Sunday, August 21, 2011

Product Review: The 17-Day Diet

As of today (August 21, 2011), The 17 Day Diet by Dr. Mike Moreno has been on The New York Times best seller list for 22 weeks. Most trendy diet books do linger on the best seller list... everyone looking to shed a few pounds flocks to these compendia looking for the secret to eternal weight loss, like Ponce de Leon searched for his Fountain of Youth.

I, like any other red-blooded thirtysomething American woman, am not immune to this incessant pursuit. So in early June, I purchased The 17 Day Diet after reading a review of it in a community magazine. I can sum up my review of this diet plan and book in two simple words: it works! For those of you desiring more details, read on.

First of all, it should be noted that it is not truly just a 17 day diet... it's at least 68 days bordering on the rest of your life. Think of it as a diet version of renting-to-own: you start off making a few payments of willpower and sweat equity, but to really reap the benefits of it, you have to commit to it as a lifestyle forever.  There are 4 phases, each consisting of 17 days. The first phase is very modest in terms of what you are allowed to eat, but it is not unrealistic.  Rather, phase 1 attempts to retrain your brain to desire healthy foods and help you give up all the crap that led to a few pounds (or more) shacking up with you. Phase 2 allows you to add in some starchy carbohydrates (think corn, beans, and sweet potatoes) to the protein, yogurt, vegetables, and fruit that comprised phase 1. Phase 3 builds on that even more, allowing whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and whole wheat bread. Phase 4 culminates the program where you eat your favorite phase during the week and splurge sensibly on the weekends. Ideally by phase 4, not only have you lost a decent amount of weight, but you also have more sensible eating habits and are choosing better, healthier foods to eat. If you still have more weight to lose at the end of phase 3, you simply return to one of the previous phases until you arrive at your goal weight. The plan also recommends moderate activity, starting with 17 minutes a day and gradually lengthening that to 30-45 minutes, depending on your current fitness level and weight loss goals.

Before I move on with the remainder of my review, I do want to explicitly note that I am not a nutritionist nor a registered dietician. As a certified personal trainer, I do have nutritional knowledge that allows me to deductively reason if an eating plan is relatively healthy or not. With that disclaimer, I can attest to the nutritional validity of The 17 Day Diet eating plan. It is based on portion control and eating nutritious, healthy items. It seeks to rid your diet of high sugar, refined carbohydrates, and other "junk" that leads to low energy, weight gain, and other health maladies. It is also a very doable plan and by doable, I mean that you don't have to be Rachael Ray or stalk the Whole Foods market. A culinary challenged individual would not be intimidated by this plan. However, it is slightly more expensive to eat better... fresh fruit is more expensive than macaroni and cheese. So you may have to increase your grocery budget by a Hamilton or a Jackson.

While on the first three phases of the 17 day diet, I lost 15 pounds. During phase 1, I was a bit cranky (my apologies to my spouse and pets), but I immediately began sleeping better. I replaced traditional desserts with jello, apples, cottage cheese, and yogurt. Tuna went from being a never-stocked-in-the-cupboard item to a three times a week staple. I also became a compulsive food journaler and calorie counter. I did have to make a few modifications in phase 1. Given that I exercise at a moderate intensity 4-5 hours a week, I needed some carbohydrates (in the form of a VitaTop muffin for breakfast) to fuel my workouts and prevent me from collapsing on the treadmill in front of my cats.

I am currently in phase 4-going-on-forever of the diet and 22 pounds lighter than when I opened the book in June. While junk is mostly out of my daily intake, I do occasionaly splurge on a cupcake or cookie. The book helped reshape my eating habits, which in turn helped me bust through a weight loss plateau. I don't recommend many "diets" because I believe most of them are ridiculous, impossible, or merely money-sucking fads. Losing weight and maintaining it requires a lifestyle change... and I don't believe you should take diet pills for the rest of your life or avoid carbohydrates forever. The 17 Day Diet is a solid, nutritionally based plan that you could live with for the rest of your life. And I believe that is why it works. Whether you're looking to lose just a few pounds, to makeover your eating habits, or to embark on a significant weight loss journey, this book might be one for you to check out! And good luck to your housemates while you're in phase 1. ;-)

If you're interested in how The 17 Day Diet can fit into your life easily... check out my blog: Eating Out on the 17 Day Diet.

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