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Book Review| Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth

Hi Friends! A few blog posts ago our happy reading friends here at hosted @rule1fit to give us some much needed Travel Inspiration from Alaska. Before we let @rule1fit get back to work we asked her to recommend a book (or two) to satisfy our #bookcravings. Check out her answer below. Enjoy!


ROTR asked me to recommend my favorite book. It is not about Alaska, and I could not think of a way to work it into my travel post. But, I cannot leave here without recommending a light hearted read called Cheaper by the Dozen. I know what you are thinking, “isn’t that a movie with Steve Martin?” Yes. But, the movie is definitely “inspired” rather than a faithful portrayal. I’m an engineer. I’m a female engineer. Cheaper by the Dozen, and its sequel Belles on their Toes, is about the founders of industrial engineering: the Gilbreths. This husband and wife duo invented the field together.

Lilian Gilbreth became the first industrial engineering PhD in history – not the first female industrial engineering PhD. The first one. She’s been dubbed the “mother of modern management.” She invented the foot pedal trash can, standardized the height of the stove, invented the kitchen work triangle (the distance between stove, sink, and refrigerator), and a slew of other things you use every single day. She and her husband Frank decided on their honeymoon to have twelve children – and they did.Their escapades as a family are captured in Cheaper by the Dozen and its sequel. The first book is primarily about Frank Gilbreth and his development of motion minimization, efficiency, and ergonomics and the refinement of his theories that came through practicing them on his children. He truly inspired me to teach my children more, to hold my standards higher, and to believe in their abilities to have competence, to contribute, and to connect at the earliest ages.

The second book is about Lilian Gilbreth following the death of Frank, charting her course to care for the remaining 11 children by continuing to develop this field of engineering. If you want the happiest of reads, a family of spunk and joy, and a couple that inspires you to load the dishwasher faster and with less extraneous movement so that you have more time to dream big dreams, this is your book. I have to say one more thing. This book. This Cheaper by the Dozen for all its hilarity inspired me immensely to look at my life and eliminate the wasted movement, the wasted time, the wasted emotional energy and channel my efforts towards good, high, lovely pursuits. I believe it inspired me to build my latest effort – a website/blog ( dedicated to habit formation and becoming fit forever. It isn’t a fitness method so much as it is my life philosophy. It is everything I have learned from decision analysis, project management, investing, and engineering applied to healthy living.

The one rule I live by is to never give up my gains. It involves having a vision for my life and then building habits one at a time that will help me fulfill that vision. I’ve discovered that habits are the key to unlocking my vision because they keep me perpetually moving forward even if my conscious mind is called away by something urgent. To make it concrete, my habits make my healthy lunch or march me to the gym for a work out while my conscious mind is dealing with the dilemma of the day! Without habits, those daily dilemmas derail me every single time. My mission is to give people the tools to create their own autopilot, made up of their habits, that continuously drives them towards their ultimate vision, which, hopefully, includes being healthy and fit!


Happy Reading Friends!



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