1. Hunger is your friend.
Many diet plans bend over backward to prevent their users from feeling hungry. Macfadden taught me that hunger can, in fact, be controlled, to the point where it simply becomes a reminder of what you’re trying to accomplish.
2. Fasting reboots your system, quickly.
Absolutely nothing—vacations, shopping sprees, martinis—has knocked me out of a mental and physical rut and more quickly than giving up food for three days. And not surprisingly, nothing melts fat off more quickly than not eating.
3. Food is medicine. No food is strong medicine.
Macfadden believed that humans should emulate other mammals, who stop eating when they feel unwell. The extended fasts I did fixed some ailments that I hadn’t imagined curable—from sore knees to a nagging respiratory ailment.
4. Chew, chew, chew.
If you want to eat less and eliminate most stomach ailments, chew your (preferably fibrous) food until it all but dissolves. My decade-old sour stomach disappeared when I began masticating my breakfast—including my coffee—each morning.
5. Raw food will transform your body’s chemistry.
After three days of consuming only raw food (or “the natural diet” as Macfadden called it) I could feel my body releasing toxins. After a week, I started to give off an odor like freshly-cut strawberries. Even when I was drenched in perspiration.
6. Milk is a miracle food.
Macfadden called milk nature’s perfect food, and he might have been right. On days when I consumed nothing but milk I felt sharper, more energetic, more relaxed—and surprisingly content to not be eating solids.
7. Less flavor equals less food.
Macfadden was strongly opposed to almost all spices including salt and pepper, because he felt they stimulate the appetite unnecessarily. On those days I ate only very plain foods, I consumed about half of what I normally would.
8. You can walk farther than you think.
Walking was Macfadden’s favorite exercise, and no matter how out-of-shape you might be, his exercise plan is simple enough to start today: Walk until you are too tired to continue. Rest. Then walk some more. It is virtually impossible to walk farther than your body can handle, and you can do it every day.
9. Three meals a day is one too many.
For those people who wake with no appetite, Macfadden’s preferred two-meal plan can work wonders. I found that if I ate to my heart’s content at 10:30 and 5, my total calories fell by 20 percent from a three-meal day.
10. All health starts with a strong spine.
Before Macfadden allowed any of his patients to take up any exercise more strenuous than walking, he insisted that they strengthen the muscles running along their spine. Once I came around to his way of thinking (using a series of exercises published in his Encyclopedia, similar to Pilates) I was able to cut my training time for running a half marathon by 50 percent. I also stood an inch taller.