What is the book about?
Author Tom Rath is a researcher for Gallup, where he’s made a career out of researching strengths, well-being and leadership, then distilling what he’s learned into a series of bestselling books.
While much of Rath’s work has focused on mental and emotional concepts like strengths, friendship, management and leadership, behind the scenes he’s spent the past 25 years doing everything he can to optimize his own health and wellness.
And while you and I may be interested in optimizing our health so that we can have more energy or feel less embarrassed about taking our shirts off at the beach, Rath has an additional motivation: fending off impending doom.
See, impressive though Rath’s personal and professional lives may be – he’s got a Master’s degree in psychology, six bestselling books, a loving family, the whole shebang, basically – the most remarkable thing about him is that he’s achieved these heights while battling a constant barrage of cancer.
Rath has VHL disease, a rare genetic disorder that, in his own words, “essentially shuts off a powerful tumor suppressor gene and leads to rampant cancerous growth throughout the body.”
Having been diagnosed with the disease at the age of 16 and losing sight in his left eye, Rath resolved to do everything within his power to remain as healthy as possible.
He knew that no matter what he did, he was going to spend the rest of his life fighting off cancer, so he wanted to give himself the best possible chance.
In Eat Move Sleep, Rath shares the most proven and practical ways you can improve your life by changing the way you – yep, you guessed it – eat, move and sleep.
His central thesis? It’s right there in the subtitle of the book: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes.
Eat Move Sleep Book Review
Ridiculously Well Researched
As a professional researcher for Gallup, Rath pours over scientific studies and research papers for a living.
Reading this book, it immediately becomes obvious that he’s applied the professional thoroughness he honed over the past 20 years as a researcher to his personal crusade to improve his health and wellbeing.
While other books pay lip service to the importance that health and wellness play in overall self-improvement and development, Rath illustrates the connection in painstaking detail. (For instance, Stephen Covey only briefly mentions exercise in one of his seven habits, which you can read more about in my book review of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.)
Even the format of Eat Move Sleep was determined by research. Other authors would likely have taken the obvious route and split the book up into three distinct sections on eating moving and sleeping, respectively.
But, ever attuned to the latest scientific findings, in his introduction Rath notes that “new research shows tackling multiple elements at the same time increases your odds of success.” (You can find the study he cites as evidence of this here.)
As such, he structured the book around themes that will allow you to focus on all three elements together, improving the way you eat, move and sleep simultaneously.
The book is full of references like that to “new research” or other scientific studies. How full? Let me put it this way: there are more than 400 citations.
So yeah, dude knows what he’s doing.
You might think that a book this ripe with research would read like a dull, clinical textbook.
But Rath manages to package all of this science in a text that’s conversational, engaging and utterly human.
Reading the book feels like having a frank talk with your exceptionally well educated older brother.
He’s a little stern, sure – for him this topic is literally a matter of life and death – but this guy knows of what he speaks, and he’s doing it because he’s got your best interests in mind.
A Practical Guide to Health
Rath’s personal experience practicing what he preaches serves both him and you as the reader well.
From the beginning, his mission was to live as healthy a lifestyle as possible – because (I can’t stress this enough) his life literally depends on it.
As such, the book doesn’t just re-word the outcomes of scientific studies; it provides you with a practical guide to living, based on what these studies have revealed.
In each chapter, Rath outlines the research and the reasons why you should take a certain action to improve the way you eat, move and sleep.
At the end of the chapter, he then summarizes all three in a bullet-pointed list of straightforward calls to action.
Then at the end of the book, he lists all these points into what he calls a 30-Day Challenge, which is essentially a step-by-step action plan for living as healthily as possible.
He’s also set up a website, EatMoveSleep.org, where you can find all of his research, download a PDF version of the 30-Day Challenge and fill out a questionnaire to get your own Eat Move Sleep plan.
Look, no book is perfect.
There’s always going to be something the author could have done to better appeal to your own personal preferences.
But in writing the book, Rath wanted to achieve a few things:
- Layout the vast amount of research showing that if you improve the way you eat, move and sleep, you can astronomically improve your health.
- Provide you with a step-by-step plan for doing so that’s consistent with the science.
- Communicate all of this to you in a way that will actually help you get off your ass and do it, rather than just read it and think, “Oh, that’s interesting” before returning your attention to your Big Mac and your f@¢&ing X-box.
And try as I might, dear reader, I just can’t come up with any credible ways in which Rath failed to achieve any of those goals.
Can this book help you build self-confidence?
It can indeed.
Our physical health underlies every other aspect of our lives: not just what we do – and what we’re capable of achieving – but how we think and feel as well.
Taking steps to change your lifestyle and improve your health is incredibly empowering, and once you start doing it, it becomes contagious; you’ll likely soon find yourself applying a similar work ethic to other elements of your life: your strength and muscle building, your style, your people skills, etc.
This book, then, could very well serve as the catalyst you need for getting your ass – and with it, your whole damn life – in order.
Do yourself a favor and pick it up.
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