How to Get Gas, Heartburn, and a Bloated Belly. It’s Easy!

24 Feb

It’s been a while!  I recently took a sabbatical from the diet.  For about 6 weeks I had a splurge day everyday.  Guess what happened…nope your wrong, I didn’t gain the weight back!  Okay so I gained 4 pounds but after starting the diet again this week I have lost those 4 pounds already.  Talk about a miracle diet!

But what I really wanted to focus on was the other symptoms I experienced during my 6 week splurge fest.

Restless Leg Syndrome- must be from refined sugars
Heartburn!- also attributed to sugars
*ahem* Gas- now I know why my wife is so fond of the diet…I don’t have gas while on it.
Bloated belly- goes hand in hand with gas

I also lost the gleeful child-like excitement for Saturdays.  For a couple of weeks I felt like a kid in a candy store, being able to eat what I wanted everyday.  Splurge Day heaven right?  Actually it sucked after the initial excitement wore off.  All the sugary things I ate lost their overall savor and food wasn’t that exciting anymore.  Even Pop-Tarts became pretty boring.  Eating became pretty mindless again.

It reminds me that this diet isn’t so much a diet but a way to look at food, eating, and nutrition in a more healthy way.  It’s about being mindful and present about your eating choices and making sure that you are getting the type of calories that your body will use and not store.  It’s a realization that all calories are not created or burned equally.  It’s also a celebration of great food.  It is a mindset.  A mindset with wonderful benefits.

I am reminded this week of the benefits of the mindset. My negative symptoms have decreased,  I am so stoked for splurge day and all of the goodies I have been dreaming up, and I’m slimming down even more.  (PS Sarah is down to a size 2 for the first time in her adult life).

Oh and congrats to Alicia Green who entered the mindset recently, keep us posted on your success.


Be A Diet DJ.. mix it up!

9 Jan

Another post by Sarah:

So I hear that some of you are losing your motivation to stay on the diet.
Don’t give up! Here are some recipes that include foods that are within the diet so you can mix it up!

Breakfast Omlette
Beat eggs and/or egg whites from carton-(found at Costco or store) with some pepper and pour into a greased or non-stick frying pan.
Let it cook at medium heat for a minute, then sprinkle Fresh Spinach leaves and Parmesan Cheese on one side of the pan. When the eggs seem ready enough, fold the other side over onto the spinach side. Fry some more, cut it in half, and serve it up with some salsa or a little bit of ketchup. We all love this breakfast!
Mix it up more: add sliced mushrooms, peppers, etc. Change up the cheese.

Whole Lotta Veggies Soup Recipe modified from SpryLiving Magazine
“This vibrant vegetable soup is super easy to prepare and naturally low in sodium, unlike many off-the-shelf brands. Yes, there’s butter in this recipe, but a little adds a ton of flavor-and only a bit of fat- to each serving.” -Spry recipe author

1.5 cups coarsely chopped carrots
1 cup coarsely chopped celery 1/2 cup string beans
1 green, red, or yellow bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 cup sweet peas
1 large onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 (10 oz.) bag frozen spinach
6 cups water (and/or low-sodium chicken broth)
2 Tablespoons butter
1.5 tsp salt & 1 tsp pepper
1.5 tsp sage
1 Tablespoon dried basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Cook ground beef and onions in a frying pan until thoroughly cooked. Place vegetables in a Dutch oven (or large pot). Add water/broth; bring to a boil. Add butter, salt, pepper, and herbs. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
(I took out the potatoes from the original recipe, suggest chicken broth, added the ground beef, and I cut the butter in half.) You can also add a couple cups of cooked quinoa and/or beans to make it more hearty. You can also add or subtract different vegetables to your liking. Double the recipe for quick, yummy leftovers.

Braised Savoy Cabbage Rolls Recipe by Nancy Kcrek Allen
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, slivered or thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup Marsala, sherry or water
1 (2 3/4- to 3-pound) head Savoy cabbage
21/2 pounds ground turkey
1 cup shredded carrots
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup chopped parsley
2 cups cooked quinoa
Coarsely ground black pepper
4 to 6 cups boiling reduced-sodium chicken broth
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for cabbage.
2. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until soft and browned, about 15 minutes. Add Marsala and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated.
3. Cut around core of cabbage to release leaves. Working in batches, drop leaves in boiling water; cook until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and cool. (You’ll need 12 large and 12 small cabbage leaves.)
4. Combine turkey, carrots, sage, salt, garlic and parsley in a large mixing bowl. Fold in quinoa and onions. Season with pepper.
5. Preheat oven to 375F.
6. Place 1/3 cup meat mixture onto 1 large cabbage leaf. Mash down slightly and lay a small leaf on top. Place another 1/3 cup meat mixture on top. Fold in sides and roll up leaf firmly from bottom. Place in a 5-quart casserole dish, seam-side down. Repeat with remaining leaves and meat mixture to make 12 rolls. Place tightly into pan and top with any extra cabbage. Pour enough boiling chicken broth into pan to come most of the way up the sides of casserole. Cover with foil.
7. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350F and bake 1 hour. Remove from oven and let stand 15 to 20 minutes, covered. Cabbage should be tender enough to cut with a fork.
8. To serve, place rolls on soup plates and ladle broth over. Makes 12 rolls. Serves 8.
Recipe by Nancy Krcek Allen, “Forget the Bird,” Nov. 2009.
Nutritional Information
Per serving: 340 calories, 12g fat, 75mg chol., 32g prot., 26g carbs., 8g fiber, 890mg sodium.

Exercising and Arm Shaving: Myths and Solutions to Weight-Loss

17 Nov

So my wife Sarah is always getting after me for saying that exercise is not the key to weight loss. It must have something to do with what she studied in college (exercise science). So I will be fair: exercise is good and important, just not for weight-loss!

Okay let me back up a bit. When I first found out that I had fatty-liver disease and was told I was obese, I freaked. After wallowing in self-pitty and after eating a few bowls of cereal I decided to do something about it. I did what every reasonable person does: completely avoided running and bought a bike. I became obsessed with losing weight. I rode my bike 3-4 times per week for about 2-3 hrs per day. I constantly looked at my calf muscles and compared my shaven arms to Lance Armstrong’s. This went on for about 6 months and I thought I was losing major pounds…until I weighed in and over the whole 6 months of vigorous exercise I only lost 9 lbs! That’s when I decided that the Tour de France was not happening for me.

I also went to the doctor (my lipidemiologist) who was monitoring my liver condition and he told me there was seemingly no change. He asked if I had been exercising and I almost performed an exorcism in the room, I was so upset. I walked out of the appointment frustrated and with no hope to lose weight or to heal my liver.

Then came the splurge day diet. In six months with very minimal exercise (once or twice a week playing soccer) and following the diet I shed 40+ lbs. and my liver disease is history.

So while I don’t necessarily see that exercise is the key to weight-loss, I definitely see its importance in overall health. Exercise can help boost your mood, increase muscle strength, and be a fun overall activity. But in my opinion gone are the days where I run, bike, hop, dance or shave my arms to lose weight. I think the activities that we engage in for exercise should be done for the sake of fun and enjoyment. Surfing is a great work out but you never hear surfers saying, “Dude, I am just here to burn a few calories and then get back to work.” The activities we engage in for exercise should not be done as a means to an end but enjoyed and done simply for the joy of doing them.

So I say if you want to lose weight, eat better. If you want to have fun, go for a bike ride.

How to Use Jedi-Mind Tricks to Lose 40 lbs.

5 Nov

My wife was originally skeptical of the diet. She was taught in her undergraduate degree (B.S. in exercise science) the traditional notion of: burn more calories than you consume. When I told her that her entire education was based on an erroneous understanding of weight-loss, she wasn’t too receptive to me and my subsequent decision to do the diet. So I had to resort to mind control in order to get her to comply and cook some of the meals for us. A lot has changed in the last six months and so I asked Sarah to share her insights in a post. Enter Sarah:

Hi, it’s “the wife” here. While at first skeptical (not to the extent exaggerated by Chris), I now crave the diet! I didn’t think I would, but I feel like my body wants it. I’m not fully doing the diet because I’m still breastfeeding and don’t want to decrease the quality of my milk, but I love to eat the diet with Chris when he is home. I am so impressed by his weight loss and amazed at the health problems he has overcome. The concept of this diet has been a conversion process for me and what I’ve learned in my education, but I know it works. I thought I’d add some tips for cooking with the diet, since I’m the one who does most of the cooking and preparation of our meals.

First of all, I want to say that the splurge day diet makes cooking so simple and fast, and therefore it makes my life easier. I still like to cook with variety, but I can use my creative cooking as an outlet on Saturdays–or just get pizza!

As we’ve been doing the diet over the last few months, I’ve learned some things that have made cooking with the diet a little easier:

1. As mentioned before, buy in bulk if you can.

2. Do some basic pre-preparation when you have some extra time. For salads: Cut up carrots (unless you buy them grated), wash and dry romaine hearts and/or lettuce, cut of the ends, and place in a plastic zip-lock bag with a paper towel (if you pre-cut it as well it goes bad faster.) you can also buy pre-cut salad mixes for super fast. Pre-cut any other vegetables that you like on your salads, like peppers, onions, cabbage, cucumbers, radishes, etc. However, freshly cut things like tomatoes, avocados, and things that go bad faster. I usually do all of this at least once a week, so it’s all still pretty fresh by the time I use them. This way, you can throw a salad together pronto!
When you make quinoa for breakfast, make extra to last through the next day and keep it in a Tupperware container.
Cook extra meat; it usually makes a great leftover and can also go on your salads later.

3. Frozen vegetables are great for this diet. Frozen veggies can be as good for you as fresh vegetables because they are picked and then frozen within hours. They are easy and keep for a long time. I have made frozen vegetables by steaming them in the microwave (add a couple inches of water and cover with plastic wrap or lid and microwave until hot), boiling them, and our favorite–sautéing them in pan with olive oil. You can mix up the flavors of your vegetables by how you season them. Go sparingly on the butter. I usually skip the butter and seasonings and simply add a cooking sauce, which tastes great. However, if you are doing a very strict version of this diet, skip the cooking sauces too because they often have some sugar and/or high-fructose corn syrup in them.

4. Meats: the healthiest types of meat, in an order, are fish (especially salmon, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids), chicken (skinless), bison, turkey, pork, and then red meats. However, I wouldn’t be too concerned about the type of meat unless you are doing a very strict version of the diet to begin with. Avoid breaded meats.
I cook a lot of chicken. We buy in frozen, in bulk at Costco. Once it’s thawed, you can cut it in half length-wise for faster cooking. I also think this tastes better, and it can help with portion control. You can also mix up the flavors of the meat with cooking sauces if you desire. We really like the Panda Express orange chicken sauce and the Veri Veri Teryaki sauce from Costco, but remember, they contain sugar. A healthier meat recipe is Lemon-Herb Chicken. For super fast meat, buy pre-cooked frozen chicken or meatballs; however fresh is best.
There are so many great recipes for meat! The crock pot is a great tool for yummy, easy meat recipes. Be creative and cook what you like. Try new things.

5. Salads: you can really mix things up here. Try all kinds of salad. Add a little bit of different kinds of cheese. We love grated Parmesan or Feta cheese. Have fun with them.
It’s super easy to add the leftover meat from the night before to your salad for the lunch.
Our go-to salad has cut up romaine, fresh spinach, carrots, beans, cheese, and meat, with a little dressing. If you choose to do salad dressings, go for low-fat and use it sparingly. Vinegarettes are usually the healthiest.

6. There are several recipes that include quinoa, beans, vegetables, and/or meats that are great as well. We will be sharing some.

Quick Tip: If you crave dessert after meals like I do, chew some sugar-free gum. It usually takes care of the craving.

Please feel free to share your own recipes and tips on the comment portion of this blog, it is really helpful to those who are starting the diet and those of us maintaining the diet.

Best of luck to you!

Screw the Diet, Just Splurge…and Lose 10 LBS.

20 Oct

The great thing about this diet is that it is fully customizable to your weight-loss goals.

If you are looking to lose weight the fastest, for a contest especially, then I would stick with only beans, veggies, and meat during the week. For optimal results make sure that you buy dry beans and boil them. Also cut out the quinoa and agave except within 90 minutes of a resistance type exercise.  It’s important that you get some source of carbs though, as your brain is highly dependent on carbs for its functioning.  So if you cut the quinoa up your servings of legumes (black and pinto beans and lentils). It might be tempting to think that cutting out splurge day might speed up weight-loss but it won’t.  The spike of splurge day keeps your metabolism burning hot through the week.

If you are more patient with your weight-loss and have a harder time making it through to splurge day then you can modify your diet based on two things: glycemic index and caloric density.  Glycemic index basically measures how quickly carbs are turned into glucose (sugar) and released into your blood stream.  The quicker they are released the more likely they will be stored as fat.  The glycemic index (GI) measures everything against white bread which is 100 on the index.  So low (0-35) on the GI is what we want.  But you also have to balance that with the amount of calories (caloric content) of the food on the GI.  For example dark chocolate (70% cocoa) is 22 on the GI.  But it also has 5.5 calories per gram where black beans are 35 on the GI but have only 0.8 calories per gram.  So based on that info you can make sensible decisions on your diet and customize it.  But beware, if you take this route, it will be tempting to justify many things.  I generally would advise you to introduce this customization later in the diet, after your initial big weight-loss.

Finally there is the slacker version of the diet: just do splurge day.  A friend of mine was interested in the diet and decided that he would only eat dessert one day a week and maintain eating his typical meals.  He lost 10 lbs. within a few weeks!  This is good for those in the family who are skeptical of the diet or have little weight to lose.  So whatever your goals are (or lack thereof) the Splurge Day Diet can help!

Why Are You Overweight? Try Splurging.

19 Oct

Getting through to splurge day:

The first few weeks of the diet can be tough.  I went through hell some days trying to overcome my temptation to eat things outside of my diet.  There were some days where I felt light headed and very grumpy.  But I felt the same way when I broke up with a crazy girlfriend, so health has its initial downsides, what do you expect?   It was especially tough because my meals were different than what my wife cooked so I was always tempted to steal from her plate.   Luckily now my wife has converted and she did so gladly because my diet is quicker and easier to prepare.  But to make things easier I made a list of tricks that will help you get through the week:

First of all, just remember that Saturday you can eat 10 of whatever is tempting you. (take notes as you’re tempted)

Use Quinoa to fill that hunger craving for carbs.  Sweeten it with a little agave.

Diet sodas are ok but not the healthiest choice of drink.

Chewing gum in a pinch saved me a few times.

Herbal tea’s (especially mate) sweetened with a little agave usually curb my hunger pains.

Buy some agave chocolate sauce.  It is perfect for hot chocolate or a spoonful in quinoa with a little milk makes coco-quinoa (my favorite).

Drink water.  Most of the time your body craves carbs it’s because you are de-hydrated.  Carbs have a high amount of water content and thus your body craves it.  So just drink it.

If you do a resistance based training (like weight-lifting) for over 20 minutes your muscles need to have the glycogen stores replaced in order to heal.  So it’s okay to eat white carbs within 90 minutes of working out.  But after about 30 grams of carbs your body begins to store the excess as fat so don’t over do it.  I tried eating carbs after 90 minute endurance exercises, like cycling and soccer, for a couple weeks and my weight loss slowed to a stop.

If you want a good weight-lifting routine to follow (I am following it) that will keep you toned and only takes 30 minutes 2 times weekly check out this link.

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions or concerns as you start the path to a smaller waist line and a Saturday of bliss!

How Costco Sampling Can Make You Lose 20 LBS.

19 Oct

One of the greatest things of the Splurge Day Diet is that it is so easy and cheap to maintain.

Here are my typical ingredients and everything here is bought in bulk at Costco:

Fresh Spinach leaves
Fresh Romain hearts and or Artisan Lettuce Mix
Canned Beans (Kidney, pinto, black)
Frozen Mixed vegetables
Frozen Teriyaki chicken breast
Frozen meatballs
Egg whites
Parmesan Cheese

Typical meals:

Omelette with spinach leaves, parmesan cheese, and salsa (10 minutes)

Quinoa with agave and milk (sparingly) on top (15 minutes)


Teriyaki chicken breast with spinach (5 minutes)

Salad- Sliced romaine hearts with spinach, low-fat salad dressing (very sparingly), beans, parmesan cheese (sparingly), and meatballs. (7 minutes)


Meat, beans, vegetables (10-20 minutes depending on the meat)

Salad (7 minutes)

The difference of taste in beans is quite noticeable so it helps switch things up.  I buy different mixed vegetables to keep things interesting.  And obviously I change up the meat as well.  I don’t recommend the omelette for every morning as I tried that and almost couldn’t eat eggs after 3 weeks of straight egg breakfast.  Quinoa is the bomb and even a salad for breakfast from time to time is great.