Hefty Friends, Bad Influence

Hefty Friends, Bad Influence

Expert’s Name: Gail Edgell
Are overweight friends making you fat

You have to love this study that was just published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that if you “hang out” with healthier, active friends, you are more likely to adopt those habits.

In other words, if your friends are always going to fast food restaurants on a Friday night, it is hard for you to say no.

I must admit, if my husband drives up to our local ice cream shop, I am more likely to get something.  I doubt very much if I would every go their by myself.   So perhaps misery does love company.

But on the other hand, if someone stopped at a fast food restaurant, would I get something. All I have to say is that I have to be very hungry.

So what are you thoughts?  Do you think your friends influence your decisions?

Reference: timesofindia.indiatimes.com.

Menopause Diet: Fighting the Battle of the Bulge

Menopause Diet: Fighting the Battle of the Bulge

Expert’s Name:  Gail Edgell
Menopause bloating and weight gain



Yep, you hit 40 and something happened to your body.  All of the sudden you have a pot belly.  Where did this come from?

It can be due to a number of reasons exhausted adrenals or even a decrease in production of estrogen.  The list goes on and on.

At one time or another, I am sure you thought about getting liposuction.  Perhaps, only for a moment, but I am sure it has crossed every woman’s mind.

Well a new study has surfaced that I do not find surprising.  The results were published in the Obesity journal.  After women had liposuction, if they regained the weight in returned in different areas.

I have personally observed this in my own personal training clients.

So you might ask why.  The easiest explanation is that when a person has liposuction fat cells are removed.  Therefore, when they gain the weight back the remaining fat cells that are elsewhere get bigger.  If they continue to gain lots of weight, fat cells will eventually multiply.

As most of you know liposuction is a risky procedure.  There are many complications associated with it.  But I think the lesson to be learned here is if you choose liposuction, diet and exercise must accompany it.  Or perhaps have liposuction done to your whole body.  Just joking!

Remember, there is no easy menopause diet or weight loss solution.

Reference: nytimes.com/2011/05/01/weekinreview/01kolata.html?src=recg

Weight Gain vs. Menopause

Weight Gain vs. Menopause

Is Weight Loss Impossible During Menopause?
Interviewer: Gail Edgell


Gail Edgell: All of a sudden, women hit 40 or 45, and things start to change. They gain a lot of weight around the waist. What is really happening?

Dr. Chilkov:    As we age, our metabolism slows down, and there are many changes in our hormonal balance. We have to look at changes in estrogen, insulin and thyroid function as well as changes in lifestyle. Women can get more sedentary as they age because of the demands of life.

All of these factors will cause an increase in body fat. It’s lovely to be thin for cosmetic reasons and vanity. But really, we want to have low body fat and more muscle mass. High body fat increases our risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and depression. So many health issues are made worse by having a higher percentage of body fat. That should be our motivation for being leaner and thinner.


Gail Edgell: What can women do, starting in their 40s, to really combat this issue? Does it change as they are going into their 50s and 60s?

Dr. Chilkov: The bottom line is having a lifelong normal weight. Maintaining a normal fat-to-lean-body-mass ratio is a lifestyle. Then we deal specifically with metabolic issues with herbs and nutrients.

You have to include the lifestyle factor of regular exercise. If you want to maintain your weight, you want to exercise an hour three times a week. If you want to lose weight, you have to do that every day. You want to have a healthy diet and proper stress management — stress hormones cause your body to store fat. And you want to have adequate rest, so you aren’t swimming upstream against your own physiological factors.

There are a number of herbs and nutrients that we can use to help our body burn more fat, even while we are sitting. Let me introduce some of those.

The first one that I want to discuss is CLA; that is an abbreviation for conjugated linoleic acid. This is a type of fatty acid that promotes fat loss and muscle growth. It occurs in some foods — for example, it is very high in cottage cheese. I prescribe 1,000 milligrams, twice a day, in a capsule as part of a weight-loss program. It increases the burning of fat. That is how it helps us lose weight more efficiently. We are going to promote fat loss, but we also are going to promote muscle growth. Why is that important? Muscle has a higher metabolic rate, so it keeps us lean. If you have more muscle mass, you can eat more calories and still stay thin. You want to be using things that not only burn fat but also build muscle. That is a real key to staying lean.

CLA is used in treating other health concerns. It’s used in cancer care, in treating cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It’s not just used as a weight-loss supplement.

A lot of people have heard a lot about Green Tea and weight loss. It is a useful herb for weight loss because it, too, will improve fat metabolism. Green Tea also reduces appetite. It has a little bit of caffeine and the main medicinal component, ECGC. The decaffeinated form is not as effective for weight loss as the natural caffeinated form. It can be taken in capsules, or it can be taken as a beverage tea. When you take Green Tea in capsules, you want a fat-soluble capsule; it is much more effective. Green Tea really, really increases thermogenics, or energy expenditure (calorie burn), that can boost your metabolism by 4 percent a day.

Green Tea also helps keep blood sugar stable. That is why it reduces appetite. Keeping blood sugar stable is a big component of weight loss. If your blood sugar drops, your body will produce the stress hormone cortisol. That is a fat-storage hormone. Keeping your blood sugar stable during the day by eating small, frequent meals and not waiting too long to eat really makes weight loss much more efficient.

Green Tea is a fabulous antioxidant. It protects your cells from damage. Green Tea is also wonderful in cancer treatment and cancer prevention. There are many benefits to using Green Tea besides weight loss.


Gail Edgell: I know you spoke about Green Tea in a hot-tea formula, or a tea-bag formula. I know that there are hundreds out there on the market. What kind of Green Tea should people be purchasing?

Dr. Chilkov:    When you buy teas, herbal medicines or nutritional supplements, you want to buy the absolute highest quality. Buying a cheap brand is not the best way to get a real therapeutic outcome.


Gail Edgell: Are there other supplements that women can possibly take?

Dr. Chilkov: There are two more that I wanted to discuss. One is carnitine. Carnitine is the main amino acid in our muscle. It is also very important for our brain. But carnitine is required for fat metabolism. Sometimes vegetarians have trouble with weight loss because they are carnitine-deficient. They have very little carnitine in their diet because carnitine primarily comes from flesh foods.

Carnitine is another supplement that increases fat-burning and builds muscle. There are certain groups of people who really want to be careful about losing too much muscle — for example, the elderly, people who have chronic illnesses, and people who have cancers. When we want to build muscle, we put carnitine in the body. We can also use it when we want to lose fat. Carnitine enters a pathway in the cell that is part of the energy factory inside the cell. If you push that forward, you are going to burn more fat. Carnitine is required for that pathway in our cells. Without carnitine, we cannot burn fat for energy. Therefore, carnitine will benefit people who are suffering from fatigue as well as obesity. Carnitine is also helpful in treating some forms of depression.

About 800 to 1,000 milligrams three times a day is the dose I recommend. Carnitine can be taken in a powder form or a capsule form. Some supplement companies even make it in a liquid form, which I have found is useful in children.


Gail Edgell: Is there a possibility that individuals can overdose on these? I know that you have been making some recommendations — for example, 800 to 1,000 milligrams of carnitine three times a day. If people were to take more than that, what would happen? Are they urinating it out?

Dr. Chilkov:    There’s really not a lot of benefit from taking double or triple the doses. You want to stay in a therapeutic dose range, where you are going to alter your metabolism in a healthy way. I want to emphasize that what we want is healthy weight loss. And at the end of the weight loss, we want a healthy woman. If you lose weight in a healthy fashion, you will also keep it off. That will relieve you of yo-yo dieting.


Gail Edgell: You said that you had one last supplement to recommend?

Dr. Chilkov: I have one more that is not well known. It’s Coleus forskohlii, which is a plant. The main active constituent in that is called forskolin. Again, it increases your metabolism and thermogenesis — fat-burning, calorie burning and energy expenditure. The other thing about Coleus is that it will stimulate your thyroid. Of course, that will increase metabolism and weight loss as well.

Coleus also has another benefit in that it regulates insulin and blood sugar. I want to say a little bit about that because regulating insulin and blood sugar is another key to weight loss. CLA, which I mentioned at the beginning of this talk, also does that. You asked me why we gain weight around the middle as we age. The reason that happens is because a syndrome called insulin resistance develops. Insulin, the hormone that unlocks the door for sugar to go inside the cells, starts to become less efficient. We start to store our calories as fat rather than burn them as energy. When you use something like CLA or Coleus, you’re counteracting that pattern. That pattern develops more in people who abuse sugar and eat too many sweets. By limiting carbohydrates and sweets, you stop yourself from developing this fat storage around your abdomen due to insulin resistance. If you have a history of diabetes in your family, you are going to be much more prone to something like this.

Coleus is also a slight mood elevator. That, of course, will affect food cravings, our motivation to exercise and eat right. By dealing with things that affect our mood, levels of stress, anxiety and depression, we will be able to engage in healthy choices that cause us to be lean and to lose weight. I think it’s important to include things in your plan to address that aspect.


Gail Edgell: Did you say that Coleus forskohlii comes in a supplement form or liquid?

Dr. Chilkov: Typically, you will see it in capsule form. You will see weight-loss products that contain all of these ingredients. There are a number of good products out on the market, or variations of these. These four things that I have talked about can be used individually or together.

To summarize, what you want to do in a weight-loss program is make sure you are eating a diet that is appropriate for you. You do not want to be on an extreme low-calorie diet. You want a good balance between your proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fat. (Older women do better by limiting their carbohydrates. They will lose more weight by doing this because of the insulin relationship.) You want to have regular exercise. You want to make sure that you get adequate rest, keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day, and manage your stress well. If you do all of those things, you will become lean.


Gail Edgell: Sounds easier than it really is, right?

Dr. Chilkov:    If you set up some structure for yourself and stick with it, this is not extreme. This is very doable.


Note: This article is an edited transcript of an audio interview. Changes have been made.

Preventing Weight Gain During Menopause

Preventing Weight Gain During Menopause

Keeping Off the Menopause Weight
Expert’s Name:  Elizabeth Swales


Let’s face it; your bedroom closet has become a battlefield for your changing body.

Unfortunately, weight gain is not only a part of aging. It is also a symptom of perimenopause and it does have an effect on the changes your body can experience as you approach the second half of your life.  Hormones are essential for the proper functioning of a woman’s body.  Any disruption in the function of your hormones can, and will, affect how your body operates on a day-to-day basis.  There are many biological changes that can actually make you gain weight; estrogen imbalances, changes in thyroid function, changes in insulin, and even lifestyle changes.

All of these factors will cause an increase in body fat.

You want to have lower body fat and higher muscle mass because higher levels of body fat increase your risk of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune disorders, and even depression.

Is there a correlation between insulin resistance and weight gain?

We gain weight around our middle as we age.  The reason this happens is that a syndrome develops (‘insulin resistance’) where the insulin in our body, the hormone that unlocks the door for sugar to go inside the cells, starts to become less efficient.  When we eat we start to store our calories as fat rather than burning them as energy.  By limiting carbohydrates and sweets, you also stop yourself from developing this fat storage around your abdomen due to insulin resistance.

What can I do to take steps toward a healthier and leaner me NOW?

  • Change your lifestyle
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Get regular exercise
  • Manage your stress
  • Take advantage of relaxation techniques
  • Get adequate sleep

What if that’s not enough?  I’m a really healthy person and I still can’t lose those pesky five or ten pounds.

Nutritional supplements aid in the body’s ability to ward off disease and sickness.  When the body has a proper nutritional balance, these supplements have been known to have beneficial effects when it comes to losing weight –

Conjugated Linoleic Acid:

This supplement promotes fat loss and muscle growth.  We want to have low fat levels and high levels of muscle mass because muscle has a higher metabolic rate, which servers to keep us lean.

Green tea:

Drinking green tea extract has been reported, in recent studies, to produce a significant increase in energy expenditure; thus giving the body a metabolic boost when consumed.


Not only is Carnitine important for our brain, but it is required for fat metabolism.  Without Carnitine we cannot burn fat for energy.  Carnitine will also benefit people who are suffering from fatigue and obesity.

Coleus Forskolii:

Coleus Forskolii stimulates your thyroid, which, in turn, increases your metabolism and aids in weight loss.  This supplement also regulates insulin and blood sugar levels, one of the key ways to lose weight.  In addition, it is a slight mood elevator.  By dealing with things that cause anxiety and depression, we are able to engage in healthy choices that will cause us to be lean and to lose weight.

Weight Loss and Over 40

Weight Loss and Over 40

Expert’s Name:  Stephanie Ackerman
Menopausal Weight Gain

I want to be on the Biggest Loser so badly. The contestants get to work out several hours each day. It’s their job. They get yelled at, jumped on, and supported by Bob and Gillian. They have a program designed for them and have all the exercise equipment imaginable. They don’t have to think about what to do for their work out of the day. They are not bored with their workouts. They are shown how to eat, how to dress, and how to cook. They make lifelong friends and have a built in support system. They succeed in their weight loss. They see a table piled high with chocolate chip cookies (I love chocolate chip cookies) and they laugh at it.


So if I gain 75 lbs., can I get on the show?

Seems rather absurd, doesn’t it? Hanging my hope on gaining weight, so that I can lose!   The last 10-20 lbs. are the most difficult to lose. Even while eating healthy and exercising, the pounds have sneakily crept up and deposited themselves on my body. Things I could have eaten years ago, I can’t now. It will show instantly on my stomach and hips. Like most women during their 40s and 50s, my metabolism slowed down and I now find it harder to burn fat and lose weight.

I have to admit I have trouble watching the Biggest Loser and being a couch potato. Sometimes I jump on my mini trampoline and sometimes I do jumping jacks, sit-ups, squats, and lift hand weights during the commercials. Even if I exercised during the day, I just can’t sit back and relax during the Biggest Loser; it seems sacrilegious.

I also never eat during the Biggest Loser. Frankly, I don’t eat or drink ever after dinner. Many people sit at night in front of the television with snacks in hand, idly dipping in to bags and bowls and munching away. Most people who eat in front of the television have no idea how much they have consumed, because their attention is on the program and not on the food. I try not to eat after 7:00 p.m. unless I have a special occasion. This gives my body a chance to digest before dinner and to burn calories. Eating close to bedtime can affect sleep and sleep is too important to compromise.


What Can You do to be the Biggest Loser at Home?

  •  What can I learn from watching the Biggest Loser each week? What do the contestants do that I can do at home to achieve success?
  • Exercise-find an exercise that you like. Try to exercise 5-6 days a week.   Find a personal trainer to work with you. It is money well spent, but if you can’t, exercise with a friend. You can even teach them to yell like Gillian!
  • Go outside-Exercise doesn’t have to take place in a gym. Go to the beach, a hill, pool, rake leaves, walk, run or hike.
  • Vary your workouts so that you don’t get bored.
  • Find an eating plan that you can live with that supports your lifestyle. The goal is not to starve yourself and then binge, but to eat the proper amount of healthy food to sustain you throughout the day.
  • Cut out alcohol, caffeine, processed foods, (if you can’t pronounce an ingredient on the label, don’t put it in your body) and sugars.
  • Eat lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy proteins
  • Eat Breakfast-Successful weight loss begins with revving up the metabolism first thing in the morning.
  • Plan your menus ahead of time. Take a shopping list to the grocery store so you don’t impulse buy.
  • If you are going out to dinner review the menu on line, study the healthy choices, make a decision, and don’t be swayed by what might be a special or what others are ordering. Ask for your food to be prepared the way you like it. (no added salt, butter, cream sauces etc.)
  • Dress for your body type. Ask for help at the store. Throw out what doesn’t work in your closet.
  • Take a cooking class. Are you bored with what you are making? Branch out and take some cooking lessons and learn new recipes. Try new foods.
  • Enlist support. It might be from a personal trainer, a health coach, a friend or spouse. It is important that you share your goals with others and allow them to support you.
  • Finally, make small and reasonable goals for yourself. At each achievable goal reward yourself (not with chocolate chip cookies) with flowers, a massage, new shoes, or a show. You have earned it.

Making slow, steady, and healthy plans will help you reach your weight loss goals and lead a healthier life long after menopause. No matter how much you weigh, you can learn lessons from the Biggest Loser and apply them to your own life.