Mardy Roux

The Mardy Roux Obesity Treatment Project – Phase 1

In The Mardy Roux Obesity Treatment Project Step By Step on June 14, 2010 at 1:33 am

Phase 1 – Set Day Fasting
One of the problems the weight loss and diet market has in the world today is the “one-size-fits-all” approach. Ironic, huh? Whether you have 10 pounds to lose, or 75 pounds to lose or 200 pounds to lose, you are told that if you just eat this food and that food and exercise like crazy, you’ll lose weight. Well, I notice that the weight loss industry is worth billions of dollars, and it’s not shrinking over time, which means lots and lots of people are throwing lots and lots of their hard earned money at trying to lose weight, and the populations of western nations continue to get fatter. So obviously one-size-fits-all is not the answer.

I know from my first real attempt to lose weight when I was in my early thirties, at a point when I was not very overweight to begin with, I found it easy to drop the pounds. I followed Weight Watchers at the time and the fat melted away (followed six months later by my gallbladder). And when I eventually gained all those pounds back and more, I discovered they had become much more difficult to move the next time around. Over the years I tried every diet you can think of (I’ll discuss them on this blog as time goes along) and the weight became more and more difficult to shift. Until I woke up one morning obese….MORBIDLY obese (that’s what a nurse wrote on my medical chart a couple of years ago. I cried.)…and I had no clue how I was going to turn it around. I had no clue when I was 20 pounds overweight, 50 pounds overweight, 100 pounds overweight…how in heaven’s name was I going to do it this time?

By the time you have gained 100 or more pounds of excess fat on your body you have probably been in some kind of “fat-gaining-mode” for quite a long time. Most of us don’t gain 100 pounds overnight, or in a month or six months (although I know I’ve tried). This means that there are probably a host of issues you’re trying to deal with:

•    The physical process of gaining weight
•    The psychological processes of struggle and constant defeat and possible depression
•    Stress, both physical and emotional
•    Hormonal issues
•    Probable allergies and addictions to foods
•    Food additives that are not meant for humans

Do you remember the story of the five blind men who were trying to identify what kind of creature was an elephant? The first blind man grabs a-hold of the tail and declares it to be a rope. The second blind man discovers the leg and disagrees vehemently…no, no, it’s a tree! The third blind man finds the trunk and tells the first two they’re crazy when this is obviously a snake. The fourth blind man grabs the elephant’s enormous flat ear and says he cannot understand why the others think it is anything but a large fan! The fifth blind man walks straight into the side of the elephant’s massive body and laughs at the others for their stupidity when anyone with more than half a brain could tell a wall when they walked into it! The weight loss industry seems to me to be very like this story. Some experts will tell us “It’s calories in, calories out! And that is everything!” Others will say, no it’s about addiction…food addicts, carbohydrate addicts…this is a psychological problem. Others will say it’s all about hormones or food additives. Many will tell you that obese people are that way because they are people of poor character who are gluttonous and lazy. Still others will tell you that you would be cured of your obesity if only you started to eat a balanced diet…plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats. And with all of this advice, still we in the developed nations grow fatter and fatter.

Well, as person of size (and now shrinking beautifully), I am here to say that there are clearly truths and lies all mixed into the one steaming mess and it’s most difficult to sort out how I can deal with it. YES! I need to work out why I gain weight and how can I lose it in a healthy way that actually works! YES! There are many many psychological issues I must confront along the way! YES! My weight and my lifestyle make me tired and stressed out and I get depressed! YES! I am almost 50…I am a hormonal disaster area! YES! I am almost certainly addicted to some foods, and I am very likely allergic to others (or the same ones!). YES! I know food additives are a problem! And NO! Calories in versus calories out does NOT work for me! NO! I am not a gluttonous, lazy pig! And NO! Eating the orthodox “healthy balanced diet” keeps me at the same weight, it doesn’t make me lose weight!
As per my Big Mama One Rule to Rule Them All Rule, I am never going from being morbidly obese if I am on any kind of weight reduction plan that I cannot live with for years and years. And the fact is, whatever I start with, it has to assist me in numerous areas simultaneously, especially with my now intense psychological resistance to “dieting”. And so it turned out that I was fortunate to discover the one great way to kick off my new Obesity Treatment Project….the Alternate Day Diet.

Alternate Day Dieting – A Brief Introduction
Alternate day dieting goes under a variety of names, but for the moment this is what I will call it (although I will eventually use my favourite term, which is Alternate Day Fasting). I will discuss it in more and more detail as I go along with this blog, so that if anyone is trying to use my approach for their weight loss program, they will have a companion that examines every single aspect. I would also say that to those who think that I am simply recommending Alternate Day Dieting and nothing else as my MROTP, you can by all means take up Alternate Day Dieting yourself and never return to this blog, but you will be far from the approach that is working so well for me, after years and years of failing at every diet under the sun. Right now, we are just at Phase ONE remember!

Alternate Day Dieting takes two different forms. The first is what is called Set Day Dieting, or for me, Set Day Fasting. That is, you fast (details coming up) only on set days each week, usually three days out of seven. Which means you get to eat normally on four days out of seven.

The other version of Alternate Day Dieting (Fasting) is the true alternate day version, which means you fast every second day and you eat normally every second day. This means that you fast or diet for seven days out of every fourteen days, whereas with the Set Day version you only fast for six days out of every fourteen days.

My project will take us through my version of both set and true alternate day fasting as it goes along, and it will also vary far from both as we continue to move forward. It is a simple process, easy to follow, and very rewarding.

Month One of the MROTP – Set Day Fasting
This is how my first month worked:

•    Fasting on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays – I liked to have my weekends off to eat whatever I wanted. If you are following this program then you may prefer to choose different set days, but remaining at three set fasting days per week.
•    A fasting day must always be followed by a regular eating day
•    One fasting day must never be followed by another fasting day
•    A regular eating day must NOT be calorie restricted in any way, you need your calories!

What do I eat on a fasting day?
On a fasting day in this phase I consumed only liquids to a maximum of 500 calories (as per Dr. Johnson’s regular first two weeks on his Johnson’s Up Day Down Day Diet…you can Google it). As I am coffee addicted (we’ll be dealing with our wrecked adrenals in this process too, we coffee addicts), almost half of my 500 calorie allowance was scheduled for full cream (whole) milk to go into my coffee. If I can drink coffee all day I don’t freak out about food! I also adore tea and would frequently have tea with whole, full cream milk as well. My other calories came only from having one Danone pro-biotic yoghurt drink, about 80 calories per bottle, to replace each meal. So, three Danone yoghurt drinks, and coffee with real, full cream milk.

I found that:

•    Having low fat or skim milk in my coffee or tea makes me hungry, because the reduced fat increases the proportion of lactose in the milk, which means that low fat milk is sugar-rich and makes us hungry!
•    Having nothing but my coffee in the morning allowed me to go almost all day without getting hungry at all, so I could have my three yoghurt drinks from late afternoon to bedtime
•    I hate drinking regular water, and I don’t believe in the myth that we “must” drink eight glasses of water each day if we are getting hydration through various other means. We humans drink when we are thirsty and we shouldn’t force ourselves to drink water when we don’t want it. However, I got through my month of Set Day Fasting beautifully by drinking two or three Nestle Pure Life water bottles each day. I happen to really like the light fruit flavouring in Nestle’s Pure Life product, and honestly, there were days when the “Splash Orange” flavour got me through! But, you know, if you like regular water and want to drink eight glasses a day, then good for you!
•    Do NOT get all anal about the calories you’re taking in on your fasting day. I’ve watched many people who do Alternate Day Diets writing on forums in exquisite detail about the incredible and highly creative ways they have come up with to construct three massive meals to take them through their fasting day. In so doing they are missing out on the greatest gift that fasting offers them, and that is the ability to almost completely detach yourself from food. This is a very big part of the psychological healing that takes place on this program! Just make the calories simple, fast, and LIQUID (in this phase), and then spend your time planning something really wonderful for the FOUR FULL EATING DAYS of the week!

What do I eat on a regular eating day?
On an eating day you eat what you would normally eat. That means ANYTHING YOU WANT. The general rule of thumb on an eating day is that you would eat sensibly and only until you’re satisfied. Yeah, put that in a bag to go will you? Here’s the reality. On an eating day you may not be very hungry to begin with. Your body may already be going into lipolysis, which is fat-burning mode, which means you don’t get so hungry. You may find you wake up in the morning on an eating day without being too hungry physically. If you’re like me though, you will be emotionally hungry for food. So eat. For the first month I had two toasted English muffins with slatherings of real butter for breakfast on every eating day. I loved it! I made a point of making sure I had a little bit of whatever I craved on my fasting day. So on my eating days I ate the specific candy bar I had craved the day before. If I craved Coca Cola on my fasting day I had it on my eating day. If I craved Safeway birthday cake (they do such great cakes!) I had a piece on my eating day. If I craved steak, I had a steak dinner. You get the picture. The things you eat on your eating day are not only foods you need, they are the foods you desire. Not all of them are good for you. I had KFC on one of my eating days although I hadn’t eaten it in many years. The psychological effect was very important…I know it is still there, and when I really really crave it again at some point in the future, I will eat it. And it will not kill me.

I found that on some eating days I would eat too much, and subsequently go to bed with a tummy ache or discomfort. Over the weeks, I started eating a little more sensibly in the evenings of my eating days because I didn’t want tummy ache again. In fact I learned many things which you will also learn if you follow this approach, and which I will also be discussing in my blogs over the next few weeks.

How much exercise do I do?
You don’t exercise. If you are following my MROTP then you are RESTING. As we get through all the necessary information over time, you will discover that we are in fact treating our exhausted adrenals, and we’ll make little, easy changes to make this more effective over time. In the meantime, you need to REST. You don’t need to completely stop living. I still went and bought the groceries and ran little errands, but I almost completely gave up on housework (I’m getting back to it now…it waited). And for the most part I pottered (or puttered as Americans say, a term that I LOVE!) around the house. I might do a little thing here or there, and then go and put my feet up and rest for a while. If you want to go for a nice evening walk, by all means do so…just don’t go pumping it out. Don’t worry, your muscle mass will not disappear overnight. If you’re obese you’re lugging around all of that weight, which is actually exercise. And like most people, you’ll KNOW when you’re ready to move about more. It will come to you naturally. Wild horses won’t be able to stop you when your body is healed and raring to go! In the meantime, REST. Let your body DO that healing!

How long do I do the Set Day Fasting?
This blog is about my program, which I call the Mardy Roux Obesity Treatment Project (MROTP). In my program, the Set Day Fasting lasts for a month. I chose to use a simple calendar month. You may choose to just use four weeks instead. At the end of the four week Set Day Fasting the program moves to another phase, which is different, and which I will discuss on this blog very soon.

Will I lose weight in the first month with Set Day Fasting?
Probably. You absolutely will not gain weight. Remember, if you’re following along on the MROTP then you are NOT weighing yourself. At all! Or measuring yourself! You will be getting to know your body again. So you won’t be focused AT ALL on what is going on with the scales in your bathroom. You’ll be focused on getting through your three days of fasting each week, and on enjoying eating anything you like and living your life in the comfort of knowing that you are now on a pathway to a beautiful, healthy weight, on your four normal eating days. That’s ALL you have to think about. The rest will come naturally and in good time as we move through the phases. All I know is that after my fifth or sixth fasting day, a colleague from work asked me if I had lost weight….and THAT was a first for me, I’ll tell you! I don’t know if I had lost any weight at all (and that was my answer to my colleague as well), but at least someone made the comment. The details of how I felt, how my clothes fit, and a thousand other little things, will be in my blogs over the next few weeks.

This is an imperfect world and this approach is designed to be imperfect
One of the reasons diet plans FAIL for so many people, and particularly for we obese people, is because all the well-meaning designers of these plans out there decide they need to “fix us” completely all in one shot. Well you know what. That’s really hard on us. Personally, I prefer to do the bits I can handle a little piece at a time. So you will notice that I am NOT dealing with sugar intake or carb addictions right now. Yes it would be lovely to be able to quit coffee, but if I can get to a healthy weight without quitting it, then I’ll do it. Of course it would be great to not use bottled water with artificial sweetener in it, but honey, if that’s what it takes to get me through the first month, then I’m doing it. Yes, it would be fabulous to eat the recommended “healthy diet” (however debateable that is) on the regular eating days, but that’s a lot to ask just yet. The focus has to be on the fasting days first, so we’ll worry about those eating days later on when we know we’ve got the fasting thing well under control. The purpose of my approach is to deal with the many many issues all in good time, and not to immerse ourselves in massive change on day one.

Next blog…the benefits of Alternate Day Fasting for the first month
And always consult your doctor before embarking on any weight loss plan!

Mardy Roux

  1. Mardy,

    Thanks for your kind words on HuffPo, and congratulations on your successes to date.

    Based on what I know, you have a lot of good ideas,and foremost among them is that achieving permanent weight loss is an incremental process that culminates in a lifelong change in your relationship with food.

    Sam Knox

    • Sam, I just want to say thanks so much for stopping by. I have been thrilled by your input on HuffPo. So many people believe in the mythology of the simple calories in-calories out story without ever questioning why, if weight loss is so simple and easy, so many people struggle, and I mean STRUGGLE with it!

      I couldn’t agree more about having to “change your relationship with food”. But for years and years I’ve seen those words in books and online, and they have been meaningless to me. Because they were always attached to doing things I didn’t want to do, or couldn’t do or knew I couldn’t maintain. Now I understand that maybe due to my own weaknesses I cannot change my relationship with many foods, and maybe foods in general, but I can gain CONTROL over the way the relationship works. And I can do it without being unhappy and hungry and fat and unhealthy! I just have to break some of the “rules” I’ve always been told, like having to exercise like crazy!

      And yes yes yes yes yes…it IS incremental! The things I am doing now that are having such wonderful results are things that I could not have done six months ago. Not because they’re difficult things, because I’m not doing anything difficult, but because I cannot do everything at once! So, ironically, it appears we have to take bite-sized pieces of the weight loss process instead of always biting off more than we can chew. Well, maybe a bad analogy there. Anyway, for sure I am making small, incremental changes that don’t make me feel like I’m giving up on anything. In return, my clothes are getting bigger and bigger on me, and it feels good!

  2. Love it!

  3. Hi, I lost 78 pounds since November 2009, by cutting out food’s that were high in fat, cholesterol, salt and calorie’s. Please let people know they don’t need supplements and more protein. It’s really so simple to lose weight, but for some reason all of the bad information just keeps coming out. Raise the fiber and keep the calories at the right level and you’ll lose weight. Thank you

    • Hi Derek! The first thing I want to say is congratulations on losing 78 pounds! Wow! However, there are a couple of things you should know. The first thing is that low calorie, low fat diets are dangerous. They ruin our metabolisms. Yes you can lose weight that way, but over time, unless you can maintain the weight loss through continued starvation the weight will come back and it will become progressively harder to lose those same old pounds as you become metabolically resistant to dieting. I am saying this as a person who has been through the diet treadmill! I also must say that honestly, losing weight for most men is a completely different challenge than it is for women, especially women who are at or near menopause. Men just drop pounds more easily, which is a clue just how much our hormones are involved! The honest truth is that we have not been told the truth about many things…fat, carbs, salt, cholesterol, fiber…the truth is far different than the myths we have fed. That said, I wish you the very best and thanks for being caring enough to write in about your concerns.

  4. […] So, far only the first phase is described: The Mardy Roux Obesity Treatment Project – Phase 1. […]

  5. A couple of weeks ago, I was standing in front of the deli counter waiting to order. The clerk asked “What will it be today?” I replied, “I don’t know, I’m so tired of thinking about what to eat.” And so the lightbulb went on for me … that maybe I should just not eat anymore on those days when it was too much to think about. As a 59 year old morbidly obese woman, I feel a strong sense of kinship with what you have written (very engagingly, I might say). To paraphrase someone or the other, if not me, then who, and if not now, when? So why not now? I’m actually looking forward to this. I have a couple questions which you could answer either online or privately … about soups instead of yogurts on the fast days(I’ve never been able to eat cups of yogurt), about whether you use sugar or sweetener in your milky coffee, about how you dealt with fasting during family vacation travel such as a cruise (I have this coming up in Oct.), how you managed around the holidays, etc. It sounds like your eating patterns are (were) similar to mine, with skipping breakfast and often lunch, with more late day eating. Did you rely on willpower alone to avoid the habit of late day eating, or did you find any workable crutch? Again, I’d like to thank you for your eminently readable style, your conversational voice, your success, and the prospect of hope. Looking forward to hearing more!

    • Hi Pat! Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words. It means a lot to get a little bit of positive feedback. You’re spot on when you note that the joy of having fasting days is just as much in the mental break as it is in physical terms. This is part of why I chose not to go to any extreme lengths to prepare foods on fasting days, because I wanted a break from both chewing and the ritual effort surrounding it. The first few fasting days can be a bit difficult when a sense of hunger kicks in, because most of us are used to eating something right away. I have found some ways to deal with it though. First of all, I try to remember to remind myself that I WANT to experience ordinary physical hunger rather than an insulin-induced low blood-sugar episode or the usual background hunger or peckishness. I try to embrace a sense of hunger and that helps tremendously because I am relearning for the future whether I’m really hungry or just reacting to the foods I’ve eaten which both require different responses if I’m to be healthy and lose weight. I definitely used the Nestle Splash bottled water as a crutch. The slight fruity sweetness was something I really liked, and sometimes if I was extra hungry I could chug down a whole 500ml bottle. It had no calories, so I was fine with it, although in the medium to longer term the goal is to move away from foods with sweeteners or that are processed. As I have said, I am basing my approach on IMperfection! Another crutch I used during the few hungry hours on fasting day, which were essentially from about 4 – 5pm to about 8 – 9 pm for me, was hitting and planning a really nice meal for the next day! That way I could at least fantasize about eating, and I knew I could eat anything I wanted the next day, so I had that to look forward to. I also tried out lots of terrific new recipes and discovered I was reinvesting my savings from a fasting day into eating really really well with quality foods on my eating days!

      I don’t use sweetener in my coffee as I managed to give that up years ago. However, you could use either sugar or sweetener on a fasting day as long as you count the sugar calories. If you use a sweetener, you may be more inclined to notice the difference in how you feel between a fasting day and an eating day though, so sweetener would be slightly more preferable. The yoghurts I was having three times a day in Phase 1 were tiny drinks that I could just knock back quickly, thus separating myself from being in a food preparation mode on those days. I did try a low calorie instant broth a couple of times but the savory taste seemed to make me feel hungrier, although it may have been an ingredient in the soup that caused it. You would have to try it out yourself to see if you respond differently. As long as you know the calories you’re consuming and you are staying under 500 calories for the day and the soup is liquid and not “chewable” you can have it on a liquid fast day.

      I didn’t manage to take a vacation during the early phases of my MROTP but I do have a philosophy about them! EAT! DRINK! ENJOY! Assuming you’re like me and vacations are something that amount to a couple of weeks a year, then you don’t need to lose weight because of the vacations you’ve taken in your life! What you DO need is the sense of relaxation and freedom from stress that a vacation offers. On my MROTP I anticipate being able to take vacations and while on them to eat to my heart’s content for the rest of my life, because that is living my dear Pat! Don’t you agree? As long as we don’t do six months of vacationing (we wish!) all should be good. If you’re in the early phases of MROTP when you go on vacation, then come home and go straight back into where you left off, staying in the same phase for a month. If you’re following how I have structured this for myself, then you aren’t worrying about what scales or tape measures say, and the medium to long term trend of your weight will still be downwards…which is called, getting to a good place while still living your life and not stressing about it!

      I really wish you the best in your weight loss. One thing to remember, and which I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet on the blog, is that on the MROTP we have no weight GOAL because we’re not weighing ourselves! We’re actually just going through a process that hopefully becomes a really good way to live and the side effect should be that our excess fat begins to fall away. So enjoy!


  6. I have just discovered your blog, and have only read up through page 1. I suspect we have a lot in common – I am 47, and was perfectly trim in my 20’s, a Weight Watcher in my 30’s, and didn’t replace the broken scale in my 40’s. One question I have for you is about your kids. Did you cook for the family on your fasting days, or did they “fend?” I am asking because I am planning on trying this, but we do family dinners in my house. I don’t mind giving it up a few nights a week, and I suspect my husband will join my on the fasting days, but I’m not sure how to go about feeding the kids.

    • Hi Angela and welcome! You do sound like me…I was nice and trim in my 20s as well. Not thin…but trim. As I have taken a bit of time getting back to you here I wonder if you’ve already read the post “Fasting With a Family”, which I think probably answers some of your questions. If you have smaller dinners and you’re fasting, you really probably ought to excuse yourself and have a nice bath until such time as it doesn’t bother you to watch others eat (I can mostly do that now). Because my guys are big, I did eventually refuse to cook meals for them, but now I cook the occasional meal even when I’m not personally eating. Usually I don’t do anything fancy or tricky on those days though, and my rule of thumb is to shoot for fasting days to be leftover days for everyone else. The alternative on a fasting day is to make yourself something simple that would suffice as small snack which you can eat while the children eat their meal. You’d have to explain what you’re doing so the children understand. I find children can be far more supportive about these things than adults can. Good luck! Let me know how you do! Mardy

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