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You’ve heard the excuse before. Heck, you’ve probably said it yourself. “I just don’t have time to work out!” I get it! I’m a mom, wife, teacher, pastor, blogger, coach… the list could go on and on.

I’m embarrassed to admit that in the process of doing it all, I’ve allowed my weight to slowly creep up. My endocrinologist very kindly reminded me at my last appointment that I’m not 25 anymore, and while I’m not overweight, I’m allowing myself to get awfully close.

I’ve tried working with personal trainers. I’ve attempted to fit in daily workout sessions, and I have changed eating habits. But, those changes only gave me minimal results momentarily and not at all the results  I craved. When those results didn’t live up to my expectations, I’d give up and wait for the next burst of inspiration.

So, I was excited when I came across the book Shape-Up Shortcuts: Score a Hotter, Healthier Body in Half the Time! by Jen Ator, CSCS and the Editors of Women’s Health. In the introduction to her book, she states that the biggest thing stopping us from feeling leaner, stronger, and more energized is not our schedule, but instead our mentality because too many women fall into an all-or-nothing mindset when it comes to diet and exercise. I knew when Jen quoted Yoda she was someone that I could most definitely take advice from!

In Shape-Up Shortcuts, there are more than 500 proven diet and workout solutions that help readers transform their bodies and lives without counting calories or spending hours at the gym. Since I am a little bit of a foodie and not so much of an exerciser, I especially enjoyed the sections on upgrading my diet and meal makeovers. In these sections, Jen shares simple, calorie-saving food swaps such as restaurant verses home-cooked meals and easy-to-follow recipes that make cooking seem easy even for non-foodies. My favorite part of the meal makeover section was the 50 ways to cook better chicken.

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I appreciated the fact that Jen also included visuals of more than 20 exclusive workouts from the country’s top trainers. These workouts can reshape our body in less than 30 minutes. I learned what a Burpee was, (sorry CrossFit junkies…I realize this is your holy grail, and I’m horribly inexperienced) and I am now versed in the art of “burping” thanks to BJ Gaddour’s Burpee Spectrum which ranks 10 variations from hardest to easiest so you can find the burpee that fits your fitness level.

Included throughout the book are also tips on how to and how not to do certain exercises. I’m often the person at the gym that needs constant reassurance that I’m doing an exercise correctly or I just won’t bother, so this particular book feature was very much appreciated. Another favorite feature of the book is the hundreds of tips included, such as the two-second life changers, simple swaps and slim-down secrets. One of my particular favorite slim-down secrets was the secret about how poor body image can actually sabotage your weight loss, so instead we should focus on what we like about our bodies rather than what we would change.

Too often diet and exercise books focus on promising readers total body makeovers, and they inadvertently make us feel badly about our current selves. We already know there are certain things that we need to change about our appearance, or we wouldn’t have picked up the book in the first place. I appreciate that instead of shaming me into weight loss and a body shape-up, Jen and the editors of Women’s Health do a great job of encouraging “being a little bit better-not perfect-every day for the rest of my life.” If you pick up one book in your search for a healthier body, make it this one!

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