The secret to losing 20 pounds? You have to work with your fat, not against it. Here in Episode 22 on The Inform Fitness Podcast, Adam Zickerman and his team are joined by biochemist and author of The Secret Life of Fat, Dr. Sylvia Tara.
Dr. Tara explains how you can outsmart your body fat, with cutting-edge research and historical perspectives to reveal fat’s true identity. Once you understand it…you can beat it.
For The Secret Life of Fat audio book in Audible click here: http://bit.ly/TheSecretLifeofFat_IFF_Podcast
To purchase The Secret Life of Fat in Amazon click here: http://bit.ly/TheSecretLifeofFat_Amazon
Don’t forget Adam's Zickerman’s book, Power of 10: The Once-a-Week Slow Motion Fitness Revolution. You can buy it from Amazon by clicking here: http://bit.ly/ThePowerofTen
To find an Inform Fitness location nearest you to give this workout a try, please visit www.InformFitness.com. At the time of this recording, we have locations in Manhattan, Port Washington, Denville, Burbank, Boulder, Leesburg and Resten
If you'd like to ask Adam, Mike or Sheila a question or have a comment regarding the Power of 10. Send us an email or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join Inform Nation and call the show with a comment or question. The number is 888-983-5020, Ext. 3.
For information regarding the production of your own podcast just like The Inform Fitness Podcast, please email Tim Edwards at tim@InBoundPodcasting.com
The Transcriptions for the entire episode is below:
22 The Secret Life of Fat
Tim: Hey InForm Nation, thanks for joining us once again here for episode 22 of the InForm Fitness Podcast, twenty minutes with New York Times bestselling author, Adam Zickerman and friends. I’m Tim Edwards with the InBound Podcasting network, and a client of InForm Fitness, and after some time off, excited to finally get back behind the mic with our team. Let’s start with Sheila Melody, the co-owner and general manager of the Burbank location. Sheila, nice to see you again.
Sheila: Hey Tim, great to be back with everybody again!
Tim: It’s been a while, and the rest of our team as always, still joining us via Skype from the Manhattan location in New York City headquarters for the InForm fitness empire. General manager Mike Rogers and the founder of InForm Fitness, Adam Zickerman. What’s up gents, good to see you again!
Adam: Hey guys.
Mike: All is good.
Tim: Adam, in your book Power of Ten: The Once a Week Slow Motion Fitness Revolution, you described the three pillars necessary to achieve maximum success with the slow motion, high-intensity strength training system. For those who are just joining us for the first time, Adam please remind us of those three pillars.
Adam: Exercise, rest, and nutrition.
Tim: And nutrition. We spent a lot of time on this podcast discussing pillar one, exercise, and our special guest today also joining us via Skype, will allow us to dive deeper into pillar number two, which as you just mentioned Adam, is nutrition. We’re pleased to welcome our guest who has a PhD in biochemistry and is the author of The Secret Life of Fat, Dr. Sylvia Tara. Glad to have you with us today.
Sylvia: Great, thank you. It’s terrific to be here.
Tim: All four of us have spent the last couple of weeks digesting this book. I think Adam and Mike read the book, and Sheila, we listened to the book via Audible. It really helped us all change the way we look at fat, which I know is the point of the whole thing, but before we get started, Adam, I know you were the one who introduced this topic to the team here. What is it Adam that made you want to bring Sylvia on, to discuss The Secret Life of Fat?
Adam: Well it was back in 2007 that I read this Scientific American article, that was called, if I remember correctly, What Fuels Fat, and it was then that I saw that Scientific American article that I realized how complicated fat is, and how complex it is. It was the first time that somebody had referred to fat as an organ, and then, recently, I’m listening to NPR and there’s Dr. Tara talking about this book, which I thought the title was amazing. The Secret Life of Fat, and it reminded me of back in 2007, ten years ago, about this article I had read in Scientific American, and I was like oh my god. I had forgotten all about that, I’ve got to get this book and read it. You did such a great job, Dr. Tara, as far as breaking down such a complex subject and making us understand, quite honestly, how difficult it is to understand fat and we’re in the personal training business, high-intensity exercise business, and all of our clients, most of them, are struggling with fat loss. I thought maybe we can use your book to prompt conversation and be honest with our clients and basically tell them what the facts are. What to expect when it comes to battling the bulge.
Mike: What they’re up against.
Sylvia: That’s a great idea, and that’s also why I decided to go and do all this research, because I’m one of those people who has a lot of trouble managing weight. I always gain weight very easily, even as a child, I packed on pounds much easier than my friends who ate candy and ice cream all day long, and as I got older, it just got worse. Some of my old tricks stopped working, I had all these tricks in my twenties where I could take weight off pretty quickly if I had to, but then after having two kids, after launching a career and getting very busy, being stretched and traveling, my old tricks weren’t working anymore. I went on a number of diets, there’s always this new diet, and I tried a number of them every year, and sometimes they would work, they would work temporarily. Sometimes I could even gain weight on some of these diets, and I’d worked with personal trainers too, and they’re all really — just [Inaudible: 00:03:59] their
dogma, they have a certain philosophy they follow and one of them is you have to eat enough calories to lose weight. They were always stunned at how little I actually had to eat, and even then, I wasn’t skinny, so I was about to go on yet another diet; I think paleo was all the rage and I said let me try this, and I started reading about just how complicated it was and I thought you know what, forget it. I said before I go on even one more diet, I’m going to understand everything there is to know about fat. I’m a biochemist by training, and if anyone can understand fat, I can. So I read everything, I think I pulled over a thousand articles out of the scientific literature, I read them all, and I talked to over fifty thought leaders, leading researchers around the world about this, their cutting edge research on fat. What I was finding out, which was so interesting, so astounding; it turned out that fat wasn’t anything I thought it was, it’s not just a reserve of calories, it’s not just holding energy, waiting for us to use it. It has a whole life of its own underneath there. It can fight back when we try to lose it, it controls our thoughts about food, it controls metabolism. It can divert blood supply to itself, it’s doing all these really strange things. It’s as if it’s another person inside of you, and if you’re not equipped, if you don’t understand what fat really is, you’re just about bound to keep going on diets and regaining and regaining. The diet industry tends to make you think you’re doing something wrong. If this diet doesn’t work for you, it’s really simple to follow, and then it’s your fault; surely you’re not staying on it, surely you’re not adhering, and that’s not the case. Having people feel that guilt isn’t helping them, it’s causing frustration and then it’s leading to binging, it’s leading to
depressed feelings and things like that. So I think once we just educate ourselves on fat, what it is exactly, why it’s so hard to lose, the better equipped we are to stay very persistent. So knowledge is power, and in this case in particular, I think just having that knowledge helped me stay on something. It also helped me not just follow siren songs, like with the new diet fad of the year, let me try that. It’s like now I’ve got it, I know what works for me now, I can tailor my own diet. I really just felt empowered, and hopefully, some of that is what I’m trying to do with people. You don’t have to follow my diet that worked for me, and I did something pretty extreme in my own experience to get off weight, but you can tailor something to work for you, depending on what you need psychologically, biologically, and for your lifestyle as well.
Adam: That’s a great introduction, and so while we’re talking about your quest to find out exactly what fat is, why don’t you explain what exactly is fat, and why is it called an organ?
Sheila: Like I said, fat, the way we think of it is like this blubber. It’s like this excess, greasy yellow stuff, and it’s funny because I have this plastic model of fat, and when I show it to people, their first reaction is like ew, that’s disgusting. We just have this whole image of what it is, but it’s doing so much more tha n just sitting there as this greasy, yellow substance. It actually produces hormones that our body depends on, and these are hormones, mostly only produced by fat. So you can think of fat as not just a reserve of calories, it’s an endocrine organ, like your adrenal cortex, it’s like your thyroid gland, it’s like any other endocrine organ we have. One of these hormones is leptin, and leptin has vast influence all over our body, I mean you’d be shocked at how much we defend on our fat for this hormone. Our brain size is linked to healthy fat, our brain size and the way we think, cognitive abilities even, is linked to an adequate supply of leptin which comes from fat. Our reproductive organs, particularly in women; if we get too low levels of fat, or if we have defective fat that’s not producing leptin, we can’t reproduce. Then there’s bones, bone strength is reliant on fat as well. Even wound healing, this was really interesting, that leptin binds within our veins and so people that have anorexia or, again,
defective fat, they don’t heal as quickly. We’re just at the tip of this, I think leptin was really in the 90s when it came out, and we’re just discovering more and more how important it is in our body, and how much we’re dependent on our fat for good health. One of the things too, is that leptin, because it does control our mind to some extent and it controls appetite, when we lose a lot of fat, like say 10% of our body weight, it has a big effect on us. Actually, our appetite will go through the roof, so leptin is released from fat cells, it goes into the blood, and it binds to the
hypothalamus region of our brain, and there’s an appetite center there. So with lower levels of leptin after losing quite a bit of weight, we actually get very, very hungry, we’re driven to eat. So our fat in a way is controlling itself, it’s driving us to actually come back. It will also lower our metabolism, so skeletal muscle during exercise, 25% fewer calories is what we’ll end up using, and 15% fewer during rest. So overall, you need 22% fewer calories after you’ve lost about 10% of your weight or more, compared to someone who has never lost weight. So to make that a little clearer for people, if someone is 150 pounds and they’ve been at that weight naturally for a good part of life, compared to someone who has lost 20 pounds, who was 170 pounds and lost 20 pounds to get to 150 pounds; the person who has lost weight to get to 150 will have 22% fewer calories than someone who is naturally there, and that’s because of the effect of lowering leptin, and the reduction in metabolism we get. So a diet is not just for six months, this effect I just talked about, higher appetite and lower metabolism, it’s been studied for six years, it’s seemed to last for six years. I think it can even last longer, I’ve talked to some people who have lost weight and they say they still feel like this, they still have to eat a lot less. So don’t pick a diet for six months, pick a diet that you’re going to stay on for years and years, that you like. It works with you, works with your lifestyle, works with what you like to eat, and in having its effect, it’s
helping you lose weight. Just knowing that I think has helped people a lot. I know my editor, when he read my manuscript for the book, he actually lost 15 pounds because he actually understood fat. He knew what was going on, he understood why he was hungry at night and all these other things, biochemically what fat was doing, and it’s just helped us all persist a little bit more.
Tim: Dr. Tara, for our audience, of course, they’re listening to the InForm Fitness Podcast because they participate with this high intensity, strength training system through Power of Ten. Let’s talk about exercise for a minute, and tell us how fat is affected with high-intensity strength training, like we do at InForm Fitness.
Sylvia: There’s a bunch of things, so what we can do really to get smarter about fat and how we manage it, is it’s one thing to not just manage it and be able to persist for long periods of time because we now understand fat, but you can start using hormones to your advantage. One of the hormones that’s been talked about all the time is insulin, lots of books on insulin and fat, and making sure we have low sugar. We’re not provoking too much insulin because insulin helps store calories into fat tissue, and that’s all good and fine. Two other hormones to know about, one is growth hormone, that’s a great fat burning hormone, and we get less of it, we have less of it as we age, and so one thing is that it peaks at night. So what you can do is extend that overnight fasting part, and that will actually extend the release of growth hormone, really important as we age. Testosterone is another great fat burning hormone, and that also decreases as we age. Now high intensity interval training is good for a number of things: one is that is associated, exercise in general is associated with the release of growth hormone and testosterone, so some strength building exercise is good for growth hormone and testosterone, and even jogging is good for both hormones. Then [Inaudible: 00:11:32] is another hormone fat releases, and this is a hormone made by fat, and it actually helps clear our blood of triglycerides and put fat, circulating fat into fat tissue where it belongs. High-intensity interval training three times a week is associated with some of these hormones as well, and it decreases visceral fat, and so how I think of it is that you’re really affecting your hormones when you do HIIT. You’re increasing some of these fat-busting hormones, you’re helping get adiponectin, and you’re reducing your visceral fat. I think it’s one of the reasons that works very well, because when you think about it, you’re not exercising for long, you’re doing it for a short period of time but extremely intensely, and that’s affecting your hormones and how your body is reacting to it. It’s a great trick, I think, to just help remove stubborn fat.
Sheila: I was so inspired by your book Dr. Tara because I totally related to your personal story, and I’m middle-aged, and I’m suddenly going what in the hell is going on here? So it was really nice, even being in the fitness business, being a personal trainer, being involved in all of this for my entire life basically, so I was very encouraged by your story, to make some changes and to understand why you want to add certain exercises in. The diet thing is one thing, but for me, what was a real a-ha moment was when you described why you would exercise. The hormones are listening, your fat is listening to you, so can you talk a little bit more about how your fat listens to you, and the messages you send to it. It’s way more important than just the calories you’re going to burn by doing that cardio or whatever exercise you’re doing.
Sylvia: That’s exactly right. So your fat can talk and it can listen, so it’ll talk by sending out hormones. It can talk to your brain and tell you how to think about food, and it can talk to your muscles and have it lower metabolism, so it’s a way of communicating, and a lot of different organs in our body will emit hormones, and it has a whole communication system inside that you’ve never even considered and thought about. So it can talk by releasing leptin, adiponectin, and even other hormones. It can also listen, our fat, it can listen to other hormones coming from other organs. It has receptors for estrogen and testosterone on them, a number of other receptors too, so when other parts of our body starts releasing those hormones, our fat grabs it, it listens to it. It has ears if you will, and those hormones will tell fat what to do. So testosterone will help fat liquidate itself, even estrogen will, growth hormone certainly will. So when we’re exercising, we’re changing the communication signals in our body in a number of ways. Not only is our fat listening, but our muscles, our bones, we have a lot of different communications between these different organs, and so I think that’s the smart way to fight fat. Calories do matter, I wouldn’t say they don’t, but more importantly is what are you doing with your hormone levels, and very small changes can actually have a pretty good effect. That’s shown, I do a little writing about hormone replacement therapy which is really big here, especially in California, and it works wonders for people. I’m not ready for that yet, I wasn’t ready to get external hormones injected in, but I did really work hard at ways to naturally increase some of these hormones that decline with age, including growth hormone and testosterone in particular, and adiponectin, just releasing that from fat. You did bring up women, and women in particular, we battle fat much more. I don’t think there’s a single woman in the world who wouldn’t agree that men have an easier time losing weight than women do.
Sheila: That’s the other thing I got from this book, I was like oh my god, it’s true! It’s just the hard truth though, it’s the way it is, and understanding that helps us to — what about even the way that we eat and the nutrition partitioning? Also if you could speak a little bit about the cardio, when you said women exercise and when it goes over beyond 4-600 calories, how it’s different between men and women.
Sylvia: Sure. Just to make everyone feel better, women are fatter, we think even in utero, compared to — from the time they exist, girl babies have more fat than boy babies, and the single best predictor is gender when it comes to fat in infants. It’s not age, it’s not length, not any of those things, it’s gender, so many reasons for why women do gain more weight than men, but we can go over a few of them. One of them is nutrient partitioning, so when we eat something, say like a hundred calories or so, we’ll actually partition more of those nutrients into fat,
compared to what men will do. So as an example, if we eat about a hundred calories, we’ll put about thirty calories say, for example, compared to men who might put 15 calories of those into their fat, compared to their lean tissue. So we put more in, and women actually utilize their fat differently as well. So after a time of energy depletion, like after an overnight fast, after we’ve slept for a long time, or after we’ve exercised intensely and we’ve depleted some energy, women’s bodies will reach for fat as a source of energy, whereas men will reach more for
glycogen and for protein. You would think this was a great thing because we’re using our fat and we’re going to lose all this weight now. The issue is that after we’ve replenished and after we went to energy depletion, we’re actually storing fat much more efficiently than the men, two to three times more efficiently than men do. So for the one hour we’re exercising or whatever, yeah, we’re burning more fat off, but the rest of the day, we’re packing more fat away. There’s some good news for women in all of this, that even though we tend to be a little bit softer, a little bit fatter than men, the good part is that we are clearing those triglycerides out of our blood and putting it into some subcutaneous fat tissue where it belongs. So subcutaneous fat tissue is that fat tissue right underneath our skin, compared to visceral fat, which is fat underneath the stomach wall, which is less healthy. Women are very good at clearing triglycerides, fats, out of our blood and putting it into subcutaneous fat, and that keeps us more safe from cardiovascular disease, from metabolic issues, that tend to run a little bit higher in men. Men actually are not as efficient at this, and it’s one of the reasons why they have more visceral fat, and more cardiac disease as well. So just take some solace in that, although we’re softer, we don’t fit into jeans as well, we can’t eat as much, overall our bodies are doing what they’re supposed to do, which is putting fat into our blood and storing it into safe deposits where it belongs. So when we burn off, say, around six hundred calories, so a really good bout of exercise, we release more ghrelin, 33% more ghrelin than men do, and ghrelin is a hunger hormone that comes out of the stomach. So we respond more to exercise, and then it also leads to more compensation. If you put a buffet out in front of us after we’ve done that exercise, we’ll eat more than men do, and the interesting part is even after we eat more, we still have 25% higher ghrelin, and so that’s a lesson learned for women I think. Either keep the exercise a little bit more moderate, or really distract yourself after you exercise. Go watch TV or go shopping, in fact go shopping for jeans and you’ll see how much you don’t want to eat. Just do something, be aware that you’re hungrier and you have to really control the reaction to want to fill yourself up.
Sheila: Does it pass after a certain amount of time?
Sylvia: I haven’t seen research on it but I can tell you my experience, no, it’ll be all day. My own little trick is I exercise at night, so I’ll exercise between 7, even up to 10 o’clock, and I’ll just go to bed. If I sleep on it, it’ll disappear, I’m not as hungry the next day as I am during the day.
Adam: Dr. Tara, to change the subject a little bit, because there’s so much in your book that you touch on, and one of the most fascinating things about fat and how we retain fat is this biome in our stomachs. It turns out, as you say, people have different biomes in their stomach, and depending upon their bacterial content if you will, the types of bacteria that make up their biome, that will depend on whether you’re obese or not, or whether you’re thin or not.
Sylvia: That’s a really interesting field, and a quickly changing field, I feel like they’re learning new things all the time. The thinking, the standard thinking was that if you have a higher proportion of [Inaudible: 00:19:59] in your gut compared to [Inaudible: 00:20:02], that those people tended to extract more calories out of food, they tended to be heavier, and it’s a cycle. So what we eat also affects the bacteria that we have, so people who are eating higher fats, higher carbohydrates, they were having the type of phyla associated more with extracting calories and having a heavier body type. People who were eating more fruits and vegetables had a different phyla, they had more diversity, and so I think what they’re seeing now, there’s a little bit of movement away from that type of thinking of [Inaudible: 00:20:33] and more thinking about diversity in our gut. People who have higher diversities of bacteria tend to have a leaner body type, and it’s all really interesting because another observation was that the bacteria we have in our gut, it tends to run in families. So they’re wondering if this is how obesity is growing,
because once somebody has someone’s bacteria that is associated with a thicker body type, is it spreading to children, is it having something to do with childhood obesity? This is moving, so there are things we can do though. One is what I just said, when you eat more fruits and vegetables, it’s tougher to digest those. So one way bacteria works is that it helps us digest foods that our normal body could not, things like polysaccharides and fibrous foods, plants. It helps turn all those starches into glucose, something we can easily absorb. It also helps with fat storage as well, so the more we’re giving our microbiome a run for the money, really nice tough salads and things like that, more is passing into waste than would be getting absorbed into our gut. Also just keeping your gut healthy, I think some of these probiotics and like artichokes, bananas, legumes, also keep a nice gut lining, a healthy mucous lining, that also fosters a good diversity of bacteria. So there’s a lot of diet books on this in no field alone, but it is a quickly changing field scientifically. I think the best advice we can take from it right now is just try to eat more fruits and vegetables; it’s very trite advice, I’m aware of that, but part of it is that I just wanted to understand how the microbiome was working. It’s viruses too that do have an effect, and I write about being able to catch fat in a way. There’s some viruses associated with higher weight gain and obesity, and I write about that pretty much at length in the book, but I think it’s not all bad news. We just have to work harder, so if you have a microbiome that’s tilted towards gaining weight, you will have to work harder, you'll have to eat a little less, you’ll have to eat more
salads versus more fats and high carbohydrates. If you have the virus, I mean that’s tough too, and I write about one patient who did have the virus and he gained weight excessively easily. He just has to eat less, it’s harder for him, he’ll eat about 1200 calories a day and he’s 6’1”, he’s a big guy. It’s just the way it is, and I think part of what I want to do in my book is let’s just face facts. Let’s not pretend this is easy, let’s not say it’s the simple diet of 1, 2, 3, and you’ll lose weight. For some of us it’s just harder, and at least know why it is harder, and then there are some small tweaks you can make that will help you fight your fat in a smarter way.
Tim: Dr. Terra, I’ve got to tell you one of the many things I enjoyed about your book is how you not only provided all of us with a very detailed science lesson regarding fat, but how you describe both the harm fat can cause, and its usefulness in the form of the patient stories, one of which you just referred to right now. So it’s a great read, it’s very informative, I think it’s changed the four of our lives in how we look at fat and it’ll do the same thing for our audience as well too. I know we’re short on time but I do want to, if we can, add one more element to this. You mentioned genetics. We’re all victims of our genetics, but exercise can help us fight what we’ve inherited negatively through our genetics.
Sylvia: That’s right. So for genetics, what they do find is that exercise can attenuate some of the effect of these genetics, so if you increase exercise by six times or more over resting metabolism, which is achieved by running four to six miles an hour, or cycling about twelve to sixteen miles per hour, it actually attenuates some of the effects of those genes. It’s like even at some point your genes have to just give up and give in, and admit that you’re using a lot of energy and it can’t hold on anymore. Again, it’s one of these instances where we just have to work a little bit harder, there’s one gene, FTO, that actually causes a higher desire to eat energy dense foods, so things like cookies and brownies, and with kids who have this variation, when we test them, they’ll actually go to a buffet and compare them to normal kids who don’t have this FTO
variation, they found that kids with the FTO variation, they actually will load up much more on things like chips and cookies, compared to the other kids. It affects appetite as well, so it still gets down to the things that we can do, and that includes food, it includes eating smart, eating for your hormones, exercising for your hormones. Just being a little smarter about it, don’t quite think of it as calorie in, calorie out. There’s certain times of the day that you can eat or not eat and it’ll help you release more of that growth hormone, more of those fat busting hormones.
Certain types of things that you can eat that will affect your hormones, and I’m not just talking about insulin, but growth hormone and testosterone too. So think very holistically about it. There are some treatments coming out in the future that I’m hopeful will help people lose weight. One of them is leptin injections, if that will ever get approved. So like I said, we lose leptin when we lose fat, and what they’ve done is actually inject leptin back into people who have lost 10% of their fat or more, and they find that their metabolism improves, and their quest to eat is not as strong anymore. So it helps them maintain the lower weight, but that’s way off in the future I’m sorry to say; that’s going to be another ten years, minimum, before that would ever reach consumers. There’s other things too, there’s injecting brown fat, brown fat is a type of fat which will actually burn calories versus white fat, which the main function is to store, and that will is also far into the future. In the meantime what we can do is just be smart, customize a diet that works for you. Really keep a log of what you eat, when, what type of food it is, and then weigh yourself every day, and you’ll start to see where the correlation is. Everybody is really different, and in The Secret Life of Fat, I write about this research from Israel actually, where they’ve studied a large number of people and they look at their blood sugar after they eat various foods. What they noticed is that some people can eat chocolate and they can have alcohol and they don’t get a blood sugar spike; other people can’t, they react, and so they’re storing more fat as well because the blood sugar spike leads to insulin, that will help store all of that into fat. So we’re all really different, and it varies based on a lot of things that we talked about, like the genetics, microbiome, gender, etc. So some things will work for you that don’t work for your neighbor and vice versa, so just be very attentive. Watch what you can eat versus can’t, I know there’s some things I can’t believe I can get away with, everyone will tell me I’m crazy for eating this but it doesn’t make me gain weight. I can have small amounts of chocolate in the middle of the day, nothing bad happens to me, thank god because I really can’t live without it.
Tim: You just made a lot of people mad, Dr. Tara.
Mike: And happy. They’ll have to troubleshoot for themselves. I have one last quick question, Sylvia. We talked about nutrition, we talked about fitness and the troubleshooting processes with regulation of your fat, to either gain or to lose. I know you mentioned in your book a little bit about cortisol and stress management, and what we know about as far as weight gain or weight loss. I know we have a lot of clients who are under stressful times in their life, and I’m not sure if the correlation is directly related to that or other things or whatever, but I’ve seen people gain a lot of weight or lose a lot of weight as a result of stress.
Sylvia: I know there’s news about cortisol, I actually think too much might be made out of cortisol. Cortisol has a link to abdominal fat, so when we’re stressed out, we have more cortisol which is linked to some amounts of fat. I think more the issue is how we psychologically react to stress. So being on a diet, maintaining a good, healthy regimen, it actually takes an application of willpower, and when people have stress in their lives, like even during the recession or a bad economic time, or they lose a job or are going through a divorce, they are less able to stay with something else that requires stress. It’s like all the stress is being focused on this one event, and they can’t absorb more. So in a way, our willpower is like a muscle and it can be depleted. In fact, in the recession that we had more recently around 2008, candy sales soared. So people didn’t feel like being on a diet, they just want to indulge, they’re stressed out, so I think psychological factors are more of it than even cortisol. Those are things that are important to note because we never get rid of stress in our lives, I mean I get stressed out just sitting in traffic. There’s stress all around us, so one thing is if you’re going through a really stressful time, it’s not a great time to start a diet honestly. You’ll just feel like a failure if you do try because it gets hard. So choose a diet at the right time and then manage to stay on it. Two important things to know when you’re staying on a diet and really giving a good effort is that you actually need to reward yourself. Our willpower gets depleted at times, and they find that hospital workers who are told to wash their hands all day, towards the end of the day, they’ll just stop. They just don’t feel like doing it, but if they give them longer breaks between their shifts, they’ll continue to wash their hands during the day. So there’s something around being depleted, feeling like you’ve had enough of a break in between that you can stay on a regimen. So give yourself a break either by going off your diet every once in a while, or going off and doing something fun, but make sure that you’re entering in some happiness. Another study I talk about is people who have a hand exerciser for a long time, a hand gripper, and they divide them into two: they have one watch a sad movie for a while and then another group watch a happy movie, and then they give them the hand exerciser back, the hand gripper back. They find the people who watched the happy movie can stick with that hand gripper a long time, so scientifically, you actually need to recharge, you need to come off and have some fun. The important thing is to get right back on, and this is where dichotomous thinking can come on. So people sometimes when they go off a diet, they go down this slippery slope where they can’t get back on. Like I’ve had ice cream, I’ve completely failed, and now I’m just going to go off, it doesn’t matter. That’s called dichotomous thinking, and people who have that problem are actually more prone to depression, they’re more prone to eating disorders, so it’s a really bad thing to have, and women have it much more than men do. I’ve read about that in studies —
Adam: Add that to the list.
Sylvia: So the self love element is really important, and it’s funny, I write it about in the book. There’s one researcher from Mayo who said that women get something out of food that men don’t; when men come off their diet, they’re like yeah I had a beer, so what? I’m going to get back on and women are going to be like I had all these problems and I gave up, and I feel really badly now. The successful weight coaches or weight loss coaches, they’re very good at coaching people back on. So if you can do that for yourself, you’ll have so much more success than if you just beat yourself up every time you come off. You’re going to have come off, you can’t stay on, you need to recharge yourself, and then be forgiving. You came off, but you had 30 great days ahead of that, so now you’re just going to have another 30 great days going forward. So tons of advice in the book, and as you can see from all my talking, there’s a lot of research in it, a lot of points to know.
Tim: The book is The Secret Life of Fat, it brings together cutting edge research with historical perspectives to reveal fat’s true identity, and this episode, like you just said, we’ve just scratched the surface of all of the valuable information contained in this book, which is available Walmart, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Audible, and other locations as well. Dr. Sylvia Tara, thanks so much for joining us here at the InForm Fitness Podcast. We certainly wish you the best of luck with your book, and really appreciate you being with us, thank you.
Sylvia: Great, thank you so much. It was great to be here.
Tim: We’ll include links in the show notes to Dr. Sylvia Tara’s book, The Secret Life of Fat. Just scroll down past the description in your podcast app, and you’ll find links to purchase the hard copy of her book in Amazon, or if you’re like me and you like to listen to your books, we’ll have a link to the book in Audible. You’ll also find the link to pick up Adam’s book, Power of Ten: The Once a Week, Slow Motion Fitness Revolution. Included in Adam’s book are several exercises that support this protocol that you can actually perform on your own if you don’t
happen to live near an InForm Fitness location. For those that do live in Manhattan, Port Washington, Denville, Burbank, Boulder, Leesburg, and Reston, good news, there’s an InForm Fitness to you. Pop on over to informfitness.com to get a glimpse of each location. Better yet, set up a consultation to begin your own journey with the Power of Ten. Be sure to join us next week, because Adam has a confession he would like to make to all of us who are a part of InForm Nation. I’ll tell you this much, it’s something that he’s been struggling with most of his life, and something that a lot of us might have in common with him. To guarantee that you don’t
accidentally miss an upcoming episode of the InForm Fitness Podcast, just subscribe, it’s very simple. Hit the subscribe button and every single Monday morning, we’ll have a new episode waiting for you. For Sheila Melody, Mike Rogers, and Adam Zickerman of InForm Fitness, I’m Tim Edwards, with the InBound Podcasting network.