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Book Recommendations for Health and Wellness Motivation and Success

Updated on January 31, 2019
Darleen Barnard profile image

Darleen Barnard is board certified health coach and personal trainer who specializes in weight loss by using the power of the mind.

Book Recommendations for Health and Wellness Motivation and Success

I’ve written a couple book reviews over the past year and I’ve wanted to put a more comprehensive list together for a while now. It wasn’t until one of my clients asked me for my top book recommendations for health and wellness motivation and success, that I decided it’s finally time to get busy! As I pulled the following books off my book shelf (yes, I still love to turn the pages of a physical book!), I realized how much these books have changed my life.

I’m not being dramatic or exaggerating…these books have literally changed my life. They have moved my business forward, they have changed my relationships with other people, they have gotten me to lace up my running shoes on days I really didn’t want to, they have helped me to see the glass is half full instead of half empty, and in my opinion, I think they have made me a better person. I’m happier, give more, love more, smile more, laugh more, and “roll with life” a lot more freely. My sincerest hope for you is that these books have the same effect on you that they have had on me. ENJOY!

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

I ordered this book at the recommendation of a Psychology professor at UNLV when I attended my son’s Freshman Orientation about 5 years ago. My intent was to help my son transition to college; however, the principles in this book helped me realize self-limiting beliefs that were holding me back in my business and it has helped my clients with their own mindsets when it comes to weight loss and living a healthy lifestyle.

The book explores two mindsets – fixed vs growth. The fixed mindset is based on the belief that we are born with certain abilities and qualities that cannot be changed. Some believe they have a fixed intelligence, fixed athletic ability, fixed body type, etc. This belief can hold us back if we believe we are below average because we will hold ourselves back from trying.

The growth mindset is based on the idea that we can grow and improve with effort. People with a growth mindset are focused on learning and constant improvement. These people are constantly trying to improve. They experiment and they are not afraid of failure.

How does this apply to living a healthy lifestyle? The implications for living a healthy lifestyle are numerous; however, the biggest benefit when working with my clients is in how they view failure.

Those with a fixed mindset often have beliefs such as “I have been overweight most of my life. My chances of changing that and losing weight are slim.” They are also more sensitive to “perceived” failures. If they give in and have a cookie at 2:00 in the afternoon, it “confirms” their belief that they cannot change and will always be overweight. They give up.

Those with a growth mindset often have beliefs such as “I have been overweight most of my life but my past does not define my future.” They view failure very differently. If they have a cookie at 2:00 in the afternoon, they learn from it. They experiment. They try new things in the future and they continue trying until they succeed. They don’t give up.

As I mentioned earlier, this book is applicable in so many different areas of our life; therefore, it is my top book recommendation for health and wellness motivation and success.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
Excellent book for understanding the difference between the growth vs fixed mindset and how it impacts everything we do.

The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

This book was given to me by my business coach, and wow, it was a game changer! Like the Growth Mindset, this book is applicable in every area of our life – not just living a healthy lifestyle.

The Compound Effect talks about consistency. Continuous effort every single day is the key to success in everything we do. The problem is, most of us are inconsistent. We make a new year’s resolution and within two to three weeks, we have already given up because we haven’t seen results fast enough. We forget that “SLOW progress is still progress” and we abandon our resolution.

Hardy talks about pumping water from a well. Think about an old fashioned well. When we first start pumping the lever, nothing happens. We keep pumping and pumping the lever but we don’t get any water. Then after what seems like a really long time, we get our first drop of water in the bucket. And we keep pumping and then we get a little more. Finally, we have primed the pump and the water flows freely with minimal effort. We have built up momentum and now we don’t have to work as hard and we get a lot more of the result we are looking for. How true is this in our life?

How much effort, time, and money did you put into college with $0 reward? The payoff came years later and it was much easier. How much effort and money did you put into saving for that vacation or for your first home with nothing to show for it until months or years later? The same is true for living a healthy lifestyle, losing weight or getting in shape. But often times, we abandon our plan before we see the results.

When Will Smith was asked how he gets in shape before a movie, he replied, “It’s easier to STAY in shape, than it is to GET in shape.” How true!! Once you have that momentum built up behind you, the momentum keeps pushing you forward, both physically and mentally, and that habit is solidly formed. For a more detailed book review, check out my article that was written a few months ago.

Speaking of habits….

The Compound Effect

The Compound Effect
The Compound Effect
Excellent book showing how consistency, persistence, and momentum are the keys to our success.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

I reference this book daily as I work with clients who are trying to change their habits to live a healthier lifestyle. Duhigg discusses the 3 elements of a habit: the cue (or trigger), the routine, and the reward. As Duhigg states, we first need to understand the trigger.

For example, when it comes to eating, are we eating because we are hungry, bored, tired, sad, out with friends, because it is 2:00 and time for a break, etc.

Once we understand the trigger, next we explore the reward. What do we get from eating? How do we feel after and does it relieve the trigger? Are we no longer hungry, no longer bored, etc?

The last step to changing the habit comes after we realize those two things. If you ate to interrupt boredom and not because you were hungry, then you can begin to experiment with other routines to interrupt that boredom. Perhaps you experiment with walking, visiting a co-worker in their office for a few minutes, or meditate.

This book has dozens and dozens of examples exploring how to change habits in all areas of our life, but it is highly relevant when learning how to change habits to live a healthy lifestyle.

The Power of Habit

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
Excellent book that walks you through the 3 steps of a habit and best practices for changing habits.

Mini Habits for Weight Loss by Stephen Guise

This is the only book on my list that is specific to weight loss and health and wellness, but it is one of my favorite habit formation books and something that I weave into all of my coaching conversations with clients. I also do online coaching on and the principles in this book are exactly what people are looking for when they seek habit coaching.

What exactly is a mini habit? It is a ridiculously small behavior that you do every single day – no matter what. It is so small that there is no reason NOT to do it. For example, do 1 push-up, read 2 pages in a book, clean for 1 minute per day, meditate for 1 minute, etc. These habits are so small that anyone can start a new habit.

As Guise states, “when we drop the requirement so low that ‘usually’ becomes ‘always’, you become unstoppable”. This supports Hardy’s premise in the Compound Effect that consistency and building momentum are the keys to success. When we do one push-up every day, we immediately feel good about our progress. We can say, “I did what I set out to do!”. Instead of setting a goal to go to the gym for an hour after work and then get discouraged because you had to work late, you can set a goal to accomplish a mini habit that will set you up for success.

When we think about building up endurance and strength, mini habits are also a great way to build ourselves up physically. Depending on our starting point, we can start small and build from there. This will also reduce injuries and burnout. For a more detailed review, please check out a previous article that was dedicated to this book.

Mini Habits for Weight Loss

Mini Habits for Weight Loss: Stop Dieting. Form New Habits. Change Your Lifestyle Without Suffering.
Mini Habits for Weight Loss: Stop Dieting. Form New Habits. Change Your Lifestyle Without Suffering.
Excellent book to help you small, achievable goals each day that will help you always succeed.

Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz

This book was recommended to me by my mentors, Paul Martinelli and Christian Simpson. This book was another game changer that altered my trajectory. My mentors constantly talk about the power of the subconscious mind and the impact that it has on our life, the way we view the world, our belief systems, and our success. The book, Psycho-Cybernetics, gets to heart of that power with an easy to read, applicable, step by step process to exploring your own subconscious mind.

Maltz talks about our self-image and how it is the key to personality and behavior. Self-image defines what you can and cannot do. If we have a self-image that we are an overweight person, it doesn’t matter how much our conscious mind may want to lose weight. Our actions will support our self-image to be overweight. Our subconscious mind will keep us overweight so we are congruent with our self-image.

The key then to changing our results is we first have to change our self-image and our beliefs of what we are capable of doing. This book provides a step by step approach to doing exactly that.

As I sit here looking at the book, what I really like about it is that it has a few pages at the end of each chapter to make my own notes of key points to remember and then my own case history to apply the chapter to my own life. Whenever I want to refresh my memory on the important things I learned and what was relevant for me, I can quickly read a couple pages at the end of each chapter.

If you really want to change your self-image, improve your success, or let go of self-limiting beliefs that have been holding you back, this is a must read and is definitely one of my top book recommendations for health and wellness motivation and success.


Psycho-Cybernetics: Updated and Expanded
Psycho-Cybernetics: Updated and Expanded
Excellent book that demonstrates the power of the subconscious mind. It explains how our self-image and beliefs drive our actions and therefore our success.

Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

I stumbled on this book on my own as I was researching ways to be more productive and kick start my morning. Like many, I was feeling overwhelmed as I rushed around to put one fire out after another and never accomplished anything that I had planned to do that day. I knew there had to be a better way to manage my time and get myself in the right mindset every morning. This book helped me improve my focus and take control of my day.

Elrod talks about 6 things that we need to do every morning to start our day. It can be done in as little as 6 minutes (1 minute each) or we can get up earlier and spend more time on each practice. I start my day at 5 am and I spend the first hour of my day on these 6 things.

So what are the 6 morning practices? They are literally life SAVERS







Taking 6 minutes to 60 minutes each morning to work through these 6 practices is an easy, practical way to start your day off with the right mindset. When you do that, you are unstoppable.

Miracle Morning

The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)
The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)
Excellent book that walks you through the 6 things you must do every single morning to have a happier, more productive day.

Failing Forward by John Maxwell

As a Certified John Maxwell coach, I love everything by John, but this is one of my favorites and it really changed my outlook on failure. We are trained at an early age to avoid failure at all costs. Failing a test, failing a grade in school, or losing a game is painful! We quickly learn that failure is bad! Or is it?

As John discusses, failure is a necessary step on the path to success. Those who never fail are never stepping outside of their comfort zone. They aren’t taking learning and growing. They aren’t improving themselves.

What if failure is actually a good thing? When we try something and it doesn’t work the way we had hoped, we need to learn from it, make some adjustments, and try again. In fact, isn’t it true we learn more from our failures than our successes?

The idea that failure is negative and should be avoided is a mindset. When we shift our mindset that failure is a sign of growth and a learning opportunity, we begin to try more things, take smart risks, and achieve greater success. We stop holding ourselves back.

Failing Forward

Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success
Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success
Excellent book on why you must change your view of failure from negative to positive. Failure is a necessary stepping stone on the way to success.

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

When I was working on my doctorate, one of my professors asked me a question that bothered me for years. I was stressing about something (I can’t even remember what it was at the time – that’s how “important” it really was) and I commented that I was a “perfectionist”. He paused and looked at me and asked me what effect my perfectionism has on me and the people around me. I think I stood there with my mouth open because my mind went blank. He was implying that perfectionism was a negative behavior and I had spent my entire life thinking it was positive.

It took me years of thinking about that question to really understand the full impact. At first glance it is easy to see how perfectionism causes stress, sometimes very unnecessary stress. But it also impacts our relationships. It impacts our willingness to take risks. It impacts our success. This goes back to failure. When we feel like we need to be perfect all the time, we avoid activities that are challenging because we know we probably won’t be able to do them perfectly. It also influences our self-esteem and our self-image, which goes back to Psycho-Cybernetics.

Brown talks about Wholehearted Living. She states, it is about “thinking, no matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”

This book offers 10 Guideposts including letting go of what people think, perfectionism, powerlessness, fear and scarcity, need for certainty, comparison, productivity as self-worth, anxiety, self-doubt, and always being in control.

As a recovering perfectionist, this book was a breath of fresh air and it immediately relieved the incredible stress I have always put myself under. As I work with clients I have come to realize that although most people aren’t as obsessive as I used to be, we all have a tendency to be perfectionists. This book is an excellent reminder that it is OK to let go and be “perfectly imperfect.”

The Gifts of Imperfection

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
Excellent book for every perfectionist who wants to let go of their never-ending quest for perfection and learn 10 keys to be "perfectly imperfect".

So, these are some of my favorite books of all time. I will continue to add to the list as I discover new books that I would qualify as “life changing”. I don’t use that term lightly and I don’t want to waste your time. If any of these books resonated with you, I highly encourage you to check them out and comment below. You won’t be disappointed! ENJOY your journey!

© 2019 Darleen Barnard


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