Monday, May 17, 2010

Dr. Oz's 16 Tips for Summer Weight Loss

An article about Dr. Oz's summer weight loss plan was featured on AOL on May 3rd: 
Dr. Oz's 16 Tips for Summer Weight Loss
by Norine Dworkin-McDaniel 

His main points were: 
- See yourself looking fabulous.
- Take a "before" picture in your swimsuit.
- Hang your favorite summer outfit where you'll see it every day.
- Let your family in on what you're up to.
- Kick off your efforts with a token gift to yourself. (i.e. walking shoes or pedometer)
- Take advantage of longer days. (physical activity)
- Skip the elevator.
- Have sex.
- Eat breakfast.
- Cut 100 calories a day.
- Have a drink.
- Snack before you eat your meals.
- Fill your plate with summer fruits and vegetables.
- Eat dessert in the afternoon.
- Have wine with dinner.
- Dine outside.

Abby's comment:

Dr. Oz’s inexperience in the field of weight management is glaring to any professionals who have been in the trenches for years.  Perhaps when the devastating stories of people regaining weight lost from his plan start pouring in, it will reshape his understanding about the biology and psychology of this issue.

Nearly 100% of people who lose weight gain it back, and many of those who keep it off develop eating disorders to maintain an unnaturally thin weight. Research suggests that yo-yo dieting can adversely affect blood pressure, lipids and insulin sensitivity.

A hundred years ago, as a psychologist specializing in weight loss, I often suggested that people imagine themselves looking thinner.  Regardless of its motivating factor, it did not help people to keep weight off, and for many people it is a biologically unattainable image.  Yes, the same strategies that work for sports psychologists work for weight management, but focus must be on the “process” not the goal.

Imagining crossing the finish line is not as empowering as imagining yourself performing excellently.  So, it is better to imagine living a healthy lifestyle, than imagining your body at a certain weight.  Your body will land at it’s healthiest place, which may not be thin, if your 7000 fat genes do not direct it to be thin.

Those fat pictures and summer outfits begin taunting people at some point, since weight gain is much faster than weight loss.  Been there, done that, with thousands of patients, regardless of what diet they did to lose weight.  Going public insures greater humiliation and shame when weight is inevitably regained.

If you follow many of Dr. Oz’s other suggestions, without an eye on weight loss, you may actually become healthier – regardless if weight is lost.  But if weight loss is the goal, it taints everything, and sets you up for failure.  I also advocate exercise, chocolate, wine, skipping the elevator, having sex, fruits and veggies, and snacking before meals.  Most were discussed in my book, Your Final Diet, back in 2004.  These add pleasure, health and control, regardless if weight is lost.

Dr. Oz is a great showman, and probably a great surgeon.  Perhaps he should stick with what he knows!

Dr. Abby Aronowitz

Saturday, May 8, 2010

New Alarm Bells About Chemicals and Cancer

The New York Times ran an op-ed called:
New Alarm Bells About Chemicals and Cancer
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF on May 6, 2010

"The President’s Cancer Panel is the Mount Everest of the medical mainstream, so it is astonishing to learn that it is poised to join ranks with the organic food movement and declare: chemicals threaten our bodies. The cancer panel is releasing a landmark 200-page report on Thursday, warning that our lackadaisical approach to regulation may have far-reaching consequences for our health. "  Read more here:

Abby posted the following comment:

I am a psychologist specializing in weight management, and my work encourages “health at every size, naturally.”  We are bombarded with messages about getting healthy by losing weight, but if the focus was truly on health, then we would be encouraging nutrient-dense foods, free of chemicals, instead of “diet food.”   For instance, artificial sweeteners and artificial fats seem to disrupt the body’s natural mechanisms of hunger and satiation – which are key to maintaining a healthy weight.

Thinking more broadly about health - and what enters our bodies -  would lead to creative thinking, such as tax rebates to homeowners who refrain from using chemical fertilizers, pesticides and other toxins.  What about giving rebates to homeowners and townships that stop mowing lawns, stop cutting down trees, and allow natural local diversity to reclaim the land?  We have interfered with the earth’s natural filters, and cancer is probably the result.  Losing weight does not help with any of this, but getting back to nature seems to help.

In fact, cancer and weight have an interesting connection, but not what we have been led to believe.  Weight gain in our country is correlated with relative food abundance, which has allowed us to reach maximum heights, weights and IQs.  Higher weights were correlated with more cancer, but so were higher heights!

Higher weights and heights suggest that more “robust” people live long enough for deadly cancers to develop, whereas lowest incidents of cancer were found in countries with lower heights and weights – and much earlier death rates.  Cancer simply did not have time to develop, ostensibly because of worse nutrition, health, and early death!  The idea that being overweight leads to most types of cancers is simply not true.

Furthermore, having some weight on your body seems to protect the body from many illnesses, and assure better recoveries.  Not only does fat offer some reserves during times of stress, but it may also contribute towards certain immunities and protect against bone fractures.   Population studies around the world consistently find highest death rates for extremely thin and extremely fat people, with lowest death rates for the overweight.

Environmental impact on health is an essential consideration.  I was thrilled to read about the President’s Cancer Panel supporting organics.  Organic food tends to be much more nutritious than inorganic foods, and focusing on health instead of weight loss is the way to go!

Thank you.

Dr. Abby Aronowitz