Are Your Friends Making You Fat?

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Don’t let the magazine cover fool you. The New York Times’ Sunday, September 13, 2009 magazine features a dazzling, orange-and-black array of letters that spell out the question: “Are Your Friends Making You Fat?”

The cover is a bit misleading, of course, because the article itself is titled “Is Happiness Catching?” The article isn’t specifically about being fat.  Instead, it’s about the concept of social contagion: human beings assimilate the behavior of those that we hang out with.

This is a fascinating article but begs the question: Don’t we all remember, from our teenage years, that we tend to act like our peer group? So what is the big deal about what the pair of social scientists, Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, have discovered about the Framingham group? We should all know that this phenomenon exists at every level: whether we smoke, how we dress, the vehicle we drive, the house we buy, what we drink, the food we eat, etc.

Of course, you do not live in a vacuum. You are affected by the habits and habitus (that is, physical characteristics) of those around you. It would be inappropriate and rude to dismiss yourself from friends or family if they did not fit into your “ideal” world of habits so you could achieve your goals more easily.

If you do have disciplined thin, healthy people around you, great! But most of us have a mix of fit and unfit people in our orbit. That’s why I recommend that you focus on yourself and not your peers. Set your own standards and goals. Recognize that you do not want to “fit in” at some levels, because to do so would endanger your health. That’s why you should make a conscious effort to differentiate yourself from those with unhealthy eating and exercise habits.

You should be a role model through your behavior, though, and not your voice. Nothing is more obnoxious than the woman who looks great but only talks about her diet and training. Use The Brown Fat Revolution program, and enjoy your changing body shape and great health while you lose or maintain your weight, but do it with discretion!

Most of all, unapologetically be who you want to be, and work toward looking and feeling how you want to look and feel. According to the New York Times magazine article, good health and happiness are contagious. So give them both a try. You have nothing (except excess weight) to lose, and your family members and friends have everything (including fit bodies) to gain.

Find Something You Love to Do

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No fewer than six friends sent me the recent Time magazine article, “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin” by John Cloud. Catchy title, irresponsible piece.

Before I’d finished the first paragraph, it was apparent to me that Cloud would not succeed in achieving anything with his exercise routine because of his negative approach to working out. He hates working out. For him, it’s a chore. It’s something with which to begrudgingly fill in the hour after work. It’s a necessary evil because it makes him feel as though he has some measure of control over his body, his weight, his attractiveness, and his aging.


Fat is Not the Enemy!

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You need fat to look young!

Most women don’t believe that fat is what  helps them look young. Instead, they have an obsession with wrinkles.  As a plastic surgeon, I’ve always found this ironic.

Here’s the proof. Close your eyes and  envision a twenty-year-old woman’s face with no wrinkles next to a 60 year old woman’s face with no wrinkles. Your brain has no problem envisioning the shape of both women’s faces. It’s the shape that defines age.  The wrinkles had nothing to do with it! 

Think about the body too. The arms, abdomen, thighs, and flanks have very characteristic shapes that define age yet they are not inevitable.  These shapes are created by fat. And the shapes of “age” are all from yellow fat rather than simply the process of growing older.

Yellow fact is fat that’s deposited after years of unfortunate dietary habits.  We want to get rid of this fat and replace it with healthy fat, not NO fat. If all the fat is lost, the skin will be wrinkled, folds may appear, and you will look even older!

When I look at a women in contemplation of plastic surgery, I see contours and shapes which, to me, are really what define beauty and youth. Contrary to popular misconceptions, what I really do for a living is move volume around to create a more youthful appearance in my patients. And that volume is created by fat. 

So,  I want you to put wrinkles aside for a while and listen to what I have discovered about the most important age defining tissue of the body:  FAT.

You know, fat is not your enemy.  Fat is absolutely necessary to make your skin look good and to create the sinuations that define a women. Men are attracted to curves, not bones! Skinny is not sexy. Voluptuous Marilyn Monroe, for example, was far sexier than the emaciated Madonna. If Madonna gained 15 pounds, then who knows? If Madonna gained the right type of weight, then we could be looking at a far fairer contest.

As a plastic surgeon, I have worked inside of bodies for 30 years, and I know first-hand what makes women look young is the quality of their fat. Not all fat is the same. There is yellow fat: mushy, greasy, hanging fat. And then there is brown fat: healthy, firm, toned fat that hugs your muscles and supports the skin of your face and body.

Scientific studies have shown that you can change the type of fat that you have with changes in your habits.  And my experience bears that out. From that experience, I have developed The Brown Fat Revolution which teaches you to create a more youthful appearance as you lose your yellow fat and replace it with brown fat.

The program is about more than maintaining a healthy weight. It’s also about exercising to condition your heart and lungs. In the weeks and months to come, I’ll discuss the specific Brown Fat Revolution strategies that can help you transform yourself from a Madonna into a Marilyn Monroe. Get ready to lose weight and be healthier—and look healthier—than you ever imagined possible.