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Dark Chocolate is Evil

Another patient story:

I was talking to my patient about dietary restrictions as part of my normal evaluation.

She said no dark chocolate. 

I asked why.

She said, "I can't stop at one square."

What kind of chocolate is this? I asked curiously. 

80% cacao.

This ain't Milky Ways we're talking about! You have to buy something like Green and Black or Endangered Species to get that concentration. And that's bitter. 

This patient is pretty lean for her age (77)

A couple lessons here:

1. Everyone has different preferences and different tendencies. I never binged on dark chocolate. Milk chocolate? Plenty of it!

2. Even people with no addictions or eating disorders or any history of overeating can have trouble controlling what they eat. 

You're not alone, and we all have brains that are hardwired for pleasure. The problem is we live in a world with too much of it. Controlling a brain in an over-stimulated world is a challenge. That's why I'm starting this business.

Next time you see...

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You Will Fail On Your Diet

I released a new video this week on why diets fail.

It's written by a neuroscientist/columnist who herself failed on a diet. See, even neuroscientists fail on diets!

In a previous video, I noted several problems with the Biggest Loser, namely:

-Placing people on an artificial island and releasing them into the real world
- The starvation and overexertion of the contestants (sounds familiar, doesn't it?)
- How obnoxious Jillian Michaels is (I didn't say this in the video, but I'll say it here)

There's nothing wrong with these people but they didn't play by the rules

I'm on a personal mission to end dieting in the United States and across the world. I won't end it myself, but I can at least make a dent in it. Dieting causes anxiety, stress, and never leads to a good outcome.

Don't think you will be any different. There are better ways, like:

Being aware of what you're eating, why you're eating it, and how much

Join me on my mission:


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Eat Like an Olympian

I remember back in 2008 during the summer Olympics in Beijing when the media reported that Michael Phelps was eating 12,000 calories a day.

Something tells me this was a bit embellished to an extent. 

Be that as it may, a review of what Olympians eat reveals:

- The wide variation in intake- from as little as 1300 for a high jumper to 7,000 for a cross-country skier

- Chloe Kim eats churros and ice cream and gets impressive results!

- The rise of "beet juice" and other "clean" stuff

- The standard fare they were eating: animal protein, quinoa, potatoes, vegetables. Standard, boring, but functional.

What are the principles?

- Eat standard, plain stuff most of the time with room for flexibility 

- Eat churros and ice cream some of the time

- Eat the same quality but not the same quantity. Someone who eats like an Olympian but isn't an Olympian is a binge eater.

- Perfect everything else in your life

- Treat life like a game

- You don't need to drink beet juice. 



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The Protein Con

One of the biggest myths I hear is how important is to get protein in your diet. 

"Where do you get your protein?"
"Where's the protein?"

One of the easiest ways to make money is to put "protein" on it. 

I've seen cereal boxes and even cereal with the word "protein" on it in an attempt to lure more customers.

I remember the Snickers protein bar from a few years ago. 

I don't know where this protein obsession comes from. I think it started with the fitness gooroos and bodybuilders who drank raw eggs for breakfast and thought more protein equaled more muscle.

Then it was those dairy ads from the 1950's that told us that milk was "the perfect food" and helps our muscles grow.

Protein only creates a "halo effect", a term that consumer psychologists created to describe consumers who do one bad thing because they did a good thing. It's like splurging on an expensive item because you gave to charity.

I've seen protein popcorn and even protein bars for kids. 

Ignore the protein...

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The Biggest Loser is the Biggest Gainer

In a video I made this week, I discussed why the "winner" of The Biggest Loser (TBL) in 2009, a gentleman named Danny Cahill, ended up regaining most of his weight, and why he finds it so hard to maintain his current weight.

The standard argument is that their metabolic rates collapsed so that every little morsel of food that they ate went straight into their fat tissue. 

As I explain in my first article review, this isn't the case at all.

If you're cutting back on sugar and fat (and who shouldn't?) in an attempt to lose a little weight, the last thing you should worry about is "starvation mode" metabolism.

TBL has a number of problems (disclaimer: I've never seen an episode. I have no appetite for canned, superficial, choreographed entertainment), including controlled environments, no behavioral modification, restrictive dieting, obnoxious personal trainers, an unhealthy fixation on weight loss, and unrealistic expectations.


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Health Quackery

One thing you need to understand about the health and fitness industry is that there are a lot of quacks. It's always been that way and always will be.

I had a funny encounter the other day with a patient that went like this:

Patient: I have some swelling in my legs. Can you get rid of that?

Me: I'm a PT. I don't do that. That's outside my scope of practice (not really, but I lack the necessary certification).

Patient: Well my chiropractor does. 

Me (in my head): of course he does.

I don't to start the chiro vs. physical therapist debate. It's old and meaningless. We all have the same objective: improved patient outcomes. 

I do have reservations about many chiros, who go well beyond treating joints (their area of expertise) and start healing all sorts of things like stomach pain and cancer, and then go on to start entire health clinics and prescribe nutritional advice. 

I'm sure you're aware of Mehmet Oz, the heart surgeon at Columbia University and the host of 'Dr. Oz.' He's...

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Why Men and Women Do Different Exercises

I enjoy people-watching wherever I go. Maybe I'm getting older or maybe because I'm paid to assess a person's movement and behavior. Or maybe I'm just curious.

One good way to do that is at the gym. I've been going to gyms since the end of 2007 and one thing I've noticed is that men and women do different exercises. 

A female favorite is the glute thrust: head on a bench, feet on floor, bar over the pelvis, and then she thrusts her hips. I almost never see a male doing it, even though it's a fabulous exercise for the hip extensors. The set-up is a little pain in the ass (pun intended), but once you're there, it will turn your butt into steel. 

Then I see men doing bench presses and military presses to get stronger shoulders and a nice chest. 

A rule of thumb is this: men train the anterior (front), and women the posterior (back).

Does this mean men need strong shoulders and women only need a strong butt?

Not at all. In just means that men and women are conditioned to train...

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My 550 Pound Patient

I have a patient who weights 550 pounds, according to his intake form. I didn't weigh him. I was afraid he would fall or damage the scale, and I don't say that to insult him.

Who knows how he got that way. No time to fat-shame.

He has a long road ahead if he ever wants to be healthy again. 

Where does he start?

1 pound (or kilo!) at a time. 

Don't worry about sugar, macros, or any of the other small details that tend to get a lot of attention in the fitness world.

If he focuses on the end goal, he's never start. It's too daunting. He should focus on 549 and nothing else. Get some wins and get them early. 

It doesn't matter if he weights 550 or 150. The principles apply at every weight. 

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Yoda's Health Advice

I asked my patient the other day if he was trying to lose weight. I think I used the words "weight reduction program" to make him feel better. 

He said, "I'm trying."

Yoda, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, had sage advice for his student: there is no try, there is only do. Something like that. I'm sure Star Wars fanatics will kill me for destroying this quote. 

The point is, just do. Even if "doing" isn't the right thing or the perfect thing, or even if it doesn't lead to big results. 

Doing something is usually a lot more effective than thinking about it or planning about it or dreaming about it. 

That's what I was for many years. A dreamer. Always dreaming of that special day when I would finally make those important changes in my life. 

People kept asking me how my business was going. I would say, "I'm trying to start a business." But my mind heard, "someday." Now I say "I'm starting a business."

I used to say, "I'll stop my eating disorder some day."...

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Give me a break, give me a break...

How do you finish the sentence above?

If you said Kit-Kat bar, you are correct!

But you don't win a Kit-Kat bar, sorry.

Recently, the UK banned the sale of candy bars at the checkout line. 

Seems reasonable, but how less likely are you to not buy candy because you don't see it at the checkout line?

My urges to binge were way more powerful than a promotion at a supermarket checkout line. 

When my brain was operating normally, no ad could make me do it.

When those animal urges kicked in, nothing could stop me, and putting Kit-Kat bars on aisle 3 wasn't going stop me. 

Keeping my kitchen empty never helped either. 

My point is, policy makers might have good intentions, but they seriously underestimate how easy it is to obtain food.

The only way to combat the epidemic of overeating, binge eating, and obesity is behavior modification, and that means taking control of your brain. Control your brain, control your body. Get it?

Banning candy at the checkout is easy....

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