Tips on Weight Loss, Exercise Regimes, & Giving up Caffeine
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New Millennium Resolutions
Tips on Weight Loss, Exercise Regimes, and Giving Up Caffeine
By: Allan N. Spreen, MD, The Nutrition Physician

They say that technically the new millennium really starts on January 1, 2001 (there was no year 'zero', so the last century, and thus the last millennium, ends after finishing the hundredth year, or 2000).

All that really means is that you get a second chance to blow your millennial New Year's Resolutions.

Assuming you have some typical ones, let's see if we can make them a little bit easier to keep, for at least a little bit longer than usual. People are always vowing to get going on an exercise program, lose weight, or maybe cut down on caffeine. We've had articles about smoking and alcohol, so hopefully this will hit at least a few more of you. (We've of course talked about weight loss, too, but since it's the New Millennium we'll hit it again.)


Losing Weight
Ah, probably the number one of all time. Some people no longer even try, as they're so certain that it can't be done. Well, let's give it a shot anyway.

I find, for the millionth time, that calorie counting and food measuring are nearly impossible. What's more, when the body is kept hungry it conserves calories like a champ anyway, making the whole torment usually useless. On the diet side, I like high protein routines, such as Atkins, Sugar-Busters, Steak-Lover's Diet, Protein Power, Carb Addict's Diet, and others. Carbohydrates are converted to fat amazingly quickly, so the idea of a low fat routine (which by definition is high carb) I've found rarely helpful.

Look around you. We've been into low fat as a country for a decade now, and we're fatter than ever. Apparently others also have found the fad a bit less than ideal.

Keep from ever being hungry. Eat something BEFORE you get an appetite, so that when you should be really hungry the willpower is there to avoid needing a full meal. You really can snack yourself to a lower weight. However, bear in mind that the snacks need to be high protein and low carbohydrate (low starches and sugars), so that you won't be stimulating the body with sugar surges every few hours. Make your foods as natural and high fiber as possible, since the fiber contains no calories for humans and are very filling. With extra water the feeling of fullness just by using real whole grains and high fiber cereals, etc., can be remarkable.

Nutrients can help. A good one for lowering appetite is Garcinia cambogia, commonly known as hydroxycitric acid, or just HCA for short. Digestive enzymes help the body break down foods completely, which can make them easier to burn (I like Super Enzyme by NOW, 2 right after meals, but ask your doc). Help out by eating slowly and chewing thoroughly. This is no joke and can be very helpful. If you feel satisfied before finishing a normal meal, then quit! Ignore the guilt of throwing away perfectly good food when you are no longer hungry and do exactly that...throw it away.
Chromium can help stabilize blood sugar. If your sugar is low (hypoglycemia) you can forget willpower...you'll kill for food - the body's set up that way. 200 micrograms daily can make a difference. L-glutamine, taken 45 minutes or so before meals, can be used by the brain as fuel to help lower the body's drive to have glucose. For some people, DLPA (dl-phenylalanine), 500 milligrams before meals, can do the same thing (ask your doc). L-carnitine is a favorite of mine to help with weight loss, but exercise is necessary along with it to make the cost worthwhile. If there is some exercising going on, then 1000 milligrams twice/day can be impressive.

If you just want proof that you have the power to lose weight and have tried everything else, I still like the Cabbage Soup Diet. It's boring...and I mean bo-o-o-o-o-ring. The monotony can stop some people, but if you're into a 7-day plan that does not require any hunger this can show impressive results in a short time. You still have to learn how to eat right, however, once the 7 days are over! (A copy of the plan is available in a past issue of this newsletter.)


Exercise
With or without a gift of new exercise equipment, this one is still really tough. It wouldn't be a resolution at all for someone who does it all the time; therefore by definition it's being tried by someone who hates nearly all exercise or finds making time for it nearly impossible.

Well, don't panic yet. The trick, assuming there's absolutely NO form of exercise that you really like, is to make it absolutely as convenient as possible and have it take up no time at all from your schedule (which of course is perfectly designed to have no room for exercise in it). How about this: start with a cheap, easily movable mini-trampoline. You keep it in a closet, or wherever, and bring it out each night during any TV show you always watch. Nearly everyone watches something for at least a half-hour...news, Letterman, some idiotic sitcom...something! During such a time, just rebound on a mini-tramp. They're available from most any Sears (or similar place that has athletic equipment) for way under $100.

All you do is lightly bounce. Don't work at it, and if you feel a little worn out, just rock up and down on the balls of your feet. But, no matter how little you're doing in terms of bouncing, DON'T QUIT. Start by finishing some short time period at first (assuming your doc approves), and then work your way up. There are all sorts of different ways to rebound, and there are even books on the subject. If you're not into watching TV then perhaps during a favorite CD or radio station instead. It's not only inexpensive (no health club fees or major equipment other than some tennis shoes and the mini-tramp), it also means getting out and going nowhere, can be done rain or shine, you don't even have to get dressed (interesting thought), and it's done during time that you'd spend just doing nothing anyway.

Another idea is to feel better so you can tolerate and enjoy the energy output more. Nutrient supplements to consider in that area (besides a good multi-vitamin/mineral supplement) include l-carnitine (maybe 500 milligrams between meals once or twice/day), vitamin B-12 (one sublingual lozenge under the tongue daily), coenzyme Q10 (maybe 100 milligrams daily), and/or some creatine (a few hundred milligrams daily). Check with your doc.

Give it a shot. Ya' neeeever know; you might like it!


Giving Up Caffeine
You get to cheat on this one. I'd suggest that you shouldn't try this one until you've done a couple of things to prepare first.

For three weeks before starting this withdrawal, I'd consider taking ginseng first. Panax ginseng seems to be the most popular type, but I like Siberian. You might consider a moderate dose 3 times/day during the three weeks, then stop for a week or two before restarting (but ask your doc). This stuff is considered nontoxic in reasonable doses and has been used as a supplement for thousands of years.

The ginseng trick can help avoid the adrenal letdown that can occur when stopping caffeine. It doesn't have the immediate kick of the caffeine but it's not a stress-causing adrenal stimulant, either.
Then, you have to go for it, and give up caffeine completely...cold turkey...but there is some more help available.

One thing that ginseng may not help with is withdrawal headache that can come from stopping caffeine. My suggestion here is the herb feverfew, a remarkable agent for headache (including migraine, if taken early enough). This stuff is definitely worth a try. Even some popular docs who are against nutrient supplements admit that feverfew has lots to offer for many headaches.

Any attempt to give up a chemical substance (nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, sleeping pills, whatever) should include fairly high doses of vitamin C. This is a detoxifying nutrient with a multitude of uses in the body (not just avoiding scurvy). For an attempt like quitting caffeine I suggest 1000 milligrams with each meal. This can help avoid the need for feverfew, as the withdrawal headaches may not occur (but that's not guaranteed).

One last item of note is pantothenic acid (besides, of course, a good general multi-vitamin/mineral supplement), which can help protect the adrenal gland during times of stress. Caffeine forces the adrenals to "hype up" the body, and this B-vitamin (sometimes called vitamin B-5) can supply "health insurance" in this regard. I usually use from 300-500 milligrams daily.

If improving our lives were easy then we wouldn't need to make resolutions to accomplish the task. By definition it's going to take some effort and probably involve some stress. Hopefully, we've suggested some hints to make your New Year's (and, for the first time in 1000 years, your New Millennium's) Resolutions somewhat easier.

Give 'em a shot...they're worth it.

Happy New Year, and Good Health.
Allan N. Spreen, MD
The Nutrition PhysicianŽ



Dr. Spreen is a nutritionally-oriented medical doctor in practice for over a decade before concentrating on nutritional writing. He is known for his original "Nutrition Physician" on-line sites for both America Online and iVillage's 'The Women's Network', offering nutrition information directly to the public.

His authored works include Nutritionally Incorrect-Why the American Diet is Dangerous & How to Defend Yourself (Woodland); Smart Medicine for Healthier Living (Avery), co-authored with Janet Zand and James LaValle: and The Menopause Diet (Woodland). A graduate of both the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Tennessee before obtaining his M.D. from East Tennessee State University, Dr. Spreen wears a second hat as a coach of competitive divers at the national and Olympic levels.


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