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Martina Navratilova Shape your Self - A Review

Updated on July 9, 2011

 This book is a few years old now, but it's a great one to read when you feel you've over indulged and want to get into healthy eating and exercise.

It was written by Martina Navratilova  as her fiftieth birthday drew near, and celebrate's the fact that she is still fit, healthy and playing competitive tennis.

Shape Your Self has reasonably long introduction and aknowledgments sections that are interesting in themselves with a few tennis anecdotes, but the first chapter encourages you to develop the mentality of an athlete. That's not always easy to do when there are six degrees of frost outside and it hasn't gotten daylight all day.

However, Martina encourages you to reach for something each day, and to keep striving, to prepare, to follow though and to write things down, so you can see your progress.

 The second chapter is entitled Build Your Support Team and encourages you to surround yourself with helpful, positive people.  Martina suggests you find yourself a coach, or mentor and tap into the positive support of team working.  Lets face it, most of us find it easier to continue doing something if we're surrounded by support and encouragement, rather than soldiering on alone.

Someone's gotta drag you to the gym!

The third chapter discusses the value of food and nutrition, looking at the importance of regular meals and snacks, women hormones and diet, and the benefits of specific foods, such as fresh juices and smoothies, which Martina is very keen on.

The fourth chapter continues the value of food theme and expounds the virtues of going organic. Martina discusses the harmful effects of pesticides, fertilisers, GM foods and food additives.

I am a big fan of healthy eating and organic food, but sometimes the prices are prohibitive. However, there are ways to lessen the cost. Joining an organic vegetable box scheme, such as Riverford Organics, where organic vegetables are delivered to your door weekly can work out more cost effective than buying from the greengrocer or the supermarket, and usually the food is locally grown, thus reducing air miles. Alternatively you could try growing your own veg in the garden, allotment, or through a land-share scheme.

 The fifth chapter discusses building up your fitness in order to function well in your own life, rather than aspiring to be as fit as an international tennis player!  Whilst the sixth chapter discusses energy levels, fatigue, rest, sleep and quiet periods in life.

These six chapters make up the first section of the book, and is really the background for what comes next, which are the nutrition and exercise plans.

Part of the reason I really like this book, is that this second section is so easy to follow. It gives a healthy eating plan for twenty-eight days, and I think most people could think in terms of eating healthily for a month. It's a short enough period so that people could see themselves doing it, but a long enough time to make good progress with health and weight.

Likewise the exercise section gives exercises that most people could see themselves doing at home, and devises a month's worth of plans, to eliminate boredom and realise achievement.

 All in all, this is a book full of good, sound nutritional advice, with tasty, easy recipes to follow.  I've tried lots of them and they work, although some of the meal plans call for eating 450g of salad leaves in one sitting.  As a whole bag of salad leaves is around 200g, I think they have their quantities a little awry somehow!  There are only so many green leaves you can eat in one go.


 The excercises build up slowly so that you don't really notice how much you've achieved until you look back, which takes some of the pain out of becoming fitter.  I must admit, I didn't keep a diary, as my life is quite busy enough with other stuff, but I guess it would be a good idea if you have the time and you're that way inclined.

 This is a great book if you want a quick fix regards your eating and excercise.  A month is long enough to see some good results, but not so long that you can't stick to it.  It's just sooo hard not to go back to being a slob afterwards, which is, I think, human nature after all.


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