy Diet skills to interact with someone who matters to you.
• Feasting: Enjoy at least three square feasts a day, with or without food

It’s all fairly simple and fundamental advice, presented in Martha Beck’s funny and uniquely down-to-earth (and sometimes appropriately snarky!) way. The Joy Diet may not be a “diet book” (it’s a life book), and I hadn’t read the book during my weight loss phase, almost every behavior discussed is an area I addressed in order to get to a 100-pound loss. Now that I’ve read the book, I’m using all of these behaviors as I try to transition to the world of the self-employed. I don’t know how much progress I’m making, but I’m enjoying the experience immensely, and that’s the only way to fly!

Do you recognize any of these behaviors among those you’ve incorporated into your healthier way of living? See any that intrigue you? Motivate you?

The link below takes you to my Amazon store, if you’re so inclined (and thank you if you are), but I suspect you can find this book at most bookstores or even your local libary. Whatever your choice, I do hope you’ll find it somewhere and enjoy it as much as I did.

20 thoughts on “Book Rec: The Joy Diet by Martha Beck

  1. I love Martha Beck. Her column is one of the best parts of O magazine :)

    As a fellow self-employed person, Creativity and Risk were the most important and most out on a limb behaviors I had (and continue to) adopt. I bought myself two smooth stones in a Buddhist book store that have Risk and Create written on the top of them. I keep them by my computer at all times. When I'm most scared/worried/I'm not good enough, I rub them in my fingers and ask, "What the heck are you afraid of?" Works (almost) every time!

  2. One of my all time favorite books is by Marrtha Beck – Expecting Adam. I have never read this one, but will add it to my list. I am reading a lot less than I used to because when I read I still want to snack:(

  3. It's the "Nothing" that REALLY speaks to me. I am so much more productive if I take some alone-time and do nothing. This weekend I did NOTHING school-related, and it felt fantastic. It was exactly the break I needed!

  4. cammy that book sounds fantabulous! i might order it after i finish the two i have now. i love the 'play, laughter and feasting' items especially. and the feasting 'with or without food' has my mind spinning with the new concept.
    thanks for sharing!

  5. cammy – thanks for sharing!! the books sounds awesome!! such a fresh & simple outlook to have on life!

  6. Thank you for the review Cammy. The only Beck & Diet I'd heard of so far was "The Beck Diet" book, but this one sounds more…more me, if that makes sense. :)

    I am definitely going to check my library for this. Thanks again & have a great week!


  7. This sounds like a great book. Just as you've mentioned on my blog before, losing weight is so much more than well, losing weight. I like that she gives tips to make over the spirit along with the body. Great tips, and yes, I'm checking it out on your Amazon store for sure! :)

  8. Cammy-
    You rock! You never fail to inspire and motivate in such a positive way. Ty for being such a great source of all & support too! I like these ideas. Thanks for the review! It's all about the habits..and they can be made or broken. You are proof!
    I am sure you have blogged about this before and I missed it when I was on one of many " my hiatuses-is that a word) but I look forward to hearing about your new business endeavor and wish you all the best.
    I know you will do well.

  9. Hey there!
    Thanks for writing on my blog. By the way, your blog came at such a wonderful time. I needed every bit of it, especially the parts in the book talking about nothing, truth, and play! Thanks again!

  10. I love your blog – I wish my posts were 1% as interesting! Also, thanks for the country girl feet comment, it is soo nice to hear I am not the only one!!! I also kick my shoes off the second I walk in the door, and nothing feels quite as nice as warm, soft sand to my feet (not the beach kind of course, the desert kind, but you know what I mean!)

  11. "Laughter: Laugh at least thirty times a day. Props encouraged." Love this one. I laugh so many times a day. Learning to find humor in pretty much everything is a skill we should all learn.

  12. I'm going to the library this afternoon and will have a look to see if they have it. It sounds fabulous!

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