I used to approach the holidays with some trepidation and fear. How was I going to navigate all those yummy surplus offerings of food and libation without spending the month of January on a hunger strike? The old myth of eat less, move more used to ring in my troubled ears, but by the time Christmas rolled around and 2 weeks of rest loomed, I resonated with gentle walks, a rolicking game of scrabble, a long nap on a snowy afternoon, and maybe cleaning out a closet or two. That was it! Being a Physician can be a bit like a fire-fighter, it can be a little tough on the nerves when acute diseases strike! As a result, when the holidays come, I don’t even decorate my house much, using my Jewish babes as the delicious excuse not to add an ounce of extra work of wrestling a tree into a stand to my already busy schedule. I don’t miss those blasted pine needles one bit! I don’t even buy much in the way of tangible presents these days. I’d rather take the kids on a cruise or even better, send them away to riding camp! In our house, we focus more on giving the gift of time to ourselves and each other. When someone asks me, are you ready for Christ-mas, I simply answer, “Always!”
So with the holidays on the horizon, let’s look at that myth of eat less, move more. In your imagination, go back two hundred years to the days when your Christmas goose, or Chanukah kishkas, may have come from your own family’s farm yard. You may have yearned for that supper, the whole month, until you got to savour that cranberry sauce that was stored in the cold cellar since the harvest at the first frost. Food was more scarce at that time and you had to eat according to what was available during the season. You probably spent more time naturally moving your body to pump your water out of the ground and chop the firewood to keep your family warm by the hearth where the stockings were hung. A lot of intensive energy went into just feeding one’s self back then. Our physiology is still hooked to this seasonal drought in fresh, available foods, as it has been for about the past 6,000 years and it will act on your behalf accordingly as your food supply seemingly ebbs and tides, even it this time of great bounty.
If we choose to eat less now, our body just assumes that we’ve gone back to the days of yesteryear and that it needs to conserve its resources until the famine is over. The problem is that there is no scarcity and so when we are desperately trying to cut calories, the Starbucks and Loblaws just scream their available delectable offerings from across the parking lot. If we can’t resist, we deem ourselves failures. We end up living a sad perpetual loop of setting ourselves up through starvation and perpetual failures.
When we force ourselves to cut calories, our metabolisms assume that the food cellar is bare and just slows down to help you to compensate until the food supply in your larder returns. The problem occurs when any available food does show up, your body feels that it had better gorge itself in order to prepare for the next famine just around the corner. Most of us carrying additional weight know all about this typical cycle of sabotage. That is why eating less rarely works to lose weight. When you go into starvation mode, the body stops burning calories.
If you add additional working out at the gym to this recipe, the body just assumes that you are out expending energy hunting wild boar for your family and it resents being forced to expend the extra energy in its state, but it will if it has to. It will put out in anticipatory glee in order to be rewarded by the imminent feast. I know this as I had a personal trainer who was a former Olympic runner who said he curiously saw this most perplexing pattern, mostly in women, where they would eat more, the more they trained. (See Lights Out : Sleep, Sugar, and Survival by T. S. Wiley) I still think that wiry little man was from another planet. I easily let him go, just not the weight. One other buff personal trainer I had, who’d worked for the “Stars in Hollywood”, told me to just eat “oatmeal” and the weight would come off. His last name was “MacDonald!”
So what is an alternate answer to this butter-knife approach of eat less, move more? It is simple -taylor your diet and exercise based on the principles of your typology, in order to max out your wood chopping! Let me explain. Do you notice that you put weight on in different areas of your body than your sister does? Do you recognize that you crave different foods than your husband or mother? Well, there is a reason for this and the only way to buy your freedom out of the eat less, move more matrix is to respect your very own personal typology.
Dr. Abravanel’s Body Type Diet and Lifetime Nutrition Plan helps you to do this. If you carry additional weight, you generally have specific cravings that have exhausted a particular gland in the body and it will drive you to sabotage your old calorie reduction plan. If you choose to pick the book up, you’ll be asked to fill out a questionnaire to discern which body type you are. If you are a T-type (thyroid), for example, you may crave sugars and find you are starving and fatigued every 2-3 hours. You may also find you pool weight around your middle. If you are more of an A-type (adrenal), your propensity will be for fatty foods like salami, cheeses, and salty nuts 3 solid meals per day and your body will tend more towards a squarish shape, having lost that more slender mid-line.
We generally will use this mighty tool if a person is 15-20 lbs. overweight and can identify their cravings. If the individual deems that things have been spinning out of control for quite sometime and their weight exceeds 20 lbs., we have other principled tools to help address this too. When folks arrive closer to their ideal, we go to their baseline typology of health, which is Eat Right 4 Your Type: The Individualized Diet Solution to Staying Healthy, Living Longer & Achieving Your Ideal Weight by Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo . Without a too lengthy explanation, we know after about 30 years of live blood analysis research that the lectins in your blood will break down certain foods more optimally than others.
Now we need to discuss the exercise part. We champion the approach called The Slow Burn Fitness Revolution: The Slow Motion Exercise That Will Change Your Body in 30 Minutes a Week . Watch this video, and you’ll realize quite quickly how I’m able to take so many delicious restful naps over the holidays and still feel fit!
The last resource needed for you total overall approach might be Dr. Sears’ e-book entitled, PACE: Rediscover Your Native Fitness for your Cardiovascular health. Again, you only need to dedicate a couple of times per week to a whole 12-20 minutes to these short cycles of 2-3 minutes and then one minute of rest. This enables you to get back to your holiday Scrabble game in no time. I find this really enjoyable. I find that my body responds well and I love the heat generated from my core over the winter months from this form of activity. I do it at my local gym on a bike that is automatically programmed to take me up hill and dale at 2-3 minute intervals. I only have to repeat these cycles 4-5 times and I’m off to lift my weights for 30 minutes and I’m done for another 4-5 days. The idea is to maximize your “afterburn” and never feel winded.
It is also important to know that losing weight has a whole emotional component that will factor into the self-sabotaging patterns of the past. Have you ever lost your keys? Do you generally find them again? Well, the same is true about weight … it will show up exactly in the same spots to the same tune if you use a one-size-fits-all approach to regimen. If you focus on losing weight, it will generally find you again. Have you ever met a svelte Dr. Bernstein survivor who put the 100 lbs back on again? This illustrates the point that weight is ultimately about letting go at the emotional level. Weight is a form of armoring, which is due to unresolved emotional hurts and traumas that have peppered your life and keeps you insulated from more potential hurts. This is my story too. I have been challenged with grief and anger issues most of my 46 years and I still find it a challenge to wholly let go to a place of complete safety due to my intellect’s perception of seeming vulnerability. This is the area of research that I’ve dedicated my last 3.5 years to, on many levels, as I’ve wanted to solve this aspect of the realm of belief, the realm of the “self” by lovingly marrying this aspect to my own true desire function.
My everyday resolution that enables me to achieve my ideal looks like this: I will bike many imaginary hills and do push ups achingly slowly as long as it feels pleasurable during the “afterburn” and I glean the benefits. I generally eat from a place of resonance as opposed to attraction, respecting my typology. I also will continue to chase the ducks and lambs (and my kids and my husband) in the yard to scoot them into the hutch for the night, as a form of meaningful ‘activity’, rather than prescribed ‘exercise’. I am a traditional girl whose ancestry claimed the Scottish highlands as their own, however, I will leave the daily oatmeal consumption in their capable hands for now.
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