Book Review – The Fat Flush Plan
About a month and a half ago I was at the end of my rope. As I’ve already mentioned on this blog, I have been battling some kind of allergy or allergies for a while now that have just baffled me. There have been many times that I’ve eliminated something from my diet and I thought, awesome, I feel better! I’ve figured it out! And then a couple of days later the problem would come back and I’d find myself back at square one.
In addition to my stomach aches other symptoms indicated that there was something wrong. I developed some kind of skin problem where I was constantly itchy, especially my arms and neck. I was also noticing that my jeans were tight and things just weren’t fitting like they used to. I had trouble focusing. I was super impatient (more than normal!). I knew that my eating habits hadn’t changed and there was no reason I should be gaining weight. Still, something was off and I figured all these issues were related. After visiting numerous doctors who would prescribe antibiotics, tell me I had IBS, and then say there was nothing more they could do, I finally realized I had to take matters into my own hands. I needed to “reset my system” or in other words, I needed to detoxify.
Okay, I too immediately associate the word detox with odd concoctions of lemon juice, pepper and maple syrup. But this is not what I wanted. I needed something that would restore my health to where it should be without starving myself. First off I considered Dr. Alejandro Junger’s plan after reading that Gwyneth Paltrow was a fan. I do love Gwyneth and while Dr. Junger’s plan seemed sound, it didn’t seem like anything more than what I normally do. I eat healthy. I don’t use chemicals, etc., etc. I didn’t think that it was enough to “reset” me. So I consulted the gospel, aka Amazon.com to see what else was out there. I typed in detox plan and up came about a million results. After reading reviews for several days, and I mean several days, I came across Anne Louise Gittleman’s The Fat Flush Plan.
First of all, I was really taken by the number of positive reviews for this book. I almost always consult Amazon.com’s reader reviews before purchasing a book and most of the 270 people had nothing but good things to say about Gittleman’s plan. That day I went down to the library, borrowed the book, and started reading.
While I enjoy reading, I don’t normally read diet or health books. But this didn’t seem like a diet or health book as much as a fascinating glimpse into one’s system, with scientific reasoning to back up the author’s research and claims. I literally read this 254 page book in 2 days. It is a quick and easy read.
1. Phase I – A two-week fat flush aimed at giving your liver some rest. Gittleman believes that the liver is an important fat-burning organ that needs to be working correctly in order for your overall health to be good. Phase I is an extremely difficult 2 week system reset. In a nutshell it emphasizes flax and flaxseed oil, lean protein, eggs, tons of vegetables, 2 fruits a day, 100% cranberry juice mixed with water, and GLA supplements.
2. Phase II – Another two weeks of Phase I but this phase is different because you can begin to slowly add back things like bread or rice to see how you stomach/body reacts. This phase is what really drew me to this plan.
3. Phase III – The Lifestyle Eating Plan. Again, the aforementioned items should be the main part of an ongoing diet but now dairy, bread, potatoes, nuts, etc. can be added back in moderation, if you determine you are able to tolerate them. Food combination rules are discussed including how eating fruit with vegetables or more than one protein at a time is not good for digestion.
4. Exercise – The plan promotes walking and using a mini-trampoline in Phases I & II. In Phase III the author goes into more detail about weight training and walking for longer amounts of time.
For me the first week Phase I was VERY hard. I almost gave up to be honest. The things I found challenging were:
- I found it tricky trying to get everything ready for me to take to work, i.e. the Cran-water, the flaxseed and oil, etc. Weekends were easier in that I didn’t have to pack and lug a bunch of stuff, but harder in that I couldn’t eat out very easily. I resigned myself to eating at home for the most part because I could control everything much better.
- I had to refer to the book about a million times because I kept forgetting how much of what I was supposed to be eating. The measurements are quite specific…a tablespoon of flax oil twice a day, a tablespoon of ground flax twice a day, etc. It was a lot to remember but soon became second nature to me.
- 100% Cranberry Juice is VERY tart. We’re not talking about anything Ocean Spray makes. Mixing this stuff with water makes it more palatable but still, having to drink so much of it a day wasn’t easy. But again, I was soon able to drink this with no problem.
- Initially all the flax and flaxseed oil were hard to get down. I quickly became adept at mixing them with things that would make them go down easier. Salsa is a lifesaver. You can put it on anything to make it taste good. But now I actually do like the taste of flax and flaxseed oil!
- It was hard to feel full on vegetables. I found that even though potatoes were on the no-no list I had to incorporate them so that I felt like I was eating something more than air. I would roast them with a tiny bit of olive oil and they really hit the spot.
- I have low blood pressure so I had to incorporate salt as well otherwise I felt dizzy.
- It was hard not to do more than just walk. While I didn’t have the energy to feel like doing more I mentally had a problem with it. So I incorporated yoga and walking every day with an occasional run and felt better mentally. I don’t have a trampoline so I didn’t utilize that aspect of the plan.
- The groceries are expensive. Cranberry juice is $7.99 for a small bottle! GLA was $28 at Whole Foods. I realize now that these things are cheaper elsewhere, especially on the internet, but it takes some planning ahead of time. In any case I justified the expense by telling myself it was going to help me in the end. If I spent money on a trainer why not on this?
- Since I don’t eat meat or chicken I had to eat eggs and fish every single day. This became really tiresome. For those who eat meat and chicken this plan will be much, much easier.
Since I’d read so many positive reviews of this book on Amazon.com, I tried not to get my hopes up that I would experience results the way other people did. Some people lost 15 pounds in a week! Others said it drastically helped symptoms of their various diseases including fibromyalgia, diabetes, and thyroid disorders. It’s hard not to keep those kinds of things in mind when embarking on a journey like this. My results were as follows:
- My skin cleared miraculously cleared up. I saw my esthetician after less than a month of being on this plan and she was amazed and said she’d never seen such a transformation in a client’s skin in such a short time. “Remarkable,” she said. My skin isn’t perfect by any means but other people have also remarked that it is smoother and clearer and the circles under my eyes are better too. I have always struggled with my skin so this is really quite a compliment.
- My stomach problems aren’t gone completely but they are much better. As the author suggested, after the first two weeks I slowly added a piece of bread into my meals to see how I reacted. I didn’t react well so now I know I can’t tolerate bread or wheat. I’d always suspected but now I know for sure and this was my reason for doing this in the first place. I’ve also identified that certain fruits trouble me and that small quantities of milk don’t. (I used to think that I was lactose intolerant but this may not be the case).
- I told myself I wasn’t going to get on the scale, after all, I wasn’t doing this to lose weight. But of course I did anyway. I was also supposed to measure myself with a tape measure but I never got around to it. I can tell my jeans fit perfectly now! No I didn’t need to lose weight but like I said, there were areas around my stomach and hips that were never there previously and they bothered me. I knew they weren’t fat exactly and the author talks about “false fat” in the book which is exactly what I believe I had. The false fat is gone!
- My overall energy is much better and I am able to think with clarity. Prior to doing this I was having difficulty concentrating at work and even at home when reading a book or watching TV. But now I feel like I can actually focus better and I have the energy to do it.
I certainly didn’t follow the book perfectly but I’d say I did 95% of what Gittleman suggests. Now that I am finished with the prescribed 4 weeks I plan to take on many of the author’s suggestions on a permanent basis. The GLA supplements, the flax, the cranberry juice are all things I want to keep up. Minimizing sugar, flour, and too much fruit are also things I want to keep up.
To be honest, I am just really relieved that I found a possible solution to my stomach problems. The fact that this plan gave me hope was something no MD was able to give me. There is nothing more discouraging than visiting doctor after doctor with no solution. For that reason alone I suggest that people with health or weight problems check this book out. At the risk of sounding a touch dramatic, this book certainly changed my life and it is one of the best things I’ve ever done.