The Shell Diet (Remember 4 Things: Fiber, Fresh, Kosher, Active)

It’s as easy/difficult as converting your religion.

This is the time of year when I hear people talking the most about getting back into shape and losing weight, as one of their New Year’s Resolutions.  I personally don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions for my own weird reasons, but coincidentally it was a year ago this week when I officially began a new diet that I accidently discovered/invented in an attempt to get rid of my eczema.  By Spring 2009, people started asking me if I had lost weight and I would reply, “Not that I know of”.  By summer, I got on the scale and realized I weighed (my still current weight of) 153.  This was a major surprise to me because since getting married, I had weighed around 178.  Without trying whatsoever to lose any weight, I had accidently lost 25 pounds.  And more importantly to me, I finally got rid of my eczema, acne breakouts, and regularly occurring headaches.

Over the last several months, friends and coworkers have observed and referenced my strange dietary habits with comments like this, “I wish I could be cool and do the [Nick] Shell Diet”.  Well, thanks to this post, now that will be a possibility for anyone.  Of course, “diet” is a tricky word.  When we hear it, we often associate it with losing weight, or associate it with a temporary change in our eating habits.  But if losing weight is the purpose of the diet, I say the diet is destined for failure.

According to the recently aired special on ABC, Celebrity Weight Loss- What Really Happens, 50 million people every year go on a diet but only 5% of them keep the weight off once they lose it.  Something else I learned from watching was that the diet industry is a multi-billion dollar industry.  So not only do the majority of people going on diets each year not lose enough weight or keep off the weight they do lose, but they waste money doing so.  With the Shell Diet, there’s no profit to be made.  I can’t make money off of sharing my experiences on becoming a healthier person.  There is no product to endorse here.  Can you afford to eat fresh vegetables and fruits every day? If so, good.  But I’m not making any money off of this thing.

Therefore, I interpret the word diet as “healthy lifestyle strategy”, and that’s precisely what the Shell Diet is all about.  Because if you truly begin living a consistently healthy lifestyle, losing weight is an unavoidable side effect.  The problem with most with other diet programs is that they focus on counting calories.  But it’s not about the quantity (number) of calories; it’s about the quality (fiber and whole grains) of calories.  I know a guy who every three years, goes on the Atkins Diet to lose his potbelly (45 pounds), then once he does lose the weight after a few weeks, goes back to what ever he wants for the next three years.  His focus is not on being healthy- since actual nutrition (fruits and vegetables) is seen as a bad thing (because they count them as bad carbs) in that diet.  Not cool, Zeus.

One of the major discouraging things about other “diets” is that at the end of the day, if you’re hungry but have reached your calorie count for the day, you’re just out of luck. With the Shell Diet, it is a sin to let yourself go hungry, ever. With the Shell Diet, you are encouraged to eat (but never overeat) as you’re hungry, granted that you’re eating high fiber snacks and meals.  If you really are hungry, and not just bored, you will eat an orange or a banana, or a whole grain cereal that does not have a charming cartoon character on the box.  Sorry, Count Chocula.

There are four main keys that the Shell Diet is based on:

Fiber, Fresh, Kosher, Active.

Now it’s time to break those down.  This is like a table of contents.  Individually click on each mini-post below, then after reading it, click back to this page.

FIBER: “Build your meals” on fiber from fruits, veggies, and whole grains, not meat or carbohydrates.

FRESH: Cut out all processed foods.

KOSHER Eat like the Old Testament Jews did.

ACTIVE: Find a practical way to be physically active every day.

That’s it.  Everything I have described in the Shell Diet, I literally live by on a daily basis.  I admit, The Shell Diet isn’t truly introducing any new ideas.  Subconsciously, we already know this stuff.  But the Shell Diet breaks it all down into cut-and-dry rules to make it more practical and easier for people to keep themselves accountable.  Sure, if I’m at someone’s house and they made chocolate cake for dessert, I will eat a decently sized slice with no hesitation.  I just won’t pay for it with my own money.  By only eating sweets when they are free (like some Halloween candy), it keeps eating sweets down to irregular occasions.  But I refuse to break my Kosher lifestyle.  Even if it means hurting people’s feelings.  (You’d be amazed how offensive in can be here in the South to turn down BBQ pork, sausage, hot dogs, bacon, shrimp, etc.)

How has the Shell Diet changed my life personally?  Well, since officially converting to the Shell Diet about a year ago, as I mentioned in the beginning, I no longer suffer from eczema, shortness of breath, regular occurring headaches, or acne breakouts.  Not to mention, clothes fit more comfortably now; maybe too comfortably.  But most importantly, I have the assurance of knowing that I am much healthier at age 29 then I was at 27.

If you are brave enough to go “Jesus style” and do the Shell Diet, please grant yourself grace.  It literally took me a year to discover the Shell Diet then another year to begin living by it without cheating.  For me, it ended up being an accidental New Year’s Resolution that actually worked.  Yes, living by the Shell Diet will make you a little bit weird.  People will question you and give you a hard time occasionally.  They even may think you converted to Judaism.

Just ask yourself, "W.W.N.S.E.?" (What would Nick Shell eat?)

By living the Shell way, you’re living like people have lived for thousands of years, back before Coca-Cola and KFC were household names, and before cancer and Diabetes were common.  Sometimes it’s just better to be old school- even as old school as Moses, the Jewish guy who sort of started this whole “healthy lifestyle” thing thousands of years ago when he wrote what we now often think of as that outdated book in the Bible called Leviticus.

I guess no diet strategy is complete without before and after pictures, so here you go:

Before the Shell Diet, around 178 pounds.

And now, after the Shell Diet, around 153 pounds.

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The Shell Diet: Fiber from Whole Grains, Fruits, Veggies, and Much Less Meat

Build your meals on fiber from fruits, veggies, and whole grains, not meat or carbohydrates.

1) Eat less meat: Most of us have grown accustomed to building our meals based on meat.  We’re accustomed to “getting full” instead of “staying regular”.  By eating more than 4 to 6 ounces of meat per day (the size of a deck of cards, or your hand not including your fingers), if nothing else we’re giving our bodies too much sodium and making ourselves at least a little constipated.  (Ideally, you should be “going #2″ at least once a day”.)  I make it a daily goal to only eat meat in one meal of the day, typically either lunch or breakfast.

2) Replace meat with vegetables and whole grains:For breakfast, here is what I eat (click here).  For my other meatless meal, I make sure it’s filled whole grain (wheat) rice, pasta, or bread and vegetables or fruit.

3) Whenever you’re hungry (not bored), eat. If you get hungry in between meals or after a meal, it means your body is craving and needing more fruit, veggies, or whole grains.  Not processed snacks, ever.

4) Don’t eat too much at once. By putting your two hands together to make a bowl, that gives you an idea of the amount of food you should eat in a meal.  Any more than that, and there’s a good chance of you’re overeating, and that means you won’t poop at least once a day.

*But wait, there’s more…Go back to the main page of the The Shell Diet by clicking right here.

What Percentage of Your Day is Spent on Entertainment?

It’s not as simple as logging your TV and movie time: Entertainment is much more complicated, subtle, and encompassing than that.

When my sister was born in January of 1984 (I was about 2 ½) she gave me a Garfield stuffed animal as present.  I realize that the idea of a newborn baby giving her older brother a gift the day she is born may seem illogical, but my parents’ idea to keep me feeling special that day worked.  Because I didn’t question the rationale of my sister’s gift until high school.  That Garfield doll ended up being one of my favorite childhood toys.  I dressed him up in my dad’s whitey-tighties; they were Garfield’s diaper.

A major part of being a kid is being strung along by your parents.  It’s a constant, endless series of countless waiting rooms, strange places, and unfamiliar people.  But all I could really think of was eating, drinking, and peeing.  And when I checked all those activities off the list, that meant I must be bored.

So I needed something to entertain myself.  During the younger years, Garfield in my dad’s underwear did the trick.  I eventually graduated from the stuffed animal circuit to video games and action figures.  Then to playing guitar by the time I started junior high.  Evidently the worst thing in the world was to be bored.  So I always had someway to entertain myself.

*This explains the psychology behind Swiss Army SUV (Nick Shell’s Turtle Shell). Click that title to read more about it.

But I have to imagine that most people, like me, carry this idea of constantly entertaining themselves into adulthood, for the rest of their lives.  And as Ive learned by now, a tangible object isn’t necessary for entertainment- though something as subtle as checking for new text messages 33 times a day is a popular form of fighting subconscious boredom.

I learned as a child to use my imagination to daydream; while I still do that on an hourly basis, I’ve also made a habit of planning my future and coming up with ideas for my life.  And I figure I’m not the only one.  I figure that most people find some way to entertain themselves throughout the day, despite the busyness of life.  In between the busyness of life.  And during the busyness of life.  Even if it’s just while waiting in line, sitting at a red light, or zoning out at work (and often even not realizing we’re doing it).

Heckler-reader yells out: “Bahahaha…You just wait ‘til you have a baby, that’ll all change!”

Yes, life will change and my time will be spent in different ways and I will be functioning on less sleep.  But no matter how preoccupied I am with life and all its responsibilities and distractions, there are still moments throughout any day, even if it’s while I’m falling asleep, that I fill in those moments of fading consciousness with random thoughts like, “What was Grimace supposed to be, anyway?”

So how what percentage of my day is spent on entertainment?  It’s pretty much a trick question.  Because at least for me, my mind is constantly in entertainment mode.  Even when I’m asleep, dreaming.

All the Flavors of Pringles: Mingling and Pringling at Summer Dinner Parties

I can’t eat just one Pringle.  But I am able to eat just one can. Typically.

It’s funny how the summer time itself can make you feel more popular and sociable than normal.  My wife and I have noticed that nearly every weekend this summer we’ve got some event planned with other people, not to mention the many dinner parties we’ve already attended in the past several weeks.  Since there’s always that item or two that we need to bring to the dinner, we end up at the grocery to the day before to pick up the garlic bread or salad.

And while I’m there, I sneakily mosey over to the potato chips isle to explore the local Pringles selection.  Despite how adamant/religious I am about what I eat (nothing processed, no pork, no shellfish, no sugar, only wheat bread, must drink a minimum of three liters of water a day, etc.) I am willing to admit that one of my surprising weaknesses is any random can of Pringles potato chips.  Maybe it’s this subconscious belief that regular potato chips are “white trashy” and Pringles are the sophisticated option.  Even as a kid who never cared about nutrition, I still have always preferred Pringles over any of the greasier and/or more fattening options out there like Lay’s or Doritos.

Anytime I’m invited to a dinner party now, I use the event as an excuse to buy a can of Pringles.  It would be against my self-imposed moral code to simply purchase chips and bring them into my house to eat, because that means I’m contributing to the junk food industry.  But if it’s for a party, with the intended use of sharing, that it becomes justified in my mind.  And with all the weird flavors that Pringles provide me with and my curiosity to try them all, often I come home with at least half the can still in tact.  Prime example: Last Friday night, Mozzarella Sticks and Marinara.  (Basically the distinctive ingredient is sour cream.)

Surely obsession with Pringles is that they give me the illusion that I’m eating unhealthy foods like Bloomin’ Onions, Quesadillas, or Cheeseburgers, though I’m actually eating low fat potato chips.  The flavors themselves provide entertainment.  Not the mention the labels themselves.

For example, right now I’m looking at an empty can of Pringles Xtreme Ragin’ Cajun.  I like how a serving size is 16 “crisps”, not chips.  It’s funny how “spices” is listed as an ingredient, then a few later comes “spice extracts”, then “paprika extract”- so vague and yet specific all at once.  Of course there’s some Red Lake 40 thrown in there for effect, which is extracted from petroleum (click healthnutshell: Red Food Dye to read more about that).  My favorite part of it is the last ingredient listed: “and natural and artificial flavors (including smoke)”.

Wait, I don’t get it.  Is the smoke real or artificial?  Or half fake, half real?  I really need to understand this…

Pringles.  So good.  So weird.  So mysterious.

Pringles Flavors: The Complete Guide

The Modern Day Tower of Babel, Perhaps (The Internet and Online Social Networks)

If twenty years ago someone had tried to describe to us what the Internet was and how drastically it would change our lives, we would be as lost someone trying to watch LOST for the first time starting with Season 4. In 1993, Time magazine did a cover story about predictions of future technology involving the way people would share information. Vaguely, they were seeing a glimpse of the World Wide Web. But the way they presented it was more like a form of cable TV that would have at least 500 channels.

Instead, a year later in 1994 my 8th grade science teacher Bill Martin showed our class this weird way he could use the classroom phone line and his computer to talk to other scientists across the country, instantly. That was my introduction to the Internet. Three years later, the Internet became less of a weird thing that I could only observe from a distance, as some of my friends with Internet let me aimlessly wander through thousands of websites at their house. By 2000, I had my own hotmail account and my own daily access to the Internet.

But even ten years ago, the Internet was much more primal. For casual users like me, all I really did was catch up with distant family and friends through e-mail and use MSN’s search to look at websites that had trivia about the ‘80’s. And I didn’t know any better; I thought it was awesome.

Now in 2010, life on the Internet is completely different. More concise. When I need a good picture, I’ve got Google Images. When I need knowledge on any subject, I’ve got Wikipedia. When I need a video clip, I’ve got YouTube. And to keep in daily contact with family, friends, and people I had one class with in college and barely remember, there is facebook. Those four websites ARE the Internet to me.

The building of the Tower of Babel has for some reason always interested me: After Noah and his immediate family survived the world-wide flood, and waited almost a year inside the ark for the water to recede from the land, they were told by God to “fill the Earth” and for the first time ever, to kill and eat animals (the first ten generations of people were vegetarians). In other words, move to a new land and have large families to repopulate the world (Genesis 9).

Instead, within a few hundred years most of these people were still living in the same area they started in. They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” Then, in an act that reminds me of myself as a 10 year-old boy dragging a rake through a giant ant bed, God decided to “confuse” the language of the people (Genesis 11). From there, it appears to me that the people of each of the same language regrouped and moved to a new land, eventually forming new countries, as God originally wanted to them to do.

Several thousands of years later, mankind has successfully filled the Earth. We now have almost 7,000 different languages, while English is arguably the most universal. But with the capabilities and practicality of the Internet, we have formed an abstract, intangible form of the Tower of Babel. Technically. Sort of. Maybe. It’s at least got me thinking.

Every time I’ve seen any sort of worldwide system of anything in the Bible, it’s always been a bad thing. When mankind finds a way to harness too much knowledge and/or power, God doesn’t like it- as people tend to depend more on each other and themselves. From Adam and Eve’s eyes being opened to the knowledge of good and evil in Genesis, to the end of the world involving the mysterious “mark of the beast” (some sort of universal personal ID providing a way for people to pay for goods and services) in Revelation.

Then again, what better way for the fortunate to bless the less fortunate then by using the communication of the Internet to give and set up help for the needy.

Maybe I’m the stoic eccentric man holding the sign with the phrase “THE END IS NEAR”. Or maybe it’s just a coincidence. But I still love technology.

The Irony of Praying Before a Meal of Junk Food

Bless this greasy burger and these Twinkies to the nourishment of our bodies and our bodies to your service…


Saying the “blessing” before a meal is a complicated and trying process when there is a group of three of more people. I was made most aware of the awkwardness/intenseness involving the procedure during my Junior High and High School years with my church youth group. It always amused me that we were constantly eating fast food and asking God to bless it to the nourishment of our bodies.

The intensity of it is this: I was a hungry kid with a high metabolism. There was food in front of me, but I couldn’t eat it because I had to wait for everyone to be ready for the prayer. That’s cruel for a kid of any age. (Even at 28.)

The awkwardness of it is this: No one knew who was going to be asked to pray. There’s a bit of a short waiting game as the Designated Pray Person is elected. (And by now, I’ve learned to elect myself.)

But for those who suffer, there is mercy. I’m referring to the It’s Okay to Eat Fries, Peanuts, and Chips & Salsa Before the Prayer rule. For some reason, God isn’t concerned with us not asking his blessing for unofficial appetizers. However, if there is an actual appetizer, like a Blooming Onion for example, a prayer of tha

nksgiving and blessing is required.

And one must always be aware of the Salad Bar Clause. When dining at a restaurant with a salad bar or optional buffet of any kind, it’s important to make sure that someone prays before the first person leaves to go to the buffet. Otherwise, everyone will be obligated to wait for the buffet-goers to get back to their seats before the prayer can be said and everyone can begin eating.

Such anxiety! It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world.