My healthy living message is simple: eat nutritious food in reasonable amounts, move your body more and manage your stress. It’s not rocket science. You don’t need to be a registered dietitian to know that a salmon and broccoli dinner is a better choice than a Carl’s Jr. Double Western Double Cheeseburger with large fries. Of course, it’s seductively easy to succumb to the pleasures of high fat, super caloric foods. While eating comfort food may provide immediate gratification and serve as a reward after a stressful day, the inevitable outcome is that your body starts to resemble an In-N-Out Double-Double. What do you do then? You look for a quick fix, of course. And you want to take off the added baggage immediately, if not sooner. So, why go through the agony of making lifestyle changes, when you can just down a pill? It’s the American way.
Who’s the go-to guy for the quick fix? How about a well-respected cardiac surgeon, a Professor of Surgery at Columbia University, and the esteemed Director of the Cardiovascular Institute and Complementary Medicine Program at New York Presbyterian Hospital? If these credentials don’t impress you, he’s also a prolific writer, author of seven New York Times best sellers, and Forbes most influential celebrity of 2010-11. Thanks to Oprah he graces the airways daily. Unless you’ve been holed up in an ashram for the last decade, you know that I’m referring to none other than Dr. Oz.
Dr. Oz’s imprimatur is so powerful that any fat burning pill he mentions on his daily television show flies off the shelves immediately. Currently, the quick weight loss guru is trumpeting Garcinia Cambogia, a small fruit known as a tamarind, as “the most exciting breakthrough in weight loss to date.” But, wait a minute. In the past, he’s recommended Raspberry Ketones, green coffee bean extract, African mango, red palm oil, acai berry extract, saffron extract, and 7-Keto DHEA as fat incinerating breakthroughs. With all these miracles under his belt, Dr. Oz must be a shoe-in for canonization.
The fact that Dr. Oz’s audience continues to trek to GNC, clutching hope in the form of a scrawled note with the name of the latest Oz recommended pill, is a testament to how difficult it is to change our habits. Convenient, inexpensive fast food in supersized portions is everywhere. Workplace kitchens seem to spawn an endless supply of donuts, cookies, chocolates, and leftover cake. Receptions and fatty hors d’oeuvres go hand in hand. Restaurant entrees serve three and then the waiter asks “Have you saved room for dessert?” Is it any wonder we overindulge?
Unfortunately, no matter how many overnight weight loss solutions Dr. Oz trumpets, none actually works. The only way to avoid joining the ranks of the 69.2% of adults in the US that are overweight or obese is to accept the calories in/calories out equation as your reality. Habit change is a step by step process that takes time and patience. The 20-30 extra pounds did not appear overnight and will not melt like spring snow no matter how many pills you take. If you shed it quickly, your resolve will eventually weaken and the extra pounds will find you again. My advice: Take it slow—be a tortoise not a hare.