The cookbook is great; the workbook is exceptional.
The Blue Zones Challenge is a small book, just around 250 pages of material that complements the information found in Blue Zones Kitchen. In both books, you will get an introduction to Dan Buettner’s research, including how he first got interested in finding out what the world’s longest living people do to stay healthy, and how he categorizes some of their habits so readers can incorporate those tips as well. While the Blue Zones Kitchen includes some of those meals and habits, the Blue Zones Challenge is a more pared down 4-week plan that focuses on the daily steps to start a new health trajectory. Before deciding on an individual plan, however, the reader is introduced to the five blue zones across the world – Sardinia, Italy; Ikaria, Greece; Nicoya,Costa Rica; Okinawa in Japan; and the high concentration of Seventh-Day Adventists in California’s Loma Linda community. While the book describes the individual diet compositions and general habits that encourage the better health these residents seem to enjoy, Buettner also proposes a composite graphic called the Blue Zones Power 9 (R) which shows the tendencies that these groups have in common. Their lifestyles all include strong emotional bonds; they take time to destress; they exercise without thinking about it; and their days all have a sense of purpose; and this is all before we get to what is on their plates.
So Blue Zones Challenge is a workbook that aims to personalize the lessons coming from studying the Blue Zone centenarians, and finding where in your daily life, you can adopt some of those same habits to optimize your health. This is definitely a 21st century book because several of the pages contain QR codes that you can scan with your phone to find printable material or other online resources that link to the material in that section of the book. One of those links is to a vitality test that the reader can take before and after the 4 week challenge, and receive recommendations and feedback related to their test results.
While I enjoy flipping through cookbooks for inspiration, I really appreciate the customized feel of the Blue Zones Challenge, how it offers tips for how I can use the material as well as daily checklists and scorecards to monitor my progress and even evaluation pages to track and celebrate wins for the first 4 weeks and beyond. I like that the study isn’t focused solely on diet and exercise but gives suggestions for how to join or create community circles (support groups), even with what to say and how to know when to stop saying it and move on. There are some lessons that you might not find in any other plan included here. One that struck me is a suggestion to sit on the floor instead of the couch for casual activities like reading or watching TV. This resonates with me because when I was younger (and healthier), that’s something I did without thinking about it. This practice of the Japanese Okinawans, is said to strengthen the muscles, as well as engage the core with every motion to get up or down. I am intrigued enough to start incorporating this activity today.
With 250 pages, Blue Zones Challenge packs a powerful punch. It contains a lot of what you need for plan and track your daily habits as you move towards a healthier, happier self. The book itself has a gorgeous blue, glossy paperback cover and is conveniently pocket sized so it can be toted around to become a part of your day.
Blue Zones Challenge and its companion Blue Zones Kitchen would make a great gift for someone you know who may be trying to get a little (or a lot) healthier but isn’t having the best time with it. Who knows, that person may be you. I received a complimentary copy of the books from National Geographic Publishers through my relationship with TLC Book Tours. I was not otherwise compensated and the above review reflects my honest opinion and genuine enthusiasm about the books.
About The Blue Zones Challenge
• National Geographic (December 7, 2021)
• Hardcover (240 pages)
In this companion to the number one New York Times bestseller The Blue Zones Kitchen, Dan Buettner offers a four-week guide and year-long sustainability program to jump-start your journey to better health, happiness, less stress, and a longer life.
Get started on the path to a longer, healthier, happier life with this quick start to building your own Blue Zones lifestyle. Dan Buettner, founder of the Blue Zones and author of the New York Times number one best-selling Blue Zones Kitchen, offers the challenge of a lifetime: Build a foundation for better nutrition, more exercise, and a stronger social life that will extend your lifetime by years.
In this easy-to-implement guide, you’ll start with the rules of the Blue Zones Challenge, including tips and tricks from the five Blue Zones–locations around the world where people consistently live to 100–advice for setting up a successful kitchen and pantry, and resources for expanding you support network. Then, follow week-by-week prompts to
• Change your diet
• Increase your activity
• Update your living spaces
• Build your social life.
After four weeks–and with the help of easy-to-use worksheets and recipes–you’ll see results in your weight, your well-being, and your general health. From there, follow the Blue Zones challenge through the rest of the year with an 11-month sustainability calendar that will continue to encourage you and build upon the foundation you’ve already started.
About Dan Buettner
Dan Buettner is the founder of Blue Zones, an organization that helps Americans live longer, healthier lives. His groundbreaking work on longevity led to his 2005 National Geographic cover story “Secrets of Living Longer” and two national bestsellers, The Blue Zones and Thrive. He lives in Minneapolis, MN. Visit him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and at his website bluezones.com.