When I used to watch television, I was pretty faithful about tuning in “The Biggest Loser” to watch celebrity trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels beat the crap out of the contestants in the gym week after week. The drama was addicting, the transformations were jaw-dropping, and the stories were, frankly, inspiring (although not so much so that I ever felt like getting up off the couch and actually attempting anything similar).
Mr. Harper has a new book out, called The Skinny Rules: The Simple, Nonnegotiable Principles for Getting to Thin. He has had a change of heart about the best way to lose weight that is so dramatic that one wonders whether any weight loss advice from any “expert” can be trusted today:
I used to believe I could beat anything off of you in the gym. But exercise alone without diet won’t do it.
Essentially, he says, exercise is fine and everybody should do some, but what really counts in losing weight is what and when you eat.
Let me save you some time and money and just list The Skinny Rules for you:
- Drink a large glass of water before every meal—no excuses!
- Don’t drink your calories.
- Eat protein at every meal—or stay hungry and grouchy.
- Slash your intake of refined flours and grains.
- Eat 30 to 50 grams of fiber a day.
- Eat apples and berries every single day. Every. Single. Day!
- No carbs after lunch.
- Learn to read food labels so you know what you’re eating.
- Stop guessing about portion size and get it right—for good.
- No more sweeteners, including artificial ones.
- Get rid of those white potatoes.
- Make one day a week meatless.
- Get rid of fast foods and fried foods.
- Eat a real breakfast.
- Make your own food and eat at least 10 meals a week at home.
- Banish high-salt foods.
- Eat your vegetables—just do it!
- Go to bed hungry.
- Sleep right.
- Plan one splurge meal a week.
Well, Bob (I hope you don’t mind if I call you Bob?), if you’re reading this, you know I love ya, man, but you are not the boss of me and I am happy to consider your list as helpful suggestions rather than the “non-negotiable rules” you claim them to be. Here’s what I think:
- Water is the last thing I want to drink when I first wake up in the morning, and I’m not too wild about just pounding glass after glass throughout the day. Not a good rule for me. Likely not to follow.
- Bob, I assume you mean don’t get the king-size frappa-whippa-doolee from the coffee shop every morning. Or the venti mocha, either, for that matter. And skip the sodas, fruit juices and all other sweetened drinks. Huh. What does that leave us to drink besides water? I happen to like flavored club soda (and plain club soda) that has no sweeteners added, so I often drink that with meals. This rule is okay. Likely to follow.
- Protein makes the meal, in my opinion. It fills me up and keeps me full longer than carbs alone. A good rule. Will follow.
- Refined flours and grains are in most of my favorite foods. The more refined they are, the better I like them. 😉 A difficult, if sensible, rule. Likely not to follow as well as I probably should.
- Thirty to fifty grams of fiber a DAY? I can’t even imagine eating enough food to fulfill that requirement. Unrealistic rule for my eating style. Will not follow.
- I don’t eat any food (except possibly eggs and toast) Every. Single. Day. And I am not going to start with apples and berries. Nope.
- Carbs are our friends. I’ll eat them whenever I darn well please. Again, no to this rule.
- I’ve always read food labels; that’s a no-brainer. Easy-peasy. Will follow.
- I weigh and measure my food now that I’m on Weight Watchers, so, good rule. Will follow.
- I’m not giving up my one cup of morning coffee, and I’m not drinking that coffee without a splash of half-and-half and agave syrup in it, thank you very much, so this rule is also unworkable for me.
- White potatoes are the only kind I will eat. Sweet potatoes make me gag (unless they’re made into fries, which I do like). I think potatoes are good for me. Will keep eating.
- Meatless meals and even whole days are not all that hard. As long as I don’t have to go full vegan, good rule. Will follow.
- I generally avoid fried foods and very rarely eat fast foods (except Subway), so this is another good rule I can follow.
- I am a slave to my breakfast. Can’t not follow this rule.
- Ditto with cooking and eating at home.
- My tongue is keenly sensitive to salty flavor, so just a dab will do me. I usually add a little salt to food only when I cook it and don’t even keep a shaker on the table. Great rule. Will follow.
- Eating my veggies was a challenge for me before I discovered how to make gazpacho, coleslaw and salsa with my food processor. Now I’m kind of a fiend for them. Also, roasting veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, even cabbage) makes them infinitely more appealing. Yep, I’m down with following this rule.
- Not. Gonna. Happen. Going to bed hungry is a punishment, Bob! It does not promote good health, or at least not my good health. Now, eating early (around 5:00 or 6:00 in the evening) and closing the kitchen immediately after dinner is the right way to go, in my opinion.
- Ohyeahright. I haven’t “slept right” in years. Would follow if I could but I can’t.
- You betcha! Best rule of the bunch. 🙂
So I can’t or won’t follow almost half of Bob’s rules. Guess I’ll never be skinny like Bob wants me to be.
But you know what? I don’t aspire to be. I want healthy blood chemistry. I want to fit comfortably in my clothes. I want to achieve a BMI that won’t spike up my health insurance premiums. I want to have more stamina when I work in the yard. I want to wear my bicycling clothes again that are all too snug on me now. And I don’t need to be “skinny” to do any of these things.