Some of today’s most exciting cutting edge health research has demonstrated effective ways to elude the signs and symptoms of aging while staying remarkably young. Despite what most people think, aches and pains and a shriveling body are not inevitable during healthy aging. You can take control of the aging process and slow it down, way down. In some cases, you may even be able to reverse it!
Last week I shared my insights about how you can stay vibrant by controlling stress, eating for longevity and using juicing to nourish your body. But right now, let’s look down at a part of your body that too often expands as you grow older: your waistline. Even though the average American gains about 2 pounds annually, those extra pounds of abdominal obesity don’t have to accompany the passing years.
Abdominal Shape Change
The secret to winning the weight struggle after age 40 starts with healthier lifestyle choices. Obesity, science has shown, is really a sign of inflammation — a metabolic dysfunction resulting in an excess of energy storage in the form of fat cells. Fat cells around your middle are particularly inflammatory, giving off substances that increase insulin resistance and boost your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Though your body puts on weight through a series of complex physiological steps, the road to weight loss originates in optimal nutrition. Too many of the foods in the typical American diet are rich in calories (the energy the body uses to make fat) and low on important nutrients. If you switch your eating habits to include primarily nutrient-dense foods which are also high in no-calorie fiber, you can nudge your body back to a healthier energy balance that will take off the pounds.
As a bonus, keeping your diet focused on tasty foods dense in nutrients also supports better overall health. For dietary guidance, consult the Food-Nutrient Chart on this page. The foods listed at the top are the most helpful for losing and keeping off weight. The relatively nutrient-empty foods, lowest on the chart, should be eaten sparingly, if at all.
Play Your Way Into Shape
Of course exercise is also important for controlling weight. Examples abound of folks who have achieved quick weight loss from intense workouts. However, people who lose significant weight rapidly by exercise alone are stuck with having to maintain an intense level of exercise in order to maintain their new lower weight — unless they learn to eat healthful foods. Otherwise, as soon as they cool their heels, their cooling metabolism makes them vulnerable to a swift return to pudginess.
For optimal results, you should combine moderate exercise and proper eating. If you learn both of these strategies in a way that is enjoyable, they can become an almost effortless low-weight lifestyle. And when you find pleasure in this lifestyle, it will stick.
I know what many of you are thinking — the idea of having to exercise is unappealing. Well, since the term exercise sounds like something you have to work at, I prefer to call this type of physical movement playtime activities. If you use music, companionship and anything else that boosts your spirits to make your playtime activity more gratifying you’ll soon find these activities an everyday, pleasurable part of your life. The end result: Stronger muscles and an increased metabolism that burns off unwanted calories.
That’s where happiness lies — in a better body and better physical condition. Laziness never made anybody happy. Or, at least, not for long!
At that same time as you eat better and play at exercise, you may consider using appetite suppressants and metabolism enhancers. But employ these sparingly and with caution. These include yerba mate tea, green tea and guarana which has metabolism-boosting natural caffeine. Or, even better, try the herb hoodia gordonii, a botanical from the semi-arid desert of South Africa which acts as an appetite suppressant without any side effects. You may also find the herb gymnema sylvestre helpful for curtailing your sweet tooth.
Changing your approach to life is usually necessary for staying slender as you age. The underlying causes of an overly big waistline often originate in overwrought feelings. If you agonize and struggle with extra pounds the resultant anxiety can itself contribute to your expanding circumference. Unless you resolve these internal conflicts your weight struggle may never cease.
According to Karol Truman in her book Feelings Buried Alive Never Die and Louise Hay in her tome You Can Heal Your Life, everything that happens to your physical body has emotional or spiritual beginnings. Each of these authors teach that obesity develops from a variety of turbulent feelings: oversensitivity to events around you; fear that leads to a need for protection; fear that covers up hidden anger and resists forgiveness; the urge to flee from feelings; insecurity; or self-rejection.
David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D., author of Power vs. Force takes this reasoning to its logical conclusion, noting that “the body is the reflection of the spirit in its physical expression and its problems are the dramatization of the struggles of the spirit that gives it life.” 1
So if you are going to come to terms with a weight problem, or any aging issue, you also have to come to grips with the best way to live a fulfilling life. You have to “follow your bliss,” as Joseph Campbell, a writer and philosopher once put it. Follow the life path that you find most satisfying.
Why do I put some much importance on finding your bliss in life? Without bliss, you cannot have health!
I have personal experience with this issue. For many years I worked in a conventional doctor’s office, seeing patients who each came to me with health complaints. I had been trained in this, to listen to the litany of medical conditions afflicting patients and be their problem solver. But I felt like a mechanic whose job it is to fix cars and then hand over the keys when the auto is road-ready. For patients, this was supposed to mean that I had fixed their particular difficulties.
Well, I discovered that after several years of this routine I was in a rut, depressed and very dissatisfied. I endured the weight of patients’ problems day after day. The energy drain I experienced from the never-ending stream of unhappy people I saw stuck with me and accumulated over time. I knew I needed a change. So I made a big one.
I left my doctor partners for a newer type of medical practice. I created the Total Health Institute and brought other kinds of health care practitioners to join me. I brought in a nutrition educator, naturopathic doctor, osteopathic doctor, emotional clearing expert, massage therapist, acupuncturist and chiropractor. We worked together to create tailored programs for patients that addressed healing and education instead of just trying to cover up symptoms.
While I followed my heart in this, it meant some painful changes. It meant leaving the “medical establishment.” It meant losing my status in the eyes of my colleagues, doctors who are slow to change and not open-minded. It was painful at first but eventually my switch boosted my emotions and improved my health. Today I am so happy I followed my heart that I can truly say I experience bliss in my work.
Follow your bliss… and don’t stay stuck in a lifestyle rut if you know you are mired down. Otherwise your mind and body will pay a heavy health price. Have the courage to make the changes that make your heart happy, your spirit free and your path productive. You deserve to follow your bliss!
Embrace what my favorite author, my daughter, Cali Cutler, expresses in her book of poetry Gods’ Love Poems:
“A bit of enchanting will do a world of difference. It will also make different the world.”2
To enhance your health, focus on your gratitude for your body, for the process of improving health and for the loved ones in your life. Let love and bliss increasingly enter your life so your cellular metabolism has the energetic health it needs to carry you to your optimal weight.
May this week and this year be the very best ever!
Michael Cutler, M.D.
Author, Easy Health Digest
Nutrient Concentration Chart
Foods are rated on a scale of 0-100
Most Nutrient Concentrated = 100
Least Nutrient Concentrated (and high caloric content) = 0
100 Raw leafy green vegetables: Spinach, kale, Swiss chard, parsley, dark-leaf lettuces, collards (darker green color signifies more nutrients).
95 Solid green vegetables: Artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, sprouted grains, cabbage, celery, cucumber, peas, green beans, peppers, zucchini.
80 Non-green, non-starchy vegetables: Beets, mushrooms, onions, garlic, tomatoes, yellow/red peppers, water chestnuts, cauliflower.
60 Beans and legumes: Kidney beans, red beans, black beans, navy beans, lima beans, soybeans, black-eyed peas, lentils.
50 Fresh fruits: Fresh fruits of all type (dried fruits contain higher concentrations of sugars).
35 Starchy vegetables: White potatoes, red potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin, turnips, corn, carrots, chestnuts.
30 Whole grains: Barley, buckwheat, millet, oats, brown rice, wild grain, quinoa, whole wheat.
25 Raw nuts and seeds
18 Unpasteurized fresh dairy, fermented cheeses (seek these from safe, reliable sources).
15 Eggs, fowl, wild meats
10 Fat-free dairy
8 Red meat, pork
5 Full fat dairy (milk, cheeses)
3 Processed cheeses
2 Refined white flour products
1 Refined oils
0 Refined sugars
1Hawkins, David R., M.D., Ph.D., Power vs. Force, The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior, 2002, p.278. Published by Hay House, Inc.
2Cali Ann Cutler, God’s Love Poems, 2010, p. 55. Published by lulu.com