Living Principal by Victoria Principal is the fourth book in the Health and Wellness series put out by Victorial Principal, the famous actress from Dallas. Her first three books in the series were on exercising, skincare, and dieting.
4 out of 10 stars. I remember the first book in this series. My mother had a copy that she used and it featured a type of exercise called isometrics in which you use your own body weight and resistance to build strength. As a little kid, I thought that was pretty cool and it sounded so scientific. Here we are three decades later and yoga has far outsold isometrics as the preferred method of exercise for those who want a gentle method of exercising that nourishes the soul as well as the body. Living Principal incorporates parts of all three of those books along with updated information on plastic surgery and menopause. I was disappointed that her “updated” tips were geared toward the very rich. (She was married to a plastic surgeon for three decades in addition to being one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood.) I was even more disappointed to find that her only real secret was that she’d had some serious plastic surgery performed and now she looks absolutely hideous which once again proves that eventually your face will fall no matter how many face lifts you’ve had and when it does it’s going to be worse than if you’d steered clear of plastic surgery.
The book is divided roughly into four sections:
- Aging gracefully
- Skincare, hormones, and plastic surgery
This section appealed to me more than the others because she goes into at least some depth about how to deal with aging in a graceful way and how to appreciate yourself. Too many women put themselves down because society deems that we should be young, skinny, and beautiful to be worthy of any respect. Although she mentions ageism starting at 40 years old, I can attest to it happening as early as 30. Already I am seeing ageism in my chosen field. The new hires are practically infants. That’s quite scary only seven years out of college. I think that also is a huge societal shift that her books don’t address because they’re outdated, the movement of jobs out of the country which puts stress on workers, especially mothers who are already stressed from taking care of a home, taking care of the kids, taking care of the family schedule, and working outside of the home at the same time. Victoria’s suggestion is to stop trying to change society and instead change yourself. Reinvent yourself into a new career in which the ageism doesn’t affect you. That’s an easy thing to say from someone who is so rich they fall in the top 1% of wealthiest Americans. When she faced ageism in acting she switched to becoming a casting agent and took acting classes to sharpen her skills. Eventually work came to her and eventually she returned to acting. Most women don’t have the time to wait for “eventually”. We need income now, not later.
After the pep talk to deal with ageism gracefully, she moves on to perspective or how we feel about aging. It’s not an ending; it’s a beginning. Victoria deals with each birthday by doing something she’s never done before so she can remember that moment. Like parachuting from an airplane, hang gliding, and several other scary but exhilarating activities. When you’re rich, this is totally doable. When you’re not, it’s a pipe dream. Again, her information is heavily skewed toward wealthy people. Then there’s the doubletalk and contradicting advice. Be who you want to be, but change so you can move into a new career that has no ageism. How do I do that if it’s not who I want to be?
She briefly touches on how to do the things you enjoy by rating them on a scale of 1 to 10. She claims this saves her time. I tried it for one day and it took up so much time trying to rate things that I got hardly anything done. It’s a time waster not a time saver and it’s tedious.
The second section has a diet plan with recipes. She states repeatedly not to vary or make any substitutions on this diet for the first 30 days. Her meals consist of very expensive types of wild fish that sell for $20 a pound where I live (Pacific Northwest). That includes halibut, salmon, snapper, and bass. She uses a lot of wild medium sized shrimp ($16 a pound if you can find them caught in the US and not farm raised in China). She uses a lot of veal, wine, and tomatoes. I won’t eat veal on moral principles, wine makes me sick, and I’m allergic to tomatoes. So I am unable to use more than a handful of her recipes unless I want to spend my entire monthly allotment of grocery money in three days.
She requires eating a lot of grains and cereals. I hardly ever eat these because they make me bloated. She says no more egg yolks, eat only the whites. All of the nutrients are in the yolk. Why bother with egg whites? She’s okay with wine and alcohol but says no caffeine or coffee. 🙁 I would die without my coffee. I have things to do. She says drink at least one to two glasses of tea at every single meal. Tea makes me bloated and causes kidney stones in large quantities.
She recommends taking hormone supplements although most doctors have now recognized how very dangerous they are. She recommends herbal supplements based on the advice of a regular MD. Medical doctors never use herbal supplements and they have no training in administering them. Herbalists and Naturopathic doctors do. There isn’t advice from one of those in this book. I wish there was.
Although she says repeatedly that her diet plan works because you eat what you want, you really don’t. It’s mostly salad and expensive fish or veal. No fats, no sugars, no side dishes, etc. It’s very restrictive of foods. Unless you’re a bunny rabbit, you’re going to be starving.
Let me address the obvious if you’re looking at Victoria’s photos. This is a woman whose never really had to diet. At best she’s had to watch what she eats. That’s not real world advice.
The third section is on exercise. There are photos of only three exercises in this book, all isometric exercises where you use your weight to push against something as resistance. It’s a very minuscule section.
Skincare, Hormones, and Plastic Surgery
The fourth and last section is on skincare, hormones, and plastic surgery. I’m very picky about skincare. I’d like to know it hasn’t been tested on animals, that it uses safe and natural ingredients, and that it works. Victoria has her own line of skincare developed with help from famous dermatologists and her husband the plastic surgeon who she keeps referring to as Dr. Glassman. My first reaction was, if her skincare works so well why has she had so much plastic surgery done at 50 years old when the book was written? Look at the photos above. Do you really want to look like that at 50? I don’t. Just say no to plastic surgery. But Victoria suggests having it in the book several times. I think that’s very bad advice.
10 Minutes of Joy
Toward the end of the book she sums up her previous sections and says to have 10 minutes each day doing what you love. This 10 minutes of joy is supposed to keep you looking youthful and center yourself. She attributes this act to why she has had such a successful marriage. But she and her husband divorced three years after the book was published. So maybe it isn’t what held their marriage together after all.
I’ve read this book twice because I sincerely wanted to like it. I wanted to use her advice. I wanted an easier method of staying fit. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could do all those things you love to do and have the pounds melt away so you never had to worry about them again? That would be a pipe dream. Victoria has never had a weight problem and has covered up aging with lots of plastic surgery and silicone filler. That’s not ageing gracefully. It’s a cop out.
4 out of 10 stars. I was more disappointed in this book than I’ve been about any book in a very long time. When I called up my mother and asked her if she still had her copy of the exercise book she told me no, she got rid of it years ago because although they were easy to do they weren’t effective at all. That about sums up her book.
Reviewed by Erin.