Saturday, April 17, 2010

Book Review: A Guide to Flexible Dieting

I don't review books very often, because I rarely find books that I totally recommend. It's hard to say, I recommend you read Chapters 1-3 but Chapter 4 is ridiculous. 

As you all know, because I have moaned about it for a couple of months, I've been stuck in weight loss limbo for a couple of months now.  I bought a book to get through this idiotic plateau once and for all.  I've also recommended several websites where I've learned a lot.  One of those sites that I recommend is  Body Recomposition, so for my birthday I ordered this book, A Guide to Flexible Dieting.

I waited impatiently for my order and read it in one sitting.  It's not a huge book - it's 110 pages.  It doesn't have glossy pictures, suggested menus, or before pictures of a frumpy sad overweight woman followed by an after pictures of the new improved buff tan woman in a bikini, complete with glowing smile. If that is what you are looking for, pick up any of the 400 page opuses at your local book store.  You won't get the same type of  factual information from the pretty books.  You'll get cheery optimism, pretty pictures, recipes, and the opinions of the author from the pretty books.

Flexible is not a diet book.  It does not recommend a specific diet.  It explains how to make diets work better for you.  It explains nutrition basics.  It explains how to figure out your approximate body fat percentage, your maintenance calories, and your nutritional needs.  It explains why and how a few of the more popular diets work (or don't).  It removes the mystery and it does so backed by dozens of studies performed by respected sources.

I like to consider myself relatively intelligent, but I'll admit, I was a little nervous about buying the book because when I read stuff on the website, I have to have another window open with Google so I can define the terms I don't understand. The author, Lyle McDonald, is highly respected in the field of physiology and nutrition. He reviews current studies in those topics on his website, and never just makes random claims. He always has scientific backing for his recommendations. He is one of the smartest guys out there in terms of exercise and diet, whatever your goals happen to be - weight loss, body building, sports specific training and nutrition. He can be a little crusty on the website, especially the forums, but I imagine when you've written the articles and answered the same questions 12 billion times, it begins to wear on one.

The internet persona and the author persona are quite different.  This book is all science but it's easily understandable and clear to people who do not hold multiple science degrees.  I didn't have to use Google once to understand it.

One of the most important things McDonald discusses in the book is the "all or nothing" mentality that we've also talked about on here about a million times.( here , here and  here for example) When you "mess up" don't let it blow your day, week, month.  Move on.  That is what "flexible dieting" is all about -  applying dieting to the real world experience and not letting mistakes throw you off-track.  It gets inside your head and helps you understand why you may have failed in the past, and helps you to overcome those mental blocks this time around.

Some of the things discussed in the book are:

Determining Your Body Fat Percentage
Free Meals (or what I call off-plan meals here)
Full Diet Breaks
Setting Maintenance and Diet Calories
The Psychology of Dieting

The formulas are easy to use, the writing is friendly and personal, and the author has a dry sense of humor and a no BS attitude.

This will be $39.95 well spent - I recommend this book from cover to cover, without the usual reservations I put on books.  I know that as my dietary needs change, I will be referring to this book again and again.

You can find it on McDonald's website  at the Body Recomposition store.

Let me know if you decide to go for it - I'd be interested in your thoughts on it!

April 17: The Full Diet Break

Here is something really interesting I learned from my new book, Guide to Flexible Dieting by Lyle McDonald. (Check it out here) After a sustained period of dieting, your body stops producing certain hormones at the same level and then you stop losing weight.  (the dreaded plateau) To jump start your diet engine, McDonald recommends a "Full Diet Break" for a minimum of two weeks.  So for two weeks, I am going to try to eat at my maintenance calories. I think the guy is brilliant, so that is what I am setting out to do.  This is a serious leap of faith for me!

Now, first of all, let me tell you how ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING it is to eat more calories on purpose.  For nearly 5 months, I have restricted my intake.  I've improved my basic eating habits.  I've counted carbs, calories and fats.  I've been very pleased with my ability to "just say no" to the culprit foods that made me fat.  And now I have to eat MORE FOOD!!!

I am terribly overwhelmed by this.  For the past two days I've been trying to get my calories up like I'm supposed to and I haven't made it yet.  First of all, I don't have a lot of appetite because of the meds I've been taking.  Second, I have this horrible nagging fear I won't be able to stop eating once I start.  And finally, it just seems so wrong.

Of course, two of these reasons are exactly why I need a break.  These are not psychologically healthy attitudes about food.  McDonald doesn't recommend eating junk with abandon.  You are still counting calories and eating balanced meals.  You are not dining on cupcakes, ice cream  and jelly beans for two weeks.

I'll be reviewing the book  later today - I really recommend it!

So this morning, I'm sitting here pondering how to get in an extra 600 calories today - it's harder than it sounds, my friends!  As opposed to the picture at the top, mine will look more like this:

Minus the Christmas decorations, of course!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April 14: Spring is the perfect time to get started!


Why is it that people start their diets and exercise programs on New Year's Day, in the dead of winter, surrounded by leftover holiday treats and gloomy gray skies?

It's clear to me that SPRING is the time to make a fresh start to your lifestyle!  If you have already begun your journey to a healthier you, now is the time to recommit, and if you are contemplating making some positive changes, there is no better time to do so.

Why?  Lots of reasons!


The beautiful  weather entices you  to lace up your sneakers and go for a walk to see what's blooming!  And just like that, you've begun your exercise program!


Delicious spring vegetables are at their peak!  It's a great time to try asparagus (my favorite), fiddleheads, baby peas, and spinach.  Another good reason to buy them now is this is the lowest price of the year because you are able to purchase them locally.


Spring fruit is here in all it's mouth-watering goodness!  It's strawberry season here in Ontario.  Other goodies you may find locally are rhubarb, and soon, apricots and cherries.


Great selections are now available at your local farmer's markets.  Now is the time of year to abandon your grocery store and buy your food fresh from the grower.  Not only will you get excellent prices but you learn about how the food is raised and help the local economy.  Win-Win-Win situation.

Spring is a time of year that just makes me feel good.  The warmth and sunshine make me happy.  The looming aspect of swimsuit season also helps me to get my butt in gear.  So walk, work in your yard, and enjoy moving in the fresh spring air.  Feast on the delicate delicious produce that spring has to offer.

Spring is Nature's fresh start - let it be your start too!

Monday, April 12, 2010

April 12: Check-in

You may have noticed my weekly check-ins are not quite weekly.  Maybe I should call them weekly-ish check-ins.  Or whenever I feel like it check ins.  Anyhow, here is a check-in.

Last check-in, April 1: 187 pounds
Today, April 12: 186 pounds

Not earth-shattering but the scale is going in the right direction - that is the key.

I had some medical stuff going on this week so my eats were a bit off.  Here are my averages for the past 7 days. (Keep in mind there was Easter and a birthday in there too!)

Calories: 1514
Carbs:  154 g
Fats:  58g
Protein: 98g

Really not too bad.  The only tweaking I'm working on this week is lowering the fat and raising the protein.

Tonight I'm making a healthy homemade lean beef stroganoff with lots of mushrooms over whole wheat noodles.  Mmmmm.....Comfort food!

I've only missed 3 days of walking in the past two weeks.  I've been regularly hiking and walking and it's really helping my energy level and my state of mind.  Hiking with the girls has been great - we are planning to go again this weekend also, as long as we have good weather.  I love it!

Slow progress but still progress!