Back in May I had turned over a new leaf. I was walking with a pedometer and eating more veggies and felt pretty good about it. I had even lost 1.5 pounds. Soon after, I swapped running for walking and ditched the pedometer (only partly because I felt like a dork wearing a white pod on my pants every time I left the house). I thought the more intense workouts would quickly show results, but I was wrong.
On the one hand, I was getting stronger. I could run farther and faster. And under the layers of cushion, I could feel my muscles getting firmer. But the cushiony layer was not shrinking. The scale was not budging. And my jeans were tight as ever. Frustration set in, and I may or may not have tried to soothe myself with ice cream and a couple of chick flicks (which I realize does not help the weight loss cause but sometimes that’s just what happens when you’re frustrated).
So one day last month, I was talking to a personal trainer about how I could tell I was getting stronger but my weight was not changing at all, despite progressively healthier eating and increasingly intense workouts since January. He said I should consider a detox diet to give my metabolism a boost and recommended The UltraSimple Diet by Dr. Mark Hyman, saying that the first time he tried this detox a few years ago he lost 10 pounds in a week.
I don’t know about you, but when someone starts talking about losing 10 pounds in a week warning bells go off in my brain. But I was frustrated enough to consider it. I decided to read the book to see what sort of crazy techniques and concoctions the good doctor was trying to sell. Turns out, it’s not all that crazy.
The idea behind the diet is that our world is full of toxins that we ingest and/or are exposed to and these toxins cause inflammation in the body. And this inflammation leads to imbalances and diseases and weight gain. Dr. Daniel Amen, who wrote Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, also talks about inflammation in the body. And while I am still a skeptic about some parts of the diets and research related to this inflammation theory, I think it is plausible. I mean, there is a lot of crap in the world and a lot of it is in our food so it is within the realm of possibility.
Anyway, the UltraSimple Diet book is a very dry read with a lot of infomercial-type sales pitches woven into the chapters, but the diet itself is reasonable. There is a “preparation week” in which you eliminate sugar, flour, alcohol, dairy, and caffeine. Okay, I know, that in itself is a little crazy… I mean, no sugar or flour or dairy means no goodies! But it’s not really that bad, you just have to be determined to stick to it. The second week is the actual detox week. You eat a lot of vegetables, brown rice, and lean protein, supplementing it with smoothies and vegetable broth.
There are other parts of the program that are a little odd like drinking 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the juice of half lemon, which I did a couple of times but ultimately decided it was okay to skip that part and just eat the veggies and brown rice. And while you do have to be prepared mentally and well-stocked with veggies in the fridge, it is a doable 2 weeks. Even for me, a confessed sugar addict and lover of butter.
I’m not saying everyone should run out and do this or any other detox. I’m just sharing my experience. And while I won’t know the long-lasting results until more time has past (I’ll keep you posted), I am wearing my old favorite jeans as I write this. Jeans I have not been able to squeeze into in over a year. And that is enough success for me.
By the numbers:
- I lost 5 pounds in 2 weeks.
- My waist is 1 inch smaller
- My hips shrank 0.5 inch
The most visible difference is that cushiony layer got thinner. I’m not necessarily chalking up all of my progress to this detox since I have been running and working out, but I do think it was the boost I needed… if only to relieve my frustration. I broke though the plateau and am now working on getting over the next hump.
One of the pillars of the diet is a smoothie that in the book is called the UltraShake. To me it’s just a smoothie (I have a problem with attaching Ultra to everything). Anyway, the boosted protein content makes this more satisfying than my old standard soy milk + fruit smoothie. There are 3 different versions in the book, using 3 different sources of protein. I went with the silken tofu one because I have an aversion to protein powders.
I found the shake as written in the book had too much of a tofu flavor for me, so I played with the proportions until I had a palatable but still protein rich breakfast smoothie. I’m working my way back to normal meals, but I am eating more veggies than before the diet, and I still have one of these smoothies for breakfast a couple times a week.
Let’s make one now
You’ll need soymilk (as part of the diet I started using unsweetened but in the past have used vanilla soy milk which is also really good but you’ll be getting more sugar). Almond butter adds a little richness but is totally optional.
To up the protein, use silken tofu. You’ll only be using a little bit, so have a storage container handy for the extra.
(Totally optional) This is really-good-for-you stuff. Loaded with omega-3s and fiber. I occasionally added this to my smoothies even before I did this diet. Note: it’s best to store this in the freezer because it can go bad on you very quickly if left out at room temperature.
Measure out 1/4 cup silken tofu into your blender.
2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed if you are using it.
Optional: 1 tablespoon of almond butter
Mix this on low.
Add half a banana. As you can see from the ice crystals, mine is frozen. I like to keep frozen bananas around for smoothies and/or banana bread (it’s best to peel them first, then store in a zip-top bag. I used to store them in the peel but peeling a frozen banana is not fun. Trust me). If you are using a frozen banana, it’s best to slice it up to make it easier on your blender (I always end up with unblended banana chunks when I don’t slice it but maybe my blender is weak).
1/2 cup of frozen blueberries
1/4 cup frozen cherries
Add 1/4 cup of water (or more if it’s still too thick) and blend until smooth (start at the low speed and work your way up to high).
(adapted from The UltraSimple Diet)
I prefer using frozen fruit in my smoothies because my blender doesn’t always handle ice cubes all that well. Note: Frozen fruit is usually frozen at the peak of ripeness so you aren’t sacrificing quality by choosing it over fresh. If you use fresh fruit instead of frozen, add a handful or so of ice to the blender.
1/4 cup silken tofu
1/4-1/3 cup unsweetened soy milk
2 tablespoons ground flax seed (optional)
1 tablespoon almond butter (optional)
1/2 banana, sliced (frozen if possible)
1/4 cup frozen cherries
1/4 frozen blueberries
1/4 cup water (or more depending on your preferred thickness)
- Put tofu, soy milk, and banana into the blender with flax seed and almond butter if using, and blend on low until it’s mixed up.
- Add berries, cherries, and water. Blend starting on low and working your way up to high until everything is smooth.
- With almond butter: 266 calories, 11g fat, 9.7g protein, 33.5g carbohydrates (7g fiber)
- Without almond butter: 171 calories, 6.2g protein, 30.5g carbohydrates (5g fiber)