Diet & Exercise: An oldie, but a goodie.

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I had not been to the Fairfield County Surgical Center for about a year. When I walked in this morning, I was greeted by a nurse who said, “Good morning, Dr Lyons! Welcome back.”  I knew her eyes well, but her body was shockingly different.  She had lost 100 pounds. Wow. How did she accomplish such an amazing change? Diet and exercise. No gastric band. This is a great example of the power of commitment. Throughout the day, I noticed that she acted differently, moved with a new sense of confidence and looked energetic and happy. I am certain that she will stay thin and healthy since she has modified her behavioral approach to to food and fitness. I have found that when patients get thin passively (surgery) the chances of eating “beyond the surgery” are significant.  Making the change from the inside out, changing your patterns and habits, and patiently committing to a new lifestyle may seem tedious at first. Many people are attracted to the immediate results of surgery. But cultivating the discipline to change your life — rather than seeking a quick fix — is what will keep the weight off for good.

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!


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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!

April 2010 and Gym still Full!!

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A new year, 2010. I am convinced that working out has become a lifestyle and not a January resolution. This is the first year that I have noticed that the Jan crowd is till vying for machines and it is almost May 1st! Maybe we are finally realizing that balance and slow steady steps (the long range approach) are better than dramatic commitments (quick fix approach). Dieting is the same and it is my hope that the 2010 gym “hang-ons” are eating as they are exercising: slowly, steadily, intelligently, and effectively. Once you have these two in step, the sky is the limit on how much weight you lose and how youthfully sexy you can make your body.

Images Speak Louder than Words

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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!

Olympic Inspiration

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The US  already has a total of  some 34 medals compared to six medals at the Calgary Olympics!  To what is this amazing surge of athletic prowess attributed?  The Olympic training center,  23.8 million dollar training center in Colorado Springs,  Colorado could be a very big contribution to this American dominance.   Here, comprehensive preparation for the Olympics is available:  a sports medicine and science center, the athletic center, nutrition counseling, and finally housing for 557 athletes and their coaches is available at one time.    This attention to all of the aspects of the mind and body is reminiscent of the ancient Greek approach to athletics from which the Olympics emerged.   The synergy of all factors to achieve the optimal result is a basic principle of great training at any level and one that I apply to the  The Brown Fat Revolution Diet and fitness programs.

These athletes stand as examples of how human resources can be harnessed to achieve unbelievable goals.  Take their inpiration and apply it to the way you treat your body on a daily basis.   Nutritious foods, healthy exercise, stress control are all within reach.  You just have to make the decision that you are going to do it!

So many athletes  overcome mind-boggling personal and physical tragedies, never leaving focus on their dream and  win the Olympics or simply be the best they can be.    Certainly, the ability to eat consistently well and exercise routinely for the sake of a healthier and better looking body should not be difficult!  Go For It!

Kudos to Kevin Federline

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I was recently struck as I watched an interview with Kevin Federline,  Britney Spears’s  X, who was discussing the media ridicule of his massive weight gain following their breakup.  He is now in the process of losing weight and already looks great.   As a body builder, plastic surgeon, nutrition expert, professional dancer (as is Kevin) and author of The Brown Fat Revolution (Brown Fat Diet), I want to give Kevin a huge shout out!   He stands as a role model for overweight celebrities as to how to inspire viewers.  So many celebrities are weight-challenged and continue to demonstrate to their fans that despite daily personal  trainers, personal nutritionists,  motivational psychologists, they  cannot gain control of  what they eat and  lose weight.  I have heard so many women say to me, “hey, if she cannot do it with all of that personal help, how can I?”  Well, ladies check out Kevin.

As a clinician who has evaluated patients for 28 years concerned about the appearance of their bodies, I felt that Kevin’s body language, verbal tone and facial expressions were indicative of a young man who had successfully learned how to love and respect himself and move on with life despite a celebrity style divorce and  the circus-like attention that followed.    He stands as an example for men and women who use all sorts of excuses as to why they are fat.  He knows that his devastated heart was controlling what went into his mouth and why he got fat. He now appears to be moving on with a positive, self-respecting maturity.   Kevin learned that it was necessary to gain control of emotion and  perspective.   Food did not make him feel better.

Great comeback, Kevin!

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!