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Archive for November 1st, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, Hil and I were watching public television (KQED) and we saw one of their normal infomercials about dieting and getting in better health.  For some reason, the lecturer seemed to make sense to us and we discussed it and decided to buy his book (at a book store, not from KQED) and give it a try.  The next day, I went down to our local Barnes and Noble and picked up a copy of the book.
Last night, I completed reading “Eat To Live“, by Dr. Joel Fuhrman (2011©), originally published in 2003.  Basically, most of what we “know” about eating “right” is incorrect and based on the marketing of the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) who’s main job (historically) has been to help market U.S. agriculture and not necessarily promote health by recommending food based on the science of nutrition.  Dr. Fuhrman tries to correct this food industry sponsored / government supported misinformation with this book.
According to most recent science in the field of nutrition, we are killing ourselves by consuming the food we enjoy instead of the food we need.  Now, the Doctor is not a fanatic about his suggested lifestyle (I hesitate to call it a diet) change, but he makes a pretty convincing argument for eating based on his plan.  His plan is to eat mostly uncooked vegetables and fruit with some nuts thrown in.  He considers “meat” to be any animal (or fish) flesh (beef, pork, fowl or fish) and you should eat no more than 10% of your caloric intake from meat. You can eat as much vegetables and fruit as you can hold and “around” a handful of nuts per day.  No meats, no eggs, no dairy, no oils.
If you follow the plan, he predicts you’ll drop about 15-20 lbs your first month, 10 lbs your second month and 5-8 lbs each month after that until you get to your natural body weight.  He predicts this will be 95 lbs for your first five feet of height and 4 lbs for every inch after that for women and 105 lbs for your first five feet of height and 5 lbs for every inch for men.  At 5’10”, I should weigh about 155 lbs!!  This seems quite light to me, but it is the weight I left Army basic training (back when I was 19 years old).  At 56 years old, I’m not sure I can ever see that size/weight again – or that I would want to.
I am currently about 327 lbs and considered morbidly obese.  About seven weeks ago, I started the P90X exercise program.  Although I’ve lost about two inches from my waist and legs, I had not lost ANY weight until I started Dr. Fuhrman’s diet. It’s been a little over two weeks and one day and I’m down about 8 lbs.  The cover of his book says to give him six weeks and he’ll help you lose 20 lbs, so I’m well on track.  If his long term estimate is correct, in one year, I’ll be 255 lbs, at two years about 200 lbs and about three years from now about 155-160 lbs.
My most successful dieting to date was with the Extreme Fat Smash Diet, which I was on about two years ago (October 2009) for two hard cycles (21 days each) and two moderate cycles (another 21 days each).  After that, it was kind of maintenance mode.  In total, I lost 45 lbs and was down to 292 lbs, but as soon as I went back to “normal” eating, the weight started coming back on.  This diet was extremely hard if followed strictly and although you got to eat frequently, you did not get to eat much.  The result was I was always starving except after the main meal of the day (lunch).  In the end, the Fat Smash Diet is not a lifestyle I choose to live by.  I don’t want to be constantly starving and thinking about my next bit of food.
The interesting thing we (Hil and I) discovered was how much (actually how little) we could get by on for dinner.  Basically, we could be quite full on a half cup of rice, a cup of beans and a cup of green vegetables.  This is essentially, the recommended “diet” of the “Eat To Live” program.  The exception being you are also supposed to have a large salad with your meal.
So far, (like I said one day over two weeks,) I can honestly say I haven’t been hungry once since starting the diet.  That’s not to say I couldn’t eat more if it was there.  Only, that I don’t feel particularly like I’m on a diet at all.  I’m not sure there is a better recommendation anyone can make about a diet.
Back to the book review…  The author is excited about his topic and the enthusiasm comes across in the writing.  The argument (that we are killing ourselves with what we eat) is well laid out and copiously documented in the book’s notes.
I have two real criticisms with the book.  The first is it’s the lack of menu dishes he offers in the book.  The Doctor has his own web site (www.drfuhrman.com), which he charges to subscribe to, so it’s not like he’s in it for charity (or just your health) which supposedly contains over 1,000 recipes.  Alternatively, you can get by with any number of vegan / vegetarian cookbooks – including Dr. Dean Ornish’s (which we’ve also tried and are pretty good).  There are also a host of free recipes on the web at various vegan sites.  I will admit the few Dr. Fuhrman does offer in his book are quite tasty.  We’ve tried many of them.  The second is many of the recipes require elaborate cooking / preparation.  They are NOT something you can throw together while at work (with no kitchen).
Aside from these very minor points this is a VERY informative book and should be read by EVERYONE who is interested in improving their overall health OR losing weight.  Highly recommended!!
I have added a new sub-Category to my blog for anyone wishing to follow my comments / progress on this topic.
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Moderate exercise seems to be enough to make you healthy — only 30 minutes of walking or similar activities once a day or an hour of walking three times per week.  If you want to become more fit, in contrast, you’ll need to expend a minimum of 2,000 calories a week on some form of continuous, sustained (also called “aerobic”) exercise.
  —  Dr. Dean Ornish
From his book “Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program For Reversing Heart Disease
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