by Mia Christina Angelou

BOOK JACKET BLURB The Experiment started out as a personal project. Well over 130kgs and going strong, my weight was rapidly reaching the point of no return. I knew I had to take matters into my own hands. I had to find a solution, and soon. Anyone who has struggled with obesity will tell you… searching for the answer to permanent weight loss is like crossing a mine field. To get to the truth, you need to bypass all kinds of lies and misconceptions. I tripped over quite a few mines myself; but in the end, I managed to lose the weight and keep it off. Eager to share practical tips and valuable findings, I decided to take the next step and create a guide —a road map of sorts. The Experiment draws from personal experience, and borrows from a wide range of sources and testimonials, to help you spot misinformation and avoid common pitfalls. If a healthy and well-balanced life is your destination, then this guide will point you in the right direction. Permanent weight loss is attainable, and within your control. You don’t need to be a nutritionist or health expert. All it takes is awareness, motivation and some basic knowledge on how your body works. If I could do it, so can you!


This book is dedicated: To Athanasia, my oldest and dearest friend. MJ and Sarah, two genuinely inspiring and wonderful people. Ioulia and Eleni, for their remarkable strength and for always believing in me. My family, for everything. Without them this book would never have been written. And last, but not least, to my friends and former “dieters”, for their continuing support and encouragement.

Copyright ©2010 by Mia Christina Angelou. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a data base or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the author.

This publication includes the author’s views, and is meant to provide information and ideas of interest to the reader. It is not intended to replace medical advice. It is distributed with the understanding that the author is not engaged in offering medical, health, or any other kind of personal professional services. The reader should seek qualified medical counsel for specific information on personal health matters, before following any suggestions or drawing conclusions from this book. The author shall have no responsibility for adverse effects, injury, damage, liability, loss, or risk, personal or otherwise, arising directly or indirectly as a result of this publication. Every effort has been made so that the information in this book is accurate; and that requirements with regard to reproducing copyright material are met. The author will gladly rectify any omissions at the earliest opportunity.


Table of Contents

Preface Introduction PART I: NAVIGATE YOUR MIND Chapter 1: The Ride of Your Life! Chapter 2: First Thing’s First. Picking Your Destination. Chapter 3: Travel Light. What Weighs You Down Stays Behind. Chapter 4: Detours and Other Diversions. Chapter 5: Road Signs and Clever Shortcuts. Chapter 6: The Secret to a Fun and Fruitful Journey. PART II: EXPLORE YOUR BODY Chapter 1: Understanding Hunger. If You Can’t Beat It, Outsmart It. Chapter 2: Metabolism. The Liver to the Rescue! Chapter 3: Introducing Your New Best Friends… Metabolism Enhancers. Chapter 4: Identifying the Enemy… Metabolism Suppressors. Chapter 5: Interpreting Your Body’s Dys-stress Signals. PART III: CHART A NEW COURSE Chapter 1: On Your Marks. A Brief Overview. Chapter 2: Get Set. And Get Physical. Chapter 3: Go. This Is Where You Start Your Own Experiment. Epilogue Bibliography

4 6

7 10 15 24 29 34

40 47 53 61 71

81 91 98 106 107



Monday, June 29, 2009

I’m stuck. I’ve been trying for over a month now, but the scale just won’t budge. This is frustrating. And I feel just as useless and disappointed with myself as I did the very first day I began this experiment —almost five years ago! I realize, at least on some level, how ridiculous that sounds. I have, after all, lost around 50kgs these past few years. My body is immensely different from what it used to be. And yet, unless I dig up an old pair of pants from the bottom of my closet, and watch as they fold twice around my waist, I honestly cannot SEE the difference. We grow used to everything —most of all our bodies. What we see in the mirror often has little to do with reality. Ironically, it has everything to do with how much we appreciate, or how well we treat, ourselves. All the pain we could avoid, if only we weren’t so involved, so biased. If only we could take a big breath, step back and see ourselves through the eyes of an objective, impartial observer. How liberating it would be. I didn’t know it back then, but this realization was the underlying cause behind my actions —the very force that set my experiment in motion. Exhausted by all the selfdeprecating thoughts and psychological punishment; I was finally forced to stop, rest, and deal with my problems in a more objective manner. It wasn’t planned. It was a survival mechanism. One day, I just… disconnected. I couldn’t put it into words, if you asked me… or even thought of it as an experiment, when it began. I was simply fed up with feeling bad about myself. I was fed up with feeling angry, guilty, ashamed, ugly, weak… a failure. Not all the time, thank goodness! But enough to inflict the most ludicrous new diet, comprised of absurd restrictions and unreasonable deprivations. Enough to try out any new product or service that promised quick and painless results —cellulite creams, supplements, the diet version of meals on wheels, “miracle” exercise equipment. The list goes on and on. Frustrated by all my failed attempts, and embarrassed by how much time, effort and resources I had managed to waste; I could no longer bear the negative charge of my emotions. In a way, I guess I short-circuited. Suddenly, I stopped feeling. It had happened before… many times before. The difference was, back then, I would simply give up. After a long and unproductive stretch of unrealistic diets, I would just let myself run wild —indulging in anything and everything I had been so long deprived of. When, finally, I came to my senses and found the courage to get back on the scale, I would weigh more than ever before. This time was different. I was at the end of my rope. I weighed approximately 133 kilos. My knees ached. Forget about climbing stairs, my main ambition was finding parking close to where I would shop, or going to a cinema that had wide enough seats. My major concern was that I couldn’t get any bigger, without seriously compromising both my mobility [4]

and independence. What’s more, I knew I was lucky! Bad knees were nothing compared to the difficulties that awaited me. If nothing changed, I would soon face serious, debilitating health problems. I also knew that I was caught up in a repetitive, vicious cycle. A web of habits, a pattern of behaviors that went from bad to worse. I had to stop repeating my past mistakes. I would NOT embark on just any new diet, follow any new scheme, and adhere to the latest slimming method… I would wait! My brother, having witnessed the whole crazed weightloss/weight-gain loop, over and over again, had once told me, “Why don’t you just keep your weight STEADY? Forget about losing. Just don’t gain any more.” I had quickly rejected this notion as being defeatist and ludicrous. My negative self-image, combined with feelings of failure, prompted me to respond “Of course, I HAVE to lose weight. First of all, my body sucks; and, second of all, it would mean giving up.” But now, after countless disastrous attempts, I wish I had listened to him. He was right. This time, I would wait. My new goal would be to keep my weight stable, while I found a more permanent solution. No more hurried, drastic measures. No more fad diets. I would research. I would proceed cautiously and unemotionally. I would treat this as one would… a science experiment. And so, I began reading. And I would not try ANYTHING unless I had found enough evidence to support it. And I kept a log, a notebook, where I wrote all my findings and recorded my progress. After a while, I realized that keeping this log was the most important thing I could do. It kept me focused on my goal, impartial, motivated. It was my memory, my inspiration, my compass. It helped me stay on track and avoid the emotionally charged twists and turns of what turned out to be a very long journey. The starting point of this journey was in June 2005. I weighed almost 135 kilos. That was my wakeup call. In 2006, I not only managed to keep my weight stable, I brought it down to 120. In 2007, I lost 21 more kilograms. In 2008, I went down by another 15. For the past five months, I have been stable. Come to think of it. Stable is not so bad. Five years of no fluctuations, no emotional turmoil, no unnecessary burden to my health. Sure, I still have a long way to go. But it’s o.k. However long it takes. I never expected, going in, that it would take five years to lose 50kgs. I thought I could do it in a year. And what’s worse, I thought it would be alright to do it in a year. Getting started, I was optimistic. I was oblivious. I was clueless. But I have no regrets. What I learned along the way has changed my life for the better… and in ways I could never have imagined. I finally have knowledge of, and control over, my own body. I finally have a say regarding my future, my destiny. What greater victory is there? I now know that our body is not purposely trying to defy us. Our body is our greatest ally! It is our one true home, our foremost means of transportation, our most effective mechanism and tool. Unfortunately, it does not come with a user’s manual. We are all unique. Your body has its own distinctive needs, reactions, strengths and limitations. Figuring out how you work, exploring your limits, may take some time; but it is a wonderful adventure. Find out how much damage can be reversed, how much progress can be made. Borrow from the leading minds in the fields of psychology, nutrition, physical [5]

activity, and create the formula that works best for you. The more you change, the more the circumstances of your life will change; and the more you’ll need to go back and revise your earlier findings. But the core, the substance, will remain unchanged. This is the substance that I have managed to isolate on my way to a healthier, happier, more fulfilled life. I hope it gives you the inspiration to start your own experiment. If you don’t agree with everything you read, then… good. This book is just to point you in the right direction, get you started, get the ball rolling. You’re meant to question things, and you’re meant to keep only what’s right for you. You’re meant to improve on this book. To make it your own!


If I could lose over 50 kilos… so can you. And what’s more, you’ll discover it’s easy. I cannot promise you a perfect body, a more successful career, a fulfilling love life. I can, however, promise you NO MORE HUNGER! And a guilt-free, happier existence that naturally results from finally understanding your body and gaining control over your weight. The main reason why I started writing this manual/guide was to spread the knowledge that changed my life. I believe everyone can learn from my success, and even more so from my failures. Knowledge is, indeed, power. It can empower you, and it can transform you. Bits and pieces of this knowledge are out there for everyone, but they get lost in the static, the misinformation. There is an entire industry (from beauty institutes to manufacturers of food products, exercise equipment, meal substitutes, etc.) that has got most people believing it has all the answers. This industry profits from your failure… your repeated attempts at losing weight, the subsequent frustration, the inevitable weight gain. There is profit to be made in giving you hope, only to take it away. With every failed attempt, your resolve weakens, and more and more of your self-confidence evaporates. “It’s my fault”, you think, and you turn to the “professionals”. You learn to rely almost entirely on outside answers, desperately investing in the newest fads, the latest “miracle” solutions. Well, this is not only wrong… it is a big, fat lie. Because, in truth, the answer lies with you! Only you can discover what works for you, the best way to control your weight. Only you can find (better yet, develop) the solution that seamlessly and painlessly blends into your daily life. It is a personal and liberating journey, and no one has the right to deprive you of it. So keep on reading and keep on learning. The undeniable, empowering truth is that ONLY YOU have the power to change your life. It really is all up to YOU.



The Ride of Your Life!

If losing an x number of kilos is your destination, then getting there is in many ways a journey. This journey doesn’t have to be hard. You can plan your own route. Depending on your target, and the specific circumstances in your life (i.e. family, work), you can choose the level of difficulty that best suits you. This journey, however, IS going to be long. There are no speedy solutions and no quick fixes, when it comes to controlling your weight. You will have to unlearn certain harmful practices and develop new ones that support your efforts, inspire and motivate you. This takes time. I know you probably don’t like hearing this. We are, after all, part of a generation that has been weaned on instant gratification. Everything has to be quick and readily attainable. Faster has come to mean better. But does it really? We take pride in finding ways to cut corners and speed up results, but where has it gotten us? The pace of everyday life has become more frantic than ever. It used to be that people boasted of the time they invested. They used to brag “It took me the whole morning to cook this”, or “I spent three months fixing this”. Nowadays, we feel guilty if something takes long. We feel it is a sign of laziness; or worse, that maybe we weren’t smart enough to figure an easy way out. Usually, however, fast is anything but smart! Everything in life has its own pace, its own rhythm. So does your body. So does your mind. When you rush things, there’s usually a catch. What’s done quickly, can quickly be undone. Your mind is like a landscape. Right now you have various eating habits growing in this landscape, quite like trees. To plant new ones, you need to wait for the seed to grow. If you hurry through this process, and the new habits haven’t had time to spread roots; then, at the first sign of trouble (stress, temptation, etc), they will most likely be uprooted. A common reason why diets fail is that they require drastic, instead of gradual, changes; so, soon enough, you fall back into previous eating patterns. Also, too quick a change can be too quick to see. The thing to remember is that, when you lose weight, you change physically. You are in many ways transformed. When you look in the mirror you literally see a different person. If this happens too quickly, your mind may not be able to catch up. A lot of people have lost weight and have felt disappointed because, after months of restraint, they look in the mirror and are not happy with what they see. How they view themselves has little to do with how they actually look. This is something I have experienced firsthand. Even now, 50 kilos lighter, when I look in the mirror I feel nothing has changed. Every so often, I have to try on some of my old clothes. This helps my mind acknowledge the difference in my appearance; and, instantaneously, I regain confidence in myself. [7]

In addition to your mind, your body also needs time to adjust. Weight gain and weight loss, both have adverse consequences. Your skin works hard to regain its elasticity. Your muscles strive to cope with the increased physical activity. Your entire body is retuned and reprogrammed to burn more fat. We are not built to undergo continuous and drastic weight fluctuations; but still, our body does its best to cope under these very unusual and unreasonable circumstances. The least we can do is respect its particular pace and rhythm. A lot of people get discouraged when they compare their weight loss to that of a friend’s. Just because Mary’s body lost 15kgs in three months, doesn’t mean that your body is equally equipped to do the same. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Height, muscle mass, and various other factors may set a very different time-frame for you. Conclusion? Take it slow! You have every right to sit back, relax and take your time. Just remember that you are being smart about this. If you are tempted to rush into things, so as to get quicker results, don’t. In fact, I recommend that you take very little action until you finish reading this book. At the end of each chapter, I will suggest certain steps you can take, that will allow for a smooth transition. No rush. No guilt. This guide is about setting the foundations that will get you permanent results.

Getting started:
1. Set a stabilizing period. Take a few minutes to think of all the diets you’ve rushed into, and how they turned out. You have nothing to lose by waiting a little longer. Make a commitment to avoid any rash changes to your daily diet, by setting a stabilizing period. During this period (i.e. until you finish reading this guide) consider any dietary info as suspect. Take the time to scrutinize what you learn and question whether it is right for you or not. This is your experiment, and like any experiment it is very important to gather and analyze all relevant information —before you act. 2. Keep a log. Most diets dictate that you write down what you eat. I am more interested in a record of what you learn, what you remember and what you feel. I suggest that you buy a small/portable notebook, so you can carry it with you, whenever and wherever you like. You will find more information and log related activities at the end of each chapter. I cannot stress enough how important a role this log plays. It will be your memory, your motivation, your confidant. And yes, it will be fun! 3. Manage your boundaries. This is not a race, and it is not a competition. It is a very personal journey. You will, therefore, need to decide who you’re going to take with you. I suggest you avoid mentioning that you are reading/researching/changing your eating habits, until you have seen results and are personally confident that they are lasting. Why the secrecy? If you have a long history of failed diets, you may face doubt and mistrust. You may feel the need to prove your close circle wrong by hurrying the results. You might even be pressured into competing with a friend/relative that is currently on a diet. In any case, your focus will shift from you and onto your environment. Conserve your energy. Do not involve others unless you have to, and only to the point that you feel comfortable. For example, if someone [8]

asks how you lost 10kgs, you don’t need to go into detail, just mention that you are getting a bit more exercise lately. If someone wonders why you’re passing down a second serving, just say you’re not hungry.

My mother has always equated dieting with hunger and restraint. Since my method of weight loss did not involve puny portions and general abstinence from food, I knew she would be very skeptical and would try to discourage me. For the first few months, I was very careful to hide any changes to my diet. After, however, I had lost a solid 15kgs I became less and less secretive. As predicted, my mother objected. Thankfully, at that point, I had irrefutable evidence that my new eating habits worked. A general blood work also revealed that my health had improved significantly. Finally, I could eat as I wanted. In the past, ordering take-out brought on huge arguments in my house. Now, I could order anything, openly, and with no fuss. All I had to say was, “Look. This is part of the diet and the diet works” or “When you lose 15 kilos you can give me all the advice you want”. It was both empowering and liberating. And although my mother never quite abandoned the notion that dieting equals an empty stomach, she proved to be great help. She began cooking the foods that I needed and encouraged me to stick to the “new diet”. To this day, she still doesn’t know how much I weigh. She thinks I should lose at least 5kgs per month, like clockwork. She means well, but the pressure is unfair. I am not a machine, and not every month is the same. I do the best I can and take comfort in the fact that it’s the long run that counts. If I listened to her, I’d feel like a failure. What can you do? You can’t get everyone to agree with you —at least not 100%. You involve each person to the extent that you can, by managing the flow of information.


First Thing’s First. Picking Your Destination.

Changing one’s self is the greatest, most fascinating adventure. It is the journey of a lifetime! The key to a successful journey is being prepared. You need to think about the practical stuff. When’s a good time to hit the road? Do I have enough fuel? Is there a spare in the trunk? What type of clothes do I pack? Where do I stop, and for how long? What’s there to do for fun and relaxation? And the key to being prepared is knowing WHERE it is you’re actually going. I have more experience with dead ends, than I care to remember. Trying to lose weight can be like trying to find your way through a maze. The difference between a funfilled, stress-free journey, and a frantic “can’t find where I am on the map”, “how the heck did I get here” type of situation, is all in choosing the right destination. By right destination, I mean right for YOU. Your goal should be as unique and distinctive as you are. It doesn’t get any more personal. As such, there is no golden rule, no magic formula. There are, however, four helpful guidelines that serve as a compass. You know you’re on the right track when your goal is: feasible, relevant, non-numerical, and inspirational.


Feasible (not physical)

“I would very much like to lose 10kgs per month, and look like Jennifer Lopez. Can I?” Not likely. First of all, our body adjusts to weight loss and weight gain gradually. The adverse effects of rapid fluctuations are many, and can range from annoying (i.e. stretch marks) to life-threatening (i.e. heart attack). Second of all, I doubt that even Jennifer Lopez (in real life) looks anything like Jennifer Lopez (in movies or magazines). My advice is to start slow and start small. In the beginning, it wouldn’t hurt to be overly cautious. During the first year of my weight loss experiment, my target was to remain stable. This was a huge success, given that (pretty much since childhood) my weight had been fluctuating like crazy. I gained 10kgs, only to lose 5 and gain back 10 more. It was obvious I had no idea what I was doing. What crushed me and demoralized me the most wasn’t the fact that I could never fit in any of my clothes… It was the fact that I had absolutely no control over what was happening to my own body. After years of this rollercoaster ride from hell, being able to make the scale STOP MOVING entirely was a miracle. In the end, it’s all a matter of perspective and expectations. Be realistic. Aim for improvement rather than perfection! Why? Because perfection does not exist anywhere outside our own mind. That is precisely why magazines use Photoshop to airbrush pictures of movie stars and models. When we aim for perfection we only sabotage ourselves. Countless dieters have abandoned their weight loss efforts because


the results did not meet their expectations. Countless more, gained back the weight they lost because they felt disappointed with themselves and how they looked. Do not let great ambitions overshadow small success. More importantly do not relate your goal, in any way, to your physical appearance. Your goal should be about improving your health, your quality of life, and your psychology. Losing weight is by no means a way for you to feel better about your looks. Weight, self-image and beauty are actually not as interdependent as you might think. (More on this popular misconception in Chapter 3) Relevant

“I want to be able to go to the beach in the summer.” This goal, although a personal favorite, is not really relevant. For years I avoided appearing in bathing suits, because I was ashamed of my body. Now, I only wish I could go back in time to talk some sense into my 14 year-old self. Goals like these have more to do with self-image and negative feelings, than with your actual weight. Essentially, they are restrictions masquerading as goals. For example, what this goal implies is that “I will not allow myself to enjoy my summer vacation, until I look better.” Well, even if you lose the weight, there is no guarantee you will feel bathing-suit ready. It takes a lot more than an arbitrary number on your scale, to make you feel good about your appearance. It is never too early to stop punishing yourself. Punishment hardly ever works as motivation. The more you punish yourself, the worse you feel. The worse you feel, the more you eat. Find a goal that truly relates to your weight, and not to your self-image. The less charged with negative emotion, the greater it’s positive impact. For example, “My knees will not hurt whenever I walk up stairs”, “I will be less dependent on my car”, etc. Not very exciting, I know. But even after all these years, still motivating. Today, whenever I use the underground metro I always climb the stairs, instead of taking the escalator. Why? Because now I CAN. And I feel truly lucky that I am able to make this choice. This small accomplishment, a thing most people take for granted, makes me feel good about myself. Every time, without fail, I catch myself smiling and thinking “Wow, I can’t believe I’m doing this. I’ve come a long way.”


Quantifiable… not!

“I want to reach my ideal weight… 60kgs.” There has been considerable debate whether or not there even is such a thing as your ideal weight. You may have reached this conclusion based on past memories of your body at that particular weight, or by calculating your BMI (Body Mass Index), or by some other method. Whatever the case, losing x kilos and reaching this preset number doesn’t necessarily mean you will look the same as you did when you last weighed 60kgs. As you grow older, your body’s muscle and fat tissue changes and redistributes. You might be pleasantly surprised at what your ideal weight turns out to be. [11]

If you feel you need to set a target weight, then it would be best to choose a flexible weight range, instead of a random number. A weight range reminds you that your body is not a fixed, inanimate object. It is meant to adapt, respond and change. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p. 198) Your weight might plateau. At times you may even gain a few pounds (i.e. when you retain water or build muscle mass). One number creates the unrealistic standard of a single perfect weight. You either meet that standard or you don’t, so it predisposes you to consider only two possible outcomes: complete success or total failure. In truth, you have another option. Weight-loss is not a win-or-fail endeavor; you do have the more realistic option of PROGRESS! One thing is for sure, a number in itself is not motivating. You have a long way ahead of you. You will need to change yourself, your habits and your routines. Change is by definition hard. We all resist change, because it forces us to move outside our comfort zone. On the other hand, there can be no progress without change. It is necessary, it is possible, and it is highly attainable. You just need to be focused, persistent and determined. But how much focus and determination can a number really offer you?



Whenever you think of your goal, does it create positive feelings? Does it motivate you? Or does it stress you out? Make you feel guilty? Your goal has to be empowering. Negative feelings and ultimatums will drain you of the energy you need to invest in yourself and in your journey. Take the time to put as much thought into what inspires you as possible. Dig deep. Try to ask yourself “Why?” —again and again, until you realize what it is that really fuels you. You might be amazed at what you discover.

So far, the goal that has inspired me the most has been the following: “If I do this, I can at least say I tried to be the person I wanted to be –to create my own destiny- while I still had the chance”. No time limits. No numbers. No ultimatums. Granted, you may not find this at all inspirational, you may not even get it, but that is the beauty of a good goal. It works best when it is deeply personal. When I was at my lowest, this was my highest aspiration — to regain power over myself, my body and my life. This was my driving force, the true reason underlying my actions. To merely think on this, helps me regain my focus and determination. Being a highly personal process, finding your individual goal is not an exact science. Still, keeping the above four criteria in mind will help you avoid pitfalls and point you in the right direction. This process relies mostly on trial and error. The important thing is that you never stop asking yourself “What do I want?”, “Why am I really doing this?”, “What is it that truly motivates me?” Every few months the answer may change —but change is a good thing! Revise. Rethink. And then revise some more. Write down your goals in your log. After a few months you will be surprised at how your priorities have changed, and how much progress you’ve made. [12]

At this point, you may be wondering “If my goal is not numerical, how will I know if I am making progress?” Well, you will be recording your weight, as well as observations regarding your body, your appetite and your psychology. Progress will be determined on a more comprehensive level. This book aims to help you change not only your appearance, but mainly your lifestyle, your self-image and your health. For now, keep in mind that your goal is meant to be a powerful tool that drives and motivates you. Whenever you feel your resolve is wavering, it should remind you why exactly it’s worth to keep going.

Getting started:
1. Ready-Set-Go(al). By now you should already have a notebook handy. We’ll call it your Daily Planner. The first and most important thing to jot down in this log is your goal. Take a day or two to really think about it. Try the following exercise. Ask yourself “Why?” “Why am I reading this book?” “Why do I care?” “Why do I want to lose weight?” “Why do I want to change?” Keep asking yourself until you feel you’ve really answered your questions. For example, “I want to look good.” Why? “So that I can make more friends.” Why? “I’d like to do more fun stuff with other people.” Why? “I’d like to get out of the house more often.” Why? Be careful, however, to choose a goal that is relevant. “I want to do things and make friends” is not related to your weight. Unless your weight has led to serious mobility issues, then your goal is more related to your self-image. When I weighed 120kgs I went cave exploring in Africa. I traveled the world through my job and met countless amazing people. I’ve met “bigger” people than me, with even “bigger” lives. Another example would be “I want to stop hunger cravings” Why? “I want to feel good about myself” Why? “I feel powerless and ashamed” Why? “I feel I can’t control myself” Why? “I feel trapped” Possible goals that may come out of this are “I want more control over my life” “I want to escape a dead-end situation”. Dig deep. It may be painful to admit certain feelings even to yourself, but hitting on the true source of your motivation is like discovering a life-line. It is totally worth it! 2. Set an observation period. Make a printout of this month’s calendar from your computer, or devote a few pages in your Daily Planner, and write what you eat and drink, when, where and with which people. The circumstances around what you eat are equally important as to the food itself. Sometimes, changing the circumstances is enough to change the quality and quantity of food you consume daily. Chapter 5 explores this in more detail. For now, the point of this exercise is to keep an unbiased record of your daily intake. Also, take a minute to write how you feel before and after each meal. We are interested in your emotional state and the level of your satiation (i.e. happy, guilty, hungry, starving, full, bloated, sick). These are all important clues that will help you regulate your nutrition, avoid hunger pangs, and achieve a higher level of well-being. [13]

3. Schedule a departure date. Are you ready to embark on a long and life-altering journey? Do you have the time and energy? Do you have support from friends and relatives? Are you going through a difficult time at work? Are any big changes taking place that may interfere with your routine and throw you off your game? Write down any pros and cons you can think of. It will help you decide WHEN to start, and how QUICKLY you can implement what you learn. It will help you determine your own individual pace —one that is both realistic and appropriate given the circumstances in your life.

Fast Fact: “Fifteen minutes of journaling each day can cut stress levels and even bolster the immune
system by 76%”. Establishing objectives can also reduce anxiety.”Goal-oriented people” show signs of greater focus, and higher satisfaction with themselves and their results. (Gittleman, 2002, p.104-105)


Travel Light. What Weighs You Down Stays Behind.

There were periods in my life when I did everything by the book. I ate all the right foods and in the right amounts. I exercised daily. And yet, none of it worked. The scale would not budge, and I would not lose even an ounce. Then, I began to realize those were the periods when, for whatever reason, I was emotionally charged. I was stressed, sad, angry, or in some other type of psychological turmoil. Our body and our emotions are highly interconnected. Everything we feel is a result of chemical reactions, or results in chemical reactions, within our bodies. Hormones flow, brain synapses fire… We are constantly responding to both the outside world and our inner landscape —our feelings. In fact, we carry our feelings wherever we go, in our mind and in our very body, much like emotional baggage. And the second thing we have to do, once we’ve decided to set a destination and hit the road, is get rid of as much of this baggage as possible. We need to get rid of everything that weighs us down! For a long time, I thought that if I lost the weight THEN I could finally begin to feel better about myself. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. If you’ve grown accustomed to feeling miserable, worthless, guilty, and so on, these emotions have become part of your psychological landscape. They are familiar, and everything familiar is oddly reassuring, comforting. Like old, trusted friends emotions are readily available whenever we call for them. Sometimes they even pop by without an invitation. This, however, is one journey you have to take alone. It’s time to leave negative feelings behind. Negative feelings drain you of the valuable energy you could be investing in your journey. They act much like a hole in your fuel tank. If you don’t repair this gap, you’re not going to make it very far —however determined or persistent you may be. You know how it is. We feel bad, we self-medicate with food. We gain weight, we feel bad. We self-medicate some more. It is an exhausting, frustrating cycle. And you are going to need all your energy, if you are to change old habits and break destructive patterns… successfully. You will also need to be impartial. Negative emotions, such as disappointment and desperation, trigger rash decisions and make you susceptible to impulse buys, fad diets, etc. Being vulnerable to your friend’s enthusiasm as she describes the latest “miracle” diet is one thing, but there is an entire industry out there that is banking on how hopeless you feel. Quick fixes are a dime a dozen —cellulite creams and meal supplements, special 5-minute exercise equipment and nip-tuck offers, to name a few. Does any of it work? Well, let’s just say there is more money in treating obesity than there is in curing it. You need to distance yourself from marketing promos and special offers. You need to remain emotionally apathetic, if you are going to weigh the facts objectively and find the right answers for you. And where do the right answers come from? From within yourself! You are the most knowledgeable person, when it comes to you. You literally have insider information. Furthermore, you have no hidden agenda. You can be sure you have your own best interest [15]

at heart. All you need is to look inside. Unfortunately, if you are burdened by feelings of guilt or failure, the last thing you want to do is face yourself. Such feelings only trigger avoidance. So you react to commercials or articles in beauty magazines, since they are specifically designed to grab our attention, but you completely avoid the most reliable source of all — your own body, your own self. To face yourself you need to free yourself. But how do we free ourselves from guilt, shame, and other such powerful emotions? After all, shedding negative feelings is much harder than shedding pounds. Fortunately, you have two very powerful allies —your reasoning skills and your personal experiences. You’ll find many exercises in the end of this chapter that will help you get started. Some of the emotions and misperceptions that have personally weighed me down, and the realizations that have helped me deal with them, are listed below:


Distorted self-image and low self-esteem

When I was a child, I was anorexic. It was for a very brief period of time, somewhere between the ages of ten and twelve. I will never forget sitting around the dinner table with my family, and looking at my plate like it was my own worst enemy. Whenever anyone offered me food, I always reacted with suspicion. I was certain that it was either a trick question, the right answer always being “no”; or worse, it was some kind of conspiracy… They were trying to make me gain weight, for whatever reason. I often hid part of my meals at the back of the fridge and later threw them away when no one was watching. The thinner I got, the closer I felt I was to becoming beautiful. Sadly, I never could seem to get there.

Feelings of inadequacy and dissatisfaction, when it comes to our physical attributes, can be quite common. It is hard to be objective, especially at a young age, when our bodies change so drastically and develop so quickly. The slightest remark from our peers can carry the weight of a court sentence. While images in magazines, of pouty teens in zero-size jeans, seem to be the norm, not the exception. We do not have the life experience to properly understand external beauty; let alone grasp its true significance and implications. As such, feelings of unattractiveness can slip through our delicate self-esteem, resulting in a distorted self-image. A distorted self-image can, in turn, prove quite dangerous. It may lead to eating disorders and depression, while it is extremely hard to remediate. We get used to seeing ourselves in a certain way, when in fact our bodies constantly change and may even be wasting away —anorexia nervosa being an extreme case. To make things worse, a distorted self-image can create a self-reinforcing vicious cycle. When we pursue the unrealistic ideal of beauty, we set ourselves up to fail. There is no limit to perfection, because perfection doesn’t really exist. We are actually chasing a dream. The pictures we see in beauty magazines are the result of makeup artists, lens filters and image editing programs. Comparing ourselves to the standards of beauty, as presented by the media, can only undermine our self-confidence and create feelings of unhappiness. Since people are drawn to strong, confident personalities, our social circle is liable to decrease. The fewer friends we have, the more we blame our outer appearance. The more we blame [16]

our appearance, the more distorted our self-image becomes; and, the vicious cycle may repeat itself indefinitely. Ask yourself, how objective is external beauty? Does it really determine whether you’ll be successful in your personal, professional and social life? You are doing a grave injustice to yourself, if you are basing your sense of worth on appearance. Your body is more than an ornament that need conform to arbitrary standards of beauty! • Seek progress, not perfection. Most overweight people tend to be perfectionists and hard on themselves; when in fact, no one is flawless. It helps to remember that the media set unrealistic standards. There is nothing to be gained by punishing imperfection. Instead, try to acknowledge any positive changes in your weight, your health and your appearance. You will find it is quite motivating to recognize and reward progress. Ignore disparaging, derogatory remarks. When someone attacks you on the basis of your looks, they are most likely insecure about themselves. At the very least, their comments are of no possible significance to you. Beauty is, after all, subjective and inconsequential. Think of any happy couples you may know. Is it beauty that connects them, or other factors like common interests? Consider people who are successful at what they do. Is it beauty that sets them apart, or talent and determination? Do not let your happiness depend on others. Happiness is attainable. Perfection is not. Wouldn’t you rather be happy today, than perfect never? The media keep changing fads and styles, what’s hot and what’s not. If you go down that road, there is no return. The same goes for pleasing people. Consider the expression “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. People will either see you as beautiful, or they will not. It is a matter of personal taste and individual standards. Some people set standards that can never be fully met. Wouldn’t you rather be liked for who you are, than for who others want you to be? Appreciate what you have. A friend of mine once told me “You are beautiful. Don’t become one of those people who only realize it after 20 or 30 years, when they come across a box of their old photos”. I weighed around 120 kilos at the time, and my self-esteem left much to be desired. Still, I understood what she meant, and she was right. Think about it. We will never be more beautiful than we are today, this very minute. So why not appreciate what we have, starting now? Why wait until we’ve lost it?


Fear of failure

In psychology, there is a concept called learned helplessness. The term was introduced in the 1960s, following a series of experiments at the University of Pennsylvania. Dogs were confined by use of a harness and then subjected to electric shock. These experiments were later repeated, without the harness. This time, the dogs could easily escape by jumping over a low obstacle. Most of them did not even attempt to do so. Their past experiences created


the expectation of failure. They no longer believed they had any power over their own fate. Circumstances, however, had changed. Had they merely tried, they would have succeeded. For years I was bewildered by a very specific pattern of behavior. Whenever I deviated, even slightly, from my diet, I gave up completely. I thought “Well, today I’ve blown it. Might as well indulge, and start again tomorrow”. So if I gave in to, let’s say, one piece of chocolate, I ended up eating an entire cake. Instead of consuming 50 extra calories, it added up to about 2000. I really couldn’t understand my reaction. The initial slip up wasn’t an excuse. I was genuinely distraught and disappointed with myself. It felt like the end of the world. It felt like nothing I could do, could make things any worse. Later on, I discovered I wasn’t the only one who reacted in such a self-destructive and peculiar manner. This is typical avoidance behavior and often leads to weight cycling, a perpetual “cycle of weight gain and loss” (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.168). Your self-doubt is so extreme that you not only fear failure, you are certain of it. The smallest deviation from your desired eating plan acts as a confirmation of your worst fear… that you are a failure. Better to drop everything, than disappoint yourself once more. So you basically resign to what you fear is an inescapable fate. Put things in perspective. How important is one day’s deviation, when viewed in the context of the entire month? In Part II of this book, we will discuss the value of setting long-term weight targets. There is really no point in weighing yourself daily, or even weekly. Fluctuations may be due to muscle mass, water retention and other misleading causes. We will also examine why it is not recommended to count calories, especially daily. Although we quantify time in a specific way —for example, from the time we wake up till the time we go back to sleep— our body has its own fat-burning, metabolic cycles. WHEN you eat can be equally, if not more, important to what you eat. Lead a balanced life. How important is your diet in the context of your entire life? Does it define who you are as a person? Are you merely a “dieter”? Do you not take on several roles during your day —parent, student, homemaker or professional, friend, partner, etc? You are not being fair to yourself if you are defining your success or failure in life, based on your weight goals. In Chapter 6, we discuss the importance of leading a balanced life. Setting only weight-related goals can be extremely stressful. As the saying goes, “it isn’t smart to put all one’s eggs in one basket”. Choose your confidants. In Chapter 1, we briefly mentioned the value of managing our boundaries. Deciding who we involve and who we exclude from our weight loss efforts can be crucial. Our sense of personal success or failure can be significantly affected by the people in our lives, and the support/criticism we receive. In other words, we may fear failure even more when we consider how others will react when they find out. If there are people in your life who view mistakes as unforgivable, rather than unavoidable, you should strongly consider leaving them out of the loop. Not having to explain how you deviated, and why you had every right to, may make all the difference.






Give yourself marks for trying. This book is not called The Experiment for nothing. In research, you learn the value of failure. When you fail you do not lose, you gain valuable knowledge. Experiments are all about trial and error. You have to test many different approaches before you find what truly works. If there is one thing you take from this book, I hope it is this. Once you approach the matter of your weight as you would an experiment, you WILL find all the answers you are looking for. The important thing is that you remain objective, reserve judgment, and learn from your mistakes —this is where your Daily Planner comes in. So view each failure as a valuable test and give yourself marks for trying. What we are looking for is persistence, not perfection. Trust in your body. For most of my life, I was frustrated with my body. Why is it fighting me? Why does it object to exercise, which is good for me; but crave the very foods that would ruin me? I thought that a successful diet was all about ignoring our bodies, as they send mixed signals and purposely try to trick us. At some point I was so confused and defeated, I thought there was no use. My body would never help me. My efforts would always be doomed to fail. I was wrong. Thankfully, I couldn’t have been MORE wrong. Our body is our ally. It only wants what is good for us. Part II of this book is all about decoding your body’s signals and helping it help you. Once you’ve figured out what helps it do its job, and what trips it up, cravings will go away and your weight will stabilize. Trust in your body and you will realize something wonderful. You CAN be both satiated and healthy!


Guilt and “internalized anti-fat prejudice” (Abramson, 2005, p.157)

Most of us, whether obese or not, have experienced some form of discrimination in our lives. Certain preconceptions and prejudices can be relatively harmless, others quite violent and damaging. From my experience those that relate to physical traits are the most dangerous, because they can lead to internalized shame. When someone judges us hastily based on our political or religious views, we may take offense, but we are not likely to feel ashamed. Our opinions are our opinions. If, however, they draw some generalized conclusion based on our weight, height, or other external feature, it tends to affect us well below the surface. Lack of control over one’s weight has been associated with lack of determination, discipline, intelligence, drive and ambition. Overweight individuals are often considered lazy, weak and even slow. I remember going to job interviews. After graduating from College, I weighed a whopping 120 kilos. I could tell how long the interview would last, based on the look the interviewer gave me as I entered the room. Some would last an hour, others barely five minutes. Certain individuals were just not interested in finding out what I was about — my true strengths and weaknesses. Their mind was already made up the moment I walked through the door. Having grown up with an accomplished, intelligent, and warm-hearted father, albeit an overweight one; I seldom fell victim to feelings of internalized shame and recrimination. I knew that we can be absolutely amazing and lead a full life, no matter what we look like, or [19]

weigh. But even I wavered at times. There is strength in numbers. When enough people see you in a certain way, it tends to affect the way you see yourself. You start having doubts and may even end up internalizing their preconceptions. What if they’re right? What if I am weak like they think? Why can’t I resist temptation and make smart choices? Why can’t I handle stress without having to raid the fridge? What is wrong with me? There is nothing wrong with you. First of all, no one is perfect. Overweight people simply carry their imperfections on the outside. Are they more flawed than everyone else? Hardly! Break the cycle of blame. You’ve been set up. Diets fail by definition. In fact, there is evidence to support that 95% of all dieters end up regaining the lost weight (if not more), while 50% give up entirely in a matter of weeks (Fletcher, Pine, & Penman, 2005, p.24). It has nothing to do with you or your determination. Restrictions and rigid rules are simply not the way to go. Restrictions work against your body. You cannot override your body’s needs and chemical messages on will-power alone. When you are fighting your body, you are fighting yourself. In Part II of this book we will see why diets are doomed to fail and how you can work with your body to achieve optimum weight loss. Focus on the present, not the past. Diets are not only a no-win system, but also promote an “all-or-nothing mentality”. If you’ve reached your target weight, you’ve succeeded. If not, you’re a failure. There is no leeway, no room for error. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p. 171, 173) This is a very dangerous way of thinking that, unavoidably, leads to guilt. Consider all other areas of your life. Are you expected to be 100% perfect in your personal and professional life? Why hold yourself up to unreasonable standards when it comes to your diet? Why beat yourself up about the past? Make a new start. This book will set the groundwork for attainable results. All you need to do is focus on the present and leave the past behind. Take it with a grain of salt. There will always be those who do not like us —for whatever reason. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, even if it is biased. Just as we allow ourselves room for error, we should extend the same courtesy to others. Some will change their minds, once they get to know us. Others are set in their ways. Why should you waste your energy trying to convince them that they are wrong? Granted, we all dislike being misunderstood. We all feel the need to prove ourselves. In some cases, however, it’s not worth the time, nor the effort.



In Athens, we have all sorts of little shops with pies and sandwiches and snacks. Our daily life is so hectic that almost everyone eats on the go. Not me. I would never eat in such places, in front of others and alone. I felt everyone would be staring at the “fat girl”. It took years for me to finally realize that people have their own problems. How many would truly notice me? How many would stop to think negative things? And what if they did? Is it really so important what some stranger thinks?



Impatience and procrastination

We get anxious about our weight a month before our summer holidays, a few weeks before the prom, only days away from a big job interview. There’s not much we can do in such a small period of time. And whatever options are available on short notice, are seldom good for us in the long-run. But even when we’re not worried about some rapidly approaching deadline, there’s always that feeling… the nagging, pestering feeling of impatience. Just when you begin to see results, you get restless. Why can’t the scale just move a little faster? And it only gets worse once you’ve lost the first five or ten kilos, when your weight suddenly plateaus and the slightest drop feels as though it’s taking forever. Impatience. It’s an annoying feeling you just can’t shake. Whatever progress you’ve made seems inconsequential and meaningless. Sooner or later you feel defeated. You can’t take it any more. It’s not worth driving yourself crazy, so you stop trying completely. Sound familiar? Focus on the present, not the future. Losing weight is a marathon, not a sprint run. You need to conserve your energy. Take it slow. Distance yourself from the result. If you focus on the present, the future will take care of itself. In Part II of this book, we will see how important it is to give your body the time it needs to lose the weight properly. When you change your diet and increase your physical activity, your body strives to adapt. It has muscle to build and fat to burn. It has insulin levels to regulate and all sorts of metabolic processes to carry out. These processes are complicated and very important to your overall health. They can’t be rushed. When you push yourself to the limit you mainly lose water and muscle tissue, not fat. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can enjoy today. We often grow impatient, because we’ve given ourselves an ultimatum. “I’ll go to the dance, just as soon as I lose 5kgs.” “I’ll talk to the girl I like, when I can fit into my new jeans.” “When I lose the weight, I’ll finally be able to take that trip I always wanted.” We use our weight as an excuse not to interact with others, not to engage in life. Unfortunately, this takes a lot of the fun out of living. We spend our days sitting on the bench, anxiously waiting for the coach to put us back into the game. Well, in this case, you are the coach. It’s up to you to stop postponing what you can enjoy now; to become an active participant in your own life.


The important thing to remember is that you have a big fight ahead of you. Changing your body and life for the better is quite a challenge; and you can’t fight for something you don’t love. You need to eliminate any negative feelings like guilt, shame and hopelessness. Instead, focus on building respect, appreciation and love for yourself —exactly as you are now! If certain emotions are too powerful to tackle through shear reason, reach out for social and psychological support. Talk to a friend. Find a counselor or psychologists who can provide additional insight. You may need to test different alternatives before you settle on what works best. You may even decide on a combination of things (i.e. yoga to develop a greater connection to your body, and joining a support group to build self-acceptance). [21]

We live in the age of technology and information; so Google, research, browse through health magazines and books. A publication I would highly recommend is Body Intelligence (cited in the References section). It offers valuable guidance when it comes to counterproductive thought patterns. It also lists Dr. Burns’ “10 forms of Twisted Thinking” and how you can effectively handle them (Abramson, 2005, p.76). Whatever option you wish to explore, take the first step and you will realize that there is a world of solutions open to you.

Getting started:
1. See the whole forest, not only the trees. Traditionally, so much of our selfsatisfaction comes from how we see ourselves externally. Once in a while, it helps to remind ourselves of the things in life that we’re truly grateful for —be it our family, our career, or a hobby that we’re passionate about. Take out your Daily Planner and make a list of ten things that define who you are and make you feel good as a person. 2. Try not to let your emotions get the better of you. When you think of your body and your weight, how do you feel? Make a list of your emotions. Now think of your day, your week, the past few years. Make a note of ten things you feel you’ve accomplished —anything from good grades and new friends you’ve made, to problems you’ve faced and the lessons that you learned. Now go back to your emotions. Were you being entirely fair on yourself? 3. Reacquaint yourself with your body. Dig up old photos. Try to remember. Were you happy with your body when they were taken? How do you feel now, in terms of the way you looked? Are there any aspects of your appearance that you’re starting to appreciate? Take a full size photo of yourself in a bathing suit. Print it out and mark the date and your weight. Choose a pair of jeans that you will not throw away, no matter how much weight you lose. As time goes by, dissatisfaction has a nasty habit of resurfacing, no matter how much we’ve changed. We simply lose sight of all the progress we’ve made. It helps to have a clear reminder of your starting point. Whenever you question the value of your efforts, whenever the end result seems insignificant, take a look at your photo. Try on your pants. You will be amazed. 4. Seize the day. Make a list of ten things you’ve always wanted to do, but have been postponing for weight-related reasons. Which of these activities or actions are truly out of your reach? Do your objections have to do with physical restrictions, or insecurities? Is it your weight that’s holding you back, or your feelings about your weight and your self-image? Keep five activities and set a realistic starting date for each. Choose one that you will be initiating tomorrow. The first step is the hardest; but as you move down your list, the easier it will get. By the time you reach activity number five, you’ll be enjoying yourself too much to have any doubts or reservations.


Fast Fact: Engaging in social group activities, being optimistic, and maintaining a positive outlook on
life, have been shown to change serotonin levels —helping lift your mood and lower your appetite.
(Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.194)

What is beauty? I don’t even GET the word “beautiful”. Really, what does it mean? To me it’s always been an impossible, unreachable destination. A supposed oasis, somewhere in a desert of false promises, restrictions, guilt and obligations… “Buy this. You’ll be gorgeous.” “Don’t wear this. It makes your ass look big.” “Great, I’ve gained five pounds… I am such a loser!” ”No way. I can’t go out on the beach looking like this.” Yes, an endless, disorienting desert, with an oasis that no one can ever get to. Honestly! Has anyone EVER felt beautiful? Has the word itself, beautiful, made anyone’s life easier? Even most models and movie stars feel insecure about their appearance. They either wish they were more attractive, or just live in fear of the day their looks will fade. Why do we need permission to feel good about ourselves? And who are we trying to please anyway? Whose standards are we following? Where does it have to be written that we are beautiful, for us to finally even begin to believe it? I challenge anyone to actually prove that someone is or is not beautiful. Really, who can offer empirical evidence? How about magazine editors who publish articles on beauty tips? How about shows that proclaim the next most beautiful model? I want to see diplomas. Does anyone have a Bachelor’s of Science in Beauty? Or even a Certificate in Cuteness? Excuse me, but I want to speak to whoever is in charge. Who here has the authority to tell you how to feel about yourself and your looks? Only you do! How would I know? Well, I was taught by the very best. During my junior year of high-school I had a history professor. We’ll call her Ms Y. To begin with, Ms Y had a very disproportionate figure. She had explained to us that some rare disease had messed with the fat distribution in her legs. And yet she always wore skirts. Ms Y. also had scars from childhood acne. She wore cakes of makeup and tons of eyeliner, which to me only made her look like some ghostly, twisted version of Cleopatra. To make things worse, her hair was long, stringy and often unkempt. But here is the final piece, the coup de grace. You will probably think I am exaggerating, but I promise you I am not… her features were the flesh and blood counterpart of the Muppet Gonzo. Those eyes. That nose. If she had been born a little earlier, I would have sworn that she was the real-life inspiration for that character. And yet, with every word she spoke, every gesture she made, every motion, she exuded confidence. She had a magnificent air about her. Always open and forthright, she seemed so sure of everything —especially herself. I admired and looked up to her; but honestly, if you had asked me, I would have said “No way is she beautiful”. Until one sunny day, when I decided to spend my lunch break in class, and ended up learning the most valuable lesson in beauty. I remember most of my classmates were out enjoying the beautiful weather. Only a handful of boys stayed in class. They were the cool kids —rock music, leather jackets, loud and brimming with youth and arrogance. They were talking about hot actresses, singers, and so on. I don’t remember who said it first, but when Ms Y came up they all agreed… she was absolutely, unbelievably attractive. I was stupefied; utterly bereft of speech. Their perception of beauty was so far off from mine that, in one instant, my entire outlook on life was drastically and irrevocably altered. It just goes to show you… The impression you give off is entirely up to you. Believe in yourself and the world will follow!


Detours and Other Diversions.

There is one specific passage from Homer’s Odyssey that has always captivated my interest. During their epic journey home, Odysseus and his men came across an island, the inhabitants of which ate solely of a lotus. This lotus had peculiar properties. It was so delicious that those who ate of it lost complete interest in anything else. Stuck in a state of lethargy and blissful apathy, they forgot the very reason for their voyage. Content to simply remain on the island and eat, they no longer thought of returning home. I find it remarkable how a passage, from a poem dating back almost three millennia, can be so pertinent to modern day life. Sometimes the difficulty is not in the journey itself, but rather in staying on course. Consider how many distractions you face every day. Recall the various sights and smells that are specifically designed to whet your appetite. Did you know that some bakeries spray an artificial “freshly-baked” cookie fragrance, to entice pedestrians and attract more walk-ins? Did you know that marketers select the packaging color, lettering, and even shape, that will purposely capture your attention? Are you aware how much thought is put into catchy, reassuring phrases like “low-fat” and “no added sugar”? Have you stopped to wonder how it affects you to see TV characters dealing with their frustrations by gorging down pints of icecream? And what is the logic behind “extra-large” or “combo” offers? Could they have possibly changed your perception of a normal, satisfying quantity? No wonder most of our eating has become automatic. We are bombarded daily by hundreds of stimuli developed with one thing in mind, to bypass our defenses and increase our rate of consumption. Before you can say “one gazillion calories” you’ve gone through half the menu. And you weren’t that hungry to begin with. Ten minutes in, you’re already full —but by then, there’s no stopping you. Before you know it, guilt sets in and you opt for procrastination “Oh well, bring in the dessert. I can always start again tomorrow”. Even worse, you decide to punish yourself “I won’t eat anything but fruit for the rest of the month”. Our weight is as much the product of conscious thought, as it is the result of impulsive responses. Just like the lotus-eaters from Homer’s epic poem, we are rendered in a state of forgetfulness. Everyday life sidetracks us from our goals, and all that is truly important to us. The trick to regaining control over our will and our actions, lies in identifying what exactly threw us off in the first place. In some cases, the stimuli are obvious —like craving chips after watching a Lays commercial. In other cases, to identify the true cause, you need to monitor your behavior over time, and spot overeating patterns. In your attempt to stay alert, and recognize such patterns, you have one very valuable ally… your Daily Planner. The Daily Planner is a critical part of any weight loss effort. It helps you: focus; increase your awareness; regain your motivation; plan a successful course; and maintain realistic post-diet expectations. [24]






Focus. Spending just a few minutes a day flipping through your notes will remind you of your goal, and where you are in terms of accomplishing it. This leads to greater concentration and determination; and helps you focus your energy on what’s truly important. Awareness. The Daily Planner will also help you keep track of everything that influences your eating behavior: feelings like stress and anger; negative food reactions like bloating, drowsiness and headaches; and other factors, such as exercise and lack of sleep. So much of our eating is a psychological response to either external or emotional triggers. The more you become aware of this, the more in control you will be. (This topic is analyzed further in Chapter 5). Motivation. A higher sense of control is known to reduce stress. Keeping tabs on your progress (measurements, weight, as well as any medical test results), will inspire greater confidence in yourself and help you deal with any negative emotions, such as anxiety or doubt. Charting your success can and will motivate you to continue. Plan. Once you’re aware of your overeating habits, and what triggers them, you will be able to plan ahead. You might want to establish meal schedules, to reduce impulsive consumption. You can devise contingency plans, to either avoid cues or resist them. Also, you could schedule rewards and breaks, to further fuel your determination (i.e. buying something you like or going to see a game). Realistic post-diet expectations. One of the most important functions of the Daily Planner is to help you maintain realistic expectations regarding your weight and appearance. Photos, old clothes and measurements will help you remember your starting point. Many people who lose weight abandon their efforts, because they are dissatisfied with the results (Abramson, 2005, p.136). Especially when weight loss occurs quickly, their perception of themselves fails to keep up. You need to give yourself time to “mentally adjust to your sense of ‘you’” (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.335). You also need to set realistic goals and prepare for whatever imperfections may result. Your body can cope, and it can even impress you, but it cannot go back in time! Acknowledge progress and remember that we are not seeking perfection —we are seeking improvement.

This might all seem a bit exhausting or overwhelming, but writing in your Daily Planner is not meant to be a chore. It is meant to be fun. You should have complete control over how you use it, to what extent, and for what purpose. This book offers a number of exercises and recommendations. It doesn’t mean you need to follow each and every one. What matters is that you start thinking and taking notes. The more you think, the more you will maximize your results. Also, it doesn’t have to be the most organized or detailed log you’ve ever kept. The important thing is that you WANT to sit down each day for 15 minutes, and flip through it or add some new comment. In the beginning, I wrote down everything, almost compulsively. Only after some time, could I distinguish what was truly useful and inspiring. The more I wrote, the easier it got. Behaviors registered increasingly faster. Causes became more apparent. Furthermore, I noticed it helped me relax. I felt less stressed about my weight outcome. It reminded me that this was, essentially, an experiment —and you can’t rush experiments. Even today, I [25]

enjoy it immensely. Whenever I come across some inspirational quote, a magazine article, or other useful tidbit, I can’t wait to add it. In fact, I often wonder whether this book isn’t simply an extended and improved version of my journal. It really is completely up to you! Your Daily Planner can be anything you want it to be. You only have to get started. Three things to remember are the following. It helps if it’s handy. A computer log is practical, but not easily accessible whenever and wherever you want it to be. Instead, it’s more convenient to choose a small-sized notebook that you can carry around with you as needed. Also, honesty is the best policy. There’s no point in hiding things from yourself. You need to be as open and truthful as possible. For this reason, it would be best to keep it private (at least for the first three- to-six months). As you grow more confident with the results, you can begin to share your findings. Caution is, however, greatly advised when dealing with both positive and negative criticism. Keep in mind that only constructive feedback is of value, and try to be as neutral as possible. It is, after all, a work in progress. What you write is not meant to be perfect, nor final. You will often go back and make revisions or adjustments. This is a sign of progress. As a starting point, it would be useful to include the following information: Your Goal. In Chapter 2 we discussed the importance of setting a long-term goal that is feasible, relevant, non numerical, and inspirational. This goal is open to revision. Every so often, in your journey to self-discovery and self-improvement, you should stop to consider whether your goal still applies and is significant for you. If not, do not hesitate to rethink and improve upon it. Phase. There are three self-explanatory phases, or stages, to weight control. The first is preparation. The second is weight loss; and the third, maintenance. Each is equally important. During the preparatory stage you lay the groundwork for future changes —gather information, learn about yourself, discover what motivates your behavior, and take tentative steps to change. During the weight loss phase, you are ready to set realistic, yet more demanding targets (in terms of food choices, exercise, etc). Finally, once you reach the maintenance phase, it’s crucial to stabilize your weight and ensure the permanence of your results. These phases should not be skipped, or in any way rushed. At times, you may need to return to a previous stage; either because circumstances have changed, or because you feel you need more time. That is perfectly fine. As long as you keep track of which phase you are in, and adjust your targets and expectations, you will succeed. You will maintain control of your weight and avoid any unnecessary fluctuations. Targets. Targets are the specific results you will aim for. As opposed to your goal, they may be numerical and attached to a particular time-frame. They should also be revised more frequently. Especially in the beginning, it may be hard to reach them. Do not be frustrated. The key is to learn from failed attempts, take corrective action, and keep on trying. It is also imperative that you set realistic and balanced objectives. In other words, one target may be to “Enter the weight loss stage once this book is finished”, or to “Lose 15kgs in the next six months”. You do, however, need to include targets from other areas of your life. For example, to “Take skiing lessons”, “Improve quality of sleep”, “Go out dancing more often”, and “Take the [26]





kids to the park every Saturday”. In this way, you keep in mind that weight is not the most important thing in the world. And weight should not serve as an excuse to avoid taking part in fun and productive activities with other people. Observations. It is important to monitor your eating habits, and your body’s reaction to the foods you eat. It is, however, equally important to take notice of the circumstances surrounding your eating habits. In other words, it helps to jot down (or at least think about) what you eat, when, where, with whom, how much, and how it made you feel. What was your energy level after you ate? Did you have any physical reactions like bloating? Were there any emotional reactions that you noticed? In Chapter 5 we will explain how these observations can prove invaluable in controlling your weight. If it all seems too complicated and tedious, don’t worry. Once you get used to observing and decoding your eating patterns, your note taking will become more automatic, less repetitive, and a lot less detailed. Motivational material and rewards. Your Daily Planner should encourage you and keep you going. Take the time to include motivational material such as photos, magazine clippings, quotes, and anything else you can think of. Set rewards for meeting your targets, or just for being persistent. These could include bubble baths, shopping sprees, trips, and so on. Schedule breaks —periods of time when you will lax your weight loss standards (such as vacation days or birthday dinners). Your efforts do not have to be monotonous or compulsive. They only have to be persistent. Remember, you’re in it for the long haul, so you need every bit of encouragement and inspiration.

The above are just a few suggestions on how you can benefit from your Daily Planner. It really is up to you to make the most of it. Be creative. Be imaginative. You will be surprised at how much it has to offer. Through it, you will address personal concerns, reach valuable insights, determine alternative solutions, meet your goals, and achieve a higher level of satisfaction. It really is worth the effort!

Getting started:
1. Find where you are on the map, and pick a course. Choosing the right destination (goal) is invaluable, but so is knowing your starting point. To pick your targets, you first need to determine what phase you’re in. Do you have all the necessary information? Do you know your mind, your habits, and your body well enough to implement the right actions? Are you motivated enough? If not, you should first prepare. Select targets that will increase your knowledge and determination. For example, you could attempt to identify major eating patterns, by the end of the month. You could add activities that are motivating and rewarding. Another feasible target is to recall past attempts at weight loss and draw useful conclusions; or, see past failures as lessons and focus on the present. Equally important would be to identify negative feelings and try to work through them.


Once you feel ready, in mind and spirit, you can focus on your body. Targets can evolve to include realistic weight loss objectives. They can also focus on changing harmful eating habits. For example, to avoid eating in front of the TV, or go shopping on an empty stomach. Finally, when you have reached your weight loss targets, it is crucial to set a maintenance period (entailing a minimum of 12 months). Your targets should focus on monitoring your weight and increasing your food choices gradually. An example would be to slowly add more of a desired food into your diet and observe the effect on your weight, your body, and your energy levels. If it has undesirable effects, you draw new conclusions and adjust your target accordingly. This would be a good time to pick your phase and set five initial targets. Remember to maintain a balanced perspective. They should relate to all areas of your life. 2. Create your own landmarks. Self doubt is a self-fulfilling prophecy… for failure. No one wants to fight a losing battle. If you can’t see any use in trying, you give up. Most of the times, however, life is giving you all sorts of signs of encouragement. You just need to know where to look. Apart from goals and tactics and other longterm objectives, it’s vital to acknowledge short-term, everyday victories. Take the time to write down three things that you tackled with during your day. Try and select three things you are proud of —we’ll call them Daily Accomplishments. They can be anything from resisting the snack bar at the cinema to taking the stairs in the mall, instead of the lift or the escalator. Don’t forget to also appreciate non weight-related accomplishments, like finding the courage to walk up and talk to someone you like, or feeling good about how you dealt with an on-the-job crisis.

Fast Fact: Writing down emotions, is a form of processing and venting negative feelings. 15 minutes
of journaling each day can reduce stress, and even boost the immune system by 76%.


Road Signs and Clever Shortcuts.

Fast food was contraband in my parents’ house. Delivery and take-out were out of the question. My mother, who was overweight herself, was completely obsessed with controlling my diet. Coming home from school, she would search my bag and my clothes. I remember, each time, sneaking food into my room was like a new episode of Mission Impossible. I used to stuff my pockets, my pants and even my bra. What’s more, I had to eat all of it in one sitting, so that I could get rid of the evidence. I started buying more and more food. I thought, “Well, it’s not worth it just for one hamburger.” If Goody’s gave away frequent flyer miles, I’d have flown around Europe by now. The more I ate and gained weight, the more my mother tried to control me. The more she tried to control me, the more I ate. It took me ages to figure out that I was no longer eating because I was hungry. I wanted to rebel against my mother’s restrictions —and ended up hurting myself in the process.

In Chapter 4 we discussed the importance of awareness when it comes to weight control. There are simply too many stimuli that slip through, undetected, and trigger cravings that have nothing to do with hunger or biological imperative. Fortunately, realizing this is part of the solution. Once you understand what triggers overeating, you are more able to avoid it. Awareness increases understanding. Understanding reveals additional options. More options give you more control. It’s all a matter of spotting the stimuli, recognizing the cues. There are countless cues that stimulate our appetite. In the inspirational and insightful book, Body Intelligence, prominent expert on eating and weight disorders Dr. Edward Abramson, separates such cues into external and emotional. External eating cues include sights (visual), smells (olfactory), specific tastes (gustatory), as well as the time of day (chronological), eating rituals (customary), special offers (promotional) and celebrations (Abramson, 2005, p. 44-59). Emotional eating is “out-of-control, hedonistic eating (that often comes from your good memory)” (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.156). It may be triggered by joy, stress, anxiety, anger, boredom, loneliness, fear, and even by feeling tired (Abramson, 2005, p. 62-84). A list of examples is provided below:
External eating cues
Visual Olfactory Gustatory

Whenever I see that ad, I feel like ordering pizza. The smell of freshly baked bread always whets my appetite. If I don’t try it I’m fine, but one taste and I want to eat the whole cake. Around 7pm my stomach starts growling. I’m just used to eating dinner at that time. On Sundays, we always eat pancakes for breakfast. I just can’t pass up on that combo offer. It’s only 50 cents more and you get a coke. I’m not hungry, but it’s not a birthday if you don’t have cake.

Emotional eating cues
Joy Stress Anger

I’m so excited! I feel like ice-cream! I need chocolate before each test… it just calms me down. I was so angry at him. I guess I took it out on yesterday’s leftovers. I was so bored. Before I knew it, I gorged down an entire bucket of chicken. It was after 11pm and he still hadn’t come home… I always eat when I’m worried. Saturday night, alone, at home… Just me, the TV and Chinese takeout then! I can’t keep my eyes open. I need energy… anything sugary. I’m totally famished!

Chronological Customary Promotional Celebratory

Boredom Fear Loneliness Tiredness


Ask yourself, “Do I really want to finish the popcorn? Or do I feel it’s a waste, if I don’t eat it all?” “Am I hungry or just thirsty? Maybe I need something to drink.” “O.k. I feel tired. Is it because I need food, or do I lack sleep?” “Will going through a bag of chips make me any less bored?” “Is it really hunger? If so, a salad would be more filling. Why do I specifically want the ice-cream?” It is truly astonishing how many cues we misinterpret as hunger. If you identify which cravings do, in fact, result from the biological need for nutrition, and which are triggered by other stimuli, then you can ask yourself “O.k. how else can I deal with this, apart from eating?” Explore what further options are available to you. When stressed, maybe you can get a massage, walk the dog, tend to your garden, or call a friend. When tired, food will only make you feel heavier. Why not get 15-30 minutes of sleep? If a specific TV show makes you raid the fridge, why not keep some healthy snacks handy? If you’re craving pie, why not fill up on some salad first? Then, you can indulge in all the sweets you want, but you’ll end up indulging less. There are many mechanisms you can employ, when dealing with external and emotional eating cues. Once you learn to identify stimuli and decode your body’s signals, you can take any number of shortcuts to bypass unwanted eating responses. Focused eating. Awareness is a powerful tool. Think of your eating behavior in the cinema. All your attention is focused on the big screen. Before you know it, you’ve gobbled down two chocolate bars and a bag of chips. You could keep going, but it would still feel as though you haven’t had a thing to eat. Why? Because all your attention is focused elsewhere. Your brain is sending you the signals that you are full, but you are not paying any notice. Our level of satiation increases, when we focus on our eating (Abramson, 2005, p.119, 121). So why not try and avoid distractions? As a rule, you could stop eating in front of the TV, or “on the fly”. Sit down, take a minute to experience the sight, smell, taste and texture of the food in front of you. A pure, focused eating experience equals greater satisfaction, reduces overeating and leads to healthier choices. Evasion tactics. If you can’t fight it, run from it. There’s no shame in eluding stimuli that you know will trigger cravings. You could choose not to go for coffee at the place with the irresistible chocolate soufflé. You could take a detour after the gym, to steer clear of the fast food drive-in. You could skip eating in front of the TV; or keep all the tasty treats in one separate cupboard so you don’t have to be reminded of them every time you walk into the kitchen. Contingency plans. If there’s no avoiding it, maybe you can plan for it. If you absolutely have to munch during movies, why not bring a healthy snack with you to the cinema? If you’ve planned a holiday trip to Spain and want to enjoy the local cuisine with no restrictions, why not make up for it? You could step up your exercise routine before and after the trip. Consider your most frequent eating digressions and ask yourself “Why?” You might come up with good reasons or lame excuses. The best way to deal with either is to plan ahead. For example, if you feel too tired to cook after you come home from work, you could have something already prepared from the previous day. Meal schedules. Most cues are, in fact, unavoidable. You don’t even have to leave the house to be tempted and enticed. It helps if you’ve planned your meals for the [30]








week. If the fridge is stocked, and you can whip up something in 30 minutes, then you’re less likely to deviate from your desired eating plan. Substitutes. Monitor your body’s reactions to each food. Does something make you feel bloated or heavy? Does it bring about cravings, mood swings or depression? Do you feel drowsy, irritable or get headaches? Food can not only alter your satiation level, it can also change your energy level and affect your emotional state. Symptoms such as the ones mentioned above, are your body’s way of putting up “road signs” and warnings. In such cases, you can find substitutes. What could you eat that is equally satisfying, but better for you? If pizza makes you feel puffy, but you also like chicken, why not eat that instead? Sometimes, you don’t even have to change the food type itself, only the manufacturer. I always found hamburgers to be addictive. I’d eat one and then want to eat another after only half an hour. One day, I tried a burger joint that used better meat and materials. Their food was not only delicious, it satisfied my hunger with no residual cravings. Maybe you could change some ingredients in your own cooking, like substituting butter for olive oil. Other times, simply eating a certain food at a different temperature can make all the difference. For example, it’s hard to resist freshly baked cookies, but maybe if you wait a few minutes you’ll no longer feel like eating the whole batch. Exception days. If you love certain foods. If they are so enjoyable to you that giving them up feels like cruel and unusual punishment… then don’t! Every one or two weeks, I schedule an Exception Day (or X-Day). I prepare or order a meal that has nothing positive to offer me, apart from taste. I monitor my weight; and, if it means that once in a while I can enjoy foods that I crave, I am happy to settle for more gradual results. As long as you are making a conscious decision, a slow and steady pace is preferable to a speedy outcome based on sacrifices. Sacrifices and restrictions can reduce determination and put your entire weight loss effort at risk. Visualization. Even when the flavor, texture and smell of a certain food drive your taste buds crazy, you can probably still resist it if you try visualization. There is a reason why the food industry spends so much money on packaging and presentation that has nothing to do with the food’s original form. If you break down any meal to its primary ingredients, it automatically becomes less appetizing. Take a few minutes before each meal to visualize the original form of the food you are eating. Think of the cow and its meat, raw and unprocessed. Think of the pounds of sugar and artificial flavoring that make up your ice-cream. The great thing about this technique is that the worse the food is for your body, the more effective visualization proves in reducing your appetite. Cooking. Be the chef. Taking control of what you prepare, and how you prepare it, is an excellent reminder that food is more than pleasure… it is fuel. Cooking builds a connection to the primary ingredients, and not only to the end result. It gives you a better, overall perspective on the health value of food; as well as on the time and effort that goes into preparing a wholesome meal. In the end, you tend to shop for healthier items and feel more satiated with smaller portions, than if you chose to consume ready-made meals. It is best to save pre-processed and prepackaged food for X-Days.





Emotional outlets. What do you do when your appetite is not triggered by external eating cues like taste, but rather by emotions? How can you stop yourself from impulsively eating everything in the fridge, whenever you are upset or frustrated? You’re probably not going to have the presence of mind, at the time, to make the wisest decision. So you need to be prepared. You need to make a list of alternative “feel-good” choices. What would calm you when you are angry? Maybe you can call a friend or walk the dog. What would soothe you when you are sad? Perhaps you can schedule a massage, or take up a new hobby. And how about when you are stressed? Have you noticed how exercise tends to make you more relaxed and happy? Fuel check. Another way to avoid overeating is to make sure you are never hungry. A steady state of satiation (not too hungry and not too full) reduces the risk of impulsive consumption. When you go too long without food, serotonin levels decrease and you experience a kind of chemical low (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.157). In this state you are more susceptible to cues. Take, for example, when you go to the supermarket. You are more likely to resist sugary treats and other impulse buys, when your fuel tank is semi-full and you’re at a “place of neurochemical comfort”. Rewards. Finally, you can build resistance to cues through positive reinforcement. Set rewards and incentives for yourself. Whenever you break a bad habit or avoid emotional eating, treat yourself to something you might enjoy. Go out dancing. Adopt a pet. Get a manicure. Read a good book. It could be anything. The more social the activity the better, as long as it is not food-related. The point is to find pleasure and inspiration in other things.

These are just a few shortcuts you can take in your effort to avoid overeating and make healthier food choices. Some of these are common knowledge and can be found in most diet books. Others, I discovered through personal experience. The thing to remember is that awareness is half the battle! Understanding whether you are truly hungry or responding to some cue can, in and of itself, decrease your appetite. You need to learn to read your body’s signals, and interpret the “road signs” it puts up along your journey. As for shortcuts, pay attention to your body and you will come up with your own ideas and solutions soon enough.

Getting started:
1. Identify external cues. In Chapter 2, a suggested exercise involved keeping notes on what you eat, when, where, how much, and with whom (for approximately a month). Take a minute to analyze the data you have collected so far. Can you identify any overeating patterns? What cues would you say are the most probable triggers behind your behavior? Jot down five cases where external eating cues set off food cravings. Also mark five instances where emotions triggered excessive food consumption. 2. Determine possible shortcuts. What could you have done to bypass or deal with the cues you have identified? Can you think of any contingency plans for the future? [32]

What evasion techniques would have worked? Are there any emotional outlets that you could use? Perhaps you can start making preliminary meal schedules to avoid last minute decisions on what to eat? Write down the insights you find most valuable, and slowly integrate useful mechanisms into your daily life. 3. Find substitutes. Your notes also include physical and emotional reactions to meals. Do certain foods make you drowsy or irritable? Would you say you experienced mood swings or increased cravings? Select five potential causes for these reactions and begin trying out substitutes. 4. Check your fuel gauge. Get into the practice of measuring how hungry you are throughout the day. The optimum level of satiation is having a semi-full tank. What can you do to smooth out any peaks or lows and avoid major fluctuations? At what times do you experience hunger pangs? Can you plan any healthy snacks to prevent them? How often does your tank overflow? Could you stand to reduce your food intake at mealtime or dinnertime? 5. Visualize. Take a deep breath and THINK before you eat anything. Focus on what it is made of. What are the ingredients? How did the food end up on your plate? How was it processed? This will help you view food more as fuel, and less as recreation. There is an entire industry bent on making us believe that food equals fun. In reality, food is not meant to be a pastime, or an emotional outlet. It is meant to be nourishment.

Fast Fact: Eating better is a self-reinforcing mechanism. Once you begin making healthier choices,
your body’s chemistry improves, and it rewards you with a change in eating preferences. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.250) A more balanced body chemistry will allow you to enjoy foods in moderation, or you may lose your taste for certain foods altogether.


The Secret to a Fun and Fruitful Journey.

After countless failed attempts at improving my health and physical appearance, I’ve realized one thing. Everyone can lose the weight. The important thing is… can you keep it off? Think of all the diets you have been on. Now, suppose you had never regained a single ounce. Where would you be right now? If that was the case, I suspect you probably wouldn’t be reading this book. Diets fail. You need to remove the words diet and hunger from your vocabulary. The secret to permanent weight loss is balance, moderation and knowledge. Drastically reducing your caloric intake, forcibly repressing your appetite for certain foods, and subjecting yourself to unconditional restrictions, simply doesn’t work. It’s not only unfair to your body; it’s also pointless and ineffective. Diets are by definition unsuccessful. To begin with, they force you to ignore your biological hunger cues. Instead, you focus on external rules and restrictions (such as calorie counting or food weighing). This is called “externalizing” cues. The more you come to rely on outside cues, the more your brain learns to ignore what your own body is trying to communicate. Soon, you stop paying attention, and become more and more oblivious to its signals. Your awareness decreases; and even when you do notice vital signs, you have most likely forgotten how to accurately interpret them. (Fletcher, Pine, & Penman, 2005, p.26) Furthermore, completely prohibiting specific foods only aggravates the situation. Apparently, a part of the brain called the hippocampus “which controls memories of food, lights up when people on rigid diets crave certain foods —overwhelming their willpower and ability to resist” (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.167). Also, food memory is actually stored very close to your hypothalamus, in the mammillary body. So whenever you feel hungry, your brain asks for certain things you’ve eaten before (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.166). Over time, abstaining entirely from what you really enjoy eating, can sabotage your determination and overpower your defenses. To add insult to injury, diets not only fail, they frequently result in increasing your weight. The lower caloric intake signals your metabolism that you are going through a period of famine. To compensate, it burns fewer calories. It is a survival mechanism. Your body tries to help you endure through times when food is scarce. Your weight plateaus. You get discouraged; and ultimately, you give up. In the meantime, your body has adjusted to lower food consumption —so going back to your previous eating habits only makes you gain more weight and faster. You now have to eat less, just to stay stable. More importantly, this self-defeating, vicious cycle, undermines your confidence and sense of worth. Our self-esteem relies greatly on our experiences. It resembles, in many ways, a bank account. Your past successes are deposits. Your failures are withdrawals. The remaining balance is the amount of confidence you have in yourself. If you repeatedly fall short of reaching your targets, however big or small, the end balance will be low. One way to


increase your deposits and avoid self-esteem “bankruptcy” is to set realistic standards and attainable goals. So you’ll have to plan your battles carefully. First of all, you’ll need capable allies. Such allies can be found in balance and moderation. Moderation means not exerting yourself —taking breaks, exercising reasonably, getting enough sleep, and managing your stress levels. Balance is all about leading a full and happy life —setting goals that relate to other areas apart from weight loss, and treating yourself with the respect and care that you deserve.



A balanced life involves setting holistic goals and rewards. Reclaim the right to care about yourself, as a whole; not only physically, but also emotionally and intellectually. Cultivate other interests. Engage in activities that have nothing to do with weight loss. Join a club. Take up a new hobby. Aim to be productive and fulfilled in all aspects of your life, and the benefits will be far-reaching. We tend to view our personality as separated into different roles (parent, husband, teacher, sister, etc.) In truth, they are all interconnected. If we derive satisfaction from any one of these areas, it tends to spread and boost our self-confidence as a whole. Pick wide-ranging goals. Weight-loss targets should not take over your life. Practically speaking, you have many other considerations. Just because you are trying to lose weight doesn’t mean the rest of your life will, or even could, very well stop. Set goals that pertain to your job, your personal life, your emotional state. If all these areas run smoothly, you will experience less stress and greater motivation. If they do not, then much like dominoes, they are liable to take each other down. It will be very hard for you to focus on your weight goals, if nothing else in your life is going right. Avoid procrastination. Call me an optimist, but I think life works like a puzzle. It keeps moving you around, until it finds the best place to fit you. The more you engage in life, the more you help it do its job. Conversely, when you resist change, you get stuck; and it takes longer for you to find where you really belong, and arrive at your destination. To help life along, strive to be more active. Try not to avoid or postpone even the little things. Small accomplishments tend to build up, and can have the most amazing, unexpected impact. (More on this topic in Chapter 5, Part II) Take care of yourself. Do not neglect your appearance. You are entitled to feel good about yourself. And positive comments will only reinforce your body image. A common mistake is to avoid buying clothes until you lose weight, or to buy clothes a size or two smaller. This is a form of blackmail or self-punishment. In the end, not having anything to wear just makes you berate yourself. It also serves as an excuse to stay home, and sabotages your social life. Not to mention the fact that it forces you to rush your efforts and turn to unhealthy, quick-fix diets.





When I had reached my maximum weight, I was working for an advertising company. The world of advertising is so focused on appearances and external beauty that I was utterly shocked, when a stylish creative director turned to compliment me on my outfit. This one, random incident really helped me take pride in my appearance. Until that day, I had thought being obese meant being invisible. As it turned out, beauty is not just about pants size. People appreciate the whole person —their character, their good taste; as well as the fact that they are making progress and changing their life for the better. It’s not a waste to invest in your appearance and wardrobe, even if you are making an effort to lose weight. After that day, I often used clothes as incentive. I would buy something I really liked, so as to reward my efforts and keep me focused on my goal. Feeling good about myself helped me reach my weight targets. It hardly ever works the other way around. You can’t wait to reach your goal, in order to feel good about yourself. It’s counterproductive.



Permanent weight loss is, as we’ve mentioned before, a long-term endeavor. It requires awareness, discipline, and the patience to go through all three phases — preparation, weight loss and maintenance. As such, you need to conserve your energy. Most people start off with great enthusiasm. They try to do everything at once, and as soon as possible. They set an unrealistic pace, adhere to inflexible rules and guidelines, and exert themselves physically. Like a bright flame, their enthusiasm quickly dies out. If you’re going to make it to the finish line, you need to manage your strength. Take breaks. When you’re driving cross-country you expect to make rest stops, to fill up on gas, or just take in the sights. You consider your capabilities, plan ahead, and schedule your stops. Breaks are not only pleasant, they are practical. Allow yourself to take it slow at times (i.e. for major holidays or during a stressful period at work). If you’re in the weight-loss phase and you need a break, you can just go back to maintenance. No harm done. You decide which pace works well for you, and for how long. Set acceptable guidelines. “Never” is a dangerous word. Usually, once something is forbidden, our desire for it increases. Cut down on things that do not help your weight-loss efforts; but avoid impossible restrictions. Forbidding yourself to eat a certain food, ever again, can make you abandon your efforts completely. Substitute. Schedule X-Days. When you are at a party, dinner table, picnic, or other event, and are surrounded by people who are enjoying your favorite dessert, you could decide on a contingency plan (i.e. exercise more, or fill up on salad before you indulge). Exercise within reason. Following a sedentary lifestyle goes against our body and our very nature. It’s as if a fish decides, one day, to stop swimming; and instead, settles to live its life carried by the stream. We are physical beings. If we neglect to use our body, we not only face serious health threats; we also grow estranged and detached from it… from ourselves. That doesn’t mean we have to compensate for all the “lost time” by hitting the gym like a professional athlete. Research has shown that moderate exercise offers just as many (if not more) benefits, than strenuous activity. In Part II we will learn how to reacquaint ourselves with the natural joy of an active lifestyle. The trick is to take it slow and listen to your body. Develop its capabilities, but also respect its limitations. [36]




Manage your stress and avoid sleep deprivation. Have you noticed how lack of sleep and/or increased stress lead to rash eating decisions? These two factors wear us down —not only physically, but also psychologically. We crave comfort foods, and usually reach for anything with high fat or sugar. Furthermore, stress and sleep are interrelated. If you are sleep deprived, you are less equipped to respond calmly to stressful situations. Experts recommend at least 7-8 hours of sleep per day (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.162). As for stress, there are many options open to you —ranging from massages, to yoga and meditation. The key is to find stress releasing activities that do not involve food. (Stress management techniques are further analyzed in Chapter 5 of the following section).

Your third and most powerful ally, in achieving permanent weight loss, is knowledge. Long-term change depends on knowing why you are doing what you are doing. Most readymade diets, that you get from magazines or other sources, adopt a “just-because” approach. “Do this because I said so, or because it’s good for you”. Yes, but why? If you don’t know the reasons behind each rule, each do or don’t, how long can you convince (or pressure) yourself to follow it? And what about after the diet is finished (or discarded)? Then what? Have you any idea how to keep your weight stable? Going back to your old eating habits will simply undo all your hard work, and lead you down the dangerous path to weight cycling. If there is one rule to weight-loss, it is this: Better no diet, than a failed diet! Research has shown that repeated weight fluctuations are actually more hazardous to your health than keeping a steady overweight weight. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.170) Eventually you gain more than you’ve lost, your fat-to-muscle ratio increases, your metabolic rate is thrown off, your skin elasticity is damaged, your self-confidence erodes; and there are even more dire consequences associated with this vicious cycle, such as depression, heart disease and diabetes. So, health-wise and happiness-wise, there’s no question. It’s better for you not to diet at all, than to yo-yo diet. When you come to a fork in the road, and have to choose between “losing weight” or “staying stable”, how do you know which path to follow? The answer is in the question itself. Your decision should be the result of knowing, not guessing, or hoping, or reacting impulsively to the situation. Knowledge is your best ally. It can, and will, guide you in the right direction. You may not be a doctor and you may not want to explore every little detail about how your body works. Knowing the basics, however, can mean the difference between thinking “Oh, what the heck. One slice of pecan pie won’t kill me” and saying “Thanks, but I think I’m good for now”. No one is promising that you’ll lose your interest in high-fat, sugary treats altogether. But understanding your body, how it works, and what it goes through to keep you alive and happy, will definitely build your resistance! In the following section of this book, I have gathered the knowledge that proved the most vital to achieving success on my weight-loss journey. Together we will explore how your body reacts to different foods; how your metabolism works; and how you can help it help you, in your effort to reach permanent weight-loss targets. My educational background is strictly non-medical. All the physiological and biological data in this book is gathered from [37]

highly reputable sources listed in the References section (which also serves as a list of recommended readings). Keep in mind that this information is only the beginning. It is the data that I have personally found to be useful. Read it carefully, or skim through it, but above all question it. See how it relates to your personal experiences, your individual needs, and your particular situation. Make it your own, and take it one step further. Initiate your own, private Experiment! The third and final part of this book is about creating your own, unique path to selfdiscovery and self-improvement. Determine what works for you and what doesn’t. Spot any knowledge gaps, and areas you would like to explore further. Take control of the wheel. Keep on the lookout for new, valuable sources of insight and inspiration. Seek and you shall find the best way that YOU can stay on course and reach your destination. If you take it slow and exercise caution, there really is no end to what you can accomplish!

Getting started:
1. Look under the hood. Before a long car trip, we think to kick the tires, check the oil, and even take our vehicle for a tune up. It’s a matter of safety. On this specific journey, your vehicle is your body. Depending on the length and level of difficulty involved, it is recommended that every three to nine months you get a routine checkup. Your physician will be able to recommend the necessary tests, which will give you an idea of your body’s current condition. He or she can also help you interpret the results, and explain what you need to watch out for. You don’t have to go overboard, but a general blood work is vital. Also, following your progress through time (via regular reexamination of your blood sugar, heart rate, cholesterol, hormone levels, etc.) will only reinforce your resolve and strengthen your determination. 2. Monitor your sleep and stress levels. More information on the effects of sleep and stress are provided in the second part of this book. In the meantime, it will help you to take note of your sleep schedule. Mark down the time you fall asleep and the time you wake up, every day for a month or so. Take note of the days that were especially stressful. What do you observe regarding your self-control and eating habits during the days with increased stress and/or reduced sleep? How are these two interconnected? Try to gradually implement a sleeping schedule that will permit you to rise early! Starting off your morning in a hurried and anxious manner tends to set the pace for an equally hurried and stressful day. 3. Get physical. Exercise should not be about giving it your all, or giving up. If you think it’s only worth it when you push yourself to the limit… think again. There are more benefits to be gained with moderate physical activity, than there are with highintensity exercise. Fat burning is greater at the lower scales of exercise equipment. This is because your metabolism adapts to intense exercise, much like it adapts to reduced caloric intake. It detects an increased need for energy and opts to conserve rather than burn. (Marber, 2005, p.26-27) So starting today, choose a level you can [38]

comfortably maintain and find daily excuses to get physical. Walk to the bus stop. Climb the stairs at the mall. Park your car further away from your destination. What matters most is that you keep it up regularly. 30 minutes per day is not only optimal, it’s also feasible!

Fast Fact: Muscle weighs more than fat. If you start eating healthier and exercising more regularly;
initially, you may feel cheated. Your body’s loss of fat does not register on the scale. Stick through this primary, misleading phase and you will experience the full impact of your efforts —weight loss, improved mood, heightened endurance, and even resistance to illness. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.143)

Before we move on to Part II of The Experiment, it is important to point out the following:

You should always remember to consult with a licensed physician or nutritionist who is aware of your medical history, before you implement any changes to your diet or physical activity.



Understanding Hunger. If You Can’t Beat It, Outsmart It.

I recently found a diary from my childhood. Flipping through its worn and yellowed pages, I came across the phrase: You are always going to be hungry. Better to be hungry and lose weight, than to be hungry and gain weight. I was trying to convince myself to stick to yet another rigid diet. In my mind, hunger was inevitable. It was something people simply learned to live with. I guess the beginning was when I hit puberty. My body started to change and I became somewhat plumper. No one had told me this was a normal process, and so I did what I thought I had to… I cut down on my eating. I would eat once a day, and as little as possible. At first, I honestly thought it was working. My only concern was the scale, and according to the scale I had lost quite a bit. But I was constantly tired and hungry. Soon, I broke the “diet” and ended up gaining even more weight. Ashamed and filled with self-recrimination, I returned to the only thing I knew… I counted calories and stuck to my one-meal-per-day plan. It didn’t matter if what I ate was a single piece of cake or a chicken salad. I thought, if it came out to an equal amount of energy, it was all the same. It took me years to finally realize that a calorie is not just a calorie. But the most liberating, transforming discovery of all, was this…Hunger is not an inescapable fact of life. You do not have to withstand it. You merely have to prevent it!

RECOGNIZING DIFFERENT TYPES OF ENERGY Food offers three kinds of fuel: carbohydrates, proteins, and fat. All of these, if not used for energy when absorbed through your intestines, can be stored as fat. • Carbohydrates are a major source of energy for your brain. Nutritionists have traditionally categorized them as simple or complex. Complex carbs (most fruit, vegetables and whole-grains) take longer to digest and are released into the bloodstream as glucose more gradually than simple sugars. • Protein is vital for the construction of body tissue. It is also your body’s last resort as exercise energy. Your body breaks protein down into amino acids. If your liver cannot send them to your muscles, it converts them into glucose. • Fat is a major source of energy for muscles. It gets broken down into smaller particles. Not all fat is the same. Good fats improve brain and arterial function, reduce inflammation, and help you feel full. These are:


Monounsaturated Fats. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids improve brain function and may reduce blood pressure. Great sources are olive oil, flaxseed oil, canola oil, fish oils, avocados and nuts (especially walnuts). Polyunsaturated Fats. Fatty acids found mainly in vegetable and sesame oils.

Bad fats promote weight gain and are linked to arterial clogging. They include:
Trans Fats. Hydrogenated vegetable oil used in products with a long shelf life, like cookies, chips, and margarine. Saturated Fats. Fats that are mostly in meats and dairy products. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.58-61, 121-122)

Even if it were possible to eliminate fat from your diet, this would only prove damaging to your health. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, and so can only be digested, absorbed, and transported with the help of fats. In addition, certain fats that are vital to your health, called essential fatty acids (EFAs), can only be derived from food. The body in itself cannot produce them. (Gittleman, 2002, p.28) Your body’s fat serves to store energy. It insulates body organs against shock. It supports the health of your hair and skin; and maintains your body’s temperature. Fat also protects you from diseases. When your body detects an unsafe substance in your blood, it stores it in fat tissue so as to shield your vital organs, until it can safely metabolize or remove this substance from your body. Fat is absolutely essential. It exists in every cell of your body, promoting healthy cell function. “Even your brain is 60% fat”. (Gittleman, 2002, p.29) Specifically, fat exists in your blood (triglycerides), below your skin (subcutaneous fat), and in your abdomen (visceral fat). There are two types of body fat (adipose fat), white adipose tissue (WAT) and brown adipose tissue (BAT). White adipose tissue acts as an energy store —and can be broken down into fatty acids that are used as fuel. It also acts as insulation, helping you maintain body temperature. BAT provides insulation as well, and to such organs as your kidneys and heart. Its primary function, however, is to generate body heat. In other words, if mobilized, BAT can help you burn calories. Unfortunately, as your age and body weight increase, your BAT slows down and becomes less active. Factors which appear to stimulate BAT activity are “thermogenic vitamins, minerals, herbs, and amino acids” (protein). (Gittleman, 2002, p.7, 30) Inside Tip: Eight ounces of protein per day can decrease hunger and boost your metabolic rate.
(Gittleman, 2002, p.42)

WINNING THE HUNGER GAME Not all types of food can satisfy hunger equally. Some even increase it. Instead of trying to go against your body’s chemistry, you can use it in your favor. Learn how hunger works, and you can prevent it. The major players involved in controlling hunger are the hypothalamus, the vagus nerve, the ileocecal valve, and blood sugar.


• Hypothalamus The hunger game is played in an area that is roughly the size of an almond almond. Located in the center of your brain, this area is called the hypothalamus. The ocated hypothalamus is responsible for certain metabolic processes and other activities of the Autonomic Nervous System. It als regulates what many call the Four F's (feeding, also r fighting, fleeing and sexual reproduction). Appetite, in particular, is controlled by two chemicals; leptin and ghrelin. The protein hormone leptin makes you feel full and speeds up calorie burning. The fat stored in your body (adipose tissue) produces leptin, which signals you to stop eating. The hormone ghrelin, on the other hand, increases appetite. Your intestines ghrelin, secrete ghrelin when your stomach is empty. Most obese people have an unusually high circulating concentration of leptin leptin; and yet their bodies resist its appetite-suppressing signal. The good news is that as you lose weight, your leptin sensitivity increases. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.43 p.43-44) Inside Tip: You can control hunger if you increase leptin sensitivity through weight lo and loss,
decrease ghrelin levels through frequent meals. Also, you might want to avoid meals with saturated fats, as it has been shown that they produce less leptin than low fat meals of the same , caloric value (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.48).

• Vagus Nerve A stronger message than that of leptin involves the vagus nerve. This nerve starts in the brainstem and extends down to the neck, chest, abdomen, intestinal tract, and as far as the colon. When your bowel detects fat, your gastrointestinal track secretes a , peptide called CCK (cholecystokinin) (cholecystokinin). This peptide signals the vagus nerve to “stimulate the contraction of your stomach”. This, in effect, signals the pyloric valve (a ring of muscle that serves as your . stomach’s “exit”) to close consequently, trapping food. Your stomach feels full and you close; . feel satiated. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.61)


Inside Tip: Diets high in saturated fats reduce your body’s sensitivity to the CCK peptide; thus,
sabotaging your level of satiation (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.63). In turn, low-fat diets do little to curb your appetite. One way to strike a balance, between these two equally undesirable options, is to choose the right fats. You can introduce essential fatty acids into your daily nutrition. (EFAs are discussed further in Chapter 3).

• Ileocecal Valve The ileocecal valve is a muscle situated between the small intestine (ileum) and the large intestine. It regulates the flow of partly digested food (chyme) into the bowels. As chyme passes through this valve, it creates a feeling of satiety. Fiber delays the passage of food from your small intestine to your large intestine and helps you feel full longer. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.65) Inside Tip: Especially if consumed early in the day, fiber (i.e. an apple with breakfast) can
reduce afternoon cravings (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.68).

• Blood Sugar After food is digested and processed, it is converted into glucose and enters your bloodstream. The pancreas, in turn, secretes insulin, a hormone which transports glucose to cells for immediate energy, and converts the excess glucose into glycogen, which is energy stored for later use. Inside Tip: Shortly after digestion food is either utilized as fuel or stored; therefore, it is strongly
recommended that you eat at least 2 hours before you fall asleep.

When glucose is discharged slowly into your bloodstream, insulin release is optimum. Large quantities of food or certain types of food (such as simple sugars) are, however, quickly converted into glucose —triggering an equally high level of insulin. This excess amount of insulin leads to a sharp drop in blood sugar, which causes fatigue and hunger. To boost your energy level, you crave the very foods that initially raised your blood sugar. This leads to a vicious cycle of cravings that, in turn, lead to excess food consumption, fatigue, and more cravings. (Marber, 2005, p.15) Inside Tip: The best way to avoid hunger pangs is by regulating your blood sugar levels. Avoid
foods which are quickly converted into glucose, such as simple sugars. Such foods can prove doubly addictive. They increase your glucose levels, while their taste also “stimulates the pleasure center of your brain” (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.64). The surge of sugar in your blood quickly drops and you feel sluggish. Your body then craves these very same foods, because initially they made you feel good. If you keep indulging, you will keep craving, and you will remain captive of this dangerous, repetitive cycle.


Foods can be categorized based on how quickly they are converted into glucose. This categorization is known as the Glycemic Index. High-glycemic foods are rated 70 and above; moderate glycemic foods are between 40 and 69, while low-glycemic foods are 39 and below.
Classification Low GI Medium GI GI range
55 or less 56 - 69 70 - 99

most fruit and vegetables (except potatoes, watermelon), grainy breads, pasta, legumes/pulses, milk, products extremely low in carbohydrates (i.e. fish, eggs, meat, nuts, oils) wheat bread, whole wheat products in general, brown rice, basmati rice, orange sweet potato, table sugar corn flakes, baked potato, some white rice (i.e. jasmine), croissant, white bread, candy straight glucose

High GI
100 (Retrieved May 30, 2010 from

Inside Tip: Cravings can be your body’s way of telling you that your blood sugar is low. Try
eating a low-glycemic alternative and most often cravings will subside. In controlling your appetite, it helps to avoid foods rated high on the index. Never the less, certain fruit and vegetables contain vital vitamins and antioxidants that are essential to your health. The key is to select foods not only based on taste, caloric value or glycemic rating, but also based on their nutritional value.

High-glycemic foods include simple sugars and refined carbohydrates (such as white bread, cereals and rice), certain fruit (for instance, apricots and bananas) and some vegetables (like carrots, potatoes, corn). Low-glycemic foods (apples, grapefruit, plums, yogurt, etc.) not only help you eat less by curbing your hunger, but also help you “burn more fat and less muscle tissue”. (Gittleman, 2002, p.34) Additional factors that increase glucose levels and stimulate the production of insulin (contributing to the storage of fat) are: stress, smoking and caffeine (Marber, 2005, p.14). These will be discussed at greater length in Chapters 4 and 5. Consequently, a calorie is not always just a calorie. The key to a balanced nutrition is to measure the effect of certain foods on your blood sugar. Starting off your day with adequate fiber and protein, means you’ll have more energy and fewer cravings to deal with throughout your day. Grabbing a quick coffee and some cereal, on the other hand, makes you sluggish and moody, while your body keeps pestering you for more food. Inside Tip: Actually, “grabbing a quick” anything seldom ever helps. Your body needs 15-20
minutes after you start eating, to send out the signal that you are full. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.69). So if you eat quickly, you tend to eat more than necessary. Instead, get into the habit of chewing. Cutting your food and chewing well before swallowing gives you the necessary time to experience satiation.


In your efforts to regulate blood sugar levels, you have several allies. Best-selling author and renowned nutritionist, Ann Louise Gittleman explains how, apart from slowacting (low-glycemic) carbohydrates, you can also rely on the following:
Dietary fiber retards the absorption of sugar. A high-fiber diet may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Good sources of fiber are fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Protein enhances the production of glucagon, which releases fat from storage. Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish, flaxseed oil, etc.) are insulin-lowering fats and can decrease insulin resistance in diabetes patients. Vitamin C has been shown to slow the “insulin response to glucose”. Vinegar or lemon juice, taken with meals, can reduce blood sugar by up to 30%. Their acidity affects the stomach in such a way as to delay digestion. Food is processed gradually, and glucose levels are reduced. ¼ to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, when taken with food, may improve the regulation of sugar by up to 20 times. [Also note that half a teaspoon of cinnamon a day seems to stimulate the satiety center in your brain, while also reducing blood sugar levels (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.125)]. Cloves, bay leaf, coriander, cayenne, dry mustard, and ginger may prevent the overproduction of insulin indirectly, either by enhancing your metabolism or by reducing your glucose levels.
(Gittleman, 2002, p.34-35)

Inside Tip: You may need to think twice before purchasing “fat-free” or “low-fat” foods. As
discussed earlier, the absence of fat reduces the feeling of satiation, so you often end up eating more to stay full. Also, fructose found in certain foods labeled low-fat (soft drinks, salad dressings, biscuits, etc.) makes it hard to shut off your appetite. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.47) Finally, “a fat-free diet, low in protein but high in carbohydrates” (even complex carbs), leads to increased insulin levels, which in turn encourage fat storage (Gittleman, 2002, p.7).

For more information on how to regulate hunger by regulating your blood sugar, I would recommend The Food Doctor Everyday Diet (2005) by best-selling author and nutrition expert Ian Marber. It offers a practical, easy-to- follow plan; many insightful tips; as well as a wide selection of quick recipes to help you get started.

Food for thought:
1. Avoiding the calorie trap. Start thinking in terms of food qualities (ingredients, nutrients, satiation, metabolic effects, etc.), rather than food calories. For example, what should concern you regarding simple sugars is not so much their caloric value. It is that they induce highs and lows that spin you into a repetitive cycle of cravings. Remember, a calorie is not just a calorie. You need to take into account the nutritional and health value of each meal. Food that enhances your wellbeing and [45]

helps your body function at optimum levels, is not necessarily that with the least amount of calories. Coffee, juice, and cereal for breakfast may contain reasonable energy, but they do not offer enough fiber and protein to cut down your appetite. If you start your morning with these carbs, you will most likely obsess about food the entire day. 2. Relying on Food Combinations. One way to gradually break the addictive cycle of simple sugars is to never indulge on an empty stomach. Certain food combinations reduce the production of insulin. Adding fiber, for instance, will decelerate the emptying of your stomach and keep glucose levels from soaring. In addition, protein prolongs the feeling of being full. Classifying certain foods as treats, rather than snacks, can be very useful (Abramson, 2005, p.124). Snacks are eaten alone, and instead of meals. Treats are eaten rarely, and in combination with low-glycemic, filling food (i.e. dessert after a meal). Consider simple sugars strictly as treats —not to be eaten on an empty stomach (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.125). Cutting simple carbohydrates entirely from your diet may be impossible, but at least you can rely on low-glycemic food combinations to moderate the effect of such carbs on your blood sugar. If you do not allow your blood sugar to plummet throughout the day, simple sugars will soon lose their hold on you; and you’ll end up indulging less and less frequently. (More on Food Combinations in Part III). 3. Deciding on the right amount. Calculating ounces or portions will only frustrate you. “One serving size of a food is often about the size of a fist”. Each of us, however, has higher or lower energy needs “depending on genes, metabolic rate, activity level, and other factors”. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.69, 250) The goal is to eat the amount that keeps you satiated (as in satisfied, not stuffed). Don’t forget to eat nutritional, lowglycemic meals or snacks (not treats) 4-6 times a day. One approximately every 3 hours (i.e. breakfast, midmorning snack, lunch, midafternoon snack, and dinner). If you experience bloating, cravings or fatigue, these are warning signs. You may need to adjust the amount you consume, or substitute the specific food for a better alternative. The key is to pay attention to the signs your body is giving you, instead of following some arbitrary rule. 4. Finding suitable fuel. Food initiates natural chemical processes that may either fuel or weaken your body. Choosing well can mean the difference between staying full, and feeling positively ravenous. As long as you eat frequent meals, opt for foods that prevent hunger, and listen to your body, you’ll discover what works best for you. The longer you do this, the more your cravings will subside and hunger pangs will disappear. It will come naturally –unlike diets that have to be forced. Begin taking notes as to which foods trigger cravings or mood swings, and induce sudden highs or prolonged lows. Try to phase these out by substituting them, or reserving them largely for X-Days. In other words, it would be best to think of them as X-Foods. Equally, create a list of the foods that make you feel energized, satiated, and generally support your weight-loss efforts. These will be your Auxiliary Foods or A-Foods. Once you categorize your options into Xs and As, the choices that are both healthy and satisfying will become more apparent to you.


Metabolism. The Liver to the Rescue!

What I hated most about being overweight, was how easily people jumped to conclusions. Geez, take a minute to get to know me first, will you? Sure, I look like the cat that ate a whole truckload of canaries, but sometimes appearances can be misleading. As a matter of fact, when I was at my maximum weight, I hardly ate a thing. Terrified of what was happening to my body, I used to restrict myself to one small meal a day. This was no phobia I was dealing with. This was a very real fear, connected to a very ominous reality. I had come to the end of the road. I was standing before a dangerous precipice. One more step (in kilograms, blood sugar or cholesterol) and down we go… into the bottomless pit of health threats and other problems, associated with morbid obesity. But the less I ate, and the less frequently, the more my metabolism seemed to work against me. I felt I was caught up in a losing battle, and my body was the enemy. Can you even imagine how it feels to watch your weight escalate; and know your health is quickly deteriorating? Can you understand what it’s like to be completely powerless over your own body? To believe that there is nothing you can possibly do to stop it? Thankfully, I was wrong. In the nick of time, I discovered there were many things I could do. And most of them were little things. Things I’d never have imagined… like eating more frequently, or eating more of the right foods, for example. Who would have thought it? Staying full actually HELPS your metabolism!

ADAPTING TO CHANGE Metabolism is the rate at which you burn energy, as measured in calories. This rate is quite different for each person. You may exercise, diet, and weigh as much as someone else, but still burn fat at a different pace. Among the factors which influence metabolic rate are: age, gender, heredity, and muscle mass. Your metabolism involves a set of biochemical processes that are highly susceptible and responsive to change (especially alterations in your eating habits and physical activity). The very word metabolism comes from the Greek root metabole (μεταβολή), which means alteration. Inside Tip: If you do not consume food for more than 12 hours, your metabolic rate adapts. It goes
into “storage mode” and slows down by 40%. Also, skipping meals signals your body to store, rather than burn calories. “That’s the primary reason why deprivation diets don’t work.” (Roizen & Oz, 2006,

“Only 15 percent to 30 percent of your calories are burned through intentional physical activity, such as exercise” (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.129). Your body burns calories even when it is fasting and completely at rest. This is called basal metabolic rate (BMR). BMR [47]

represents the energy required by your organs simply to sustain themselves; as well as the energy required for such processes as respiration and circulation. Nutritional therapist Ian Marber (of London’s Institute for Optimum Nutrition) provides an excellent example of how highly adaptive your BMR is. Let us assume that your resting metabolism requires 2000 calories daily. An intake of this exact amount neither increases, nor decreases your weight. Your body produces the precise quantity of glucose it needs in order to function. Now, let us assume that you go on a diet that restricts your caloric intake by 500 calories per day. For the first 1-2 weeks you will lose weight (mostly water). Soon, however, your metabolism adapts to the new caloric intake. Now you need 1500 calories just to maintain your current weight. This means that if you go back to 2000 calories, you will end up storing the excess energy as fat! (Marber, 2005, p.24-25) Inside Tip: As in the case of food, not drinking enough water can signal your body to store rather
than burn.

Your weight may reach a plateau, for one additional reason. Metabolism slows down as you lose volume. A higher body mass requires a higher number of calories. As you begin to lose weight, your body needs fewer calories to sustain the lower body mass. Finally, your genetic makeup also determines, to a certain degree, how easily you put on weight, as well as your weight distribution (body shape). Your dietary choices, however, can override “genetic influences”, as they “turn on and turn off specific genes” (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.128). Inside Tip: “Any movement speeds metabolism” (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.129). Aerobic exercise that
raises your heart rate for approximately 30 minutes, such as walking, will raise your metabolic rate. Weight training will also boost your metabolism as it builds muscle. The more muscle you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate. Conversely, dieting without exercise may produce a loss of only ¾ fat and ¼ muscle. This reduction in muscle tissue slows your basal metabolic rate (Abramson, 2005, p.169).

RECRUITING YOUR LIVER Your metabolism may be low for many reasons —too many deprivation diets, lack of exercise, reduced muscle mass, or even plain old bad genes. And yet, however difficult it may be for you to lose weight, one thing is certain… boost your liver and you will boost your overall health and metabolic rate. Not only will you feel better, but you will be amazed at how easily the weight comes off. The liver is your largest internal organ. Located just below your diaphragm, in the upper right thoracic region of your abdomen; it performs hundreds of functions that are essential to your health and overall well-being. A human can only last about a day without liver function. It plays a crucial role in metabolism, detoxification and a number of other processes —such as boosting your body’s immunity; managing fuel through the production of glucose and storage of glycogen; metabolizing proteins; balancing hormones and regulating vitamins and minerals. (Gittleman, 2002, p.13)


Much like a highly sophisticated filtering system, your liver sorts, detoxifies and transports nutrients and toxins to different parts of your body, either to be used as energy or to be eliminated. It works non-stop, as most of your blood passes through the liver on its way from the intestinal tract to your heart. Almost everything that enters your body, through your diet or the environment, passes through the liver. Inside Tip: The thing to remember is that your liver is multitasking. If it struggles with too many
toxins, or if it clogs up with excess fats, then functions like metabolizing and fat-burning are performed at a less than optimum level.

Your liver is, in many ways, your body’s unsung hero. As described in The Fat Flush Plan, this versatile, and often overworked, organ is responsible for three crucial functions:

• Fat-burning and metabolizing The secret to efficient fat-burning is in your bile. This alkaline compound drains through the many bile ducts that penetrate the liver, and serves to digest fats in the small intestine. If the liver is prevented from synthesizing and secreting enough bile, fat cannot be properly broken down, absorbed and digested. Two major factors hindering the production and flow of this valuable liquid are: certain nutrient deficiencies; and the thickening effect of chemicals, toxins and other substances on the composition of bile. In the following chapter, you will read about specific foods and nutrients that aid in the production of potent bile, and also help in thinning it out. Inside Tip: Fresh lemon juice and water is known for its effectiveness as bile thinner.
Furthermore, bile contains and requires lecithin, a substance that can be found in egg yolks. Caffeine, on the other hand, as well as various medications can be highly toxic to the liver. (Gittleman, 2002, p.4)

What metabolizes fats, carbohydrates and proteins, is your liver. It regulates the process that turns food into immediate energy (glucose) and backup energy (glycogen and fat). It is also responsible for the reverse process. When your blood sugar levels are low, it changes glycogen back into glucose. Once glycogen deposits are exhausted, it turns its attention to fat as a source of fuel. (Gittleman, 2002, p.13)

• Detoxifying Every day, your system deals with countless poisonous substances. These substances, known as toxins, include things you ingest voluntarily (i.e. alcohol or coffee); chemicals in your surroundings (i.e. pesticides and food additives); as well as, contaminants resulting from your own body, called endotoxins. [49]

Your liver is in charge of breaking them down, neutralizing, and eliminating them through urine, sweat, etc. To perform this highly demanding detoxification process, it collaborates with such organs as your skin and kidneys. (Gittleman, 2002, p.13-14) Inside Tip: As a general rule, when the amount and potency of toxins increases, your liver is
strained and the production and storage of bile is greatly limited. Consequently, ingesting alcohol, coffee and prescription drugs can impede or slow down weight-loss, by forcing your liver to focus on detoxification rather than fat-burning. (Gittleman, 2002, p.4)

In The Fat Flush Plan, Ann Louise Gittleman introduces the concept of liver overload and explains how it undermines weight loss. When your liver is overwhelmed by toxins, or is deprived of the necessary nutrients, it can no longer perform its functions adequately. Toxins enter your bloodstream and trigger your immune system. If this occurs often enough, you retain fluids, and may also develop autoimmune diseases such as lupus or arthritis. In addition, a toxic liver can no longer handle glucose efficiently, leading to hypoglycemia, cravings and weight gain. (Gittleman, 2002, p.14-15) Inside Tip: Signs of a toxic liver include “weight gain, especially around the abdomen; cellulite;
abdominal bloating; indigestion; high blood pressure; elevated cholesterol; fatigue; mood swings; depression; skin rashes”. (Gittleman, 2002, p.14)

According to Gittleman, the key to preventing liver overload is to know your liverloving friends and identify your liver-fighting enemies. In the following two chapters, we will outline what she refers to as liver boosters and liver stressors. I have included them under the more general categories of metabolism enhancers and metabolism suppressors. A useful guideline to healthy and unobstructed weight-loss, is to keep metabolism suppressors at bay and metabolism enhancers close by. Remember, though, that this is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Liver boosters are foods that will aid liver function, if consumed in moderation. And there is also no point in deciding to completely ban entire groups of liver-stressing substances in one single gesture. Change takes root best, when it is cultivated slowly. It requires a plan, and not rash decisions. In Part III of this book, we sum up ways to apply the knowledge you have gathered, in a practical and gradual way. It is also crucial, that before you implement any change to your diet and physical activity, you consult your doctor. The scale only offers a number, and can be highly misleading when it comes to your health. Medical tests, on the other hand, give you an accurate, in-depth look at the progress you’ve made and the areas you still need to work on.

Food for thought:

1. Breaking fast. Get into the habit of eating 4 to 6 small, low-glycemic meals a day. It is better to split a big lunch into two smaller portions, to be eaten 2-3 hours apart. This helps maintain your blood sugar at an adequate level, prevents hunger, and boosts your metabolism. Above all, try not to skip breakfast. “When you sleep, your metabolic rate decreases by 10%” (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.129). When you eat breakfast, your body literally breaks fast and your metabolism increases. 2. Thinking critically: Losing weight is not necessarily and invariably a good thing. You need to take into account the long-term effects of your diet plan. How will it impact your resting metabolism? Is an initial, impressive drop in the scale, due to a drastically lower caloric intake, worth the subsequent reduction in your BMR? As in the case of calories, a kilo is never just a kilo. There is such a thing as false weight loss. For example, many low-carb diets have dramatic results in the beginning, because the lack of carbohydrates in your diet depletes glycocen deposits from your muscles. This loss of glycocen releases a lot of water. So the first two to five kilograms of weight loss are actually misleading water loss. As soon as you go back to eating carbs, the glycocen returns to your muscles and re-attracts water. The scale shows you’re putting the weight right back on, and you feel cheated. (Roizen &
Oz, 2006, p. 198)

3. Avoiding overreactions. When we suddenly come face to face with hard facts and damming evidence, in terms of what helps or harms our health and physical condition, this can be very motivating. Sometimes, however, it can be too motivating. How do you know if your initial enthusiasm to apply what you have learned is lasting, or a passing overreaction? There are two important clues, you can look out for. First of all, if it is right, it can wait. When you feel you have to rush to the store and buy that exercise equipment you just heard about, try and give it a week or so. Take the time to gather more information and examine all the parameters (will it hurt your knees, do you have enough storage space, etc.) When you want to jump right into that new diet plan, stop to ask yourself: How similar or different is it from what I have done in the past? What evidence is there to support that this time it will work? In the world of dieting there is a sort of epidemic. It is termed the “false hope syndrome”. Despite past failures and proof to the contrary, dieters still convince themselves that “this time it’ll be different” (Fletcher, Pine, & Penman, 2005, p.88). Stall. Take time to really consider what you’re dealing with, and whether it is the right course of action. If your initial enthusiasm doesn’t subside and you still want to go ahead with it, it’s probably a wise decision. The second clue is, if it is right, it doesn’t take sacrifice. Most people binge and say, “I’m starting a diet on Monday.” As if, by then, they want to cram in everything they’ll miss out on. Still, they can’t face giving up all their favorite foods for weeks or months on end; so they postpone till next Monday, and then next Monday, and so on. Ultimately, they gain weight and their stress adds up, because NOW (that they’ve put on all those extra pounds) the diet just HAS to work. If something entails such a big sacrifice that you keep putting it off and putting it off, it’s probably not going to happen. Sometimes we’re just so enthusiastic and hopeful


about a course of action, we refuse to acknowledge that it’s unrealistic… even to ourselves.


Introducing Your New Best Friends… Metabolism Enhancers.

Let’s take a moment to stop and consider how far you’ve come. If you’ve reached this chapter, you really deserve credit. I would say, without hesitation, you’re half way there. You have successfully laid the groundwork for accomplishing your weight goals and transforming your life. The Experiment begins with concepts like awareness, motivation, emotional baggage, persistence and balance, for a reason. You first need to understand the why, before you can move onto the how. Even if someone could hand you the ideal nutritional plan for your specific needs; you would still require psychological, intellectual and physical preparation, in order to follow through. Changing lifetime habits is in no way easy. We may not object to the hard work per se; but when so much is required of us, having an explanation can make all the difference. So, kudos to you! At this point, you’ve gained greater insight into why your mind responds to cues the way it does. You’ve gotten into the habit of thinking in terms of diversions and shortcuts. Hopefully, you’ve also come to realize how everything your body does is to help you in your efforts —especially the liver. In addition, you now have a clearer understanding of the inner workings responsible for regulating hunger and metabolizing food. It should have become increasingly apparent that you are the one controlling your body, and not the other way around. Once you know how this remarkable vehicle works, you can stir your health and your diet in any direction you like. What’s more, you are not alone. You have not one, but two very liver-friendly co-drivers to assist you in your navigation. These are what I like to call metabolism enhancers, because they help your body build and sustain a healthier, more effective metabolic rate. They involve Ann Louise Gittleman’s liver boosters; and the more familiar subject of physical activity.

LIVER BOOSTERS Liver boosters are specific elements that you can introduce into your daily diet, so as to improve overall liver function and enhance your weight-loss efforts. They include: protein, water, essential fatty acids, vegetables and fruit, herbs and spices, eggs, cranberry juice, and lemon juice. The merits of each are described below, based on Gittleman’s revolutionary Fat Flush Plan.


Protein Protein is important to your liver’s health. It assists in combating toxins, bolsters your metabolic rate, plus helps you burn fat and avoid “water weight gain”. (Gittleman,
2002, p.21)

“Powerful proteins —with 8 ounces or more a day, such as eggs, lean beef, chicken, fish, and whey— boost metabolism by up to 25% for about twelve hours.” (Gittleman, 2002, p.42)
Protein is essential to the production of fat-burning bile. It also contributes to the building of muscle tissue, which, in turn, increases your basal metabolic rate. Protein reinforces your metabolism indirectly by acting as your bloodstream’s UPS system. o It carries hormones —chemical messages from one cell to another, crucial to the wellbeing of your entire body. o It also carries substances to your liver for break-down and excretion; and therefore, assists in the detoxification process. o Finally, it draws “excess water” molecules, which are excreted as it passes through the kidneys. This helps prevent bloating, “water weight” and cellulite.
(Gittleman, 2002, p.18, 28, 13, 21)

Inside Tip: Protein delays hunger and helps prevent “midday fatigue”. Reduced hunger and
fatigue equal reduced cravings and healthier food choices. The recommended daily intake of protein is 8 ounces. This, however, should be amended to your needs. For instance, a large build, high levels of stress, or increased physical exertion, may require up to 12 ounces a day.
(Gittleman, 2002, p. 28, 8, 41)

Water Your liver cannot operate at an optimum level, if you are not adequately hydrated. As mentioned in the previous chapter, it works with your kidneys to excrete broken-down toxins from your body. Kidneys, however, need water. If they sense a deficiency they begin retaining water molecules, which end up clogging tissues and contribute to bloating and puffiness. (Gittleman, 2002, p.21) Moreover, when your body lacks fluids, your lymphatic system cannot work properly. Your lymphatic system is comprised of a network of thin vessels that expand (much like blood vessels) throughout your body. Lymphatic vessels carry lymph, a colorless, watery fluid. Lymph flow helps transport unwanted substances (i.e. waste, bacteria, and fats). If flow is impeded, these substances end up stuck in your fat cells —resulting in cellulite. (Gittleman, 2002, p.21) The thing to remember is that water is absolutely essential to your health. Your body consists largely of water. Limited consumption can undermine your entire


system. Thirst is generally a sign that you are dehydrated. You should aim to drink water before your body tells you it is thirsty (Marber, 2005, p.12). Inside Tip: The recommended daily intake of water is 1-2 liters. Never the less, your body
type, your daily physical activity, and the climate you live in determine optimum consumption. For example, warm weather and exercise increase fluid loss (Marber, 2005, p.12). Salt is known for its water-hoarding properties (due to sodium), so you may want to substitute it with flavorenhancing herbs, such as parsley and anise. (Gittleman, 2002, p.28)

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) As discussed in Chapter 1 of this section, there are different types of fat. While some may not be good for you, others are. EFAs not only support longevity and overall good health, they also contribute to quicker and smarter weight loss. They enhance your body’s metabolic and fat-burning processes by stimulating your bile flow, thyroid gland, and brown adipose tissue. Furthermore, essential fatty acids limit cravings by making you feel satiated and more energetic. They cause your stomach to retain food for a longer period of time, compared to non-fat or low-fat foods. This helps control your blood sugar levels — increasing your stamina, energy, and satisfaction; and reducing hunger pangs that prompt you to overeat. Although certain fats can be synthesized in the body, EFAs can only be acquired from external sources. (Gittleman, 2002, p.28-29) o Omega-3s Omega-3s “are found in cold-water fish, such as salmon, tuna, and cod, and their oils” as well as herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines; “in oils made of flaxseeds, hemp seed, and walnuts; and in soybeans, wheat germ; sprouts, sea vegetables, and leafy greens”. Inside Tip: Your body transforms Omega 3s into prostaglandins. This conversion is
hindered by such factors as high consumption of sugar and trans fats; limited intake of vitamins; stress, pollution and viral infections. (Gittleman, 2002, p.29)

When you cut down on what you eat, your body uses up Omega-3 fats before other fatty acids. Depleted Omega-3s impede your metabolism; and, therefore, reduce your chances of keeping off the weight. A great source for replenishing your body’s stores of Omega-3 fats is flaxseed oil. This oil enhances bile creation; and, as an added benefit, it supports the excretion of oil-soluble toxins stuck in fat deposits or the liver. (As opposed to other toxins, these cannot be eliminated simply with “fiber, water and exercise”). (Gittleman, 2002, p.30, 19, 45) [55]

Inside Tip: It is best to consume flaxseed oil with food (such as salad or yogurt), since
this improves assimilation of the EFAs. Cooking or heating it is, however, not advisable. It is an unsaturated oil and very sensitive to high temperatures. (Gittleman, 2002, p.166)


Omega-6s Omega-6 fats “can be found in unheated unprocessed safflower, sunflower, and corn oil”, as well as palm, soybean, and rapeseed oil. Your body transforms these fatty acids into gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). An excellent direct source of GLA is evening primrose oil (sold in health stores), as well as borage and black currant oil. Evening primrose oil seems to work best for people who are “at least 10% overweight”. (Gittleman, 2002, p.29, 6)

Inside Tip: To take full advantage of Omega-3s and Omega-6s, try to avoid or minimize the
main “saboteurs” of EFA conversion: trans fats, stress, vitamin deficiencies, pollution, and viral infections”; as well as, high sugar consumption, chronic alcohol consumption, smoking, use of cortisone or excessive antibiotic use.” (Gittleman, 2002, p.29, 31)

Vegetables and Fruit, Herbs and Spices Vegetables and fruit contain valuable vitamins and antioxidants. They are a source of fiber, and fiber helps remove toxins. Furthermore, they are high in natural enzymes and minerals, and many have diuretic properties combating water retention.
“Broccoli, brussels sprouts, and kale are very high in sulforaphane” that helps your liver break down and process harmful substances for excretion. Certain vegetables can also be an excellent source of calcium —“kale, collards, escarole, watercress, broccoli, and mustard and turnip greens.”
(Gittleman, 2002, p.18, 43, 19, 53)

Herbs and spices are also important to your liver, and have many beneficial qualities. For instance:
“Garlic and onion” support bile production. “Ginger, cayenne, mustard, and cinnamon” can accelerate metabolism. [Also note
that half a teaspoon of cinnamon a day seems to stimulate the satiety center in your brain, helping you feel full. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.125)]

“Dill, fennel, and anise” aid digestion —and so does garlic. “Cinnamon, cloves, and coriander” help regulate insulin. “Parsley, cilantro, fennel, anise and apple cider vinegar” have diuretic properties.
(Gittleman, 2002, p.19, 41, 43, 52, 168)

Moreover, herbs and spices are a healthier alternative to salt, which contains sodium and, therefore, contributes to water retention. Equally, they can serve as substitutes for other flavor enhancers, such as sugars and soy sauce, which promote candida overgrowth —a significant liver stressor, to be discussed further in Chapter 4.
(Gittleman, 2002, p.28, 20)


Inside Tip: It is best to limit the intake of certain hot spices (like curries and chili peppers),
they prompt your body to retain water. Also, be careful with thermogenic herbs, as they are not all equally healthy. Ephedra (má huáng), for example, may have severe side-effects for your heart. In fact, the FDA has banned ephedra-containing supplements. (Gittleman, 2002, p.20)

Eggs As mentioned in the previous chapter, fat-burning bile contains and requires lecithin. Egg yolks provide a nutrient that is essential to lecithin, phosphatidylcholine. As an added benefit, this nutrient may avert the oxidation of cholesterol; thus benefiting not only your liver, but also your entire body. (Gittleman, 2002, p.19) Inside Tip: The egg yolk contains minerals, vitamins as well as almost half of the eggs protein.
(Gittleman, 2002, p.170)

Eggs can be enjoyed in many ways, and their nutritional value increases when they are combined “with low-glycemic vegetables, such as onions, mushrooms or peppers” (Gittleman, 2002, p.171). There is great debate, however, as to their effect on cholesterol. It is necessary to consult with a licensed nutritionist or doctor (who is aware of your medical history), so as to determine the weekly ration that is best suited to your specific needs.

Cranberry Juice and Lemon Juice Cranberry juice helps prevent water retention and enhances your lymphatic system (combating cellulite). Specifically, it is an excellent source of flavonoids, which are known for their antioxidant properties and their strengthening effect on connective tissue. (Gittleman, 2002, p.27) Lemon supports liver regeneration and bile production. Indirectly, therefore, it plays a key role in the metabolism of fat. Lemon also supports peristalsis, the contraction of smooth muscles that push food forward through the gastrointestinal tract, allowing you to naturally excrete unwanted substances. (Gittleman, 2002, p.18)

For more information on the optimum use of the above liver boosters, I urge you to read The Fat Flush Plan. Ann Louise Gittleman’s breakthrough plan offers specific guidelines as to how often, and in which ways, you can incorporate liver boosters into your daily nutrition. Based on personal experience, I concur that her plan does indeed work and can produce astounding results. I followed the plan for several months, until I developed my own variation. Through trial and error, I settled on the frequency and methods that best suited my individual needs and weight-loss aspirations. As I have mentioned before, The Experiment is merely a [57]

stepping stone. It is meant to introduce you to a world of knowledge, insights, and secrets that has helped me change my life for the better. The next step is entirely up to you. We may all share biological similarities; but our genetic makeup is very different, and the circumstances in our life can be quite unique. The only way to find what suits you best is to continue searching, trying, and learning; to embark on your own personal experiment.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY One thing we all have in common is that physical activity boosts our metabolism. It doesn’t take endless, repetitive, strenuous exercise. In fact, you shouldn’t exert yourself. Contrary to popular belief, a modest (but consistent) exercise routine equals most of the advantages of increased physical activity, minus the added strain and “oxidative stress” to your system. Specifically, the more demanding the activity is for your system, the higher the number of unstable atoms or molecules, called free radicals. Free radicals occur naturally in our body. As we metabolize food, cells break down —usually resulting in stable atoms. In some cases, however, our immune system creates free radicals to neutralize viruses and bacteria. This level of free radical activity is perfectly normal. A rapid increase, on the other hand, is quite a different story. Excess free radicals harm our cell walls, causing these membranes to harden. Once this happens, the cells can no longer get the nutrients they need to support their regular functions. This may lead to their deterioration, severely impairing our RNA and DNA. It has also been linked to “premature aging, heart attacks, cataracts, infections”, and many other disorders —including cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.
(Gittleman, 2002, p.89-90)

Inside Tip: Regular, moderate activity, such as walking for 30 minutes a day, can greatly benefit your
health. As a form of “aerobic exercise, brisk walking keeps your heart and lungs strong”, raising your stamina (Gittleman, 2002, p.94). Studies have shown that habitual walkers tend to live longer and suffer fewer health problems related to coronary artery disease. Also, 30 minutes per day reduce the risk of breast cancer by 30%, and up the survival rate to 70%. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.138)

The main reason why regular exercise boosts your metabolism, is that it increases your muscle mass. Strength-based, resistance training (i.e. weights) builds muscle tissue; and, every pound of such tissue “burns between 40 and 120 calories a day just to sustain itself”. This is quite impressive; especially, if you consider that an equal amount of fat tissue only burns 1-3 calories. Also, since muscle increases one’s basal metabolic rate, you burn more calories even when you are sleeping! (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.138) Inside Tip: As you grow older your muscle mass decreases. You lose approximately 5% every ten
years past the age of 35. This equals a reduction 120-420 calories each day. So regular exercise is beneficial throughout your life, and not only when you are intentionally trying to lose weight. (Roizen
& Oz, 2006, p.142)


The key word here is “regular”. Physical activity needs to be consistent and long-term because, without practice, your muscles forget. Studies have shown that if you stop your weekly strength training, your muscle memory erodes. You can lose up to 50% of your muscle mass in the first three months, and up to 80% in the first three years (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.209). Apart from strength-based training, which builds muscle, stamina-based, aerobic exercise also bolsters your metabolism. It elevates your heart rate for a sustained period of time, burns calories, and helps release toxins that would otherwise accumulate in your system. Specifically, physical activity that targets your lymphatic system can help your body dispose of toxins and unwanted substances; allowing your liver to focus on other functions, like fat burning. Inside Tip: Stamina-based training (i.e. walking, swimming, and other forms of aerobic exercise)
raises your metabolic rate “for 4-12 hours after you quit exercising” (Gittleman, 2002, p.91).

The lymphatic system is dedicated to transporting cellular waste and fats for elimination. It is comprised of organs, ducts, and nodes throughout your body, which depend “on muscle contractions… via the thighs and arms” to circulate lymph and do their job. Exercises that help, involve “breathing deeply through your nose”, and any “bouncing action or… moving your arms while walking briskly”. Such exercises not only help your body detoxify, but also help combat cellulite, as it is mainly caused by reduced lymph flow and “low muscle tone". (Gittleman, 2002, p.5, 91. 93) An added benefit of physical activity is that it helps you regulate your blood sugar levels and reduces cravings. The more energy we need, the more glucose we use. The more glucose we use, the less need we have for insulin. Your blood sugar levels remain relatively steady, so you don’t feel the urge to consume simple sugars; and insulin-related fat storage is greatly avoided. In fact, when it comes to managing your insulin levels, a little physical exercise can make a huge difference. For example, walking 30 minutes a day (which amounts to about 1000 calories per week) can increase your muscle sensitivity to insulin (insulin receptivity). As you build muscle and lose weight, your body’s chemistry changes and, in a way, rewards your efforts. Your cell membranes begin to absorb more glucose, thus reducing its circulation in your blood and eliminating the need for higher levels of insulin. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p. 117,

The subject of physical activity merits an entire book in itself. There really is no overstating how powerful a factor it is when it comes to revving your metabolism and controlling your weight. In the third and final section of this book, we move on to discuss ways you can gradually introduce regular physical activity into your daily life, without disturbing your routine or experiencing distress. For now, the thing to remember is that exercise is most rewarding when it is sensible and consistent. Furthermore, it is as natural as breathing. Your body is meant to be used. Even if you have forgotten how, the initial discomfort is brief and barely worth mentioning. Once you get started, you will experience a


whole new connection to your body, and a much deserved appreciation for all that it has to offer. Inside Tip: Physical activity releases such feel-good neurotransmitters as serotonin and dopamine;
and so it initiates a self-reinforcing beneficial cycle. The more active you become, the more energized you feel. The more energized you feel, the more active you become.

Food for thought:
1. Finding moderators. In Chapter 6, we discussed the importance of adding 30 minutes of physical activity to your daily schedule. Read through your Daily Planner. Have your efforts been successful —meaning consistent? If you have been postponing too often, what were the reasons? Make a list. Can these reasons be moderated by taking simple proactive measures? Most of the times we abandon an exercise activity for one or two highly preventable causes. Ask yourself, why are you bored to go for a run? If it’s too cold, maybe you should jog at a different time during the day. Is the treadmill too painful for your feet? Maybe you need to find more appropriate shoes or wear double socks. Do you feel stiff after your training? Perhaps you should increase your warm-up and cool-down time. Make a list of potential moderators (solutions) and try them out, until you find the right ones. Conversely, have you been pushing yourself too hard? Try to sustain a comfortable level. Remember, it is consistency that matters, not intensity. (In Part III you will find a number of tips and useful suggestions). 2. Making introductions. Now that you know which foods are friendly to your liver, you can make some very useful introductions. Ask yourself, if any of the following is missing from your diet: protein and eggs; essential fatty acids; vegetables and fruit; herbs and spices; water; cranberry juice or lemon juice. [Pay special attention to water. We often confuse the sensation of thirst for that of hunger —meaning we can often avoid unnecessary calories if we just have a glass or two of H2O. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.48) Which of these could you include into your list of A-Foods? What can you do to make them more available during your day? For example, you could try cutting vegetables from the previous night, so that they’re always a handy snack option. Why not visit a health store to ask about cranberry juice, flax seeds, or evening primrose oil? How about making Sunday a “fish day”, or incorporating new sources of protein into your diet? Start with small changes, and go from there. The trick is to keep your list of liver boosters in mind, whenever you go to the supermarket or grocery store. Gradually, you’ll discover different tastes and wonderful new recipes. Adding variety and imagination will make each eating experience richer and more fun!


Identifying the Enemy… Metabolism Suppressors.

The best thing I ever did for myself was quit coffee. I had no idea that one cup a day could make such a huge difference. It was like someone flipped a switch and, lo and behold, the number on the scale finally budged! At first, I admit, it was an adjustment. Going without my morning cup of java needed some getting used to. I had to change to tea, and then gradually to other non-caffeinated beverages. But you know what I realized? It was more the habit of having a hot drink in my hand, than anything else. And you can find so many wonderful infusions these days. They can energize you, or calm you down, or even brighten up your mood. Amazing alternatives —with wholesome, healthy ingredients like lemon and wild berries, or peppermint, chamomile, and other herbs. They can trully fuel and detoxify your body; and trust me, you’ll FEEL the benefits! This is what gets to me, though… the little things! Knowing that small and inconspicuous habits were sabotaging my efforts all along. My life would have been so much easier, if only I had avoided them. If only I had been warned. There are countless wolves in sheep’s clothing, all around us… and nobody seems to be on the lookout.

Just as you have a number of means at your disposal, to boost your liver and increase your metabolism; there are certain other elements you need to watch out for. These elements have a proven, damaging effect on your health, and undermine your weight-loss efforts. You can either slowly phase them out, or find ways to prevent them. These metabolism suppressors include liver stressors, inflammation and food allergies; as well as, sleep deprivation. Inside Tip: To give you an idea, some of the everyday food items that compromise liver function
(either by obstructing detoxification or by encouraging Candida overgrowth) are “caffeine; sugar; alcohol; yeast-based foods such as bread, soy sauce; most vinegars (except the anti-Candida apple cider vinegar); and trans fats from fried foods, margarine, vegetable shortenings and commercial vegetable oils”. (Gittleman, 2002, p.20)

LIVER STRESSORS As outlined in The Fat Flush Plan, the main saboteurs of liver function are: sugar and artificial sweeteners; trans fats; inadequate fiber; caffeine; and medications. Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners Sugar is damaging to your liver for many reasons. The process, itself, of metabolizing sugar is highly taxing. It hinders detoxification and deprives your liver of [61]

important nutrients (i.e. zinc). Energy from sugar is deposited not only in your major problem areas, i.e. “thighs, buttocks, and abdomen”, but also in your liver —further compounding the problem. (Gittleman, 2002, p.16) Sugar also supports the growth of Candida. Candida is a genus of yeasts that coexists harmlessly in your body, together with countless bacteria. The fungal form, however, of Candida produces toxins that stress the liver’s detoxification process and hinder its fat-burning function. Overgrowth can, therefore, compromise your liver and overall health. (Gittleman, 2002, p.16) Inside Tip: There is definite correlation between a compromised immune system and the
excessive growth of this yeast. Approximately “80% of people with multiple allergies have Candida overgrowth”. Symptoms may include: fatigue, headaches, bloating, nasal congestion, heartburn and moodiness. (Gittleman, 2002, p.24)

The problem of Candida overgrowth is exacerbated by consumption of the following:
Foods with high yeast or mold content (i.e. dried fruits, bread and beer). Birth control pills, antibiotics or cortisone-type medications. Lack of EFAs, vitamins and certain proteins (since they bolster your immune system).
(Gittleman, 2002, p.24-26)

You will be surprised how many products contain sugar and artificial sweeteners. In order to minimize your daily intake, you need to identify sugar’s many different names and forms: “glucose; fructose; sucrose; maltose; lactose; raw sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar; molasses, maple sugar, honey, corn syrup, highfructose corn syrup; synthetic sugars: sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol” (Gittleman, 2002,

Take special note of artificial sweeteners. Despite their limited caloric content, they can still undermine your weight control efforts. Aspartame, for example, (found in many “diet” colas and sweeteners) has been associated with the production of insulin (yes, the fat-storing hormone). More to the point, aspartame reduces serotonin. This hormone influences the way you feel. Adequate levels of serotonin can help you control cravings. Low levels, on the other hand, may contribute to binge eating. (Gittleman, 2002, p.25, 172) Inside Tip: Once again, we find that a calorie is not just a calorie. Artificial sweeteners
provide low energy, but they may also trigger cravings and overeating.

Trans Fats or Trans Fatty Acids Unlike other dietary fats, trans fatty acids are not essential; in fact, they can be detrimental to your health. First of all, they compromise fat-burning. As mentioned


earlier, they sabotage EFA conversion. They also slow down the detoxification process; result in the accumulation of fat in the liver; and contribute to bile condensation. In addition to their effect on the liver, trans fats also affect the heart. They increase the probability of coronary heart disease by raising levels of bad LDL cholesterol and lowering levels of good HDL cholesterol. For this reason, physicians and nutritionists around the world recommend that trans fat consumption is reduced to trace amounts. It helps to avoid them if you understand how they are made. The process, called hydrogenation, involves adding “hydrogen and metals, under high heat”, to vegetable oils. The end result is fat in a non-fluid form. So opt for oils that are “liquid in room temperature, like olive oil”. They are generally better for you. Inside Tip: Food manufacturers use trans fats because they increase the product’s “shelf
life". They are found in margarine (not butter) and shortening; processed foods like baked goods and snacks (cookies, muffins, chips, etc.); and fast-food. One more reason to cook at home and treat store-bought, preprocessed food items as X-Day options!
(Gittleman, 2002, p.16-17; Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.121)

Inadequate Fiber As discussed in the previous chapter, antioxidant-rich fruit and diuretic vegetables are invaluable to your diet. First of all, they are a great source of fiber; and fiber not only helps you feel full; it is also essential to the detoxification process. Insoluble fiber (such as flax seed lignans, celery, green beans and tomato peel) picks up water throughout your digestive system, increases bulk, and helps transfer food particles, toxins and unwanted substances quicker through the intestinal tract. It is this acceleration of “transit time” for toxins and waste that makes fiber so valuable. “Without adequate fiber, 90% of cholesterol and bile acids will be reabsorbed and recirculated to the liver”. As you can imagine, this means your liver has to strive twice as hard.
(Gittleman, 2002, p.18)

The United States National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, recommends a daily intake of 20–35 grams of dietary fiber for adults. A more complete table is provided below:


Adequate Intake (AI) for Fiber
Life Stage Infants Infants Children Children Children Adolescents Adults Adults Pregnancy Breast-feeding Age 0-6 months 7-12 months 1-3 years 4-8 years 9-13 years 14-18 years 19-50 years 51 years and older all ages all ages Males (g/day) ND* ND 19 25 31 38 38 30 Females (g/day) ND ND 19 25 26 26 25 21 28 29

* Not determined (Retrieved May 30, 2010 from The Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center

Caffeine Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system (CNS), temporarily increasing alertness and the capacity for physical or mental labor. Unlike other psychoactive substances, its consumption is widely spread, legal and unregulated. This is why coffee (regular or decaf) is generally considered harmless; when, in fact, it is one of the most toxic substances for your body. Inside Tip: To get an idea of coffee’s toxicity, merely consider that over 200 pesticides are
used on many coffee plants. (Gittleman, 2002, p.181)

Caffeine is especially taxing to the liver because the kidneys are not able to expel it efficiently from the body. It simply reenters and circulates in your blood, so the liver has to manage without adequate support. In addition, caffeine’s diuretic properties have been known to cause mineral deficiencies. Some of these minerals (calcium, magnesium and sodium) are essential for the normal growth and maintenance of your bones. (Gittleman, 2002, p.15, 181) Inside Tip: Caffeine also contributes to weight gain by raising the levels of such stress
hormones as cortisol and norepinephrine. (Gittleman, 2002, p.38)

The initial, uplifting effect that we have come to associate with the consumption of coffee has a lot to do with the hormones cortisol and norepinephrine. Cortisol, however, leads to fat accumulation —especially in the abdominal area. “It activates enzymes to store fat, when it contacts fat cells… Abdominal visceral cells have four times more cortisol receptors than the fat cells found right beneath the skin”. Caffeine, therefore, ups cortisol. Cortisol is attracted to your abdominal cells and supercharges the fat deposits in your waist area. (Gittleman, 2002, p.36-38)


Inside Tip: Cigarettes also increase cortisol. Studies have shown that “about 30 minutes after
a smoker puts out a cigarette, cortisol levels shoot up and remain high for at least another thirty minutes”. (Gittleman, 2002, p.37)

Norepinephrine has a more indirect impact on your weight. “It increases your heart rate, raises your blood pressure, and stimulates your ‘fight or flight’ stress response.” Over time, caffeine ends up lowering your stress endurance threshold. As it becomes more and more difficult for you to cope with stressful situations, you end up turning to “comfort foods” that are typically high-glycemic (i.e. sugar and simple carbs). (Gittleman, 2002, p.38) Increased or prolonged consumption of caffeine can also result in caffeinism. This condition involves caffeine dependency and various other unpleasant symptoms —such as headaches, nervousness, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, muscle twitching and heart palpitations. In addition, caffeine raises gastric acid levels and can amplify stomach-related problems like peptic ulcers, erosive esophagitis, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. (Retrieved May 30, 2010 from:

Most people think that because they only drink one cup of coffee per day, their intake is relatively low. Theine, guaranine, and mateine are, however, the same chemical compound as caffeine. So, more often than not, we are consuming caffeine from multiple sources. (Gittleman, 2002, p.20) Inside Tip: Caffeine can be found, under more than one name, in: tea, soft drinks and energy
drinks; chocolate and cocoa; guarana and mate; certain food supplements; as well as over the counter medication (i.e. pain relievers, cold medicines and allergy remedies). (Gittleman, 2002,

Even if you turn to decaf, in order to reduce your daily caffeine intake, you should be aware that it is far from an ideal solution. Its acidity is greater than that of regular coffee, because of the beans used in its production. Also, the decaffeinating process involves such harmful chemicals as those used in “dry cleaning” (i.e. trichlorothylene and methylene chloride). (Gittleman, 2002, p.44) Inside Tip: If you drink coffee it doesn’t mean your body seizes to require sleep. The feeling of
being tired simply builds up later in the day. (

It takes approximately 45 minutes for caffeine to take hold; while the effects of a moderate dose subside in about three hours. Caffeine tolerance, however, depends greatly on the individual. In other words, how gradually or swiftly you become unresponsive to caffeine’s effects depends on your body type and other such factors (age, gender, pregnancy, etc.). Women are generally more susceptible to caffeine. Compared to men, they tend to “detoxify caffeine” less quickly; “perform less well on cognitive tasks”; and, report feeling “more tired”. (Gittleman, 2002, p.15)


Inside Tip: “Withdrawal from caffeine and sugar… can include such symptoms as headache,
fatigue, irritability, and even increased hunger. These symptoms typically disappear by day five.” (Gittleman, 2002, p.44)

Alcohol and Medications Alcohol is what nutritionists often refer to as “empty calories”. It is packed with energy, without essentially offering any nutritional value. More importantly, it is highly toxic. Your liver exerts itself to such a degree in the detoxification of alcohol, that it is forced to neglect other processes. In addition, alcohol boosts (fat-storing) cortisol levels; while chronic consumption impedes EFA conversion. To add insult to injury, it “feeds yeast”; which bring even more toxins into the picture. Consequently, alcohol severely obstructs your regular liver functions and slows your metabolism. It should be consumed both infrequently and in moderation. (Gittleman, 2002, p. 37-38, 31, 182) Similar caution should be exercised in taking medications. Certain prescription and over-the-counter drugs can be especially toxic to your liver. Extended use may lead to waste buildup in the liver. Nutritional supplements can be equally or even more damaging (i.e. pennyroyal, high-dose vitamin A, ephedra, and valerian).
(Gittleman, 2002, p. 17)

Furthermore, birth control pills (used not only as contraceptives, but also to adjust the menstrual cycle, and reduce acne) may prompt the retention of fluids, lower your metabolic rate, and interfere with your insulin balance —both stimulating your appetite and making it easier to put on the weight. Birth control pills, antibiotics and immunosuppressant drugs can also contribute to Candidiasis —an infection or illness caused by several species of Candida organisms. (Gittleman, 2002, p. 26) Inside Tip: If you have any questions regarding specific medications, and how they may be
impacting your liver, consult your doctor and explore available alternatives. Do not stop taking the medication without seeking professional guidance from a licensed physician.

INFLAMMATION AND FOOD ALLERGIES Inflammation contributes to weight gain and aging. It is a chemical reaction that involves the bloodstream. All foods have an impact on inflammation —whether it is to increase or decrease it. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.72-76, 90) Inside Tip: Your choice of food can improve your health and prolong your life; and vice versa.


Certain foods may cause inflammation to your intestinal wall (due to allergies, bacteria and other factors, such as toxins). This spreads much like an infection throughout your body, causing further inflammation in your blood vessels, and inhibiting your blood flow. Toxins, and partially digested food macromolecules can enter your blood stream more easily. An immune response is set in motion. Free radicals randomly attack your body’s cells. This increases the “oxidative stress” to your system and has been linked to aging; as well as to serious conditions like diabetes, atherosclerosis (the thickening of your artery walls), bad cholesterol and high blood pressure, DNA damage, as well as autoimmune diseases like arthritis. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.74-76; Gittleman, 2002, p.22, 89-90) Inside Tip: According to recent findings, smokers are likely to experience more inflammation than
non-smokers. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.75)

Inflammation also contributes to weight gain. As mentioned above, it increases the amount of toxins in your blood, and strains the liver. Furthermore, it prevents your body from making efficient use of energy (calories). It inhibits the normal process of sending glucose to your brain cells. You feel tired and less energetic. You reach for high-glycemic foods that make you feel temporarily better, but also add to your body’s inflammation.
(Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.74-75)

Inside Tip: Eating inflammatory food creates a vicious cycle of cravings. The more you eat, the
higher the inflammation. The higher your body’s inflammation, the more you want to eat these types of foods. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.75)

Part of that weight gain also has to do with fluid retention —and a common sign of inflammation is bloating. As “foreign substances” escape the digestive track and get into your blood, your body sends liquid to expel them. It also releases histamine and other chemicals which “expand and contract” your blood vessels, resulting in the “leaking” of additional liquids. You feel swollen. (Gittleman, 2002, p.22) You need to listen to your body’s “distress signals” (cravings, intestinal problems, lack of energy, etc.) (Gittleman, 2002, p.46) It is trying to tell you what is good to eat, and what to avoid. This decision is taken in your small intestine, rather than your brain. Your small intestine screens everything you eat and informs you if it has a pro- or anti-inflammatory effect. Because each person’s body is quite different, that which inflames and swells your intestinal wall may be more acceptable to someone else. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.76, 80) Although some general guidelines do apply, you are actually the best judge when it comes to the nutrients that agree with you, and the foods that end up poisoning you. Inside Tip: As a rule, anti-inflammatory nutrients have antioxidant properties. A few examples are
omega-3 fatty acids, fruit (especially grape), vegetables (i.e. cabbage, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale), flaxseed oil, garlic, red wine, and dark chocolate. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.96)

As mentioned above, a major cause of inflammation is food allergies or sensitivities. Just about any food can set off an allergic reaction, but in The Fat Flush Plan Ann Louise Gittleman points to four of the most common “reactive” food groups: dairy products, wheat (and other gluten-containing grains), sugar, and yeast. (Gittleman, 2002, p.23) [67]

Inside Tip: Common wheat-based carbohydrates are “pasta, bread, cereal and crackers”. Grains
include “rye, oats and barley”. They can be found in most baked goods —from muffins and bagels, to cake and piecrust. Common yeast-related seasonings (even though fat-free) are “soy sauce, tamari, tomato sauce and oil-free vinegar dressings”. (Gittleman, 2002, p.6, 76)

Food allergies or sensitivities are more frequent than you might think. Most people are not aware of them, because allergic symptoms are not necessarily extreme or lifethreatening. Also, they do not occur directly after consumption of the reactive foods. This delay can be very misleading. (Gittleman, 2002, p.21) Inside Tip: When it comes to food sensitivities look out for such symptoms as “headache, coughing,
blurred vision, rapid heartbeat, indigestion, skin rashes, fatigue, joint swelling, mood swings”; as well as cravings, bloating, fluid retention, and yeast infections. Also note that poor digestion, (brought on by eating too quickly, or too little fiber, etc.) can aggravate the situation, since more substances escape into the blood. (Gittleman, 2002, p.21-23)

Specifically, allergenic foods set off an immune response in your system. Your body goes into “distress” and releases certain chemicals and hormones (for example endorphins, epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol) to alleviate this distress. Initially, you are oblivious to the struggle that your body is undergoing. These chemicals give you a pleasant feeling and a misleading boost of energy; but only for so long. Soon, the drop in your mood and stamina brings about a form of “withdrawal”, and you experience cravings. (Gittleman, 2002, p.22) Cravings can, indeed, be a major tip-off when it comes to food allergies. Have you ever wondered why after some meals you may feel even hungrier than before? One cause might very well involve serotonin. Serotonin is a feel-good neurotransmitter that helps you control depression. It is “produced by the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls hunger”. It is, however, carried mostly by your white blood cells. About 95% of it ends up in your gut; and “helps signal that you are full”. When your immune system is triggered due to food allergies and inflammation, your white cells are recruited to combat the offending elements in your bloodstream. Consequently, they are diverted from transporting serotonin. The result is often a reduced feeling of satiation and contentment. (Gittleman, 2002, p.23; Roizen &
Oz, 2006, p.83)

These chemical imbalances and hormonal roller-coasters may disorient your thyroid gland. (This is your largest endocrine gland. It is located in your neck, and produces hormones that regulate your metabolic rate). They may also hinder the assimilation of essential fatty acids. For all the above reasons, they increase fat storage, and generally hamper your metabolism. (Gittleman, 2002, p.23)

SLEEP DEPRIVATION Another factor, which affects your metabolism through interfering with hormones, is lack of sleep. We all have a “biological clock”. This clock not only regulates our sleep, it also regulates our body’s major functions. In other words, processes that involve our “hormone


levels, blood sugar levels and metabolic rates” are in sync with our biological clock and tied to our sleep patterns. (Gittleman, 2002, p101) When you do not get sufficient sleep, in quantity (7-8 hours a day) or quality (deep or REM sleep), this disrupts your biological clock. You feel tired and your body’s temperature decreases. In your attempt to boost your energy and raise your body temperature, you tend to eat more. Inside Tip: “According to statistics, poor sleepers consume approximately 15% more food than their
sleep-nourished counterparts.” If that weren’t enough, our body reacts to sleep deprivation, much as it does to caloric restriction. It senses a need to conserve energy and opts to store, rather than burn, fat. (Gittleman, 2002, p101)

Poor sleep also increases your cortisol levels. (As previously discussed, cortisol triggers fat storage, especially in the abdominal area). Moreover, it interferes with another fatstoring hormone —insulin. Specifically, lack of sleep can lead to insulin resistance. (Gittleman,
2002, p101, 38)

As if that weren’t enough, it also raises levels of neuropeptide Y (NPY). This protein impacts the hypothalamus in such a way as to decrease your metabolism and build up your appetite. Appetite is further stimulated because lack of sleep leads to a lower secretion of serotonin. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.162) To make a long story short, even if you eat the right foods and exercise, restless or limited sleep could counterbalance any benefits. Inside Tip: The Fat Flush Plan recommends you follow a sleep pattern that is closely in tune to your
body’s cycle of cortisol secretion. At 10 pm your cortisol levels tend to be at their lowest point. If you fall asleep around that time and get up after a full eight hours, you will wake just when your cortisol levels rise again. (Gittleman, 2002, p102)

Up to this point, Part II of The Experiment has focused on reacquainting you with the marvelous machinery that is your body. Special emphasis has been given on understanding the sensation of hunger and the major factors influencing your metabolism. If there is one conclusion to be drawn from this section of the book, I like to think it is this: the way to a healthy body is through a healthy, well-balanced life. Food choices are important; and yes, a calorie is never just a calorie. But moderation and balance are not to be overlooked. Anti-inflammatory nutrients, liver-boosting EFAs, satiating protein and fiber, can prevent cravings and help your liver in its fat-burning endeavors; but they are just the beginning. Selecting the right fuel is only as important as respecting your body’s requirements and limitations. In other words, physical activity and adequate sleep should start, where food choices leave off. It’s not enough to pump premium gas in your classic ’59 Chevy. You need to buff the leather seats, shelter it from extreme weather, and take it out for a spin once in a while –if


only to keep the battery and engine in good condition. As the saying goes “use It, or lose it”; and I would most definitely add… “but don’t overdo it.”

Food for thought:
1. Paying attention. Some things invigorate your body. Others strain it. Finding out which does what, is simply a matter of interpreting your body’s signals. It gives you clues all the time. If you pay attention to what it’s trying to communicate, you’ve already won half the battle. So far, we have analyzed various signals (cravings, headaches, fatigue, rashes, mood swings, etc.) Whenever you experience such symptoms, try and identify possible causes. Replace bad habits with equally enjoyable, but less harmful ones. Mark the best possible substitutes in your Daily Planner. 2. Planning ahead. Make a list of your most common liver stressors (i.e. Saturday night pizza, morning coffee, cigarettes, ice cream). Certain things, you may already feel you can do without. Others, you may want to substitute gradually. And then, there will always be those indulgences you’d rather not substitute at all; but instead, reserve for X-Days. Whatever the case, give yourself the time to think how you will deal with each, and when. Smoking, for example, is different for everyone. Some people like to quit in one go. Others prefer to cut down slowly. With coffee, I needed almost a year to phase it out. It took me another year to switch from tea to completely caffeine-free beverages. Create a list of: a) the things you plan to eliminate; b) those you’ll substitute; and c) those you’d rather phase out gradually. Some changes may take days. Others, years. The important thing is to monitor your progress and remember to reward your efforts. 3. Taking sleep seriously. Everyone needs a bit of down time. A good night’s sleep is not a privilege; it is your right. Whatever your schedule, recharging your batteries should be a priority. Sometimes, it takes compromises (i.e. skipping a party, when you know you have to get up early the next day). Other times, it merely requires a little ingenuity (i.e. delegating a few chores so you can get some shut-eye). Apart from making the time, you also need to make the necessary arrangements. Wear comfortable clothes. Check that the temperature in your bedroom is cool enough; and that there’s plenty of fresh air. Create an environment that will allow you to get the rejuvenating and deep REM sleep that you require.


Interpreting Your Body’s Dys-stress Signals.

No guide to permanent weight-loss would be complete, without first exploring the intricate subject of stress. The very word stress can make us feel uneasy —conjuring memories of late night binging, extreme worrying, sleeplessness, maybe even social withdrawal and downright depression. Is there any other emotional state more connected to weight gain and overeating? In previous chapters, we mentioned how vital it is to interpret your body’s signals. Henry Miller expressed it best, when he wrote “Our own physical body possesses a wisdom which we who inhabit the body lack. We give it orders which make no sense”. If you are to alleviate, rather than amplify, any physiological or psychological problem, you need to be able to understand your body’s language. From its part, it is persistently and fervently trying to alert you, as to what reinforces and what depletes it —stress being one of the most important signs your body could give you. Inside Tip: Stress symptoms generally begin with alarm. They may, however, culminate in
exhaustion, and severely compromise your immune system. Cognitive symptoms include lack of concentration and poor judgment. Emotional symptoms can range from irritability, to loneliness and complete lack of confidence or motivation. Known physiological symptoms are elevated heart rate, headaches, nausea and stomach problems. Extreme cases may lead to ulcers, diabetes, cardiovascular complications and even mental illness. Behavioral symptoms include nervous ticks, avoidance of responsibilities and procrastination; as well as increased consumption of harmful substances (alcohol, nicotine, etc.), and irregular eating patterns (i.e. anorexic or bulimic behavior). (Retrieved May 31, 2010

Knowing how harmful stress can be to your health, you’d probably never guess it’s a survival mechanism. If you identify its signals early on, and adopt appropriate strategies, it can prove useful and productive, rather than detrimental. In fact, you can use stress to your advantage. In this chapter we will explain how and why stress is created; what it does to your body; as well as how you can develop the necessary skills and resources to moderate and optimize it.

DEFINING STRESS Simply put, stress is a response to any stimulus or situation (termed stressor) that we view as either demanding or threatening. When early man came face to face with a mountain lion, a very powerful survival mechanism took hold. This is called the fight or flight response. His body released certain hormones (mainly adrenalin and cortisol), so as to provide the energy required to fight the lion, or run for his life. This energy was used up by the man’s muscles and other organs. Once the threat was dealt with, normal hormone levels were restored.


Today, however, most stressful situations do not require intense physical effort. Additionally, they may not be as short short-lived as the sudden attack of an obvious predator. Stress can be chronic, like dealing with unrealistic expectations at work moving to a new , work, apartment, or facing lasting doubts about a personal relationship. More importantly, you are not always free to act on your emotions; and may have no way of immediately releasing the energy that is accumulating. It is important to clarify that, u to a certain point, stress can be both stimulating and up productive. This mechanism can help you deal with any situation you consider challenging. It can give you the necessary surge of energy to run after a taxi, or finish a presentation before a pressing deadline. On the other hand, it may be become so intense that you feel tired or see tired, your efforts as futile, and give up altogether. Ideally, you should regulate your stress levels, so that you feel energized, instead of drained. The below bell curve shows the relatio , relationship between amount of stress and performance. Where you fall on the graph mainly depends on your perception and three other factors: importance, uncertainty, and duration (Cook, duration.
Hunsaker, & Coffey, 1997, p.498).

Perception is crucial because the same situation can be seen as stressful, or inconsequential, or even pleasant —depending on whether you are aware of it, and how you are predisposed to it. For example, one bride may view the whole experience of getting married as a great source of worry Another may breeze through it, amused by all the worry. challenges that it presents. The degree of stress we experience has a lot to do with how important the stressor is to us (in terms of its consequences); how persistent it is (in demanding our time and effort); a finally, how uncertain its outcome (in other words, if and we are confident or not that we can deal with it). Eliminating stress entirely would only prove counterproductive. We all need some liminating amount of stress to keep us interested and energetic. The goal is to manage the above factors so as to cultivate eu-stress (motivating levels) and reduce dys-stress (draining l levels). Once again, we come to appreciate the significance of moderation and balance balance. Inside Tip: The balance between eu eu-stress and dys-stress is called optimal stress. Its effects range ts
from calmness and sharp perception, to high energy and determination.


ACHIEVING OPTIMAL STRESS In your attempt to optimize stress levels, you can employ stress management and prevention. Stress prevention is proactive in that it aims to avert the very occurrence of stress. Stress management, on the other hand, involves techniques that minimize the negative consequences of dys-stress. Successful stress management and prevention follows five steps: • Recognizing stress signals. The first step is to acknowledge the level of stress you are experiencing. Are you, in fact, coping? Or are you in danger of a burnout? Burnout is common for highly driven and committed individuals with many responsibilities and increased home/work demands. Symptoms include emotional exhaustion, isolation and depersonalization; as well as feelings of failure and insignificance. (Smith, 1993,

To avoid burnout, you need to constantly audit your stress. Check to see how many of the below stress signals you are experiencing. (Turkington, 1998, p.22)
MENTAL Poor memory Poor concentration Mind racing or going blank Confusion No sense of humor Reduced creativity Limited problem-solving ability Indecisiveness Mental procrastination (putting off the process of deciding or thinking) EMOTIONAL Anger, anxiety, depression Insensitivity, callousness Hopelessness, fearfulness Frustration Guilt, shame Irritability Pessimism, powerlessness Restlessness Resentment, short temper PHYSICAL Chest pains Fatigue Frequent colds Headache Heart palpitations Insomnia Muscle aches (especially neck, shoulders, and back) Nausea Trembling or sweating BEHAVIORAL Crying Blinking excessively Fidgeting Hitting Nervous habits ( foot tapping, nail biting, hair chewing) Excessive smoking Swearing Throwing things Yelling

Inside Tip: If two or more (from each category) apply to your situation, then you are most
likely dealing with an excessive amount of dys-stress at this point in your life.

Identifying stressors. Once you have calculated your level of stress, the next step is to identify potential causes. (Cook, Hunsaker, & Coffey, 1997, p.501) Personal stressors include problems with your family, finances or relationships; as well as, amount of positive or negative life change (i.e. pregnancy, vacation, new habits, injury). Organizational stressors involve your job role and work environment. They can range from role ambiguity and conflict, to unpleasant conditions and work relationships, to qualitative and quantitative overload. Environmental stressors pertain to the economy, politics and legislature, technology and other such external factors that may affect you.


Inside Tip: Stress experienced in one area of your life affects all other areas, and so you
need to examine a diverse and comprehensive range of possible stressors.

Understanding stress moderators. As we’ve mentioned earlier, the same situation may be stressful to you, and practically insignificant to someone else. This is where stress moderators come into play. Stress moderators include perception, personality, social support and experience. These four factors mean the difference between a stressor causing dys-stress or eu-stress. If you do not perceive something as challenging, important, ambiguous or enduring, then it is not a stressor at all. Perception can, therefore, be a key factor in stress prevention. Also, some personality types are more prone to stress than others. Cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman have identified personality type A, which is impatient, competitive, and aggressive. Type A individuals take on many obligations at once, and work under significant pressure. They experience high levels of dys-stress and are worn down quickly. Having a type A personality contributes to health problems and underachievement. On the contrary, a type B personality entails patience, highly developed interpersonal skills, and a balanced life with many non-work activities. Type B individuals tend to enjoy better health and greater success in life. (Cook, Hunsaker, & Coffey, 1997, p.503) Personality traits that help moderate stress are self-efficacy, internal locus of control, extroversion, and hardiness. Self-efficacy means having confidence in one’s self and one’s abilities. An internal locus of control implies that you feel in charge of your own destiny; that you consider your actions to have a significant impact on your circumstances. Hardy individuals embrace change and ambiguity. Similarly, extroverts are outgoing and possess considerable communication skills. These personality traits essentially moderate the perceived uncertainty and importance of stressors; consequently, decreasing their impact. The two final moderators are social support and experience. Social support involves meaningful interactions with family, friends and coworkers. Cultivating relationships, that give meaning and balance to your life, reduces the importance factor of potential stressors. Experience involves skills and knowledge that can help you prevent, deal with, or even eliminate, the negative consequences of stressors. In essence, the more familiar you are with a particular stressor, the less ambiguous it is. Adopting appropriate strategies. Having understood how moderators work, you can now select those you feel are most suitable to you and your needs. There are countless techniques that reinforce moderators and help you manage or prevent stress. The best ones depend on your specific personality, circumstances, lifestyle, and major stressors. According to clinical psychologist Dr R. J. Wycherley, they can all be grouped under three main strategies. Building skills is the first strategy. The idea is to become involved and stay updated (i.e. take seminars, do research); to generally participate in anything that will increase your experience with each stressor. This strategy strengthens moderators such as locus of control and selfefficacy. [74]

The second strategy is building inside resources. This means increasing your emotional, mental and physical endurance to stressors. Techniques that reinforce emotional endurance include deep breathing and progressive relaxation; meditation or aromatotherapy; and listening to calming music. Practices that raise physical endurance could involve exercise, yoga and Tai Chi Chuan; massage therapy; and a healthy, stress-relieving nutrition. Mental endurance targets perception and personality traits; and so it may necessitate professional help from a therapist, counselor or psychiatrist. The final strategy is building outside resources. This implies strengthening the moderators of social support and extroversion. Specific practices involve joining selfhelp groups, seeking companionship, taking up hobbies, and engaging in recreational activities with other people. (Donnellan, 1997, p. 26) • Monitoring. Stress management and prevention is, like most things in life, an experiment in trial and error. Initially, you may not be in a position to identify all relevant stressors. You may fail in cultivating and applying the most appropriate moderators. Some techniques will work for you right off the bat; others you may need to improve on, or completely abandon. There is no need for perfection —only persistence. You need to monitor your efforts; and if you are not satisfied with the results, you need to go back to step one and repeat the cycle. Inside Tip: Don’t be too hard on yourself. Any setbacks are temporary and educational.
There are no quick fix solutions when it comes to changing personality traits and stressconducive habits. There can only be constant vigilance and continuous progress.

ADDRESSING THE ISSUE OF TIME MANAGEMENT Time management and stress management go hand in hand. What links these two is quantitative overload. In recent years, this major occupational stressor has become increasingly powerful. As if demanding deadlines and extended working hours weren’t enough, now we have countless new digital devices to contend with. Rooters, laptops and blackberries permeate our lives and invade our homes, calling our attention to work-related issues —at all hours of the day (or night) and at great cost to our stress management efforts. This situation creates a vicious cycle that involves scheduling too many tasks into our day. The more activities we schedule, the greater our stress, and the lower our capacity to actually accomplish these activities. The less we accomplish, the larger the build-up of pending tasks. This increases our stress even further. Quantitative overload feeds stress; and stress feeds quantitative overload. It has become abundantly clear, that coping with dysstress means coping with the demands of time. Stress management and time management are highly interdependent. So how does one go about trying to successfully manage time? There are three basic steps to efficient and effective time management. (Alexander, 1992, p.3)


Conducting a time audit. The first step entails creating a daily time calendar. For one or two weeks, you mark down the activities you perform and their duration. After studying this calendar, problem areas become increasingly evident. Perhaps you are spending too much time on housework and not enough on fun, family-type activities. Maybe you’re answering too many unimportant phone calls at work. Before long, you get a better understanding of the activities you should cut down on, and where to better allocate your time. This means you are in a position to set goals. Goal setting, prioritizing and scheduling. Having goals is like having a sail. You decide where the winds take you, and not the other way around. Without clear day-to-day and long-term goals, random unplanned emergencies override your priorities and stir you off course. Goals help you distinguish the urgent from the important. They help you prioritize. As soon as you’ve set your objectives you need to create ABC lists. The A list is for activities of urgent importance. They will have severe consequences, if not accomplished on time. The B list is for activities of non-urgent importance. They relate to your goals, but can (to a certain extent) be put off. Finally, the C list should include those activities of low urgency and importance, which can wait until both the A and the B tasks have been accomplished. After these priorities have been set, you can proceed with scheduling. A schedule is a plan of daily activities, where each activity is assigned a specific sequence and duration. (For example, on Tuesday, #1. Prepare kid’s breakfast 30min #2. Drive to work -45min, and so on). The secret to effective scheduling is being realistic. You need to leave time for breaks and relaxation; as well as, for unanticipated interruptions and minor emergencies (i.e. traffic jams). Delegating. The final step to time management is crucial and should not be overlooked. Once you’ve scheduled all your daily activities, you need to decide which to assign. Consider what tasks can be performed satisfactorily by someone other than yourself. This is commonly referred to as the practice of delegating. Unfortunately, those of us with the greatest need to delegate are usually the most reluctant to do so. We fear losing control, strive for perfection, or lack confidence in others. These are important issues we need to address, and gradually overcome.

The key to successfully completing each of the above steps is awareness. It is vital to understand your personal capabilities and acknowledge all relevant restrictions on your time. You should also watch out for two main obstacles: overextension and procrastination. If you are overextending, you are taking on too many things at once. The solution is simple —although, admittedly, difficult to implement. You should refuse any additional commitments. In other words, learn to say no. The following table offers some very useful and tactful suggestions. (Alexander, 1992, p.53)


Fear of offending No time to think of an answer Your capabilities are in demand Lack objectives or priorities Assumption by others that you will say yes No excuses

Develop State Department techniques of saying no. Examples: “Thanks for the compliment, but I’ll have to decline”. “Sorry I can’t but let me offer a suggestion…” Say: “I’ll get back to that in a minute.” Give yourself time. Delay response. Thus saying no is even more imperative. Refuse to spread yourself too thin. Concentrate on your priorities. Danger! Others will determine your priorities. You encouraged this assumption by never saying nay. Learn to say no, particularly to inappropriate or thoughtless requests. Sometimes no excuse is better than a lame excuse. Best reason: your own priorities. Keep them visible in your mind. Articulate them to others.

Procrastination is quite different. It involves postponing certain activities to the degree that you will face serious consequences. It should not be confused with prioritizing. When you assign something a low priority (through your ABC lists) you anticipate acceptable results. To the contrary, procrastination implies avoiding tasks, while being fully aware of the ensuing, undesirable outcomes. The main reasons why we procrastinate are five: perfectionism, fear, a crisis-maker personality, anxiety over the expectations of others, and overextension. (Domingues, 1999) Perfectionism is the most commonly cited reason for procrastination. You delay a task because you anticipate it will fail to meet your personal standards. The solution is to reevaluate high expectations and set more realistic goals. “Maybe I can’t diet and quit smoking and deal with my financial problems… all at once”. Fear is somewhat similar. It suggests that you postpone a task because it is connected to undesirable consequences. The best way to deal with fear is simply to acknowledge it. Also, try to view the fretted consequences in light of their true significance. “So, I don’t get an A on my final exam. It’s not the end of the world”. A crisis-maker personality characterizes someone who derives satisfaction from barely meeting deadlines. Such individuals may complain about not having enough time, but deep down they love the excitement of postponing till the very last minute. The antidote to crisismaking behavior is a more balanced life. You can get the adrenalin rush and the sense of overcoming unbeatable odds, through hobbies and sports. Anxiety over the expectations of others is a bit trickier to deal with. It relates to your sense of self-worth. You need to consider the adage “mistakes are only human”. Apart from human, they are absolutely necessary. They contribute to progress, personal growth, selfdevelopment and skill advancement. Finally, it helps to acknowledge that “giving it our best shot” really is all that should be expected of us. To conclude, the fifth cause underlying procrastination is overextension. Taking on too many responsibilities leads to unreasonable pressure. This leads to avoidance; and we end up trying to postpone the inevitable. Consequently, the two main obstacles to successful time management (overextension and procrastination), are highly interrelated.

As in the case of stress management, the steps involved in time management form a continuous cycle. You need to constantly watch out for deviations and signs of [77]

procrastination or overextension. If you feel time is (once more) managing you, simply go back to step one and perform a new audit; amend your ABC lists; and examine further delegation options. Inside Tip: Coping with stress and coping with time pressure are similar and interdependent. Both
begin with cultivating awareness. Both form constant cycles. There can be no stress management without time management, and vice versa. They should be practiced continuously and in parallel.

STRESSING THE IMPORTANCE OF STRESS Why devote an entire chapter to the subject of stress? Because stress is the greatest saboteur of all. It works from the inside, to seriously undermine your weight-loss efforts. Chronic stress not only blocks your metabolism, it keeps you constantly craving for more calories. Specifically, when you experience stress (any form of stress), your adrenal gland generates high amounts of cortisol. The role of this hormone is to free fuel, such as glucose and fatty acids. In the case of physical stress, this energy is mainly utilized by your muscles. Once the stressful situation has transpired, your cortisol levels remain high and trigger hunger —so that you may restore the energy you’ve consumed. You are then drawn to highglycemic foods because they are a quick source of fuel. Simple carbs, however, stimulate the production of even more cortisol. This entire process would work more in your favor, if your stressor required an intense physical response. (Gittleman, 2002, p.36) Today, however, we deal mostly with emotional stress. Our muscles are not generally called to action. Consequently, all this cortisol produces large amounts of unnecessary energy; energy that is stored for later use, as fat. The main storage unit for stress-related fat is your abdominal region. This occurs because the abdominal fat cells in your omentum (a fat deposit located underneath the muscles in your stomach) have abundant receptors that attach to cortisol, and remove it from your bloodstream. Whenever cortisol comes into contact with these cells it acts as a steroid and boosts fat storage. It also trips up your metabolism, by making your omentum resistant to insulin. Insulin resistance means that energy is not used efficiently by your body, and your blood sugar levels are destabilized. The feeling of satiation is diminished, so you reach for more sugary foods, and the vicious cycle of cravings continues. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.86) Inside Tip: Since your omentum is located next to your stomach, an apple-shaped body indicates a
history of unmanaged psychological stress. Omentum fat is quickly accessible to your liver, where it is processed and sent to the arteries —contributing to higher triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.77, 101) Compared to the pear-shaped body, which stores mainly subcutaneous fat in the thighs and hips; the apple-shape carries a higher risk of “heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes” (Gittleman, 2002, p.37). Consequently, smaller waist lines often translate into healthier arteries and a less overworked immune system.


In a nut shell: Stress boosts hormone levels that trigger appetite. It ups the storage of fat in your abdominal area, which bears such health risks as high blood pressure and diabetes. Prolonged stress also builds insulin resistance. Your pancreas secretes more insulin so as to compensate, and you get caught up in a perpetual cycle of cravings and hedonistic eating. Furthermore, stress activates “neurotransmitters from a part of the brain called locus coeruleus”. We use food to assuage these neurotransmitters. In doing so, we also activate the reward center of our brain. Since food offers only a temporary release from stress, the initial feelings of calm and relaxation subside, and we crave the very same foods that made us feel better. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.165) This is why it is so important to find anti-stress mechanisms that do not involve food. Inside Tip: Social interaction and touch have been known to lower blood pressure and help combat
stress, by increasing levels of oxytocin —a hormone that may be associate with feelings of anxiety, trust and love. In addition, recent studies point to the fact that meditation may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and insulin resistance. Tai Chi is a meditative form of exercise, and so is yoga.
(Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.182, 125, 145)

Food for thought:
1. Achieving the optimum. The topic of stress was specifically chosen to wrap up this section. It is the final and most pervasive barrier you need to cross, before you can reach your destination. We all experience stress; and it affects every aspect of our life. It can either be a survival mechanism, or an internal time bomb waiting to go off. The secret to living with stress is learning to optimize it. Take out your Daily Planner and go through the five crucial stages of stress management and prevention. Which stress signals are you currently experiencing? Is your stress level at, below or above optimum? What are the main instigators of stress in your life? Note all personal, organizational and environmental stressors. What moderators would help you most in dealing with them? Should you work on your perception, personality, social support, experience, or all four? Decide on possible strategies. Focus on building skills, inside resources, and outside resources, equally. Make a list of possible options for each (weekly massage, stress-beating walk after work, club meetings, etc.) Choose three activities from your list that you can integrate into your routine quickly and easily (i.e. calling your best friend). Choose three more, which require preparation and must be introduced gradually (i.e. finding a counselor or joining a support group). Finally, select five additional backup options that you can develop for future use (i.e. read an aromatotherapy book and start exploring its potential). It is crucial to adopt a variety of solutions. Experiment. See what works best for you. And always remember that stress management is a continuous process. Every so often, you need to go back to step one and begin a new cycle. 2. Managing your time. Are you in control of your schedule, or is it the other way around? Time is a valuable resource. Once lost, it can never be regained. So, even if [79]

you are satisfied with how things stand, it wouldn’t hurt to check whether there’s room for improvement. Set aside a few pages in your Daily Planner for a time audit. Create a two-week time calendar, and jot down every activity you perform, plus its duration. What conclusions can be reached? Could certain activities be simplified or cut down? Are there any goals you’d like to set for the short-term (i.e. enjoying 8hrs sleep per day), or the long-run (i.e. spending more quality time with significant others)? Use all available techniques. Prioritize, schedule, and (where possible) delegate. For this to work, you need to acknowledge your personal limitations and anticipate time restrictions. Don’t forget to plan for unanticipated breaks, as well as vital rest and relaxation. Keep in mind that time management is also a continuous cycle. You need to monitor your progress and pay special attention to signs of overextension and procrastination. If you’re not making the desired progress, perhaps you should begin a new time audit.



On Your Marks. A Brief Overview.

Remember the secret to successful weight control —knowledge, balance and moderation? Chapter 6 pointed out how essential these three parameters are to achieving permanent results. In reality, they are essential to accomplishing any long-term endeavor. They have been the guiding principles behind this very book. Part I of The Experiment is devoted to conveying the mental and psychological principles of weight-loss. Part II aspires to reacquaint you with your body, and the physiological aspects of weight-loss. And last but not least, Part III aims to balance this fundamental and basic knowledge with practical advice —advice that relies on moderation. In other words, here is where you put all your valuable insights, cautiously but determinately, into action. The third and final part of this book is all about creating your own, unique path to selfdiscovery and self-improvement. It summarizes key information; adds useful tips and suggestions; and finally, outlines a flexible plan that you can tailor to your specific needs, goals and expectations. YOU are uniquely qualified to determine what works for you and what doesn’t. To do so, however, you must first consider (and test) many different options. The hands-on, exercise segments of each chapter (i.e. Getting Started, Food for Thought) have in many ways introduced you to this process. Essentially, you have already set your own personal Experiment in motion. The only thing remaining, before you can take what you’ve learned and make it entirely your own, is a brief rundown of the basics.

YOUR CHECKLIST TO THE MIND Lasting change requires mental and emotional focus. If you are to alter your habits and improve upon your choices, you need to prepare. There are simply too many diversions competing for your attention. Without strong personal defenses, they are bound to wear you down; and, ultimately, side-track you from your purpose. Set a long-term goal. Find a goal that truly motivates you, and revisit it as often as needed. It should be feasible, relevant, non-numerical, and highly inspirational. Above all, it should remind you where you are heading, and why it is important to get there. In the words of the Roman rhetorician and writer Seneca the Elder, “Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.” [81]

Determine your phase. If you are in the preparatory phase you need to focus on gaining knowledge and self-awareness, before you can initiate major changes to your routine. In the weight-loss phase, you have enough experience and insight to set more demanding targets. Finally, when you reach maintenance, the emphasis should be on permanence and stabilization. Be flexible. Life is not linear. Sometimes you go forward; sometimes you remain stable; sometimes you may even need to reevaluate your position and go back a stage. Aim for specific targets. Your targets may be numerical and even short-term. They should, however, most definitely be realistic and well-balanced (incorporating all areas of your life, not just weight-related ones). There is no failure when it comes to targets. There is only learning, and amending. So you should expect to revise and renew them more often than your goal. Commit for the long haul. Forget everything you thought you knew about diets. Diets fail by definition. There are no quick fixes and no “miracle” solutions. You will need to set the groundwork for permanent results. This does not take a lot of effort, but it does take time. If you get impatient, remember it is not losing the weight that counts, it is keeping it off! Start off with a clean slate. Since this is a marathon, and not a sprint-run “diet”, you need to conserve your strength. Negative feelings —such as low self-esteem, fear of failure, guilt, and “internalized anti-fat prejudice”— will only drain you of valuable energy. You need to remain neutral and distance yourself from the result. Focus on the present, rather than the past or the future. Identify any powerful emotions you may be experiencing (i.e. anger, possibly even the need to punish yourself, or avoid someone else’s unreasonable expectations) and work through them. Use every available resource (from logic and past experience, to books and sites, to social or psychological support) so as to leave all misconceptions behind. Cultivate persistence and boundaries. “I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody” (Bill Cosby). Remove the word perfection from your vocabulary. No one is infallible. There are three ingredients to any achievement, one is trial, one is error, and the most important is persistence. Also, honesty is the best policy, but so is a modicum of secrecy. If anyone makes you feel uncomfortable, competitive, or puts you in the awkward position of constantly trying to justify yourself, do not involve them in your efforts. Manage the flow of information. You decide when and to what extent you will confide in other people (Abramson, 2005, p.129). Identify diversions and shortcuts. Always ask yourself, “Am I really hungry or am I reacting to some other stimulus?” Keep on the lookout for cues—external (like sights, smells, and eating rituals), as well as emotional (like stress, loneliness and boredom). Consider the following defense mechanisms (shortcuts), and develop your own.
o o o o o Focused eating and fuel check Evasion tactics and contingency plans Meal schedules and substitutes Exception days (X-Days) Visualization and cooking



Emotional outlets; rewards and incentives

Keep a travel log. If achieving a healthy, steady, lower weight is your destination, then the Daily Planner is a cross between a GPS and a travel log. No matter how many misleading signs and inconvenient road blocks you encounter, it will help you stir right back on course. Spending 15 minutes a day just to flip through it, add comments and vent your emotions; can reduce stress, build awareness, and increase motivation. More importantly, it will prove a valuable guide to planning wisely, and sustaining reasonable post diet expectations. Unrealistic expectations and a distorted self-image have prompted many to slip back into old eating habits. Use your Daily Planner in such a way as to remind you not only where you are heading, but also how far you have already come! There is an old admonition that goes, “Do not let great ambition overshadow small success.” I would also add, “And never go anywhere without your Daily Planner GPS.” It is truly hard to fathom a successful attempt at controlling one’s weight without this valuable tool.

YOUR CHECKLIST TO THE BODY The Experiment is separated into two parts —mind and body. This merely serves to organize the subject matter into clear and concise “bite-size” sections. In reality, no such division can exist. As much as food choices are dependent on mental processes, so are mental processes dependent on food choices. In other words, what you eat alters your body’s chemistry (hormone levels, etc.); your body’s chemistry alters your psychological state and ability to think; your thoughts affect your eating habits. Mental and emotional focus is, therefore, only part of the puzzle. Equally important is a basic understanding of how your body works. As a rule, if you eat frequent meals, opt for foods that prevent hunger pangs, and listen to your body; then the mind-body connection will work in your favor! Find where you are on the map. Before introducing any changes to your diet and exercise routine, it is vital to consult with a nutritionist or licensed physician, who is aware of your medical history. They will be able to ascertain your current physical condition, and counsel or caution you accordingly. Regular checkups will also reflect your progress more accurately. The number on the scale can be misleading. A kilo is never just a kilo. Your weight may increase because you have gained muscle mass, not fat. Also, there is such a thing as false weight loss. For example, dieting without exercise results in a reduction of muscle tissue, which could have adverse effects on your health. (Consider that the heart is also a muscle!) Know your fuel. Protein, carbohydrates and fat all serve a purpose. A balanced diet contains all three types of energy. You should, however, make the distinction between complex carbs and simple sugars; good fats and trans or saturated fats. Start thinking in terms of food qualities (ingredients, nutrients, satiation, metabolic effects, etc.) and combinations, rather than food calories or precise portions. For example, adding fiber to your diet will not only help detoxify your body, it will also keep you full longer. It helps decelerate the emptying of your stomach and keeps [83]

glucose levels from soaring. Also, never eating high-glycemic foods on an empty stomach will help you minimize cravings. Study the driving manual. No amount of willpower can override your body’s chemistry. Hunger is a signal that your body requires (or is reacting to) something in particular. You are not meant to fight hunger. You are meant to understand it, to interpret it. And by interpreting it correctly, you can prevent it. Keep in mind that the below can prompt your body to signal satiety instead of hunger:
o o o o o o Frequent meals (approximately every 2-3 hours) An adequate supply of water (around 1-2 liters per day) Protein (about 2 ounces per day, depending on body type) Good fats, such as EFAs Dietary fiber (i.e. fruit and vegetables) Low-glycemic foods

Shift gears. You’re not going to get very far, if your gear stick is locked in park. The liver performs various functions —including detoxification. To help shift it towards fat-burning and boost your metabolism, you can introduce:
o o o o Protein and eggs Essential Fatty Acids (Omega-3s and Omega-6s) Vegetables and fruit; herbs and spices Water, cranberry juice and lemon juice

On the contrary, you should avoid, phase out, or substitute:
o o o o o Sugar and artificial sweeteners Trans fats and inadequate fiber Caffeine, alcohol and medications Allergenic and inflammatory foods (such as dairy, wheat, sugar, and yeast) Smoking (associated with inflammation; impaired EFA conversion; and higher cortisol and insulin levels)

Listen to your engine. A calorie is never just a calorie. We react differently to different foods. What may trigger an allergic or inflammatory reaction in your body, may be relatively harmless to someone else. You need to watch out for signs like increased cravings, indigestion, bloating and fluid retention, fatigue, headaches, yeast infections, skin rashes, coughing, joint swelling, and mood swings (even depression). If the offending elements/ingredients cannot be removed from your life, maybe they can be substituted or reserved for X-Days. Conversely, keep note of foods that help you reduce cravings and feel better, these should be your first resort, your A-Foods. Recharge your battery. “What fools indeed we mortals are to lavish care upon a car, with ne'er a bit of time to see about our own machinery!” (John Kendrick Bangs) Embarking on your own personal Experiment means making some major adjustments to an indispensable piece of machinery, your body. You will be amazed at how quickly and eagerly it responds to the slightest positive change on your part. All the body wants, really, is to look out for your best interests. To help it help you, merely respect its limitations. o Exercise consistently, and sensibly (a daily 30 minute walk is a good start). o Sleep well (7-8 hrs per day of deep rejuvenating slumber). o Moderate your stress levels (as indicated below). [84]

Stress is an especially important factor when it comes to health and weight-related issues; and yet, not all stress is dys-stress. The trick to achieving optimum levels is building awareness and adopting appropriate stress management and prevention techniques. o o o o Identify stress signals (personal, organizational and environmental). Cultivate stress moderators (perception, personality, social support and experience). Take action based on the three main strategies (building skills, developing inside and outside resources). Monitor (and if necessary repeat cycle).

Finally, examine the impact of time restraints on your stress level. If you spot signs of overextension and procrastination, you may want to: o o o o o o Conduct a time audit (using a daily time calendar). Set goals (both short- and long-term). Prioritize (through ABC lists). Schedule daily tasks (including time for R&R and minor emergencies). Learn the value of delegation (by allocating certain tasks to others). Monitor (and redo above steps as necessary).

Exercise is perhaps even more significant than stress, when it comes to improving your health, increasing your endurance, cultivating a better connection to your body, and controlling your weight. For these and many other reasons, it is discussed separately in the subsequent chapter.

At this point, you should have a clear understanding of the mind-body connection, as it relates to your eating choices. You may even be wondering, “O.k. but what do I do now? How do I get started?”. There’s really nothing to it. Parts I and II have already set the groundwork for a smooth transition. This section takes the next step, offering practical advice and useful tips; while the final chapter departs from theory and focuses entirely on action. It is devoted to a proposed plan —one you can alter to meet your individual goals and requirements. Keep in mind that the journey may be long, but it is definitely rewarding. The more you change, the more your body will show its appreciation. Not only will you enjoy a healthier existence; but you will also enjoy a happier one. Cravings will subside and hunger pangs will disappear. Your taste buds, no longer overwhelmed by the potency of saturated fats and simple sugars, will lead you to a new world of flavors, textures and smells you never knew existed. Soon, you will discover that real pleasure can be found in simple, fresh ingredients and wholesome meals.


USEFUL TIPS AND HELPFUL SUGGESTIONS When it comes to resisting temptation, it pays to think ahead, prepare, and be proactive. Take a minute to recall some of the circumstances that triggered your overeating behavior. The Daily Planner will help you identify when, where and with whom you diverted from healthy eating patterns. You can employ the shortcut techniques outlined in the first section of this book, to create your own categories with tips and practical solutions. In the meantime, the below recommendations will give you an idea of how you can prevent such occurrences, or plan ahead to deal with them effectively. These are simply meant to get you thinking. Do not hesitate to modify them according to your personality and specific needs.


General eating habits

No food in front of the screen. Avoid munching in front of the TV, cinema screen or PC monitor. Avoid distractions altogether. However busy your schedule may be, you can still find 15 minutes to properly enjoy a meal. Try eating slowly, appreciating every sensation in your mouth. If your attention is on what you eat, you will satisfy your appetite much sooner. This holds twice as true with your favorite foods. If you eat something purely for enjoyment (i.e. treats), and not to appease your hunger, then make sure you enjoy it to the max. Focus your attention, and you will end up craving it in smaller portions, or less frequently (focused eating technique). Think in terms of temperature. Have you ever noticed how cold pizza is more filling than warm pizza? Or how hot soup is more filling than cold soup? Enjoy each food at its optimum temperature, and you just might end up enjoying your favorite foods in smaller quantities. Eat small, you’ll eat less. Portions have drastically increased in the past couple of years, so now we drink half a liter of cola without even blinking. Try using medium to smallsized plates and cutlery. In some cases, visual cues trigger satiation; in others, hunger. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.69) For example, if the waiter fills your wine glass without you noticing it, you tend to drink far more than usual. To the contrary, if you eat in sight of leftovers, you’ll probably eat less. Seeing the plate half empty seems to prepare us subconsciously. It signals that we should feel half-full. Minimize plate variety. When we are presented with a wide range of richly-flavored assortments,” we tend to eat more to satisfy our taste buds”, than we do to satisfy our hunger. Limit the food selection on your plate, and you will most likely limit your eating (Abramson, 2005, p.91, 180). For example, you might want to stick to one source of protein, one source of carbs, and maybe one mixed salad, per meal. Take your time. After devouring a whole hamburger in two bites, you may still feel hungry —but not because it wasn’t a big enough meal. Cutting your food into manageable pieces, and chewing well before swallowing, will give you the 15-20 minutes that your body needs to send out the signal of satiation. Taking your time will


also allow you to experience the taste, smell and texture of each bite; thus satisfying both your (sense-driven) desire and your (hunger-driven) need for food.


Food choices

Simplification through elimination. Read and research, but do not obsess about ingredients. View anything pre-cooked or ready-made as suspect. After all, consumption is the real test! Do you crave even more of it after the first try? Do you feel fatigue or bloating? If so, treat as an X-Food item. Better yet, substitute with something equally satisfying, which doesn’t stimulate hunger pangs (exception days and substitution techniques). There’s always tomorrow. Distinguish between “special offers” and truly unique circumstances. In your life, you’ll have countless opportunities to taste all kinds of foods and desserts. Differentiate between what is truly a rare occasion (such as enjoying a foreign delicacy) and what can simply be postponed (i.e. you can buy ice cream on your X-Day). When offered a “bargain”, ask yourself, “Is it truly worth the 50cents I save, if it makes me hungry again in 30 minutes?” “Does it merit an X-Day, or should I wait for something better?” Out of sight, out of mind. Separate your X-Foods from your A-Foods; and your treats from your snacks. Keep healthy A-Foods and snacks handy. Conversely, store the noneveryday items in a specific cupboard or part of the fridge. They don’t have to be out of reach. They just have to be less obvious. If you need to open your “out-of-the-way place” to get to something, you immediately realize it is meant to be eaten rarely and in moderation. Buyer beware. Always shop for food on a full stomach, it will help you think more clearly and avoid temptations (Marber, 2005, p.41). Furthermore, keep a shopping list with you. It should include not only the items you will buy, but also the items you’ve decided not to buy. Sticking to a list is much easier than sticking to a mere intention. On the fly. Whenever possible, take a healthy snack with you (an apple, a yogurt, a carrot, etc.). You might feel like grabbing a bite when you’re walking to the bus stop, and the only vendor nearby sells hotdogs. You might wish you had a substitute, when the new guy at the office is treating everyone to free muffins. If you could even bring a proper meal to work, so much the better.


Eating out or with friends

Restaurant goer beware. Maybe it’s the menu, or the beautiful surroundings, but (however strong our resolve) most of us end up ordering more than we could possibly eat in one sitting. Make it a point not to dine out on an empty stomach. If it can’t be


helped, then order a salad first or the soup. Wait 20 minutes for the feeling of satiation and you’ll probably skip dessert. X-Day your outing. Either choose that day as your X-Day, or eat in moderation. When everyone else is ordering a five course meal, stop to think. Are you really hungry? Does your friend Bob, who just devoured eight slices of pizza, go to the gym five times a week? Is your friend Maria, who ordered the pecan pie, still complaining about those 20 pounds she gained over the summer? We are all different. You can and should decide for yourself: when, what to eat and how much! Be assertive. If Joe’s Barbecue Bungalow has nothing healthy you could order, don’t be afraid to voice an opinion. Throw in a few ideas. There’s bound to be an alternative that suits everyone. If you can’t resist it, split it. You may enjoy variety and want to try several things. That doesn’t mean you have to go through the entire menu... alone. Suggest that you split the main course with someone else, or order one-two desserts for the whole group (not individually) so that everyone gets a taste. It’s a buffet. It’s not the end of the world. What do we often see in a buffet-type situation? People are pilling their plates to high heaven, as if it’s their last meal. Just remember that, while our parents had to worry about food shortage, we have to worry about obesity. You can stand to miss out on a bargain. Trying not to overload your body with excessive calories and non-nutritional food, THAT is your true priority. If, on the other hand, you’ve already been served a huge portion; then, before you dig in, ask yourself “How hungry do I feel?” (fuel check technique). If you feel like eating only twothirds of what you see on your plate, stop and share, or save for later. Whatever the case, you really don’t have to keep going.


After a tiring or stressful day

Your Daily Planner to the rescue. What’s upsetting you? Vent your emotions. Or would you rather take your mind off it? Not a problem. Make a list of all your accomplishments. Set new targets. Think of new incentives and start planning them out. Tackle a target. Are you having one of those low self-esteem, or slightly depressed moments? Do something you’ve been putting off for a while. Any little thing –doesn’t have to be big. Go check out the Flamenco school you’ve been meaning to join; clean out your tool box; rearrange your room, your closet (or just a drawer). Getting even the smallest thing out of the way, and erasing it from your list, is still an accomplishment. It will help you feel better. It never hurts to pamper yourself. So you made it through another long and hectic day. That is no small thing. Why not skip the pizza marathon. You know you’ll just end up passing out in front of the telly. Instead, what if you enjoyed a light and energizing meal [88]

and went out window shopping? Don’t feel like leaving the house? Maybe you can call a friend, or just take a long luxurious bubble bath. Be prepared. So you’re back from work. You’ve picked up the dry-cleaning; fed the cat; and have a super-urgent report due. Who has time to cook? Busy is not an issue, if you’ve planned ahead. Cut vegetables over the weekend. If you have something healthy to munch on, while you prepare a quick dinner, you won’t be tempted to order out. Go online or visit your local bookstore and you’ll find countless recipe books with quick, healthy, and easy 15-30 minute meals. Stall. If the urge to order or raid the fridge is overwhelming, make a deal with yourself. You can eat anything you like, in whatever quantity you like. First, however, you need to eat a salad, or fruit, or soup (preferably something low-glycemic) and wait for 20-30 minutes. You’ll find that, once your stomach is appeased, most cravings no longer seem worth it. Take a stress inventory. Once your stress has subsided, take a few minutes to note what happened. Can you identify the causes (stressors)? Were they in any way related to time management or sleep deprivation? How were you able to moderate the level of stress? What strategies did you rely on? Go through the stress and time management cycles to identify better ways of dealing with similar situations. Working through stress without resorting to food is a huge victory and a sign of certain progress. So give yourself points for new realizations and possible improvements. Reward your efforts and set additional incentives.


Meal planning

Stock up. Avoid running out of food. Having prepared something is a good incentive to stick to your meal plan. You basically don’t want all your hard work to go to waste. Why order, when you have a fridge full of ready options? So find ways to build food supplies. Some things, you could cook over the weekend. Others, the day before. For example, if you’re not a morning person, maybe you can prepare your office snack from the previous night. Stick to the task at hand. Multitasking is not always a good thing. Set a time and place for each meal that is not closely related to other activities. Movement inhibits digestion, as blood flow is diverted from the gastrointestinal organs to other parts of the body (i.e. muscles). Also, you create associations that may drive you to consume more. For example, if you eat at your desk, you may feel the need to snack on something whenever you work. As a rule, avoid eating on the go, or while doing other things. Make a daily plan. If you have a general idea of what, when and where you’ll be eating, throughout the day, you’re less likely to give into last minute temptations and impulse consumption. Before each meal or snack, stop to think what the plan is for the day. Knowing that in just two hours you’ll eat again, might be just the thing you need to keep you from over-indulging. [89]

Prepare excuses. In some cultures, it is considered impolite (and even offensive) to refuse food. You really don’t need to justify passing up a treat; and you don’t need to mention anything about a diet. You can find other ways around it. For example, “Thank you so much, but I’ve had a huge lunch” or “Thank you, I’ll keep it for later” could very well do the trick. Sneak not, want not. Eating “undercover” doubles the guilt and minimizes the pleasure. You gobble the food down quickly, while your mind is preoccupied with not getting caught. Furthermore, that which is forbidden tends to have twice the appeal. So if you’re used to hiding food in the house, it’s time to make a change and eat out in the open. It can be a hard thing to do, especially in the beginning; but you need to learn to deal with possible objections, intense disapproval, and the occasional hysterics. As with all things, it is best to wait and go about it gradually. Once your Experiment is under way, and you’ve seen positive results, you can simply introduce the concept of XDays. A claim that has never failed me, personally, is: “I’ve lost x kgs, I have a long way to go, this is a marathon not a sprint run, and breaks are necessary.” If you encounter additional protests, a firmer response would be “I’m sorry you feel this way, but I am happy with the plan and its results. I will order what I wish, and we can discuss it when you’ve lost an equal amount of kilos, and kept them off.”


Get Set. And Get Physical.

I don’t recall a specific moment. I think it was more of a deceptively slow, barely noticeable process. But I know for a fact that I didn’t always feel like this —so estranged from my own body. When I was five, I used to play with countless other kids from my block. We would run, and skip rope, and go exploring around the neighborhood. To this day, I guess what I remember most is all that running. We would run everywhere, and as fast as our little feet could carry us. Half the fun in every game, every hide and seek, every treasure-hunt, was the running. The flustered cheeks, the hurried breathing, even the sweating; these things didn’t worry us. They never made us feel the least bit uncomfortable. Come to think of it, I guess the more worked up we got, the more proud we felt. Our skinned knees, our muddied clothes; to us they were like some sort of badge we’d take home to show our parents. And then school began, and it was made clear to me that playing was now low-priority; especially compared to studying and getting good grades. There was gym class and the occasional day in the park. But running, or any other form of physical activity, became something imposed. Something separate from my regular everyday life. It had to be scheduled into my week —most often unwillingly. After school, there was college. After college, I held all sorts of office jobs. I used to climb out of bed, drive to work, sit at a desk; and then, drive back home and just collapse on the couch. Turns out it’s rather common. They even have a name for it —sedentary lifestyle. As for running… completely out of the question. By that point, getting up for a glass of water, just two feet from where I was sitting, was what I called strenuous activity. Once upon a time, exercise was fun. It was playing. For a few, short years I felt joy in using my body. And then, sadly, for the greatest part of my life, that wonderful feeling was lost to me. Moving was like operating a rusty, broken-down piece of machinery. I felt completely disconnected from my body. I would look in the mirror and say “This is not who I am. This is not the real me”. You’re probably thinking there’s no turning back from this. Not when you weigh twice what you should. Not when your back aches and your knees are killing you. But I guess using our body is a natural state. And anything that comes naturally can be reclaimed. What amazes me the most is how easy it turned out to be. It’s not like I began training for the Olympics. I just started walking… that’s all it took really. Today, I’d rather walk for an hour, than take the car out of the garage. I just can’t be bothered. Blows my mind to think how far I’ve come. How far my body has taken me.

YOUR CHECKLIST TO PHYSICAL ACTIVITY We have already mentioned the major physical benefits of a consistent and sensible exercise routine. How it increases stamina, muscle tone and flexibility. How it regulates your blood sugar levels and reduces cravings. What we haven’t mentioned is one very important psychological benefit. Physical activity reinforces the connection you have to yourself —your physical self. It serves as a powerful reminder that your body is a very real, very crucial part of you. In [91]

essence, using your body builds familiarity; and familiarity leads to acceptance. Only when you learn to accept your body, can you begin to appreciate it. And so, once more, it becomes apparent that psychology and biology are interrelated. To feel good about yourself, you first need to cultivate the bond you have with your body. The most natural and healthy way to reinforce this bond is through exercise. For this to happen, exercise neither has to be prolonged, nor arduous, nor tiring. Thomas Jefferson gave impeccable advice, when he wrote “The sovereign invigorator of the body is exercise, and of all the exercises walking is the best”. You can gain more from a daily thirty-minute walk, than you would from a four-hour marathon. And most often, 30 minutes is all it takes for your body to enter into fat-burning mode. In Part II of The Experiment, we explained how the storage of fat is dependent on glucose and insulin. Once food is digested, glucose circulates in your bloodstream. Insulin then carries glucose to cells, as fuel for immediate use. Any excess glucose is stored as glycogen, in your liver and muscles. Since glycogen has limited storage capacity, if any glucose is left over, it is converted into a more long-term energy deposit —body fat. Fat-burning occurs when your blood sugar level falls, and your pancreas produces glucagon. Glucagon counteracts insulin. This hormone changes stored energy back into glucose. First, it turns to you short-term supplies (glycogen). If, however, your blood sugar level is still not restored, glucagon begins converting fat. Consequently, for your body to use fat as fuel, it first needs to exhaust its glycogen deposits. These normally contain about 300 calories —which roughly translate into a brisk 30 minute walk! (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.66, 67) So far, we’ve seen how exercise can aid in the burning of fat, boost metabolism, and reduce feelings of estrangement from one’s own body. Mentioning all other benefits would probably require a second volume to this guide. Nevertheless, just to give you an idea, here’s a short list of the fundamental advantages to staying active (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.144,
174; Gittleman, 2002, p.89-94):

Physical activity combats mood-swings. Its anti-stress qualities also contribute to a positive attitude and help deal with depression. (Essentially, endorphins stimulate the pleasure centers in the brain and give you a sense of control). A good muscle tone tightens the skin and makes cellulite less noticeable. Sticking to a plan, even if it just means taking a short walk each day, reinforces selfesteem (If you recall, self-esteem depends on reaching goals, however big or small). Exercise assists in digestion and promotes the optimal flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients to your cells. Regular activity decreases the risk of high blood pressure, bad cholesterol, heart problems and other medical conditions. An active life reduces cravings (due to feel-good neurotransmitters, such as serotonin; and more stable blood sugar levels). In addition, exercise builds higher resistance to disease.


USEFUL TIPS AND HELPFUL SUGGESTIONS There are many forms of exercise to choose from. How do you know which one is right for you? What is consistent? And what does sensible mean in practical terms? As a general rule, to answer such questions, you need to pay close attention to what your body is telling you. “No pain. No gain” is one thing. Making your life unnecessarily difficult is another. When I first reintroduced physical activity into my life, consistent meant two times a week. (Well, compared to zero it was a huge improvement). Today, my pace has naturally picked up, and I go to the gym most every day. It isn’t mandatory. It just feels right. Exercise always clears my mind and helps me relax. If I skip a day or two, I can’t help but miss the natural high. Just as long as you listen to your body, you will find the right level of difficulty and the right frequency for your specific needs. Don’t forget to ask your doctor, physical therapist or gym instructor for advice. Read specialized magazines and books. Search the internet. But at the end of the day, remember that your goal is not to become a professional athlete. Your goal is to enjoy an active lifestyle; and in so doing, achieve optimum health. And what is optimum health? Bertha Stuart Dyment provides and eloquent and insightful answer. “Yet this is health: To have a body functioning so perfectly that when its few simple needs are met it never calls attention to its own existence.” So start off cautiously and gradually. Take note of any signs of discomfort your body may be giving you (from the occasional muscle soreness to heart palpitations); and maintain a level that is as realistic and painless as possible. When your body seizes to complain, you know you have achieved your goal. In the meantime, the following suggestions will help you get started.


Knowing your basics

Each type of physical activity serves a purpose.
o Stamina-based training (running, swimming, etc.) involves cardiovascular workout that raises your heart rate, heightens endurance, lowers your blood pressure, and helps release toxins. Strength-based training (i.e. weight lifting) builds muscle mass; and, therefore, boosts your basal metabolic rate. Stretching improves flexibility in muscles, ligaments and tendons; may avert injury or soreness; and can often reduce stress. (Gittleman, 2002, p.93) Bouncing, or arm flexing while walking, boosts your lymphatic system, supports your liver by helping in the elimination of cellular waste, and can reduce cellulite.
(Gittleman, 2002, p.93)

o o



The best exercise plan is one you can sustain. A good combination of activity types, need really only meet one criterion. Your exercise plan should be one you are willing to follow. It should, therefore, involve:
o o o The right level of difficulty. (For example, if you are inexperienced, join a beginner’s yoga class, not an advanced one). Activities you enjoy. (Swimming, for instance, may be an ideal total body workout; but if you hate being in the water, then it’s not your best choice). A realistic solution, given your time schedule and geographic constraints. (No matter how much you like playing tennis, if the club is two hours away you’ll probably end up not going).

Less is more. Do not take on too much, too quickly. Find your own pace. The key to reaping long-term rewards, is not overexerting yourself in the short-run. Keep in mind that:
o Fat burning is optimal during low-to-moderate-intensity workouts. Your metabolism adapts to high levels of physical exertion, much like it does to low levels of caloric intake. (Marber, 2005, p. 26-27) Strenuous physical activity supports the overproduction of free radicals.


So choose a level you can comfortably maintain, and gradually add exercises that offer greater variety and difficulty. For example, set the treadmill at an initial, moderate speed. As your stamina increases, you’ll notice you can go longer and faster. Soon, your “regular” speed will feel like slow motion. Your hand will reach for the controls, upping the level, almost like a reflex. Perhaps, in two months, you’ll be ready to start weight training. In half a year, you might want to join a pilates class. Progress will come naturally. The important thing is that you regulate both the intensity and length according to your body’s limitations. Keep the lines of communication open. Give your body the time it needs to adjust. Acknowledge its signals and categorize them into:
o o Transitional (i.e. discomfort due to sweating, panting or burning sensation). Cautionary (heart palpitations, trouble breathing, nausea, fainting, etc).

Transitional signals can be moderated by slowing down or preparing in advance (like bringing a towel or wearing more comfortable clothes). Cautionary signals, on the other hand, should prompt you to seek medical guidance. Listening to your body is especially important because not every day is the same. If you’re experiencing flu symptoms, maybe you should skip the gym. If you’re on vacation, you might feel like playing a friendly tennis match each morning.


Staying motivated

Find opportunities to move. Physical activity is not something to be penned into your calendar. It is a part of life. Your body’s natural state involves, and more importantly, necessitates motion. Take pride in using your body. Go out dancing. Use the stairs [94]

instead of the elevator. Get up to make your own coffee. When chores are being assigned, volunteer for those involving vigorous movement —anything from vacuuming to walking the dog. See if you can go shopping for groceries without taking the car. By marking such activities as targets in your Daily Planner, you will be in a better position to follow your progress and set motivating rewards. Avoid excuses not to move. If you feel too tired to attend your weekly yoga class, take a brief stroll around the block, instead; or go out for a jog in the park, or ride your bicycle to work. Apart from going through with a scheduled activity, or not going through with it, you have a third option… you can find a suitable alternative. If you don’t give yourself an easy way out, you will most likely stick to your original plan. Try out different things. Keep it interesting. Join a sports club that offers diverse options (pool, weights, basketball court, etc.). Vary your routine so that it precludes any unnecessary and tiring repetition. You have every right to change your mind and drop/replace what doesn’t suit you. It isn’t quitting, it’s optimizing. Just as long as you exercise or walk for approximately 30 minutes and 3-5 times a week, you’re doing more than most people. Plan family outings. What better way to exercise than with your kids, grandkids, or nieces and nephews? There are so many fun activities and excursions to choose from — shooting hoops, strolling around the zoo, going to an amusement park, sightseeing, roller-skating or bicycling, swimming. The younger they are, the more they will come to associate fun with being active. As an added benefit, they will spend less time playing videogames or vegging out in front of the TV. Pick an incentive. Some people hate walking around without a specific reason. They need a purpose, a destination. If you feel that way, you can plan your daily walk around chores or window shopping. For example, you can go by foot to rent a DVD, pick up the dry-cleaning, collect the kids from school, etc. In time, you’ll stop looking for reasons. The sheer “feel-good” benefits of walking will be reason enough.


Making it easy on yourself

Set specific standards. Sometimes it’s not the activity we don’t like, it’s the context. When selecting:
o o o a trainer or coach, make sure you find their specific technique and personality motivating. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.212) a gym, pool or sports club, check that it is as clean, comfortable and accessible as possible (i.e. close by, no loud music, minimum waiting time to use equipment). a gym or exercise buddy, confirm that they are as committed as you are (if not more). Their persistence and drive will inspire you. If, however, they are reluctant or “bail out”, this might interrupt your routine as well.

Find moderators. Most of the time, we abandon an exercise or activity for one or two (easily preventable) causes. Ask yourself, “Why do I feel like postponing?”, “What’s [95]

really bothering me?”, “Is there anything I can change to make it more enjoyable?” Common reasons include the following:
o Comfortable attire and practical accessories. Is the treadmill too painful for your feet? Maybe you need to find more appropriate shoes. Wearing sneakers from material that breathes and avoiding socks with synthetic fibers, may make all the difference. Are you drenched in sweat after your training? Perhaps you can choose more lightweight and less warm clothes. Does your gym play loud music you don’t like? Why not upload your own tracks on an mp3? Think ahead and be prepared. A bottle of water, a towel, a special mat, an easy-to-carry gym bag… sport stores are full of novelty items that can make your life easier. Difficulty or length of each activity. Do you feel stiff after your training? Perhaps you should increase your warm-up or cool-down period. Do your arms ache for days after lifting weights? Maybe you should lift less or do fewer repetitions. Does the treadmill hurt your knees? Why not try the bicycle? Fitness experts may recommend the optimum program, but what works best is actually what motivates you and what you can stick to. Ultimately, you decide what pace works for you. Time of day. Some choose to exercise before work. You may prefer directly after — before you go home and change into something more comfortable. Conversely, you might want to go to the gym late at night, so as to avoid crowds and peak times. Maybe the weather is too cold for a morning jog, so you’d rather run mid day. Again, your exercise instructors will recommend the best time for fat-burning or muscle building, but you need to find what works, given your schedule and personal preferences, so you can stick to it.



Whatever it is that’s holding you back, don’t be afraid to ask questions. I always avoided using the pool because water got into my ears and I was prone to infections. The swimming coach suggested special, reusable ear plugs. In most cases, if there’s no way over an obstacle, there’s one around it.


Maintaining realistic expectations

Exercise for health, not appearance. Although physical activity can significantly improve how fit we look, it doesn’t necessarily grant “beauty wishes”. Just because you work your abdominal region, does not mean your body will choose to utilize the fat stored in that area. The body burns fat where it deems necessary, and this is usually determined by your genes and body type. (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.142) Exercising a specific part of your body simply means the muscles underneath the fat will be more toned. So don’t obsess about working your thighs or other difficult areas. Instead, try to enjoy the overall, miraculous benefits of leading an active life. Be patient. Do not get discouraged. Muscle weighs more than fat. When you start exercising and eating healthier, your progress may not register immediately on the scale. If, however, you keep going, you will soon experience significant changes in your body’s shape, size, weight and metabolic rate.


In You on a Diet, doctors Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz outline a simple and practical activity plan, with ample exercises you can do in the freedom of your own home. They also provide some excellent pointers (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.147, 208):
If you can exercise and still hold a conversation, the level of difficulty is probably good (not too strenuous). If you can engage fully in the conversation, elaborating on every point, you might want to pick it up a bit (too effortless). Apart from any stamina-based training (i.e. a 30 minute walk each day), add half an hour of strength exercise a week. Focus on your “foundation muscles” (abdominals, chest, back, and thighs). As your stamina increases, up your time on the cardio exercises and your weight on the weight exercises.

Furthermore, in The Fat Flush Plan, Gittleman (2002, p.91-101) recommends the following:
Breathe normally while you exercise. Do not take shallow breaths. A higher intake of oxygen can minimize the adverse effects of free radicals. Always warm up before, and cool down after your exercise. Warm-up and cool-down periods prevent possible injury to your muscles and abrupt changes in your blood flow. They make physical activity less strenuous on your body. Walking after weight training helps your body enter fat-burning mode. Weights deplete your glycogen deposits; and so, following up with a cardio workout makes you burn fat. Similarly, it is best to walk before breakfast, when your glycogen is low. This prompts your body to convert fat into energy. In fact, a brisk walk before any meal also helps control/prevent cravings related to stress and depression —by increasing neurotransmitters with a lasting, calming effect (such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine). Finally, a good time to exercise is between 3pm and 5pm. Your body is liable to be more flexible, and your breathing deeper. This equals a more effective workout with less strain on your body.

Our knowledge of the human body is constantly growing to incorporate new findings and breakthrough discoveries. There are, for instance, many breathing and warm up techniques to help you maximize the fat-burning efficiency of your exercise routine. Stay informed. Surf the web. Visit your local library or bookstore. Talk to people at your gym. The world is full of well-meaning doctors, nutritionists and fitness trainers who will be happy to answer your questions and offer constructive feedback. In the end, however, the best solution is up to you. What works or doesn’t work can only be discovered through trial and error. You need to explore different options, and listen to your body, before you can settle on the right exercise plan. Don’t be afraid to change your mind and quit/replace certain activities. Start off slow, find your own pace and keep it interesting. You will be amazed at how easily it will all come back to you. Your body is just itching to return to its natural, energetic, motion-loving state. In the words of known author Ken Wilbur “Few of us have lost our minds, but most of us have long ago lost our bodies”. Well, it’s about time we got them back! So get set, and get physical.


Go. This Is Where You Start Your Own Experiment.

Are you ready to begin? The plan, in a nutshell, is this:

GETTING STARTED You are here, where your goal is. And surrounding your goal are layers and layers of strategically positioned “road blocks”. Their purpose is to control traffic. To keep overeating cues and unhealthy foods at bay, and allow only your liver-loving friends to pass through. Just as long as you work from within, and move outwards, you will gain increasing control over your eating habits. Set a long-term goal, an inspiring destination. “You must have long-range goals to keep you from being frustrated by short-range failures” (Charles C. Noble) Determine your phase, your starting point. It will help you pick realistic objectives and maintain reasonable expectations. Move on to establish specific targets so as to track your progress; as well as rewards and incentives that will motivate your efforts. If nothing else, then stick to 5 Basic Habits and you will not fail: o Your Daily Planner. o Sensible and consistent physical activity. [98]

o Plenty of sleep (and the 2 hour rule). o The big Q&T o No more hunger. Develop stress and time management techniques to help you deal with daily pressures and diversions. And finally, strive for knowledge, balance and moderation —the secret to any successful endeavor. By knowledge, we mean both internal and external. Above all, embrace selfawareness. Listen to your body and read its signals (emotional eating, food allergy symptoms, etc.). Also, pay close attention to your surroundings —not only to prevent potential intruders (i.e. external eating cues), but also to benefit from all it has to offer. Look further. Search for insights and guidance through books, online articles, support groups, and so on. As mentioned in the previous section, becoming involved and staying updated is crucial to reducing stress, strengthening your sense of control, and building self-efficacy. Balance implies setting wide-ranging targets and cultivating diverse interests. To lead a fulfilling life you need to live in the present. Let go of past regrets and negative feelings. More importantly, do not postpone what you can enjoy today, till tomorrow (Abramson, 2005, p.100). Your weight should not serve as an excuse to withdraw from life. Engage in meaningful social interaction. Pursue everything that inspires and fascinates you. Carpe diem. Moderation is all about finding your own pace. This is your Experiment. Like all things worth doing, it should be done right. Set breaks. Take all the time you need to rest, refocus and regroup. Do not rush into things, and do not push yourself to the limit. Whatever you do, no crash diets! Remember: It’s not losing the weight that counts, it’s keeping it off.


Your basic principles The 5 Basic Habits are your absolute essentials. Even if you forget everything else, sticking to these will still get you results. o The heart of your plan is your Daily Planner. Find at least 15 minutes a day to flip through it. It will give you the necessary focus and motivation to stay on course. o Physical activity is equally paramount to your efforts. How can you fight for something you do not value? It will strengthen your mind-body connection and increase your self-acceptance and appreciation. A 30 minute walk each day is all you need to get started. “From an aging perspective, it’s as bad to skip a daily walk as it is to skip a night of sleep” (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.207) o Regular rest, and not eating before you go to bed, will help your metabolism function at an optimum level. As of today, try to get at least 7-8 hours of




rejuvenating sleep per day. Also, adopt the 2 hour rule: no food at least two hours before you go to bed. (Gittleman, 2002, p.103) Do a quick fuel check every time you sit down to eat. Ask yourself the big Question “How hungry am I, really?” True hunger suggests you would be happy to eat anything (a salad, fruit, etc.). Hedonistic eating, on the other hand, means you’d rather eat nothing at all if you can’t have pizza, or pasta, or whatever else it is you crave. The very realization that it is cravings you’re experiencing, and not hunger, will help you control your eating. And if all else fails, try to fill up on lowglycemic foods first. Also, take your Time. Monitor your fuel gauge while you eat. Chew your food. Savor it. Give your body a chance to send you the signal you are full (before you feel like seconds). Make frequent meals your number one priority. This includes both food and water. But keep in mind, not every calorie is the same. Think in terms of food qualities and combinations. Why make things hard on yourself?
Choose nutritious fuel that keeps you satiated, minimizes inflammation, and boosts your metabolism: healthy fats, fruit, complex carbs and veggies. Never skip breakfast. It sets the ideal metabolic tone for the rest of the day. Also, fiber and protein will help prevent afternoon cravings. (Marber, 2005, p.47) Try to save treats for X-Days, and never ever indulge in high-glycemic foods on an empty stomach. Treat caffeine and alcohol as medication —to be taken only when needed.

In The Fat Flush Plan, Ann Louise Gittleman provides valuable information regarding food combinations. I strongly urge you to consider the following:
According to Dr. Parcell’s findings, certain food groupings help prevent weight increase, irrespective of calorie intake. These have also been proven to alleviate such symptoms as bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. • One protein per meal. Don’t mix different types of meat, or meat and fish, or meat and dairy. “Digestion is impaired and toxicity results”. Eggs, on the other hand, can be consumed with other protein sources. Beans do not go with meat, fish or chicken. As a “starch/protein” they are consumed best with vegetables or dairy products. Protein and “gluten-rich grain starches” should not be combined. For example, do not mix fish, fowl, or beef with bread that contains wheat or rye. Fruit and veggies do not mix well. Milk and meat should not be part of the same meal. (Excluding dairy fats, typically found in cream or butter). Flaxseed oil goes well with dairy, vegetables, and certain carbs (such as brown rice and whole grain pasta).

• • • • •

Water should not be ingested before food. It impedes digestion by reducing saliva and gastric fluid production.
(Gittleman, 2002, p.76)



Your plan in action Now that you know the 5 Basic Habits, you can gradually introduce them into your daily routine. Below are a few suggestions to help you get started: Day 1. o o o o

Clear your kitchen. Create a meal plan in your Daily Planner. Weigh yourself and schedule a physical check-up. Take a 30 minute walk.

New habits require new beginnings. Rearrange your food cabinets. Throw out what you won’t miss. Separate the rest into As and Xs, snacks and treats. Keep healthy snacks and A-Foods handy. Hide treats and X-Foods in specific drawers and cupboards that you rarely use. Out of sight often equals out of mind. Schedule your meals for the rest of the week so as to include breakfast, midmorning snack, lunch, midafternoon snack, and dinner. Check to see what you have in stock and what you’ll need to buy. Tomorrow, you can go to the store and stock up on your liver-loving foods and vegetables. Weigh yourself to determine a starting point. As a rule, though, avoid compulsive scale and mirror checking (Abramson, 2005, p.159). Results will become more apparent after the first 15 days. Remember that a kilo is never just a kilo. The scale can be misleading. Weight loss might reflect water loss, and weight gain could just be the result of adding muscle mass. So best to check the scale only once a week; and schedule an appointment with your doctor for a more accurate picture of your health (blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.), and an estimate of your weight vs. muscle ratio. Day 2. o o o o o

Create a shopping list (based on your meal plan). Select a weekly shortcut. Do a stress-beating activity. Schedule an X-Day. Take a 30 minute walk and write in your Daily Planner.

Setting a trial period for each shortcut will help you learn to apply them on a daily basis. For example, all through the week you can try out focused eating. Next week you might want to try visualization. After 2-3 weeks, most techniques will become automatic, and intentional scheduling will no longer be necessary. You might also want to plan anti-stress activities for the entire week. Call a friend. Go window shopping. Anything non-food related. Get into the habit of devoting at least 30 minutes a day to calming, stress-relieving “me time”. Introducing changes to your eating patterns and daily routine (no matter how slowly), can still contribute to anxiety. It may not be apparent now, but this “me time” will greatly reinforce your efforts. In addition, it will serve as a daily reminder [101]

that (a) what you are doing (trying to change your life for the better) takes courage, and (b) you are worth it —you deserve to take good care of yourself. By this point, you may be starting to miss certain high-glycemic or fatty foods. If you schedule an X-Day, it will give you something to look forward to, and help you realize that nothing is (or need be) forbidden. Your plan should be about moderation, not restriction. So schedule an X-Day in six days or four days or two days; however long you think you are comfortable waiting. If, on a regular basis, your food choices are filling and non-inflammatory, you will come to plan your XDays further and further apart. In time, you will also make healthier choices, and eat less on X-Days than you do now. Why? Your body (increasingly satiated, deoxidized, active and unrestricted) will lose interest in high-fat, sugary foods naturally — without you having to resort to rigid rules and regulations. Day 5. o o o o

Reward your efforts. Place an incentive and write it down in your Daily Planner. Tackle a ‘non-food’ target. Take a 30 minute walk.

The first 5 days are the hardest. This is usually how long it takes for your body to kick its “sugar addiction”. So go out with friends. Rent your favorite movie. Do something fun to congratulate yourself for passing the 5-day mark. Apart from rewards, you might also want to set future incentives. Put up a picture on your fridge of a favorite destination; and visit there when you reach your first target. Take out those jeans you love —the ones that don’t fit just yet. Hang them in plain sight. This might prove just the inspiration you need to keep going. Inspiration is essential, but so is balance. What have you been doing these past few days to tell yourself that weight-loss is not everything? Carry out a task or activity you have been postponing (i.e. replant your garden, start guitar lessons, or take your kids to the amusement park). It will not only set your priorities straight; it will also boost your self-confidence. And finally, remember to walk, even if it is for a short while or a short distance. Try not to miss a single opportunity to move your feet and use your body. Walking should become second nature. Better yet, it should become automatic — much like breathing. Each day, go back to the plan chart on page 98 and work on a different layer. After two or three weeks, you will probably want to add more options to your daily physical activity. You might also want to tweak your targets or add some shortcuts of your own. Whenever you’re ready. You set the pace. Every week, after you weigh yourself, do a KBM check. In other words, determine where you stand with regards to knowledge-balance-moderation. Rate your efforts on a 1 to 10 scale. Ten means “tackled all equally”, five means “improved two out of three”, and one means “neglected all equally”. Mark all


progress and observations in your Daily Planner. Identify where you fell short, revise your objectives, and focus next week’s efforts accordingly. In about a month, you will discover that most behaviors have already become automatic. Furthermore, your taste buds will direct you to healthier food choices. Your body will reward you by showing signs of improved health, greater endurance and lower weight. Soon, it won’t feel like a plan at all —and that’s the whole point.

GOING STRONG A big part of The Experiment is how you deal with lapses. Diverting from healthy eating patterns is not breaking the diet. It is a part of the diet. If you get side-tracked, there must be a reason. Simply mark it down as an X-Day and proceed to investigate. The important thing is that you learn from it (Abramson, 2005, p.94). No guilt. You need a clear head to find answers. As long as you understand why the lapse occurred (what triggered it) and determine how to prevent it, you have gained far more than you’ve lost. If you still feel bad about it, go out for a walk. It will aid your body in breaking down nutrients, and prompt it to use glucose as immediate fuel, instead of storing it for later use (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p.97). Examine your routine. To identify the why and how, you first need to look into the where, when, and with whom. (Refer to your Daily Planner). Establish shortcuts. Now that you know why you diverted, you can find ways to stay on track. Ask yourself “What can I do differently next time?”, “How will I be prepared?” Do you normally stop at a drive through after work? Eat an apple before you punch out. Do you crave something sweet whenever you watch your favorite sitcom? Mute the commercials, do the ironing to keep your hands and mind busy, or munch on carrots. Post it. Being objective and non-judgmental sounds great in theory, but can be really tough in practice. When I’m feeling particularly disappointed with myself, I like to post small reminders somewhere I can see them (in a book I’m reading, a bathroom mirror, my bedroom closet, etc). Constantly bumping into little notes like “Everybody falls –it’s getting up again that matters”, “Yeahee, lost x kgs and still going strong!”, or even “Enough with the guilt trip, you’re only human” can be surprisingly effective. Reward it. I bet you’ve never heard this one before; but yes, reward your lapse. Reading that mistakes are a prerequisite to success is one thing. Truly accepting this fact, is another. Sometimes, the best way to change the way you think, is to first change the way you do. Few people know this, but your cognitive and emotional state can be altered by behavioral modification (i.e. you laugh when you feel good; but you could also make yourself feel good by laughing). Acting as though you believe or feel something, can often reinforce that thought or emotion. (Fletcher, Pine, & Penman, 2005, p.19) So reward yourself for having learned from your slip-up and for having moved on. This will help solidify the understanding that: it’s not something to feel guilty about, it’s something to be proud of.


In the end, what counts is that you don’t give up. It’s all about trial and error. This is the underlying concept of the entire book. Mistakes are a part of life —a necessary part. Through them, you gain knowledge. You gain awareness. And awareness is pivotal to the success of your weight-loss efforts. So, as you begin your very own Experiment, I hope you remember one thing… it is persistence that counts, not perfection!

TAKING IT FURTHER This guide was never meant to provide all the answers. Its sole purpose was to point you in the right direction. It is, after all, your journey. And your journey is just beginning. So here is where I leave off, and you begin. Take what you have learned and improve on it. A wealth of knowledge awaits you —in books, online articles, and even informal discussions with friends. Try different things. Experiment with something new each day. Build on small successes, and tailor your nutrition and exercise plan to your needs. The road to self-discovery can be wonderful, and truly liberating. At the same time, however, it can be quite perilous. There is an entire industry, which profits from the fact that most people are either overweight or generally dissatisfied with their bodies. Some offer real solutions, others prefer to treat rather than cure the problem. (As any marketer will tell you, curing is not always good for business. It has the nasty tendency of shrinking your customer base). So choose carefully who you trust and what you believe. Or as Mark Twain put it “Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint”. Take initiative and responsibility. But more importantly, remember that it is not necessarily your fault if something doesn’t work. We all run over a few potholes on the way to our goal. It may take a while; but through experience, you’ll be able to spot them a mile away. You will, in many ways, become your most reliable and dependable source. In the meantime, here are a few things to look out for on your treasure hunt for health-related information: Ask yourself what’s missing. Are you unsure how to proceed? Try reading a diet book with recipe ideas and weekly meal plans (just as long as you don’t find them too limiting). Would you like to know more about specific exercises and how to deal with “problem areas”? Consult with a gym instructor or physical therapist. Do you still need to see results to believe? Join a group like Overeaters Anonymous and derive inspiration from their success stories. Don’t buy into quick fixes. Be very weary of “miracle” cures and speedy transformations. “Change is a process” (Abramson, 2005, p.131). It takes time. And where your body is concerned, slower usually equals better. So before you take anyone’s advise, make sure their plan works. Ask whether they have kept the weight off for over a year, and whether they observed any side effects (i.e. stretch marks, reduced skin elasticity, or serious health problems). [104]

No deadlines please. If you feel pressured into buying now or making a long-term commitment, exercise caution. Special one-time offers are marketing tools. Most often, if you are firm, you can get whatever extension you like. Also, before you commit to anything for more than 3 months, you should try the program at least two-three times. If only to make sure the environment is truly as friendly and supportive as it seems. Don’t get guilted into it. When someone is trying to make you feel bad about yourself (cellulite, love handles etc.) just to promote a product or weight-loss program, it’s definitely not worth it. If this is what they consider being professional, then their methods are entirely suspect. Do not fall for the unattainable promise of beauty and perfection; after all, “Scars are tattoos with better stories” (Toyota advertisement in Sports Illustrated magazine, 3 June 2002). Choose flexible solutions. The best diet and exercise plan is one you can sustain. So choose low-maintenance solutions (Roizen & Oz, 2006, p. 16). If they are too restrictive and complicated (involving formulas, food scales etc.), or conflict with your day-today life, they should be avoided. Why is that? Do not rely on methods that fail to explain how they work. You shouldn’t have to be a doctor to get a decent explanation from someone. You have every right to know how and why things work, and what effect they have on your body. After all, you are the one who will bear the consequences of your choices — good or bad. More importantly, if you do not learn to regulate your health and nutrition on your own, you will remain forever dependent on others. We all know the proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. Listen to your body. Avoid anything that leaves you tired or hungry, or presents additional health symptoms. This is not your body rebelling against your better judgment. This is your body telling you there is something highly questionable about the course of action you have chosen to follow. It is a big, huge “error” message on the monitor of the greatest workstation you will ever operate… yourself. Mix and match. In writing this guide, I have borrowed from a variety of sources to create my own unique combination. Similarly, do not be afraid to reject certain ideas and adopt others. Abandon whatever doesn’t suit you and switch to what does. It is an ambitious undertaking, to take charge of your life. To truly explore your capabilities and limitations. I like to think it is one of the last adventures left to man —selfdiscovery and self-improvement. And you will undoubtedly encounter a fair share of obstacles along the way. But obstacles are highly overrated. “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal” (Hannah More). So mark my words. If your heart is in it, and you focus on where it is you want to go, then nothing can stand in your way. Embark on your very own Experiment and you will undoubtedly reach your destination.



Anything is possible. All through human existence, people have been telling other people what they can or cannot do, what their place in the world is. But if history has taught us anything, it is that the human spirit always prevails. We know better than anyone else who we are and what we can accomplish. There is a light within each and every one of us, an inside compass; and it burns even brighter when others are trying to put it out. All you need to keep that light from fading is to trust in yourself. Let no one dictate whether you will win or fail. Let no one be the judge of your worth, and future potential. You determine your course in life, your destination. This is not some abstract, theoretical idea. It comes from personal, lifelong experience. Growing up, I have been met by nothing but low expectations. Since childhood, most people have underestimated me. And I don’t blame them. You should meet me. I have the face of a cabbage patch kid and the voice of a Saturday morning cartoon. If I had a dollar for every time someone was genuinely surprised by what I said, a paper I turned in, or a presentation I gave… Thankfully, none of this means a thing –not first impressions, not low expectations, not anything. What matters is what YOU believe! At any moment in time, you can turn your life around and go in any direction you like. To embark on your own personal Experiment, simply take the wheel and follow your compass. If your goal is to control your weight, and change your life for the better, then there is no doubt in my mind that you can and will succeed.



Print Sources: Abramson, A. (2005). Body intelligence: Lose weight, keep it off and feel great about your body without dieting! New York: McGraw-Hill. Alexander, R. (1992). Commonsense time management. New York: Amacom. Cook C. W., Hunsaker P. L., & Coffey R. E. (1997). Management and organizational behavior. 2nd ed. Chicago: Irwin. Dominguez L. R. (1999, Jan). What to do when being overworked leads to procrastination. Workforce. Donnellan, C. (1997). Stress: Issues for the nineties. Volume 32. Great Britain: Independence. Fletcher B. C., Pine K., & Penman D. (2005). The no diet diet: Do something different. London: Orion Books. Gittleman, A. L. (2002). The fat flush plan. New York: McGraw-Hill. Greenberg J. S. (1999). Comprehensive stress management. 6th ed. Boston: WCB/McGraw-Hill. Marber, I. (2005). The food doctor everyday diet: Eat well for permanent weight loss. Get off the diet treadmill forever. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited Roizen M. F., & Oz M. C. (2006) You on a diet: The insider’s guide to easy and permanent weight loss. London: HarperThorsons. Smith J. C. (1993).Creative stress management: The 1-2-3 COPE system. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. Turkington C. A. (1998). Stress Management for Busy People. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Online sources:



Mia Christina Angelou began The Experiment... as an experiment. She ... is no writer, and certainly no expert. She believes in sharing and (yes, you guessed it) experimenting. Currently, Currently she resides in Greece and is working on the second draft of this very book you are holding. It is meant to be a simple guide, with a simple purpose —to get you safely from A to B. Where A is confused to or disoriented by all the diet "solutions" out there; and B is completely in control of your weight, and nutritionally self self-reliant. No more weight cycling. No more crash diets. No more falling prey to clever marketing or false promises. Just a happier, healthier, hunger hunger-free existence. If that's something you think you might be interested in, give it a quick read and let her know what you think. The Experiment is a work in progress. At the moment, it is missing one very important is component... your feedback!

Email: Facebook group:!/group.php?gid=112654082112025&ref=ts


Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful