Comments from the Six Week Holiday Challenge

Wow, it seems like just yesterday we were launching the Six Week Holiday Challenge, and here it is . . . a week into 2011 already!  Between facebook, the member center of DrFuhrman.com, and Disease Proof, it’s exciting to read the many comments that have come in from those whose lives have been radically changed by the challenge. I think it gave all of us the necessary awareness, focus, and inertia to establish new and healthy holiday traditions for the rest of our lives.  

         

The change of one is a transformation; the change of many is a revolution. While most of the nation gorged on disease promoting foods and became even sicker, we can honestly say, based on the flood of posts and comments, that we truly did experience an exciting and unprecedented health revolution during the holidays!  Decadent holiday binge eating, and resulting bloating and blues, are now traditions of the past for many! 

      celebrating

 

Enjoy reading a few of those comments . . . . .

 

  • I have lost a total of 15 lbs. I'm sleeping better and exercising more. I feel so grateful to be improving my health during what could have been a treacherous (health wise) season.    -Marie
  • Down 16.5 pounds and 2” off waist lost! Yeah!    -Mael
  • I’ve been diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis. Before I started the challenge all of my joints were stiff, and I was in a state of constant flare.  My knees felt like there were glass shards in them. Now I only have the stiffness in the morning, and the feeling of glass in my knees is gone and the flaring has calmed down tremendously.   -Christine
  • I lost 5 lbs during the holidays when I normally would’ve gained 5 lbs. I feel much more energetic and can think more clearly. My skin is much clearer and no longer extremely dry, and my hair feels healthier and stronger. My husband said that I seem happier and nicer, and it’s gotten easier for me to just say, “No thank you” to SAD foods.  I definitely prefer ETL foods over SAD foods now.    -Katie
  • I cut my Topomax (migraine medication) in half, and I’ve stopped using antibiotic acne cream. I’ve also dropped from 140 lbs to 129 lbs and feel great!    -V
  • I weighed 177 pounds about 3 weeks ago and now I weigh 160.  My blood sugars are coming down, and I feel better with more energy.   -Amy
  • I’ve lost 10 lbs so far, but more importantly, I feel great!  I have no more acid reflux, and I’m more comfortable in my clothes.  My wife called me a ‘sexy man’ last night!  Now that’s some success to share!   -Tom
  • My aches and pains are gone, and for the most part my uncontrollable sugar urges are gone. Most importantly my mood is good, I’m loving the winter, my skin glows, and I love the way I look!   -Diana
  • Since starting the challenge I’m down 13 pounds, and I can run/walk intervals for 40min and do 1 hour spinning classes. AND I just found out that I’m pregnant! Thank you so much for starting this challenge, because it has given me the start that I needed, and now a great start to the most healthiest pregnancy EVER!   -A
  • In November, 2010, I discovered Dr. Fuhrman, his wonderful book, Eat to Live, and I jumped on-board the Six Week Holiday Challenge. Friends have started commenting on my slimmer physique and I now have more energy than I know what to do with.   -Carrie
  • I started the Six Week Holiday Challenge on November 20th weighing 311.3 pounds, and now I weigh 282.5 pounds.  My blood pressure was 146/86 and now it’s 121/71. My former acid reflux and swollen feet are gone, and I sleep better and have lots more energy. Arthritis in my knees has decreased significantly, and I’ve lost so much fluid that I was excited to see that I actually have ankles again!  There are nine of us in my family strictly following ETL now; ranging in ages 3 to 65. Everyone has had a reduction in symptoms / illnesses. My dad’s blood pressure has dropped from 150/90 to 127/77 ~ the best he’s had in 15 years!   -Peta
  • I’ve dropped ten pounds over the holiday challenge, starting a week before Thanksgiving and encompassing Christmas and New Year's Eve too! Plus, we had a birthday in our family to add in as well, and a lot of parties and things. Ten pounds lost over all that time is pretty satisfying!     -Cindy
  • I cannot believe how well I feel! The weight seems to be coming off easily and my appetite is under excellent control; this is the aspect of dieting that has NEVER allowed me to keep my weight off.     -tsmoon

 

For those reading about the Six Week Holiday Challenge for the first time, or couldn’t participate in it during the holidays, it’s never too late to earn health back. Commit to following the six week plan as outlined in Eat to Live and you will be feeling amazingly great in six weeks also! Go for it and contend for optimal health today!  

 

 

image credit:  flickr by Merelymel13; celebration image courtesy of Elijah Lynn

 

 

 

Your body loves to exercise . . . and so does your mind

Dr. FerreriExercise is so much more than just burning calories. The calories burned during exercise, unless you’re a professional athlete, make up quite a small portion of our total calories burned for the day; what we eat has a much greater influence on our body weight. So why should we bother to exercise? Because burning a few calories is just the tip of the iceberg – exercise is an indispensible component of a healthy lifestyle, and has profound beneficial effects, especially on the heart and brain. So if you’ve committed to a Nutritarian diet, why not add some exercise?

 

Here are just a few of the many benefits of daily exercise:

Protects against chronic diseases.

Regular physical activity reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and diabetes by 30-50%. [1] There are clear associations between physical activity and decreased risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers, and this is thought to be in part due to effects on the insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) system. [2] Exercise also protects against osteoporosis, as muscle strength is the best predictor of bone strength.

 

Less time spent sitting

There has been an 83% increase in sedentary jobs since 1950 – most of us are inactive for most of the day.[3] But the human body was meant to move – our ancestors probably walked up to 12 miles each day, every day.[4] Getting out to the gym for one hour is one hour you don’t spend sitting in a chair or on your couch – significant because prolonged sitting is associated with increased risk of diabetes and overall mortality.[5]

 

Makes the brain happy.

Exercise truly is nature’s mood elevator. [4, 6] In fact, exercise has such a powerful positive effect on our mental state that it is prescribed as a treatment for major depression. Meta-analyses of clinical studies have shown that exercise alone works just as well as anti-depressant drugs or cognitive behavioral therapy for depression. Aerobic exercise plus strength training works better than aerobic exercise alone, and hatha yoga (physical yoga) is also effective at reducing depression symptoms. [7-9] Exercise affects the levels of several neurotransmitters in the brain, including increasing the production of serotonin, which is associated with feelings of well-being. [10] Anti-depressant drugs are often in the class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), drugs that increase the amount of serotonin in the brain – but it turns out we can elevate serotonin naturally with exercise.

Keeps the brain thinking. 

Physical activity has been consistently linked to cognitive abilities and mental alertness.[4] In older adults, regular walking was shown to decrease the risk of cognitive impairment and contribute to maintenance of brain volume [11], and strength training also produces cognitive benefits.[12] Physical activity may exert these effects in part by enhancing blood flow to the brain, which accelerates detoxification of free radicals – important since the brain is especially susceptible to oxidative damage.[4]

 

Keeps the mind focused and present.

Exercise helps to bring the human mind into the present moment, becoming intensely aware of sensations in the body, rather than daydreaming. A study published last month in Science found that the human mind is daydreaming (not thinking about its current task) about 47% of the time, and also that people rated their mood as happier when they were focused on their present activity rather than engaging in other thoughts. Certain activities were better correlated to focus on the present than others - the top two were sex and exercise. [13, 14] Certain types of exercise generate more presence than others – for example, it’s more likely that you’d daydream while running on a treadmill than in a yoga class. Mindfulness practices are known to be effective for reducing depression symptoms, and breathing exercises can reduce blood pressure, stress, and anxiety. [7, 15, 16] The incorporation of these two factors into physical activity results in a greater improvement in health outcomes than physical activity alone, according to a recent meta-analysis of comparisons between hatha yoga and other forms of exercise. [17]

 

Makes the heart work smarter, not harder

Exercise necessitates a huge increase in cardiac output (amount of blood pumped by the heart over a given amount of time), because of huge increases in oxygen demands. The muscle of the left ventricle is getting a workout, and that muscle can grow stronger with regular exercise. Endurance athletes may increase their left ventricular muscle mass by up to 30%! Essentially, the heart can do less work to pump the same amount of blood. This means that resting heart rate decreases. [18] This is desirable, since a high resting heart rate is an independent risk factor for cardiac mortality.[19]

 

Natural vasodilation. Bigger, better vessels

As blood flow increases during exercise, mechanical stresses placed on the vessel walls are altered, and these mechanical stimuli prompt changes in the endothelial cells that line the vessels. Coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure patients who exercise increase their expression of eNOS (endothelial nitric oxide synthase), a key regulator of blood pressure. In healthy individuals, the eNOS effect is not as pronounced and is transient, but it stimulates angiogenesis and vascular remodeling, increasing both the number and diameter of arterial vessels in skeletal and cardiac muscle, which results in improved blood flow to these organs. [20, 21]

 

A few more favors exercise does for us:

Builds our antioxidant defenses. [20]
Enhances sleep. [22, 23]
Protects against chronic inflammation. [24]
 

 

Here’s the best part: if you exercise regularly, you will get better at it and start to like it

Anything you practice on a regular basis will get easier over time, and the same is true for exercise. At first, it may feel cumbersome and very uncomfortable, but over time exercise will become enjoyable. Your body and mind will both thank you. 

References:
1. Bassuk, S.S. and J.E. Manson, Epidemiological evidence for the role of physical activity in reducing risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. J Appl Physiol, 2005. 99(3): p. 1193-204.
2. American Institute for Cancer Research: The Exercise Factor. [cited 2010 September 1, 2010]; Newsletter 85, Fall 2004:[Available from: http://www.aicr.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=7651&news_iv_ctrl=0&abbr=pub_.
3. The Price of Inactivity. American Heart Association.
4. Medina, J., brain rules. 2008, Seattle, WA: Pear Press.
5. van Uffelen, J.G., et al., Occupational sitting and health risks: a systematic review. Am J Prev Med, 2010. 39(4): p. 379-88.
6. Hyman, M., The UltraMind Solution2009, New York, NY: Scribner.
7. Gill, A., R. Womack, and S. Safranek, Clinical Inquiries: Does exercise alleviate symptoms of depression? J Fam Pract, 2010. 59(9): p. 530-1.
8. Uebelacker, L.A., et al., Hatha yoga for depression: critical review of the evidence for efficacy, plausible mechanisms of action, and directions for future research. J Psychiatr Pract, 2010. 16(1): p. 22-33.
9. Saeed, S.A., D.J. Antonacci, and R.M. Bloch, Exercise, yoga, and meditation for depressive and anxiety disorders. Am Fam Physician, 2010. 81(8): p. 981-6.
10. Ma, Q., Beneficial effects of moderate voluntary physical exercise and its biological mechanisms on brain health. Neurosci Bull, 2008. 24(4): p. 265-70.
11. Erickson, K.I., et al., Physical activity predicts gray matter volume in late adulthood: the Cardiovascular Health Study. Neurology, 2010. 75(16): p. 1415-22.
12. Davis, J.C., et al., Sustained Cognitive and Economic Benefits of Resistance Training Among Community- Dwelling Senior Women: A 1-Year Follow-up Study of the Brain Power Study. Arch Intern Med, 2010. 170(22): p. 2036-8.
13. Killingsworth, M.A. and D.T. Gilbert, A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Science, 2010. 330(6006): p. 932.
14. Tierney, J. When the Mind Wanders, Happiness Also Strays. The New York Times, 2010.
15. Anderson, D.E., J.D. McNeely, and B.G. Windham, Regular slow-breathing exercise effects on blood pressure and breathing patterns at rest. J Hum Hypertens, 2010. 24(12): p. 807-13.
16. Brown, R.P. and P.L. Gerbarg, Yoga breathing, meditation, and longevity. Ann N Y Acad Sci, 2009. 1172: p. 54-62.
17. Ross, A. and S. Thomas, The health benefits of yoga and exercise: a review of comparison studies. J Altern Complement Med, 2010. 16(1): p. 3-12.
18. Duncker, D.J. and R.J. Bache, Regulation of coronary blood flow during exercise. Physiol Rev, 2008. 88(3): p. 1009-86.
19. Verrier, R.L. and A. Tan, Heart rate, autonomic markers, and cardiac mortality. Heart Rhythm, 2009. 6(11 Suppl): p. S68-75.
20. Kojda, G. and R. Hambrecht, Molecular mechanisms of vascular adaptations to exercise. Physical activity as an effective antioxidant therapy? Cardiovasc Res, 2005. 67(2): p. 187-97.
21. Brown, M.D., Exercise and coronary vascular remodelling in the healthy heart. Exp Physiol, 2003. 88(5): p. 645-58.
22. Atkinson, G. and D. Davenne, Relationships between sleep, physical activity and human health. Physiol Behav, 2007. 90(2-3): p. 229-35.
23. Montgomery, P. and J. Dennis, Physical exercise for sleep problems in adults aged 60+. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 2002(4): p. CD003404.
24. Mathur, N. and B.K. Pedersen, Exercise as a mean to control low-grade systemic inflammation. Mediators Inflamm, 2008. 2008: p. 109502.

 

 

 

Half-way there!

Dr. FuhrrmanThree weeks in and I'm thrilled, along with my teams at DiseaseProof.com and DrFuhrman.com, that almost 1500 people, most of whom were on the fence for years, have joined us in taking the Six Week Holiday Challenge. We're flabbergasted by the success of this outreach and the many hundreds of supportive e-mails and posts that we've received from those, who for their first time in their lives, are getting their health back over the holidays instead of watching it deteriorate further.  This challenge has even helped motivate thousands more, who were already eating healthfully, to do even better.  We’ve all come together in solidarity to eat healthfully throughout the holiday season. 

For those of you who are now half-way through the challenge, I’m so proud of you that you are sticking to the promise; staying away from fast food and junk food, and adding high nutrient foods and exercise instead. Can you imagine only three weeks left and then you can go back to eating junk again?! (just kidding!)  And that’s the exciting part also; with all the delicious, healthy recipes, many have found the holiday challenge much easier and more enjoyable than they could’ve ever imagined.  They now know that they can stay on the road to wellness long after the holidays are over.  I’m looking forward to hearing more of your succes stories after the New Year.

                                                     

Congratulations to all of you! 

 

Being a shining example of excellent health is an exciting personal victory and one that also enables you to help others in need.  Keep up the great work.

 

Your health is your greatest wealth.