The 4 X 4 Diet – Erin Oprea

I try not to get suckered into new diet or exercise books. The recognition of the facts that a) I need to lose weight, b) logically the best way to do so is to get moving, c) once I start it’ll get easier, and d) starting is the hardest part. The exercise portion of Erin Oprea’s plan seems like something doable. As it says in the description: “4-minute tabata workouts: 8 repetitions of 20 seconds of high-intensity moves, then 10 seconds of rest.” And as the author says at one point, almost anyone can do almost anything for twenty seconds. (She might have been more absolute in her statement.) I might even be able to manage it, though some of the moves would absolutely cause hideous pain in both knees, and I’m not quite sure how far my back will make it … so I admit I haven’t tried it yet, but I think I am going to give it a shot. Carefully.

But it takes a long time to get to the exercise half of Oprea’s plan. First there is a very long and repetitive introductory section, in which she discusses how the plan came about and how she has implemented it and … how it came about … and how she has used it … and so on. She says “I can’t wait to show you exactly how it works—” … but she does.

And then at last she gets into the first half of the plan, the diet aspect of it all: eliminating or drastically reducing sugar, starch, sodium, and alcohol. She seems to feel that will all be easy. However, she seems to exist in an isolated and rather privileged bubble, in which there’s all the time in the world to cook delightfully healthy meals for oneself every night, in which there’s never any need to resort to the cheap and easy and fast recourse of pizza or pasta or even a sandwich…. No carbs after a certain time of day? How?

The author never seems to quite register the fact that some of the changes she so blithely recommends mean a major increase in grocery bills. These stipulations, without which the whole diet aspect of the plan collapses, are definitely something needing consideration. Me? I only very rarely buy anything that isn’t on sale, except milk. So when she says “Grind almonds to make your own flour!” … Okay, right. Great idea. Let’s see. On, one 7.5 ounce bag of organic raw almonds is $7.59. The yield of almonds to almond flour is one-to-one, so that’s 7.5 ounces of almond flour. (For the fun of it, let’s throw in the fact that a pound of King Arthur brand almond flour is $9.99. The site seems to have nothing so mundane and horrible as plain old all-purpose white flour, so let’s take King Arthur brand white whole wheat flour: $5.09 for an 80 oz. bag. (Put away your calculator – that’s five pounds.) For further comparison, I recently bought a five pound bag of I believe Pillsbury plain old all-purpose for $1.99. (I’m not even going to go into the fact that, from the website I landed on, almonds have to be soaked for eight hours and individually peeled before grinding.)

So … the diet plan may be modified in my life. I do want to try the exercises. But I could have done without the exclamation “Start taking your dog on longer walks—it’ll improve your pet’s health, too!” Given my current dog-less situation (likely to be semi-permanent), I had a very rude response to that in my notes.

The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review.

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