June 5th, 2011 20:02 EST
The Amen Solution: The Secret to Being Thinner, Smarter, and Happier
We live in a very bizarre time. Nearly everywhere we go we are being pounded by the wrong messages that will make us fat, depressed, and feeble-minded. There are the foot-long hot dogs at the ballpark, the huge meal portions at restaurants, the food pushers who ask us to supersize everything for less money, and the billboards pushing monster foods that WILL kill you early.
I was recently driving down the 405 freeway in Los Angeles when I saw a billboard for a huge fast food sandwich. And, then, no lie, as I turned my head to the other side of the freeway I saw a billboard for Losing Weight With Lap Band.
Indulge yourself, continually make bad decisions, and then pretty soon you will need surgery to get your inner child under control. Sounds pretty crazy. We need a better way.
In my new book The Amen Solution: The Brain Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Keep It Off, I am going to show you how to be thinner, smarter, and happier all at the same time by using 10 very simple brain-based solutions.
The idea for this book stems from two experiences. First, a few years ago I wrote a 12-week home study course for conquering anxiety and depression that we tested on hundreds of people across the country. When I was on the follow-up calls, the majority of people told me they felt less anxious and less depressed, which I had expected. But many people also told me that their memory was better and that they had lost 20 or 30 pounds " without trying! That was when I realized that with a better brain you also get a better body.
Second, I am in the middle of performing the world`s largest brain imaging study on retired NFL players. We have scanned and treated more than 100 players. For many years, the NFL said that it didn`t know if playing professional football caused long-term brain damage. After seeing a number of retired players at the Amen Clinics with depression and dementia, I decided to do a large study to try to answer the question about football and brain damage once and for all.
The results from our study were not a surprise. OF COURSE, PLAYING PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL CAN CAUSE LONG-TERM BRAIN DAMAGE. You cannot get hit by guys like Minnesota Viking Ron Yary (6`5", 290 pounds) 30-50 times a game and not expect to have some trouble. Individually and as a group their brains looked terrible. Plus, we found very high levels of depression, dementia, and obesity.
But the exciting news is that when we put our players on our brain healthy program, the same one I share in the book, many of them not only lost weight (more than half of the players were obese when they joined our study), but as a group they got significantly smarter and happier at the same time, and their brains were better!
Here is an example:
Big Ed White played 17 seasons in the NFL. When I first met Ed he weighed 365 pounds and scored very poorly on his cognitive tests. In addition to being scanned, all of our players undergo extensive testing for memory, reasoning and attention. After six months on our program, Ed lost 40 pounds, four pants sizes, and increased his memory and reasoning scores by 400 percent. He became thinner and smarter at the same time, even though his brain damage had occurred MANY years earlier.
Ed`s experience was not unique. Nearly 80 percent of our players show improvement on our program. What this means to you is that even if you have been bad to your brain you can often reverse the damage and get healthy.
To help you get started TODAY, here`s a snapshot of the 10 steps of The Amen Solution. They will help you begin your journey to getting thinner, smarter, and happier.
1. Boost your brain to avoid the Dinosaur Syndrome. " What`s the Dinosaur Syndrome? Big body + little brain = become extinct! The first step to getting thinner, smarter, and happier is to boost the physical functioning of your brain. Avoid things that hurt your brain, such as brain injuries, drug and alcohol abuse, chronic stress, smoking, and obesity. Engage in REGULAR brain healthy habits, such as great nutrition, sleep, exercise, new learning, and taking some simple supplements like fish oil.
2. Know your motivation every day. In order to lose weight and keep it off, you must have a burning desire to be healthy. Why do you care? Focus on what is motivating you to get healthy or the doughnuts will always win.
3. It`s not magic, it`s simple mathematics. When certain health numbers are out of whack it can prevent you from losing weight, sour your moods, and slow your thinking. Know your weight, BMI, waist-to-height ratio, daily caloric needs, and the number of calories you consume each day. Also check your vitamin D, thyroid, hormone, and blood sugar levels, and optimize them if they are not in the optimal range.
4. Journaling prevents calorie amnesia. Journaling every day is one of the most important tools for success. Keeping a food journal has been shown to DOUBLE weight loss in just 10 weeks, and keeping an online food journal makes you more likely to maintain weight loss.
5. Strengthen your brain to decrease your cravings. Discover nine secrets to conquering your cravings. For now, eat a nutritious breakfast every day and stay away simple sugars and refined carbohydrates.
6. Use food to heal your mind. You have to eat right to think right. For now, watch your calorie intake and think high-quality calories "a 400-calorie spinach salad with chicken, walnuts, and blueberries will feed your brain while a 400-calorie blueberry muffin will lead to brain fog and belly fat.
7. Know your brain type(s). When it comes to weight loss, one size does NOT fit all. Based on our brain imaging work at the Amen Clinics, we have identified at least five types of overeaters. Giving everyone the same diet will make some people better but some people worse. Knowing your brain type is critical to finding the right solutions to help balance your individual brain. You can discover your brain type by taking our questionnaire.
8. Targeted supplements to boost your brain and your body. For optimal brain health, take a daily multi-vitamin, fish oil, and vitamin D (if your levels are low) every day, plus the supplements geared to your individual brain type(s) and needs.
9. Tools to end emotional overeating. There are better ways to deal with stress and emotional upheaval than with food. Learning hypnosis, meditation, and challenging your ANTs (automatic negative thoughts) can be of tremendous help.
10. Overcome barriers. On your journey to get thinner, smarter, and happier, you will face obstacles on a daily basis. To help you overcome the barriers to success, plan ahead for your vulnerable times. To help you make better decisions during those times, think H-A-L-T, which stands for: don`t let yourself get too hungry, too angry, too lonely, or too tired.
Bonus Step: Influence others. Be a good role model so you can influence your family, friends, coworkers, church members, or schoolmates to get healthy too. When you get healthy and look great and feel great, it makes others want what you have.
By Daniel G. Amen, MD
Judyth Piazza chats with Daniel G. Amen, MD, Brain Imaging ...