BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

Eh ...

This book came to me via the “Early Reviewer” program. I've been fortunate in that I've “won” a book in each of the past 11 months, although it's always a bit of a surprise. The way that works is that a number of books are made available by publishers and that LT members put in “requests” for the titles they find interesting. As I almost exclusively read non-fiction, and the list is heavy with fiction, the pickings are frequently quite slim for me, and I'll frequently click the request button for things that are just “sort of” interesting. Unfortunately, this was the case with Manage Your Depression Through Exercise: The Motivation You Need to Start and Maintain an Exercise Program by Jane Baxter, PhD … of the four books I clicked, this was the least “on target” for me, but it seemed like it might be useful, being that (with my on-going jobless state) I have to deal with depression, and I certainly could do with more exercise.

I don't know what I was expecting here, but it is a very detailed “plan” for a five-week program … which, needless to say, I didn't actually do (although I did move it up to the top of my to-be-read pile when it came in). The author, who is presented as a psychotherapist, isn't a MD, but has degrees in Social Work, and is a “certified physical trainer”. She tries to set up the book much like she might approach dealing with a client, in a somewhat chatty style, which, frankly, seems more aimed at what one would expect for the clinically depressed in an in-patient setting. She refers to her own “system” called PsychFit, and has “cutesy” names for other things, like the main exercise routine (the MMSMR, or “Move More, Smile More Routine”). Needless to say, this all was an immediate turn-off to me.

On the plus side, this is very systematic … she has daily programs for the five weeks, and everything builds in a reasonably logical progression. Again, I didn't get the sense that this was for the “casually depressed” person, but (as noted above) folks unable to function in their lives. Each week has a “theme”, with material brought in on nutrition, brain biochemistry (which I did find fascinating), etc. The last section (past week 5) was on “Stress, Loneliness, and Anger” which (in my case, at least) should have been where this started (and yes, it made me angry reading it).

I know that I've bitched in other books about authors who fill up their pages with lots of QR codes or MS tags, leading off to web-based resources, but this was one that seriously needed to have a source of material, as every few pages there's a questionnaire or chart to fill out, and places to make notes about what you're thinking, etc., and, unless you're going to have the book stuck under your arm for the five weeks, this is not going to be particularly handy. Bizarrely, in an appendix, there are copies of three of the charts, but with a warning that you can only copy these for your “personal use” and telling you to contact her publisher for permission to reproduce them otherwise! In a context where having a web page with the necessary materials easily printable would make a ton of sense, this all reminded me of the classic Monty Python sketch where Anne Elk (Cleese) explains “her” theory of the brontosaurus … it's evident that Dr. Baxter (or her publisher) is worried that this material will be “stolen” and suddenly there will be dozens of knock-off “PsychFit” operations cropping up everywhere.

I hate to be as negative about this as it sounds here, as the book/program does look like it could be helpful to folks who fit its profile … it's just that this was constantly irritating me with one thing or another, but that's probably “just me” and I don't think I'm the target audience for this (notably, there is not a single picture of a guy doing the exercise routines here). As I mentioned, there are several quite informative bits (which I was planning on quoting here, but they didn't fit in how this ended up coming out) that I really appreciated reading, but it was an on-going struggle for me to just read this (and, again, this is structured to be done and not just read).

Manage Your Depression Through Exercise came out last fall, so is probably still around in the health/exercise sections of your local bookstores, but the on-line guys have it at a discount of about 25% off of its very reasonable cover price. Again, this is the sort of thing that “pushes my buttons” and is probably aimed at a whole different demographic, so it may be something that you'd find very appealing (between B&N and Amazon, this had almost all 5-star reviews) instead of highly aggravating!

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Tags: book review
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