Diets

Book Review - My Diva Diet: A Woman's Last Diet Book

Some readers of a certain age may remember body builder and author Christine Lakatos from the 1989 season of TV's American Gladiators. Now an author and personal trainer, Lakatos has produced an informative weight loss guide for women.

My Diva Diet: A Woman's Last Diet Book tries to grab the reader's attention from the cover, which resembles a bright pink comic book with the Dieting Superhero Ms. Diva in the center (yes, she even has a sidekick lioness, Paw) and lots of bright headlines ("Expose & Defeat Your Diet Villains," "Lose Fat, Gain Health," and "Not a quick fix..."). The book is written in a cute, female-oriented voice and is a workbook with tons of quizzes, checklists, and graphics. At base, the program consists of a food program and exercise program for a weight loss phase and a maintenance phase.

While there is nothing bad about Lakatos' book, I have to say that the weight loss advice is not new and different, recommending 1200-1600 calories spread over four meals per day, lots of water and produce, lots of fiber and lean protein, low sodium, low chemicals and preservatives, and of course added exercise. This has been part of every single diet book I have reviewed at Blogcritics.

There are some elements that turned me off, such as Lakatos' claim that her method is partially based on "the centuries-old Judeo-Christian traditions of selecting pure and wholesome foods." Yes, Lakotos claims that only kosher foods as outlined in the Old Testament are fit to eat (funny, foie gras is kosher yet is about as ethically questionable and unhealthy as food can get). I am Jewish and understand the laws of kashrut and keeping kosher, but just because pork tenderloin isn't kosher doesn't mean that it is not a quality source of lean protein for those who eat pork.

In the end, this is a great diet and exercise guide for women that is packed with good information. However, there is to my mind nothing intrinsically new or different in what My Diva Diet: A Woman's Last Diet Book presents, and those who wish to have their weight loss information separate from religious doctrine may have some issues with this book.

Baby Food Diet? Really?

I thought I had heard it all. Really.

And then my friend Natalie sent me a link to her OK! Magazine column where she mentions yours truly, but about me later. In a column devoted to attaining the body beautiful before bikini season, Natalie mentions that Tracy Anderson, who trains Gwyneth and used to train Madonna, is advocating a baby food diet. Yes, you read correctly, BABY FOOD.

A word of warning: legs like La Paltrow don't come easy - Anderson advocates a strenuous two-hour, dance-based cardio sequence in a boiling hot room, six days a week. It literally melts off that fat.

Definitely not for the faint of heart and with one-on-one training sessions rumoured to cost $250 an hour, it is certainly the luxury of the uber-rich....

In addition to this grueling workout, Anderson also encourages her clients to follow the ‘Baby Food diet’, which is guaranteed to shed more than seven pounds in one week.

The basic idea is to consume 14 portions of pureed foods throughout the day. All the mixtures are free from oils, spices and salt and can range from fruit smoothies to dandelion soups.

In the evening a ‘normal’ meal of lean protein and vegetables is permitted. Anderson believes that the easier it is for your body to process food, the quicker the weight will fall off.

14 portions of baby food? Is she crazy?

But now for me. Ahem,

Meanwhile, Pilates and personal training guru Lynda Lippin has developed a fail-safe plan guaranteed to shift those stubborn pounds in just ten days.

Far from spending hours pounding away on the treadmill, Lynda advocates short, sharp bursts of cardio complimented with light weight training.

“Cardio should take no longer than 15 to 20 minutes,” says Lynda. “I put my clients on the treadmill at an incline of 8 and speed of 12km/h for three minutes.

"They are allowed a one minute rest and then return to the original speed. A series of three to five of these intervals will get the better of even my fittest clients.”

Your choice - 2 hours grueling exercise day and baby food, or my completely sane 20 minutes of high intensity exercise and real food.

Book Review: So I Need To Lose 15 Pounds

Before you buy this book please be forewarned that it is not an expertly written guidebook to safe weight loss. In fact, you could probably find more information on any of the weight loss plans mentioned by checking their websites or reading the book jacket. So I Need to Lose 15 Pounds is a cute Japanese manga cartoon book that will have you laughing hysterically at coffee enemas and hot yoga. Shiho Torii is a Japanese manga illustrator and author who was approached by a publisher to research and keep a running blog for five months on her attempts to lose 15 pounds using as many plans as possible. Her blog ended up being the most widely read blog among young women in Japan, and this book ended up as a very funny look at the universal topic of weight loss.

Month One is devoted to renewal and cleansing, starting with a visit to the gym, the Reset Diet, ginger tea, colon cleansing enemas, and geranium baths. In Month Two she has her first plateau in the midst of the BOOCS diet, DNA diet, shiho-style stress removing diet, and the balance ball. Month Three is natural - macrobiotics, raw foods, hot yoga, and walking. Month Four is full of gadgets - the NASA developmental equipment, spa wraps and treatments, and correction of her pelvic position. Finally in Month Five Torii looks into hot baths, massages, qiqong and taichi.

The good: Torii does in fact lose the weight and discovers a few truths along the way, such as the fact that enemas do not act the same way on every body and the joys of the stability balance ball for exercising. She pokes holes in the weight loss by sweating rituals (body wraps, saunas, etc.) as you only lose water, she shows the folly of home enemas and other cleansing programs, and at the end of the five months does the best with anything that focuses on portion control, eating healthy, and exercising. She also survives her plateaus and makes you feel like you could too.

The bad: Some of the programs are downright dangerous and really should not be undertaken without medical supervision. And some of her information, such as the fact that sitting in a hot bath burns more calories than sitting on the couch, is just plain wrong! But my biggest complaint is length; the book is simply too short to really offer much useful information. Just a few more pages (or a few less diets) would have allowed Torii to cover the ones she chose in greater depth.

So I Need to Lose 15 Pounds is cute, hysterically funny in places, and the manga is well drawn. I would have liked to see a bit more information and fact checking before the book went to print, especially since manga appeals to a younger audience and it is important to give young women correct information about weight loss and health. But all in all this book manages to bridge any cultural divides and shows the commonality of weight loss experiences and body image issues among women around the world.

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