Self-improvement or "self-help" books get a bad reputation sometimes. I can't decide if it's because people still correlate them with the Chicken Soup For The Soul books or if we hate to admit that we don't have all the answers. Either way, I'm the first to profess my love for them. Whether it's to improve my health, strengthen my spirtuality, or channel my inner badass--there's some great information out there.
Since 2017 is upon us and resolutions are being made, I thought it would be the perfect time to share some of my favorite self-improvement reads through the years. Here are some titles that have helped me and may help you, too:
If you've never tried foam rolling, I highly recommend it. Lauren's program is designed to improve posture, release tension and stress, activate and strengthen the core, and heal from the inside out. When I was a model, I used a foam roller to lengthen my muscles. I'm so excited to get back into it once I give birth! Oh, and Goop dubbed her "The Body Whisperer." Enough said.
We all need a little kick in the ass every once in a while to get that workout in. That's where Stacey Griffith comes in. I was first introduced to Stacey at a SoulCycle class (she was a founding instructor) and I was instantly hooked. Even when I felt like giving up, she gave me that last bit of grit and inspiration to keep going. Oh, she's also hilarious. Her book isn't out yet but it's available on pre-order. She gave me an advanced copy, though and let me tell you--it's worth the read.
Think of this book as your "beauty bible." Instead of verses and psalms, Jolene gives daily tips on how to live clean, eat beautifully, and look good doing it. It's actually split up by season which makes it that much easier to implement into your daily life. I keep by my bedside so I can start my morning off on a healthy note. The other option is to read it all at once--but that's not as fun!
These days, we see it as the norm to be completely and utterly exhausted--especially as moms. The only time I can truly catch up on sleep is if I'm on a weekend getaway with Scott or on that 5-hour flight from LAX to JFK. I feel like that's where this "mommy guilt" comes in. Even when the kids are asleep, there is still so much to do. If we go to bed early, we feel selfish. But, guess what? It's horrible for our physical and mental health. Sure, you did the dishes. But, you won't be as engaged with your kids or in the office the next day if you only have one eye open. The Sleep Revolution helps bring awareness to how sleep-deprieved we really are and how we can change it.
In my twenties, as a model, I had a lot of unhealthy habits. My priority wasn't health--it was losing those inches. Even if it meant starving myself and drinking Dieter's Tea non-stop. Yeah, gross! It began to also affect my mental health, too. All I did was think about food. I felt guilty if I indulged a bit. It was horrible. That's why I'm such a fan of Melissa Hartwig's program, The Whole 30. It's all about re-training yourself to eat for health. No anxiety, no guilt. Food Freedom Forever is just the book if you're looking to change your mindset for real results.
As a busy mom and wife, things can get pretty hectic. Stress can quickly creep in and take over! Since stressors in our lives are inevitable, it’s more about dealing with them effectively—not trying to abolish them entirely. In other words, shit happens! Not only does Dr. Montminy give you the tools to deal with the tough stuff, she also gives you realistic exercises to discover your strongest self. Keyword: realistic. And that’s what I love about this book!
The Alchemist is a life changer. I've read it. My mom has read it. My friends have read it. My sister-in-law has read it. The list goes on and on. Paul Coelho's wisdom and stories have helped me make decisions, take risks, and embrace the present (to name a few!) It's one of those books that are meant to be read over and over whenever you need those little reminders.
Another classic. The Year Of Magical Thinking is actually more of a memoir than a self-improvement book which makes it extremely unique. Joan writes about grief and loss in her own words and experiences. I've found that reading this book has given me comfort and wisdom, even if my experiences were different.
This is another one of those books that I gift to friends or force them to read. Eleanor Roosevelt was a strong, badass woman and her advice proves it. The chapters cover everything from individuality to overcoming fear. Honestly, each piece of advice makes me want to conquer the world...twice #GirlBoss style. I definitely plan on passing this book down to Scarlett.
I picked this book up at the airport a few years ago and nearly finished it by the time I landed. As much as we want happiness, sometimes we don't help ourselves find it. Most of us just see it as an emotion that comes and goes rather than a state of mind. Gretchen Rubin challenged that by asking herself, "What do I want from life anyway?" When she realized she wanted to be happy (like we all do), she took matters into her own hands and dedicated a year to finding it. The Happiness Project shows how she did it and some great studies to back it up.
I pride myself in my good habits. I also know I have a handful of horrible ones. As much as I've tried to quit some cold turkey, it just doesn't work that way for me. The Power Of Habit dives deep into why we do what we do and how we can change it. The studies apply to everything whether you want to lose weight, cut that extra glass of wine, or change a habit in professional life. Once you realize how the brain works, it becomes a bit easier.
There have been days where I've sat at my computer and had nothing to type. I truly couldn't put a word on paper. There's truly nothing worse than a lack of creative inspiration. It always happens on the days I need it the most! Elizabeth Gilbert walks you through the process of inspiration and empowerment with her own personal experiences and insight into why we sometimes lose that spark.
I want to start out by saying that Samantha Ettus is a superwoman. I have no doubt in my mind. In her book, she shares her secrets on how to truly live a healthy and balanced personal and professional life. If you've been feeling that mommy guilt, read this book immediately. I'll never be as on top of it as I'd like to be but at least I feel a little on my way. Baby steps, right? It's all about the right kind of life hacks to help manage it all.
This past July, there was an article in Fortune Magazine about what creates super successful families or siblings. Is it genetic? Is enviromental? Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers, is all about that question and what we can learn from it. In Malcolm's opinion, we pay too much attention to what successful people are like in the present and not what made them that way. Such an interesting read!
I've been nesting to prepare for the new baby like a mad woman. My husband, Scott, jokingly asked if there would be anything left by the time I was done. Marie Kondo, who wrote the iconic Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up, gifted us with a sequel titled, Spark Joy. I say gifted because I truly feel like it's my excuse and answer for all of my obsessive-compulsive tendencies. If you're looking to simplify, this is a must-read.
Do you have a favorite self-improvement book I didn't include? Comment below with the title! I'd love to check it out.
Actress, model, active humanitarian, & Mom! Author of 'Everyday Chic'.