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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Roll Away the Dew Diet Plan!

Everyone has a diet plan. I remember the pasta/carb and low fat diet in the 80's, and the Zone diet in the late 90's. For some reason, not everyone can locate Russia on the a map (you betcha!) but we all know what the Atkins diet is. There's also the grapefruit diet but I have never met anyone who actually was on that diet. After the South Beach diet, I stopped paying attention until recently.

Now, the new diet is the Slow carb diet which I think is an off shoot of the South Beach diet. It involves avoiding heavily processed carbohydrates with a low glycemic index that the body easily converts into sugar. It seems pretty similar to the Cave man diet which is eating like a hunter and gatherer. Hunters and gatherers didn't have heavily processed carbohydrates either. From a dieting perspective, hunters and gatherers also have the huge advantages of sleeping out in the cold (great way to lose weight) and limited food options. Personally, if I were to create a true hunter and gatherer diet, I would tell people to turn off their heat, they only get to eat once per day, have to carry all their food with them, and the food supply is cut in half in the winter.

My primary credential for being able to critique these diets is that I wrestled in high school and was capable of losing or gaining up to 7 pounds in a day. Sometimes I even lost and gained 7 pounds in the same day. In other words, I was able to create a shift 10% of my body weight in a 24 hour period.

I also have a theory that the same subsection of the population follows all of these diets. The reasons they work so well is they dramatically shock their bodies so badly with a radical change in eating habits, that they shed weight as a fight or flight response. Imagine going from eating nothing but carbohydrates to nothing but protein. Then shift back to carbohydrates but the slow kind.

The reason that this subsection of the population is always on a diet is because all these approaches dramatically change the participants eating habit and run contrary to the eating habits of general society (with the exception of those who live in Eastern Paraguay where there are still hunting and gathering tribes). In short, they are unsustainable eating habits. The dieter follows them for a period of time, loses the weight, grows bored with only eating 25% of the available food groups, and goes back to a more conventional eating pattern. They are sick of only being able to order a Chicken Casar salad with no croutons and dressing on the side at restaurants or having to quiz the waiter on the exact glycemic index of the dinner rolls.

Now, criticizing fad diets is pretty low hanging fruit, like Sarah Palin jokes, (you betcha! Sorry, can't help myself). While I am all about low hanging fruit, I also like to take a few steps up the ladder, and offer a different perspective. Therefore, I present the Roll Away the Dew diet:
  • It's all about sustainability. Dramatically changing your eating habits will result in likely long-term failure. It will also probably ensure that you annoy all your friend and family by talking about how you have had to change your eating habits and became the most aggravating dinner guest ever. If someone absolutely craves bagels, than they should not stop eating them and except to be successful.
  • If the diet advertise that you'll lose 10 pounds in the first week, it's not sustainable. While it's great marketing copy, the only sustainable habit that should cause you to lose that much weight in a week, is crystal meth.
  • A pound is 3500 calories. When you consume either 3500 calories greater than your body needs or less than your body needs, your body weight will change a pound. That really helped put weight change in perspective for me. The elliptical machine tells me that I burned 400 calories after being on it for 30 minutes. That unfortunately means that mean that I need to be on that machine for 262 minutes or 4.5 hours to lose a pound. The other side of the equation is what I put into my body. Five 700 calorie cinnamon rolls will add a pound even if I only eat once per week.
  • Small victories. Given the 3500 calorie window, it taught me that having only 1 piece of candy from the office candy bowl, eating the coffee cake in the break room once per week, and only getting a pastry with morning coffee once per week adds up.
To summarize, the Roll Away the Dew diet is a very boring methodical approach where you will lose 1 pound per week. It's not really a diet but a change in eating habits. Recognize what's sustainable and what's not. If a cookie at lunch is one of the highlights of the day, don't get rid of it. Squeeze out other calories by not eating any pastry that wasn't baked that week and comes in a chain grocery store box. It probably won't taste that good in anyway.

To put it in MBA terms, the Roll Away the Dew diet is those incremental improvement processes that reduce the budget by a percent here or percent there through some kind of lean or six sigma production process. It needs to be maintained for at least 6 months to be successful. It's not a big product launch or a huge lay off of workers that moves the share price a few points in one day.

The biggest draw back is there are not immediate small victories to keep someone motivated and it requires a long attention span. That's type of byline isn't going to sell more books. However, at least it's not based on extinct populations who lost the evoluationary race thousand of years ago.

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