Change Your Shape, Not Just Your Weight
We all now know that exercise and weight loss help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and some types of cancers.
Look at these recent survey results:
Health statistics84%  say they are physically active once a week
55% of Americans are trying to lose weight
90% have no clue how many calories they eat a day
40% think they have very good to excellent health
50% of people in the US eat breakfast (50% don’t)So, the US population is trying to get healthier or is at least cognizant of its lack of education on the subject.  Just as we need to develop better exercise routines, we also need to develop better eating habits. Here are a few basic rules I tell my plastic surgery patients:

1. You need muscle

Brisk walks no longer count!  The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association updated their exercise recommendations for adults ages 18 to 65 to recommend participating in moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 30 minutes a day 5 days a week. We have to build up or at least maintain muscle mass, as well as increasing our heart rates.

Short spurts of activity, including housecleaning, taking out the trash or walking to the office do not count. Those are the “exercises” I used to count on. We need 8-12 repetitions of  8-12 different exercises to build up all of the major muscle groups of the chest, legs, back, etc. You do the muscle training at least every other day.

Aerobic exercise is important, but not enough to maintain a healthy body. Add muscle training to your workout two times a week.

2. Set small goals to improve your body

It’s best to try small changes in your daily habits to achieve significant long-term gains. Small changes in your diet, such as decreasing carbohydrates, decreasing alcohol and changing the routine of what you eat for lunch can all help. Likewise, with exercise, start with small goals; start with 10 minutes exercise 3 times a week and then build up to 30 minutes 5 times a week.

The key to making changes in your routines and behavior is setting “smart” goals  (you can even use these for writing blog posts, come to think of it). Make sure your goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

For example, next week, I will drink only one glass of wine a night. This is specific (drinking wine), measurable (just one glass), attainable (in most cases), realistic (you can still have wine) and timely (because you want to lose weight).

3. Body shape and risk of heart attacks

Your waist size predicts the risk of your having a heart attack. The larger the waist, the higher the risk. It has more to do with your figure than with your weight!

In my plastic surgery practice I see this commonly. It turns out that the US military uses a ratio of neck circumference to waist circumference to determine whether soldiers are fit for active duty. Obviously, the armed forces do not take into account genetic differences in body shape of the hormonal changes that occur in fat distribution with age. Cosmetic surgery can level the playing field and at least produce better-looking soldiers! Sometimes a liposuction or tummy tuck is necessary.

So concentrate on decreasing your waist measurement, and don’t worry about the number on the scale.

4. Change undesirable eating habits

  • No snacking during the day (but do eat 5 small meals a day)
  • Eat slowly (it takes your brain 20 minutes to realize that your stomach is full)
  • No emotional eating (no eating when you are happy or sad)
  • No binge eating (no weekend gorging)
  • Eat breakfast (end the starvation of your body)
  • Decrease the portions you eat (leave half the food on your plate at restaurants)
  • Never serve yourself twice when at home (how often do you go out, eat your meal and ask for the same again?)
  • Drink no-calorie sodas
  • Learn the calorie content of basic foods (e.g., an egg has 85 calories, a cup of melon 50 calories)

To achieve these changes, it helps to find someone else to do them with you. A little mutual support goes a long way. Good luck!

Morad Tavallali, M.D., FACS

Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon


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