Cleaning Our Engines With the General Motors Diet

I just completed* a week of the General Motors Diet, Amanda’s idea of a slimming solution to get our hot bods ready for summer. In the end, the gym just didn’t work out (pun). Especially after some big party weekends in June, I offered to join my wife in the diet for partner support. For better or worse, in sickness and in diet, right?

The General Motors Diet is allegedly some recommendation the automaker made for its factory workers in the 80s, though the association to the car maker proves to be untrue according to this NYTimes Op-Ed. It’s also similar to the well-known Cabbage Soup Diet. The basic regimen is a lot of raw fruits and vegetables for the first few days and then some red meat and rice toward the end of the week. A diet that includes red meat? I’m on board with that. Of course, you can also eat as much of a cabbage soup recipe as you’d like.

I shouldn’t call what we did a diet, I should call it a cleanse.  They’re the same activity in my book, but cleanses are so much acceptable according to the status quo. Yes, let’s call this the General Motors Cleanse to hereafter keep positive thoughts and make a loose relation to an engine flush.

Here’s my take of the diet, day by day:

Monday, Day 1: Only fruits, no bananas. This wasn’t a bad start, maybe because I ate pesto pasta the previous night and I was working off reserves. I ate a lot of blueberries, strawberries and raspberries during the workday. I love those berries! We ate some cabbage soup for dinner. Not bad! I could do this. Let the record show that Amanda cheated on this day by eating a banana Jelly Belly “on accident.”

Tuesday, Day 2: Only vegetables and a potato. We ate baked potatoes for breakfast, which hit the spot but not quite like hashbrowns. I packed a bunch of baby carrots and snowpeas. I ate too many snowpeas for lunch and had a gag reflex. I just never felt full. The pasta reserves wore off, dammit! We ate some more soup and it was OK. On this night, Amanda officially defined popcorn as a vegetable seeing as it comes from corn kernels. I didn’t argue. I still went to sleep hungry. The honeymoon was over.

Wednesday, Day 3: Fruits and vegetables only, no bananas or potatoes. I considered committing a crime in the morning to get arrested. Prison must have a better menu than this. I ate a bunch of strawberries and carrots. I craved bread and frozen yogurt and fantasized about those chocolate fountains that you dip strawberries and cheese and bread in. Glorious chocolate fountains! We ate more popcorn, I mean vegetables, at night.

Thursday, Day 4: Bananas and skim milk. This is an odd, odd restriction. I’m already lactose intolerant (thanks adulthood!) so the combination sounded like a day in the bathroom. Coincidentally, my long awaited day trip to Facebook HQ in Palo Alto was also on this day, so I was traveling and had a good excuse to cheat  (Recall that Amanda cheated with the Jelly Belly on Day 1, so I had a freebee). I still managed to eat four bananas. The only way I veered from the restriction was eating sweet, glorious beef brisket and brown rice in small portions at the Facebook cafeteria (TexMex Day at the cafeteria).

Friday, Day 5: Beef and tomatoes! You know that this is a General Motors Diet, ahem, Cleanse because that’s an American company and beef is part of the American diet. The only thing more American than American food is Mexican food, so we BBQ’d two hamburger patties for each of us and topped them with salsa, avocado (a bit of a cheat) and sliced tomatoes. I felt my appetite satisfied for the first time in nearly a week. I cried a little bit inside I was so happy. We weighed ourselves today and I lost 10 pounds, so something was working — probably the lack of alcohol and pasta. Amanda lost weight as well, though I’d never comment on how much because I want to sleep in my own bed tonight.

Saturday, Day 6: Beef and vegetables. More beef! Today we started bending the rules a bit more. I argued that Bloody Marys are a vegetable, so we each had one right before witnessing the Fremont Solstice parade where a lot of naked people rode bikes and had their flesh fruits on display. We met up with Amanda’s bosses and also decided Sangrias were a fruit, which we drank even though we were restricted to vegetables. We ate Thai soup after the parade because Thai people grow vegetables, and we polished off a couple beers each because hops are vegetables. You can start to see where the asterisk (*) in my first sentence come into play.

Sunday, Day 7: Brown rice, fruit and vegetables. Hooray, we made it! This day fell on my Dad’s 50th birthday and Father’s Day. We started off great at lunch with brown rice with egg and vegetables (Amanda threw in the egg to meet her Indiana Sunday traditions) but then got off track when Dad and Brenda arrived with pasta salad, cherry pie and tiramsu. Soooooo, yeah. It was amazing.

We did it, we completed* the General Motors Cleanse!

Overall, we were really happy with the results in weight loss as well as the challenge to control what we ate. We’re trying it again this week to see if we can keep the progress going toward a healthier eating lifestyle. In other words, we’re going to see if we can cheat this cleanse less often.

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