Diet Book Introduction

In Nancy's Writings by Nancy Sliwa

This diet is not for everyone.
Isn’t that a radical statement? Don’t you wish each of the dozens of diets that you have tried over the years would have told you in advance whether this diet would have worked for you, you specifically, as a unique individual? Think of all the heartache and frustration, the tears and sweat, that you could have been saved, if you had only known.
Why is it that there are so many diets, and so many overweight people in America? Why does every diet proclaim detailed scientific experiments, and hundreds and thousands of success stories, to say that finally, THIS is the diet that will work for everyone? All this while each diet is so different and contradictory! Dr. Ornish says absolutely no fat, while Dr. Atkins says fat is fine, but beware carbohydrates. Some say calories are all that count, while others tell you complex biochemistry is at work, with all sorts of hormones and neurotransmitters in play that you can’t possibly hope to balance. It’s enough to make you tear your hair out. It certainly did that to me.
I have had a weight problem all my life. I wasn’t necessarily fat as a child, but I have always struggled with my weight, and words like “plump: and “chunky” dominated my adolescence. Adulthood saw only a continuation of my struggle, and I watched helplessly and hopelessly as the scales continued to show higher and higher numbers.
I have been slender exactly four times in my life, all too brief periods. Each time I swore that I wouldn’t regain the weight, and each time it inexorably crept back on. After four decades of alternating struggle and despair, I believe I have finally found the key ingredients for a diet plan and lifestyle that work for me, and that will keep me slender for the rest of my life.
My background is as a NASA scientist and technology manager. I am not a doctor, this research was not done under NASA auspices, and NASA does not endorse this diet. However, my intellectual gifts, such as they are, are to be able to sort through reams of conflicting data and recognize a correct paradigm when I see one. My training prepared me for the frustrating task of trying to mine gold out of all the diet literature on the market.
As you read this book, you will note several references to numerous diet books on the market. There is good information in them, if you know how to pick and choose it wisely. The strength of this book comes in the brand new synthesis of several techniques and plans to finally solve the weight/health issue for a key portion of the overweight population.
So if this diet is not for everyone, who is it for?
Let’s start with who it’s not for. This diet is NOT for you if you are diabetic, anorexic, or bulemic. It is not for you if you are only 10 – 15 pounds overweight, or if, by really trying for a few weeks of eating right and exercising, you can drop your excess pounds. It is not for you if you are looking for a magic pill to take that will allow you to eat whatever you want, never exercise, and still melt off the pounds. This is not for you if you are looking to lose 40 pounds in a month to fit into that slinky black dress for your high school reunion.
This diet is for women who are hyperinsulinemic and serotonin-deficient. (Don’t worry, I’ll define those terms shortly.) It is for those who are at least 20% above your ideal body weight. It is for those of you who have been struggling with your weight, in the wilderness of conventional diet plans, for at least 10 years.
I believe this represents about 20% – 30% of the overweight population in America. While this may seem like a small number, I feel that these women are the ones that have tried the hardest with the least long-term success. These are the women who continue to despairingly struggle against our conflicting culture of waif-thin celebrities versus supermarkets and TV commercials full of “forbidden” food. Cry a few tears of relief. There truly is a way to succeed.
Why is this diet for women only? If you are a man, don’t despair. You’ll find lots of useful information and techniques in this book to allow you to lose weight. Using these methods, you’ll lose weight more quickly, and with less struggle, than most women. However, this book is written from a woman’s perspective, and a part of it deals with the specific condition of serotonin deficiency. Seratonin deficiency in a woman has completely different symptoms than in a man. If you are an overweight man, serotonin deficiency is not your problem. Methods in this book that are specifically designed to boost serotonin levels will be carefully delineated. Men, use this book EXCEPT for those techniques, and you’ll lose weight quickly and healthily.
How do you know if you’re hyperinsulinemic? We’ll discuss the insulin connection with weight gain in more detail later in the book, but suffice it to say right now that insulin is the hormone in the body that causes it to store fat. If you are hyperinsulinemic, your body creates insulin more readily than most, and at higher levels, causing fat to be stored at the slightest instigation. You may be naturally hyperinsulinemic, or you may have become hyperinsulinemic as a result of years and decades of dieting and/or eating American junk food. (Note that this does NOT mean you are diabetic. In that situation, your insulin system has gone “over the edge,” and you must seek a doctor’s care to restore it.)
Are most of your meals by choice overwhelmingly carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, breads, pastas, sweets, etc.)? Can you stuff yourself with carbs and still want more? Have you exercised faithfully but never lost much weight? Have you undertaken severely reduced calorie intake diets, and still not lost much weight, only to have what you did lose rebound very quickly when you cheated just a little? Have you tried the Atkins diet, or the Zone diet, or the Sugarbuster diet, and lost weight, at least temporarily? Have you been off and on various diets for more than 10 years? You are probably hyperinsulemic.
How do you know if you’re seratonin deficient? Again, we’ll discuss the seratonin connection with weight gain in much more detail later in this book. Seratonin is a key to the survival mechanism of the body. If you, as a woman, don’t have enough serotonin, your body will do everything it can to hold onto its fat, believing you are in a “starvation” situation. Again, you may be naturally deficient or have become deficient in this neurotransmitter through years of dieting.
Do you have uncontrollable cravings for carbohydrates? Have you tried the “high protein” diets like Atkins and Zone, only to “fall off the wagon” due to your cravings? Are you lethargic,  low in energy, and frequently crave sleep? Has your initiative and ambition level fallen off radically? Do you start off “in control” of your diet all morning and afternoon, only to succumb to binging at night? Do you have low sex drive? Do you have relatively heavy menstrual periods? Do you have infrequent bowel movements? Do you have a continuous annoying nasal drip, present even when you have no cold or allergies? Did you take Phen-fen, Redux, or Meridia, and initially lose lots of weight, only to have it “sling-shot” back on when you stopped?  Do you have an obsessive, addictive, physically repetitive habit, such as nail-picking or -biting, foot-tapping or leg-bouncing?  If you answered yes to several of these questions, you are probably serotonin deficient.
If you are hyperinsulinemic, there are several books and diets on the market that can help you. Likewise, if you are serotonin deficient. However, if you are both simultaneously (what I call an HISD woman), the current diet plans available to you DO NOT WORK. They war against each other in your body, causing eventual defeat, despair, and ever-increasing weight gain.
THIS diet is for you.
What can you expect on this diet? You can expect to lose an average of 5 pounds a month until you reach your realistic goal. You can expect your carbohydrate cravings to disappear. You can expect a good night’s sleep, with energy and enthusiasm throughout the day. You can expect a healthy immune system. You can expect to have your life back again, without it’s being dominated with thoughts of weight and food.
Since, as I said, I will be referring to other diet plans and techniques throughout this book, I want to spend some time categorizing them for you. A scientist’s imperative, to categorize.
I have organized five major categories of diet philosophies.
1.     It’s all in your head. This philosophy says it’s a matter of willpower, or that you hate your mother, or have other unresolved anger or guilt in your relationships. They say that you must not “really” want to lose weight, or you would, if you weren’t so lazy and undisciplined.
This one really makes me angry. The mind-body connection is indeed very strong, but it’s not true that women with weight problems are all lazy, undisciplined, and lacking in willpower. In many cases we have more than most people, to have fought this problem for so long, and it still hasn’t helped. However, advocates of this philosophy have given many HISD women terrible feelings of guilt and inferiority.
2.     Calories in < Calories out. This philosophy says all you have to do it eat less and exercise more, and you HAVE to lose weight. It’s a law of physics. If you have a weight problem, push away from the table and hit the gym. This category also includes all the low-fat diets. The thinking is that since fat has so many calories per gram, cutting out fat will “automatically” help cut your calories.
Calories and exercise are part of the picture, but not the whole picture.
3.     Hormones. This category used to emphasize the possibility that you were thyroid deficient, or had a pituitary problem. The latest fad in hormone controlling diets is insulin. If you can control your insulin spikes, the fat will come off. Most of the high-protein and moderate-protein diets fall in this category.
We’re getting warmer. These diets were the first to advocate that body chemistry can vary from individual to individual, and that it can influence the calorie/exercise equation. They also helped people realize that protein is not the enemy for HI people, but rather high-glycemic carbohydrates. (We’ll explain what those are in Chapter 7).
4.     Neurotransmitters. This category emphasizes the role of these messenger chemicals of the brain in influencing the body’s weight loss or retention. Seratonin and beta-endorphin have been the most popular, with passing references to dopamine and norepinephrine. Diets that boost serotonin levels encourage carbohydrate-only meals to start the day.
Now we’re definitely getting into some of the complex chemistry that interacts within our bodies to set and control our weight. However, if we have to eat only carbs to boost our seratonin, but avoid carbs to control our insulin, you can see the beginnings of the “catch-22” that HISD women find themselves in. Stay with me. The plot thickens.
5.     Specific food choices.  This category used to contain only diets that had very questionable foundations, such as grapefruit diets, and juice fasts, and those that said eat fruit only before noon. However, a new player has come to the area, that of choosing specific foods based on blood type or body type. It is a little soon to tell about these, but they show promise for further refining our health.
So who is right? They’re all right, for certain groups of people. Which of these diets will work for you? If you’re an HISD woman, none of them work.
Let me refine that statement. None of them work as individual philosophies. Neither is it obvious how to correctly combine them to work for our specific set of problems. However, each of them has elements that are useful to a combined strategy.
Think of these philosophies as a set of concentric rings. First, you must have the proper mindset to achieve any goal, especially a weight loss goal. Believe me, this weight loss plan is not a magic panacea, but will still require determination, will-power, and self-discipline. But you truly do have those attributes, no matter what anyone (including yourself) may have told you in the past. When you use them according to this plan, you will be successful.
Second, we must conquer the serotonin deficiency to have a hope of controlling the other aspects of our diet. Once that is controlled, the carbohydrate cravings will vanish, and will-power and initiative will automatically increase.
Third, we now can deal with thehyperinsulinemiaa, preventing the insulin spikes that cause our body to manufacture and retain fat.
Fourth, we must now reduce the calories sufficiently, as well as exercise, to allow our body to burn off the fat that we currently have. Now that the other problems are in control, we can easily do that! You may already be eating sufficiently few calories, and doing sufficient exercise, to lose weight, once the other problems are dealt with.
Fifth, you may be able to increase your overall health, and improve your weight loss rate, by making intelligent food choices based on more individual information about your body.
We will take components from several of the existing diet philosophies, and restructure them in a new and different way. Along the way, we’re going to add some elements that even you, a diet expert, may not have heard before in the context of weight loss. All these elements will be key ingredients to a new lifestyle that can indeed finally help the HISD woman lose weight and keep it off for a lifetime.
Now I’ve satisfied some of my scientific bent by categorizing diets for you.  But before we jump into the heart of our plan, I want to slice the problem along a different grain. This will provide the structure with which I’ll present the plan as we progress through this book.
The paradigm I want to use is that of your consciousness perched on a 3-legged stool. Just so, your consciousness balances on the 3-legged stool of your body. These legs are the biochemical, the biophysical, and the biomechanical aspects of your body. Take away any one of those legs, and the stool will collapse. Shorten any of those legs, and the whole system is off balance. Just so, we must take a balanced approach to a successful diet plan.
Most diet plans today focus practically exclusively on the biochemical aspects of dieting. That is, what to eat, how much to eat, what vitamins to take. And by the way, be sure to exercise and drink plenty of water.
For that reason, I want to start with, and therefore stress, the other aspects of our paradigm. The role of the mind cannot be overemphasized; the mind-body connection is very powerful. We’ll therefore spend a major chapter dealing with the mental aspects of your diet plan.
The biophysical aspect of the body deals with the energy flow within the body. You may think I’m getting “new age” or “metaphysical” here, but that is not my intent. There is a scientifically established connection between electromagnetic energy fields and the health of the cells and tissues of the body. We’ll spend a chapter discussing how you can use this information to improve your chances of success in your new slimmer lifestyle.
The biomechanical aspects of the body are concerned with the bones and muscles. Yes, this is about exercise, but also about other aspects of the body’s mechanics. Certain types of exercise promote seratonin production, and that will be our focus. Fortunately, they are the more moderate and enjoyable forms of exercise available to most of us.
Finally, we will get to the biochemical aspect of this diet plan. Although I leave them for last, they too are extremely important. Here will be the crux of how we control both our hyperinsulemia and our seratonin deficiency.
When I was trying to come up with a catchy name for this diet plan, words like “holistic” and “integrated” and “symbiotic” were all I could think of. There are many individual sections and techniques to this diet, but they are all crucial links in a chain. I cannot say, oh, you must do these certain things, but these other things won’t make too much of a difference if you don’t do them. I can’t say that. Every item, to the best of my knowledge, is crucial.
I’ll be frank, some of the techniques I will recommend can be expensive. Some may have low-cost alternatives, but many won’t. Some of the costs, particularly for the supplements, may come down in the future as demand increases production. However, if you are like me, if you add it all up, you have spent thousands of dollars over many years, in special diet programs, gym fees, spas, supplements, and even various desperate gimmicks, to try to lose weight. If you knew something would really, really work, you would gladly spend whatever you could afford to get the slimmer, healthier body you deserve.
I don’t have a vested interest in any of these products, and will gladly recommend lower-cost alternatives when there is no sacrifice in quality. As always, it is your choice as to which investments you will make. While I cannot guarantee specific results to any given person, I know that each of these techniques can only improve your overall health.
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