Insulin Resistance ---- Is there a cure? June 2015

We’ve received multiple questions this month regarding insulin resistance and carbohydrate intolerance. Since it seems to be on the front burner in many people's minds, I decided I would try to give you some insight into what is insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance is a decreased ability of the body's cells to respond to insulin. It's the beginning of the body not wanting to deal with glucose. Now remember, glucose is the carbohydrate that breakdowns to sugars in our bodies. One of insulin's primary actions is to get certain body cells to absorb or take in glucose more accurately to store it as fat.

 Insulin resistance happens when the cells don't want to open the gate (receptor) to where insulin allows glucose into the cell, instead glucose begins to increase in your blood. When insulin tries to open the gate but fails, the body puts out more insulin until the gate opens in order to stabilize the blood glucose so the cells can use it. Over time, this results in a condition known as hyperinsulinemia which is too much insulin in the blood.

 Hyperinsulinemia causes more problems than we care to go into in this short newsletter. Most importantly, though, hyperinsulinemia makes it very difficult for the body to use stored fat for energy!

 Let's look at a few facts about what happens with insulin resistance.

1. Insulin resistance is a condition in which the cells of the body become resistant to the hormone insulin.

2. Insulin presents and precedes the development of type II diabetes.

3. While there are genetic risk factors for insulin resistance, it can be managed with diet, exercise and proper medications. Learning how to eat is a key factor.

 4. Insulin resistance is associated with other medical conditions including fatty liver disease, atherosclerosis, acanthosis nigricans, and reproductive abnormalities in women.

Let's discuss insulin a little further. Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the beta cells of the pancreas. Pancreas beta cells are scattered throughout the pancreas in small clusters known as islets of Langerhans. Insulin is produced in these islets; then it is released into the bloodstream as it travels throughout the body.

Insulin is an essential hormone that has many functions within our bodies. Most of these are directed at our metabolism or the control of carbohydrates (sugars and starches), lipids (fats), and proteins. Insulin regulates the function of the body cells, including their growth and the use of glucose stored as energy. Many patients with obesity suffer from insulin resistance. This condition is when the body cells become resistant to the effect of insulin. The pancreas produces more and more insulin. Soon the pancreas can no longer produce sufficient insulin that the body demands and then blood sugar rises. Insulin presents a direct factor in developing diabetes, heart disease and morbid obesity.

So what is the relationship between insulin resistance and type II diabetes? Type II diabetes is a disease that occurs later on in life or with the gaining of weight at any age. Insulin resistance can be caused by genetic factors. Some medication contributes to insulin resistance. In addition, insulin resistance is often seen with the following conditions: metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions involving excessive weight, (especially around the waist) high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, or high blood sugar levels. Having just one of these conditions doesn't mean you have metabolic syndrome. However, any these conditions increases the risk of serious disease. If you have more than one of these conditions, your risk is even greater.

So what are the symptoms of insulin resistance?  Usually there are no visual symptoms. However, with severe forms of insulin resistance dark patches of skin called acanthosis nigricans which can develop on the back of your neck, sometimes on your hands, knees, knuckles or in your armpits. More importantly, insulin affects the metabolic reactions throughout the body, including converting calories and fat. Insulin resistance influences liver enzymes that produce the cholesterol that acts on the kidney that can contribute to high blood pressure. High insulin levels play a role in the process that regulates the inflammatory response. In time, insulin resistance leads to type II diabetes, itself a risk factor for heart disease. There are genetic factors that can contribute to the development of insulin resistance, including a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease. However, lifestyle plays the most important part. Weight loss and exercise are considered the best treatment for restoring the body's ability to respond to insulin. Smoking can also contribute to insulin resistance. Quitting is recommended to bring the condition under control as well as to improve your overall health.

Watch your carbohydrate intake. The classic low-fat, high-carb diet, which was the standard recommendation for preventing heart disease for years, actually worsens insulin resistance! If you follow a low carbohydrate diet and focus on the low glycemic index sources of carbohydrates, you will see your weight and your insulin resistance both decrease. Eat a variety of non-starchy vegetables, cheese, and a variety of fish.  This regime has been a standard at The Weigh Station for some time now. Choose cold water fish which are high in omega-3 fatty acids such as Alaskan salmon. The omega-3's can help you decrease the rate of the pro-inflammatory effects of insulin. They also seem to improve the cells’ response to the hormone. And last but not least, vigorous exercise decreases cells’ resistance to insulin; a 30 to 45 minute walk is perfect.

Prognosis: Losing your weight, getting enough exercise and following the program to the letter, will cause you to lessen your insulin resistance and reduce the inflammatory response of obesity. Some patients have returned who have gone back to their old habits. They say to us, "I wish I just would've stuck with the program." We are here to help you, so please take advantage of all of the resources that are available to you. As you enter The Weigh Station you read a quote above the check-in window: "I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13. Make that part of your life, and you'll see things change dramatically.

Blessings to all!

Chuck Shaffer MD

Denial ...... A Lie from the Dark Side May 2015

Are you in denial about the true size of your body? Are you trying to protect yourself from the reality that you are still gaining or regaining your weight? You know you are eating out of control, but do you pretend that it isn’t affecting  your body size?

Emotional conflicts, stress and painful life situations---many times you want to pretend these aren’t happening to you because of the misery they cause. But denying their existence only leads you to revert to your old coping mechanisms. For many of you that is to overeat in search of comfort.  Then you deny that you are using food to attempt to feel better! The initial short term denial can produce a good thing; it gives you time to adjust to a painful or stressful issue. It might be a precursor to making some sort of change in your life that you needed to make for a long time. However, the denial has a dark side.

Remaining in denial for too long can prevent you from dealing with issues that require action such as trying to get your weight under control. If you refuse to acknowledge that something is wrong with the way you’re coping, you will only continue to overeat to block out the painful thoughts, threatening information or feelings of anxiety.  Denial is understandable as these negative occurrences in life might make you feel vulnerable or threaten your sense of control. You feel you have no control over illness, addiction, financial problems or dealing with relationship conflicts. Denial is understandable but not productive. You don’t want to feel the bad feelings so you overeat to stuff them down. Then you deny you are overeating, and your weight continues to increase. Something has to stop the dark side from taking over!

A team of researchers from the University of Illinois recently asked 3,622 young men and women in Mexico to estimate their body size based on categories ranging from very underweight to obese. People who were in the normal weight range selected the correct category about 80% of the time. However, 58% of the overweight students incorrectly described themselves as normal weight. And among the truly obese, 75% placed themselves only in the overweight category; only 10% accurately described their body size as obese! You are not alone in denying you have a weight problem!

The tendency of patients to underestimate their body sizes, according to studies done in the United States, Canada, Europe and elsewhere, is remarkably consistent across all culture lines in all age groups. So why are so many people overweight and how did this happen? A group of scientists are only now beginning to understand the complicated process in which the brain-- in particular the posterior parietal cortex-- integrates signals from all the senses to form our image of ourselves. Many scientists believe this internal calibration system sometimes goes haywire.

Researchers do admit that some denial may simply have a lot to do with personal embarrassment.  Researchers at the University of Texas Medical School found that one in three women did not know they had gained five pounds, and only about 15% were aware when they had gained 10.

Some of our patients live on the dark side of reality. We have patients now that have volume III charts. This means they have filled up three charts with restarts, returns, and more restarts! And yet never once would many of them admit that they failed to follow what we asked them to do. They denied the obvious.

And the obvious is only a precursor to their severe health problems. The University of Illinois showed in a study group that most obese people don't think that they are fat enough to experience any weight-related health issues.

An extreme example of denial gone wild, takes place today in India. This country has seen close to a 20% increase in weight in the population between the years 1998 and 2005.  A study recently found serious health complications there. One in five men and one in six women are currently seriously overweight. In some urban areas those rates are even higher. A leading cardiologist in New York, Dr. Seth, explains that in India, obesity is synonymous with prosperity. "The paradox here is that that these people are considered healthy. Thin people are considered weak in India. Most of my patients who lose weight after a heart attack come to me thinking they have become weak. Once the perception of being fat relates to good health, overweight people don't think of themselves as fat. They are like everybody around them! So it's a blending of the masses. Obesity is one of the most important causes of heart attacks. As the excessive body mass index increases, your chance for coronary artery disease also increases,” explains Dr. Seth.

One of my favorite authors is Dr. Steve Phinney from UC Davis. Dr. Phinney did a study showing that it was fat that supplied almost all of the energy used by high-caliber cyclists after adaptation to the ketogenic diet. These guys had no problem performing a high level of exercise with very little dietary carbohydrate intake. So don't buy into the clever marketing scams of manufacturers who tote those sugary sports and energy drinks. The reality is you can exercise just fine without them once you have adopted the experience of ketosis adaptation. This comes from several weeks of a very low carbohydrate diet, which is what the Weigh Station promotes. And yet, despite all that overwhelming data, some patients still refuse to admit that a low carbohydrate diet will help them lose weight.

Living in denial has never contributed to one positive aspect of your life.  I have patients who back onto the scale; they will not face what their true weight is. This is the epitome of denial. So how do you help yourself get out of the dark side? One option is to honestly examine what you fear. Think about the negative consequences of not taking any actions. Instead, allow yourself to express your fears and emotions in a journal, to a friend, or to a medical person. This will benefit you if the truth comes out. There's something about being truthful with yourself that makes all the difference in your weight-loss success. Open up yourself to be truthful in every aspect.  Don’t buy into the lie of denial.

We are here to help you face whatever you are dealing with so you can win the weight battle once and for all. We do not deny that you have a weight problem. We're here to help you solve it. For God did not give us the spirit of fear, but one of love, patience, and a sound mind. (II Timothy 1:7)

Blessings to all,

Chuck Shaffer MD

 

Is Obedience a Cure for Obesity? April, 2015

Oh the wonders of the sugar-laden American/Western diet along with a sedentary lifestyle!

Right now, more than 1.4 billion adults are overweight. It is predicted that more than half of our global population will fall into that category within 15 years, according to the McKinsey Global Institute.

The global weight loss market is worth almost six hundred billion dollars, and yet our obesity numbers continue to rise at a shocking rate.

Obesity now surpasses hunger as the world's biggest health crisis.

comparing it to cocaine. Sugar has been added to almost all processed food and now makes up 13% of the American adults’ caloric intake.  It should be less than 5%, according to the World Health Organization and the Obesity Society. Worldwide sales of packaged foods soared to a massive $2.5 trillion in 2015. So we shouldn't be surprised that is nearly impossible to avoid sugar in a Western diet. And the large amount of sugar we ingest is causing obesity to spread to the next generation. Children are becoming increasingly obese because they have become sugar addicts.

There have been efforts by the White House to push to make school lunches more healthy; but what a failure! There's been an effort by New York City to try to ban sugary drinks. Didn’t work!!

So how do we fix this? Diets fail almost 90% of time. If diets themselves worked well, we wouldn't have an obesity problem!  No, the answer has been found in patients who are obedient in successfully following a healthy dietary regimen. The answer lies in learning to eat correctly for ourselves and becoming disciplined to continue the new healthier habits throughout our lifetime.

There are those who promise miracle cures without having to do this.  Dr. Oz is my main source of bad health information with his regular promotion of weight loss supplements like "green coffee bean miracle weight loss tea".

The typical skeptic that I am, I look out for this pseudoscience, and I try to correct it with my patients.  I decided several years ago that I could be a more effective as a weight loss physician if I could deliver some health benefits to my patients greater than just putting them on medication.

I knew that most modern diet plans rarely succeed in the long run. I wanted to teach people how to lose their weight but also how to maintain their weight loss for long-term.  One way to make them successful in losing was to punch holes in their thought process of ‘eat less, exercise more.’ Hunger is the first myth that's got to go down the road.  Any diet that leaves you hungry, you will not follow. That's why we ask you to eat three meals a day. And it isn’t that we are forbidding you to eat foods that you like. No, we are asking to make healthier choices to enjoy.

 I hear patients often say, “The diet was great, but I just couldn’t stick to it." As weight loss progresses, any suffering gets harder to sustain and harder to deny. Negative emotions and expectations from unsuccessful dieting are going to happen. The most common negative feelings include guilt, shame, failure, depression, and despair which bring on binge eating.  We go through a cycling process. But, the obedient patient who follows the program to the letter does not experience these negative emotions.

"Obedience is the virtue that determines whether a person is either a servant or a rebel. The Life of Integrity is built on obedience of God's statutes and nothing else.”

― Israelmore Ayivor.

 If our staff at The Weigh Station could get our patients to become obedient to what we're asking them to do, our success rate would be much greater than what it is. What we are doing is asking you to follow simple instructions to reach a goal that has been out of your grasp for multiple reasons. It's just not following the book and taking supplements. It's about trusting us and following the program to the letter.

Recently I saw a nine year old child who weighed 180 pounds. When I took a dietary history from his mother, I learned that he ate Pop Tarts for breakfast with a Coke; lunch was a sandwich on whole wheat bread and bag of chips and a Coke. For dinner, the family usually ordered out fast food, and that could be Mexican, hamburgers and hotdogs and fries, or pizza, and always a soft drink for him.

After this poor child was continuously ridiculed at school for his weight, his mother decided it was time to do something to help him. Just by their willingness to make some minor changes, we saw a dramatic change in this child's life. His mother made him obey her about what he ate, but then she was also obedient in following what we asked her to do.

As you continue your journey in weight loss this week, remember that the tighter you control your cravings---the yearnings of your flesh--- the greater your success will be. Be obedient in following our program to the letter.   From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible speaks a lot about obedience.  In the Ten Commandments, we see how important the concept of obedience is to God. Deuteronomy 11:26–28 sums it up like this: "Obey and you will be blessed. Disobey, and you will be cursed."

As we look forward to Easter Sunday, remember that Easter is all about new beginnings. We shake off the old man and put on the new. Begin with a new willingness to be obedient to the cause and finish the course that you set for yourself. You will be so glad you did when you reach your goal!

Happy Easter

Chuck Shaffer MD

 

Dining with the Guest of Loneliness. March, 2015

I recently spent over an hour with a woman who'd been struggling with eating alone. She dined on potato chips, Doritos, Oreos, and multiple bags of other comfort junk food. She found excuses for this binge eating. As we talked I learned that she felt that ‘situational factors’ controlled her life. She felt lonely because her relationship with her husband did not produce the closeness that she thought it should. She had slowly separated herself from him and their home to avoid the empty pain she felt. The more she isolated herself, the lonelier she felt.  And the more alone she felt, you guessed it, the more she overate.

Feelings of loneliness frequently cause such problems such as alcoholism, drug abuse, family breakdowns and other social ills. Loneliness can then lead to greater alienation from meaningful human contact. We see groups of gangs, religious cults, and other social deviants which can all be attributed to the people's need to belong to someone so that they don’t feel lonely. They are looking for a sense of identity and need to feel they belong. Their failure to find acceptance in traditional settings causes them to search out alternative means. It may sound funny, but it is also this feeling of emotional isolation that causes people to binge on high carbohydrate, sugar-loaded foods. They find their comfort, their need for connection through the consumption of a bag of Doritos, potato chips or candy bars.

 Each of us needs to connect with something larger than ourselves in order to fill a spiritual vacuum that exists within all of us. In the Bible, we find God's plan for developing the most important relationship in our lives, that is our relationship with Him. But if you're filling yourself up with other empty choices such as excess food or drugs or alcohol, then there's no room for a relationship to develop with Him.

Did you ever notice in the story of Adam and Eve, the Bible illustrates a really intense point? It is the importance of a personal relationship with God. But then God goes on. Much space in both the Old and New Testaments is allotted for Him to talk about the importance of other relationships such as those in marriage, friendships, and church fellowships. God said they were good. He stated, "It is not good for man to be alone."

Sadly we live in an era where technology has made it so much easier for us to get along without people. For example, we don't even have to go to the grocery store anymore as we can order our meals in on-line! We no longer bank in a building with other people or pay our city taxes at City Hall. Television at home and mobile phones in restaurants both cut us off from communicating with those we love. In the name of technological advances, we have cut ourselves off from daily interaction with others.

Fear keeps us isolated inside of our homes. With crime steadily rising, more and more people are afraid of leaving their houses to even venture forth to church. So many of our elderly population live alone and are terrified to by crime statistics to go out and enjoy the company of others.

Some people tend to be loners because of circumstances in their childhood development. If you grew up in a family where there was an unaffectionate parent or an overly critical parent, you may find that you shy away from intimacy with others and doesn't feel comfortable becoming close to other people. Others are easily intimidated because of their upbringing and feel a need to avoid others at all costs.

People with low self-esteem often withdraw and from social situations so that they don't have to deal with the possibility of rejection. For these people, loneliness can become a lifestyle. They struggle with poor developmental skills, especially those interpersonal skills that allow us to communicate with one another.

So just maybe there is a reason that your weight is not coming off like you would like it to. Maybe those lonely food binges are causing your obesity. If so, then you need to be honest with yourself. Why are you eating as you do? Your reason just may be that you are very lonely.

So now we have to talk about steps to overcome loneliness. First of all, you must admit you have a problem with being lonely, and that you need to take steps necessary to escape your self-isolation. Consider the cause and then evaluate yourself honestly in light of all the reasons mentioned above. Do any of them apply to you?

Accept what you can't be changed. Many of the causes of our loneliness discussed can be overcome. Do you fear rejection because you feel inadequate around certain people? Do you stay at home watching television when you really could be going to a function that would not only help you but maybe someone else? Have you lost your beloved spouse? Has divorced severed a much cherished relationship? Has your BFF moved away from you? Are you an empty-nester missing the children? Are you young and single and for now, on your own? Regardless of the reasons for your loneliness, you have to take it upon yourself to meet the problem head on to make Life work for you and not against you.

A patient at The Weigh Station has set up a Facebook page---Weigh Station Winners---which serves as a reminder to people that we are here to connect you with others. I suspect that if you reach out and ask for help on one of the Facebook pages you have multiple people waiting to assist you. It’s a start. It’s a way of building each other up.

Lots of people are lonely, and they need others to help build them up. You cannot be lifted up if you do not allow people to lift you up.

So as I finished my conversation with this nice lady about her eating habits, I gave her a few suggestions that would help her overcome her loneliness. One suggestion was that she go read to the children at the school close to her home. Within three days she called to say that she started reading to children in her local school’s story time. By giving of herself to the children, she was given teachers and students who were interested in her life. She then commented to me, “I realize that it doesn't matter how successful I have been in the world. What matters to me [now] is how successful I am in helping others."

So the next time you are feeling stressed, angry, downtrodden, or depressed because you are lonely, remember there's always someone that needs you if you make yourself available. You don't find relief from loneliness in bags of chips or cookies, in cans of soda, or in the ‘one more bite.’ You find it in giving of yourself to others.

Chuck Shaffer MD

 

 

A Thankful Heart. Feb, 2015

Recently, a family came to The Weigh Station to address their weight issues. They expressed how we had helped in the past and how blessed they were that we were still around to help them now.  The father said to me, "I'm so thankful that I have somewhere to go to help my family with our struggle with our weight."  I liked his statement of thankfulness.

What exactly does it mean to be thankful? This can have different meanings to different people. One example of this is when patients come in for their weekly visit and are happy that they have lost one pound.  Despite wanting to lose more, they are thankful for their loss and the assistance and support they received from our staff.  They could have thought negatively about this, but instead they were able to put things in perspective and remain grateful.

Then there are times that I’m thankful. This past week I spoke with a woman who had been unsuccessful for about 6 to 8 weeks. She kept telling me she had been following the program perfectly and that she only ate what was in the book-- never strayed. Her young daughter stood up and said, "But mom, what about the oranges and bananas you were eating every day?" Yes, I was thankful for the truth coming from that little child! 

Some believe being thankful includes hugging one another and slapping a high five.  Support and celebration are wonderful things.  Life is short and we should celebrate these moments, however true thankfulness has a much deeper meaning. Many of you don't know, but in 1996, I had brain surgery at the Mayo Clinic for a ruptured AVM. That stands for arteriovenous malformation. It's a genetic fault in some individuals and I happen to be one of the individuals that it faulted. So, I was on the organ harvest list because after it had ruptured, they knew I was going to die. However, God had other plans for me. There's not a day goes by that I'm not deeply thankful for walking upright.

Gratitude is the way God reveals his incredible grace at work in our lives. Being grateful is to see God, and the world, and ourselves and to recognize that all of life is a gracious gift from his hand. I am learning to develop gratitude for everything. Even when I'm tempted to grumble about helping Terri at the house or taking out the garbage, I've learned to say, “God, thank you that I can pick up the garbage can and carry it to the street.”

In Corrie Ten Boom's book, The Hiding Place, she recalls thanking God for fleas in her barracks in a concentration camp during the World War II. Corrie had learned that fleas kept the guards away which allowed her and the others to study the Bible without interruption. In Ravi Zacharias' book, Walking East to West, he talks about a young Vietnamese boy who is given the job of cleaning latrines since he was a prisoner. He had been Dr. Zacharias’ interpreter as he ministered to the soldiers. After Dr. Zacharias left the country, the boy is thrown into prison.  He felt that God had just forgotten about him. He knew that if he just renounced his Christianity the next morning, he would have a lighter sentence and probably would even be let go. But he would not, so he had to clean the latrines.

While cleaning out the toilets, this boy happened to notice a piece of paper hanging out of the corner of the trash can, covered with fecal material. He noted it was in English and realized that it was a chapter out of Romans in the Bible. He picked it up, cleaned it up, washed it off, stuck it in his hip pocket and took it back to his room and read it by flashlight. Romans chapter 8 read, "For there is for this reason now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.” He continued to read chapter 8 up to verse 18, which said, "…for I know that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared the glory which shall be revealed in us". Each day he asked to clean the latrines because the Vietnamese Col. was using the King James Bible as toilet paper! It's amazing how God will meet you if you just learn to become thankful!

I wish many of our patients would be thankful and proud of what they have accomplished. Many have lost 50, 80,100, or 200 pounds, and this is truly commendable. I wish more patients would be willing to share those types of success stories!  They would be joyous and happy, ready to bless others with their success. But so many of them don't; they feel their accomplishments are not good enough.  As much as we try to encourage them, some people just don’t seem to be able to get excited about what they've achieved.

Try as best as you can to be thankful for each and everything that comes your way (as insignificant as it may seem, it matters). Be thankful for the weight that you have lost. Congratulate others as they go through the journey also. Be supportive of those around you. Maybe do something as small as hold the door for someone as they carry groceries or load them in the trunk of their car.  Maybe you've been financially blessed and could pay for someone else's office visit, or buy them a meal.

If you're thankful for something, say so. Everyone likes to feel appreciated and to say thank you is one way you can convey that activated thankful heart. Thank you all for the privilege of caring for you.  Life is an echo. What you send out comes back. What you sow, you reap. What you give, you get. What you see in others exists in you. Remember, life is an echo. It always gets back to you. So give out as much as you wish to receive..

Chuck Shaffer MD

 

Facing Your Giant. Jan, 2015

When I was a young boy, one of the stories that my father told over and again was that of David and Goliath. The giant Goliath had a large physique and was afraid of no one. He carried an enormous shield and an even bigger javelin. He wore a helmet of solid bronze. He appeared invincible to all who saw him. He was especially intimidating to the army of King Saul.

We loved the next part of the story my father told when he introduced the young boy David. Small in stature whose only job was to tend the sheep. But despite his lack of size and armor, David wasn’t intimidated by the giant. He approached him with nothing more than his slingshot; yet he wasn’t afraid of him. David had something inside himself that would bring him to victory: David knew from the start that he had the ability to win.

This story may date back 3000 years or more. But today we still all face giants. You may be facing a giant in the form of debt, sickness, divorce, or abuse. You may be working with someone that’s just put more work on you then you can handle. You may be fighting to lose 20 or 200 plus pounds.

 Early today a young woman came to the Weigh Station office in Roanoke who has managed to lose 82 pounds. She’s has accomplished this in four a half months. She’s a schoolteacher with a Master’s degree in mathematics. She had been unable to control her weight for the last 20 years. Today she announced victoriously, “I finally beat down my giant.”

I shared in her joy. Yet on a day-to-day basis we at The Weigh Station deal with patients who have failed at their attempts of weight loss. Each one of these patients has his/her story, their giant. It may be 20 pounds. It may be 200 pounds. But to them it is intimidating and powerful. This is when we must think of small, young David. Remember his inner power? “David knew from the start that he had the ability to win.”

As we enter the New Year, I would encourage you today to think of what your Goliath is. Think of what your giant has become to you. Impossible to take on and win?  Now is the time to roll up your sleeves and say to yourself, “Enough is enough! Goliath you giant... I’m taking you on, and I’m going to kick your butt. I’m not afraid of you anymore because I know from the start that I have the ability to win!”

With that attitude, you will no longer be afraid when others will say, "You’re just going to gain your weight back." You won’t be taunted by these folks any longer. You decided not to accept the giant in your life any longer. You don’t have to give in to a life of obesity ---you now have a different type of thinking. You’ve found your power within. You’ve developed a positive attitude that will overcome your giant.

Back to our story: The Israeli soldiers fighting Goliath were getting very frustrated by their failures. They had tried everything to win the battles and now had lost all hope of ever becoming triumphant. They accepted their failure, knowing they would have to serve the Philistines. That undoubtedly scared them, and the soldiers wondered where God was in the midst of all of this. They were afraid of what the future would hold for them and their families.

Then along comes a young man who is not even old enough to be a soldier; he’s just bringing food to his brothers and suddenly young David offers to fight Goliath. If you remember, David was too small to fit the armor, too weak to carry the heavy sword---and yet he defeated this great giant. David had courage. He knew that Goliath had human strength, but he also knew that Goliath he had no power in comparison to what God had created in him. He had God’s internal strengths. He knew that he had the ability to win.

 Remember, you can overcome your weight issue giant without any of the quick weight-loss strategies that don’t work, the protein shake, the protein bar, the insane workout that was designed by someone in the gym for you at a cost of $20-$400, and  still doesn’t work. When you’re at your wits end, and you’re about to give up, DON’T!  There’s always a reason for weight gain and there’s always a reason to continue to focus on your goal.... The defeated attitude gets you nowhere. You have the ability to win.

We all face fears every day. Some of us are ruled by our feelings of fear. What if I fail? Can you see in the life of young David how he made a choice to live without fear or worry? He might not have known exactly how God was going to work things out, but he knew he had the ability to win.

 We can let ourselves become frozen by events in our lives or we can live our lives as God has created us to do. We can take on our giants with the inner strength that we have the ability to win.

 The staff at The Weigh Station wishes you a very happy and prosperous new year…. We’re here to help you, guide you and see you succeed. This year, write down that giant you want to beat. Begin checking off the victories as you beat your giants.  Remember, Philippians 4:13 is inscribed at the checkout window at The Weigh station: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

God bless each and every one of you as we start The New Year.  Thank you for all the faith you put in us each and every day. Your success is the reason that we continue to have patients come to us.

Happy New Year

Chuck Shaffer MD

Are Rules Ruining Your Success? December, 2014

Have you ever thought about rules in your life? We all have rules that we have to follow---we stop at a red light, for example. We signal before we make a turn because we have to.  We stop for children crossing the road. We even try to get to work on time---all in an attempt to follow the rules.

But when we let following the rules become an obsession in our lives, we are headed for trouble.

Let me explain. There are rules that we have to follow to get and keep ourselves healthy. We know we should exercise at least 30 minutes a day.  This can mean an enjoyable, brisk walk. We know that we should eat correctly; that’s what The Weigh Station tries to teach. But some people become obsessed with “the rules” which makes it harder for them to get healthy. They feel they must weigh themselves every day to control their weight. Weighing now begins to rule their lives. They don’t understand how to relax and trust their bodies. They stress over every meal, worrying what the scale will say the following day. They don’t let themselves enjoy their meals. Instead, they constantly stress about what’s in the food that they are ingesting or worry over, “Is it natural?”

As to the “exercise rule,” we already said that around 30 minutes a day of some form is recommended. However, I see the obsessed patient who subscribes to the rigid rule of “Eat less, exercise more.” This oversimplification is akin to a psychiatrist telling a depressed patient simply to “feel better.” However, that doesn’t make it downright false either. Exercise is a major part of losing weight particularly fat tissue, and you can’t ignore it forever and hope to lose the weight you want to lose. Some patients think, “I’ll eat this cupcake and then run for 20 minutes extra on the treadmill. This will offset my failure of eating something sweet.” Now, there’s no doubt that exercise is the potential enhancer of our hormonal functions with weight loss. It raises our testosterone, our growth hormone, and improves our insulin sensitivity. It can divert the calories that we do eat toward lean muscle and away from body fat. And it can divert the carbohydrates towards refilling muscle glycogen. As long as we don’t overdo it, exercise is an important ally in fat burning toward lean muscle mass accumulation.

BUT, many folks make exercise the unbreakable rule of their lives.  They become so obsessed with it that when they can’t exercise one day, they become stressed; worry and anxiety take over. They can’t bear to break “the rule.” As they stress, things become worse because they release cortisol and cortisol creates body fat! Chronic stress is the enemy of fat loss!  Now the exercise rule is suddenly ruining their success!                                                                    

How about the “Eat Less to Lose” rule?  Some patients focus solely on calorie intake to drop unabated weight. They reason to themselves, “Hey, it helped me lose weight the first time so it should help me again, right?”  Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. When you continually eat a smaller volume of even the right food, you’re applying chronic stressors to your body. A lack of food intake for a day or two on a regimen of fasting is good for you except when the signal of the lack of food goes to the brain. This happens when the lack of food has gone on for weeks or months. This signals famine to your brain; the enemy is starvation and you’ll start up the storage mode. Starvation is the chronic stressor that will impede weight loss and promote fat storage!!

 Eating smaller and smaller volumes of food also gives you less of a chance to obtain micronutrients you need for optimally functioning. When all is said and done, a 2000 calorie diet will have more minerals, vital nutrients, and vitamins than a 1000 calorie diet.  That’s why we ask you all the time if you are eating enough. We don’t count calories though because it’s not necessary. And we don’t count calories because it can become obsessive. And then we’ve just given you another rule to stress about!

Making The Weigh Station program into a set of rigid rules is just a way of shooting yourself in the foot. It was never meant to be a set of rules; it was meant to be a guideline to healthier eating lifestyle. The Weigh Station intends to make weight loss come about smoothly, but some folks get the idea they can eat just as much as they want and not gain any weight. Though it is certainly harder to gain weight eating what we’re asking to eat, it’s not impossible. People’s satiety mechanisms don’t simply stop because they ditched the grains, the sugar, the peanuts, etc. and they reduce their overall carb intake. Sadly, many of our patients falsely assume that since we extol the weight loss benefits of butter, coconut oil, cheese, olive oil, beef, and fish, the quantity of these products is unlimited. While I won’t argue that over eating your monstrous salad is better, healthier and causes less adipose tissue growth than overeating a large big Mac, it still is overeating.

Having said all that, sometimes we do have to lay down a few rules that people just don’t like. Rules like weekly visits. Accountability is an important part of this program. Following this rule will help bring about weekly weight loss. Too many times patients make their own rules thinking that they know more about how to make it work than we do. Avoiding accountability is one of those rules we break just before the fall.

We have just finished Thanksgiving--- how did you do? I struggled in a few areas. I am sensitive to carbohydrates and sugars. And I can tell that I picked up a few pounds by the way my clothes felt. So I started back on stage I and I’ll stay on stage one for the next three days. See, everybody makes mistakes; but when rules are set up to make you fail then you need to change your way of responding to the rules.

Don’t stress over rules; relax and learn to enjoy yourself as we engage in this month’s holiday season of Christmas. Say Merry Christmas to people you see in the hallways at work. Say Merry Christmas to the lady across the counter at the grocery store. Try to help as many folks as you can, especially those less fortunate than yourself. One of the best rules in life is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Jesus said, “Whatever you sow that shall you also reap”.  So, in this Christmas month, go out and bless as many folks as you can. Don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake. Do not let the rules you place on yourself ruin your life. Learning to eat healthfully is a lifestyle change that will follow you all the days of your life. Enjoy the holidays with your family and friends… Be very proud of what you’ve accomplished already! Many of you have lost over 100 pounds. Some of you have lost 20, and 20 pounds is a lot of weight! Take pride in the accomplishment of each pound lost.

Some of you can offset the cost of The Weigh Station for the single mom, or single dad who is struggling with his or her health and appearance. Maybe God has laid it on your heart to be a blessing to them. Or maybe God has laid it on your heart to be a blessing to a family. Whether that’s bringing them a meal or fixing their car, try as much as you can to listen to the Spirit of the Lord speaking to your heart to be a blessing. I promise you during this season you cannot out-give God. He has so much to give to you.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Chuck Shaffer MD

Doughnuts, Depression and Despair. November, 2014

Depression and Obesity:  What is the connection between the two? And what role do doughnuts play?

Recently some articles came across my desk that I thought were quite interesting since we're looking at the inflammatory connection of obesity and depression. Our society’s adage, ‘You can't be too rich or too thin,’ has placed great pressure on those people who are struggling to be slim.  I recently saw a young woman who had been in our program for well over two years. She had lost over 237 lbs and had only 43lbs to go to be at perfect weight for her.  She took a little bit of a vacation from the program in order to visit her 52-year-old mother.  During the four months she was gone, she regained 55 pounds. 

I asked her, “How on earth did you gain back 55 pounds?”  She told me that she went to the local doughnut café each morning with her mother and between them they would eat four to six doughnuts and drink two coffees!  Of course, they drank the coffee that was very sweetly flavored.  She replied tearfully, “I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I just couldn't help myself!”

She then described feeling defeated, hopeless, bored, and frustrated with her life since gaining 55 pounds.  She decided to go see her primary care physician about her feelings and her physical complaints.  Her doctor placed her on Lexapro for her depression. I asked her if she knew that Lexapro could potentially cause her to gain weight.  She said that was never discussed.  I explained to her that most of her complaints really had more to do with her low self-image and low self-esteem contributing to her weight gain than did depression.  She agreed whole-heartedly. We agreed that in her case there was no need for Lexapro. She just needed to start eating correctly once again.

Sadly in our American society we see increasing number of celebrities and prominent politicians overweight or obese due to their unhealthy lifestyles.  Increasing social acceptance of the overweight or obese individual in our culture has legitimized weight gain and obesity to the point where physicians feel it’s not worth their time discussing it any longer.  But as a physician, I strongly feel that we must continue to discuss the hazards of obesity on health and well-being, such as premature death, coronary artery disease, diabetes, arthritis, and many forms of cancer. 

Research has shown that obese or overweight individuals tend to interact with other overweight individuals because they are comfortable with them. One report showed that adults with obese friends are more likely to become obese than the individual without obese friends.  The study also found that overweight teenagers were twice as likely have overweight friends. The positive side to this problem is that the power of the social connection can be harnessed to be a treatment option for overweight or obese patients.  There is encouraging reports that therapeutic groups can help the overweight individual with his depression and his weight gain. In essence, there are options to help the obese or overweight person other than anti-depressants. The help you get here at The Weigh Station falls into one of these options.

 Another interesting fact I’ve recently read is that activity alone—even just a 20 minute walk--- has proven in some cases to be as effective as Prozac 20 mg a day.  Unlike prescription drugs, physical activity is free with no potential side effects!  There is much evidence that a regular exercise program can successfully treat certain types of depression. The Weigh Station will help you manage your weight and improve your cardiovascular fitness to help you learn

the healthy lifestyle you need to overcome obesity. However, I am aware that motivation is the key ingredient of any successful program.  The Weigh Station encourages patients to make exercise enjoyable, perhaps using video games or other interactive programs.  Getting involved with a certified trainer causes you to become accountable---another key ingredient to successful weight loss.

I also hear a lot about sleep disturbances. Did you know that disruptive sleep is another hallmark of depression and that this appears to be another risk factor for weight gain?  The basis of this relationship is still being investigated by multiple university study programs.  One possibility has emerged that patients with insomnia wake up to eat which is known as “nighttime eating syndrome.”  Researchers have recently shown that when sleep is curtailed in a sleep lab, patients consume approximate 20% more calories from snacks than non-sleep deprived patients which came to about 220 more calories than the latter group consumed. Although this is a 220 cal increase would seem small, it could easily amount to approximately a two to three pound weight gain per month.

You need to be aware that every pound you weigh over your ideal healthy body weight plays a significant role in reducing your overall body health. Stay with me here as I try to give you an understanding to what I have just said.

Leptin is the master hormone in our bodies associated with satiety. It plays a major role in our appetite control. Studies are being done on its role in our depressed mood and sleep disturbances.  Researchers have suggested that leptin insufficiency or leptin resistance may contribute to the vulnerability of depression. This hormone leptin may have antidepressant effects on our bodies.

There is a substantial body of evidence that shows that “Depressed patients have elevated levels of inflammatory markers particularly interleukin-6 (IL-6) and interleukin-1 (IL-1.)” OK,’ interleukins’ are a group of ‘cytokines’ which are secreted proteins and signaling molecules in our bodies.   IL-6 and IL-1 are both cytokines that play significant roles in regulating immune and inflammatory responses to infection in our bodies. IL-6 also plays a role in the regulation of our metabolic process.

 It is possible that there are pathways linking the cytokine actions and depression together.  Serotonin metabolism has been studied significantly and showed that “tumor necrosis factor alpha” (a big phrase for something that has the primary role to regulate our immune cells) activates brain receptors to deplete serotonin levels and exacerbate the level of depressive symptoms.   Physical problems can also ensue.  Evidence suggests that adipose tissue deprived pro-inflammatory agents are involved in the development of metabolic syndrome,  a condition characterized by insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, visceral adiposity, hyper coagulant ability, chronic inflammation, and oxidative stress and hypertension.  These conditions are a strong risk for type II diabetes, coronary artery disease, hypertension and stroke.

Another interesting note comes from a study I read which gave 160 mg of aspirin, taken for a month by  24 depressed patients who failed to respond to four weeks of antidepressant therapy. The study found that 52% in the study responded to aspirin when it was added to their daily regimen, and improvement was seen during even the first week.  Quite fascinating that the inflammatory response showed up again---a response we see in multiple areas of medicine!

I know that this is a lot of medical information crammed together in a short newsletter.  However, hopefully you can now understand why every pound over your ideal body weight is significant. Excess weight can contribute both to mental and physical problems throughout your mind and body.

So remember this as fall comes to an end and winter begins. Getting yourself outside to walk will make all the difference. If it's too cold, you can always go for a walk in the mall!  Let us help you keep your weight off.  Once you reach your goal and go into maintenance, it is an extremely important to learn how to maintain. Hint: walking plays a key role here!

Here’s wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  Remember to pick up your Thanksgiving menu suggestions at any of our locations.  If you have questions, please don't hesitate to email Tricia. ‘Ask the Dietitian’ is located on our web-page.

Psalm 28:7, NLT The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Chuck Shaffer MD

The Power of the Word No. October, 2014

When I was a small child my mother would smack my hands if I reached up to touch the hot stove and tell me emphatically, “No!”  If any of you have ever tried to put a two-year-old in a car seat, you know how he begins to show his will, hurling one loud endless scream at the top of his lungs, “NOOOOOOO!!”

We all struggle with the amount of internal strength we have when we have to deal with the word no.  We have this internal self-governing spirit that manages to control our urges or our addictions which evolves throughout our lives. We can choose to say no and add a thank you to that when we are with others. We also address this inner power to our self-indulging impulses---the struggle that we are most familiar with.  For those of you that are struggling with a food addiction, you know precisely what I mean. There’s a huge reward in saying no to yourself; the payoff is a productive and endless peace of mind.  You are in control of your flesh.

Recently, a lady came to the office very upset because she had gone down 11 pounds, but suddenly regained 5 pounds.  She was telling me the program did not work and that she was going to quit and go back to Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers. I responded, “Well that’s fine, but let me ask you a question first. How did you lose the first 10 pounds?”  She replied, “I weighed and measured everything I ate, following the program to the letter!”  I then asked her if she was doing the exact same things now. “Well,” she hesitated, “there might be a little variation…” Guess what?  If you don’t follow the program correctly, it won’t work!  It’s all about learning to control your addictions by saying no to the flesh. This is imperative in becoming successful.

The word no is an affirmation that acknowledges our sense of personal responsibility. Sometimes we have to say no to others in order to take care of ourselves. Saying no to someone for unwanted food or drink doesn’t mean we don’t love or care about that person.  We can still maintain love and respect in our relationships.  We just cannot allow ourselves be influenced by people whose offerings would harm us.  The strength we draw from just saying the word no underscores the true depth of our maturity.  When we say, “The buck stops here,” we are really stating that this is who I am; this is what I value; and this is what I will or will not do.  In essence, we are saying, “This is how I choose to make decisions throughout my life. ”you” allows you to be in control of the situation.  Your body may crave the food, but when you are truly dead to the flesh, you just say no.

Many years ago when Nancy Reagan started the ‘Just say no to drugs’ campaign’ signs went up everywhere and remarkably drug abuse went down.  Cigarette companies were told to put warnings on cigarette packages telling people that cigarettes can kill. We saw remarkable results in the amount of people who quit smoking.

 

Saying no gives you a moment of clear choice.  It announces to the other person that you have an affirmation about yourself. The power of saying no gets stronger each time you use it.  People will soon learn to take you at your word.  But you need to learn to take yourself seriously.  For example, when you see the ‘ hot and ready’ sign at Krispy Kreme doughnuts, you must realize immediately that that could be the detriment that would bring you back to what caused you to be obese in the first place.

I saw a family this week that has started this program over three separate times. They are very large people:  One weighs over 400 pounds and one weighs over 370 pounds. They had done exceptionally well for some time, and then they chose to partake of those things that caused them to fire up their addictions.  They had not yet learned to hold each other accountable.  They have suffered because of this and both were headed for diabetes if they didn’t work to rectify the problem. Their children had suffered too.  With diabetes staring you in the face, you have to choose: Do you still continue to eat what you shouldn’t or do you learn to tell yourself no….

So as you start October looking forward to the holiday season, realize that you will have the chance to practice, “No thank you” many times.  I look forward to seeing you all throughout this holiday season and on into the New Year knowing that you are learning to control your flesh by the simple word no.

God bless all,

Chuck Shaffer, MD

 

 

 

Emotional Eating: Empty Heart, Aching Tummy. Sept. 2014

I recently received an email from a woman who was a patient at The WEIGH STATION about four years ago. She related how well she had succeeded in the program. She finally got control of her addictions and was doing well. Then suddenly a social upheaval occurred in her life, and she started spending more time staring into the refrigerator and cruising through her cabinets.

She wrote that she got caught up in the pain of loneliness---a physical isolation taking place in her heart and mind. She wrote, "I filled my lonely nights with food, anything I could get my hands on, especially candies, cookies and ice cream. Food filled the hole in my soul and my heart, but it only tasted good temporarily."

Loneliness can impair health by raising levels of stress hormones and increase our body’s inflammatory response. The damage can be widespread and affects almost every organ of our body, especially our brain. In one study, people that were considered lonely or having the ability to feel alone had higher levels of inflammation inducing substances in the blood. Chronic inflammation is linked to heart disease, arthritis, type II diabetes and suicide attempts.

 People who are lonely react more strongly to the negative events around them, and they perceive daily life as more stressful. This in turn can depress their immune system. Also, for these folks that are carbohydrate junkies, the excess carbs cause reflux, fogginess of thought and increasing bouts of depression.

 According to one study, having multiple friends and family members that are close does not guarantee immunity from loneliness unless there is a strong emotional connection with these people. Deep, meaningful quality relationships with your family or friends trigger a healthy response.

 A study on patients who are emotional eaters found that comfort food is good at its job. Comfort foods are often wrongly associated with only negative moods and indeed, people often consume them when they are down and depressed. But interesting enough comfort 

foods are also used to maintain good moods. When asked for a list of comfort foods, ice cream became number one. Next were chocolate and cookies for women, and pizza, steak and casseroles for men. This study, conducted by Dr. Brian Wansink of the University of Illinois, found that when we are happy, our food choices will be steak or pizza (32%.) And when we’re sad, it will be ice cream and cookies (39% of the time) and when we're bored 36% of us go for potato chips or other crunch items.

As you can see, food does more than fill our stomach; it also satisfies our emotional feelings. But when we try to deal with these feelings with comfort food without a growling stomach in need of sustenance, we are crossing the line into the dangerous grounds of emotional eating.

Some of the telltale signs of emotional eating are as follows: 

1.  Emotional eating comes on suddenly, whereas physical hunger occurs very gradually;

2. Emotional hunger needs to be satisfied instantly with the food you crave, whereas physical hunger can be postponed;

3.  Emotional eating can leave behind feelings of guilt; eating when you're physically hungry does not;

4.  When you are eating to fill a void that is not related to an empty stomach, the craving for specific foods such as pizza, chocolate, and ice cream will only be satisfied by that particular food. When you eat because you are hungry, you're open to multiple options;

Emotional eating is one of the questions we asked you about during your physical exam. It's a very important question because it gives us a lot of insights to where your triggered responses come from. The key to eliminating your emotional eating is to find comfort foods that are healthy to replace the craving for junk food. Comfort foods don't necessarily have to be unhealthy. Just ask Tricia our dietitian for some suggestions. Recognize emotional eating and learn the triggers of this behavior. Make a list of what causes you to eat when you're not hungry and carry it with you. According to Tufts University's website, you can put off the desire to emotionally eat by doing another enjoyable activity.  A few examples are taking a walk, taking a nice bath, or calling a friend to discuss what's going on in your life. Do something productive to take your mind off the cravings. And Nurse Judie suggests to all patients to read the incredibly insightful book “Made to Crave” by Lysa Terkeurst.  

Lastly, remember that emotional eating out of loneliness, boredom, sadness or happiness can all be corrected. We are here to help you in any way we can. Please allow us to help!

“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I'm lonely and afflicted” (Psalm 25:16.)

You satisfied me more than the richest of foods. I will praise you with songs of joy.” (Psalm 63:5.)

Be blessed,

Chuck Shaffer M.D.

The Mirror: Truth or Deception? August, 2014

I am sure many of you remember the Snow White story where the Wicked Queen demands, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest one of all?” The mirror revealed ---to her shock---what she could not see herself. Sometimes the mirror reveals to us what we cannot see ourselves during our journeys of losing weight. For many of you, though, your mind does not allow you to see the truth that the mirror tries to reveal.

I’ve seen this many times with my patients. Your minds play tricks on you while you work hard on your journeys to lose weight. I hear you say to me, “I really can’t see any improvement." The distortion comes from what's inside of your brain. It’s called having “fat eyes.” The actual evidence is clear that you are doing exceptionally well. In fact, many of you have lost over 200 pounds. But you still don't see it because even though you keep staring in the mirror, you are looking with a distorted self-image.  Even if your clothes are falling off of you, you may get excited but it's still not enough; you continue to beat yourself up over your appearance. It's so easy to become obsessed over the reflection in the mirror that you begin to notice every flaw or bulge. Being unhappy about the imperfections you see can and does negatively affect your self-image. Without a healthy amount of self-esteem, you lose the motivation to lose weight in a safe and effective way. If you continually focus on the negative, you will not be able to understand and appreciate that you may be losing that significant one pound per week and be safely on your way to achieving a healthy weight loss goal. To help to gain a better perspective of how you really look in the mirror, it may help you to have before and after pictures taken about every month to put on your refrigerator so you see your improvements.

In order to be successful,  however, you need to do away with concealing the truth when talking to us during your appointments. Let me explain. Many people come and describe what they see in the mirror and are very distraught. But those people conceal the true cause of their weight gain. This leads to disaster. This past week, for example, I reviewed the chart of a lady who has come for 64 weeks. During this entire time she has lost only a total of about 35 pounds. I noticed that she would gain four and then lose three. Then she would gain six and then lose three again. For her it was a never-ending roller coaster. It took many weeks to finally get her to confess that she has a “Cheat Saturday.” Yet when we spoke throughout those 64 weeks she insisted she followed the program to the letter. What she originally concealed caused her disaster.  Her common complaint was, “But I don't see any results when I look in the mirror...” I replied, “Don't you see why not?

So the next time you look in the mirror and you make harsh judgment of yourself, remember how far you've come. To get to where you're going may take you a little bit longer than the next person, however, don't continue to focus on the negative. Focus on the positive aspirations that you started with and that you are continuing to achieve on a day-to-day basis.                   

If you're going to look in the mirror every morning or every evening, use the opportunity to feel the excitement that comes with weight loss. Write encouraging notes to yourself on adhesive tape or memo paper and highlight them. Write down the results you've achieved so far. Keep a weekly tabulation of how much weight you've lost and retrieve it whenever you feel the need to cheat on your food program.

Here is my final thought for you from  the apostle Paul who reminds us, “ Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price: therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which is the Lords." (First Corinthians 6:19 - 20.) We all recognize that God has done so much for us. It should be our delight, and indeed our privilege, to obey his commandments to take care of our Temple. So the next time you look at your temple in the mirror, praise God for what you see. Remember, you are not where you started; you are further down the road than you ever thought you would be.

 Blessings to all,

 Chuck Shaffer M.D.

 

The Promise of Hope for a Healthier Lifestyle. July, 2014

I saw a female patient this past week that broke my heart during the interview. She weighed in at 378 pounds. She had been on various diet plans prior to coming to the Weigh Station and finally became so desperate she underwent gastric bypass surgery. She lost 70 pounds with gastric bypass but gradually regained all her weight over the last three years. She shared with me how she had fought her weight all of her life including high school and college. Her weight problem controlled her life. She said she became a recluse for most of her years because of it. She was desperate and out of control completely. Her weight was climbing back up at a terrifying speed so she chose gastric bypass as the answer. Obviously that did not work. The tears began rolling out of her eyes. I asked her the most important question, “Do you believe we can help you?” to which she quietly replied, “Yes, I do." 

I told her that many people come here to start the program but they never quite finish. That’s because they get lost in just doing what they feel is right and they think that that is all it takes. They believe that just by walking through the door every week their weight will magically melt away.  Other patients come to the Weigh Station that have had multiple trips around the circle of the diet industry. They were on every program known. And like you, I told her, have resorted to gastric bypass or gastric banding. It’s not the panacea that everybody thinks it is. However, I told her we can help her. I told her there was hope.  She responded, “I sure hope so."

Hope. Have you ever thought about what it means to hope? ‘I hope I passed the test;’ ‘ I hope I get into school;’ ‘ I hope it’s nothing serious.’  Have you ever looked at the true definitions of hope? The Bible says a lot about hope, but let’s first see what Webster says. “To want or expect something; to have a wish to get or do something or for something to happen or be true, especially something that seems possible or likely confident; desire; a feeling that something desirable is likely to happen; likelihood of success; a chance that something desirable will happen or be possible; Synonyms: confidence, expectation, optimism, anticipation,  courage.

People often use the word hope as something that they long for when the odds seem against them as in, “I hope to win the lottery." But Biblical hope spring from the promises of God. Abraham’s faith is not described as a leap into the dark completely baseless, an almost irrational decision, but as a leap from the evidence of his senses into the security of God’s word and promise…

It is tragic that it takes something like standing on a scale and seeing that you regained 70 to 80 pounds to get you to take action.  According to the Center for Disease Control, between 70 million adults or 30% of the US population is now obese. The rates have more than doubled among children and it tripled among adolescents.

Type II diabetes is being diagnosed among young people at a rate of 61% of them being overweight. Five-year-old children already have one risk factor for heart disease, and 26% have two more risk factors. In 2009 obesity health care costs were estimated at $150 billion. The statistics are real; we know that they are from the data we received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We need to learn how to change this. People can only do what they know how to do—what they are taught how to do as we teach you here at the Weigh Station.

Do you want to do something about it for yourself? With what you have learned here, can you now determine for yourself what to do to make better food choice? To get active and commit to changing your lifestyle? You will lose weight, gain better health, and change your life if you do. Remember, use all the resources available to you at The Weigh Station from the dietitian, to the nurses, the newsletters, the recipes and your physician. Do not listen to the naysayers that are only out there to cause you pain and anguish. They wouldn’t be saying negative things about your new lifestyle if they had ever been positive about their own weight loss.

Learn to ask us good questions as we love answering your questions. It causes us to think that maybe someone else might be in the same situation. Our newsletters come from question-and-answer sessions that we have with patients throughout the month.

So as you begin the Fourth of July week with all of the festivities with family and friends that show up to admire how much weight you've lost or to hear that you are going to start a weight loss program this month, allow God to stir up the hope in your heart! The God-like hope that is not the same as, " I hope it will.” His hope is eternal and everlasting. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11 .1)  Allow the seed of hope to spring up in you so that you will finish what you started, and you will become the person you want to be. Remember, even if you need to lose 100 pounds, with strict adherence to the program with both correct eating and exercising, it can be accomplished in about six months.

 To all of our Weigh Station Family--- Happy Fourth of July!  My family and I are vacationing together for the first time in years! Please pray for us as we do you on a day-to-day basis. And please remember the true meaning of what we are celebrating this holiday---our freedom. If you see someone from the armed forces, tell him or her you're grateful for their service, then go and buy them lunch.

 Blessings,

Chuck Shaffer MD

 

The Life of a Winner versus the Life of a Cruiser. June, 2014

This past month has been quite difficult for our family as we suffered the loss of my nephew in a tragic accident in Carrollton Kentucky. Eric Gentry was a winner in every way possible as a 21-year-old young man. People came from all over the United States to give homage to Eric ...they drove from all over the country to honor him.  For every pastorate that his father Mark had over the many years, Eric had been involved in the youth groups. He was a musician, and his Christian band Feasts of Kings had just gotten a record contract.

What impressed me was the number of people paying homage to Eric. This part of the service took almost three hours! How does a young man of 21 years of age have over 1200 people come to his funeral?  I'll give you some insight: everything he said he would do, he did.  He remembered friends’ birthdays and sent them a card; he remembered our anniversary, and he remembered to pray for his friends as they were getting ready to take their final exams. How does a man of 21 years of age keep everything in such order? He knew his priorities and the people in his life were just that--- a priority. There was over a mile and a half of cars lined up in a procession to the grave site. You would have thought a president of a corporation or some major dignitary had passed away.

There's a lot to be learned from looking back on Eric's life.  He never took no for an answer; he saw a goal and he went after it. He lived by what he believed in, and never once in all the years I knew him deviated from that.

I'm not sad for Eric as he lived a great and exceptional life. I'm sadder for me and my family because he added so much to our lives!  We never know when the time is going to come that God will call us home. Some people arrive in heaven too early--- much like Eric in his tragic accident--- wrong place, wrong time. Such is life.

 In the life that you have right now you have so many things set before you.... you can choose right or wrong. You can become a winner or you can become a cruiser; yes, there is a vast difference.  And the difference in the outcome is found within your state of mind.

This month at The Weigh Station we have had a lot of re-starters.  I've ask each one of them, “What brought you back?”  The answers, of course, varied. "My doctor sent me;” “I could not live like this any longer;”  “It worked the first time and I know it will work again;"  "I just went back to my old habits."

The next set of patients we have are those who come to the Weigh Station and stay for only two months and walk out the door again. I call them cruiser patients---they believe that just by coming and going and coming and going they will somehow get their weight to go down, and everything will turn out just fine.

The problem with them is that they don't want to be held accountable for their behavior. If you don't want to be accountable to yourself or to others, you will remain a cruiser. You can blame it on the weather, the food groups, your transportation problems, your family---I’ve heard it all. They are all excuses for not wanting to be held accountable. What I've noticed over the last ten years of watching people come and go from The Weigh Station is that the people with the greatest commitment to themselves become the best patients. They are bound and determined to find out why their weight fluctuates and what foods slow them down or stall their weight loss. And they become determined to do something about it. They don’t look for excuses. 

For some patients we have had to regulate their thyroid, others their diabetes. Some we have found had rare metabolic disorders dealing with selenium or iodine. And the new MRT program has taught me a lot about patients and their food sensitivities. 

Nobody goes out to dinner and orders a protein shake, a protein bar, or prepackaged food and feels like they have been satisfied when finish eating. That's because they don’t work, never have and never will. Some of you say, "Well I know someone who did the Zumba Boomba diet and she lost 100 pounds." My question always.... “Has she kept it off?”  I can say from experience most people do not.  Most of the time it is not knowing how to handle tough situations around food that puts the weight back on.

 At my nephew’s funeral I had people trying to soothe me with lemonade, apple pie, brownies, and chocolate cookies, and not to offend them I did eat some. The result?  I gained about six pounds over the week we were gone! But as soon as I came back I went on Stage I for the entire week and now those six pounds are gone. That is the beauty of this program--- you can tailor it to yourself. You can make a decision yourself how to successfully remain in maintenance just as I did, and you can keep yourself at your lean body mass so that you live a long and prosperous life.

 In Jeremiah, the Bible says, "I wish above all things that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers." In Isaiah, it talks about the death of the righteous. "The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil". Was Eric spared from some type of evil?  I don't know, and on which I don't necessarily want to speculate.  But what I do know is this:  Whatever Satan means for evil God will turn around and make it good. I can tell you this from being on this planet for 63 years. I've seen it happen over and again....

 So when you return to the office, and you made an error in judgment and you just had to eat a piece of   apple pie, drink the lemonade or scarf down some chocolate chips cookies, remember that you have been taught how to return to healthy eating to lose your weight and how to keep your weight off for life. The best part of our plan is the education that we give you here in order to be successful. Remember to always be honest and open with us so we can help you achieve your goals. And as you've heard us say over and over again everybody is different. What we would like from each of you is to let us find out how you are different from the other person that comes to the program. We are committed to helping you become healthy for the rest of your life.

 As the summer months approach and all of the scrumptious foods of summer are laid before you on a picnic table, make good choices!  In turn, you'll see the positive results each and every month. Good choices make for great results. Live your life as a winner, not a cruiser!

 Enjoy the start of summer!

 Chuck Shaffer M.D.

 

 

 

Living a Life Full of Compromise. May, 2014

During this past month multiple patients have come into the office with many different reasons why they have gained back some of their weight. Many of them have lost their way on what it means to stay the course. They jump from one idea to the next looking for the next successful weight loss food while they watch Dr. Oz recommend the next best pill for weight loss. Then they look in the mirror or stand on the scale every morning to find out whether they've done well or not. This is the only way for some people to feel happy to discover they've even lost a pound. But following the scale like this only hurts them physically emotionally and psychologically.

One patient came to the office after deciding that drinking a Blizzard on Saturday would not cause her any difficulty. She came in at 178 pounds but needed to weigh 135 pounds. This is her second time that she's tried to lose weight. The Blizzard alone caused her to gain about six pounds. I asked her why she felt she could indulge in a Blizzard from Dairy Queen and not gain any weight. All she said was, “But  everybody else in the car ordered one, so I did too.” She compromised herself as she has in the past. She allowed herself the fleeting joy of the moment to tragically cause her to fail soon thereafter. What's the purpose when you have a goal to lose weight?

So what does it means to compromise yourself in your weight loss goals? The small, subtle little things that you do that you do not think will have any bearing on your weight loss will adversely affect you.   Patients that are insulin resistant and carbohydrate intolerant do themselves a huge injustice by not paying attention to what they put in their mouths.

 

We have some patients that have been here for over a year. They keep returning because they think magically one day all of the weight will just disappear. They find themselves up five pounds, and then down three pounds. Next week they are up four pounds and the following week down three pounds. What are they accomplishing by compromising themselves this way!?

What leads to these feelings of helplessness and powerlessness when it comes to controlling your food intake?  Studies have shown that certain foods dubbed “highly palatable foods" can produce similar addictive behaviors that make the brain compromise in areas that you really don't want to. These highly palatable foods trigger pleasures in the brain. They include processed high salt and high fat food, high sugar foods and other carbohydrates. They stimulate the addiction center and addiction brings a sense of joy and excitement in life. However, there's a difference between an activity being truly pleasurable and an addictive behavior. This difference lies in the brain's reaction. Different parts of your brain work together to sense stimuli, control your actions, and tell us when something is needed for more pleasure.

As I previously mentioned in past articles for the newsletter, dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is released in the response to pleasurable stimuli from eating certain sugary foods, consuming drugs and alcohol. The pleasurable feelings that result from the release of dopamine serve to reinforce our behavior. That's why the girl indulged in the Blizzard when all the friends were saying to have one. Consuming sugary products increases the dopaminergic release which causes us to seek more of the same experience. We just want more of the same, and weight gain follows.

Compromising is commonly associated with other areas of our lives. We mean to exercise for example, but we don’t follow through. With every good intention in the world, we know that exercise would be good for us, but we find an excuse to do something else. We even set our clock to get up early but then turn it off. These are all compromises that keep us from our goals.   Don't lose sight of the big picture because of a slip you made. Suffering from discouragement might be a training ground for your maturity to finish the course that you started. It develops your patience and makes the final victory feel so sweet. Your disappointment in yourself can be God's appointment for you to do the best exercise there is--- to touch the floor with your knees every morning. That is one of the best exercises for your soul in your quest to permanently lose weight. As you well know, prayer changes things. After prayers, Peter preached one sermon on Pentecost day that changed the lives of 3000 people!

Losing your weight means staying in control of your flesh. Do not give into those little temptations that compromise your efforts. They will adversely affect you for the rest of the month. There are many of these that can easily trap you if you're not careful. The Ritz cracker, for example, that you don’t think won’t bother you does lower certain enzymes in your liver that help you lose weight.

Our goal is to see you finish what you started and to have you succeed in every other aspect of your life because you brought yourself into submission and you decided never to compromise with your health ever again.

Blessings to all,

Chuck Shaffer M.D.

 

 

Perseverance- The Road To Success, April, 2014

Losing weight is a journey.... a journey that you may have started many months ago. Or maybe a journey you started when you were twelve when someone first told you "you’re fat."  The pain of remembering some of the negative names you were called has stayed with you for some time. Many of my patients insulate themselves with food and continue to grow in their obesity to comfort themselves from past hurts and failures.

You may not be where you want to be today, but you're a lot closer than you were yesterday. So don't get side tracked by your past hurts or even mistakes; focus on what's ahead of you.  I like what the apostle Paul says: "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Pressing on even when you’ve been hurt or have made a mistake is perseverance. You must pick yourself back up and continue on your journey.

Perseverance  is a chemical synapse in neuroscience that separates winners from losers in both life and sports and at work and in school. Dopamine is the neurochemistry that keeps people motivated to achieve a goal and persevere. The good news is that you have the power to increase the production of dopamine levels in your brain! Let me explain.

Scientists have identified  higher levels of dopamine as the reward center or the reward molecule. Recently neuroscience has discovered that a receptor links dopamine directly to the formation of good and bad habits. (We are headed back to the pleasure center again!) A study released back in 2012 found that the receptors for dopamine are like gateways that essentially enable us to form habits. Dopamine neurons regulate circuits all over the brain, but they need to be regulated themselves. Neuroscience says that this discovery opens the door to speeding up the process of forming good habits and the possibility of removing many of our bad habits such as drug and alcohol addiction and smoking since the same circuits are seemingly involved in both pathways.

Physical activity is the most effective way to begin a hardwired habit of perseverance. For example, whenever you make the bed and tuck in the sheets to make it look nice you get a reward---that positive feeling that comes from achieving.  The military figured this out a long time ago. We shine our boots; we polish buttons on our uniforms; we march 13 to 15 miles. When we do the physical activity, when we learn to do it the military way and we do it correctly for a period of time, we get promoted. Learning to stay on track with our eating and exercising to lose our weight is very similar in that there are rewards to be had!

To produce more dopamine we must get in the habit of setting ourselves a few deadlines and goals that we can complete in a timely manner. This would include creating a daily schedule that includes deadlines that we need to stick to. Recall that I once told you to use a Weigh Station calendar. Partner with a like-minded friend with similar goals and make a pact that you will hold one another accountable to stay on deadline. This is where Sharing The  Journey meetings and the Weigh Station Winners website come in handy for making connections with others on a journey similar to yours. 

Structure your big challenges into many small ones that are self-imposed deadlines so you that will release a steady flow of dopamine through your brain. Let’s say you walk for 30 minutes a day every day for a month.  You then move it to 45 minutes and so on. First you achieved a micro goal for walking every day for 30 minutes! As you continued you created a macro goal because you were walking for almost an hour.

One of the largest keys to the success of weight loss is overcoming the obstacles in life that seem determined to stop your progress. These are mounds that you must break down into little doable doses, tackling each one as a small insignificant obstacle. An effective way to get the feeling of dopamine rushing through your body is the process of tackling the major goal by breaking it up into small challenges. Concentrate on losing two pounds per week. Cheer yourself on when you accomplish this. Anyone can lose two pounds in seven days. If you think about it, how many of you had even better success than that? And yet, so often we hear, “How come I did not lose this week?” As we then analyze what you've done, we find that you have not followed what you said you would do, and that is why you didn’t get your desired reward.

 A very wealthy lady who visits us decided to go to Florida to a weight loss center. This center is very famous, many movie stars and highly paid athletes go there to lose weight. She went down to the spa center with the intent of losing 20 pounds in two weeks. Now let me tell you how much it cost her: She paid over $5000 for one week not including her airfare.  While there, she had her meals cooked for her and she exercised three times a day. Her exercise included cardio for 30 minutes, lifting with bands for 30 minutes and long walks while listening to positive affirmation tapes. Then her group would come back and eat lunch. That afternoon they would go for a massage; they would listen to lectures for an hour and a half on how to stay healthy. Then they would exercise again for another 30 minutes and lift using bands for 30 minutes. By the end of the first week, she had lost six pounds. She was quite happy. (Note: On the first week she came here, she lost seven pounds.)

The next week they repeated this same scenario but this time ramped up her walking to 45 minutes; and increased her bands to 45 minutes.  Her afternoon walks went up to 45 minutes as well with their positive affirmation tapes blasting in her ears. At the end of that week, she lost five pounds for a total of 11 pounds in 14 days.  Okay, let's now do the math, she spent $909.09 per pound!!  

She brought me back a lot of information on the program and looked at me and said, "I did better here for a lot less. Why don't you raise your prices and maybe more people would come".  Think about it for a minute.  Do you really get the idea that some people think the higher the price, the greater the reward? That may be true with cars, homes, and cruises, but not when it comes losing weight. The reward of losing weight is your health forever. Learning how to lose it correctly is once again your reward.  Learning to persevere through all of life’s challenges is a reward you can’t put a price tag on! Can you feel your brain firing up now saying "You can do this"?

No one else cares if you accomplish 99% of your goals that you're striving for in your life. Be your own cheering squad. Don't place your feelings of self-worth on the praise and kudos of all the other people around you. Understanding the power of perseverance will help you more than anything else. Former President Calvin Coolidge once said, “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than the unusual men with talent. Genius will not: unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent".

Often it is difficult to determine whether the course you have chosen is the right one, whether you should continue, adjust, or abandon a certain direction or decision point. Persistence means to continue steadily in some state, purpose, or course of action in spite of the opposition against you. Opposition! Perseverance means never give up! Failure is what happens to you when you quit, not when you continue.

The road to success is paved with lots of parking lots filled with the cars of failure, those who were not willing to get up and try again. It's been said that difficult goals and incredible dreams take time, and impossible ones take a lot longer. You may have to expect resistance from your family and friends as you travel the new road of success. This is especially true from those people who don't understand or from those who might be embarrassed by your success. Remember the girl who gave her best friend who had successfully lost weight the 10 pound chocolate bar. Misery loves company.

Stay clear of the pessimist and intentionally try to stay as close to positive  people as possible. Their messages are strong and they have uplifting themes that feed your heart, mind, soul and body. Stay focused! Your mental attitude that pulls you through has got to be on track. Of course you'll need to adjust the sails for your boat as you go down the winds of change, but make sure you know what your goal is and don't lose focus! Don't lose interest in what you're doing and don't lose your drive because if you do, you will come to a screeching halt! And last but not least learn from the best.

 If your goal is to climb the Peaks of Otter, seek out a climber that has already scaled the peak and reached the summit. The best advice comes from those people who have similar goals in mind and have successfully completed them. There are many unique challenges in our lives you need help and guidance from those people that have persevered and triumphed. In all of their challenges those with perseverance never let go of their focus, they never quit. Seek out these people on program and ask them for guidance.

So, as you can see, Sharing the Journey meetings, Weigh Station Winners website, and weekly visits to the Weigh Station  all add up to your weight loss success.

Blessings to all

Chuck Shaffer M.D.

 

                                                           

Burying Our Blankie, March 2014

When our daughter Jennifer was very small she had a security blanket she took it everywhere. We could not leave the house without "Blankie". It was her constant companion; she felt secure with the blanket wherever she went. Restaurants, hotels, grandparents’ house--- it did not matter--- Blankie was along with her.

Recently, a lady came into the office to discuss her weight loss problems. She had been everywhere, from all of the popular weight loss programs to considerations for gastric bypass and gastric banding. She was so distraught that my heart broke for her. She described how her weight had destroyed her life. She told the story of going to Disney World and having to stand and watch her children ride all the rides alone because she couldn't fit in them. She talked about having to sit at a table instead of a booth in a restaurant. Even while in high school her weight had been such an issue that it ruined a lot of her teen-age years. She made the statement that her comfort food was her security blanket---her Blankie.

If she felt good, she ate; if she felt bad she ate. It didn't matter what was going on--- food always made it better. Her emotional eating was her main problem. Experts estimate that 75% of over-eaters eat because of emotions. Many of us learned that food brings us comfort, but it's only for a short term and then we suffer the consequences of what we've been eating. Eating becomes a habit preventing us from learning coping skills that can effectively resolve most of our emotional problems. Depression, boredom, chronic anger, frustration, stress, and problems with interpersonal relationships or family problems and our own poor self-esteem can all result in overeating and unwanted weight gain.

When you identify the triggers of your emotional eating you can substitute more appropriate behavior to manage your emotional problems and take food and weight gain out of the equation. So how do we identify what our eating triggers are?  There are five triggers explained here.

 1 Social.  Eating when other people are around, for example. Excessive eating can result from being encouraged by others ie your mom would say to clean your plate, or you need to fit in with others, or you feel inadequate around people.

2. Emotional. Your eating is a response to boredom, stress, fatigue, depression, anger, loneliness, or a way to fill "the void in your heart".

3. Situational. Eating because there's an opportunity for you. You happen to be a restaurant and see an advertisement for a particular food that you haven't eaten in a long time so you indulge. You pass by a bakery and you smell the aroma of  your favorite cinnamon roll and just have to buy one. Eating may also be associated with certain activities such as going to the movies, sporting event, or just watching television.

4.Thoughts. Your low self-worth is a result of negative feelings. You make excuses for why you need to eat way you do, for example, and then you scold yourself and feel worse. You are unhappy with  your looks or your lack of  willpower to control your appetite.

5. Psychological. Your eating is a response to physical cues. For example, your hunger is increased because you skipped a meal. You may be looking for some relief for your headaches or some other pain that has been prodding you for a long time much like migraine headaches or fibromyalgia. Identifying what triggers excessive eating and keeping a food diary that records what you eat and when you eat as well as what stressors trigger you your thoughts or emotions will help you identify what the problem is. Once you identify patterns, you can fairly quickly correct them.

How to stop your emotional eating. Identifying your emotional eating triggers and your bad habits is a major step. It is usually the first step; however, this alone is not sufficient to alter eating behaviors.  Usually by the time you identify a pattern of your eating response to your emotion or certain situation, the habit is already developed. Now you have to break the habit that may have been with you for some time.

Alternatives to developing an eating program as a second step. When you reach for food in response to an eating trigger, try to follow one of the activities I've listed below.

1. Go for a jog or walk

2. Talk to a friend

3. Write a letter that you have wanted to for a long time

4. Do housework, laundry or yard work

5. My favorite is read your Bible and pray

The next time you feel like you need to grab your Blankie for comfort, remember your companion may cost you several pounds. It's amazing to me over these years that we have worked with patients for weight loss how many resort to their old habits out of an emotional trauma. Isn't it interesting that the thing you're fighting the most always comes back to haunt you? Yet the Bible says that no weapon formed against you shall prosper. Why do we allow these weapons that are used against us to prosper? The key is that we allow it! Nobody forces you to eat what you shouldn't; you make those decisions. Making those decisions over and over again brings you back to the habit. The habit becomes part of you and this vicious cycle starts all over again.

It's time to bury your Blankie---that's right, bury it. That's what we did with Jennifer's Blankie. When there was nothing left but a string, we put it in a box, carried it out back and buried it in the ground. Blankie had gone on to be with Jesus. She understood that it was time to put it to rest. This is what you need to do with your habits--- put them to rest. Author John Maxwell says  “Learning to just say no makes a huge difference in your life.  I've learned to say “no thank you” multiple times. This keeps me from doing things I really don't want to do and making mistakes. People learn to receive no without any hard feelings because they realize you're being honest.”

 Hopefully you will put some of these ideas to work for you.

 Blessings to all,

 Chuck Shaffer M.D.

 

Comfort Foods Cause Uncomfortable Clothes, Feb. 2014

Ah "comfort foods”--- those irresistible tasty morsels that brain researchers have found actually blunt negative emotions like depression and loneliness. Far beyond the random daily nibbling there are these positive memories, celebratory attitudes, and nurturing of associations that we feel when we are eating that favorite muffin. Doesn't the aroma of it baking remind you of grandma's cooking one morning as a small child? Then there is the smell of fresh baked bread or cookies in the oven around Christmas. All have measurable effects on our emotions. 

You're driving home from work after a very long day in no mood to cook so you stop at the local drive- through to pick up dinner because you're so tired and hungry and everything smells so good. And there right in your car you consume a cheeseburger with french fries and a milkshake that you never intended to eat. These occasions happen hundreds of times throughout the year. The more we understand that, the better able we are to gain control of our lives and of our health.

Those meals make you feel happy for a short period of time, but then you start feeling bloated and uncomfortable. Isn't it odd that food should make us feel happy when the real purpose of eating is to sustain ourselves?  From what we eat we derive proteins and macronutrients and carbohydrates that our bodies need for fuel and other essential functions. We also get vitamins and nutrients from foods that our bodies can't process but still require at times.  Why certain foods make us feel happy when we eat them is what science is trying to work out.

What we do know is that some foods are made of compounds that have been shown to positively affect our mood ...one of those is fish. People who live along seashores seem to be happier possibly because they partake of more fish. The fatty acid called DHA is the most abundant fat found in the brain. Since it is an essential building block of brain structure and neurochemistry, it's easy to see why two major sources of DHA are fish and shell fish.  A study done with the National Institutes of Health uncovered a link between DHA deficiency and the prevalence of depression throughout United States. The Franklin Institute did a study and found that it seems that people in countries that don't eat a lot of fish have 10 times more of a prevalence of depression than do the populations of Taiwan or Japan.

It is clear that foods have a powerful effect on our moods. It was seen that eating only nutrient- packed foods would positively affect biochemistry and neuro brain chemistry and should be the best way to achieve that happiness feeling. Yet we also know that the sugary doughnut gives us that short-lived but enjoyable sensation of happiness as well. Perhaps a healthy balance of nutritious foods and comforters is the best way to balance a person's moods after all---but only if the latter doesn’t cause problems in the long run.

Two types of neurotransmitters are responsible for our moods: excitatory and inhibitory .Nor-epinephrine is an excitatory neurotransmitter which stimulates our bodies and minds. We will get worn out from being revved up for too long though, so this type of neurotransmitter can ultimately lead to unhappiness or that feeling of depression we experience, for example, following a sugar-rush .Ultimately the best moods are found where there is a balance between these two. Typically, serotonin, the neurotransmitter most linked to happiness and needed to regulate sleep and pain, is also the generator of counteracting excitatory neurotransmitters. Foods that aid in serotonin include spinach and turkey.       

We need to understand that the comfort we get from certain foods does not come just from eating the food itself. It also comes from re-creating those elements of fond memories and soothing associations. Does a certain meal make us feel taken care of because we cherish the memory of the parent making it for us or perhaps making it with us? Do we associate  food with contentment or security because we used to eat it at grandma's house? There is also the ritual of dining; you go back to the place where you had good memories or the restaurant that you proposed to your wife or where all the guys from your fraternity got together and toasted you the day you graduated. They bring back a flood of  happy memories. Could that be why we feel we need a sugary doughnut on the day that went bad at the office?

Comfort foods are available everywhere. More pizzas are sold during  half-time of the Super Bowl than are sold in an entire month. But remember that there is a price to pay when over-indulging on comfort foods! They may have given you some temporary good feelings, but what happens when you wake up the next morning and your pants won't zip up or your dress or skirt won’t button? In frustration you ask yourself, “Why did I eat all that?”

 It is interesting that when Jesus spent 40 days in the desert, his first temptation by Satan was to turn the stones into bread if he truly was the son of God. That’s right; it was the temptation of food!

 We are all tempted by food; it's what we do with the temptation the makes the difference. Some of us are tempted by chocolate malt balls, doughnuts, pop tarts, ice cream, cheesecake, pretzels, or buttered bread. For me it was my mother's apple dumplings--- there were never any better in the world. So whenever I walk by a bakery and smell really good apple dumplings, a flood of memories of my mom come rushing back.  The temptation to buy them is so strong because I associate the great smell with my mom! I’ve learned though that it isn’t worth the unhappiness I would feel when my clothes wouldn’t fit. It just isn’t worth it to me.

 As Super Bowl approaches and all your friends and family are crowded into your living room and someone's asking you to fill up the bowl of potato chips again, ask yourself this question, “Is this worth it to gain back the weight I’ve worked so hard to lose?”

 Stay the course. Know what you have to do to reach your weight-loss goal. Don't look back. You can do this!

 Happy Valentine's Day.

 Chuck Shaffer M.D.

 

              

Facing Your Giants, Jan. 2014

 Facing Your Giants

When I was a young boy, one of the stories that my father told over and again was that of David and Goliath. The giant Goliath had a large physique and was afraid of no one. He carried an enormous shield and an even bigger javelin. He wore a helmet of solid bronze. He appeared invincible to all who saw him. He was especially intimidating to the army of King Saul.

We loved the next part of the story my father told when he introduced the young boy David. Small in stature whose only job was to tend the sheep. But despite his lack of size and armor, David wasn’t intimidated by the giant. He approached him with nothing more than his slingshot; yet he wasn’t afraid of him. David had something inside himself that would bring him to victory: David knew from the start that he had the ability to win.

This story may date back 3000 years or more. But today we still all face giants. You may be facing a giant in the form of debt, sickness, divorce, or abuse. You may be working with someone that’s just put more work on you then you can handle. You may be fighting to lose 20 or 200 plus pounds.

Early today a young woman came to the Weigh Station office in Roanoke who has managed to lose 82 pounds. She has accomplished this in four and a half months. She’s a schoolteacher with a Master’s degree in mathematics. She had been unable to control her weight for the last 20 years. Today she announced victoriously, “I finally beat down my giant.”

I shared in her joy. Yet on a day-to-day basis we at The Weigh Station deal with patients who have failed at their attempts of weight loss. Each one of these patients has his/her story, their giant. It may be 20 pounds. It may be 200 pounds. But to them it is intimidating and powerful. This is when we must think of small, young David. Remember his inner power? “David knew from the start that he had the ability to win.”

As we enter the New Year, I would encourage you today to think of what your Goliath is. Think of what your giant has become to you. Impossible to take on and win?  Now is the time to roll up your sleeves and say to yourself, “Enough is enough! Goliath you giant... I’m taking you on, and I’m going to kick your butt. I’m not afraid of you anymore because I know from the start that I have the ability to win!”

With that attitude, you will no longer be afraid when others will say, "You’re just going to gain your weight back." You won’t be taunted by these folks any longer. You decided not to accept the giant in your life any longer. You don’t have to give in to a life of obesity ---you now have a different type of thinking. You’ve found your power within. You’ve developed a positive attitude that will overcome your giant.

Back to our story: The Israeli soldiers fighting Goliath were getting very frustrated by their failures. They had tried everything to win the battles and now had lost all hope of ever becoming triumphant. They accepted their failure, knowing they would have to serve the Philistines. That undoubtedly scared them, and the soldiers wondered where God was in the midst of all of this. They were afraid of what the future would hold for them and their families.

Then along comes a young man who is not even old enough to be a soldier; he’s just bringing food to his brothers and suddenly young David offers to fight Goliath. If you remember, David was too small to fit the armor, too weak to carry the heavy sword---and yet he defeated this great giant. David had courage. He knew that Goliath had human strength, but he also knew that Goliath he had no power in comparison to what God had created in him. He had God’s internal strengths. He knew that he had the ability to win.

Remember, you can overcome your weight issue giant without any of the quick weight-loss strategies that don’t work, the protein shake, the protein bar, the insane workout that was designed by someone in the gym for you at a cost of $20-$400, and  still doesn’t work. When you’re at your wits end, and you’re about to give up, DON’T!  There’s always a reason for weight gain and there’s always a reason to continue to focus on your goal.... The defeated attitude gets you nowhere. You have the ability to win.

 

We all face fears every day. Some of us are ruled by our feelings of fear. What if I fail? Can you see in the life of young David how he made a choice to live without fear or worry? He might not have known exactly how God was going to work things out, but he knew he had the ability to win.

 

We can let ourselves become frozen by events in our lives or we can live our lives as God has created us to do. We can take on our giants with the inner strength that we have the ability to win.

 

The staff at The Weigh Station wishes you a very happy and prosperous new year…. We’re here to help you, guide you and see you succeed. This year, write down that giant you want to beat. Begin checking off the victories as you beat your giants.  Remember, Philippians 4:13 is inscribed at the checkout window at The Weigh station: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

God bless each and every one of you as we start The New Year.  Thank you for all the faith you put in us each and every day. Your success is the reason that we continue to have patients come to us.

Happy New Year!

Chuck Shaffer MD