When Two Plusses Equal a Minus

A while ago, we had a chance to visit with my cousin and his wife in New Jersey and take them to dinner at a lovely Kosher Italian restaurant. Imagine my surprise, when my cousin Leo, normally a healthy eater with a robust appetite, had only a few leaves of lettuce (no dressing), and a few spoonfuls of vegetable soup. My immediate concern, of course, was for his health, but he explained that “she” (pointing at his wife) “put me on this crazy Russian diet so I can fit into my suit.” “She” confirmed that indeed, they had to attend a wedding in a couple of days, so it was either losing a few pounds or popping buttons and zippers.leaf diet

Cousin Leo, a retired military officer a few months shy of 70, has always been lean and trim; however, a suit, bought last year for another official occasion, has become a bit tight, rather than elegantly slender, so extreme measures were required.  What kind of a diet is it? “Oh, a crazy Russian diet, but it works, – I was assured,- we have done it before. A few pounds guaranteed!”

thinking .gifNow I was hooked. I have always been physically active, a workout enthusiast, a gym monkey, and a yoga fanatic. Suddenly, three years ago I was told that I had to give up all that, unless I want to risk spinal surgery with about 60% success rate. Since I didn’t want to be among the 40%, I politely refused and opted for pain management through meds. So far I have been doing fine, thank you very much, but I am not supposed to even get on my exercise bike and ride to nowhere. I draw the line at “walking in water” instead of swimming, and I have to double pain killers for a few days after each swim, but it’s worth it to me. As a consequence of physical inactivity, I started gaining weight. This coincided with being diagnosed with yet another condition that promotes weight gain. By the time all of this was detected and I was put on appropriate medication, I was 30 lbs heavier and couldn’t fit into any of my pencil skirts!

Larisa Dolina

No-no-no, Beautiful People, that’s not me – by now you know what I look like, and it’s definitely not half-dressed! These are the mandatory “before and after” photos of  the inventor of this “crazy Russian diet, ” AKA the Kefir Diet, a prominent Russian singer and movie star Larisa Dolina. The diet is sometimes called “the Dolina diet.” She is quite famous, but all her life she has been struggling to keep weight off, until eventually she stumbled upon this miracle product – kefir. She is not a nutritionist or a dietologist and has no medical training whatsoever, but, as you can see, it worked for her. In vain have I searched for any academic articles or reliable scientific sources of information about this diet. To the best of my knowledge, none exist. There are plenty of infomercials online, though, outlining several variations, or regimens of it. There is also a warning: kefir, youghurt, and prostokvasha are all fermented milk products, thus potentially harmful to people suffering from high acidity. I love prostokvasha, so I decided to give it a try.

kefir 1    plus    kefir 2.jpg   equal   minus While completely anti-mathematical, it’s nonetheless true in this case. Five days of kefir (for me it was my homemade non-dairy prostokvasha, or clabbered milk – please see here) plus a salad of green leafy vegetables (lettuce, spinach, or kale) flavored by a few blueberries and dressed with the same prostokvasha equaled a steady loss of one lb per day. In five days I was minus 5 lbs and quite optimistic. A few more weeks of that, I thought, and I am back to my normal self. Then the weekend happened, with two Sabbath meals, reasonably healthy, but still normal meals, and a Sunday dinner with my husband. By Monday, I was back where I had started from, and resumed the diet.

Yoyo

 

For three weeks I have been playing weight yoyo. I felt fine; in fact, I felt a bit lighter and better by Friday of every week. I felt no discomfort caused by severe food restriction of a mono-diet. Eventually, I had no sustainable weight loss or gain, coming back to the same 30 lbs extra and facing the necessity of an extra expenditure on clothes that fit. So, dear Carol, my lovely and free-spirited blogo-friend and culinary genius, this is one for your collection of Wacky Diets!

As a new, slender Dolina sings Gerswin’s I got Rhythm, I have come to a forgone conclusion: if you, Beautiful People, need, like Cousin Leo, to get into a formal suit worn only a few times a year, or to squeeze yourself into that opera gown that did fit like a glove at the end of last season, kefir diet will chisel a few extra pounds off. But if you want to maintain that loss, it could only be done through stable healthy diet and exercise. I am not a nutritionist (my field is brain, rather than body), so I invite all of you nutritionists and dietologists out there to weigh in on this, but in my opinion, a healthy diet for gradual weight loss consists of white protein (chicken breast, fish other than salmon or tuna, or tofu), no carbs, no sugar, plenty of vitamins and plenty of exercise. To maintain healthy weight, you could eat some protein other than white, some carbs, preferably not too hypoglycemic, plenty of vitamins and plenty of exercise.

Be well, Beautiful People, eat healthy and stay healthy!

36 Comments Add yours

  1. Chocoviv says:

    Love Italian food!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lghiggins says:

    Losing weight is so hard! I went on the South Beach Diet last year and lost a few pounds. Then I spent a month eating what you described above. No bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, fruit or sugar. I increased my exercise. I lost nothing more. This summer I started intermittent fasting with my husband. We fast Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and are both losing weight. He is losing more than I am, but he also has more to lose. At times during the day it is hard, but that passes. The idea is that the body has to draw from fat for energy if you are not continuing to feed it. I find it easier to not eat at all than to restrict certain foods. I don’t think I could be successful on it if we were not both doing it. There are lots of videos about it online, but it doesn’t have to be as hard or complicated as some people make it. There are lots of variations; many are not as extreme as what we are doing. Also, if you have a lot of health issues you would want to clear it with a doctor.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Most definitely, you have to make sure your doctor approves, but I think you are doing a great job, dear Linda. As long as you combine whatever diet works for you with reasonable exercise, you’ll eventually reach your target weight and maintain it. Good luck to you and your husband!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. lghiggins says:

        Thanks, Dolly. I hear your frustration in not being able to exercise. I wish you well on your health journey too. I love your blog for so many reasons, but I especially admire your efforts to create delicious healthy foods that work for both you and your husband.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you, dear Linda for your kind words; they mean a lot to me.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Joëlle says:

      Hi Linda! Intermittent fasting and a diet low on carbohydrate seems to work for a lot of people, my second son included. I don’t know if I could do it, my stomach is louder that anything else when it gets empty!
      Thank you for sharing your experience 😊

      Liked by 2 people

  3. spearfruit says:

    Informative post Dolly. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your points about maintenance are so sound. The excellent singer, Dolina, by the look of her arms at whatever weight, certainly works out.. Having exercised all my life I remained slim until the enforced sedentary life brought about by the knee replacements – themselves probably brought about by the exercise. Now we eat neither breakfast nor puddings and I am beginning to walk again. I have halved the extra weight gained by inactivity and hope eventually to get back into the pile of perfectly good clothes piled at the bottom of the wardrobe.

    Like

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, Derrick. I am very glad to hear that your knee replacements have gone well and, and you are able to resume your regular walking regimen. That and the reduced food intake will undoubtedly return your former “slim and trim” weight.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. GP Cox says:

    I’ve been on so many different diets most of my life. At this age, losing is even harder!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right about that, GP, but as long as extra weight does not affect your health, who cares!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Joëlle says:

    Oh, Dolly, I would never have thought that you, one of the wisest people I know, would have fallen for a « wacky diet »! Achieving long-term weight loss without feeling hungry while living on rabbit food, is one of the hardest things to do! My husband and I both shed pounds over the first six months that we changed our diet, eliminating gluten, dairy, and all food preservatives, and it was for good. Yay! My better half shed 12 pounds altogether, but don’t worry, he kept a couple of spare ones, just in case 😄. As for me, I lost about four, not that I needed to (my highest number was 105lbs) but eliminating gluten made all swelling and pain in my abdomen go away and I am very happy about that.
    I think that the advice you give at the end of this post is very sensible, and if I may add to it I would say start cooking from scratch: this will ensure that there will be no unnecessary sugar on your plate.
    We don’t belong to any health club but try to go for brisk walks as often as we can. Exercise doesn’t have to be fancy! You must feel very frustrated not being able to have any physical activity, Dolly 🙁… Thank you for sharing this experience, take care! 👩🏼‍🍳😻

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, dear Joelle, I had not “fallen” for it; rather, having been told by a crew of specialists that nothing could be done, other than learning to live with it, I decided to give it a try out of sheer obstinance. Then, of course, Carol egged me on with her “wacky diets” series.
      I agree with you about cooking from scratch, but it might be too much to undertake for many people. As to subsisting on “rabbit food,” I happen to love it. When I was taking my doctoral courses, teaching a full load plus some more courses, I would pack a cooler with green leafy veggies, carrot and celery sticks, and cubed cheeses (that was many years ago, before the non-dairy issue). I ate out of the car all day, while driving between campuses, and I was in my best form, trim, slim, healthy, and full of energy.
      Walking is the best exercise, but unfortunately, I am not even supposed to do that. I still do, of course, but have to stop and rest every two blocks. I don’t like to complain, so it took me a lot of nerve to write this post and disclose my health issues!
      Much love,
      D

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Joëlle says:

        I certainly never suspected that you had physical ailments. Your positive attitude prevails throughout your blog and even in this unusual post, Dolly. Thank you for spreading joy!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah, dear Joelle, when I lay flat in a hospital recovery room in Russia after “the big C” surgery, I would draw caricatures of doctors and nurses that entertained all the ladies in the room. This is Odessa blood in me!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Ren says:

    and it is also being shown/proven that your mindset is your diet. If you visualize yourself as overweight and know you cannot lose weight, then so be it. You will struggle with weight loss.

    However, if you visualize yourself at the weight you desire and SEE that desired body in the mirror (regardless of how things may appear on the outside) and love you for who you are NOW….well, things can change with a change of attitude.
    Humans are truly fascinating!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. colonialist says:

    I have always been severely underweight, so it was a rude shock when recently my life of gluttony finally did start catching up on me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean, and it does happen with age, when your metabolism changes.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. These kinds of “emergency” diets are great to fit into that outfit for one night, but they are not sustainable over the long term. That’s okay as long as people understand that going into it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s exactly what I was trying to say, dear Mimi!

      Like

  10. Russian diet ? Lol Sorry Dolly, first time heared about his. But your stories are so wonderful for memorizing too all the wonderful tips you give. Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Michael. Have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I wish to thank you Dolly! Always a great pleasure to read, and taking action for healthful living. Michael

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I thank you for your kind words, Michael!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Dieting is the preoccupation of most American women — whatever their size. Thank you for the good advice! By the way, I love Gershwin. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  12. These diets are so good and healthy. thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very welcome, darling.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear friend! I left a comment on your site.

      Like

  13. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    LOVE THIS IDEA AD ALL THE GIF’S!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear friend!

      Liked by 1 person

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