Snake Oil or Elixir of Life?

mountainbike couple outdoorsI know that I’m working from Jillian Michaels’ book, Slim for Life, this week, but I need to mention one of the newest diet books that just hit the streets, and why you should focus more on lifestyle changes, rather than quick fixes and yo-yo dieting.

The 100: Count ONLY Sugar Calories and Lose Up to 18 Lbs. in 2 Weeks, by Jorge Cruise promises that you won’t have to count calories, just sugar calories. And you can eat tons of food that you want to eat, just don’t eat more than 100 “sugar calories” per day.

After sitting down with this book for just a few minutes you quickly see that it’s essentially the Atkins diet. What’s a sugar calorie, you ask? Well, according to Cruise you take the amount of carbs in a food item, multiply by 4 and you have your sugar calorie. Do the math folks – the average piece of bread contains 15 grams of carbs – times 4 and that’s 60. If you have two pieces of toast, you’ve just busted your 100 for the day. Want a bagel? That’s about 200+ sugar calories. But, you can eat pretty much meat, dairy, veggies and fruit to your hearts content. I’m not sure how anyone can sustain themselves on this diet. I know I can’t.

A good program should be about lifestyle changes. So let’s get back to Michaels book and see if I can make enough realistic lifestyle changes to make a difference.

  • Become a label reader: check the serving size (Michaels 81). I’ve been doing this one for awhile. Most American foods aren’t one-serving per container. Read between the BS. Anything that’s “sucrose,” or “high-fructose,” or says “hydrogenated” is something to be suspicious of, particularly when it’s one of the first 3 ingredients.
  • Continue to push the exercise envelope. Even for someone like me who has exercised most of their life, I still don’t always feel like it. However, whatever you give action to will generate and build momentum in that direction. When I don’t feel like exercising I evaluate, first. Just like my old baseball and football coaches used to say, are you hurt or are you injured? If you’re hurt, quit whining and get out there. If you’re injured, see the Trainer. Do I really need to take the day off? Am I fighting an illness or lack of sleep? If none-of-the-above is true, then I just start small (Michaels 158). Once I get going, I continue to push. I’m not a jump-out-of-bed and hit the gym guy either – I get up, have coffee and some oatmeal and read the papers (Denver Post, USAToday and sometimes the New York Times). Then, I hit the gym. You need to come up with a routine that works for you.
  • Think it through (Michaels 161). Of all the ideas in the book, I really like this one. It’s worked for me and continues to do so. Before I eat, whatever it is I’m about to eat or drink, she encourages you to think about how you will feel after the fact – first. I use this to fend off Frappuccino urges. I also find that when I do go for the frap instead of the Americano, I usually don’t drink all of it. Once I’ve tasted a little, I’m usually good. Same thing works when you’re about to binge out on that donut, bag of chips or whatever will leave you feeling bloated and sick. Doesn’t work all the time, but works more often than not.

With my lifestyle, I can control breakfast, lunch and snacks most of the time. Dinner is what’s served unless I want to cook (and I never have time – I can order really well though) and on the road I just do the best I can. Michaels makes some suggestions about travel, like carrying the oatmeal with you, and there are some ideas on how to eat during seminars, from the junk machines (vending machines) when you really have too, so I’ll adapt those.

It’s impractical to haul a ton of food with me on travel. I carry the Honey Stinger waffles and some beef jerky, but that’s about all I can handle in the suitcase. For home, I picked up some whole grain bread and waffles, along with organic, real maple syrup and butter; may as well have the real stuff and feel full, but I will use both in moderation. I also grabbed some organic oatmeal and natural brown sugar (sorry Mr. Cruise, I’m sure I just blew out your sugar calories before I’m done with breakfast).

Honestly Jillian, I’ve given up counting your points in this book. It’s a great book for tons of ideas on making lifestyle changes, but the points don’t translate to real life very well. I can do things like “Call Grandma,” (Michaels 195) so I can get my workout in, but I don’t need to – I have time to workout anyway. So, does that mean I get the 3 points you’ve offered here, or not?

There’s some stuff I just won’t do. I’m not giving up my bacon – about once a week I get to enjoy some bacon with breakfast. And you can also pry my movie-theater popcorn from AMC Theaters (where they let you butter it yourself) from my cold dead, saturated greasy fat fingers. There’s something to be said for enjoying life from time to time. Note, I said time-to-time, not every day.

And there’s some that I already know don’t do much for me, like Yoga. I know that even Tony Horton swears by it, and I spent a few years in Yoga classes with my wife – I was bored out of my mind (I don’t do the whole meditation thing very well), and usually either found myself admiring my wife’s body (she’s hot!) or watching Sportscenter through the mirror in the front of the room. At home, I only do a stretch workout (that does incorporate some yoga) when I haven’t had enough sleep or I’m recovering from something. I incorporate my stretching into my daily routines instead.

However, Jillian does have numerous ideas, so many that anyone can find something here to make a change. I have made several changes as a result but only time will tell if they work. I suggest flipping through this book and others, and adapting just a few changes. See if your energy feels better, see if the weight is dropping. Even with the sugar calories deal, I know from Jillian Michaels’ app that I’m eating more carbs than I should be, so I will be adding more proteins to my diet. Truly, you should always educated yourself on your own health and fitness – after all, your life is depending on it.

Michaels, Jillian. Slim for Life: My Insider Secrets to Simple, Fast, and Lasting Weight Loss. New York: EM, 2013. Print

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