McDonald’s, Government, or Parents?

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I have spent 30 years studying the habits that allow people to over eat, become fat, stay fat, and falter at repeated diets.  The present issue of the government controlling the McDonald’s happy meals is ridiculous at several levels.  First,  why should the government get involved in this?  We have a free enterprise system and last I noticed Americans were still allowed to make their own decisions as to what they want to eat.   So, politically, I see legal control of human behavior  as a very dangerous step…. a slippery slope that  feels “socialistic.”   The responsibility of teaching children about nutrition is NOT that of McDonald”s nor the government but of the parent(s).  Children cannot drive to McDonald’s.  They do not have the money to pay for a meal.  The parents do!   The subliminal messages they absorb from watching their parents’ behavior is much stronger than that of an occasional commercial on TV.

I agree that these meals and most fast food is unhealthy (from a “fat” perspective) and may be a major contributor to the obesity problem in America.  However, if parents took the time to have healthy choices available,  to teach good nutrition habits by their own behavior, this would be a non-issue.  The operative word here is time.   Time to plan, shop and prepare food.  Since the key to a healthy body is good nutrition, it is definitely worth it to invest this time. BTW an occasional treat of a Happy Meal in a child who knows good nutrition with a toy is perfectly OK!    In my books, THE BROWN FAT REVOLUTION and LOSE THE FAT LOSE THE YEARS, I recommend an occasional “cheat” meal so that a sense of deprivation is avoided.

The government cannot dictate what our choices are.  It is the parental responsibility to teach “body respect”  and the importance of nutrition.   Ironically, like alcohol and drugs, creating a forbidden McDonald’s Happy Meal might make it more inviting…. what a paradox!  Michelle Obama has declared “Childhood Obesity”as the centerpiece of her First Lady platform.  I wonder how /if this dictum to control McD’s little meal is connected.   It appears to me that the PR buzz of laws to control the little box is more enticing to a publicist than a McDonald’s Happy Meal is to a child!

Plastic Surgery Then and Now

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I have been in practice for 28 years and have seen a 180 degree change in the specialty of Plastic Surgery.    In 2010,  the term “Plastic Surgery” clearly misrepresents the specialty.   A better umbrella to cover all of the techniques now available to rejuvenate the face and body would be “cosmetic medicine.”    Not “cosmetic surgery”  but  “cosmetic medicine”  I  prefer the use of the term medicine. It underscores the multilayered approach that a good plastic surgeon takes to a patients chief complaint.  My first consideration after good general health is the nutritional investment each patient has in themselves.  Proactive involvement in the process of looking better/younger is mandatory! Are they overweight?  Have they made a commitment to their body by  eating what is natural and healthy.   Do they exercise regularly?  Are they psychologically stable?  Are the expectations appropriate for the selected procedure?  Can they  really afford the procedure without undue financial stress?   Only after considering all of these issues, should the “cosmetic medical” plan be “prescribed.”  It might be Botox in one patient, laser lipo in another  and a facelift in another, but at the end of the day, each case is customized.

The Brain and Body Image

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You might find this hard to believe but after 28 years of morphing my patients bodies with plastic surgical procedures and 20 years of an avid interest in body building, I continue to be perplexed on how people perceive their physical appearance, their body image.  I continue to study neurobiology since it is clear to me that the answer to most issues that seem so illogical is found in the uncontrollable and unpredictable chemical reactions in the brain.    The study of Neurobiology has  clearly improved my understanding of body image more than all of my experience in dealing with patients and friends who are devoted to “controlling” their images/bodies.  Basically, our brains are  hard-wired to see  shapes and contours.  These are stored in our brains.   Once registered , it is difficult to change  neural “impressions” or brain memory  despite a change in appearance that is clearly seen with the eyes.  Basically, the objective reality of the body is only processed by the eyes, and delivered to the brain for perception.  This is a pivotal mechanism in understanding the lack of positive feedback in some people who have lost significant weight,  or had extensive plastic surgery, or  dramatically changed their bodies with exercise/diet regimens.  I  now understand the genesis of the problem.  Modifying the brain is another issue!

BROWN FAT AND LOOKING YOUNGER

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It may seem evident to most that losing weight and looking younger are complimentary.  This is not usually the case in folks who lose weight with non-nutritional restrictive diets.  In The Brown Fat Revolution and Lose the Fat/Lose the Years, I make the case for eating well AND losing weight so that all tissues are rejuvenated.   Once  nutritional discipline sets in, why not seize the opportunity to not only achieve optimal weight but to restore your skin, muscles, bones and fat to look, feel and act younger?  All it takes is  attention to the  “natural” quality of what you eat.  So simple, yet so rewarding!  Your body needs fat  “on it” to look young.  It is the fat that creates the “volumes” of youth that we see in a young woman’s body and face.  But it must be high quality, well nourished fat that hugs the underlying bones and supports the overlying skin creating the three dimensional contours of youth.  Just as you can change your skin to look younger with stress control, diet, exercise and topical care….you can modify the quality of your fat with nutrition and exercise and look younger!

Wrinkle Obsession

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I am continually fascinated by the obsession with wrinkle eradication as the only way to make the face look younger.   I  strongly propose that most faces look old due to  a distinct change in shape with time.

The brain of the viewer sees shape and contour before it appreciates wrinkles.    Think about a 20 year old face without wrinkles and a 60 year old face without wrinkles.   Your brain intuitively knows the “older” face by its shape.  Artists know this very well as do sculptures and plastic surgeons.

This point lays the groundwork for a pivotal change in the way that we should look at facial rejuvenation.   Most faces need volume not wrinkle effacement to look younger.  Volume is naturally supplied by fat.    Though there are now a number of excellent “fillers” that can make a face look young in a matter of minutes with little to no down time, including  Restylane, Juvederm, Sculptra, Radiesse.  These are but a few of the more commonly used fillers to restore faces to the wonderful, flowing, three dimensional contours that are so taken for granted in youth.

My advice after 28 years of rejuvenating faces both nonsurgically and surgically:  start with  contour improvements if you want to look younger.  Then, assess the skin, and treat the wrinkles secondarily.  Once volume is added to create the contours of youth, the  wrinkles  may be gone or certainly look a lot better and require less or no treatment.

Remember, as you diet and exercise, you need some fat for volume.  Your face will look wrinkled, dry and haggard without fat.  Do not sacrifice the face for the body!  In the Brown Fat Revolution Diet you learn how to eat to lose fat, maintain optimal weight and look younger in your face and body by making fat your friend.  Good, healthy fat hugs muscles, supports the overlying skin and defines the shapes that make a woman look young and beautiful.

Images Speak Louder than Works

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Images Speak Louder than Words

As the author of The Brown Fat Revolution, a Diet and Exercise program to lose weight and  the sloppy yellow fat, I must say that I take great pride in what I have personally accomplished by living according to my own principles for the last 20years.  The results of  consistent training and healthy eating can be so gradual that the individual who lost the weight and gained lean muscle does not see a dramatic difference in the mirror.   As a plastic surgeon , I am well aware of the disconnect between what is real and what people see in their mirrors!

I have found that the way that I look makes people react to me in a very interesting way.   There is a clear subliminal message that one projects when they look fit.   I know that obese individuals  tell unfortunate stories on how their physical appearance defines the way the world treats them.

In my case,  strangers come up to me and ask me what I eat or how I train.   Commonly, both women and men (none of whom know that I wrote and diet and exercise book) approach me in the gym to ask training questions.   More subtle and interesting  is the way I am treated in restaurants.  When I  order a meal that comes with fries, the waiter will always say, “you do not want the fries, right”  I recently had occasion to order a bagel at a coffee shop and the server said, “you want the “whole wheat” right?”….or…. “Of course, you do not want to see the dessert menu.”

We live an intensely visual world and  appearance definitely affects the way people react to us.   This is a fact!  Beyond the self-gratification and healthiness of being in control of the way you look,  the opportunity to say that you are in control without words is extremely empowering….one of the many benefits of respecting yourself by paying attention to the condition of your body.   It’s all good!

Cozy Foods

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Barbara, the monster snow storm is hitting Connecticut today and my wife and I are pretty much in a welcome lock down at home.   As the author of The Brown Fat Diet , I intuitively know what to eat to stay in shape;  however, this morning,  I found my mind acting differently.  I was thinking about baking a cake/brownies or having pancakes for breakfast!   The power of the brain and memory!   Hmmm how to handle this conflict of food choice that I am sure so many of us feel on days like today?

The brain (specifically, the amygdala) has this incredible ability to connect to past experiences and create cravings for things associated with good times.  In this case, probably,  those  unexpected and welcome days off from school, when my mom would cook all the comfort foods.

Those of you who follow me or have read my book, The Brown Fat Revolution, know that I strongly believe that occasional side steps when you are on a diet are OK and actually work to keep you comfortable with food and not feel deprived.  So, I will have a brownie today and whole wheat pancakes with low sugar syrup/no butter and not feel at all guilty.

Life is about the experience and not to embrace the connections that we have garnered from the past in a positive way and enjoy is nonsense.  After 20 years of eating according to the principles of The Brown Fat Diet, I can firmly testify that this one day of  relaxation combined with visual beauty (the snow) and gustatory coziness will not affect the shape of my body!

Beauty through Volumetrics

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As a plastic surgeon, an architect of the body, I find the balance of form and shape to be intuitive.  This is what happens when you spend 28 years creating shapes.  And I love it!  

It is my firm opinion that the eyes and the brain perceive things differently.  The eyes sense the objectivity of the viewed image.  The brain is fed that information which is then processed through other channels, such as the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain, and “appreciates” the object differently.   It is this second “interpretation” that the individual really “sees.” 

Studies have shown that shapes and contours are best appreciated by the brain.  Volumetrics applied to the face and body is the answer to creating results, whether after dieting or surgery, that are self-pleasing.  Volumetrics is the ability to use volume to create beauty.    

In The Brown Fat Diet and exercise programs, the thrust is to change shape, not simply lose weight.  Once the brain sees a pleasing shape — a shape that makes a woman feel sexy and attractive — the positive endorphins will protect against future weight gain.   

At the other end of the spectrum, a drive to be skinny is not about volumetrics.   It is about weight.  The brain does not see pleasing contours and shapes and the subject either eats again and gains weight or continues to lose weight thinking that this will achieve that elusive self-satisfaction in the mirror.  

A women needs volume to look great, and the language of volume is the language of fat.