Your Body, Your Home:
Beautiful bodies sell magazines. Tattooed bodies attract gawkers. Well-trained bodies win championships (and lucrative endorsement contracts). Celebrity bodies get stalked by paparazzi, chronicled by tabloids, and lampooned by late-night talk-show hosts. Infomercials promise better bodies (Lose 700 pounds with this revolutionary belly button cream!). And now, even so-called flawed bodies star as the protagonists in one form of pop culture: plastic-surgery reality shows.
There's no doubt that corporate America has capitalized on the fact that a beautiful body stimulates the economy as well as the hormones. We're all for admiring the body for its curves, angles, and ability to make Nielsen ratings soar. But maybe our obsession with skin belies the importance of everything that chugs, churns, and pounds underneath it. Because many people have developed a view of the human body that's more superficial than a paper cut, we want to step back and look deeper -- into places where only surgeons, MRI machines, and the occasional tapeworm can see:
Inside your body.
Why? Because what goes on inside of your body is what gives you the ability to see, run, smell, have wild sex on the beach, feed babies, create dinosaurs out of Legos, surf, solve algebra problems, tie shoelaces, hum "Margaritaville," and do the thousands of different things you do every day. Your body gives you life. Your body is life.
But even if you understand your body's many functions, you may not really know how it functions -- and, more important, how you can make it stronger, healthier, and younger.
Maybe that's because complex medical issues and scientific jargon race through our brains like cars on an interstate -- reports, data, and recommendations stream by so fast that you barely have time to notice them, let alone figure out what they all mean. The result of this information inundation is that spotting important health news is about as easy as finding a kernel of corn in a landfill. Then, to figure out which kernel of information you can apply to your own life, it takes digging, persistence, and time, not to mention some waders to protect yourself from all the junk that's out there. But it's vital for your health -- and your life -- that you own a pair of informational waders. With this book, we've strapped on our waders and have pulled out the kernels for you.
So you can live a healthier life.
So you can become the world expert on your body.
To do that, we want you to think of your body as a home -- as your home. When we started thinking about the similarities between bodies and homes, we realized that the two have a more striking resemblance than the Olsen twins. Your house and body are both important investments. They both provide shelter to invaluable personal property. And they're both places you want to protect with all your power. That's the big picture. But if we explore the comparison even more -- and we will throughout this book -- you'll understand the relationship even better. Your bones are the two-by-fours that support and protect the inner structure of your home; your eyes are the windows; your lungs are the ventilation ducts; your brain is the fuse box; your intestines are the plumbing system; your mouth is the food processor; your heart is the water main; your hair is the lawn (some of us have more grass than others); and your fat is all the unnecessary junk you've stored in the attic that your spouse has been nagging you to get rid of. If you can get past the fact that your forehead doesn't have a street number and that a two-story brick Colonial doesn't look all that good in a bathing suit, the similarities are remarkable -- so remarkable, in fact, that we believe you can learn about how your body works by thinking about how your house does.
And that's really the, uh, foundation for this book: Knowing your body gives you the power to change it, maintain it, decorate it, and strengthen it. In each chapter, we'll start by explaining the anatomy of your body's major organs. To do that, we'll take you inside -- and show you how your body's organs operate and interact with each other. We won't do it in doctor-speak, but we also won't treat you like you're a fourth-grader. We're not going to make the science simplistic; we're going to make it simple. From there, we're going to tell you how to make your organs function better -- so you can prevent disease and live a younger, healthier life. We'll show you how disease starts, how it affects your body, and how you can learn to fend off and beat problems and conditions that can threaten not only your life but also your quality of life.
To return to the house analogy, we want you to take the same approach to basic body maintenance and repairs as you do in your home. You don't call the plumber if you have a little backup in your pipes. You try a plunger, lift the back off the toilet and fiddle with the floating ball, and try to remedy the problem yourself. You don't call the exterminator when you spot a fly in the kitchen. You don't call the electrician if a lightbulb burns out. You rely on yourself for maintaining control over how your house ages -- because you know that it's less expensive to prevent problems and treat minor ones than let everything deteriorate to the point where your house needs a major overhaul to continue functioning properly.
Ultimately, we want you to get comfortable enough with your own body so that you'll feel confident with basic body maintenance, so that you'll avoid the things that cause the most wear and tear and do the things that best maintain the long-term value of your body.
YOU: The Owner's Manual
An Insider’s Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger. Copyright © by Mehmet Oz. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Buy this book at Barnes & Noble
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Your Body, Your Home:
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Give Yourself the Energy and Looks
You Had Ten or Twenty Years Ago
Thousands of Americans are younger today than they were five years ago. How is that possible? They have joined the RealAge Revolution. They have given themselves a makeover from the inside out. By following the specific age-reversing recommendations in my book RealAge: Are You as Young as You Can Be?, people who were previously much older physiologically than their calendar age have now taken ten, fifteen, up to forty years off their biologic age. (Men can be twenty-five years younger and women, twenty-nine years younger than their calendar age.) This is what we call giving yourself a RealAge Makeover: you can significantly transform your health, looks, and life.
And it can be so easy. For example, just developing the habit of calling friends in times of stress can actually make a real difference in your health and longevity. As word about the RealAge concept spread, and Americans started to see firsthand how small but simple -- and often fun! -- changes in their daily lives could transform their health, so many people have gotten the RealAge bandwagon that it's become a kind of revolution -- a revolution back to great health. And nobody has been more thrilled to see it happen than I.
Since publication of the first book, we've learned more about the process of aging. While our team has been hard at work interpreting data from the latest clinical trails to keep the RealAge program on the cutting edge, readers of RealAge have been hard at work getting younger. For example:
• Katherine M., a forty-eight-year-old nurse with a busy schedule and a RealAge of fifty-five, knew she wasn't getting healthy nutrition. So she started taking calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, and folate supplements. In addition, she added lycopene to her diet by having spaghetti with marinara sauce once a week. As a result, even though she now has a calendar age of fifty-one, her RealAge is forty-five. She has an added bounce in her step and feels the ten years younger she has become. (She made her RealAge ten years younger as she went from a RealAge of 55 to one of 45.)
• Kenny T., a high-powered attorney of fifty-eight with a RealAge of sixty-six, started a stress-reduction program that included yoga and meditation. In addition, he began walking and paying more attention to safety issues such as wearing a seat belt while driving and a helmet when bicycling. These combined factors made his RealAge six years younger.
• I am most proud of Betty G., who works in my old department. Betty had a three-pack-a-day smoking habit that made her RealAge eight years older than her calender age of thirty-nine. She felt more than fifteen years older, and looked it, too. No one thought she could quit. She'd frequently be seen outside on a smoke break with cigarettes in both hands. Betty eventually got fed up with feeling so old and tired, and decided to give herself a makeover. She started a walking program; then she quit smoking. It wasn't easy, but she did it with the method described in Chapter 6. After five years completely smoke-free, she is well on her way to shedding seven of the eight years she had originally aged due to smoking. She now looks twenty years younger than she did. In fact, her RealAge is fourteen years younger than it was just three years ago (she did more than just quit smoking). She has literally made herself over. Friends who have not seen her in three years have asked how she was able to afford plastic surgery. She is proud to tell them she hasn't had any surgery; instead, she has changed her appearance from the inside out.
I find it incredibly exciting to see people making such changes -- some easy, some difficult, but all crucial toward living younger, longer, healthier lives. This book updates what's been learned in the past several years and gives you all the information you need to transform yourself with a RealAge Makeover.
There's a lot in the realm of health and medicine we don't know, but we do know more than 80 percent of how to postpone, delay, or avoid the onset of age-related disease and the disability it causes. That's extremely exciting news! (It's different, however, from postponing aging itself. Postponing aging would mean living at the top of your curve to one hundred twenty or one hundred fifty years after your birth -- something very different from what we can do now.) We now know how to delay until age ninety or ninety-five those age-related diseases that keep us from living at the top of the quality-of-life curve. And that's what the goal of the RealAge program is all about.
What Is RealAge?
It's most common, of course, when someone rudely asks you your age, to think in terms of calendar age. You are very aware (and may even grumble) when you pass the big milestones -- for example, when you turn thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty, or ninety. But this way of thinking -- couching age only in terms of calendar age -- does not do justice to the complex (and, happily, often reversible) process of aging. You have an age that more truly reflects how much your body has aged: your RealAge. It can be many years older or younger than your calendar age, depending on your choices -- how well you care for your health and well-being. If your RealAge is five years younger than your calendar age, for example, it means that your rate of aging is such that you are in the same shape physiologically as the average person who is five years younger than you. Likewise, if your RealAge is five years older than your calendar age, you have aged to the same biologic condition as someone who is five years older. But you do not have to despair ...
The RealAge (R) Makeover
Take Years off Your Looks and Add Them to Your Life. Copyright © by Michael Roizen. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Friday, September 28, 2007
SAMVEGA: TURNING AWAY FROM THE BONE
During the summer of his “breakdown,” all Jake knew was that he couldn’t go backward, and apparently he wouldn’t go forward. The experience of direct involvement with the present moment was just the place in which he had previously been unable to dwell. He was determined now to stay put. He knew that, paradoxically, some great success was buried within his failure. He sensed that he had had some kind of awakening. But what was it?
Yogis call this state samvega–a complex state involving a kind of disillusionment with mundane life, and a wholehearted longing for a deeper investigation into the inner workings of the mind and the self.1 Samvega, as described by the contemporary Buddhist monk Thanissaro Bhikkhu, involves “at least three clusters of feelings at once”:
the oppressive sense of shock, dismay, and alienation that come with realizing the futility and meaninglessness of life as it’s normally lived; a chastening sense of our own complacency and foolishness in having let ourselves live so blindly; and an anxious sense of urgency in trying to find a way out of the meaningless cycle.2
Samvega is a developmental state not mentioned in Western psychological texts. It brings with it a realization that objects of grasping (money, fine things, titles, fame, even people–when seen as objects) cannot supply any true satisfaction. It involves a radical realization that all objects are intrinsically empty of the capacity to feed us in the way we really want–orneed–to be fed.
A classic Buddhist teaching story describes this realization:
A dog stumbles across a bone that has been exposed to the elements for many months, and is therefore bleached of any residual flesh or marrow. The dog gnaws on it for some time before he finally determines that he is “not finding” any satisfaction in the bone, and he thus turns away from it in disgust. It is not that the bone is intrinsically disgusting; it is rather the case that the dog’s raging desire for meat just will not be satisfied by the bone . . . when he wakes up to the truth that the bone is empty of anything that will offer him satisfaction, he becomes disenchanted, and spits it out in disgust.3
Of course, the symptoms of samvega arise only after extensive experimentation with “the bone.” Tibetan teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche says it elegantly: “The shoe of ego is only worn out by walking on it.”4 For many of us, objects of longing gradually reveal themselves to offer no real happiness. No matter how hard we gnaw on them, we find no meat on the bone. Samvega then arises with a linked complex of symptoms, many of which Jake was now experiencing. These can include:
A puzzling failure of previous sources of satisfaction
A heightened concern with authenticity
A deepening pull toward an intuited interior world
A sense of urgency about realizing deeply hidden gifts and talents
A global and diffuse sense of internal disorganization–equal parts psychological and spiritual
A deeply felt internal imperative to stop business as usual–or, as Jake said, to “get quiet”
A call to explore a path that might give transcendent meaning to the enigmas of life
One of the harbingers of the developmental imperative of samvega is that we–like Jake–begin to hear ourselves muttering about our Old Life and our New Life. Out of the blue, we begin to feel like captives in our lives–lives which may have fit comfortably for years. Our well-known world begins to feel stale and dead. Gradually we start hankering to leave for the New World. We begin to feel imbued with the spirit of our Seeker ancestors. We want nothing more than to leave the Old Country. This internal movement presages a profound reorganization of the psyche, a redirection of the energy of longing, and a completely new relationship with the world of people, places, and things.
Even though this developmental stage is as common in human life as adolescence, one will search Western psychology books in vain for a clear description of its causes and trajectory. We ordinarily attempt to fit the complexities of samvega into our old, usually pathological, categories. We trivialize it as “midlife crisis,” or we wonder if it is not really just neurotic depression, or regression–as Susan Goldstein did when encountering Jake’s version of samvega.
But contrary to the typical Western view, the kind of “breakdown” in which Jake found himself is not a regression into the past. It is not a pathological state. It is not a move backward at all. It is, rather, a step toward the possibility of a vastly expanded way of living in the world.
In yogic texts, the word samvega is often translated as “vehemence,” because it brings with it an unshakeable resolve to develop into a fully alive human being. Patanjali introduces the term samvega in the first chapter of the Yoga-S¯utra–using the word to indicate a “wholehearted” (or “vehement”) determination to find a way out of suffering.
For those who seek liberation wholeheartedly, realization is near. How near depends on whether the practice is mild, moderate, or intense. (1.21—22)
Yogis found that even though this state of “vehemence” carries with it a tremendous amount of feeling and power, it does not disturb the mind–rather it calms the mind. (In the summer of his breakthrough, everyone noticed that Jake was not disturbed. He was calm and profoundly “resolved.”) Samvega is a kind of passion that does not create suffering–but, rather, generates the happiness that comes with the sure knowledge of freedom. Because the state of samvega is so full of possibilities, it is often referred to as a state of “emergence.” Through the practice of yoga, says Patanjali, we can emerge from the traps of ordinary suffering. How quickly this emergence takes place depends on the intensity and persistence of our practice.
NIRODHA: STOP THE WORLD
When samvega emerges, it brings with it an altogether new hunger: the hunger for internal quiet. We seek this quiet not just because we’re exhausted by living at right angles to life–as Jake certainly was–but also so that we can see more clearly. It becomes obvious that in order to know our true nature, we will have to stop the world. Stop the world! The Native American shaman Don Juan gives precisely this advice to his student Carlos Castaneda. “In order to become a man of knowledge, a warrior-traveler, you will first have to learn to stop the world.”5
What does this mean? In order to see clearly, to examine how things work, we will have to stop our lives, slow things down, look carefully–like the person who has suddenly discovered she has created the mother of all knots in the shoelace of her boot. We must stop. Slow down. Look. Examine. How did this happen? How does this work? How can I reverse this? We will have to deconstruct the very way we perceive and rebuild it again from the ground up.
Stop the world. The impulse toward stillness is the central movement of the contemplative life. Monastics through the ages have described it: One intuits some precious new interior self. One sneaks off into the woods like an animal, builds a nest for the birth. Guards it ferociously. And waits in silence.
Says Thomas Merton, one of the great Catholic contemplatives of the twentieth century:
The true contemplative is not one who prepares his mind for a particular message that he wants or expects to hear, but is one who remains empty because he knows that he can never expect to anticipate the words that will transform his darkness into light. He does not even anticipate a special kind of transformation. He does not demand light instead of darkness. He waits on the Word of God in silence, and, when he is answered it is not so much by a word that bursts into his silence. It is by his silence itself, suddenly, inexplicably revealing itself to him as a word of great power, full of the voice of God.6
Jake had an urgent need to stop the world. And he discovered, as all strivers do, that when the mind is still, our true nature begins to reveal itself. Out of stillness, like the early morning mist on the lake, emerges a thinking that is not thinking–a wisdom beyond thought. Out of stillness emerges, effortlessly, a subtle world of experience for which we had only longed until now. It is real. It rolls itself out in waves as we get still, quiet, concentrated, and settled.
The path of classical yoga is organized around the relationship between inner stillness and wisdom. The first two sutras in Patanjali’s
Now, the teachings of yoga.
Yoga is to still the patterning of consciousness. (1.1—2)
The Sanskrit word nirodha, which Patanjali uses in the second sutra, means “stilling, cessation, or restriction.” This stilling is both the path and the goal of yoga. Its appearance at the beginning of the treatise signals its centrality in Patanjali’s technique.
“Yoga is to still the patterning of consciousness.” Yoga is to still the thought waves of the mind. Yoga is to bring a natural quiet to the mind and body–so that we can, for the first time, see clearly. And in this stillness–miraculously, outrageously–the knots undo themselves.
Inner realities emerge.
As both Merton and Don Juan understood, inner stillness opens a doorway in the mind. A little trapdoor we have rarely noticed. A secret escape hatch for the mind that is not even in the Western psychological user’s manual. Merton’s prayer suggests that in order to be found, we must first acknowledge the radical degree to which we’re lost. Then, as the poet David Wagoner suggests, we must pay very close attention:
Stand still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.7
This teaching captures the essence of the yogic view: what we are searching for is also searching for us. The way is to stop. To let ourselves be found. Stand still.
The Sanskrit word marga means “the way” or “the path.” It is often used to refer to the yogic system for uncovering Reality. But interestingly, the word originally referred to “the hunter’s path.” This image of the hunter underlies much of the practice of yoga. Practice is seen as a kind of hunt for the real–for the lurking wild game of our true nature. Author and Zen practitioner David Chadwick suggests that hunting is one of the experiential origins of contemplative practice. “Hunters,” he points out, “have had to sit and wait motionless, even for days at a time. The course is unknown ahead of time to the hunter, who must sniff and look for signs and watch and wait.”8
In order to understand the path of the strivers, we will have to convince ourselves of the necessity, the magic, the absolute brilliance of stillness. Over and over again we will have to do this. We will forget. Farther down the path, tomorrow, or perhaps later today, we will forget about stillness. And when we do, we will have lost the thread. Without this central practice, none of it will make any sense.
In the wisdom of the strivers, we find an answer for those of us overheated by the search for the elusive Firebird. Stop. Become still and quiet. Stop the world. Stand perfectly still and listen. Kafka said it so well:
You don’t need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Don’t even listen, simply wait. Don’t even wait. Be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you. It has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.9
During the summer of his breakdown, Jake sought true contemplative stillness for the first time in his life. His resolve astonished me. Some days he would sit on a bench behind the old colonial church on the hill in Lenox, gazing at the eighteenth century graveyard. For Jake, experiencing the state of samvega, the cemetery seemed just the place to be–an excellent vantage point from which to ponder the meaning of life.
Jake and I spent a lot of time together that summer. He had become to me a newly fascinating human being. We met regularly in the cemetery behind the church–which was just across the street from my house (and Maggie’s). When wandering the cemetery Jake and I spoke a lot about death. I recalled for him the teaching that Yaqui shaman Don Juan had given to his student, anthropologist Carlos Castaneda: “The thing to do when you’re confused,” instructed the shaman, “is to turn to your left and ask advice from your death. An immense amount of pettiness is dropped if your death makes a gesture to you, or if you catch a glimpse of it, or if you just have the feeling that your companion is watching you.”10
Jake wandered among the stones sometimes for hours at a time, perhaps hoping to get a glimpse of his own death. Or a longer perspective on his life. And so, that summer, Jake sat and peered and wandered and prayed and listened–like a hunter who wasn’t sure if he was hunting or being hunted. Looking to his left.
Wisdom of Yoga: A Seeker's Guide to Extraordinary Living
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If you have picked up this book, you want real answers to the questions that are affecting your life the most at this phase. You want to feel good. You want to look good. You want to be happy and you want to be in control of your body physically and emotionally. The only way to achieve these goals is through hormonal balance. Hormonal balance is something we generally take for granted. For most of our early lives it is not an issue, until we hit puberty. Remember? Suddenly things started happening to our bodies and we felt out of control. For girls the breasts swelled and the hips became rounder. For boys the voice became deeper and they began to grow facial hair. For both, pimples arrived without an invitation and hair grew on your private parts (gasp!). For many it was also the ﬁrst time that we struggled with our weight. And quite commonly, we felt weird! We had angst and we were angry but didn’t know why. Or we were confused or depressed. Or we had strong sexual urges. This was our ﬁrst experience with hormonal imbalance.
For women, we also feel hormonal imbalance at certain times of the month. PMS can be worse for some than others. I know when it hits me because I look at my darling husband, Alan, whom I adore, and think, “Why the hell did I ever marry you?” These irrational feelings are from your whacked-out hormones. (And God help Alan if he EVER insinuates that I am having PMS. He might as well put a gun to his own head.) We’ve all said things like, “I don’t know why I’m so weepy.” And, “I am just craving chocolate.” That’s the hormonestalking!
If you’ve ever been pregnant, you know that your body is completely altered by hormones. Cravings, breast tenderness, weight gain, feeling tired, heightened sexual feelings, depression, an acute sense of smell, nausea, gray hair, straight hair gone curly or curly hair gone straight. Your body is no longer your own. These are all results of hormonal changes. Our bodies are ruled by hormones!
In this book I want to talk with you again about hormones, and how they affect your weight and overall health. The second half of life gets a little tricky, but you can manage your hormones once you are armed with the proper information. You’ll want to devour this material because, ﬁrst of all, you are probably interested in losing weight. Am I right? You’ve come to the right place.
No weight-loss program will work for you until you balance your hormones.
The weight-loss piece always gets everyone’s attention, because who wants to give up her favorite foods and work out and still not be able to be at her ideal weight? It's one thing if you are eating poorly and neglecting to exercise, but if you are really trying to take care of yourself and you are hitting the wall, you may very well be experiencing hormonal imbalance. In the next section of this book I will share with you my Somersize program so you can learn how to eat in a way that controls the hormone insulin. This weight-loss plan is nothing short of miraculous, as you will see from the astounding testimonials. HOWEVER, even Somersize will not work as well as you would like if you are experiencing a decline in hormone production (which occurs naturally as we age).
We will discuss weight at length, but hormonal imbalance affects much more than the size of your derriere. It affects everything!
Hormones regulate the biochemical reactions in the body. I know you’re thinking, “What the hell does that mean?” Think about it this way: To keep your body alive and functioning well, you need to have chemicals that are used for structure, function, and energy. According to Dr. Diana Schwarzbein, a leading endocrinologist and my personal doctor, these chemicals are known as biochemicals. Cells, cell membranes, organs, glands, teeth, hair, skin, nails, muscles, bones, and connective tissue are all structural biochemicals. Hormones, neurotransmitters, enzymes, cell mediators, and antibodies are examples of functional biochemicals. Some of the energy biochemicals are sugar, ketones, triglycerides, and glycogen. They are burned for fuel to keep biochemical reactions occurring.
The hormones in your body regulate all these biochemical reactions. Everything your body does and makes is regulated by the hormones in your body. The point is, hormones are really important to our existence. If hormones regulate all of the above, then no wonder we all feel so lousy as we start to lose our hormones. Without hormones what do you think will happen to you? Everything starts going wacky. Hormones are a language and all hormones communicate with the other hormones, so when there is a deﬁciency how can we expect our bodies to work properly anymore?
That is why I want you to understand the importance of replacing hormones lost in the aging process. When you understand the key functions hormones play in our bodies you will understand that without balanced hormones you will not be able to control your weight. You will do better at it than others if you are eating correctly, but to really be in charge and control of your weight, you need to eat properly and balance your hormones with bioidentical hormones.
I have good news for you: You can remain healthy, vital, and happy—in other words, you can age successfully—if you understand the important role that hormones play in your life. Not only will balanced hormones help you to avoid the diseases of aging, you will have restored energy, vitality, a youthful glow, sexuality, a slim ﬁgure, a good attitude, healthier bones, a healthier heart, and most important, in my opinion, a healthier brain.
Ever notice that since your estrogen levels have started to diminish you are having trouble ﬁnishing a thought? Have you secretly harbored fears that you have Alz-heimer’s disease because you are becoming so forgetful? I know I had these worries, but no more. Now that my hormones have returned to balance, my brain is working better than ever. My energy is fantastic, I have no plaque in my heart or arteries, I have no menopausal symptoms, my skin has become more youthful, even my breasts have a certain perkiness to them. Instead of going south they are deﬁnitely looking to the north. (Just a little side beneﬁt.)
Mainly, I am impressed with bioidentical hormone replacement because I feel good. Isn’t that what we all want . . . not to have aches and pains and stiffness, inertia, moodiness, depression, or unexplained weight gain? Don’t we want to feel happy and upbeat? Well it’s available to you. The combination of eating properly (Somersize) and replacing hormones lost in the aging process, coupled with your new wisdom and life perspective, can make this passage the best ever.
The maximum lifespan of the human race is 120 years old, yet few of us ever live that long. Our daily habits, not genetics, determine our life span. Sometimes I wonder why we take our bodies for granted. We never appreciate them when our bodies are working perfectly. It’s only when our bodies start malfunctioning that we begin to panic and change our lifestyles. Most of us take better care of our cars than we do our bodies.
Aging is loss of hormones. The less stress we have, the longer we keep our hormones in balance. That is why in some cultures people actually live to be 120 years old, because their lives are devoid of stress. Now it’s not reasonable to expect all of us to suddenly throw away our cell phones and move beside a remote river, but it is deﬁnitely time to start paying attention to how our bodies are working.
MENOPAUSE: NOT FOR SISSIES
This is one heck of a passage. We women lose 90 percent of our hormones over a two-year period. Imagine! The very chemicals (hormones) that keep us alive are running out of us like water down a drain. When I discovered that I could PUT BACK what I had lost so far in the aging process, and that I could PUT BACK an exact, NON DRUG replica of the hormones my body makes (bioidentical hormones), I was pretty excited; so excited that I had to write a whole book on the subject: The Sexy Years. The changes in my body were profound and what I learned in researching menopause and its symptoms was so life altering that I had to share with the world what I had found out about bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Like you, all I had ever heard about HRT was that you got fat and that hormones were dangerous. I was going to be one of the women to “tough it out.” I could get through this. No big deal! That all changed when I reached my sixth month of not sleeping for longer than ﬁfteen-minute intervals, only to be awakened soaking wet, as if someone had thrown a bucket of water on me. I “toughed it out” until I was so exhausted that I was weepy and depressed. I remember feeling that this was all terribly unfair. Sound familiar?
I am going to explain to you the difference between HRT using bioidentical hormones—exact, non drug replicas of what your own body makes—and HRT using synthetic hormones, which are drugs made from pregnant mares’ urine and formed into a “one-pill-ﬁts-all” type of therapy that has been proven to be harmful to our health. This is information that I shared with readers in The Sexy Years, but I want to share it again with you now as we go through my program for weight loss and optimum living. The information makes even more sense as part of this program!
BIOIDENTICAL VS. SYNTHETIC
In 2002 the Women’s Health Initiative abruptly stopped the study of hormone replacement, saying that HRT increased the risk of breast cancer, heart attacks, and blood clots. No wonder women all over America (and the globe, for that matter) dumped their synthetic hormones down the toilet. Justiﬁably so, I might add. The study on Prempro, a drug that millions of American women had been taking, was supposed to be an 8-year study, but they stopped the study after 5.2 years, concluding that it would be better for women not to take anything at all than to take this drug. Yet as I write, doctors all over America are still writing prescriptions for this dangerous drug. The word is not yet out on Premarin, although it has not yet proven to be of any beneﬁt.
Prempro is a synthetic drug. It is a combination of Premarin (an estrogen substitute made from pregnant mares’ urine) and Provera (a progesterone substitute). Aside from the dangers this drug imposes by creating a state of hormonal imbalance, and the fact that you are not putting a REAL hormone in your body when you take this drug, taking hormones this way mimics pregnancy. During pregnancy you have high levels of estrogen and HIGHER levels of progesterone. Remember in pregnancy that your ankles, breasts, stomach, and wrists were swollen and bloated? If you have been on synthetic hormones does this sound and feel familiar? Normally when we are young and pregnant we are at our healthiest, so our bodies can tolerate being in a high-insulin state for nine months, but to put a middle-aged woman on combined hormone therapy, meaning high levels of estrogen and higher levels of progesterone, which causes a high-insulin state, is dangerous to her health.
Most women who have been on these synthetic hormones have been on them for years. There are long-term negative consequences for a woman being in a high-insulin state for so long. The connection has already been made between obesity, which creates a high-estrogen effect, and type 2 diabetes. To intentionally put a woman into false pregnancy is dangerous to her health. This is just one of the reasons that the Women’s Health Initiative advised women to stop taking these drugs.
These synthetic so-called hormones were able to give women a measure of relief from a few of the nasty symptoms of menopause, namely hot ﬂashes and night sweats. There are many symptoms this drug does not take away, such as depression and weepiness. For these symptoms, women are routinely given prescriptions for antidepressants to take the blues away. That’s the state of HRT for women in this country! Treat the symptoms, not the problem. Load us up with drugs. It’s time for all of us to wake up and realize that we are on our own during this very difﬁcult and confusing passage.
As our men lose their hormones, they are also left adrift, uninformed, and too embarrassed to be proactive, which prevents them from ﬁnding a doctor who understands their lack of vitality, lack of energy, shrinking muscles, grumpiness, and impotence. None of this has to be this way, but unfortunately most of our doctors do not understand the hormonal system, even though in medical school our doctors have had twelve weeks of endocrinology. Twelve weeks may sound substantial, but it’s hardly enough time to understand this complex subject. This is especially true when you realize that of those twelve weeks, only four hours (approximately) are spent in learning how to prescribe HRT. No wonder most of our doctors have opted for the synthetic “one-pill-ﬁts-all” type of therapy. Only a doctor (usually an endocrinologist) who has chosen to specialize in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can assist you during this time.
Synthetic hormones such as those mentioned above have been the standard of care for women for the last ﬁfty years, and they are not working. Women are getting sick and some are dying as a result of these drugs. These drugs have nothing to do with anything we make in our own bodies. Here is the irony and the tragedy: Fifty years ago menopausal women were given bioidentical hormones to help them through the nasty effects of menopause. Bioidentical hormones are natural; they are not a drug. Because of this, they are not patentable, and therefore not profitable. About ﬁfty years ago the pharmaceutical companies realized that around the year 2000, all the baby boomers would be going into menopause. They took the essence of bioidentical hormones, pharmaceuticalized them into a drug, patented them, and created a one-pill-ﬁts-all type of therapy for women that has become the standard of care ever since.
Remember when we were told that formula was better for our babies than breast milk? This, again, was the drug companies at work. Now we realize that NOTHING is better than breast milk. When it comes to hormones, NOTHING IS BETTER THAN THE ACTUAL HORMONES YOUR BODY MAKES. A synthetic replacement cannot be better. How can anyone possibly think that all women are the same, and that our hormonal needs are exactly the same? Hormones ﬂuctuate constantly throughout the day. How could a “one-pill-ﬁts-all” type of drug possibly work? Well, the answer is that it doesn’t.
Slim and Sexy Forever: The Hormone Solution for Permanent Weight Loss and Optimal Living
Copyright © 2005 by Suzanne Somers
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Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Calorie Counting: Count Your Way Down, Then Back up the Scale
How many times have you stood in front of your closet and completely ignored an entire section of clothing? Before I discovered the Somersize solution, I would stand in front of my crammed closet and think to myself, "Someday I'll fit into my skinny clothes again." My clothes spanned three to four sizes: my super-skinny clothes, my normal clothes, my need-to-lose-five-pounds clothes, and my fat clothes. When an important event was pending, I would muster up the willpower to go on a strict diet to get down to that "skinny" outfit.
My diets always consisted of severely cutting down on calories -- adhering to minuscule portions of tasteless food. Or I'd eat diet food supplements like shakes or prepackaged food with the consistency of cardboard. I got results, but I suffered! I would lose the weight, but how I missed my dear friend, delicious food! How I missed preparing wonderful meals for myself and my family. (Well, c'mon, if I was going to suffer you don't think I could watch my husband, Alan, indulge around every corner!)
I would get down to my "skinny" clothes for the date I needed to look my best, and then I would go home and reward myself with a feast of all the glorious treats I'd been missing. I'd make roast chicken with gravy, mashed potatoes loaded with butter and cream, and vegetables tossed in butter and Parmesan cheese. And since I hadn't eaten sweets for soooooo long, I'd bake a sinful chocolate cake and devour two large pieces (plus a few extra forkfuls as I was cleaning the kitchen).
Of course, I would vow to get right back to a "healthy" way of eating so that I would not destroy all the progress I had made. I wouldn't stay on the strict diet, but I would try to eat balanced meals like a "normal" person. Before too long I'd find myself creeping from the skinny clothes into the normal clothes. I wasn't eating that much! Why was the weight coming back so fast? When I could no longer squeeze my way into my normal clothes I'd graduate to my need-to-lose-five-pounds clothes. Then I'd either start another diet or move on into my fat clothes.
The cycle continued, year after passing year. I was never obese, but once I hit 40, I seemed to have a constant battle with my weight, a battle that spanned about 15 pounds. I knew I was to blame. I had no willpower. If only I had the appetite of a bird, then I could always be thin. If only I could resist delectable butter sauces and chocolate brownies. If only I could survive on a starvation diet. If only I could devote three hours a day to exercising. But, no. I was lazy and without conviction, and my fat clothes and I would have to live with the consequences.
Now I realize I could not have been more wrong. I was not to blame. And neither are you. Ninety-five percent of us who go on diets gain back all the weight and often more. Why? Are we all just lazy slobs with no willpower? Conventional dieting in the past few decades has presumed that cutting calories and increasing activity level is the key to weight loss. We've all tried it and succeeded for limited periods of time, but cutting calories is only a temporary weight loss solution. It is also a potentially dangerous weight loss solution.
Suzanne Somers' Eat, Cheat, and Melt the Fat Away
Copyright © 2001 by Suzanne Somers.
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