“Worst Diet Ever”
Yoram Solomon received his Ph.D. in Organization and Management from Capella University in 2010. He spent two years researching why people are more creative in startup companies than they are in mature and large corporations. He used his insights to help companies and non-profit organizations create environments conducive to creativity. He is a multi-disciplinary professional, who also holds an electrical engineering associate degree, a law degree from Tel-Aviv University, and a Master in Business Administration from the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs.
Throughout his career, Dr. Solomon was mostly a strategist, an innovator, and an entrepreneur. He worked in a very wide range of companies, from large Fortune 500 corporations (such as Texas Instruments) to small startup companies that he founded.
In 2013, Yoram became more involved in his local community in Plano, Texas, when he ran for the Plano Independent School District board of trustees. He lost the first elections, but is expected to run again, because of his passion for education and entrepreneurship. He is one of the founders of the Young Women Incorporated program, a member of Leadership Plano Class 31, A board member in Plano Youth Leadership, and an Aerospace Education Officer (and former Pilot) in the Civil Air Patrol (US Air Force Auxiliary unit).
Born in Israel, served fifteen years in the IDF, moved to Silicon Valley for five years, where he joined a small company and sold it, before he became a Vice President in PCTEL, a Senior Director of Strategy and Industry Relations in Texas Instruments, and then a Vice President of Strategy at Interphase Corporation in Carrollton, Texas, where in 2010 he invented penveu, an innovative interactive display system developed for schools, and brought it to the market in 2014. Yoram and his wife and two daughters, Maya and Shira moved to Plano, Texas in 2003, and made it their permanent home, where he also became a member (and a board member) at the Plano Rotary Club, that puts service above self.
He is an avid article writer, and in 2007 published his first book: “Bowling with a Crystal Ball: How to Predict Technology Trends, Create Disruptive Implementations and Navigate them Through Industry”, which became a textbook for a technology and industry forecasting class he developed and taught in the Graduate School of Management at the University of Texas at Dallas.
Dr. Solomon’s passion for entrepreneurship put him on the board of the North Texas Alliance for Higher Education and Regional Center for Innovation and Commercialization, and he is a founding member of the North Texas Angel (investor) Network.
Yoram can often be found speaking passionately on variety of topics, including as a keynote speaker at Startup Weekend, and many other venues.
It is his strategic approach to everything that led to the weight loss program described in this book, which he proved on himself.
Interview: Yoram Solomon, Ph.D.
Q1: What foods are your biggest weakness, and how do you combat cravings?
A: Steaks. By far. I just love steaks—any kind of barbeque, now that I think about it. But, hey, I live in Texas. It would simply be wrong not to love BBQ! I don’t really combat cravings. I simply manage how I fulfill them. So, for example, when I order steak, I make sure that I get one with less fat and one that is smaller, such as a sirloin or tenderloin. Then I chose sides that are low in carbohydrates. For example, I replace potatoes or fries with green beans or grilled asparagus. And, I go light on bread and avoid the butter sauce on the steak (or wipe it off if I forgot to ask to not get it). Those are small things, but they allow me to get what I like with minimal cost. However, my most powerful tool in combatting cravings, in general, is the immediate consequence of missing my daily weight target. It is much more powerful than the long-term consequence.
Q2: Your hobbies include a great deal of hands-on work. Does keeping busy in this way contribute to your weight loss?
A: Anything that keeps you busy help. The idea is to make it less convenient to eat. Anything that gets your hands dirty helps (You won’t want to eat if your hands are dirty, right?). In the book, I refer to this as “adding friction.” The harder you make it to access food, the less you eat. It’s as simple as that.
Q3: You mention, in The Worst Diet Ever, that your doctor recommended that you should share your research and findings. Now that you have completed the book, what plans do you have for sharing your information with your doctor? Will the book be promoted to other patients?
A: I plan on providing his office with free copies of the book so that he can share with his patients. I have asked him to read the book himself and to provide me with feedback as well as a possible endorsement. There is nothing more powerful than a physician telling his patients how well this worked.
Q4: As you explain your diet and exercise routines, it becomes clear that your workouts don’t vary often. For those who want to vary workouts, what advice can you offer that will keep progress moving forward?
A: The problem with varying workouts is that it is harder to turn them into habits. It might take longer, or they might never become habits. One possible way is to decide that there is a different workout routine for Monday (treadmill, for example) than Tuesday (exercise bikes), or Wednesday (weights) and so on. So within a week your workout will vary, but a habit can still emerge on a weekly basis. Creating a workout habit is important for this to be successful, or, otherwise, you will fight this for the rest of your life. Having too many different workout options makes the “no workout” option too viable.
Q5: You watch TED Talks while working out. Do you feel that these videos help you to, not just pass time but also, increase your motivation to workout?
A: There are few TED Talks that discuss weight loss but not enough to fill a week of workouts. Besides, they don’t necessarily agree with my method. Other TED Talks can get me motivated to do other things but not necessarily to lose weight. I use those TED Talks simply to pass the time. If I get motivated to do something or learn something new—and it is valuable as a result—that’s the icing on the cake (I shouldn’t have said that.). Later this year I plan on applying to speak in TEDx conferences about this diet. After all, it is an idea worth spreading!
Q6: Have you reached any weight loss plateaus? If so, how did you push forward? If not, what plans do you have for dealing with this weight loss issue?
A: The existence of the extrinsic motivator/reward (in my case, the inability to work on my hobby) and the externally enforced link between the reward and meeting the weight goals on a daily basis would do the trick. Reaching a plateau is fine until the self-imposed weight limit drops to the next monthly goal. Then you start suffering the consequences, and it immediately motivates you to keep going.
Q7: Removing toxins from the body is healthy, regardless of weight loss. After your toxin screening, which diet habits do you feel gave you your low screening level?
A: I have no idea. But I can tell you that neither did my “toxin adviser,” who was skeptical about the possible effect of my weight loss on my toxin level, while in reality it appeared that the weight loss did cause those toxins to be eliminated.
Q8: Now that you’ve reached a stabilizing point in your weight, how do you plan to continue to stay motivated long-term? Do you see this changing in, say, ten years?
A: I look at weight loss differently. Rather than thinking about it as “reaching a certain weight,” I think of it as “maintaining a certain weight.” Like Stephen Covey said, “Begin with the end in mind.” As a result, you don’t “reach” or “stabilize” but, rather, “maintain.” Furthermore, I believe that once you create the right habits to maintain your weight, it becomes easier to maintain it, to the point that you don’t need your external motivator anymore. However, if you start “slipping,” just bring the external motivator (or a new one, if the old one doesn’t work anymore) back. It happened to me once. I brought the motivator back into play and got back into maintenance mode.
Q9: Has there ever been a time when your regimen and focus have caused upset in your home or have been upset by family needs? If so, how did you cope with this adversity?
A: The regimen has never caused upset at home, but sometimes I couldn’t join my family to a dinner outside when they wanted to. I found that it was hard to go out with them and not eat (on evenings I couldn’t “afford” dinner), so I would rather not go with them on those nights.
Q10: Throughout your personal struggle to diet and, then, to maintain your weight, how has your self-confidence grown? What other psychological changes, if any, have occurred because of your personal success?
A: There is no doubt that the occasional “Did you lose weight?” question boosted my self-confidence, but at the same time, I wasn’t one to suffer from a lack of self-confidence. One change I did experience came from the realization that the effectiveness of an extrinsic motivator combined with the right enforcement mechanism does force you to do something that you wouldn’t have been able to convince yourself of its immediate value without. It typically applies to effort with long-term results.
Q11: Your writing shows an aptitude for completing and sharing research. Do you have plans to continue to explore the diet motivation subject on a research level?
A: As I hear more and more stories of people successful (or unsuccessful) in their weight loss efforts, I will continue to add depth and ideas to the concepts in this book and will share them on my website (www.worstdietever.com), as well as future editions of this book and whenever I can be found speaking. I enjoy the process of interviewing people, learning their stories, developing theories and models, and then validating the evidence through surveys.
Q12: For those who struggle to find diet and exercise routines that will sufficiently produce results, what psycho-social suggestions do you have? In other words, beyond what you’ve already shared, how can one find the confidence in one’s self to rely on the intuition needed to find a regimen pattern for weight loss and maintenance?
A: It really comes down to listening to your body and metabolism rhythm. One consistent message through this book is that your body and your metabolism are different than mine or anyone else’s, for that matter. Weighing yourself every day will let you learn how your body responds to different things. Try different things. Try eliminating certain things, and try different combinations of food and exercise. Pretty soon you will start observing patterns and will find out what works best for you. You may need to do things that were unnatural for you before. Skip dinners. Eat with smaller plates. Creating healthy habits will help you reach your goals.
Q13: According to your book, you only lost 32 pounds using this diet. Does that qualify you as a weight loss expert?
A: First of all, the name of the book is The Worst Diet Ever, so I don’t claim to be an expert on diet. Second, more important than how much I lost, it is important to note that I made a plan to lose exactly 32 pounds in 6 months and achieved this goal 3 days ahead of schedule, maintaining it for almost two years now. So, this is not about 30 pounds or 100 pounds. This is about accepting that we have hard time losing weight because the effort outweighs (unintended pun) the long-term benefit and accepting that developing extrinsic motivation is needed to expend that effort. One’s goal could be to lose 30 pounds over 6 months or to lose 300 pounds over 3 years (I’m not an advocate of losing more than 10 pounds a month.). The method in this book can be used for things other than weight loss, where the dilemma is that the effort seems not worth the present value of a long-term benefit.
Be sure to visit Yoram’s web site @ www.worstdietever.com
Interview by -Stacey Wood / Editor FEDP
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