Experiment (update): The Diet Fix which has nothing to do with Dieting

Guilty as charged – a half-written blog post and a delayed follow-up.

So, here’s the result of this 2-weeks’ experiment on (more or less) applying The Diet Fix principles.

3D structure of the protein myoglobin showing turquoise α-helices


The Diet Fix principles

If you already know about Yoni Freedhoff and his work, blog, and book, great. If you don’t (like me, a month ago), do google. In a nutshell, his approach involves:

  1. Weight management = Sacrifice/Torture = Failure
  2. Be realistic about your weight management goal – can you sustain that for life?
  3. Protein, protein, and protein (20g per meal and 10g per snack, 6 meals a day if possible).
  4. Track your macronutrient AND calories as an investigative tool.


Point 1 and 2 are nothing new to me. I have learned that through my own experiences. However, the importance of protein tracking is new to me. I just never got to the point of paying attention to protein – or macro-nutrients on the whole – to understand how it is a different mindset from calorie-only-tracking.



Here’s what I have learned/discovered/observed:

  • Protein does make a difference. I feel satiated, more energetic and alert (granted, the energetic part can be attributed to many things other than Protein intake, from placebo effect to better sleep).
  • Lower carb intake (more because I have been choosing high protein items as opposed to deliberately cutting carbs) makes a huge difference re: my fluid retention. Much reduced!
  • Meeting the MINIMUM (of protein and cals per meal) is a drastically different mindset from freaking out over the MAXIMUM ALLOWANCE of cals in my not-so-wise bulimia days. It takes the fear out of number tracking.
  • Yoni is right that satisfying, protein packed breakfast and lunch will naturally leads to a sensible dinner. There were a couple of days where I could not do “perfect” breakfast and there was a domino effect throughout the rest of the day.


Would I recommend The Diet Fix?

Yes, if 

  • you are ready to think about eating differently (as opposed to “following” a prescribed diet, or counting cals in a sour mood till the cows come home).
  • you are wise and understand health-management is a life long plan and not governed by that silly number on your scale.
  • you visit your doctor regularly and know that you are keen to keep things in check (no denial) – that means you are full-on confident about tackling obesity, diabetics, etc.


No, if

  • you fit none of the above descriptions.
  • you still think diet = minus X pounds.
  • you focus on weight as opposed to health.


If you have read/followed The Diet Fix, do share your thoughts!







Stretch Your Plastic Brains!

Have you read this brilliant article from WSJ – Our Amazing Plastic Brains?



…Neuroscientists took to describing the brain as a computer. This “master analogy” … encourages us to see thought as “software” and the brain’s structure as “hardware….The unhappy practical implication of this view…is clear: Hardware inevitably degenerates with time and use. The rule for a machine is, “Use it and lose it.” Many clinicians under the sway of this analogy saw patients’ attempts to resist their brains’ decline through activity and mental exercise as a harmless waste of time.

Fortunately, a growing body of research suggests that this older view is wrong. It seems that a more accurate rule for our brains is “Use it or lose it.”

If so, are you as super duper excited as I am? Haven’t read it? Please please please click and read (yes, even if you are leaving my blog, I insist!).


For 10 years, both my mind and body have been constantly exposed to serious challenges, some deliberately sought, most in the form of big, fierce curveballs.

It’s also the beginning of a decade when I am constantly told “it’s time to slow down”, or “accept things as is” WHICH I INSTINCTIVELY WRITE OFF.

As a result, my brainwork has evolved in the most amazing ways. It’s tough but rewarding, scary yet deliciously exciting. A fan of neuroscience, I am happy to read that such plasticity is indeed scientifically proven and encouraged!!

Have you been told to accept a downhill decline? Did you accept or ignore the advice? What did you do? How do you feel? What WILL you be?

Embracing the Ebbs and Flows in the New Year

Bidding goodbye to a most horrendous Year 2014. Here are a few thoughts on embracing the ups and downs of life.

We have had an extremely tough year as a family, health-wise. Happy to report that the most serious issues have been cleared. There are flickers of light, daily, to encourage us to keep going, knowing we will be rewarded in the long run.

Even after an absolutely-do-nothing recuperation during the holidays, thanks to my marvellous and supportive husband, I still do not have enough energy to share all information appropriately on this public space. However, I do want to jot down some thoughts on how I embrace the ups and downs of life.  Rather, how I have learned to and continue to improve on the fine art of embracing the ebbs and the flows, the good and the ugly.

I am sure some of you may be having challenges too, and I hope this post would somehow deliver some warm encouragement.

1. Reaching out

I have reached out to personal friends and on topic-specific online groups. Super grateful for all the support I have received from near and afar.

I have been called “brave” for sharing my health issues. It surprised me every time someone mentioned that, because for me health issues – mental, physical, known, unknown – should not be a taboo or secretive. Having said that, I do understand in many cultures, ailments are seen as kind of “imperfections”, an unfair connotation that is the focus of many health campaigns.

If you have some heath issues, PLEASE, seek professional guidance and reach out for support. I find that it is easiest to talk with friends who already/are most likely to understand the issues in question. It can be tiring, frustrating, or even discouraging to talk with people with strong and stubborn presumptions.

2. Seek and follow professional guidance

There appears to be a trend of opposing the “evil institutions” from doctors to pharmaceutical companies. Listen, yes, they are out there to make a profit/living, but their knowledge is infinitely more reliable than what you can find via googling. The key is to work WITH your medical professionals – the more you are involved, the more you ask, the more you contribute, the more you are in control of your own health WITH expert advice.

The same goes for the “soft” side of the equation such as therapies. It may be hit or miss, but (learning from experience), it is most likely a better investment than buying self-help books or going the yoga-cures-all route that are catered for the masses.

3. Learning, always

I am a silver-lining person; it is in my nature to see some goods out of a bad experience, and learn and move forward. Perhaps this is not your second nature, but why not at least try?

Think of every curve ball as an opportunity to learn. If you succeed, a HUGE pat on the shoulder!! Go brag about it!!! Go celebrate!

If not, you have some special learning under your belt, which translate into advantages in the next round. See, no matter what, you learn, you GAIN.

4. Fist world problem, perhaps?

Our almost-new dishwasher started leaking after Christmas. I am handwashing everything while waiting for the spare parts ad repairs. This is insanity, this is torture….and this is the acceptable reality of many people around the world.

Handwashing dishes for a finite period of time is absolutely nothing compared to the wars, famines and political uproars experienced daily by people in other parts of the world.

Perspectives help.

5. Growing old, lucky you

Remember this, each day you wake up.

Wishing all of you a Happy and Healthy Year 2015. Please help me to blog frequently and regularly in the new year 🙂

Dread exercising?

“Working out is my Joie de Vivre.”. There, I said it, a monumental statement from someone who, merely 1.5 years ago, specialized in nothing but sitting and typing at her desk.

Source: transfigure.ca
Source: transfigure.ca

Being fit is not an option; it allows you to enjoy life to the fullest. Evolution dictates that strength and endurance ensures the survival of a species. However, as modern humans, we have nothing to hunt and no predators to avoid….and are left to our devices to figure out the big M – Motivation.

I have succeeded in nailing down my own M …and along the way discovered the joy of ignoring counter-motivational advices. So, if you happen to have “work out more” on your resolution list for years, you may want to check out my alternative perspective!


Counter-motivational advice #1 – Find an exercise that you like

Source: blog.aarp.org
Source: blog.aarp.org

Health experts understand the importance of getting over that first motivation hump. So they say “find something you like!”. And they give you a list of activities to try out.

Here’s the problem – I KNOW what’s out there, I have not been living under a rock. In fact, I can give a lecture on workout trends from the Jane Fonda era to last week’s favourites.

For the motivationally-challenged, it is not about the options. It is about how our brains have been wired to separate “Exercise” from “Pleasure”. Walking-and-shopping for 3 hours = Joy.  Walking for 20 minutes to burn calories = Not Joy.

Only after we get over the hump, we can associate working out with pleasures. But to pick an exercise before our self-motivation kicks in? Does not work.

What works for me instead: 

Source: Favim.com
Source: Favim.com

Learning from the kids (useful if you are a parent!)
My 5-year old has lots of “outside” time both at home and at school. Basically, running, jumping, sandbox digging, silly chasing, etc. He also knows about mommy’s “exercise time” (home gym).

One day, he saw a jogger and commented that he was being silly “He is running on the street!”. I explained to him that jogging is a kind of exercise and; when I work out at home, that’s another kind of exercise. His little brain associates all those running and jumping as “play”…and who cares if he is tired and should come in for a rest…no…PLAY MORE.

What does that mean to you? It means, anytime, and I do mean anytime, you are moving, you can consider that an exercise. Browsing the antique market on a Sunday? Yes, count that in. Strolling over to the neighbourhood ice cream parlour? It counts. Marathon shopping spree? Most definitely.

Pay attention to how your body feels during and especially afterwards. That sweating, that little sore, that little bit of tiredness…it’s your body working.  Start with pleasure and you will soon find yourself yearning for more.

Move like a French Woman (by Mireille Guiliano)

Source: favim.com
Source: favim.com

Mireille Guiliano said it so well that I rather just refer you to her article What is means to move like a French Woman. It echoes what I’ve written above…but much better 🙂

It’s only the view of the workout as mandatory sentence that rubs us the wrong way.

Counter-motivational advice #2 – Happy Pictures

I used to buy health magazines when I needed some visual motivators. Somehow seeing happy people with glowing skin riding a bike made me feel instantly more virtuous, as if their “happy to be fit” attitudes somehow would rub off on me.


Needless to say, nothing really changed after a few moments of borrowed euphoria.

Here’s the problem. Those pictures are “photoshopped emotions”. In real life, people do not smile, sans sweat and in perfectly groomed hair, when they work out. Observe athletes – they mean business and they do not wear a silly grin.

Not all visuals are created equal. Here’s a super collection “Reasons to be Fit” that I go back to time after time, even adopting some as my Facebook banner. Below are a few that speak to me:





I also LOVE pictures that demonstrate “grace and strength”, like the one below (I don’t remember where it is from, but will update if I locate the source).

balance strength and beauty

Counter-motivational advice #3 – No Pain No Gain

This advice is passe but many people still subscribe to it. That’s really unfortunate, because it is about how hard you work and not how much it hurts – there is an important fine line between the two.

Without being preachy, let’s just say make sure you know what you are doing, get the right professional guidance, and know and do everything to prevent injuries.

Another reason why this is so counter-motivational is that it is telling you, the current couch potato to “Get up, you need to do this 60 days programme, 30 mins a day, then you will be all good!”. So, you work out as per instructed, feeling half dead after 10 mins, about to puke in 20…..and somehow you need to mutter the enthusiasm to feel half-dead again the next day?

This is perhaps the only area in life where I would say – forget the principle of commitment. DO commit to work out but DO NOT commit to how long or how frequent.  Get yourself in the gym or in front of that DVD, start moving. If you are unfit, you will likely start sweating in 5 mins and seriously panting in 10 mins. Bon, c’est tout for the day. Enjoy that feeling of your heart beating, the sweat beads, the feeling of being alive.

When you look forward to that same endorphin fit the next day, you are already on the winning track. Before you know, you will complete the whole workout and ready for more.

The bottom line is: find that little morsel of joy and it will motivate you to go back and do more until exercising becomes your daily Joie de Vivre.

So, friends, have you experienced the same thing? Do you have similar stories to share? Any great pictures to share?