Retrain Your Brain, Reshape Your Body
A mind is a terrible thing to waste. But a mind is also a terrible thing for our waist when it's not firing properly.
So says award-winning researcher Georgia Andrianopoulos, author of the hot, new book Retrain Your Brain, Reshape Your Body (McGraw-Hill).
Andrianopoulos says it's possible to rebalance and retrain your brain in a matter of days. And by doing so, you'll eliminate the food cravings that cause you to overeat.
Once your body adapts to this healthier way of life, the pounds will melt away and stay away.
"A balanced brain leads to a middle-of-the-road, comfortable,
fulfilling and productive lifestyle; it comes up with practical solutions to solve ongoing unmet needs," Andrianopoulos says.
"It doesn’t routinely substitute food as a solution to emotional discomfort or routinely push you to extreme cravings that leave you bloated, overweight, and in distress. That’s why targeting what’s going on in your brain to make you eat the way you do is the one truly effective approach to weight management.
"Dieting cannot be the first step to weight loss; helping the brain flourish must precede the behavioral change of dieting, for it is the brain that regulates our eating behavior."
So, all this time you thought your lack of willpower was preventing you from losing weight. Well, guess what? Andrianopoulos says it’s not that simple, and it’s not entirely your fault.
A Brain-Healthy Diet
"We’ve long known that 'you are what you eat.' As it turns out, that’s especially true for the brain," Andrianopoulos says.
"So you won’t be surprised to learn that all the foods we know to be good for us are very effective in helping the brain thrive.
"Rule of thumb? Anything heart-smart is brain-smart. Improved cardiovascular health lets the brain receive unhindered oxygen and glucose for mental processing. So Mediterranean- and Japanese-style cuisines help the brain flourish. Antioxidants are also key; they lessen the formation of free radicals that can damage organs and blood vessels.
"Since the brain is the heaviest user of the body’s energy, it is particularly vulnerable to free radical damage. Brain tissue is sensitive to inflammation, so foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish and leafy green vegetables, are also important.
"A low-calorie, low-fat diet with limited amounts of simple carbohydrates can slow the effects of aging. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts — all the foods we know are good for the body are also good for the brain."
In Retrain Your Brain, you'll learn all about the Seven Things to Avoid:
• A Brain-Harming Diet
• Not Enough Pleasure
• A Lack of Physical Activity
• Emotional Disorders and Physical Illness
• Premature Aging
• Preventable Hardships of Poverty
Andrianopoulos urges you to create an environment filled with mind enhancers like the aforementioned Brain-Boosting Diet and...
"Exercise helps the brain maintain its muscle mass and build more muscle," she says. "It increases the blood flow to the brain, activates the areas involved in memory (the hippocampus), coordination (the cerebellum), and stress (the locus coeruleus).
"Exercise can even reverse age-related degeneration, no matter
how old you are; in lab tests, the brains of older animals who
exercised regenerated up to 50 percent more new cells than those of younger inactive animals."
The bottom line: If you focus solely on your eating and you leave the other aspects of your life untouched, you are doomed to failure.
"It's virtually impossible for some people to diet, lose weight and keep eating healthy beyond three years," Andrianopoulos says.
"It's almost a given that you will gain it back if you lose weight."
So what do you need to do?
Get to the root causes what is prompting or triggering people to constantly want or crave comfort food.
"They key is to get your body -- specifically your brain -- to back off from ordering food constantly," Andrianopoulos says.
"It’s as if your engine surging out of control but all you do is push on brake by dieting. That's not enough. You need to find the cause of what causing engine surging out of control.
"Brakes fail eventually."
Andrianopoulos loves to use car analogies... and for a good reason. This renowned neuroscientist used to race Porsches and other high-performance cars!
She says we need to get our brain in gear before our body becomes a smooth-running engine.
It was while supervising a group of overweight individuals that Andrianopoulos realized some folks have a different mind-frame when it comes to food.
"I learned that people with weight issue intensely crave food," she says. "They have an intense desire that's not from hunger. It's from a craving area of brain -- and it's more like an addiction."
"We always knew brain controls eating and body weight. Study after study looked at connection between overeating and area in brain that we associate with addiction.
"Different areas are stimulated when hungry. And as it is stimulated this craving area becomes larger and more massive. It even recruits tissue from surrounding areas of the brain."
Andrianopoulos says she never suffered an eating or weight problem. She credits her "luck" to being born and raised in Greece where she "ate everything God made" and climbed trees to pick fruit.
Retrain your brain
The news about your brain is far from all negative. Your brain responds just as quickly to positive stimulation.
"Learn what the brain likes... what makes it happy. Do that and will stop calling you to eat," Andrianopoulos says.
"What makes thrive is stimulation, challenge, beauty in environment -- external and internal, what you feel, being successful and liked and approved and accepted... and sleep. The brain needs time to disengage and be rebooted like your computer."
A few ways to stimulate your brain without food: a simple walk, a daily puzzle, relaxation.
"Small changes have profound positive effect on brain," Andrianopoulos says.
A healthy mind is your best weapon against weight. It also helps battle the messaging and imagery cooked up by the neuroscientist working for the food industry.
"Sara Lee… Dove chocolate… these firms employ brain experts to help sell their products," Andrianopoulos says.
"Some things are difficult to resist. The food industry uses this knowledge to create scenarios where you will be triggered to consume.
"They may not put food in mouth but create condition where you have little resistance."
Now that's just not playing fair!
Andrianopoulos says there are three main reasons American are growing at such an alarming rate.
The foodscape -- There's a 24/7 bombardment with sophisticated messages that suck you in.
The overweight majority -- You no longer feel fat or large because everything around you is growing. Not only are people getting bigger but so too are car seats, caskets, body towels and theater seats.
Our red-hot limbic system -- This is more intriguing and subtle area in brain that demands food. It's part of a pleasure or emotion area called the limbic system. The more we activate that area of brain through fear, violence, threat, crowding, poverty, lust and envy, the bigger that area becomes and that area also controls our eating.
For a more in-depth explanation of these mind-jarring factors, grab a copy of Retrain Your Brain, Reshape Your Body.
May 19, 2008
Genevieve Lost 421 lbs. Without Pills Or Surgery!
Genevieve C. lost 421 pounds. It gets better -- she did it without pills or surgery!
It's rare these days that you hear of such a tremendous personal achievement that comes without a little help from a slick surgeon or some scary device that clamps shut the stomach.
But Genevieve dropped her 421 pounds with good, old-fashioned willpower and the sensational Slim & Beautiful weight loss plan that has left her... well, slim and beautiful!
Oh, and don't forget happier, healthier and more energetic!
Would you like to say goodbye to your belly fat and hello to gorgeous-looking skin, hair and nails? Then you want to try the program that worked so well for Genevieve -- the clinically proven, doctor-designed wrinkle and body makeover created by renowned weight loss expert Dr. Aaron Tabor.
To enjoy the many benefits of Slim & Beautiful, you don't have to be a few hundred pounds overweight. Whether you have 20, 50 or 100 pounds to lose, the Slim & Beautiful approach will prove a perfect fit for you too!
“I've lost 421 pounds without surgery and gained my life back," Genevieve says. "On my birthday this year, my husband took me to a very fancy restaurant. He told me to buy a special dress for the occasion. I went and got a long halter gown. When I put it on, I almost cried. I said to myself, 'Oh my goodness! I am slender, look good, and free from all that fat.' I even had people in the restaurant ask me if I was a movie star. That was my liberating moment.
"I was hooked the first time I tasted Dr. Tabor’s products. I absolutely love them. I can’t say enough about how much Dr. Tabor has done for me. My hair is much softer and stronger. My skin is absolutely incredible because of Dr. Tabor.”
In this Diet.com exclusive, slender-again Gen, reveals the highs, the lows and the steps that led her to Dr. Tabor and Slim & Beautiful.
"I was living in England and feeling miserable," she recalls. "I had tried everything to reverse my weight gain, but programs like Jenny Craig and NutriSystem left me feeling sick... and the food didn't taste very good!
"My break came when my mom, back in America, sent me some of Dr. Tabor's products. I started drinking the shakes twice a day and enjoying one healthy meal. I had hit a high of 570 pounds when I started exercising in an indoor pool to lessen the strain on my body. The weight started flying off me."
And that's a good thing because Genevieve's doctor was ready to step in and put her on the list for stomach stapling surgery.
"He told me, 'It's surgery if you don't lose weight in 6 weeks.' Thanks to the great shakes and my swimming, I lost 86 pounds before my next visit. My doctor was very pleased."
By following her Slim & Beautiful program, Genevieve lost 90 pounds in her first 12 weeks, and lost the rest of her 421 pounds gradually over the past few years.
Genevieve is such a bundle of energy it's hard to picture her during her darkest days.
"I was so overweight that I could barely walk through the grocery store -- I would have to stop and sit," she says. "I could not clean my house. If I cooked, I would have to sit on a stool because it hurt to stand. I could no longer go skiing and participate in family activities or trips. If I did not do something and stick with it, I was going to be dead.
"I had this horrible thought, 'When I die, they'll have to bury me in a piano crate!' I was definitely at rock bottom and knew that this could not go on any longer.
"I felt desperate and out of control. There were some days I woke up and thought it is just another day in 'fat Hell.' It was a huge source of depression for me. Some days I did not want to live. I kept eating because all of the stress. But I had a husband and daughter that I loved so that kept me going. I didn't want to have any kind of obesity surgery because of the risks, so I was really glad I found the Slim & Beautiful program."
Enough sadness... it's time for the good news
"I feel wonderful now," Genevieve says. "I am a whole new person. Since I have lost weight, I have been much more active with my friends and family. I FEEL GREAT. I have my life back and am healthier than ever.
"My favorite part of my success is that it worked and that I have been able to share what works for me with other people in the same situation...I am living proof your program works. Also, from a purely selfish point, I love being able to go to the store and buy any dress or outfit I want and look good.
"The biggest difference in my life is that I am able to participate fully in all family activities. I am able to do all the things I love like walking and biking. Losing the weight has also changed me and made me much more positive and upbeat."
Genevieve's favorite products: the chocolate shakes
"It is like drinking a chocolate milkshake and it is ohhhhhhhhhhh so good," she raves. "I absolutely love them! My other favorite product is the non-naughty nibbles snacks. They taste so good. They are a great alternative to eating chips, and they have protein in them. I love them too!"
Genevieve is impressed with more than her weight loss alone.
"My hair is much softer and stronger," she notes. "Before I started Dr. Tabor's products, my hair would always break with split ends. My nails always broke and were very weak. Now they are healthy, strong, and I can finally grow them out! My skin is absolutely incredible. I have always had a good complexion, but because I was not eating right my skin was pasty colored. Now I have rosy cheeks.
"I can't say enough about how much these products have done for me and my health! It's better than magic — it's clinically tested. I needed a miracle, and this program was that miracle."
The 6-foot-2 super slimmer blames emotional eating for her weight issues. Family issues that culminated in a divorce got the ball rolling and the weight piling up.
The turnaround began in February of 2003. Genevieve is now happily remarried and living in Connecticut. She never tires of sharing her success with other women.
"I was fat... but now I am happy!" she says.
And that just may be the most important part of Genevieve's metamorphosis.
May 8, 2008
The Most Decadent Diet... Ever!
We love food... maybe a little too much. But what if I told you that you can have your chocolate layer cake and eat it too?
It’s true! Best-selling author and popular TV chef, Devin Alexander, has whipped up a hot new cookbook that reveals the savory secret to successful weight loss: EAT THE FOODS YOU LOVE!
Thanks to Devin, you no longer have to think of diet as another word for deprivation. Instead, you can lose weight and get in shape while salivating over great-tasting, low-fat foods like bacon cheeseburgers, lasagna with meat sauce, chocolate layer cake and even brownie sundaes!
Starting with a recipe for Sausage Biscuit Sandwich and working her way to Honey Glazed Spiced Pork Tenderloin, Chef Devin takes us on a trip to comfort food heaven in The Most Decadent Diet Ever, her smash follow-up to the highly successful Biggest Loser Cookbook she crafted for the popular TV show.
Devin tells Diet.com The Most Decadent Diet Ever! is “The Secret” of food.
"When I stopped labeling this food 'bad' and that food 'bad' and me 'bad' for eating something I 'shouldn’t have' and concentrated on what I was actually craving and how to satisfy those cravings, I was finally able to lose weight and keep it off," she says.
Diet.com chief editor John McGran sat down with Chef Devin recently to chew the fat about good eating and healthy living.
JM: So Devin, what was your inspiration for Most Decadent Diet Ever?
DA: After gaining 10 to 15 pounds per year from the time I was 8 to the time I was 15 (weighing about 190 by the time I was 15), I started living this book and lost (and have kept off!) over 55 pounds for over 15 years. I tried dieting for years, but the thought of giving up my favorites FOREVER! was too much for my brain to handle. It would force me to overeat and obsess.
When I realized that I could still have all of the foods I love just as deliciously, as long as I cook them myself, I stopped dieting and lost weight. I wrote this book for others who struggle with weight or with high cholesterol or any other food-related ailments... so they, too, can keep eating the foods they love!
JM: What do you think are the food issues that doom most diets?
DA: Most diets are really limiting. You can work anything into this plan for life - even alcohol and chocolate! And you don’t have to count calories once you get the hang of the plan.
Though this book may sound like a fad diet, it’s actually the opposite. It encourages folks to stop dieting and adapt changes that they can live with forever — simple changes like swapping my Chocolate Chocolate Brownie Cups for fatty brownies that truly don’t taste any better!
JM: I must confess... kitchens scare me. I prefer drive-thrus, deliveries or pick up. So what will I get out of Most Decadent Diet Ever?
DA: First John, cooking is like riding a bike. When you start, you don’t have the few pieces of equipment you need, you don’t know that the applesauce is in aisle 7 and you have to read each recipe very carefully. But once you learn a few simple things, it’s easy and ANYONE can do it!
My recipes are exceptionally easy to follow on purpose because I want families making them together. Not only will the whole family enjoy it, people will be setting their children up for healthy lives that don’t rely on eating out.
People don’t realize how much unnecessary fats and oils are used in foods in restaurants. Veggies for burritos and things are often soaked in oil to be kept from drying out, buns for sandwiches (even when you’re being “good” and ordering the grilled chicken sandwich) are slathered with hundreds of calories worth of butter or lard, when you ask for steamed veggies, they often steam them, then toss them in butter or oil and egg white omelets are cooked in a scary amount of butter so they don’t stick to the pan (rarely do restaurants use non-stick). You can eat SO much more food if you cook it yourself.
JM: But Devin, my spare time is precious. Cooking sounds like work!
DA: By spending 20 minutes in your kitchen, you can save 3 hours on a treadmill! You can still enjoy the flavors you love if you cook them yourself without putting your health at risk or inches on your hips. Also, as a society, we’re plagued with so many food-related illnesses, it’s ridiculous.
As I see it, we don’t have time NOT to cook. Would you rather spend your spare time in your kitchen or at your doctor’s office? There are so many folks with Type 2 diabetes that are spending a ton of time and money on insulin and monitoring their illness. There are tons of folks who are spending a fortune on blood pressure and cholesterol medications. Imagine if some of those folks didn’t have to work so many hours to cover the cost of those prescriptions and the gas getting back and forth to the doctors' offices?
Cooking is fun when you get used to it and you get the results you get from recipes in The Most Decadent Diet Ever!
JM: OK, I am sold. So will you reveal your favorite recipes from Most Decadent Diet.
DA: This is by far my least favorite question about this book. It varies daily based on what I’m in the mood to eat. I love the Chicken Enchilasagna, I love the Sweet & Slim Italian Sausage (it’s real pork sausage and it’s leaner than any chicken or turkey sausage I’ve ever seen sold in stores), I love the Chocolate Not-Only-In-Your-Dreams Cakes (warm chocolate flourless espresso cakes like the ones you get in restaurants that I used to call, “a heart-attack in a pan” and would always dream about eating).
I seriously love so many of them! At a taste-testing party, everyone went crazy over the Chinese Pepper Steak and I carry the Chocolate Chocolate Brownie Cups almost everywhere I go because with a book like this, I think “Tasting is Believing.” I literally sold this book based on them.
Everyone is always so skeptical about healthy food tasting good. Not only does this taste good, if you serve the dishes in The Most Decadent Diet Ever! to your friends, they won’t believe you that they are healthier. I recently had one of the Producers of “The Biggest Loser” and my manager over for dinner and made only recipes from the book. I had the Editors and P.R. team for Women's Health magazine over for breakfast and made only recipes from the book. The recipes are not only amazing for “diet food”, but they are good enough to impress anyone — even your mother-in-law!
JM: How did you select the foods in Most Decadent Diet Ever, and do YOU really stay home and cook for yourself using these recipes?
DA: For years, I’ve been adapting my family recipes and recipes that others have sent to me. Many of the dishes in the Most Decadent Diet Ever! are those recipes... and my family now uses my versions instead of the originals, even on holidays. I’m also constantly combing menus at popular chains looking for the most popular dishes. I tackle those often, as well.
And YES!! I absolutely cook the recipes from the Most Decadent Diet Ever! when I am at home and I miss them and feel like I suffer when I’m on the road which is way too often these days. I love food and I love real-sized portions (I don’t know how to eat 2 bites of anything). When I’m on the road, I have to eat smaller portions of foods that I don’t even enjoy as much or I gain weight. It really frustrates me.
When I’m on the road for a stretch doing appearances, I get excited when I have a few days in a city where I have friends; I often borrow their kitchens and make a couple of meals. I just borrowed my sister’s kitchen in New York City to get a reprieve from eating out. I left her a freezer full of the
Chocolate Chocolate Brownie Cups and she was so excited. When I stopped at my parent’s lately, I made the Skinny Scampi and the Chicken Enchilasagna, both of which my parents are still talking about.
JM: You've now covered fast food makeovers and comfort foods -- what's the next food topic to tackle?
DA: Convenience foods! The recipes in The Most Decadent Diet Ever are extremely decadent, which, in some cases do take a bit of time. But, they are worth every second. The next book will be slightly less decadent (still absolutely delicious), but will really focus on the 5-10 minute recipes.
JM: What's your personal philosophy on food and dieting?
DA: “Just because it tastes great, doesn’t mean it can’t be good for you!” I say that to close every episode of my show “Healthy Decadence with Devin Alexander” on Discovery Health and FitTv. And I believe it with every ounce of my being.
I’m not a tofu and carrot stick chef and I use “real” ingredients. Food is an art to me. Nothing frustrates me more than watching a “healthy chef” say that they’re going to make-over “my” favorite food then use turkey legs to make “pulled pork” (the leanest cut of pork is leaner than turkey legs!) or stuff a burger full of mushrooms or to have someone tell me that they’re making “me” a bacon cheeseburger then stack a veggie burger with a piece of fat free cheese, a couple pieces of turkey bacon and some fat free mayo and tell me I’ll love it.
I had an ex-boyfriend who wouldn’t let me watching cooking shows before bed because he said I got too riled up. He said I was worse than watching a guy watching a football game (I did yell at the TV). I recently picked up a "healthy" cookbook and the woman who wrote it said she started making over recipes because she took her favorite so-called low-fat baked goods to a lab to get them tested because they tasted “too good” to be low fat. She said that the lab proved that she was right, so she was writing the book because she is obsessed with food. I believe without a doubt that she would be compelled to take every one of my dishes to a lab to have them analyzed then she would take them back for a second and maybe even third opinion because they cut tons of fat and calories and are amazing.
There is no such thing, in my view, as too good to be healthy. My team and I work almost obsessively on recipes until they are good enough to serve to my most important guests and then we put them in my books and not one second before.
May 5, 2008