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Lean Mom, Fit Family: The 6-Week Plan for a Slimmer You and a Healthier Family    by Michael Sena, Kirsten Straughan & Tom Sattler order for
Lean Mom, Fit Family
by Michael Sena
Order:  USA  Can
Rodale, 2005 (2005)

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* * *   Reviewed by Anise Hollingshead

It seems like every month there's a new diet craze going 'round. Low carb, high protein, low protein, caveman diet - you name it, it's been done. Almost any diet will work for the short term, but the problem is continued success over the long haul, as many of these diets are either very different from how most of us are used to eating, or involve too much work. A recent study suggested that of all the diet approaches available currently, the old chestnut, Weight Watchers, is still the best bet, when it comes to keeping weight off for an extended amount of time. Could it be because Weight Watchers has always been tailored to the real family, with lots of flexibility? The weekly support group meetings help, too. Michael Sena has been a fitness trainer for many years. He always wanted to write a book about living a healthy lifestyle, but just recently realized his ambition, after the success of taking one family on a six-week lifestyle change that was televised on TV. This family's success encouraged him to write Lean Mom, Fit Family.

What???? What kind of sexist nonsense is that, I hear you thinking, why focus on the mom? Well, I often think we've all lost sight of the fact that men and women are different, and that their dynamics within a family are different, too, no matter how much equality reigns. Especially, when it comes to family issues within the home, of which meal times are a significant part of the equation. When was the last time your husband made statements like, 'Gee, I really miss us eating together every night at the table as a family', or 'Yes, I can see the benefits of whole wheat over white', or 'Wow, we all DO drink too much soda!' If your husband is like mine, any healthy impulse is a personal issue, demonstrated by spending more time at the gym, rather than thinking about ways to inspire his family to new heights of health. This is not to say that men don't care about their family's health and that women do, it's just that we approach things differently. Men tend to be single focus, and to fix what's in front of them, whereas women often are group-think, oriented to fixing everyone's problems.

Michael Sena recognizes that the key to healthy living in most families is get the Mom motivated, and then the rest of the family will fall in line. Lean Mom, Fit Family is a six-week course on a healthy lifestyle, rather than just an exercise or diet book. The approach involves a total set of healthy habits, in a framework of practicality. First, families take a survey of just where they're at in terms of health, and move on from there. Helpful food tips are included, not just recipes, but how to make informed choices when eating out, what a real portion size is, and the type of foods to try to include. Tables ranking various items are especially useful. Simple exercises are offered, with good advice on how to get children involved. The information is presented in real language everyone can understand, without any preachiness.

I found this book to be a helpful tool in maintaining an atmosphere of health within my own family. We've been incorporating a more healthy lifestyle for several years now, so we're actually already utilizing much of what this book offers (I still can't get my family to eat brown rice, though), but were able to learn some new things, as well. The commonsense approach of the entire book is what I like best; it's an absolutely reachable goal. I personally know many families that desperately need the advice offered here; in fact, I plan on lending it to an old friend who has expressed an interest in getting her family to live a more healthy lifestyle. Thank you, Mr. Sena, for offering us real help, not just another fad.

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