There is quite a bit more that people can do for their own health than MD’s can do.
Maintaining/improving ones health and fitness is a lifelong project that we need essentially daily consideration of.
I think that obesity is the biggest health evil that the greatest number of Americans face. I don’t think that obesity is genetically programmed for some people and not others. Obesity is not normal for any human and is a “sick” state of health. Yes, it may be easier for some people to stay light than you, but despite that, your body is the only one you will ever have and you need to maintain it.
Regular exercise is important for health and fitness but is not by itself a panacea. Diet is the other important factor.
Throughout my medical career, until recently, I have gone on two assumptions regarding diet: humans are omnivores and can eat a wide variety of foods and be healthy and our weight depends on calories consumed versus calories burned. Therefore we need to either exercise a lot to burn those calories we love or consciously limit calorie intake.
Over the past year my thinking has changed, primarily following reading a popular (not medical) book: “The Paleo Solution” by Robb Wolf. Following are some examples of ideas from the book that have changed my thinking. How much we weigh and how fat we are is not just calories eaten versus calories burned. Eating fat does not necessarily make you fat. High cholesterol foods don’t necessarily raise our blood cholesterol and may lower it. If we eat the right foods combined with some exercise we do not need to consciously limit calories. The right foods are not what you think they are and actually taste much better. “Good” foods are: meat (including red), fish, vegetables, fruits, tubers (potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets etc), nuts and seeds. “Bad” foods are grains, dairy and legumes.
I have been recommending Robb Wolf’s book to many patients as well as handing out many free copies. Previously, when giving recommendations to obese patients I felt a bit at a loss. The only solution I had was to basically tell them they needed to limit calorie intake, starve themselves. Mr. Wolf’s book however, offers a solution/lifestyle that includes great food that is eaten until you are satiated. And this diet is not just a way to lose weight, it is healthy. I follow it myself and have received positive endorsements from patients that also adopt paleo. In the future I will solicit more patient feedback.
Probably everything written in “The Paleo Solution” is not entirely correct. Probably also, some orthopedic techniques and principles that I currently advocate in lectures and text books will later be found to be incorrect. Knowledge evolves. I think however that “The Paleo Solution” is on to something and creating human benefits. I recommend that you buy the book, read it, and as he says try it for 30 days. I do not personally know Mr. Wolf nor do I have any financial relationship to him or his book. His book is also not the only reference regarding paleo diet.
If you are obese and unfit there is no instant solution. Correcting your situation however over months and years can be a satisfying process as you feel and look better and better. Improving your health and fitness is probably more enjoyable than you think.
Joel Matta, MD