Better ‘Shred’ than dread

By Tarice L.S. Gray

Spring is the time of year some may find most intimidating. It is, after all, when we realize swimsuit season is nearly upon us. Getting in shape becomes a revisited goal for those who’ve lost track of their resolutions. And as the weather entices us to shed the layers that kept us warm – and completely covered – many of us want a little more time to prepare to do that.

As the adage “easier said than done” suggests, many who desire to have the hot body that makes wearing less more attractive are stumped on how to go about a physical transformation successfully. In Dr. Ian Smith’s latest book “Shred: The Revolutionary Diet,” he addresses ways to control calories. He also talks about the particular questions that befuddle most on-again, off-again dieters: How do you push through that frustrating plateau? What do you do when nothing else is working?

“‘Shred’ started because very close friends of mine occasionally emailed me and said they had reached a plateau in weight loss and they needed a jump start,” Smith says.

As the author of the best-selling books “The Fat Smash Diet” and “The 4 Day Diet,” he says he had a good foundation to take diet plans a step further. He revisited those questions that emerged to come up with a new strategy.

The good doctor fused some of the ideas in the best-selling books that preceded “Shred” – detoxing and cleansing as well as creating a meal plan – with a fairly new concept. “Diet confusion,” he says, may be the missing component for those needing an extra push to shed pounds. The idea is to trick the body into increasing its metabolism.

Smith says it’s the same thing that happens with a regular workout routine. Muscles can stop developing, because they get used to the expectations of the workout. You reach a plateau and you have to overcome that. Fitness gurus advise people to switch up their routines as a way of confusing the muscles. In the same way, diet confusion – changing what you eat each day – can boost your metabolism. Those who follow “Shred” will constantly be eating, he says. Every three and a half hours, they’ll consume one of four meals or meal replacements or one of three snacks a day.

The results are impressive. Smith says members of his shredder nation reported an average weight loss of 20 pounds or four inches, and two sizes in just six weeks, in plenty of time to prepare for a fabulous swimsuit season.

It took time and research for Smith, a Danbury native, to develop this approach, because this wasn’t his original path. Years ago he attended Dartmouth Medical School (now the Geisel School of Medicine) with the idea that he would become an orthopedic surgeon. But he was sidetracked by opportunity.

Smith became a medical correspondent for the “Today” show and a columnist for Time magazine. It was during his time distilling medical advice – between 2002 and 2003 – that he says he received his “calling”.

“So many of my readers would send me emails after reading my columns, and most of the vast majority of the emails were about diet, nutrition and supplements,” he recalls.

The information that was out there had too many dieters “desperate, confused and hopeless. I wanted to help my readers know how to navigate in a healthy way the very tricky course of weight loss.”

He ventured into the world of nutrition and fitness using resources and research that medical doctors could access and released his first diet book, “The TakeControl Diet,” in 2005. Over the years he’s continued to write about the topic and has developed a following that is inclusive of a celebrity clientele. The former resident physician on VH1’s “Celebrity Fit Club,” Smith says his dieting methods are designed for all people but adds that high-achievers respond best to the weight-loss program.

“Those people typically have the essentials it takes to be successful,” he says. “Tenacity, belief, vision, willing to dream: Those are the things that make people successful in business, entertainment or in weight loss.”

Still, he says that everyone has the potential to succeed, especially on the “Shred” plan, because it’s adaptable to any person’s lifestyle. And swimsuit season can be just the motivation you need.

“You can do it. It just takes commitment,” he says. “Focus on the small changes in life instead of on the big result.”

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