Diets work. Even some of the most cockamamie diets work if you follow them. But as many serial dieters know, the trick is keeping the weight off after the wedding, or the high school reunion, or the motivating look in the dressing room mirror.
I know — I really know — how hard it is to maintain weight loss. I've lost maybe 500 pounds in my lifetime. So I knew enough to be skeptical when I saw Jackie Warner's book "10 Pounds in 10 Days." Of course, I didn't let that stop me.
The diet industry exists because we fail, often again and again, at the hard work of a lifelong healthful diet and activity plan. Warner's book — following the plan, not reading the book — is hard too.
Warner is a bestselling author and celebrity trainer who regularly appears in the Los Angeles Times as one of the fitness experts for the Saturday section's "Try This" feature. One look at her confirms she's succeeding against the forces of Swiss vanilla almond ice cream and its co-conspirators.
The key to her plan, which actually lasts for three sets of 10 days, with a maintenance plan after that, is that you give your free will over to her. That might be why I lost 8, rather than 10, pounds: I wasn't completely compliant.
Warner leaves nothing to chance. Nothing. She tells you exactly what to eat and exactly how to exercise. "I have literally taken all the thinking out of this plan," she writes.
The foods, 948 calories for each of the first 10 days, "were heavily, heavily researched," Warner said. That means the produce choices are not always seasonal, but that wasn't Warner's aim.
"[It's] what most women who reach out to me want — they can't lose the 10 pounds," be it after having a baby, spending too many hours at a desk or aging, she said.
One bit of good news for me was that you don't have to eat bars or shakes. It's real food, three meals and two snacks. And I was rarely hungry. Warner said that's because the foods are nutrient-dense. The plan calls for exactly the same food every day for 10 days, which I found both monotonous and, as Warner calls it, comforting. I recommend buying the best you can afford: fresh walnuts, tasty chicken.
I drank more coffee than the one cup she allows, but I did most things as instructed, despite my fear that I'd be hungry enough to eat a copy of Warner's book. (Especially when I saw my breakfast: 1/4 cup oatmeal with 1 walnut and half a grapefruit. One walnut?)
The other part of the program is a set of exercises each day, including some aerobics, but mostly focusing on weightlifting. Warner said many people only follow the diet, but, "If you want to change your physique and get the body you want, you have got to do resistance training."
She is the definition of buff, while my upper body is more like the definition of undefined. But I found the exercises appealing. And there's no need for a gym, just a few weights and perhaps a mat. That's the part of the program I feel most confident I'll stick with.