Chapter 1. Seven simple rules how to lie on the couch, eat, read, and lose weight
Dear reader, thank you for deciding to rely on my experience in the matters of being slim. Assuming you are no stranger to the subject, I have decided to cut to the chase: there are seven simple rules that will help you lose kilos easily and without much sweat. No dieting, pills, hypnosis, exhausting sports, calorie counting, injections, attitude manipulations, or other health endangering methods. You can go on doing you usual things, eat what you normally eat, enjoy your life in general; you can even lie on the couch, and – keep losing weight!
The chapter title promises wonders that might seem hard to believe – for whoever can get slim by lying on the couch? “There has to be a catch” you might think. Well, you would be correct: The thing is, efficient lying on the couch, too, requires some thought and sensible approach. Now therefore.
Rule one: drink hot water
Cold liquids digest much worse and are usually quick to be discarded from the body. The water temperature must be comfortable to drink in small gulps without burning your throat. I recommend drinking 160 ml hot water (this is equal to a small plastic cup) every 1–1.5 hours, and it must be pure clear water, with no additives. Hot tea, coffee, fruit drinks and other beverages are essentially food and are little engaged in maintaining body fluid balance.
It is best to drink most of your water before evening hours; after 8 pm, you should drink only if you are thirsty — this will spare you the risk of facial swelling in the morning.
Why drink so much water? Today, a thorough answer to this question can easily be found on the internet, so I will just cover the basic facts. Clear water is critical to the functioning of absolutely every system of your body — it carries nutrients to the cells and tissues, removes toxins, regulates body temperature, serves as natural lubricant for joints, nourishes your skin, and restores your energy. The effects of low water balance are sure to be felt and seen in the mirror: quick fatigue, bad mood in the morning, apathy, laziness, dull skin and hair, dark circles around bleary eyes. The lack of water is a genuine stress to your body, and the body responds as it has been taught to by millions of years of evolution — by stockpiling the incoming food to be able to extract water from it when needed.
Years of work with clients under our EatReadSlim program, as well as personal consulting have proven the idea that slimming is often impeded by water shortage in the body. Start drinking hot water, and you will be surprised by the positive changes in your look and well-being.
BTW! It is almost ten centuries ago that Avicenna wrote in his Recipes for Longevity that clear water is the key to longevity and rejuvenation. Nothing has changed ever since; we are still children of the ocean, and will ail and age faster without water.
Rule two: eat
Hunger is the worst ill-wisher on your path to a slim figure. Feeling hungry keeps your body stressed and does not let you get rid of the excessive weight, so regular and variegated meals are important. Sounds strange, right? Everyone knows that true ladies eat flower petals, drink morning dew and weigh just like a cloud in the sky. I cannot say exactly how those ladies manage to survive and keep working, bearing children, meeting with friends, or traveling. Those are probably some otherworldly ladies. I confess I have never met one in person.
What I do know though is you can never deprive yourself of wholesome nutrition — it is one of the basic human needs. You could indeed get slimmer by limiting your menu badly (e.g. when dieting), but your body would assess this as a threat to its welfare, and just like in case with water deficit it would switch to the ‘saving for a rainy day’ mode. It would, however, be ever more reluctant to give back its savings, sports or fasting days notwithstanding, for who knows what trick you might pull next time; nature likes to think a hundred steps ahead.
This is why low-calorie diets often end in meltdowns, where a person’s kilos come back with a vengeance — that is how the body fights for its right to live. Yes, this is not an exaggeration, we are talking survival here. Every day, the cells and systems of our body need a certain amount of nutrients to ensure that the heart beats, muscles flex, and blood is pumped into the brain and all the other organs. Fasting and diets cut the supply of food necessary to maintain life, and since the body cannot stop its heartbeat or breathing for the time of dieting, it is forced to create a stock for the future in the form of body fat. In this case, even sport exercises may prove useless or cause fatigue and exhaustion.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are your daily investment in your own health and physical shape. The maximum allowable time between meals is five hours. Failure to eat for longer than five hours means you give your body stress. Not eating for over 5 hours regularly means letting it know here comes the “rainy day” where it has to build up strategic stockpiles.
The normal helping of food is 300–400 grams. You do not need to have precision scales on hand, just look at the size of your two fists brought together — this is what the total volume of the food you eat with one meal should be.
Two fists brought together is practically the volume of your stomach, and more food can only be squeezed in by overstretching the stomach walls. That is why the individual size of a comfortable meal can also be identified through bodily sensations – a ‘heavy stomach’ or mild air belching. If you feel your stomach get heavy during a meal, you ought to stop; this is your body signaling feverishly “Don’t feed me anymore, I’ve nowhere to put all this.” My advice is to rise from the table before you feel heavy in the stomach. Even an air balloon will lose elasticity from constant inflation and deflation; imagine what it is like for a living organ? It would be more appropriate to look to mild air belching for the signal; it tells you about the ‘right’ saturation without overeating, so if you detect such a signal during a meal, my congratulations – you have an established a connection with your stomach. A mild belch is the body’s way of saying “Please stop, I’m good, but you got to stop now!”
I know how busy the life of a modern woman can be, but no extra workload can pass for a justification of hunger. On the contrary, the higher the load, the more attention you should pay to your body so it can manage the entrusted tasks and stay alert. It is important to allot at least 10 minutes for each meal, as food which has been thoroughly chewed and moistened with saliva is digested easier and better.
Attention! Experiment! How fast do you eat? Right now, take any bit of food the size of an almond (it could be meat, cheese or a nut), set the alarm clock or shortstop in your phone for 2 minutes and chew for that period of time. Have you been able to focus on the smell and taste of the food, or was your mind wandering as usual?
If you were able to chew the food for 2 minutes and not hurry, keep that feeling in memory – this is how you should always eat. If two minutes spent on such a small piece was too much for you, start smaller, 5–10 sec for each ‘bite’.
What is the purpose of the experiment? Our brain requires some time to process the fact that its needs have been satisfied. As a rule, it takes 15–20 minutes, and this time is enough for us to eat a much bigger amount of food than necessary. Therefore, the slower you eat the less food you will need to stay your hunger. By controlling the time spent on meals, you will learn to rise from the table in time — when you are full but still alert and light.
BTW! There is no need to stock up with food containers for the whole day. If your schedule is packed to the full, take along fruits and a meat and cheese sandwich wrapped in foil. This will be enough to defend your organism from hunger.
Rule three: air your couch every day
By airing the couch I mean daily walks: leisurely walking in any direction, perhaps around your house, office building or favorite bench in the park. Minimum 45 minutes a day, preferably 1.5 hours, maximum — as long as you want. The EatReadSlim program does not include obligatory exhausting gym workouts, and there is a very simple explanation to it.
First of all, people usually go to the gym after work, i.e. after 6 pm, when the sun is low in the west. The natural body biorhythms require rest at this time of day; your body does not want to be alert, it wants to relax. Thus, instead of caring about your muscles, you impose violence on your own body.
Secondly, sports gyms often lack sufficient air, and they are usually so crowded! A stuffy environment makes our brain suffer from low oxygen, which is why you may feel overwhelming tiredness or headache post training. Walks, on the other hand, make almost all your muscles work, and a 45 minute stroll along the streets will easily replace two hours of strenuous workout.
If you know particular reasons why walks are good for your health, you can always find arguments to raise you from your chair (or couch):
Walking uphill tones your calves and thighs; regularity will make your legs toned and tight.
Walking while tightening your buttocks will tone your gluteus muscles (try not to strain the waist however), so you can literally walk yourself a pair of good-looking well-defined glutes.
Walking backwards tones your back and butt muscles. For a better effect, keep your spine straight, put your hands on the waist and gather in your stomach.
Walking with your stomach tightened strengthens your abs.
In fact, you can tense any given group of muscles during a walk — it is a nice alternative for a weight workout. With time, this simple trick can develop your beautiful body outline without so much as a single visit to the nearby gym. Magic? Yes, but there is one condition to the whole affair: you need to walk every day.
Your walks should be comfortable and based on common sense, which means if there is -30°C and a blizzard, it is better to head to a shopping mall: these are so large these days that they may well substitute for a park.
If you are a fitness girl or an avid weight lifter and cannot pass a chance to sweat in a gym, then you should at least move your sessions towards the first half of the day. Some people find it hard to lose weight simply because they make their body work at the time of day which mother-nature meant as the time of rest and repose.
Our body was designed to move and it always remembers that: In days of yore, humans used to forage, flee for safety or fight, i.e., active motion accounted for over 8 hours a day. Modern man no longer needs prolonged physical activity to be in a good shape and feel well; it is enough to be active a short time but regularly, every day with no exceptions.
The beauty of walks is that they require no extra investment in sports shoes or other gear, and you do not feel self-conscious over posh fitness gals eyeing you, which guarantees that your self-esteem and budget will stay intact.
The rapid advance of civilization has delivered humanity from living in caves and hunting wild animals (well, almost), while at the same time it has severed the connection we used to have with our own bodies. We ceased understanding the body’s true needs, it was turned into a tool for labor and getting pleasures, and modern people pay for this by illnesses and chronic fatigue. I believe we now see the trend reverse as people seem to recover that lost connection. My recommendations are meant to help you learn how to live in peace and harmony with your body, to reinvent it as your friend and ally.
BTW! There is a theory that when a person stops moving, their body stops living and starts to prepare for death: the muscles row numb and weaken, blood circulation slows down, internal organs deteriorate from low oxygen and malnutrition, joints get stiff, and all the liveliness and buoyancy dissipate. The field of medicine engaged with the study of ageing mechanisms argues that the human body has a rated life of 120–150 years, whereas some ancient sources claim that figure to be even 300. We last a miniscule fraction from the possible because we do not care of our most valuable resource – our own body. Do not resign from life before your time!
Rule four: don’t wash down your food
Saturation with food and saturation with water are two completely different processes which impede each other when going on in parallel. It is good to drink water before or directly after a meal but not during one. So why do food and water not go together well?
Reason one. When eating, your body actively produces saliva which contains ferments necessary for thorough processing of food, while your stomach excretes acids and bases to break down matter into simpler components. If water enters the body at this stage, the body will erroneously take it for ferments and obediently inject acid and caustic at the same time. In fact, the stomach starts digesting itself, which may trigger many chronic diseases of the digestive tract.
Reason two. When washing the food down with water, the food will inevitably be chewed less thoroughly – since it goes down well anyway with water, juice or tea. The unchewed food will sink to the bottom of your stomach like a stone; your body will need fourteen hours (sometimes more!) to digest it. The process cannot be accelerated, since the important step of food crushing and ferment processing has fallen out of the digestion sequence.
BTW! Never wash the food down with hot tea or cold drinks! Cold liquids force the digestive tract muscles to reflectively contract, which may result in the food hitting the intestinal tract in the undigested form and causing acetification, whereas the tannines in the tea will numb the sensitivity of the stomach and intestines making them atonic and temporarily unable to take in the food.
Rule five: drink a glass of hot water before every meal
A hungry person is in no humor for pleasures or etiquette. Remember how you eat when you are very hungry? You hurry and literally shove the food into your mouth, and then feel heavy in the stomach. A glass of hot water before a meal will take the edge off your hunger by filling up your stomach, thus lowering the risk of over-eating or swallowing of unchewed food. Hot water will also gently activate the body systems and prepare them for fast assimilation of the food.
After drinking some hot water, you can practically immediately proceed to eating, no waiting pause required. The same goes for water you drink right after a meal. Tea, coffee or other drinks, however, are advisable only 15—20 minutes after or before a meal, no sooner and no later.
BTW! The Chinese drink lots of hot water all the time; this is a habit they develop early in life. It is normal practice in China to come to a restaurant and ask for a glass of hot water first thing. A vacuum flask with hot water is as necessary a personal item for a Chinese as, say, a tooth brush. A well-known proverb “In any strange situation go to sleep” in China would apparently sound as “In any strange situation – drink hot water!” Perhaps this habit is one of the secrets of the nation’s fantastic working capacity.
Rule six: last meal of the day no later that 8 pm
After 6 pm all the body systems switch into the resting mode, this is the natural cycle, whereas after 8 pm they also start working in low-energy mode. Stuffing our body with food at this time means forcing it to work against its natural rhythms. It will wake up beaten and lazy the following morning: of course, it has been running non-stop for a full day already, and now you are waking it up for round two! Have your dinner before 8 pm, and then let your body repose according to its own needs.
But what do you do if the ‘horrible’ hunger pulls you to the refrigerator after 8 pm? This is what the first day of your no-food-before-sleep determination usually ends up with, right? Should you surrender and stock up, or should you take some sedative to help yourself withstand the temptation? Or should you put a code lock on the fridge and ask your family to change the password after 8 pm? Surely, there are many creative ways to fool your appetite but I actually have a simpler and more honest solution, which I am going to tell you about a bit later.
BTW! If you feel very thirsty after 8 pm, don’t exercise your patience heroically, just drink some hot water in small sips. You might need only a little to quench your thirst.
Rule seven: eat 1 or 2 hunger indicators each 1.5 hours
In our program, Hunger Indicators refer to any bits of food of 20 grams / 20 kilocalories, the size of a large almond: any dried fruit, nut, dry bread, a slice of cheese 1 cm thick, etc. The indicators must be present in your menu throughout the day. This means, keep eating 1, at most 2 indicators each 1.5–2 hours until you go to bed. Eat at least one indicator even if you are not hungry at all. This is the whole point: When your body constantly gets food, it relaxes, switches off the saving mode and starts to comfortably spend its supplies. A hunger indicator gives the signal to your brain: “There is no hunger, food is always available; there is no need to stock up in fat anymore.”
Although any food such as a piece of cheese on a scone, a piece of apple or cucumber can be an indicator, dried fruit and nuts are more convenient to carry in your handbag or pocket and eat wherever you are, be it even a most crowded place.
It may seem difficult to control the intake of the indicators. In reality, we already have the habit of chewing on something during the day, what is left is to replace our casual snack breaks and office coffee pauses with hunger indicators. Put 8 pieces of dry fruit or 8 nuts in your pocket or on your desk; you will need to eat them over the day. Every time your hand slides into your pocket or you feel like having a snack, you will be reminded of your hunger indicators.
BTW! In a situation where you cannot possibly have a wholesome meal, you can easily avoid hunger stress using those indicators. Just eat them as slowly and thoughtfully as you can.
Let’s make an experiment! Do you know how to enjoy food and make the most of it? Take any indicator available at the moment, again set your alarm clock for two minutes, put the piece on your tongue, close your eyes and enjoy the process. Imagine the history behind the nut or dried fruit: It grew under hot sun, was harvested by someone’s caring hands, washed, dried, packed and sent off on a long journey across the ocean until it appeared on the shelf of your local supermarket. Were you able to focus on the taste sensations? If you did not feel anything special, it makes sense to keep repeating the exercise for a week to learn to ‘catch a buzz’ from even the smallest piece of food. The pleasure will slow down the process of eating, focus your mind on the activity, which in turn will promote good digestion and balance your weight. What is more, the ability to enjoy simple things is a sort of therapy which lowers the total amount of stress in your life.
Rule zero: don’t sweat it
Remember, you can eat anything, even ‘bad’ products; you just need to eat them at the right time, in small quantities, and think about what you are eating without getting distracted! With time, the need in low nutrient, high-calorie products will decrease on its own. Continue living as usual and carry out your usual activities. No special foods, no sprouts, or cast-iron regimen! Don’t promise to yourself to start jogging in the morning if you don’t feel ready. Don’t stuff your fridge with celery if you feel sick from the mere sight of it. Don’t squeeze yourself a carrot fresh if you know you would have to pinch your nose from disgust to drink it. Don’t stop meeting your friends at cafes or inviting them over to watch a series and have a cup of tea. There is no need to deprive yourself of the habitual joys. You only need to replace the joys of eating with other fascinating things more often! I am going to tell you how to do it in later chapters.
Bonus rule: choose stomach-activated foods
Try to eat only things which used to grow on trees, under trees, underground, which swam in water or walked the earth. This simple criterion will help you make the right choice in favor of a particular product. For instance, marshmallow surely did not grow on a tree, therefore its practical use for your body equals zero, while the calories can very well stick to your waist and thighs. Artificially synthetized substances are not identified by our body, instead accumulating in the cells and tissues and causing illnesses and excess weight.
If you keep gaining weight and cannot understand how, mind that the answer may lie in the products containing synthetic flavors and taste modifiers: sausages, hot dogs, cheese, creams, yogurts, bottled smoothies, even tea. Yes, tea! The tea produced in vast quantities by tea manufacturers has long ceased to be a “live” product. Besides, tea plants grow in latitudes different from ours, which makes tea alien to our body on the cellular level.
There is healthy living theory that argues that a person’s menu should consist of foods which are grown and produced in the same area where the person has been born and spent most of their life. It is especially true of vegetables, fruits, greens and herbs. Such an approach has a point. And the thing is not only that our bodies have genetically developed affinity to local products. As a rule, fruits and vegetables brought from far abroad have been harvested while unripe (so they can endure transportation) and treated with chemicals (for the same purpose). For this matter, an apple grown in a neighboring region may well be safer than a glazed mango from a supermarket.
It is perfectly allowable to leave bread in your menu: this is the only heavily processed product which is perfectly compatible with your body. Cereal crops have been grown by peoples around the world since ancient times; your body if familiar with bread on the cellular level, which is why it is digested quite well. Opinions differ as to what kind of bread to eat and when. I believe the issue is not the sort of bread but the size of the bites. Remember that a piece of bread is included in a generic meal of 300–400 grams, and is not a complement to it.
Chapter 2. Who will provide the kick in the butt, or Where do i begin?
“How many times is it now you’ve started new?”
“Too many,” Roger had said. “And you don’t have to rub it in.”
Ernest Hemingway. “Islands in the stream”
A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct.
Frank Herbert. “Dune”
Dear reader, let me congratulate you now! We have completed the overview of our slimming rules, so you may put the book down and move on with your life. Strictly speaking, this is what we do whenever we learn about yet another method of getting slim quickly and easily. At this point, many of you probably wave off what you have read, and say something along the lines of “Oh, I know, rules blah-blah-blah, what a joke!” Skeptics and disappointed crusaders for ideal weight go on sitting on their butt, and of course, nothing is happening with them. This is only logical — if you keep on doing the same thing then where can any change come from? You have to make an effort to overcome inertia, your inner resistance.
The recipe for the participants of the EatReadSlim program is simple as 1–2–3: do it, don’t haste it, and the result will come! In this connection, I will cite two examples showing how this principle works. Once, a client came to my workshop, looked through the rules and decided that they were too cumbersome for her: to drink water every hour, to eat hunger indicators, to take 45 minute walks… After the first session, she returned home and complained to her husband. The husband recognized the simplicity of the method at once, so he decided to take action himself and lost seven kilos in just one week! This is when the wife started to feel competitive herself.
Another example. One day, my hair stylist was dying my hair and complaining that she was drinking very much water but the weight would not go away, and now she had started to suffer from severe swellings. I recommended drinking hot water and eating more. Two months later I came back to the hair salon, and did not recognize my stylist. She had lost 8 kilos! At the same time, her spirits had risen, her face had been refreshed, and her swellings had gone. Whereas her colleague, the beauty doctor, in front of whose eyes the whole story had been unfolding, stated firmly that she did not believe in miracles like that… and went on to buy expensive Swiss slimming pills. So what am I getting at? Dear reader, the only one way you can benefit from reading this book and maintain your weight for many years is just – by doing it. Go on and try!
Having too many questions, like whether you can keep eating ham, and if not then how to stop, because you just feel like doing it?! Or how you can whip up a nutritious breakfast from whatever you happen to have at home? Or how you can possibly start to lose weight while eating the same food you have always been eating? (I mean come on, I am already eating it alright, and the weight is where is used to be?!) You honestly doubt that only 7 easy rules can really change your life?
Your suspicions are understandable. Indeed, it is not enough to just know five or ten rules; you need to know how and why those rules work. We receive so much different and sometimes contradictory information that we are unwilling to take any rules whatsoever for granted anymore. Deep at heart, we always want to know why we should act one way and not another.
Besides, any rules work only upon one condition: if you follow them regularly, every day. This is where we stumble most often: we get lazy, skive, castigate ourselves, give up, start again, give up again. Sounds familiar? Why does that keep happening? It happens because you have not sold the idea of slimming to yourself, and do not know why you really need to weigh a few kilos less.
The key is always internal motivation
When I first meet my program enrollees, I always ask each of them — why do you want to get slimmer? Believe me, this is not a rhetoric question. The thing is, there is only one force that inspires us to any action, our internal motivation. It is a grave emotional reason giving a meaningful answer to the Why question. The answer you personally will believe.
Strange though it may sound, a beautiful body and a bunch of dresses a size or two smaller cannot motivate us by themselves. You may hold on to the new rules for a few weeks, possibly a month, for the sake of the joy of wearing a pair of fancy jeans, but then the old habits start to reassert themselves. The internal motivation for long-term changes lies at an altogether different level and is not dependent on consumption or obtaining material goods. What do you need a beautiful figure and new clothes for? What are you really trying to achieve?
We seem to live at the time when ‘thoughts are material’ cannot puzzle anyone, when “materialization of desired events” no longer qualifies as mysticism or esoterics but is considered a legitimately scientific theory – and yet we are still having troubles fulfilling our dreams.
As it turns out, it is not enough to set a goal; you need to convince yourself that the goal is critical to you and real, as well as convince your subconscious to create no obstacles on your path to the goal. Why then does our subconscious try to impede us? Aren’t our dreams supposed to inspire and motivate us? To get to the bottom of the question, you need to understand how your wants and ambitions are seen by the Supreme Commander in Chief – your brain.
The human brain is not a homogenous structure but a strategic alliance of three systems: the reptilian brain, the emotional (limbic) brain, and the visual brain (cerebral cortex), each with its own function.
The Reptilian Brain (aged 100 million years) is the oldest part of our personality responsible for the survival of the humanity in general. The reptilian brain does not compromise, it makes no deals or negotiates, it cannot be deceived or coerced to anything, and it has vast experience of survival so it never hesitates but acts straightaway and plays to win. This is the power of our instincts and subconscious fears. If the reptilian brain assesses a certain way of action as a threat to the well-being of the whole organism, such an action has no chance of succeeding. Ignoring the power of instincts would be shortsighted at the least.
Limbic (Emotional) System of our brain formed 50 million years ago; its function is the life preservation of a particular person. The limbic brain is responsible for our emotions and physical activity; this is where our mood is generated. This is the same kind our pet animals have – which is perhaps why we tend to be emotionally attached to them and attribute human motives to their behavior: we sense kinship literally on the cellular level. The emotional brain is unique in that it does not like changes, and constantly pulls us back to our old habits. Now you understand why it is so difficult to change your lifestyle? Your emotional system is determined to leave everything as it is, acting in our best interests – after all, stability and predictability successfully mitigated the risks of the turbulent life of ancient people for hundreds of years! The comfort of the modern civilization has been acquired quite recently, practically yesterday in terms of the evolution; and when it comes to safety, our body tends to rely on that ancient experience.