Monday, August 13, 2012

The Amen Solution: The brain healthy way to lose weight and keep it off (The secret to being thinner, smarter, happier)

By Daniel G. Amen, M.D.

Book review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

Some reviewers have complained that there is nothing new in this volume when compared with Amen’s previous books, and for regular readers or followers of Dr. Amen, that might be a problem (concern!).  I admit that I have not seen him on television; I have read none of his previous books, and in no way at all could I be considered one of his readers or followers; thus, I am reviewing this book as if it is a first-time experience.

As one overriding insight, I have to admit that any book that recommends exercise and eating right—especially one written by an acclaimed medical doctor, much less a clinical neuroscientist, psychiatrist, and brain imaging expert—is all right by me.  To motivate our obese (overweight), lazy, Alzheimer’s prone, depressed population will certainly take more than one enlightening book, but any contribution should be heralded and exclaimed.  That is especially true when the prescribed plan is based on a brilliant combination of scientific findings, Amen’s original research, clinical experience, and, of course, common sense.

As a second overriding insight, I must admit that one of the reasons I may not have read or seen Dr. Amen is a simple one.  I do much of what Amen recommends.  I exercise regularly (and heavily); I watch my weight; I eat highly nutritious meals; I do not snack between meals; I do not eat fast food nor junk food; I think positive, reinforcing, encouraging thoughts; and I am constantly concerned about good health (both body and brain).  Am I one who needs an Amen Solution?  Probably not—at least not as much as the majority of our population (most of whom will not read this book!).

There are ten chapters and 270 pages of text.  Then, in addition, there are 8 appendices, references and further reading suggestions, and a complete index.  Perhaps the most important theme throughout the book (and supported as well in his previous books) is for people to understand: “ . . . their brain and weight are intricately connected and that if you boost your brain you can have a better body” (p. 2).

There are a number of things I liked about this book.  First, it is well-written.  Second, it is well-organized.  Third, it is practical and to-the-point.  Fourth, it is encouraging and motivational.  Fifth, each section is short and easy-to-read.  Sixth, he includes short sections, “Get Smart to Get Thinner,” that are quotes from advocates that increase the motivation.  Seventh, he incorporates great stories throughout that are fun, interesting, and full of attention-getting detail.  Eighth, the photographs dispersed in many chapters are helpful and interesting.  Ninth, the scientific findings are incorporated gently and without technical jargon. Tenth, Amen talks directly to his readers in a plain, simple, and direct manner.

I am not saying that Amen’s solutions are earth-shattering (“Physical exercise is a powerful brain booster” (p. 189) revelations about which readers have never heard of previously.  But he offers great reminders, wonderful, practical exercises and activities, and a comprehensive examination of the whole range of things people can do to boost their brain and body functioning.

I highly recommend this book without hesitation or reservation; however, I think instead of the title, The Amen Solution, it would probably be more accurate to say, Amen Solutions.

The Amen Solution: The brain healthy way to lose weight and keep it off (The secret to being thinner, smarter, happier) can be purchased at Amazon.  

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