Exercise, Day 4: This is not my New Years’ Resolution

January 1, 2009 at 10:23 am 3 comments

I say that only because A) resolution mentality seems to lead to ‘how long can I go until I break this?’ and B) I’ve been doing this since well before today, so I figure it doesn’t really count.

That said, I figure that I am joined in my treadmill walking today by thousands (if not millions) of people who are taking up the mantle of healthier living today, so consider this my smile and wave as someone else walking with you.

Today’s Edition of Jen’s 21-day Blog, in celebration of the New Year, will include the long-promised review of Dr. James B. Johnson’s ‘The Alternate Day Diet’, as I finished it this morning.

First off, I want to say that I am actually glad I didn’t read this book until now.   I say this mainly because the book’s pratical ‘What you should do’ and predictive ‘How you will probably feel’ portions describe my experiences thus far with such alarming accuracy that if I had read the book first, I would always wonder if  I would have felt that way if it hadn’t been that the book told me I would.  I am seriously prey to psychosomatic influences, so as it is the book was a gratifying and validating read.

Set against Dr. Daugirgas’ QOD Diet book, The Alternate Day Diet is a much more comprehensive read.  It is also (perhaps unfortunately or perhaps fortunately, depending on your point of view) about a thousand times more clinical.  Dr. Johnson discusses indepth chemical processes, gene expression, DNA deterioration, etc, and does so at length and without a ton of effort made to explain these things in laymen’s terms.  My background is in Biology, and I still had to hail back to college a bit to understand a few of the things he discussed in the beginning of the book.  I could see where this could make it a very dull read for someone who is doesn’t deal in the world of introns and exons, of free radicals and telomeres, on any sort of regular basis.

That said, the discussion of these things was interesting, and psychologically seemed to strengthen Dr. Johnson’s recommendations just because he sounds knowledgeable.  He cites a lot of studies that, while not looking at ADF directly, study aspects of ADF and suggest positive things.  Granted, as we’ve said before, anyone can come up with any position on anything and probably find studies done somewhere that support it, but it sounds like Dr. Johnson regularly deals in peer-reviewed journals and such, which is always a good sign.

The practical parts of the book were the best, by far.  Dr. Johnson suggests a two-week startup period in which you consume a diet shake every other day as your intake.  This is mainly, he says, so that you can establish a regimen for yourself that includes a very definite set number of calories.  After the initial two-week period, he suggests starting… ha ha! .. a food journal! 🙂  He says that you shouldn’t necessarily diet on the up-days, but you should make healthy choices wherever possible and always write everything down just to monitor your intake, as (ha ha!) doing this will make you aware of what you’re eating and help you to curb where you tend toward excesses.

My favorite quote from the book is this:

Interestingly, your food preferences will also start to change [after the Induction phase].  You’ll begin to think, “Oh boy, I can eat whatever I want!  But what I want is not what I thought I’d want.”  The compulsion to eat something “bad” (say a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts) that often occurs on the down day simply vanishes on the up day.  Over a period of weeks, most people find that they choose healthier foods, especially vegetables.  It’s unclear exactly why this shift occurs, but it may be that your body’s perception of a low energy supply triggers a genetic program that tells you to eat a diet high in nutrients, meaning that you find vegetarian sources more appealing than before.”

He also suggests that since vegetables are more likely to be eaten on Down Days because of their low caloric content, you might simply just develop a taste for them.  But again, I found it amusing that I followed this trend without even meaning to do so.  I ate a lot more last night than I should have, as it was a NYE party and all, but I tended toward the crudites and completely skipped the brownies.  My vice last night was the Chex Mix, which is always my weakness food.  But I did make it with whole grain Chex and substituted peanut oil for butter, so I did better than I would have otherwise. 😉

Dr. Johnson’s book went a LOT further into nutrition than Dr. Daugirdas did, He explained the differences between the various types of fats, the importance of whole grains, the nutrients and such that are likely to be lacking and need attention.  He is not a fan of supplements but suggests supplementing B vitamins, Omega-3s, and a few others.  I may look into doing this once my current supply of vitamins runs out.  He provides sample meal plans for Up and Down days and the foods they contain are actually familiar.  The book includes an appendix of menus and recipes complete with nutrition information.

By and large, I loved this book.  My ONLY complaint about it is that he did not discuss exercise as much as I would have liked.  He did talk about it, but his discussion of it in the book is more or less generic, extolling its virtues and detailing the various types, without making specific recommendations that are appropriate to the diet specifically.  Again, this probably just signifies that the diet doesn’t need to affect your exercise regimen, but it would be nice to be reassured of that fact specifically.  At one point he does mention that if you are burning 100 more calories than usual on a down-day due to exercise, then you should adjust your calorie intake accordingly, but that’s it.

There is this, though:

The simplest form of aerobic or cardiovascular exercise is walking, which confers many of the same benefits of more vigorous activity.

So Walking is Good.

He did answer some of my burning questions.  There’s even a part where he talks about the exact diet regimen I’m following (MWF fasting), and he assures me that while I might not receive the full benefit of SIRT1 activation doing this, the activation level will still be really high and so a MWF plan isn’t a bad thing idea.    He just cautions against overeating on weekends, as any day that does not present an organized routine tends to be one that lends itself to overindulging.  Understandable.

I found myself eyeing Bob Greene’s book at Wal-Mart yesterday.  It looked pretty readable, and the accompanying cookbook looked good too.  The combo would make a good reward for completing this exercise 21-day cycle.


Entry filed under: ADF, Exercise, Successes. Tags: , , , , , , .

Exercise, Day 3: Let’s Hear It For the Boy! Exercise, Day 5: Ouch.


  • 1. Amanda  |  January 1, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Interesting! I love the validation when someone else describes exactly what I experienced. 🙂 Sounds like you’re right on target with everything.

    Walking is superb! I didn’t really enjoy it until I took a Nordic Walking class. If you’re interested, I’d highly recommend it. It has all the benefits of walking but adds the upper body, decreased pressure on joints and increased heart rate without increasing the perceived exertion rate.

    If you’re going to walk around a lot, I also recommend a NikePlus. It’s basically a glorified pedometer but with as much as you like output measures, I am sure you’d love it. It even graphs each walk/run for you!

    Each of those things runs around $30. It’s some chunk of change, but def. worth it for me, anyway. But, like I said, I didn’t find walking to be enjoyable at first.

  • 2. melalvai  |  January 1, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    Another benefit of walking is it can be done with anyone: a kid in a stroller, an older kid who needs some undivided attention, a spouse, mother, sister, friend.

  • 3. Feaelin  |  January 3, 2009 at 9:15 am

    I think I’d prefer the more clinical book. I was really impressed with the exercise book written by some guy at Harvard, in fact, I have it on back-order from Amazon.

    What I liked about it was that he explains the science behind what he’s saying, citing studies, etc. I find that more trustworthy, I guess. 🙂

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