Advocates for enjoyable (and lasting) weight loss have long opposed any program based strictly in denial. Familiar examples of this include Abraham I. Friedman’s How Sex Can Keep You Slim, Richard Simmons’s lighthearted approach to exercise, and Mireille Guiliano’s French Women Don’t Get Fat. This season, a number of diet and fitness titles incorporate some variation on the theme of joy specifically.

Sherri Gallentine, head buyer for Vromans and Book Soup bookstores in Los Angeles, says such books are becoming increasingly popular with people weary of deprivation. “I think the trend is going away from extreme diets, like the really restrictive sugar-free ones,” she says, noting a wave of consumers who are “more rational” about exercise and weight control. She says recent titles that use appealing recipes to make dieting seem attractive are selling well, such as The Skinnytaste Cookbook, by Gina Homolka (Clarkson Potter, Sept.), and The Greek Diet: Look and Feel like a Greek God or Goddess and Lose up to Ten Pounds in Two Weeks, by Maria Loi (Morrow, Oct.).

Here is PW’s look at forthcoming books that preach moderation—and even elation—over deprivation.

Small Pleasures, Big Changes

By far, most forthcoming pleasure-oriented books are aimed at women. Haven Iverson, editorial director at Sounds True, says that she first became aware of weight-loss coach Jena la Flamme in late 2012, when a mutual Facebook friend linked to la Flamme’s Weight Loss Pleasure Camp at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, N.Y. Iverson learned that la Flamme had a book proposal in the works and was seeking an agent. The result: Pleasurable Weight Loss: The Secrets to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Loving Your Life Today (Sounds True, Jan. 2015).

La Flamme considers most diets punishing and unsustainable. As Iverson puts it, “How can we incorporate pleasure into everything we do so we don’t go off the deep end and go bonkers with food?” Iverson says Pleasurable Weight Loss is a bit like the French Women books in its focus on making life good in little ways— a flower in your kitchen, a slice of cucumber in your glass of water. Influential writers, such as Mark Bittman of the New York Times, also call for moderation and enjoyment in eating, she notes.

Another forthcoming title, Très Green, Très Clean, Très Chic: The New French Way to Eat (and Live!) by Rebecca Leffler (The Experiment, Mar. 2015), originally published in France as Green, Glam & Gourmande, puts a different twist on joie de vivre, offering seasonal vegan and gluten-free recipes, stay-positive playlists, yoga instruction, and more.

Climactic Results

It’s not news that getting fit can make people feel sexier, but Laura Mazer, executive editor of Seal Press, says The Coregasm Workout, by Debby Herbenick (June 2015), shows that exercise improves sexual pleasure.

Herbenick, a research scientist at Indiana University and a sexual-health educator at the Kinsey Institute, has written five previous books, including Because It Feels Good: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction (Rodale, 2009). The Coregasm Workout primarily focuses on women, but includes some men and their stories. She found that 10% of the 2,000 women and men she studied before developing the Coregasm Workout had experienced arousal or orgasm while exercising. “This has never been studied before,” Mazer explains, adding that Herbenick’s book is the first to target the muscles that lead to orgasm. “It’s also controllable, she says, “so you don’t have to worry about climaxing in the gym.”

Other titles promoting the connection between fitness and sexiness include The Skinny Jeans Diet, by nutritionist Lyssa Weiss (Morrow, Dec.); 20 Pounds Younger: The Life-Transforming Plan for a Fitter, Sexier You! by Yahoo Health editor-in-chief Michele Promaulayko, with Laura Tedesco (Rodale, Dec.); and Strong and Sexy: Exercise, Food, and Motivation for a Healthy, Beach-Ready Body, by Swedish TV personalities Sofi Fahrman and Julia Fors (Skyhorse, Jan. 2015).

No Judgment

After about five years away from the health market, Charles Nurnberg, v-p and publisher of Charlesbridge’s Imagine imprint, and Jeremy Nurnberg, his son and business partner, dreamed up the idea for Bar Stool Yoga, by Miriam Austin (Mar. 2015).

“I’m not even sure why,” Charles Nurnberg says. “We weren’t sitting on bar stools. We weren’t drinking. It was just a title we wanted to find an author for.” Nurnberg had owned Sterling Publishing when it published another Austin book, Yoga for Wimps (1999), which he says sold a few hundred thousand copies. Bar Stool Yoga includes more than 40 photographs of men and women demonstrating yoga poses in various New Orleans bars and restaurants. Nurnberg says that books that lure people into taking care of themselves fill a key niche: people have to enjoy an exercise in order to keep doing it. “You have to get them there,” he explains.

Other fitness titles that meet busy readers where they are include Yoga for Lawyers, by Hallie N. Love and Nathalie Martin (American Bar Association, Feb. 2015), and The Pop-Up Gym, by Jon Denoris (Bloomsbury, Dec.).

Be Here Now

At Gallery Books, senior editor Jeremie Ruby-Strauss sees a trend in book proposals that emphasize being in the moment and appreciating the food you eat, as an antidote to mindless consumption. In Women, Food, and Desire (S&S/Gallery, Jan. 2015), holistic health counselor Alexandra Jamieson—who was featured in Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 documentary Super Size Me as his then-fiancée—teaches women to listen to cravings in order to transform their bodies and their relationships with food.

“The thing that I’m seeing a lot is the idea that diets don’t work,” Ruby-Strauss says. “I don’t know that I would see this trend as the pursuit of pleasure so much as the avoidance of pain.”

Pleasure-oriented fitness books stress that there’s more to consider than food, says Cara Bedick, senior editor for Harlequin Nonfiction. She edited The Beauty Detox Power: Nourish Your Mind and Body for Weight Loss and Discover True Joy, by Kimberly Snyder (Mar. 2015), author of a line that includes The Beauty Detox Solution (Harlequin Nonfiction, 2011), which has sold more than 116K in paperback, according to Nielsen BookScan. The new book is about “tuning into what your body is telling you for lasting results,” Bedick says.

She says that readers are coming around to the idea that books advocating deprivation might get instant results, but not permanent ones. “People don’t want to just be on a diet. They want to make lifestyle changes that can last.”

Juli Cragg Hilliard is a journalist and novelist living in Florida.

Click here to return to the main feature.