Read an Excerpt
Body ConfidenceVenice Nutrition's 3 Step System That Unlocks Your Body's Full Potential
By Mark MacDonald
HarperCollinsCopyright © 2011 Mark MacDonald
All right reserved.
If you live in the past, your future is already determined.
We've all had that one moment in our lives (brief as it may be) when
we felt in control of our health. We got there somehowthrough
exercise, a diet, our genetics, or some other means. For whatever
reason, everything just seemed to work; we felt and looked great. Then, for
some other reason, everything that was once working seemed to vanish
suddenly. Each day we tried to get back to that place and those circumstances,
attempting to relive that moment. We spent endless hours focusing on the
past, trying to figure out what had changed.
That moment becomes our hope, our future possibilityour ace in the
hole (an advantage held in reserve until needed). We believe that at any time
we can pull out that ace and get back to where we were during that moment.
Of course, we have our justifications for not immediately doing itlike: "Life
is too busy" or "Once this project is completed" or "After the holidays" or
"When the timing is right." We take on each day feeling just a bit worse,
having less energy, getting more stressed, and watching our weight and body fat
slowly increase. We tell ourselves that it is not a problem, that we know what
we need to do but are just not doing it. We keep tight hold of that ace in the
hole, ready to use it at any time.
This thought process could continue for years until eventually we hit a
tipping pointa moment when we can't take it anymore. The trigger could
be many things: our clothes are too tight, our exercise program isn't working,
we're tired all the time, our weight is at its highest point, our wedding is in
three months, or maybe we have health complications. . . . This is when we
pull out the ace in the hole, feeling that it will get us back to where we were,
back to that moment we held on to.
You dive right in, confident in your success as if it were guaranteed.
The first day comes and goes, and you briefly think, "It seemed to be easier
before. . . ." You might struggle and tell yourself, "I'll start fresh tomorrow."
Tomorrow comes. The same challenges arrive, and you just shake it off. You
enter the third day, and you still can't get on track. And now the doubts settle
in. . . . You begin to think, "I didn't remember it being this hard, so what
changed?" This pattern can continue for days, weeks, months, or even years,
eventually leading us to the realization that we've lost control of our health
and that the ace in the hole we've held on to for so long no longer works. This
harsh reality hits like a ton of bricks, and we begin to accept the fact that we
don't actually know what to do. . . . This is when panic sets in. We spent so
much time holding on to that past moment, keeping it as our ace in the hole,
that we stopped learning and stopped listening to our body.
This is when diets attack; they are life's quick fixes. People use diets in their
moments of frustration and desperation. Diets are the magic spell we are told
to believe in, hoping that it really will be that easy to solve our problems.
We become so overcome by the pain of our current status that we will do
practically anything to alleviate it, including believing in smoke and mirrors.
Our sense of reason is at its lowest point, and we've become more vulnerable
than ever before, so we reach for the magic potion. We go on a calorie- and/
or carbohydrate-restrictive diet, a liquid diet, a doctor-prescribed
medication, appetite-suppression diet, or even a lemon and honey diet. We'll do
basically anything out there that's designed to rapidly drop weight through
deprivation, even if it lacks common sense, provides little structure, and is
devoid of any history of long-term success.
A diet will accomplish the initial goal by temporarily yielding results and
relieving some frustration. Unfortunately, once you begin eating normally
again, the weight returns as fast as it was lost. What in life can successfully
be accomplished by reaching for a quick fix? Can a business succeed with-
out a plan? Can a relationship succeed without continued communication?
Can you parent your children successfully without leading by example?
Your health is no different from any of these things. The fact is that any-
thing we do that's worth the effort takes a proper foundation, hard work, and
Your first step in taking your Body Confidence to the next level is to let go
of your old aces in the hole and any attachments you might have to diets. Your
hormones, physiology, lifestyle, profession, and environment are all
continually changing and evolving. Whatever worked for you in the past is exactly
thatyour past. It will not work the same for you again. Embracing this fact
is the key. The truth is that if your ace in the hole was the right thing for your
body, your health would never have regressed.
If you choose to let go of the past now, your health possibilities for the
future are endless. Your mind will be open, and you'll be ready to learn how
your body truly works now.
Let's get into the actual physiological reasons that diets will always fail
you. . . .
There are two main philosophies in nutrition: dieting and blood-sugar
stabilization. One is a catalyst that leads to what we call the Yo-Yo Syndrome
(weight loss followed by weight gain in repetitive cycles), while the other
creates an internal hormonal balance within your body that ignites your
metabolism to optimally burn body fat.
The dieting philosophy is centered on caloric and/or carbohydrate
restriction and deprivation. It is a philosophy that leads you to create deficits in
your nutrition and use restrictions to lose weight. This is the most common
nutrition philosophy, most clearly explained by the phrase "calories in versus
calories out." The thought process is this: if you are burning two thousand
calories per day and you eat fifteen hundred calories a day, you are creating
a daily five-hundred-calorie deficit. This deficit will initially assist in weight
loss. Unfortunately, because dieting is based on deprivation, your body
will always hit an immovable and impenetrable plateau (known as your
body's internal set point, explained in chapter 2). This calorie deprivation
will cause your body to burn fat. However, it will also cause your body to
burn muscle. Losing muscle negatively affects the speed of your metabolism,
because muscle is the primary place where body fat is burned (less muscle
equals less fat burning), and muscle increases the rate at which your body
Typically, after you reduce your initial weight and/or reach a plateau on a
diet, you'll begin eating the same way you did before you started, only now
your body has lost some of its muscle, resulting in a slower metabolism.
Eventually all the weight you lost is regained, but it contains more body
fat. What I'm describing is what I earlier called the Yo-Yo Syndrome (in which
your weight and body fat go up and down like a yo-yo, and many times your
rebound weight is higher than your previous starting weight).
Think about it: eventually every deficit must somehow be paid back. By
dieting, you are training your metabolism to slow down, not speed up. The
truth is that dieting is based on incorrect physiology.
Anything that causes you to burn muscle is working against you, not for
you. Millions of people have gotten caught up in dieting, including thousands
of my clients and me. It's taught everywhereat the doctor's, on TV, in
magazines, in books, on infomercials, and even at universities. The reality is that
dieting is outdated information, and is a billion-dollar industry designed
specifically to keep you coming back. Now, the excitement of dieting is that
it typically yields fast, temporary results (until you've done enough damage
to your metabolism) and that it seems so simple: just eat less. The challenge
is that dieting will yield only one outcome: long-term failure. If your goal is
to make progress with your health and unlock your body's full potential, it's
time to learn a better way.
Somewhere along the way we got so caught up in the quick-fix mentality
that we chose to forget about how our body actually works. We abandoned
physiological facts and accepted hype and theories. This happened through the
years because as time passes, our lives seem only to get busier and more
stressful. Instead of wanting to do the work, we choose to take shortcuts with dieting.
In the introduction I described the journey I went on to learn that the
nutrition solution was blood-sugar stabilization. Debates about different diets
become pointless once you truly understand how the body creates and
utilizes blood sugar, and balances blood-sugar levels. What elevated my
passion and motivated me to further understand the importance of stable blood
sugar was living through the experience of Abbi's pregnancy as well as the
birth and first year of Hunter's life.
I still have some trouble understanding why most of the health industry lost
focus on stable blood-sugar levels. You see, a fetus's core developmental factor
is its mother's blood-sugar levels. Keeping them stable is vital for its survival.
During Abbi's pregnancy she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes (the
type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy). The concern with this is that
if a fetus is constantly exposed to high levels of glucose (sugar), it is as if
the fetus were overeating. A fetus inside a mother who's living with
gestational diabetes produces more insulin to absorb the excess glucose (sugar),
which results in a gain in fetal size and fetal weight. It's interesting how our
adult bodies work the same way a fetus does. A fetus getting too much glucose
(sugar) can become too large, leading to birth complications for the fetus and
mother. Once Abbi was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, the number-one
focus during her pregnancy became keeping her blood-sugar levels stable.
Fortunately, Abbi was already active, healthy, and eating correctly. . . . She
had a great foundation. When our doctor diagnosed Abbi with gestational
diabetes, he brought one of the hospital's dietitians into the room to provide
us with proper nutrition information. Abbi and I were given information that
was outdated by a couple of decades. The hospital's dietician was a nice lady,
and both she and our doctor had the best intentions . . . they were just out of
touch. Just imagine, if you will, Abbi and me, having already trekked along
a path filled with years of frustration, sitting in a doctor's office listening
to outdated and inaccurate methods for stabilizing her blood sugar for the
health of our baby. As you can guess, we thanked the dietician for her time,
and I proceeded to design Abbi's nutrition and exercise program through-
out her pregnancy, while our doctor monitored her insulin requirements. We
monitored her blood-sugar levels very carefully, and Hunter was born at a
normal weight and size. He was a healthy seven-pound baby boy.
What was very interesting was what occurred within the first five
minutes of Hunter's life, when the nurses tested his blood sugar. His survival
depended on his blood sugar being within the normal range. If his blood
sugar was too low, we would have had to immediately get food into his little
body to stabilize his levels to make sure that his body could function
correctly. Fortunately, since Abbi controlled her blood-sugar levels throughout
the pregnancy, Hunter was of normal size and his body immediately
processed glucose correctly. In the first few hours of his life, the nurses wanted
Hunter to drink breast milk or formula (made to match breast milk). Both of
these food sources are a combination of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. The
nurses also spoke about the importance of meal frequency: Hunter should
be breast-feeding every three hours. I knew this meal structure, along with
the balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates in Abbi's breast milk, would
naturally keep his blood sugar stable and assist in his body's proper
development and growth. To emphasize the importance of this information, the
hospital offered a class for new mothers specifically focused on "how to
properly feed your baby." This approach to proper nutrition continued through
Hunter's first year of life. At every single doctor visit, the number-one topic
was Hunter's nutrition, particularly his caloric intake and meal intervals.
During Hunter's first year of life, an industry that I thought was outdated
was actually teaching blood-sugar stabilization for babies. This led me to ask
a few questions: First, how could most medical professionals be so correct
with a baby's nutrition and so off with an adult's nutrition? Our physiology
doesn't change, our body's ability to create energy doesn't change, and our
need for nutrients doesn't change. If our bodies are meant to be fed a certain
way during the first year of life, why should our focus change afterward?
I took a step back, thought about the questions, and realized that the
answers are simple. We choose to abandon how the body is supposed to be fed
because, after the first year, the business and complicated nature of life get in
the way. We are extremely fragile in the first year of life. During that time,
we develop at a rapid pace every day. To ensure proper development as well
as to survive, we need to be correctly fed. Once we pass that one-year mark,
our bodies have stored enough body fat, and we've become strong enough,
that our meal intervals and nutrient ratios are capable of change. Now, even
though it makes sense for us to continue following the same pattern that
we did during the first year of life (the way our bodies are meant to be fed),
society, life, and lack of education become roadblocks that shift our focus
away from eating correctly. Once Hunter turned one year old, his doctor's
appointments shifted focus to height/weight charts and food pyramid
recommendations, not blood-sugar stabilization. The reason everything seems
to work so well for the first year of a child's life is that meal intervals, calories
per meal, and nutrient ratios are based on instinct. Whether with breast milk
or formula, a baby must be fed this way. Every study supports these facts.
Think about it: doctors never explain why we feed our babies like this . . .
it's just what we're supposed to do.
Excerpted from Body Confidence by Mark MacDonald Copyright © 2011 by Mark MacDonald. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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