Monday, December 7, 2009

The Perils of Yo-Yo Dieting!

posted originally on diet.com

Face-Off: Dr. Abby Vs. Dr. “South Beach!”

In the next phase of our interview, Dr. Agatston and I discussed yo-yo dieting. My biggest concern about dieting and weight loss is the near-inevitability of gaining back weight lost. Not only is this emotionally devastating, but research strongly suggests that adverse physiological harm results from weight cycling.

Dr. Abby: Some of my patients have abused Phase 1 of The South Beach Diet by returning to it frequently and yo-yo dieting.. Can you comment about harmful effects of yo-yo dieting?

Dr. Agatston: People go for quick weight loss, and that’s the whole sense of “diet.” The idea of fast weight loss was always a concern for us. The first phase is certainly for people who are really overweight, who have insulin resistance, or are hungry all the time. It works very well if you get rid of cravings and get some good psychological feedback.

But you must move towards a lifestyle or you will yo-yo. Rapid weight loss lowers muscle mass and lowers metabolism, and it gets tougher and tougher each time. What I always say is, you can even lose weight quickly with a cabbage soup diet. However, you’d just get tired of it and go off it. You must turn the diet into a lifestyle or you will yo-yo back, and it gets tougher and tougher.

The thing with yo-yo dieting that’s not really out there, is that people who are insulin resistant are able to yo-yo easily. Fat and thin people have more trouble, since they don’t gain or lose so easily. Insulin resistant people lose cravings and lose weight rapidly. But once they go back to what they were doing, they also gain more rapidly.

People with the highest risk are able to yo-yo the most. But yo-yo dieting puts them at the highest risk the for coronary disease. For people who are able to yo-yo, it is most important not to. They need the lifestyle. The ability to yo-yo almost connects you with a high risk person, and somebody who shouldn’t yo-yo, I guess.

Dr. Abby: Wow, I’ve never quite heard it put that way! Thanks for clarifying. I was kind of going for the belly fat answer, but am glad to hear this. However, so many people who yo-yo diet add more belly fat on the way up. They’re less healthy than before losing the weight, right?

Dr. Agatston: Right! They’ve lost some muscle mass, and belly fat comes back very rapidly; usually more than before.

Dr. Abby: It has compensatory effect. The body doesn’t know when the next famine is coming, so-to-speak. And it’s useful when we’re starving but not useful when we’re not.

Dr. Agatston: Exactly.

Commentary: Many people view The South Beach Diet as a diet, and not a lifestyle. They return after regaining lost weight, and therefore yo-yo diet. Although Dr. Agatston admits that fast weight loss in Phase I can offer psychological encouragement, the great majority of people who lose weight do gain it back. Encouragement can quickly turn to discouragement. Can we eliminate Phase I and go straight to maintenance? The program Dr. Agatston implemented in some Florida schools did just that; there was no emphasis on weight loss or even portion control; just healthy choices. It is very heartening to see evolution and growth in his philosophy.

My forthcoming book, Dr. Abby’s Diet Revolution!, helps people to personalize food plans so they can stick with it forever. Incorporating “healthy junk food” can help. Learn about it in this free download of my first book, Your Final Diet.

This is part 3 of the Dr. Abby vs. "Dr. South Beach" interviews.
Check out the first two installments here: Part 1, Part 2


Dr. Abby graduated from Columbia University, and holds 2 masters degrees and a Ph.D. She is a member of the American Psychological Association and Mensa. As a psychologist in private practice for 16 years she helped people with a wide variety of concerns, and has spoken on many topics related to weight loss, mental health, parenting and relationships. Dr. Abby is also president of DAA, Inc. For information regarding coaching, speaking, or therapeutic products, please visit her website at www.DearDrAbby.com.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dr. Abby says Women Crave Food Differently than Men

posted originally on diettogo.com

diettogo.com reader Sally K. recently asked me this interesting question:

Are there gender differences with regard to food cravings?

YES Sally... there are important differences regarding our biological needs, which create different cravings.
Estrogen causes cravings for fat/sugar combinations to create our beautiful breasts, hips and thighs, which aid us during pregnancy. Testosterone creates cravings for fat/protein combinations to build strong muscles for the "hunt." Doesn’t it ring true that women want their sweets but men want their steaks?

See, it’s not our fault; it’s hormonal!

Additionally, women have lower levels of serotonin, the brain chemical which regulates calmness, wellbeing and depression. Precursors of serotonin are found in carbohydrates.

Do you know of any women who binge on pork chops when stressed? Never! It’s always carbs!

Flooding the body with serotonin-producing substances calms us down even though it doesn’t solve our problems. Cravings seem psychological because they’re biological.
Ever notice that some premenstrual women will do anything to get their hands on some carbs? It’s because serotonin levels drop during PMS.

Understanding biological needs helps us to work with our bodies rather than against them.


Fighting natural instincts might set us up for failure. It is wiser to program in the foods we love, while keeping an eye on weekly caloric totals as well as balanced nutrition.


Of course not all fat, carbohydrates and proteins are created equal.

For instance, complex carbohydrates contain fiber, which keeps blood sugar stable and fends off cravings for much longer periods than simple sugars. However, eating an apple when you really want apple pie might just be adding calories when you end up having the pie, too!

Working with our cravings makes good sense biologically and psychologically. Consider this permission to indulge in whatever you really want, cuz it’s gonna getcha sooner or later! Planning helps to manage calories appropriately.

Dr. Abby graduated from Columbia University, and holds 2 masters degrees and a Ph.D. She is a member of the American Psychological Association and Mensa. As a psychologist in private practice for 16 years she helped people with a wide variety of concerns, and has spoken on many topics related to weight loss, mental health, parenting and relationships. Dr. Abby is also president of DAA, Inc. For information regarding coaching, speaking, or therapeutic products, please visit her website at www.DearDrAbby.com.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dr. Abby: Best Way to Deal with all that Halloween Candy


posted originally on diettogo.com

Dear Dr. Abby,

My kids brought home a stash of Halloween candy, which was enough to haunt any parent! What’s the best way to deal with this delightfully decadent supply?

Candy

First and foremost, I hope you shared their excitement about your kids' wonderful accomplishment! Grabbing all that loot required walking and enthusiasm, both of which burned calories. The bigger the pile, the further the mile!

Now, educate them about candy.

Anything with nuts is actually fairly healthy. Nuts contain good oils, while protein and fat minimize the high glycemic index of sugar.

Lollipops and gumdrops are pure sugar, but fairly low in calories. Brushing teeth should be a rule after eating these, since lingering sugar causes cavities.

Dark chocolate tops the list of good stuff.

You might also discuss portions, and/or calorie counts. A few little pieces might be equivalent to a bigger piece, unless it’s a peanut butter cup or peppermint patty, which may have more calories.

If your children are old enough to reason, ask them how they think they should be allowed to eat it.

If they come up with a moderate plan, such as one piece every day after school, or 3 small pieces after dinner, congratulate them on a great plan and let them win. If not, do some negotiation.

Allow them to have a bit more than they should have for the rest of the week, and then wean back towards a typical allotment of sweets.

Be careful about restriction and overindulgence, twin enemies contributing to eating disorders and obesity.

Restriction will probably lead to sneaking and overindulgence, and overindulgence can lead to all sorts of problems. Just keep it in perspective, and avoid sugar battles.

Food battles contra-indicate a lifetime of peace, regarding food and body image. Remember, food may not make them fatter, but food abuse might!

Dr. Abby graduated from Columbia University, and holds 2 masters degrees and a Ph.D. She is a member of the American Psychological Association and Mensa. As a psychologist in private practice for 16 years she helped people with a wide variety of concerns, and has spoken on many topics related to weight loss, mental health, parenting and relationships. Dr. Abby is also president of DAA, Inc. For information regarding coaching, speaking, or therapeutic products, please visit her website at www.DearDrAbby.com.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Convergence of Opposites!


posted originally on
diet.com


In this installment of Face Off: Dr. Abby Vs. “Dr. South Beach” (Dr. Agaston) we discuss my philosophy of weight management. Initially I thought my “health at every size, naturally” philosophy was diametrically opposed to Dr. Agaston's views. However, as can be seen from the following interview, we are very much in agreement!

Dr. Abby: My next book, Dr. Abby’s Diet Revolution!, advocates fitness rather than weight loss. This means responding to bodily signals of hunger and satiety, eating nutrient dense foods, and incorporating moderate physical activity. I talk a lot about psychological coping strategies, and offer acceptance for “imperfect” bodies by celebrating function over appearance. I abandon BMI, and look towards measures of blood pressure, HDL, triglycerides, and blood sugar (to determine overall health). What do you think of this approach?

Dr. Agatston: We’re in complete agreement! I agree that’s what we have to move towards… I think you’re right on! …Science is coming to agreement on these issues, but there is a delay in getting the word out. I think communities and workplaces have to be built around this approach, so it’s easy. From the beginning of the first South Beach Diet book, we realized the people we called “foodies,” the people who can shop all day, spend time at the gym, and enjoy cooking do well. But we have to affect everybody else also, and there’s only a percentage of people who are going to take that time and effort.

As a national health problem, we really have to change communities and schools to make it easier, and it is getting easier and easier, with places like Whole Foods. Not that I agree with everything they do, but they are advertising whole grain foods they didn’t used to advertise. The word is getting out there, and it’s easier for schools to find healthy foods; not like when we started, it was very difficult.

Dr. Abby: We need to increase the demand for healthy foods so the price comes down. A big concern of mine is the price break, and there is a class difference. I know I’m getting away from the question… We can advocate nutritious foods, but if it’s beyond the reach of a lot of people, we need to work toward awareness and availability.

Dr. Agatston: I agree. With the demand, the price does come down.

Dr. Abby: That’s my hope. So if we’re both demanding it, maybe we will make a difference!

Commentary: It was very comforting to hear Dr. Agatston agree that we must redefine health to advocate fitness, rather than weight loss, and emphasize hunger and satiety, nutrient dense foods, moderate physical activity, and healthy coping skills. When he suggested that science supports using measures of blood pressure, HDL, triglycerides, and blood sugar to determine overall health instead of BMI, I practically did a happy dance! Dr. Agatston, you made my day!

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Dr. Abby Aronowitz is a psychologist, speaker and coach, who completed work at Columbia University. She holds two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. Previously a consultant to Weight Watchers International, Dr. Abby has been featured on WebMD.com and AOL Diet and Fitness. She is a member of the American Psychological Association and Mensa, and President of DAA, Inc.

www.yourfinaldiet.com




Michael Pollan’s Favorite Food Rules


October 7, 2009, 12:04 pm

Michael Pollan’s Favorite Food Rules
By Tara Parker-Pope

In March, the best-selling author Michael Pollan asked readers of the Well blog for rules people have about eating; folklore, wisdom and common sense. In this article he posted his favorites, and asked for more. Here’s mine:

253. October 8, 2009 12:58 am
- Eat when hungry, stop when full, as much as possible
- Eat mostly natural foods.
- Cope effectively, rather than turning to food for comfort.
- Get some exercise.

Incorporate delectable “healthy junk foods” into meals, so calories are accounted for, and not added in addition to meals. For instance, enjoy a whole grain toaster waffle with a scoop of natural ice cream for breakfast; less than 300 calories of protein, fiber, calcium, some sugar to kill the appetite and fat to keep it away.

Accept the body that results from living a relatively healthy lifestyle, without putting it down or discussing it with others.

Abby Aronowitz, Ph.D., Author of “Your Final Diet”
http://www.DearDrAbby.com

Monday, October 12, 2009

Obesity Crisis? Dr. Abby Says We're Actually Living Longer

Article originally posted on diettogo.com

Can you believe the CDC recently reported that the life expectancy in the U.S. is up?

So much for an obesity crisis! What about data suggesting that we will be the first generation to outlive our kids? Or facts proclaiming that childhood diabetes is approaching epidemic proportions?

It’s all B.S. according to the CDC, which is actually based on research -- instead of hysteria and discrimination against people of size.

U.S. life expectancy has risen to a new high: 80.4 years for females and 75.3 years for males!

Fewer deaths were reported from almost all leading causes of death, and for every race and ethnicity. This report was based on approximately 90% of the death certificates collected in 2007, and compared to 2006 data.

We are now living an average of 0.2 years longer than the previous year... and way longer than former generations.

Here’s the piece de resistance: Deaths from diabetes fell about 4%, while death from heart disease dropped 5%. Weren’t these levels approaching epidemic proportions, given mass consumption of nutritionally void, sugar laden, hydrogenated fat-loaded foods?

So, who’s hyping an obesity crisis... and why?

Selling weight loss products that don’t work, and creating a need for more gimmicks is big business. Many people are naturally turned off by fat, so it offers a convenient, acceptable outlet for discrimination. Blaming rising health costs on them offers justification for marginalizing people of size, when research shows that proper nourishment, exercise, and healthy coping skills produce healthier people, regardless of size.

Shall we take torches to those who are lazing about in front of a screen, and offer a surcharge for insurance, regardless of their weight? What about those who don’t eat fruits and veggies, or drive without seat belts, or drink and smoke -- are they a bigger collective problem?

Perhaps we are amidst an obesity blessing. Maybe weight gain has been misinterpreted as bad, and actually signals that people are getting more nourishment and health care than in the past. Very obese people are surely getting heavier, as they are biologically programmed to store fat. Might this ensure survival of the species in case of food shortages? Perhaps we should be thanking them instead of admonishing them, evolutionarily speaking.

In truth, we must be accepting of others and ourselves, live without judgment, and do our personal best most of the time.

Diversity is a beautiful thing. And focusing on the process of living a relatively healthy lifestyle -- rather than an outcome of weight loss -- can help us to make peace with food and body image issues.


For a free copy of Dr. Abby's e-book Your Final Diet click here.

Dr. Abby graduated from Columbia University, and holds 2 masters degrees and a Ph.D. She is a member of the American Psychological Association and Mensa. As a psychologist in private practice for 16 years she helped people with a wide variety of concerns, and has spoken on many topics related to weight loss, mental health, parenting and relationships. Dr. Abby is also president of DAA, Inc.

For information regarding coaching, speaking, or therapeutic products, please visit her website at www.DearDrAbby.com.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Celebrity Eating Disorders: How Media Feeding Frenzy Affects Us

Article posted originally on diettogo.com

Thin celebrities. They look soooo good, but are so sick. We not only admire and critique them, but often seek to emulate their thin appearance.


How many of us have ever said, “OMG – did you see how much weight she gained?” Women are judged harsher than men on screen and in real life, and by comparison, the great majority of us come up short… and fat.


Never mind the team of decorators who correct celebrity flaws through computer imaging, air-brushing, flashy clothes, knockout makeup, and other seductive manipulations. We want to be thinner, like them. We want to bathe in the rewards, real and imagined, of looking and feeling thin.


You say you’re not affected by celebrity weight? Conscious or not, I believe most of us are influenced by media bombardment of the unrealistically thin ideal. Let’s face it ladies, if we lived in a cave, would we really endure serial dieting and high heels?

Paula Abdul (right), Victoria Beckham, Jane Fonda and Michael Jackson. Elton John, Alanis Morisette, Mary-Kate Olsen and Joan Rivers.

This handful of self-proclaimed eating disorder sufferers can join Ally Sheedy, Calista Flockhart, Meredith Viera, Kate Winslet, Ashlee Simpson, and scores of other famous people who have publicly admitted struggling with food, weight and body image disorders, according to the Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center.

Although anorexia and bulimia are extreme forms of disordered eating, I would also lump yo-yo dieters into same dysfunctional dump. Tabloids scream about celebrities being too fat or too thin, which perpetuates the problem and feeds the frenzy.


The death of Michael Jackson ignited speculation that an eating disorder contributed to his death. Since then, some interesting facts have come to light. Phentermine was discovered during a raid of Mr. Jackson’s doctor’s premises. Phentermine is half of the infamous phen-fen weight loss plan, which was removed from the market due to heart-valve abnormalities. 
 


Michael Jackson has previously disclosed bouts of bulimia, and I wondered if his doctor had been complicit in feeding his eating disorder. In a Larry King interview, Mr. Jackson’s manager said the doctor would be traveling to England, to make sure Michael ate properly and received enough fluids, during strenuous routines.

It was comforting to hear of medical monitoring, but questions abound regarding this doctor’s ethics and judgment, especially regarding improper use of sleep anesthetic. Mr. Jackson’s painfully thin frame suggests an ongoing struggle to maintain a healthy weight.
 


My concern was that intense exercise, not properly managed with fluids and electrolytes, could easily cause heart problems – the plausible cause of death. This is often what kills eating disorder victims, along with emaciation caused by malnutrition.
 


Too many celebrities and other victims look great – lying in their coffins, as the world and loved ones mourn their death.

Check this link for more information about celebrities and eating disorders:
http://www.edreferral.com/Celebrities_who_died_or_have_Eating_Disorders.htm

Dr. Abby graduated from Columbia University, and holds 2 masters degrees and a Ph.D. She is a member of the American Psychological Association and Mensa. As a psychologist in private practice for 16 years she helped people with a wide variety of concerns, and has spoken on many topics related to weight loss, mental health, parenting and relationships. Dr. Abby is also president of DAA, Inc.

For information regarding coaching, speaking, or therapeutic products, please visit her website at www.DearDrAbby.com.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Didja see the latest headlines????


Excess Pounds, but Not Too Many, May Lead to Longer Life
Article posted originally on diettogo.com

Now how about that!

One might be shocked, unless you read about the huge U.S. government population study (NHANES) which found 86,094 fewer deaths in the overweight range, and 33,746 more deaths in the thin range, compared to "normal" BMI’s (18.5 to 24.9).

In fact, every population study I have read confirms this phenomenon.

This particular study analyzed data on 11,326 Canadian adults, ages 25 and older, for a 12-year period. Overweight people (BMI of 25-29.9) were 17 percent less likely to die than those of average weight, while underweight people (BMI less than 18.5) were 73 percent more likely to die than average weight folks.

Apparently, some excess weight is protective, especially for the elderly, who have the greatest risk of dying. Many health conditions associated with being overweight, like high blood pressure, may have developed because people are living so long. However, these conditions are now successfully treated with medication.

In fact, the death rate from cancer in the U.S. is astronomically higher than in India – because Indians generally weigh less, and don’t live long enough for cancer to develop! Therefore, the "overweight edge" often augments survival, though media often spins this data negatively. For instance, the cancer study headlines screamed about overweight people being more likely to die of cancer… but never mentioned that it was because they lived longer!

The day before the Canadian story broke, the following headline also hit the N.Y. Times: "Obesity May Have Offered Edge Over TB." This study offered specific evidence confirming that people with excess fat stores were more likely to survive famines, over the course of human evolution.

Fat may not only store energy, but also seems to rev up the body’s immune system, which offered a survival advantage in the 1800s, when people were plagued by tuberculosis.

One author from The Journal of the American Medical Association, was quoted saying that this little miracle has “outlived its usefulness,” and another doctor said that we are paying a high price for a highly activated defense system that’s now pretty obsolete.

Do they actually believe this? What if we were nuked, and our food supply was contaminated? Who might survive to propagate the species? People with a little meat on their bones, I dare say. Survival of the fattest?

Since being "overweight" can be protective, can we finally eliminate the word overweight, and just call it the "healthy weight?" Instead of describing fat as excess weight, can we simply call it a blessing? Or will discrimination and ingrained attitudes continue this charade of making overweight people feel bad about themselves?

If I had my druthers, I would eliminate all demarcations regarding weight, since there are certainly some thin people who outlive some fat people. There are no absolutes, only trends.

"Dr. Abby’s Diet Revolution" is ready and willing to lead the way towards becoming your personal best, regardless of size. My life’s work teaches people how to lead a relatively healthy lifestyle - without yo-yo dieting, which encourages enjoyment of food and movement. Discrimination towards yourself and others is no longer acceptable. Onward!

Dr. Abby Aronowitz is a psychologist, speaker and coach, who completed work at Columbia University. She holds two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. Previously a consultant to Weight Watchers International, Dr. Abby has been featured on WebMD.com and AOL Diet and Fitness. She is a member of the American Psychological Association and Mensa.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Why You Can't Bowl Over Those Last 10 lbs!

Article posted originally on diettogo.com

Have you ever been stuck at the point where you can’t lose those last 10 pounds? You know, the constant struggle, where no matter which diet you try, you always hit that damn plateau before you bowl over the last few pounds and get to goal weight?

Did you ever think about why you can’t lose those last 10 pounds? Your body may be trying to tell you something… and you don’t wanna listen!

So maybe it's time to change lanes and strike back at your plateau.

Finding your personal ideal weight and maintaining it forever is different from attaining an idealized cultural image, which we find attractive. You may think you’re striving for a realistic goal, but it appears that your body sees it differently.

Successful weight management has to be relatively comfortable. If you must create uncomfortable contortions to maintain a weight, which is so fragile that the smell or sight of food causes weight gain… there’s a problem.

Experts all think they have an answer for this.

Some say you’re still eating too much, and others say you’re eating too little so you’re body is conserving fat. Others say you’re not eating often enough to stimulate metabolism, or you’re not eating a good enough breakfast, or not exercising sufficiently.

All of these may actually be true… or not. But ask yourself if these changes are sustainable in the long run.

The ideal weight espoused through magazines, TV, movies and billboards makes us want to mirror those images. We all think we look better thinner than most of us can realistically maintain. Very few people are naturally thin, and I’ll bet that nobody reading this blog is!

We need to find a way to make peace with a reasonable, healthy weight, regardless of whether you like its appearance. Just decorate your body beautifully, and stop obsessing. Worrying about food, weight or body image is counterproductive to living a productive, enjoyable life. Your body is a vessel to carry you through interesting and passionate experiences. Don’t shoot the messenger! Just do enough to keep it working pretty well.

Dr. Abby Aronowitz
YOUR FINAL DIET

Monday, July 13, 2009

Did Poor Body Image Kill Michael Jackson?


Blog posted originally on diet.com July 13, 2009
---------------------------

Did Michael Jackson's body image disturbances ultimately kill him? Could he ever be thin enough, young enough, or white enough?

Michael Jackson embodied conflict between black and white, boy and man, male and female.


The physical manifestations of these psychological struggles played out for all the world to see.

Of course it seems likely that drug cocktails had a hand in his demise, but I am haunted by his hauntingly thin image. Perhaps his body could tolerate the intense concoctions better, if there was some meat on his bones.

All reports of food generally suggested healthy fare (i.e. chicken and vegetables), but given his strenuous dance and fitness routine, could this possibly be enough?

Control issues typically characterize eating disorders. One may not be able to control life stressors, but nobody else controls what does or doesn’t go into your mouth. His imminent super-duper comeback was probably overwhelmingly stressful. And, given the extremeness of the situation, it seems a member of his entourage was hired primarily to ensure that Mr. Jackson ate.

Poking around the Internet revealed that he discussed suffering bulimia as a boy, in response to his abusive father. Joe Jackson's incredibly controlling nature, coupled with Michael's fears of harsh discipline, could certainly explain an increased need for control. Restricting or purging food often makes one feel healthier, lighter, and even euphoric. It can fool one into believing this behavior is good, when in fact it may be debilitating.

A heart attack is sometimes an unfortunate effect of eating disorders. An imbalance of electrolytes adversely affects the heart, which can be caused by excessive sweating during exertion, or purging during bulimia.

Michael Jackson’s body image dissatisfaction is evidenced by the history of bulimia and other extreme measures, including serial surgeries, makeup and wigs.

Pressure to live up to cultural norms can cause distorted body image perceptions and obsessions. How many of us feel pressure to be thinner, and struggle with expectations to be skinnier than we are destined to be?

Any member of a discriminated group is programmed to reject or dislike that part of themselves which is disdained by others. Hating oneself for being fat can cause harmful attempts at yo-yo dieting, and other eating disorders.

Celebrity worship involves an irrational worship of thin, youth, and in many cases white. Check out my interview with WebMD about celebrity worship -- it was recently rated #1 on the Internet by Google.

The first step to reducing weight-related Body Image Dysmorphia is to proliferate the truth about "thin" being more deadly than "overweight."

Last week’s blog below discussed the Canadian study finding that thin people had a 73% higher death rate than normal weight people, while overweight people had a 17% lower rate. This confirmed the U.S. government study finding 86,000 fewer deaths in the overweight range and 33,000 more deaths in the thin range.

Perhaps as we lay to rest Mr. Jackson’s thin body, we can bury the unrealistically thin stereotype, and finally be content to become our personal best.

Dr. Abby Aronowitz is a psychologist, speaker and coach, who completed work at Columbia University. She holds two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. Previously a consultant to Weight Watchers International, Dr. Abby has been featured on WebMD.com and AOL Diet and Fitness. She is a member of the American Psychological Association and Mensa.

www.yourfinaldiet.com

____________________________

Recent Comments:


ama17@ 10:55am ET on July 13, 2009

I can't help but to feel sorry for Michael Jackson. Who actually knows what he suffered through? There's no one in the world who could relate to the amount of fame he received. To try to live under that pressure must've been so difficult... but it was all he knew from the start.

I'm tired of all these 'specialists' and 'medical experts' and talk show hosts alike reporting speculations... oh he hated himself so he would do THIS!

He's gone from us too soon. The only way we will know the truth of his death is when the toxicology reports come out. Until then, anyone's personal psychoanalysis shouldn't be broadcast to the world.


cjohnston @ 12:41pm ET on July 13, 2009

I don't read this as personal psychoanalysis - esp. as it's pretty much what everyone could see. He narrowed his focus to himself - irregardless of the reasons why, that's not even close to healthy for anyone. This site promotes a healthy lifestyle and the point of the article was that obsession with a distorted body image is destructive and can, and has, led to death. Good article.





Dear Gwen @ 2:32pm ET on July 13, 2009

How our parents treat us when we are children has a huge impact on how we see ourselves, and that doesn't go away just because we become adults. I believe Joe Jackson imposed impossible standards on Michael during his childhood which Michael internalized. Joe Jackson may not have been an active part of Michael's life in Michael's recent years, but Joe was alive and well inside the psyche of poor Michael, and I think this, to no small extent, contributed to Michael's lack of self acceptance. The demanding parent in his head never let up, and in the absence of other factors, such as a level-headed life partner to keep Michael grounded, he became more and more caught up in his self hatred. If Michael had had some true grounding, and some very intense psychotherapy, I believe he could have come to love himself in a way that would never have allowed him to treat his body as he did. I feel great compassion for Michael. The world will greatly miss his indescribable talent. Such a tragedy.

10lbsaway @ 5:23pm ET on July 13, 2009

I hate how I realize Michael Jackson's incredible talent AFTER he died, but he must have had SOME level of confidence in himself?? I mean, looking through all of his great achievements and how popular with the ladies he was for over three decades. Has there honestly been any guy hot enough to make women FAINT during concerts?!?!?! Man, he didn't realize how awesome he was. 12 people have even attempted suicide after he died!!!






DoctorAbby @ 10:56pm ET on July 13, 2009


Thanks to everyone for responding.

Of course we can't know the full story about how Mr. Jackson felt, or how he lived his life, but certain conflicts played out for all the world to see. Issues of perfectionism and control often accompany eating disorders, and his painfully thin body suggests that the history of bulimia may have morphed into a deadly thin arena.

Although body image issues suggest a lack of acceptance of his natural self, there was also great pride and grandiosity, evidenced by his self proclaimed status, "King of Pop," and naming his boys "Prince." This is the essence of conflict; seemingly competing issues existing simultaneously. Bulimia and other eating disorders often embody conflict; giving and taking away. Overeating and beating up oneself over it. Eating and then overexercising. Binging and purging.

We would all benefit from making peace with our "imperfect" selves, by doing our best most of the time, and offering the same kindness and acceptance we would offer to a friend, a child, or even a perfect stranger.

Then next time you say something mean to yourself about your body, ask if you would ever say this to someone else. Of course not, 'cuz it would be abusive! Likewise, how would you react if anyone else said those nasty, degrading things to you? You'd think they were assholes, right? So be kind to yourself, in the name of the King!


Monday, July 6, 2009

New Research: Excess Weight A Blessing


Blog posted originally on diet.com on July 6, 2009

Didja see the latest headlines????

Excess Pounds, but Not Too Many, May Lead to Longer Life
-- N.Y. Times, June 26, 2009


Now how about that!


One might be shocked, unless you read about the huge U.S. government population study
(NHANES) which found 86,094 fewer deaths in the overweight range, and 33,746 more deaths in the thin range, compared to "normal" BMI’s (18.5 to 24.9).

In fact, every population study I have read confirms this phenomenon.

This particular study analyzed data on 11,326 Canadian adults, ages 25 and older, for a 12-year period. Overweight people (BMI of 25-29.9) were 17 percent less likely to die than those of average weight, while underweight people (BMI less than 18.5) were 73 percent more likely to die than average weight folks.

Apparently, some excess weight is protective, especially for the elderly, who have the greatest risk of dying. Many health conditions associated with being overweight, like high blood pressure, may have developed because people are living so long. However, these conditions are now successfully treated with medication.

In fact, the death rate from cancer in the U.S. is astronomically higher than in India – because Indians generally weigh less, and don’t live long enough for cancer to develop! Therefore, the "overweight edge" often augments survival, though media often spins this data negatively. For instance, the cancer study headlines screamed about overweight people being more likely to die of cancer… but never mentioned that it was because they lived longer!

The day before the Canadian story broke, the following headline also hit the N.Y. Times: Obesity May Have Offered Edge Over TB. This study offered specific evidence confirming that people with excess fat stores were more likely to survive famines, over the course of human evolution.

Fat may not only store energy, but also seems ... to rev up the body’s immune system, which offered a survival advantage in the 1800s, when people were plagued by tuberculosis.

One author from The Journal of the American Medical Association, was quoted saying that this little miracle has “outlived its usefulness,” and another doctor said that we are paying a high price for a highly activated defense system that’s now pretty obsolete.

Do they actually believe this? What if we were nuked, and our food supply was contaminated? Who might survive to propagate the species? People with a little meat on their bones, I dare say. Survival of the fattest?

Since being "overweight" can be protective, can we finally eliminate the word overweight, and just call it the "healthy weight?" Instead of describing fat as excess weight, can we simply call it a blessing? Or will discrimination and ingrained attitudes continue this charade of making overweight people feel bad about themselves?

If I had my druthers, I would eliminate all demarcations regarding weight, since there are certainly some thin people who outlive some fat people. There are no absolutes, only trends.

"Dr. Abby’s Diet Revolution" is ready and willing to lead the way towards becoming your personal best, regardless of size. My life’s work teaches people how to lead a relatively healthy lifestyle - without yo-yo dieting, which encourages enjoyment of food and movement. Discrimination towards yourself and others is no longer acceptable. Onward!

Click here for a FREE copy of Dr. Abby's book, Your Final Diet.

Dr. Abby Aronowitz is a psychologist, speaker and coach, who completed work at Columbia University. She holds two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. Previously a consultant to Weight Watchers International, Dr. Abby has been featured on WebMD.com and AOL Diet and Fitness. She is a member of the American Psychological Association and Mensa.

www.yourfinaldiet.com


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

For Women Only: Beautiful Clothes... In Our Size!


Blog posted originally on - diet.com

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Women should be able to dress with style, flair and dignity, regardless of size!

We always feel better when putting on clothes that fit well, express our personality and look great. There is a new generation of large-size clothing that’ll knock your socks off!

Ditch those boring and unshapely Muumuus for something that celebrates your size. I say, if you can’t always look thin, look grand!

Some fabulous catalogues and websites feature a wide array of sizes in stylish clothes. For instance, Ashro.com offers gorgeous clothes with bold, beautiful styling. Elegant suits are complete with optional hats, which balance proportions of large women, while offering stature. Evening wear is simply divine, with international styling. There are fitted and flowing fashions in scrumptious colors, ranging from size 4 to XXXL (24-26). I’ve never seen anything like it.

Pyrimid Collection (PyramidCollection.com) also offers exotic clothing, some of which range up to 28W. This is for those with a touch of Goddess flair, or even a Gothic tone. There are beautiful corseted looks with handkerchief sleeves and Wiccan capes… along with lots of gorgeous jewelry and knickknacks.

Metrostyle.com offers sophisticated suits, leggings, jeans, and casual wear ranging from size 6–20.

Jessica London offers classic sportsware exclusively for sizes 14W-34W, with petites and talls also available .

I believe I have personally kept Newport News in business. They offer such a variety of lovely items; most of which are available up to a size 18 or XL, although there are a few items in larger sizes.

Most of these catalogues offer shoes, boots and jewelry as well.

Of course the drawback is that you can’t try on clothes before purchasing them. However, some have easy refund policies, including a flat rate of $6.95 and no time limit on returns.

One word of caution: if you order something and don’t want to receive a mountain of unsolicited catalogues, simply ask them not to rent your name when ordering. Otherwise you’ll be buried in paper... like me!

Dr. Abby Aronowitz is a psychologist, speaker and coach, who completed work at Columbia University. She holds two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. Previously a consultant to Weight Watchers International, Dr. Abby has been featured on WebMD.com and AOL Diet and Fitness. She is a member of the American Psychological Association and Mensa.

Dr. Abby Aronowitz
Your Final Diet

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Excercise: The Way Nature Intended


Blog posted originally on diet.com - 5/14/09

Last week, I squared off with the South Beach Diet Doctor Arthur Agatson to discuss whether it's possible for a person to be both fit and fat at the same time.

This week, my discussion continues with a debate about interval exercise versus high intensity exercise.

Dr. Abby: Dr. Agatston, as a dancer, I was thrilled to read about benefits of interval exercise and its relation to dangerous fat. Could you please clarify this?

Dr. Agatston: Yes! Since we wrote the book South Beach Diet Supercharged, the literature is just getting more and more impressive, specifically for “interval” versus “steady state” exercise.

You get definite benefits from high intensity exercise for treating metabolic syndrome and diabetes. When a period of high intensity exercise is followed by a rest period, you can do more high intensity exercise.

For instance, if you just sprint, you’re going to be out of breath and be done. However, when you do a “work cycle” followed by a “recovery cycle,” you can get more high intensity in overall, than if you just go high intensity until you’re exhausted.

Some studies, where they’ve actually done muscle biopsies, show improved insulin sensitivity when intervals include high intensity exercise. Other studies found that you lose more belly fat, and more fat in general, given the same calorie output with interval versus steady state exercise.

Intervals also recall the way our ancestors behaved; the natural way we perform. High intensity was usually done where there was work and rest, such as shoveling, picking, plowing or pushing.

Dr. Abby: I love that you recall “back to nature,” and the way that our bodies were intended to work. That’s really a bedrock of my philosophy; health at every size naturally. We should learn what our bodies are meant to do, and work with it instead of fighting it.

Dr. Agatston: Yes! Things like walking to school, and incorporating exercise into our everyday lives again is important. My primary theme today is that our bodies were designed to live in the wild. When you look at the extremely different lifestyles of today, including sitting over a computer all day and not moving, grabbing fast food, driving everywhere, and shopping on the Internet, it is the antithesis of what we were meant to be doing.

Dr. Abby: I agree! Dr. Agatston, thanks for another enlightening ...

Commentary: Start dancin’! Dancing is high intensity exercise followed by rest, and is fun, fun, fun! Of course if you’d rather plow and shovel, that’s fine too, since working outside with nature can bring solace, joy, and apparently health!

Interval exercising can be done with any activity you enjoy. It’s not about the type of exercise; it’s about the process. “Dr. Abby’s Diet Revolution” suggests living a sustainable, healthy lifestyle, rather than losing weight per se. Concentrating on the “process” insures a great outcome, instead of focusing on the outcome, which may be obtained by temporary or artificial measures.

Moving your body more naturally, and for pleasure, increases the likelihood of sticking to it. Too many of my patients begin an intense exercise regime when they’re “in the zone.” They’re dieting, exercising, getting on the scale, and completely obsessed with weight loss. After a period of time they cannot sustain the intensity, and the whole thing falls apart.

Creating a more moderate lifestyle, which includes interval exercise, might help us to win the war, instead of fighting miserable battles that we keep on losing.

A more complete version of this interview will be found in my next book, Dr. Abby’s Diet Revolution! This is a small excerpt from a rather extensive interview. To obtain a copy when it becomes available, please click here to sign up, and receive a free pdf of my current book, Your Final Diet.

NOTE: Some editorial license was used to edit Dr. Agatston’s lengthy answers to my questions. Every effort was made to preserve the integrity of content.

For more information about South Beach Diet, click here.

GET A FREE COPY OF THE SOUTH BEACH DIET SUPERCHARGED! Dr. Agatston has graciously provided copies of his bestselling book, now out in paperback. To get your free copy of this insightful and enlightening book, simply become a Diet.com Premium Member today. Be sure to use Coupon Code FREEOFFER66 when completing your enrollment.

Dr. Abby Aronowitz is a psychologist, speaker and coach, who completed work at Columbia University. She holds two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. Previously a consultant to Weight Watchers International, Dr. Abby has been featured on WebMD.com and AOL Diet and Fitness. She is a member of the American Psychological Association and Mensa.

Dr. Abby Aronowitz - Your Final Diet



Monday, May 4, 2009

Diet Face-Off: Dr. Abby vs. Dr. South Beach


Blog posted originally on diet.com - 5/4/09

Is it possible to be both fat and fit?
It's a question that's been near and dear to me for many years now. I believe that YES... you can be "fat" and still fit.


I recently sat down with a respected diet expert -- Dr. Arthur Agatston, creator of The South Beach Diet -- to get his opinions on this important matter.

Does Dr. Agatston, aka "Dr. South Beach" believe that people can be fat and fit, or does he believe that fat people need to lose weight in order to be healthy? His answers to my probing questions may surprise you.

Check out Part 1 of this exclusive interview
with the South Beach Diet Doc:

Dr. Abby: Dr. Agatston, you have used the term "fat and fit." Could you please elaborate on how that's possible?

Dr. Agatston: Yes, actually the term is from Dr. Steven Blair from the Cooper Clinic originally. It's the idea that some people who are a little pudgy or overweight, or have a high BMI, can be in good shape. They have a low risk for coronary disease. In my practice we see, for instance, overweight women with blood chemistries of a vegetarian marathoner! Instead of high triglycerides and low HDL (good cholesterol), they have low triglycerides and very high HDLs. They're really at low risk. The flip side is what's been coined at the Mayo clinic as "normal weight obesity," where people have normal BMI's but have little bowling balls in their bellies, and are at high risk.

Dr. Abby: I agree! I have certainly found that people can be fit and fat in my practice. It has been frustrating for them and frustrating for me to help them to accept their bodies, which they see as not thin enough. How might one identify their ideal weight?

Dr. Agatston: I go patient by patient looking at their "lifestyle numbers," including triglycerides, HDL, insulin resistance and blood pressure. If they're not having exaggerated swings in blood sugar, then they lose cravings and are satisfied with food. I really go by the physiologic risk factors, rather than by BMI's or weight tables. There are some pretty extreme cases. One woman I discuss has always been "roly poly." She doesn't have cravings, and doesn't eat a lot. She's been on a diet and lost a little bit, but has an HDL of 80 and triglycerides in the 50s. She's just not at high risk. She has something that people don't understand in general; I'll say a low metabolism.

Dr. Abby: I agree that we need to get away from an ideal weight or BMI. It’s more about those lifestyle measures. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this important matter.

Commentary: I am thrilled to hear the South Beach diet doc acknowledge that it’s all about living the healthiest life you can, without regard for weight. We must accept whatever size our body becomes… with grace and dignity. I call it our personal best!

However, the hard part is accepting the body size that results from living a relatively healthy lifestyle. We will probably think it looks too fat, since very few people are naturally thin.

Natural body weights are very diverse, yet we have been taught that fat people are ugly, unattractive, and worth less than thin people. You may believe this yourself, and beat yourself up for being what is considered overweight, unhealthy and unattractive.

This begins a very unhealthy cycle, which drains self-esteem, erodes confidence and diminishes self worth. This deteriorates the desire and ability to take good care of yourself and stand proud.

A more complete version of this interview will be found in my next book, Dr. Abby’s Diet Revolution! This is a small excerpt from a rather extensive interview. To obtain a copy of the complete interview when it becomes available, please click here to sign up, and receive a free PDF of my current book, Your Final Diet.

Please check back soon for the next installment of the "Dr. Abby vs. Dr. South Beach" interview.

NOTE: Some editorial license was used to edit Dr. Agatston’s lengthy answers to my questions. Every effort was made to preserve the integrity of content.

GET A FREE COPY OF THE SOUTH BEACH DIET SUPERCHARGED! Dr. Agatston has graciously provided copies of his bestselling book, now out in paperback. To get your free copy of this insightful and enlightening book, simply become a Diet.com Premium Member today. Be sure to use Coupon Code FREEOFFER66 when completing your enrollment.

Dr. Abby Aronowitz is a psychologist, speaker and coach, who completed work at Columbia University. She holds two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. Previously a consultant to Weight Watchers International, Dr. Abby has been featured on WebMD.com and AOL Diet and Fitness. She is a member of the American Psychological Association and Mensa.

Dr. Abby Aronowitz
Your Final Diet

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dr. Abby Reveals Her 1,825-Calorie Diet


Food and Movement Diary: Saturday, April 11th


Woke up (at 1:30PM!), and after doing a few chores, ate some red grapes (50 calories), two organic hot dogs (320 calories), and two slices of 12-grain bread (220 calories). I took supplements of green tea extract to fight off cancer, resveretrol (red wine ingredient) to prolong my life, glucosomine to make it hurt less, calcium, a multi, and a softgel of omega fish oils.

Later on, I indulged in a delightful outdoor bath in my private wo
ods, with weights on my ankles for stretching. (Woo Hooo!)

Afterwards, other weights on my arms and legs augmented 50 abdominal exercises, in preparation for my hour and a half dance lesson. We did west coast swing (my personal favorite), hustle, bolero, cha cha and east coast swing. I actually strapped on weights and danced a couple of rounds with them too, for muscle strength.

It was a bit cloddy, but my partner was patient! I’m a dancin’ queen,
and can really shake my size-16 booty!

We munched on a few dark chocolate covered almonds. The caffeine gave us stamina, and dark chocolate slathered us in antioxidants. (75 calories).

So far, I’d eaten 665 calories, a happy amalgam of fruit, nuts, dark chocolate, organic beef and 12 whole grains.

After a few more chores, I made dinner, while munching on fresh veggies, a bit of natural salad dressing and a glass of wine. (175 calories). There was an omega rich egg with a dollop of whipped cream cheese and melted pepperjack cheese (230 calories), four slices of natural bacon (only 120 calories!) and another slice of 12-grain bread (110 calories). Two large, luscious strawberries were dipped into natural chocolate pudding for dessert (100 calories).

Later on, I enjoyed a cup of tea with soy milk and honey (35 calories), seven cookies and a biscotti (without hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup) –- these 500 calories of deliciousness were probably craved because of my intense workout, right?

Total for the day: 1,825 calories.

Waddayathink of "Dr. Abby’s Diet Revolution?" The USDA recommends 1,800 calories per day for the average sedentary woman my age. Today was far from sedentary, but I didn’t need more calories, since these were completely satisfying.

Everything was delicious, and there were no toxins. Eating when hungry and stopping when full is something I practice as well as preach. Tea helped with satiety.

What’s the breakdown?

Protein came from organic beef, natural bacon, egg, cheese and soymilk. Bread provided whole grain carbs. Grapes and strawberries count as fruit, and salad counts as salad! Chocolate pudding offered calcium and happiness, joy came from wine, and other sweets were simply delightful.

Luckily, the fish oil supplement, provided health benefits without many calories, since there seemed to be lots of saturated fats today. On dance days, I typically eat more sugar and fat, since burning more calories. Other days generally include more veggies, fish or beans, and a few hundred calories less. Being in tune with cravings and energy requirements helps meet individual needs.

Remember, health is determined by fitness, rather than weight loss. It’s about living a relatively healthy lifestyle instead of inducing a temporary state of deprivation.

How creative can you be with 1,825 calories? Sticking to a diet is easy, when you create your own plan.

“Dr. Abby’s Diet Revolution” means tailoring calories and movement to what works for you, with an eye on health, and an emphasis on delish!

Click here for a FREE copy of Dr. Abby's book, Your Final Diet


Blog posting was originally posted on Diet.com

Dr. Abby Aronowitz
Your Final Diet


Friday, March 13, 2009

Do Men Really Want Thin Women?


Do most guys want thin women? They make fun of overweight women, and drool over emaciated actresses, so what kind of a chance do mere mortals have?

Well, thin may be in (at the moment), but I believe there may be a difference between what looks good and what feels good to men.

Let’s face it, very few of us in the real world resemble television or movie stars, but men still want to get some lovin'... if ya know
what I mean.

Many people are turned off by extremes: extremely heavy, extremely thin, or extremely tall and extremely short. This seems to be human nature, but nature is often self-correcting. For instance, a very short guy may find a very short woman attractive, so who cares what the masses think?

There is certainly a culture of men who believe large is lovely, and feel secure wrapped in the physical and psychological comfort of a large body. Latino and black men seem to lust after ultra curvy (dare we say meaty) mates. Certainly there are women who feel safe in the arms of big men.

Many men may admire models, but may not like to squeeze a bag o’ bones. In fact, many men would probably be happy to accept a few extra pounds on their women if they just stopped complaining about their weight, or talking about what they ate, wanted to eat, will eat or shouldn’t have eaten! I think they’ve heard enough about your huge thighs and fat butt!

Confidence, kindness and sensuality create more attraction than a particular body weight. Good sexual techniques make men forget about your cellulite! Initial appearances wear thin rather quickly. Who cares how much you weigh if you're annoying to be with, because deprivation makes you cranky?

A fit body works best, and healthy living produces a vehicle with which to enjoy all the wonders of life. Too many people don’t realize that healthy bodies come in all sizes, and that can feel good to you as well as him.

Let’s celebrate becoming our personal best. It’s a basic tenet of “Dr. Abby’s Diet Revolution!”

Blog posting was originally posted on Diet.com

Dr. Abby Aronowitz
Your Final Diet

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Comments from Abby's readers on diet.com blog:

COMMENT FROM: adiamond007 on March 13, 2009

meatspin113 said: i don't understand what you mean by 'lovin' please get back to me


COMMENT FROM: atwistedlime on March 14, 2009

I agree. I have found many a man that was turned off my extra curves but have found MANY a man that is turned on by it. It is safe for me to say I don't mind looking a buff men but I do prefer someone a little softer to wake up with. :-)
Healthy is the key for me.

COMMENT FROM: Username: Lynnette214 COMMENT: on March 16, 2009

Ha! Great post! I personally am a size four on a big day (I have a small frame) but I very much enjoyed this! Yes, so we have a little extra belly...maybe a little extra tush. I don't hear him complaining either... ;) Thank you for the encouragement!


COMMENT FROM: adiamond007 on April 7, 2009

As a Dr. where do you get off calling another woman bag'o bones. I am VERY offended by that comment. Did you get pleasure from that? Why do you women have to put down thin women to lift thick women up?

DoctorAbby's response:
Hi adiamond007,

Thanks for pointing out that my language came off as demeaning. I intended it to be colorful, but you are absolutely right, and I apologize. Mea culpa!

COMMENT FROM:
jindha on April 15, 2009

VERY NICE TO READ, AWAITING TO HEAR MORE FROM YOU DOCTOR ABBY

JUDE