Michael F. Roizen, MD, is the four-time #1 New York Times bestselling author and co-founder and originator of the popular RealAge.com website. He is Chief Wellness Officer and chair of the Wellness Institute of the Cleveland Clinic and Chief Medical Consultant to The Dr. Oz Show. He currently lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio.
Mehmet Oz, MD, is a cardiothoracic surgeon. He has won nine Daytime Emmy Awards for The Dr. Oz Show. A professor of surgery at Columbia University, he directs the Complementary Medicine Program at New York—Presbyterian Hospital and performs more than fifty heart operations a year. Dr. Oz has written eight New York Times bestselling books, including Food Can Fix It, YOU: The Owner’s Manual, YOU: The Smart Patient, YOU: On a Diet, YOU: Staying Young, and the award-winning Healing from the Heart.
YOU: On A Diet Revised Edition Introduction
YOU: On a Diet
Work Smarter, Not Harder
Most diets promise commonsense solutions to tight-pants problems: Eat less, and you’ll weigh less. Keep your mouth closed, and you’ll keep the pounds off. Sweat like a sauna-dwelling sumo wrestler, and you’ll wind up skinnier than a sheet of paper. Straightforward enough. But if it really worked that way, our bodies wouldn’t be large enough to be spotted by Google Earth. If it really worked that way, then most diets wouldn’t fail. If it really worked that way, then we all must be a bunch of rebellious hellions with mayo-covered lips and belt-busting bellies who don’t feel like following a few simple instructions.
Or it could be that most diets have it all wrong.
We believe it’s the latter.
You know why? Because most diets instruct you to take on the corn chips, meatball specials, and dessert trays with brute force. It’s you versus food in a lifetime heavyweight fight. But in that scenario, the fight is always fixed—and not in your favor. That’s because the battle against extra pounds isn’t won with force, with sweat, with trying to diet. It’s won with elegance, with smarts, and with healthy choices that become as automatic as a Simon Cowell barb.
When it comes to dieting, trying to whip fat with our weapon of willpower is the food equivalent of holding your breath underwater. You can do it for a while, but no matter how psyched up you get, at some point your body—your biology—forces you to the surface gasping for air. And with most diets, your body forces you to gasp (or gulp) for food. No matter how hard you try not to eat, some hidden force deep inside is always prying your mouth back open, making it impossible for willpower to win. Instead of sparring with your waistline, it’s time you made your body an ally in the fight against fat.
Our process is to look at our overweight bodies the way scientists would: Identify the underlying biology of the problem, then find the cures. Why? Because we’re lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time—a time when the scientific world has just now started to unlock the biological mysteries that have caused us to store fat and gain weight. For the first time in our history, the scientific community is uncovering the medical evidence about food, appetite, and satiety that will allow you to tackle weight problems with the real weapon against fat: knowledge. By making this knowledge simple and accessible, we’re going to give you tools and actions to crack the code of true and lifelong waist management. In fact, our plan will help you avoid the dangerous yo-yo cycle of weight gain and weight loss. We’re going to help you reprogram your body so that you can keep off the weight you lose forever.
Through the years, many of us have been led to believe that our weight problem is about two things: calorie counting and mental toughness. While some of us may say that the weight problem is too much of the twelve-cheese lasagna, the real problem is that most of us have as much of a clue about how our bodies work as we have about how our cars do. Sure, we know the major parts and generally what they’re supposed to do. The real danger of thinking we have most of the answers is that we stop asking the questions. If we look under our hood, do we really understand the systems that make our bodies accelerate to a life of fat and the ones that slam the brakes on the dangerous cookie-and-cake collisions that take place every day? Probably not, and that’s what we’re here to help you learn.
Above all, we’re going to teach you that when it comes to dieting, you need to work smart, not hard.
Following our plan, you can expect to drop up to two inches from your waist (or a dress size) within two weeks and see results steadily after that. While the end goal is what many of us look for, we believe that the path you choose to get there is what really dictates whether you make it or not. Our path looks like this:
Part 1: What a Waist! Starting here, we’ll talk about our major principles for how the body is designed to work and how our program is geared toward those functions. And we’ll also give you the biological ideals of the human body—how our bodies originally looked and functioned. We’ll also give you some self-assessment tools for figuring out your own body’s ideals. Once you know where you’re going, you’ll have a better idea of how to get there.
Part 2: The Biology of Fat. Here you’ll follow morsels of food from the pantry to the porcelain bowl and everywhere in between. We’ll start by exploring the physiology of appetite, and then we’ll dive into the science of fat—how we store it, how we burn it, how we fight it. Obesity is really only a twenty-year-old problem (not for you but for society). Since 1990, we’ve gone from 1 percent of North Americans with the dangerous disease of inflammation from fat in the liver to 35 percent who have it now. You’ll learn what a truly amazing system your body is when you steer it in the right direction through wise nutritional and activity choices.
Part 3: The Science of the Mind. When it comes to overeating, most of us put more emphasis on what we’re noshing than on what we’re thinking. But you can’t discuss weight issues without exploring the scientific and chemical (and even spiritual) reasons why your brain hormones and your emotions drive you to the eight-enchilada special. You’ll learn why some foods are addictive. More important, we’ll show you the strategies for making your emotions and the chemicals that drive them work for, not against, your waistline.
Part 4: The YOU Diet and Activity Plan. After you read and learn about the intricacies of your body, you’ll find the eating and activity plan that will teach your body to eat and work smart. Your body will become your gym as you gain sleek strength in your body’s foundation muscles—all without using weights. And you’ll learn to make the right decisions in the supermarket aisle and at the fast-food window. The fourteen-day plan outlines recipes, exercises, and actions you can take to live leaner and healthier.
(In our appendices, we’ll explore the medical options for dealing with weight issues—for times when you may plateau, and for those people whose weight problems have led to major medical problems.)
Now, with all the diet information that’s circulating today, sometimes it’s hard to know what’s right, and sometimes it’s hard to remember what to do even if it is. That’s why we feel that while the program is important, how you learn it—
how you ingrain it as part of your lifestyle—is just as vital. As we travel through the four parts of the book, you’ll notice various ways you’ll learn about your body and how to change it. These are the five main elements we’ll use along the way:
YOU-reka Moments! Like Einstein suddenly realizing that E = mc2 you’ll develop deep insights that challenge your preconceptions about diets, about fat, and about your body. In the margin, you’ll see our YOU-reka imp—the signal that we’re about to come upon a moment of enlightenment by busting a myth or explaining something to you about diets that may seem 180 degrees from what you believe is true.
YOUR Body: In Parts 2 and 3, as we explore the biology of your body, we’ll start each chapter by giving quick biology lessons about what really happens inside your body. We ask that you put on your metaphorical scrubs and gloves as you whiz through your arteries, travel through your intestines, and hang out in your stomach. We’ll get up close to your fat so we can see how your body handles it and how it manipulates your body. We believe that by learning about how the inside of your body works, you’ll develop the smarts you need to change how the outside looks.
YOU Tests. Through interactive quizzes and measurements, you’ll establish baselines for such vital statistics as your ideal body size and your eating personality. And you’ll also be able to test for the secret things that could be contributing to a weight problem (get a load of our tongue test on page 76). You can start in a few pages by taking the Fat Facts Test on page 18.
YOU Tips: After we explore the biology of your body to show you what bad things can happen if you make the wrong choice or have cross-wired genetics, we’ll immediately give you actions that can help turn your body around. At the end of each chapter, we’ll outline intelligent strategies—big and small—for living, eating, and moving in a more healthful way.
The YOU Diet and Activity Plan: In Part 4 (on page 217) we’ll detail the specific and simple strategies, recipes, and exercises that will lead you to the body you want—for the rest of your life. The fourteen-day YOU Diet (it’s actually so easy that we crafted a seven-day plan that you do twice) and the no-weights-required YOU Workout provide all the tools and instructions you’ll need. Best of all, they don’t take a lot of time, and they’re so easy that you can incorporate them into your life today. You’ll be rewarded for the time you spend planning, exercising, shopping, and cooking with more energy and a better mood—and you’ll enjoy looking in the mirror more!
So where do we start? With our first YOU-reka! moment: Your body naturally wants to take you to your optimum weight, as long as you don’t get in its way.
That’s right. For almost everyone, no matter what your genetics, the systems, organs, and processes of your body all want you to function at an ideal weight and size. With the following few principles that we’ll develop throughout the book, we’re going to teach you how you can make that happen without having to bludgeon yourself in frustration with a butter knife. These are our major principles for achieving your very best and very healthiest body.
When you lose weight without exercise, you lose both muscle and fat, but when you gain weight without exercise, you gain only fat. It’s much easier to gain fat weight than it is to gain muscle weight, which is one of the reasons why yo-yo dieting fails so miserably: When you continually gain and lose and gain and lose, you end up gaining proportionally even more fat, because of the muscle loss that takes place every time you lose.
YOU Will Choose Elegance over Force
Most dieters try to defeat their Oreo/Cheeze Doodle/custard pie infatuations with will, with deprivation, with sweat, with a “my-brain-is-stronger-than-your-crust” attitude. But trying to beat your body with mind power alone may be more painful than passing a melon-size kidney stone. Instead, you have to learn about the systems and actions that influence hunger, satiety, fat storing, and fat burning to fine-tune your corporeal vehicle so it runs on autopilot and takes you to your ultimate destination: a healthy, ideal body. (For those who want to skip ahead, you’ve probably already peeked at Part 4; however, getting to know the nuances of your body is what will help you achieve and maintain a truly healthy-size body.)
YOU Will Learn How Your Body Thinks
True body improvement is about science. It’s about making the leap from witchcraft to hard data, from alchemy to chemistry, from speculation about what works for your body to explanations of how your body actually works. The only way you’ll understand the way calories and fat travel from that 2,000-calorie onion loaf to the back of your arm is by bringing alive the physiology of hormones, blood, organs, and muscles—by explaining the processes of digestion, starvation, fat storage, and muscle movements. When you understand the magic of physiology and the fun of biology, you’ll know what actions to take—and why you’re taking them—to reboot your body back to where it wants to be. Just as when you’re trying to help a tantruming toddler or kick-start a frozen computer, you can’t fix it unless you know what’s wrong. Know the why, and it’s much easier to handle the how—when you need to. Let’s face it, we’re not going to be sitting next to you at 10:30 p.m. when you’re pilfering a Pop-Tart. So you need to be equipped with knowledge of how your body works and reacts to that Pop-Tart so that you can defend against the little sugar-coated bugger.
YOU Will Challenge Your Beliefs about Diets
Throughout our lives, we’ve been conditioned to believe that if one thing is good for us, then more of it must be better. If you eliminate 100 calories from your daily diet, then eliminating 400 must qualify you for size 2. If you walk to lose weight, then running a marathon must nuke the fat right off your body. Well, neither idea is true. Worse, not only aren’t they true, but many of the diet myths perpetuated today actually hurt our bodies. Food deprivation, for example, drops your metabolism and makes your body want to store fat. Many of the rules, ideas, and principles you may believe about dieting—that you assume work when dieting—simply aren’t true and can very well contribute to weight issues because they keep the vicious cycle of fat loss and fat gain revolving faster than Lance Armstrong’s front wheel.
Throughout the book, you’ll learn all about this perfect storm of factors that contribute to our ability to gain so much weight—and our inability to lose it. You’ll see that some of these reasons are biological, some are environmental, and some are psychological, and only when you learn how to navigate these tricky waters will you find true success when it comes to achieving and maintaining a healthy size.
In men, the supplement L-carnitine—at a dose of 3 grams a day—helps muscles use carbohydrates, but it is also good for blood vessel function in both men and women.
One of the reasons why most so-called diets fail is because of a psychological and behavioral flaw that many dieters have. We desperately want to believe the simple, comforting promises that diets make—that doing A always gets us B. Because once we see that A (eating wheat germ 24-7) doesn’t always equal B (the cover of Vogue), then we get frustrated and angry, and give in to the gods of cream-filled baked goods.
Unfortunately, your body and your fat do not have a linear, two-step relationship. Instead, think of your body as an orchestra. All of its systems, organs, muscles, cells, fluids, hormones, and chemicals play different instruments, make different sounds (your intestines have dibs on first-chair tuba), and produce different results depending on how you use them. They work independently, but only when they’re played together can you appreciate the magnificent symphony of your own biology. As the conductor of your biological orchestra, you control how the instruments interact and what the final result will be.
YOU Will Make Dieting Automatic
While we want you to “not think” about eating good foods, we also know that “not thinking” may be how you got into this pants-stretching mess in the first place. When you don’t think about the consequences of ordering football-size calzones, you wind up with such pleasantries as high LDL (lousy) cholesterol, low HDL (healthy type of) cholesterol, a fat-filled liver, inflammation in your arteries, and a higher risk of aging arteries that cause memory loss, heart disease, even wrinkles, as well as a steady stream of coupon offers ...