I had a pretty gifted metabolism that could combust a full plate of ziti at lunch and dessert twice a day. A year ago, however, despite my dedication to regular exercise, my metabolism slowed to a crawl, and eight pounds piled on at my waist, threatening to cost me the cool wardrobe I’d built over the past 15 years. I was also worried that the obesity and diabetes in my father’s family would finally catch up with me. Plus, a recent spate of cluster headaches had left me puffy and sore on one side of my face. That’s when my friend Nancy told me about an eating plan that had helped her deal with a few health issues while dropping her muffin top.
Nancy’s plan came from her friend Lyn-Genet Recitas, whom I visited at her yoga studio in Harlem. Lyn is not a doctor; based on anecdotal client research, she has created an eating program that fights inflammation and weight gain. Some of her research flies in the face of accepted science (for instance, she says, “Oatmeal is the devil!”—meaning that it stops you up and bulks you out, which in my experience is 100 percent true). She sent me away with a 14-day meal plan.
As I forged into the beginning of her mostly vegetarian cleanse—shaved carrots and beets with lemon juice, no added sugar or salt allowed—I had an unexpected reaction: I realized for the first time how emotionally charged was my desire to eat whatever I pleased. But since Lyn believes that we oversauce and oversalt our meals to the point that we can’t enjoy the ingredients, paring food back to its original natural flavor is key to changing how we eat. I came to see her point—but in those first days, the food was so bland that my poor husband declared, “I know how this works: You go from looking forward to each meal to dreading it!”
But amazingly, just a few days into the cleansing program, I began to taste—perhaps for the first time—the natural sweetness in carrots. I switched from packaged breakfast cereals to grains, flax and dried fruit, with a vegetarian salad for lunch.
Over the next several days, I began to lose weight, and we added in new foods one by one (fish, chicken, beef, lamb) to see which would cause the weight loss to stop. To my astonishment, it was salmon that packed on a pound and a half, while steak did not. From there I was able to create my “friendly foods” list and avoid my “bad” foods. By the end of the first week, I’d lost eight pounds, and the soreness around my face had vanished.
Today, a year later, I no longer have sugar cravings. Since I’ve upped my water intake to 64 ounces a day and reduced my daily caffeine to a single cup of coffee, my skin has begun to shine (people have noticed), and my abdomen has unbloated. The pounds I lost have stayed off, so I don’t have to sell my wardrobe on eBay.
But here are my biggest surprises: The biotin from the flax has made my hair stop falling out (a process that I’d been assured was just a part of aging), and the elimination of juices has killed my acid reflux. Lyn’s plan is not for everyone, but she does count various magazine editors and chefs as fans. Read our interview with her here. She’s a taskmaster, but I, for one, have found that her regimen changed my life.
Editor's Note: Interested in working with Lyn-Genet Recitas? Due to an overwhelming response to our story, the uber popular nutritionist is booked through July 2012. But don’t be dismayed. Sign up for our weekly newsletter and be the first to get her exclusive tips and recipes, as well as information about her upcoming book!