I know that when I first started to run, I overate for the amount of calories I was actually burning — not intentionally, but it’s easy to do. Eventually I figured out how to train and not gain weight (for the most part).
I’ve noticed, though, that I can no longer eat as much running the same amount of miles. 10 years has put me firmly into menopause, and as our bodies change, so do our needs and our ability to burn off what we eat.
So what’s a curvy runner to do? When I read the description of Eat Live Thrive Diet (Amazon Affiliate link), or ELTD as I’ll refer to it, I was intrigued that it targets older women — and is actually written by two women who are on the other side of 50 . . . and beyond. I mean seriously, look at the authors — I’ll have what they’re having!
Disclaimer: I received a pre-publication edition of this book from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review.
What’s in the book?
ELTD spends a lot of time on what and how to eat, obviously. It always touches on exercise and sleep. The one thing I didn’t realize when I requested this book to review: it also talks some about God.
The whole book is not about God, and it’s not preachy, but I wasn’t expecting it and as a person of faith who happens to be Jewish, I’ll admit I found it somewhat annoying. It may not interest you, either, but it’s a small part of the book and don’t let that prevent you from reading it. And I also appreciate for some people weight can be a spiritual issue.
Here’s a list of the chapters in the book:
- Yes, you can eat, live, and thrive!
- Making the program work for you
- You are what you think
- The power of self talk
- Fat-burning diet trends
- The eating window
- The elimination phase
- The discovery phase
- The lifestyle phase
- What’s exercise got to do with it?
- The irreplaceable power of sleep
- Beauty and the beast
The “diet” is split into three phases:
- Elimination: removing problem foods completely for 2 weeks
- Discovery: slowly reintroducing the foods, one at a time, noting how they make you feel — once you’ve tried out one food, you remove it again as you go on to the next (I am still going through this phase)
- Lifestyle: fine tuning how to eat the rest of your life for your body
This isn’t a diet, despite the title, but more a deep dive into problematic foods that may be sabotaging your weight loss journey, and how to fine tune your diet (way of eating, not restriction!) to your body.
I liked the fact that ELTD isn’t a fad diet. The authors briefly touch on Keto, for instance, and why they don’t suggest it — which jives with my own personal opinion: it’s too hard to sustain and it’s not balanced.
They do encourage Intermittent Fasting, although a kinder, gentler version. They suggest that you work your way up to fasting 16 hours, starting with 12 hours (or less, if you’re not used to going a long time without eating) and slowly extending it over time — and only fast for 16 hours at most a couple of times a week.
I’ve dabbled in IF, but I didn’t find it did much for me. This time I found that IF coupled with the foods I eliminated plus a few tweaks to my nutrition in general worked well for me. I started running again, and unlike the last time, I didn’t notice an increase in appetite on the days I ran.
Did the weight melt off? No — but it’s not supposed to. Any loss over 1-2 lbs per week is most likely muscle loss, not fat loss — we’re prone to muscle loss as we age, so we certainly don’t want to do anything that will cause more of it! Slow and steady wins the race.
What drew me to this book
Let’s face it, there’s a ton of books out there about how to eat (most of them contradicting each other). Here’s a snippet of the book description on Net Galley:
A practical, science-based diet book that unravels the mystery of why women gain weight as they age and includes a sustainable plan to permanently lose the pounds and inches.
Almost all women who are fast approaching menopause — or on the other side — know that keeping our weight in check gets harder and harder with every decade. I’m on the other side, weight is often a struggle for me — so yes, a book aimed at “mature” women appealed to me.
If you follow me for any length of time, you’ll find that I’m really big on positive affirmations, mantras, and meditation. I wasn’t always, but I have learned that our self talk is often the most important part of the process any time you want to change a behavior. The authors agree.
In fact, they suggest “potty talk” — using a trigger to get you into the habit of doing positive affirmations. One trigger is when you’re in the bathroom. Much better use of your time than being on your phone, right? And your phone will stay dry (and germ free). There are several audio recordings from the author, as bonuses, that you can play during the different phases.
The book also has a lot of positive affirmations for you to use. Some of both the audios and the affirmations do invoked God or Jesus, but there are many that don’t. You are sure to find some to work for you — which is the point of the whole book, finding out what works for you!
The Elimination Phase removes foods that are problematic for many women for 2 weeks. There are three different levels:
- Level 1: Grains & sugar (the most common culprits in weight gain)
- Level 2: Also eliminate beans, nuts, and dairy
- Level 3: Let’s just say there’s a whole lot of food to eliminate
It’s suggested that you do some form of the elimination diet every change of seasons, and try the highest level at least once a year. I liked the fact that the first level wasn’t very strict. I had every intention of trying to cut out dairy, but then I found myself struggling to get in enough protein and really needed my Greek Yogurt!. I did cut out beans, even though they’re not on level 1. The authors say it’s fine to sort of mix and match between levels.
After just implementing a few changes even before I began and then following Level 1 + beans for 2 weeks, I lost a little weight, while reducing cravings at the same time. Did I feel my energy skyrocket? Um, no, sorry, no. I definitely noticed a flatter stomach and some inches lost.
After eliminating the foods you decide on, you begin to test your sensitivity to them. There’s actually a suggested order to test food. Each grain will be tested separately (in my case, rice, oats, quinoa, then wheat).
To test a food you will eat a serving of that food twice a day for three days, while monitoring how you feel and your weight. On the fourth day you will eat as you did in the elimination phase; the reasoning is that it can take a couple of days for a reaction to show up. Common reactions for each food group are listed, and it’s noted that a reaction just indicates you might have a sensitivity to that food.
Then you’ll move on to testing the next food on the list, but you won’t add back in the food you just tested previously until you have gone through all the foods you want to test. Basically, that allows you to test each food without muddying the waters by eating the other eliminated foods.
The Discovery Phase allows you to find out if you react to certain foods — and how much. You may find that there are foods you really just need to eliminate from your diet altogether, while there may be other foods that are fine for you occasionally.
My Thoughts on the Discovery Phase
I discussed this book with Mr. Judy, and he liked the fact that the authors take a quasi-scientific look at food. He pointed out that the testing phase is probably not long enough; I agreed with him. I also know that weight fluctuates naturally on its own, so if you do have a gain you can’t always attribute it to a certain food.
I gained weight one day when I was on that day in between testing foods. My guess is it was much more about the fact that I’d run 5 miles the day before, which can also cause a temporary bump on the scale.
Normally I do not weigh myself every day, and for some people, this can be triggering. For years I didn’t even own a scale. Mr. Judy bought this scale; I had never used it until reading this book (and don’t plan to be using it once I’m done testing).
I found the “data” from reintroducing foods coupled with monitoring how I felt and my weight fascinating. I know some people have no desire to spend that much time and thought on food, but it’s interesting to me. I calculate the discovery phase will take me about 2 weeks, so that’s a month before getting into the Lifestyle phase, the phase that is about tweaking your food so that you can lose and then maintain your weight.
So far I haven’t really found anything that truly seems to be a problem for me. After eating beans and the one day off, I did find I gained a pound. I believe that that simply means that I don’t need to eat beans twice a day every day, which is not something I did anyway — not a true sensitivity. I didn’t really expect to find sensitivities. I think some people, if they’re willing to do the work, might be surprised by the results.
Eat Live Thrive Academy
If you’re wondering what happens after you finish all the testing, or you feel that you need support, you might want to check out the Eat Live Thrive Academy here. It’s a monthly paid site with a private Facebook group for more support.
The authors, Danna and Robyn, are active on the site, answering questions, commenting, posting FB Live Videos. They also hold live coaching calls within the site. I haven’t had time to attend one live, but I’ve watched some of the videos and there’s definitely interesting information.
You can download a digital version of the book if you join. Membership happens to be discounted this month. I joined using my own money. I haven’t yet made up my mind whether or not I want to stay a member, but you can cancel at any time. It seems a very nice, supportive group. Right now the other resources at the site, aside from the coaching calls, are rather sparse (recipes — the same ones in the book, a few exercise videos, and worksheets and guidelines for moving through the different phases), but my guess is that there will be more with time — or maybe not.
The price is very reasonable and it’s discounted during the month of April (I have no affiliation with them).
Who is this book for?
Older women who find that they are struggling to maintain (or lose) weight. Whether that’s because they’re not eating a healthy diet, or eating a healthy diet but have not pinpointed healthy foods that are sabotaging their efforts. Also for people (not just women) who think they may have food sensitivities.
I will not lie: the discovery phase is time consuming. I wasn’t testing a lot of foods, but since you test every single grain separately, each one for three days — yes, it adds up. And you need to keep track of how you’re feeling and your weight every day (which could be a trigger for someone with an eating disorder).
I didn’t find the elimination phase at all difficult, except for going out — but I did go out to eat once a week, as we usually do.
I enjoyed the recipes from the book, but if you’re a vegetarian — you’re SOL. Pretty much completely; I’d love to see a vegetarian option! I personally would also like to see some sample meal plans. Each recipe has a suggested category (breakfast, entrees, desserts, etc.) and also is tagged by which level it is appropriate for. I’d love to see just a few sample meal plans to see how the authors suggest you put it all together.
This is not a weight loss plan, although the aim is to eventually get to a weight you’re comfortable at — and can sustain. It’s about tailoring your diet to work for your body. I am always searching for ways to do that! It’s about finding the right foods for your body. Yes, you may have to change the way you eat, but if you’re not getting the results you want, it’s worth it.
It’s not a fad diet, it doesn’t eliminate any food group (unless you truly find you have a sensitivity to it), and it connects mind, body and spirit.