Body Check

Carol Young Skin Care Products Ltd., 200 East 16 Street, 677-3915. Hours by appointment: $50 consultation fee waived with $50 purchase

You Are What You Eat

If taking home healthy but tasty food is your thing, East Mountain is your place. At its food and juice bar you can order a carrot and celery juice along with a plastic container to fill: choose from nutritious and delicious tofu spinach, veggie protein balls (the heath-nut version of a meatball), organic-tofu lasagna, and much more. The food bar also serves various types of wholesome soups (usually at least three types daily), and there are always two organic rice dishes. The place is spotless; the service is friendly and impeccable. Start your new health regimen and lose that paunch. — Christina Chu

East Mountain, 116 Second Avenue at 7th Street, 353-1452. Monday through Saturday from 11 to 11, Sunday from 11 to 9.

Home Work

Jae Gruenke wants to be a dancer, but she also wants to pay the rent. In the years since her graduation from Williams she's worked as a bartender, done marketing recruitment, and assisted in a sleep research laboratory, but what she likes best, besides the stage, is training people to be more comfortable in their bodies. If that means making them lift weights, so be it. But it may be enough to teach a series of exercises that keep all their joints in motion, all their muscles worked.

She appears at my door just after dawn, and plucks a small book from my shelf. Holding the book as if it were a trayful of glasses, imitating a cocktail waitress in a crowded bar, she shows me a spiraling figure-eight pattern that takes my shoulder, elbow, and wrist through their full range of motion. Then it's on to bends and stretches, on my feet, on my back, on my stomach. She finishes our hour by massaging the parts of me that hurt the most. It's all very subtle, and sometimes I wish I'd sweat more, but I know this: when we started working together, about a year ago, the tendons in my arms were perpetually achy and my knees hurt. Now I feel great.

— Elizabeth Zimmer

Jae Gruenke, by appointment, 917-603-6944

Potato Pill

At 3:45 in the afternoon I start slowing down, making mistakes, getting sleepy. My hand strays toward the candy jar; some chocolate will be just the thing to wake me up and carry me through until dinner.

Well, no. According to Kathleen DesMaisons, a specialist in "addictive nutrition," as a sugar-sensitive person (a/k/a chocoholic) I should be reaching for a baked potato. Her Potatoes Not Prozac suggests keeping a detailed food diary to chart the way my nutritional habits are messing with my mind, and gives a raft of suggestions on how to change those habits (among them is to add "green things" and "brown things" other than chocolate to my diet— like potatoes with skin, oatmeal, brown rice, and lentils). The book is full of convincing scientific explanations, charts on how to kick caffeine and nicotine, and the usual complement of case histories with which I can identify, as well as a great bibliography and an index. Now, if only I had the time to actually follow her acute instructions . . . — E.Z.

Potatoes Not Prozac, by Kathleen DesMaisons (Simon & Schuster, 1988, 252 pp., $23)
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Diet, Diet, My Darling

Whether you pinch your tummy with calipers to gauge skin-fold thickness, submerge your carcass in a tub of water to measure volume, or spend hours with a calculator figuring out your body mass index, the news is almost always the same: you could stand to lose a few pounds. Instead of racing to the gym or the nearest OA meeting, why not bed down with a diet book and a bag of chips? The exhaustive Dieting for Dummies, in which the popular "For Dummies" format is lent to the world's oldest obsession, is a good basic handbook for diet novices, if such people exist.

Though the For Dummies conceit sometimes fits like a lumpy girdle (the cute icons that are actually helpful in the computer world fall flat when they highlight bulletins like: "Too much food is not the only cause of obesity; lack of exercise is also part of the formula"), at other times the tag line is apt. The book artfully debunks the latest fringe theories: nutty notions of food-combining, cabbage soup imbibing, etc.; and it isn't shy about skewering more respectable targets, including Dr. Atkins and The Zone.

Some of the book's life-affirming cant wouldn't pass muster with even the least cynical reader: "Give yourself credit for the physical attributes you do like, such as . . . a pretty belly button . . . " Still, Dieting for Dummies doesn't go all soft and mushy when you want it to: instead of telling you that swallowing spirulina capsules or tailoring your eating to your blood type will melt those pounds away, it insists on the same old veggie-heavy, high-exercise, low-calorie regimen even the dumbest dummiy suspected was the answer all along.

— Lynn Yaeger

Dieting for Dummies, by Jane Kirby, R.D. (IDG Books Worldwide, 1998, 360 pp. $19.99)
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One of nine articles in our Mind/ Body/ Spirit Supplement.

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