Over the summer, I was honored to find out that the girls at Outblush.com, Trajano and Janetor, decided to test my diet book, My Diva Diet: A Woman's Last Diet Book and Workbook. After all, Outblush is a cool place for Fashion –– Home –– Beauty –– Life!
Diet Road Test: My Diva Diet
Well, we survived going gluten free for three weeks, and took a break so we could enjoy the 4th of July and all the delicious foods that holiday brings. It's time to dive back in, though, and for the next 3 weeks, Trajano and Janetor will be following Christine Lakatos' My Diva Diet: A Woman's Last Diet Book ($16) as closely as possible.
What is it? A former competitive bodybuilder and American Gladiator contestant, Christine Lakatos works as a fitness trainer in the San Diego, CA area. She advocates a diet based on sound nutritional principles - lean protein & dairy, complex carbs, whole fruits & veggies - and smaller meals throughout the day, totaling 1200-1300 calories daily. Her emphasis is on "pure" foods, i.e. natural, organic, and kosher-certified, in order to minimize exposure to toxins and environmental pollutants. And, yes, kosher means no pork products & no shellfish.
Does it work? According to reviewers, yes. There are no strange supplements or drinks recommended, and certainly eating mostly lean fish, chicken & turkey, veggies, fruits, lean dairy and whole grains will contribute to your overall health. As one might expect from a bodybuilder, she is a strong advocate for exercise, as well.
What's with the quizzes and cartoon characters? The book is peppered with Christine's cartoon alter ego, Crystal, and her panther sidekick, Paw. They pop up regularly with tips & tricks, and "battle" some pretty corny Diet Villains, like Al and Cole (alcohol), Tranny Granny (trans fats), and the Junkster (junk food). To assess your eating & exercise habits, you take a 13-page quiz on everything from how often you work out to how many glasses of wine you consume each week. She also includes plenty of recipes and food tracking worksheets.
What do we think, as non-fitness freaks? Both of us work out regularly, so that won't be a hardship. Lakatos' recommendation to stick to kosher-certified organic meats is a little hard to swallow, though: We concede her point that kosher-raised animals are less likely to have been mistreated and have been fed a healthier diet, but not everyone has easy access (or the grocery budget) to a kosher butcher. We will, however, try to stick to organic products as much as possible. Consuming just 1200-1300 calories a day will be tough, as will giving up desserts and Janetor's personal weakness, Diet Coke. Lakatos does allow for "cheats," like Fudgsicles or dark chocolate, but only "once per week or less."
Be sure to check back in with us for the next three weeks, as we'll be posting Tuesday updates on how we're doing with the Diet Road Test: My Diva Diet!
In their intro, they had some nice things to say about my background, but I don't live in San Diego. Yes, I was a AG contestant –– see clip above. However, the wonderful girls at Outblush had already labeled my "Superhero Theme" as corny. Alrighty then! It appeals to some and some NOT, however, there is a method to my madness. The short-term strategy is this: love the idea or hate it, it is the only diet book with this type of format and one that will be remembered. According to another "reviewer" of my book, Alie James writer for Blogcritics Magazine...
There is a place for "thinking outside the box," especially when writing a diet book and trying to stand out from the thousands of competitive diet books available to the hungry market of “tired-of-dieting dieters.” Christine Lakatos wrote My Diva Diet, and is such a thinker. She wants to get our attention, and she does so by using Diet Villains and Superheroes throughout her book. We have Ms. Diva, who highlights for us some very useful tips, and it's her presence throughout the book that ties everything together. Her sidekick, Paws, makes a presence as well, and summarizes the howto information for us.
Secondly, the long-term strategy is to turn my Superhero Theme into an animated TV series, video game, etc. –– in an effort to entertain, educate and engage children toward health and wellness. After all, childhood obesity is on the rise and I wrote about a while ago...
Childhood obesity is real and unfortunately on the rise. According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, "childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years." What is even more alarming are the health consequences: "Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure." They are also at greater risk of developing Type-2 diabetes, bone and joint problems, and other health issues. Let’s not kid ourselves; other areas are affected when children are overweight or obese; energy levels, mood, and yes, self esteem. Sadly, "obese youth are more likely than youth of normal weight to become overweight or obese adults."But the format of the book can be subjective and I appreciate the girls at Outblush and their honesty. The other issue they had with my diet book makes much more sense because it had to do with the Kosher aspect. I must admit that I've had few reviewers question or comment my "sanity." And if I had write it again, I would have been more thorough in my explanation. That is why I released the My Diva Diet: Compact Version. Here is my responses the them..
As far as the Kosher meats, you are right, it is difficult to get at the grocery store, however, you can find it at Trader Joe's. At any rate, in the Compact Version, due to confusion and quite a bit of people calling me "crazy," I changed it to "animal friendly meat." It is all about how the animals are treated and most "authentic" organic meat producers do a pretty good job.
Week Two of the girls at Oublush My Diva Diet Road Test is where they outline the good, the not so good, the ugly, and the beautiful.
Diet Road Test: My Diva Diet - Week 2
The Good: My Diva Diet would be a great book for women who don't know much about nutrition and have never really needed to lose weight before - perhaps you're anxious about baby weight, or just finished college and your adolescent super-metabolism is starting to grow up and slow down. There is a wealth of useful, applicable nutritional knowledge in the book. We particularly liked a lot of her recipes - they encourage you to incorporate more beans and legumes into your diet, which are both tasty and great for you, as well as experiment with a wide (and delicious!) variety of herbs and spices.MY RESPONSE:
The Not So Good: Going through the book can feel a bit choppy - there are pop-outs, tips, tricks, highlights, FYIs, notes, and reminders galore. There's no easy narrative to follow and the layout can be a bit confusing and off putting. The diet lacks a clear starting point - the book's cover boasts that there are 7 ways to use the program, but singling out the one that's right for you is no easy task. Perhaps the My Diva Diet Compact Version ($10) is a better option, neither Trajano nor Janetor have tried it out, but perhaps it's a more user-friendly guide to the Diva Diet.
The Ugly: There are two Phases in the book - Diva Reduction and Diva Maintenance. Diva Reduction suggests eating between 1200 and 1300 calories a day, which most nutritionists suggest is the required baseline caloric consumption for survival. If you've been eating 2000+ calories/day for years and in the course of a few days cut your intake almost in half it would cause quite a shock to your system and leave you feeling starving and deprived (which usually leads to 3:30 cookie binges). She does say that a woman who exercises vigorously may require up to 2,000 calories a day, but for all the useful diet info in the book, there's no chart or guide that factors in height, age, weight, and activity level to help you find a healthy caloric intake range for your body type. The nutritional needs of a 43 year-old woman who is 5'10" and wants to lose 15 pounds are very different from those of a 5'6" 19 year-old who needs to drop 50.
The Beautiful: It's clear that Lakatos wants My Diva Diet to be sustainable for women of all ages and walks of life. She is encouraging and enthusiastic in every possible way, and her belief that all woman can lose the weight they don't want and live healthier lives is indeed inspiring. The "Society Guide" towards the end of the book is a wonderful section that focuses on the different lives that women lead, from housewives and single moms to teens and college girls. Lakatos outlines ways to eat healthy and make time for physical fitness that are reasonable for each individual lifestyle. And you can't beat her overall message - there's no fast, easy way to lose weight, but the right way is well worth it.
Again the user-friendliness, the overall format, and cartoon aspects can be subjective, however, the caloric intake is not. And there are not many women that are consuming 2000 calories a day. Kudos to them if they are eating 2000 cals a day and are fit as ever. I certainly don't, but did when I was competing.
Here are just a few notes on the subject.
- On page 33 of the book, I give "Caloric Intake Guide" very specifically to deal with different women and their existing eating habits.
- If you are 2,000 cals per day you may only need to drop to 1400 to 1600.
- If you are eating under 1000 cals per day, may need to slowly build your daily caloric intake up.
- If you exercise regularly or you are an athlete, you many need more than 1300 cals per day; even if you are trying to lose fat.
- Stated throughout the book is that 1300 is just a baseline to get women in the "caloric ballpark" and that they can adjust daily caloric intake at any time in the program.
- I also state in the book that is better to "clean up your calories before you reduce them."
- Outlined on page 32 is a guide telling the readers that they can move on the Phase 2 at any time, which calls for higher calories of 1400 to 1600 per day and more if applicable.
- Furthermore, if when prescribing 1300 calories per day, it is RARE that people will follow that number EXACTLY. In reality, most will eat a few hundred calories more than that. This is due to inaccurate measuring or not measuring at all, as wells as eating a late night snack and not counting "cheat calories."
- Pages 97 through 140 is an entire section on the longest of the Five Factors Affecting Body Fat and Health –– Factor #4 Quantity and Distribution of Calories –– again laying out daily caloric intake from 1200 up to 3000 with many details. This should calculated according to BMR, lean body mass, age, activity level, and weight management goals (page 99). While other things should be considered like medical conditions, pregnancy, and youth. Moreover, whether or not a women is interested in losing fat, gaining muscle, or maintaining their current condition, should be calculated into the equation. Also, if a women is coming off of a restricted or starvation diet plan is critical because if she went right to the high caloric range, she would blow up like a balloon.
- In fact there is an entire chapter devoted to calories, "Calories: Friends or Foes?" found in PART SEVEN pages 285 to 292.
Diet Road Test: My Diva Diet, Week 3
We're rounding the bend into the final week of following Christine Lakatos' My Diva Diet ($16), (check out our intro and first week observations), and it's been an interesting road. Here are our thoughts and observations from our second full week of this Diet Road Test.
Layout: While the information given is mostly nutritionally sound, i.e. lean proteins, veggies, and whole grains, the book's layout remains the most frustrating aspect for us both. Most diet books are split into introduction, methodology, how-to-follow instructions, tips, recipes, and encouragement. This one is all over the map, and doesn't reference many actual nutritional guidelines until the "References" section at the end.
WHY Should I Eat This Way?: We would have preferred more scientific reasons for the guidelines presented, i.e. why it's important to drink water all day or to avoid gluten. The "Because Paw Said So" attitude gets a little... scold-y and preachy after awhile, as do the cartoons. With all the "eat this, not that!" advertisements and books out there, we want to know the scientific reasons WHY soda is bad, or why shellfish and pork are verboten.
Seven Ways? Where? How? The cover, as we mentioned before, claims that there are seven ways to use this diet, but they're not clearly outlined. a strongly defined starting point and plans for each of the seven ways to use My Diva Diet (as you'd get with, say, the South Beach Diet introduction book) would be very helpful.
1200-1300 Calories A Day? Seriously? Again, the lack of scientific evidence behind this diet rears its head here. The American Heart Association's bare minimum for a 19-30 year old woman with a sedentary lifestyle to maintain their current weight is 2000, and for a woman 31-50, it's 1800. If you're active, that number goes up. Of course, if you're trying to lose weight, cutting calories and increasing activity is the way to go, but not to such drastic levels. We both tried to stick to the 1200-1300 calorie limits, which she recommends for moderately active women, and were both starving, which lead to evening dessert binges.
However, It's Not All Bad: As we mentioned before, we appreciate the paws-itive (ha) attitude of the My Diva Diet, which is a refreshing change from the doom-n-gloom tone of many other diet & nutrition books. Lakatos and her team truly want women to be healthy and happy for life, and emphasize that this should be the last "diet" you'll ever need, simply because it isn't a fad diet, but rather a lifestyle. Still, we'd like more science and less cartoons.
Hmm. Again, I appreciate the candor, however, since I already addressed the daily caloric intake, I will say this, I doubt the American Heart Association knows how to get women down to 10% body fat. And did these girls lose any weight? They never said.
Additionally, the book is over 400 pages long and full of scientific data and 20-pages of references. In fact, PART FOUR dissects each of the Five Factors and the 32-subcategories to educate the reader. PART SEVEN –– Valuable Information –– includes an entire section called "Nutrition 101" and on page 313, why pork and shell fish are not all that healthy or fit, are addressed.
I could go on and on....Click here to see Table of Contents.
Seven Ways to Use My Diva Diet -- www.MyDivaDiet.com
- Follow the entire fat loss program strictly for 6 weeks or more for a major transformation in body fat and health.
- Follow the entire fat loss program semi-strictly for just a few weeks to lose weight and improve your health.
- Follow 50 to 70% of the entire fat loss program for any time frame to make progress with your body fat and health.
- Fix just one of the Five Factors Affecting Body Fat and Health to lose weight and improve your health.
- Read the through the workbook portion to learn better ways of eating, effective exercise, and much more.
- Use the workbook as a guide to teach your children healthy ways of eating so they won’t fall victim to the deception of the Diet Villains.
- Use any portion of My Diva Diet's fat loss diet book as a tool to prevent obesity and poor health.
"We are in a battle for our fitness and health, and in any battle we should know our enemies! Together we can stop the confusion and expose, attack, and defeat the Diet Villains. You can help Paw and I conquer these malicious villains in your life and the lives of others!"