Becoming a Great New You
What’s your fantasy?
Would you like to achieve your best weight and maintain it indefinitely with a diet and exercise regimen designed specifically for your body and your needs?
To do it all without horrible hunger pangs or killer cravings?
To protect yourself against the ravages of stress, aging, and disease—and learn exactly how not to get sick?
To maintain optimal energy and wellness for a lifetime—and never look your age?
To develop remarkable healing powers over your body, mind, emotions, and spirit (which is, of course, the key to it all)?
If you answer “yes” to even one of these questions, then my specialized weight-loss and regeneration program can help you turn your goals into reality. I’m Elizabeth Dane, O.M.D. and Ph.D. I’m a nutritionist and spe- cialist in Eastern medicine who has learned, through years of experience solving my own health and weight problems and those of countless clients, that my unique plan can produce great results for anyone.
How can I be so sure? I’m not dealing in magic potions or secret elixirs. The Your Body, Your Diet system is based on a special recipe for success that I’ve developed. I’ve bridged two worlds, combining the concepts that have guided practitioners of Chinese medicine for thousands of years with the latest findings of Western medical science to create a weight-loss lifestyle strategy that is personalized for you. Just as we’ve learned that yoga and aerobics are both valuable, so is this East-West metabolic blend.
That’s the key to it all—your metabolism. It’s not just burning or storing fat. It’s how you use it for quick bursts of energy and strength and how you calm, restore, and rejuvenate yourself to handle stress, avoid burnout or depression, and slow the aging process. Remember that playground seesaw? Balance is the name of the game here as well.
I’ll show you how your cravings are the symptom, not the source, of your problem. How opposites really do attract. Why the very foods you’ve looked on as “comfort foods”—whether bread, cookies, or even lean steak or turkey—are likely to be most damaging to your body’s unique metabolic needs. You’ll see why, given your type, certain foods could even be causing unwanted facial hair or coarse skin. And you’ll learn how your metabolic balance can affect your emotional health as well.
There are also some quick fixes. Find out how fresh juices, lemons, cranberries, and a blend of Eastern medicine’s herbs and teas, along with a customized blend of vitamins and supplements, can jump-start your metabolic makeover. They will help you keep on track as you shed the sugar and caffeine and eat your way back to a balanced body. There are even “cheat” items for your special metabolism that can help you get through the tough times without tumbling off the wagon.
So forget calorie counting. It’s not just your waistline or hips at stake here; it’s the glow of your skin, the gleam in your eyes, the zest for living and loving. As you read this chapter, you will see that there’s a great deal more to how and why your body holds on to those extra pounds than the fact that you can’t keep your hands off your favorite snacks and desserts. But first, let me introduce you to one of my clients—Vicky. Her story will give you a firsthand look at why a tailor-made weight-loss plan, based on these ideas, can be so successful.
Vicky, forty-two, is a dynamic account executive at a major New York–based advertising agency, and she is great at her job. All her life she’s had boundless energy and could eat practically anything she wanted without gaining a pound. She could also guzzle countless cups of coffee without getting wired and was also the only person in her office who never got the flu. Vicky came to me when her body began to change. She thought it might have been job pressure or the stress of juggling her career with being a wife and mom. Perhaps it was even her age.
Whatever the reasons, Vicky had begun catching bad colds all the time and feeling constantly exhausted and edgy. And even though she swore she was not necessarily eating more, she was putting on weight around her middle. With the specter of middle age looming, she decided to take action. She worked out five days a week at the gym with a personal trainer and religiously followed a popular low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet plan. But neither the exercise nor the weight-loss program made much of a difference. Then she really got frustrated because she and a coworker, Amanda, had embarked on the plan together, and Amanda was losing tons of weight.
Amanda, thirty-five, is a copywriter at the agency where Vicky works. The even bigger surprise is that Amanda was the type of person who constantly complained of being exhausted and depressed, and she was living with the fact that anything she ate (too often starches and sweets) landed directly on her hips and thighs. After trying an exercise regimen and the low-carbohydrate, high-protein plan (which cuts out virtually all starches and sweets), she’s got more energy, she’s in better spirits, and for six months she has kept off the twenty pounds she lost with minimal effort. For the first time she has no cause to complain about her ever-expanding hips and thighs.
Two women, one weight-loss plan. For one the low-carbohydrate, high-protein plan has been a major-league disappointment. For the other it’s been virtually a miracle. How can we account for this mysterious disparity? It’s no mystery—it’s metabolism.
What works for Amanda doesn’t work for Vicky because they are different metabolic types: Vicky has a classic fast metabolism. She’s what I call an accelerator. Amanda, however, has a classic slow metabolism. She’s a synthesizer.
Think about it. Two different metabolic types with one diet program just doesn’t compute. The last thing accelerator Vicky’s high-acid system needs is protein, whereas it’s precisely what synthesizer Amanda’s high- alkaline system must have to jump-start it back to balance.
Vicky’s system requires a high-carbohydrate diet program to get her to where she wants to be. Amanda, on the other hand, could eat a high- carbohydrate diet forever and still not see results. In fact, it’s a matter of apples (the basic shape of the overweight accelerator’s body) and avocados (the basic shape of the overweight synthesizer’s body).
The idea behind my Your Body, Your Diet system is to help you determine whether you’re basically an accelerator or a synthesizer—or one of the variations of these two basic types—and provide you with a weight-loss program designed specifically for your metabolism. The key to the plan is that it has a special place for every metabolic type. Overweight: Problem or Symptom?
How important is metabolism when it comes to weight and health? It’s critical—which is why being overweight is just one symptom that tells you that your metabolic system is out of balance. Understanding your personal metabolic equation and working to balance it is what makes the Your Body, Your Diet plan so effective and unique.
Simply put, the low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet approach to weight loss is based solely on Western medical philosophy and limits its weight-loss regimen to the body. The entire concept is: if you’re overweight, you’re eating too many carbohydrates—period. If, however, you take a broader view of how the body works and include the principles of Eastern medicine—as I do in my work—you will discover that maintaining your optimum weight and achieving general well-being mean focusing on emotional and psychological concerns as well. Your body, mind, feelings, and belief systems all work together.
To Eastern-oriented physicians, overweight is not merely a hormonal or physical matter, since emotions and thought patterns are involved. It’s not just psychological either. Our genetic predisposition is too strong to make it only an addiction. Finally, overweight can’t be looked at as simply a situational problem (the “underloved, overfed” theory). It is a strong brew of physical (genetic), emotional, and spiritual elements.
So forget about your guilt and remorse. Controlling your weight is not just a matter of lack of self-control; it’s a complex problem, which can be solved with surprising ease if you just learn to work with your mind and body. Weight problems reflect mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical imbalance and are magnified by stress.
All four of these aspects must be addressed, balanced, and nurtured for you to shed pounds while dealing with the additional pressures that customarily accompany dieting. That’s why my unique plan is not only a chance to lose weight; it’s an opportunity to achieve a happier and healthier body, mind, and spirit. Best of all, your body will work with you, not against you. That’s because the body’s most powerful drive is for regeneration—and this cell renewal, undoing the damage, is one of the important benefits you get from my Your Body, Your Diet approach.
Now even if you ate perfectly—all fresh foods, balanced for your metabolic requirements—you would still need help, especially when getting started on your new lifestyle and coping with new stresses. That’s where vitamins and supplements come in. They provide a way to ensure that you have all the essentials for your body’s chemistry as it boosts the fat-burning, cell-renewing campaign. Once you’re in balance, you may not need that help on a daily basis. It’s all designed to keep you in harmony as you rebuild a happier, thinner, more energetic self.
Your Body, Your Diet is the result of my experiences working with clients as diverse as Broadway stars Bebe Neuwirth and Stockard Channing, actress Anjelica Huston, and singers James Taylor and Carly Simon—as well as dancers, carpenters, and others from all walks of life who balance the energy demands of hectic lives. Metabolism and Weight Loss
Jennifer, a.k.a. “String Bean” to her friends, has always been in top physical shape and never had to worry about how much she ate. Now suddenly she can’t keep her hands off the cookies and candy, and her new jeans are getting tight in the waist.
Melanie eats like a bird and puts in half an hour on the treadmill every day, yet she still finds keeping weight off her hips and thighs a terrible struggle.
Kevin follows a healthy diet augmented with vitamin and mineral supplements, but his allergies keep getting worse and worse, and at only twenty-five he’s beginning to develop his father’s spare tire around his middle.
Like Vicky and Amanda, Jennifer, Melanie, and Kevin are having trouble with their weight. But keep in mind that uncontrollable weight gain is only the symptom. The real problem behind their extra pounds is metabolic imbalance. What Makes Your Metabolism Tick
The metabolic process is one of the ways, along with breathing, that our bodies produce all the types of energy we need to get through life. This process is the sum of all the physical and chemical changes that take place in our bodies and all the transformations that occur within our cells. (Metabolism, in fact, comes from a Greek word meaning “state of change.”) These transformations include the changes we naturally undergo during all our life stages (growth, maturity, and old age) that allow rest, repair, and regeneration. And on a more basic level, they control processes like the way we access energy from our food, how efficiently we burn calories, and how much get-up-and-go we have to work with when we start the day.
Your personal metabolic profile explains the unique ways in which your body breaks down food (and other ingested substances) into micronutrients—to be utilized for either tissue repair, cell regeneration, or energy.
Now those of you who’ve taken even the most elementary biology classes in school will probably say, “Come on now, it’s common knowledge that everybody needs the same nutrients and breaks down and utilizes food in the same way. Did you forget we’re all supposed to eat our way through the good old five food groups?”
Not true. Even though Western medicine employs some of the most advanced diagnostic techniques in the world, the body’s abilities and processes, to a great extent, still remain a mystery. Yes, we do know a lot—but not enough to master easy, effective, long-lasting weight loss without paying attention to metabolism. Achieving Balance
To understand how my Your Body, Your Diet plan teaches your metabolism to run like a well-honed machine, look at the forces that drive that metabolism. We’ll begin in the East. Eastern philosophy teaches that the universe and the human body are composed of both male and female energy united as one. Male energy, as you may know, is referred to as yang and female energy as yin. Yin and yang are opposing forces, but they cannot exist without each other. Both forms of energy coexist in each of us.
According to this principle, Eastern philosophy regards every individual as operating according to his or her unique yin/yang balance—and that balance controls a large part of the workings of each person’s metabolism. We each have our own specific nutritional requirements that guide the ways we break down our food—for tissue repair, cell regeneration, and energy.
Some people have stronger yin-based energy, and their metabolism is dominated by the need to rejuvenate or facilitate cell regeneration. These are people like Amanda, and I refer to them as synthesizers. The synthesizer represents one end of this spectrum of metabolic types.
Others carry primarily yang-based energy, with a metabolism dominated by the need to produce and utilize energy very quickly. These are people like Vicky, whom I call accelerators. They are the complete opposite of synthesizers.
This is why synthesizer vegetarians can seem sickly and weak, while accelerators on the same diet are robust and healthy—and why synthesizers who consume a steak a day remain in excellent physical shape, while accelerators on such a diet would suffer a cholesterol “blowout.” It’s also why fad diets work for a select group of people but definitely not for everyone.
Even if you are not a typical accelerator or synthesizer, your metabolism still carries many of the characteristics of the two types, and I promise that you will find yourself in the pages that follow. Yin and yang affect your metabolism in two ways. The first type of action is the yin, or female, aspect. This is the process of synthesizing, assimilating, and building up your powers to regenerate. This phase sets the stage for the periods of rest that the body uses to repair itself. The other type of action represents the yang, or masculine, aspect. This includes all the processes that produce and expend energy and break down substances such as food, air, or water into the simplest components of pure energy. Now let’s see what we can learn from the West. Western medical science long ago revealed that our metabolisms were also driven by the nervous system. And much like the forces of yin and yang, it is divided into two parts—the central nervous system and the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system controls our metabolic processes and is divided into two parts—the parasympathetic and sympathetic. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for keeping our bodies running smoothly. It’s the source of the rhythm behind our breathing, the regularity of our heartbeat, the efficiency of our digestion, and many other everyday miracles. This part provides balance and stability. It helps us slow down, chill out, rest, and rejuvenate. The sympathetic nervous system keeps us poised for action; it prepares the body for the activities of life. It gives us the ability to expend energy in situations that call for engaging in strenuous physical activity or enduring emotional stress and in emergencies that call for the body’s “fight-or-flight” response. It speeds us up, moves us forward, and makes sure we get things done. Much like the forces of yin and yang, these two interdependent parts of the autonomic nervous system are synchronized to work together. Impulses from one set of nerve fibers activate, while impulses from the other set inhibit. Again, the idea here is to create and maintain balance—the key to a slim, trim physique and good health. As we bring together the philosophies of the Eastern and Western worlds about the way the body works, you can see how everyone is, to some degree, dominated by either parasympathetic/yin activity or sympathetic/yang activity. The parasympathetic/yin metabolic profile is known as the synthesizer and is driven by the body’s need to rest and regenerate. The sympathetic/yang metabolic profile is known as the accelerator and is driven by the body’s need to energize. All of the metabolic types (or meta-types, as I call them) are based in these two master meta-types—the accelerator and the synthesizer. This book addresses the six most common meta-types: the accelerator, the balanced accelerator, and the mixed accelerator; the synthesizer, the balanced synthesizer, and the mixed synthesizer. Can you pinpoint your type? To help you along, let’s return to the three examples I cited earlier:
Jennifer—the former “string bean” who is suddenly gaining weight from foods that aren’t doing her body, mind, or emotions any good at all—used to be a well-balanced accelerator. However, extra stress from a high-pressure job, the breakup of a serious long-term romantic relationship, and an overly taxing social life designed to compensate for the loss of a steady love interest are forcing her metabolism way out of harmony. Fortunately the right diet for her meta-type can get her back on track.
Melanie—the perpetual dieter and exerciser who still can’t keep the weight off her hips and thighs—is a synthesizer. What Melanie has yet to learn is that she may be eating too little of the food combinations she needs (since undernourishment also can be a cause of weight gain). She isn’t availing herself of the vitamins, minerals, and herbs that can help speed up her metabolism healthily, and she might not even be doing the kinds of exercise that could benefit her the most. She’ll be happy to learn that my Your Body, Your Diet plan can fix it so that she will never have to say “diet” again.
Kevin—who does everything right but is still developing his father’s spare tire—is a more complex case. Whether he’s really eating the right foods and taking the right vitamins and minerals depends on whether he’s basically an accelerator or a synthesizer. Once he uses this book to find out just what his metabolic profile is, there’ll be no guesswork. He’ll know for sure what combinations of foods, minerals, vitamins, and herbs, along with exercise and stress-relaxing techniques such as massage and shiatsu, to use to stay trim and healthy. The Your Body, Your Diet plan will deflate his midriff bulge once and for all. If you still cannot find yourself on the spectrum, don’t worry. In the following pages, I’ll show you exactly how to determine which forces are the most dominant in your system and how to work with those forces to achieve your best weight.
Now you understand some of the basics of how metabolism works, and you are well on your way to becoming an expert on your own metabolism. Once you comprehend that, you will discover how you can shed pounds through a customized, healthy, long-lasting method. Next, you’ll learn all you need to know about what stress has to do with weight gain and how you can keep it under control—for good. Then you can identify your meta-type and select your personal diet, nutrition, and exercise program.From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from Your Body, Your Diet by Dane, Elizabeth Ph.D.. Copyright © 2001 by Elizabeth Dane, Ph.D. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.