The Balanced Library: 18 Wellness Books that Could Change Your Life

From throwback classics to new favorites, Portland health and wellness pros share the books that inspired their food and fitness transformations.

By Allison Jones September 8, 2015

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Eating with Fierce Kindness: A Mindful and Compassionate Guide to Losing Weight By Sasha T. Loring

"This book is about how and why we eat, not what we eat. The idea being that we learn to eat from a place of self-kindness and nourishment as a tool to heal our relationship with food and nourish a positive body image. It gets to the 'root' of the problem behind so many eating disorders in that it provides tools to learn to love and respect ourselves."—Anna Rossinoff, Zest Nutrition Coach

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A Life Without Limits By four-time Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington

"This book never ceases to fire me up. It's an intimate peek into the mind of someone who once viewed herself as an 'accidental athlete' but through an unrelenting drive for self-improvement, an appetite for adventure and an openness to new experiences became one of endurance sports' most dominant competitors. The last paragraph gives me chills; she talks about how the limits she's seen for herself over the years have 'dissolved as [she] approached them' because, more often than not, they were assumptions and not reality. It's a powerful reminder that it's always worth giving it your best shot because you never know what you might be able to accomplish."—Jennifer Hellickson, founder of Pulse Creative and blogger at KineticFix

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How to Eat Move and Be Healthy By Paul Chek

"This is the most comprehensive nutrition and lifestyle outline out there. Paul Chek is a master, and although it's an older book his writing is so timeless and hilarious."—Paisley Meekin, owner of Honest Personal Training

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success By Deepak Chopra

"This book helps me tap into my intuition. I can read it over and over and over, and will always learn from it. It's easy to burn the candle at both ends, but knowing how to make the best decision based on your gut is essential to staying happy, healthy and balanced in all areas of life."—Barre3 master trainer Catie Fahrner

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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

"For me, whether it's wellness, fitness, parenting, mindfulness, or LIFE…there has to be a reason as to why I do it. This book helps me to connect with these parts of life and I try and incorporate the amazing, lovely and peaceful words this book contains. I travel with it, keep one by my bed, and refer to it constantly to try and absorb, learn, and marinate in the depth of knowledge the words in this book share. Life is not easy and sometimes I will randomly flip open this book and read a little bit to gain perspective."—Erin Moone, co-owner and instructor at StarCycle

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Jump Attack By Tim Grover

"Tim Grover was the personal trainer for Michael Jordan and many other professional athletes in the 90s. His book details a workout program designed to help athletes jump higher, run faster, and increase overall strength.  It is loaded with unique plyometric exercises that I used as an athlete and that we still use in workouts at our gym."—Eric Wold, owner and trainer at New Summit Fitness

Body for Life: 12 Weeks to Mental and Physical Strength By Bill Phillips

"Bill Phillips was the creator and founder of EAS supplement products which were the hottest supplements on the market in the mid 1990s. His book exposed me to the world of supplements and the ways to utilize them for any type of fitness gains. He not only had a philosophy and a plan on how to change the body, but he was the first to have a super successful body transformation contest with a huge monetary prize."—Pro trainer Kisar Dhillon of Southeast Portland’s the Art of Personal Training

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Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise And The Brain By John Ratey  

"John's book, and studying with him in a week-long course at the amazing Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA  inspired me to start a fitness business that focused on all the ways exercise is good for both health and happiness. I've know all along how good exercise makes me feel, but now the new science shows just how important a good exercise habit can be for keeping your mood bright, boosting creativity and reducing stress."—Michael Hosking, owner of Revocycle

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Clean by Alejandro Junger, M.D.

"This is the original clean diet cleanse how-to book and it changed my life on several levels. I decided to give the 21 day cleanse a try after I had recovered from surgery because I was still feeling sluggish and was dealing with inflammation and nerve damage. The first week was awful (living without coffee, sugar, only having a solid meal once a day…I thought for sure I wasn't going to make it through) but by week two and three I had LOADS of energy and felt amazing!  Most importantly the tiredness and inflammation I was feeling went completely away. It really teaches you about what you are putting into your body and the effect it can have on you. The point of the book is that readers will start to live by the 80/20 rule. 80 percent of the time eat clean and put good healthy foods (fruits, veggies, chicken, fish, etc.) into your body and 20 percent of the time treat yourself. I read the book 6 years ago and have been living the 80/20 rule ever since. And once a year (usually after new years) I go back on the 21 day cleanse. Trust me it will change everything—you will have more energy, you will feel less bloated, your skin will glow and you will become less tempted by all of the junk food that exists in the middle aisles of the grocery store!"—Andrea Fenton, owner of RidePDX

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The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte

"The main gist of this book is that you need to identify how you want to feel (your 'core desired feelings') before you can set goals of any kind. Not only has this been a game changer for me personally, it has added an important dimension to how I work with patients. I combine this with helping patients identify their big picture goals as well as how they want to feel in their bodies. The combination of these three foundational pieces helps us structure a plan that will allow the patient's choices to line up with her values and leads to infinitely greater success with lifestyle and health changes."—Naturopathic physician and acupuncturist Dr. Samantha Brody of and

Eat Pray Love By Elizabeth Gilbert

"I remember having it on my shelf for a long time (resisting reading it because I thought the title was silly...). When I finally read it—wow. Elizabeth Gilbert's writing is so on point and relatable. One of my favorite quotes? 'Life, if you keep chasing it so hard, will drive you to death. Time—when pursued like a bandit—will behave like one, always remaining one county or one room ahead of you, changing its name and hair color to elude you, slipping out the back door of the motel just as you're banging through the lobby with your newest search warrant, leaving only a burning cigarette in the ashtray to taunt you. At some point you have to stop because it won't. You have to admit that you can't catch it. That you're not supposed to catch it. At some point, you gotta let go and sit still and allow contentment to come to you.' I share that in yoga classes all the time. For me, it's nice to have relatable reminders that we have to allow things to find us and sometimes chasing is just chasing."—Jamie Silverstein, owner of The Grinning Yogi

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Anatomy of Movement By Blandine Calais-Germain

"This book helped me understand the mechanisms of body movements during Pilates and dance in a way that was easy to visualize through simple yet detailed sketches of our muscles and bones. The imagery she uses to describe the body helped me to explain to my clients in a clear way what we were asking there bodies to do during Pilates sessions...Most people don't really care what a specific muscles name is or its Insertion/Origin but I do find that many clients are curious to know more and benefit from learning about their own anatomy and how it works not just in the Pilates studio but out in daily life. This book has given me the tools to describe it in a way that is engaging and fun!"—Fanina Padykula, instructor at Reform Pilates and Movement

Spiritual Nutrition By Dr. Gabriel Cousens

"This is our bible. He is a health conscious maven, holistic doctor, highly trained spiritual teacher, and expert in nutrition—and this book is full of so much great information on optimum health and healing with food. So amazing!"—Willow O’Brien, Pixie RetrEAT RAW’r Laboratorie & Makery

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Many Lives, Many Masters By Dr. Brian Weiss

"If you want to be a skeptic, you can be a skeptic—that’s easy. The beauty is in letting the light of possibility seep in. Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and other subtler methods were denied by skeptics and continues to be by many scientists and allopathy doctors, but there are people who find immense benefits and cures from these practices. Many Lives, Many Masters is a book written by the Chief of Psychiatry at hospital affiliated with U. of Miami about his encounter with a 27 year old patient who after many conventional treatments over 18 months without much success revealed her past-life memories during several hypnosis sessions that helped her recover. It has proven to be a tremendously powerful book for many who I have recommended it, to an extent that I included this book in our studio's ‘Purposeful Living’ program."—Raj Patra, co-founder Hot Yoga for Life

Mindful Eating, by Jan Chozen Bays: "It really helped me reconnect with the joy of food and nourishment." Flexible Dieting for Vegans, by Dani Taylor: "An absolutely indispensable guide for vegans who wish to make body composition changes." Willingness is the Key, by Cheri Huber: "A great read on transforming your attitude and general mental state." The New Rules of Lifting for Women by Lou Schuler: "Learning how to lift weights was just about the smartest thing I ever did."—Lacy Davis, health coach at Super Strength Health

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