Friday, February 15, 2013

The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl by Shauna Reid

As promised, I'm back with a review of The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl by Shauna Reid.  I'd begun the book during that 30+ hour journey from JFK to Manila and the book helped keep me entertained and on track throughout the unending trip.

The blurb:
At just twenty-three years old, Shauna Reid weighed 351 pounds. Spurred into action by the sight of her enormous white knickers billowing on the clothesline, she created the hugely successful blog “The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl.” Hiding behind her Lycra-clad, roly-poly alter-ego, her transformation from couch potato to svelte goddess began.

Today, eight thousand miles, seven years, and 175 pounds later, the gloriously gorgeous Shauna is literally half the woman she used to be. Hysterically funny and heart-wrenchingly honest, The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl includes travel tales from Australia to Paris to Red Square, plus romance when she meets the man of her dreams in a Scottish pub. This is the uplifting true story of a young woman who defeated her demons and conquered her cravings to become a real-life superhero to inspire us all.

 The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl is part memoir and part chicklit and heavily weighted towards the ups and downs of dieting.  It's not a book for everyone, but I think it'll speak to any woman whose had to struggle to lose weight. It's not a diet book really but as Dietgirl shares her experiences, you feel like you're living through it with her.  As I'm balancing Weight Watchers and the Cohen diet, I felt the book could have been written for me. 

Dietgirl holds little back.  We meet her when she's 351 lbs, stocking her snack drawer at work with bags of chocolates, having to buy larger and larger sizes, avoiding most social engagements, rotating the fast food joints so that folks don't comment on how often or how much she eats.  Rock bottom? Shauna's mother was a Weight Watchers leaders, so she'd grown up knowing about the system though it takes one of those awful moments to get her to the point where she's ready to sign up.

It's pretty tough. She's the biggest one there - so much so that they can't weigh her on their regular scale.  She'd signed up with her sister and the two of them together dive into the world of Weight Watcher point counting, recipes, and new habits.  It's wonderful to read how her body slowly adjusts - to portions, to tastes, to healthier choices - and how even Dietgirl's path to weightloss doesn't run smooth.

Most of us have gone through the ups and downs of successful dieting.  The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl holds little back and yet remains entertaining. Somehow the tedious details that come with dieting aren't boring when shared in Dietgirl's voice and the experiences do come across as adventures to savor - at least as a narrative to read (not to live!).

When Shauna and her sister take the plunge of leaving Australia for the 2 year work experience in Scotland, they  to cobble together another system with less resources (lower paying job, more expensive cost of living and costlier healthy food).  But it's also a chance for Shauna start over completely with people who never knew her at her heaviest.  Dieting, dating, and falling in love - Shauna lives a regular life with her past as a small secret.  The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl is such a fun and inspiring read that I plan to mention it at my next Weight Watcher's meeting and to share it with my women friends.  I'm a bit sad to hear that Shauna's stopped blogging at Dietgirl, but it's also great to learn that she's moved on to host a Health and Wellness site called Up and Running. 

ISBN-10: 0061657700 - Paperback $13.99
Publisher: Avon (December 30, 2008), 407 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the New York Public Library.

About the Author:
Shauna Reid began her  Dietgirl blog  in Canberra in January 2001 when she weighed in at 351 pounds (almost 160 kilos). Six years later, on the other side of the planet, she’d lost exactly half her body weight, fell in love, and crossed off most of the items on her "Things to Do When I'm Skinny" list.  Her enormously popular blog and articles led to the publication of Shauna's first book - The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl. 

While she's recently moved on from her Dietgirl blog, but the archives are remaining for anyone who’d like to have a stickybeak at twelve years of ups and downs, ins and outs and adventures.  Shauna can be found at - Up and Running

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Traveling 36 hours on the Cohen Diet + The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl by Shauna Reid

I finally decided to buckle down and get strict with my weight loss my last birthday (Dec!).  After signing up with First Personal Diet and having the full metabolic blood test done, I received my diet.  Under this diet, I have to weigh my food raw and to cook without using much of my usual spices and sauces.   Meals are spaced 5 hours from each other - not allowed to skip a meal or to eat less than the specified portions.  Fortunately, 110 grams of fish is a decent portion.  I got into a routine and after the first week it felt manageable.  I finally started losing weight at the rate of 2.5 lb/week.

I had to travel to the Philippines though 3 weeks into the diet and I was desperate to come up with ways to make it from JFK to Manila and keep on the diet.  I just wanted to share my experience in case any of you have to go through this or a similar situation traveling.

1)  Check the meals available.  It turns out that aside from the usual vegetarian and fruit plate options, China Airlines also has a raw fruit and vegetable plate.  I wasn't able to reserve that - had some trouble making the changes online - and could only arrange for my meals when I checked in. This meant that I had regular airplane food during the longest leg of my flight from NYC to Osaka.  From Osaka to Taipei and Taipei to Manila I had the fruit plate.

So, from 10 am EST to 8 PM Japan Time, I had to rely on what I could pack, buy, and find on the plane.  JFK doesn't allow you to bring liquids to the secure areas, but I packed 2 apples (I'm allowed 3 pieces of fruit a day), canned tuna with the pull off lids, and hardboiled eggs.  I got those past security without any issues.  I later wished that I'd packed crackers as I'm allowed 6 crackers a day.  I'd regret not having them later when I succumbed to a warm roll in the morning! I found a $10 salad with grilled chicken, grape tomatoes, spinach, shredded carrots, croutons, and a balsamic based dressing.  Ditched the croutons, carrots and dressing and I could use the salad to fulfill my veggie requirements for the next 4 meals and have the protein for one meal!  

I felt a little self conscious about taking out my food and would accept the meal trays with my neighbors.  I was sitting next to this slim Japanese couple.  Chubby girl takes out a salad - didn't want to do it! I would try to ignore the smell of the warm meal (the fish was cooked Japanese style and looked quite good), the warm roll, the small piece of cake. I'd eat the salad greens and bits of fruit.  I made it through 2 meals.  But on the third - the breakfast of Chicken Noodle something - I made my mistake!  I planned to just take a peek. Then to just have the bits of chicken. And mushroom. And onion. And pretty soon I was eating the noodles!  After having caved, I ate the warm roll!  Then ignored the lemon or mango cake and drank 2 glasses of water.

Next time for my return trip, I'm booking the raw veggie and fruit plate.  If they aren't able to do it, I'm getting the fruit plate or asking them not to give me the hot meal.  I'm packing fruit but I'll only be able to eat that during the 2 hour flight from Manila to Taipei. The remaining 30 hours of travel I'll have to have things that will pass customs!  I have found larger cans of tuna that are closer to the correct portion size of 105-115 grams of fish.  During the NYC to Taipei trip I had a 3 pack of 70gm cans.... I will have packets of wheat crackers that I can portion out.  I'll have a small cup non fat, plain yogurt which will be partly frozen and can survive the trip.  That'll last me the 30 plus hours of traveling. 

Another thing that really helped me during that long, exhausting flight was the support from the message boards. I'd asked fellow Cohen dieters what they do when traveling and just fleshing out the possible problems was a big help.  It didn't hurt to hear that they knew I could do it since I was so determined to plan and follow through. This reinforced the whole - I can do this and I will do this - that I get when my diet and workout plan have results.

I'm 4 weeks in and just had my blood test taken. I'm awaiting the results and the adjustment to the diet. I'm also 13 lbs lighter and it feels great!

I've been reading fitness and diet books but have also come across this hilarious and encouraging book, The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl by Shauna Reid.  Diet Girl deserves and will have a full post - just wanted to send out a teaser!