Dr. Kate Morris, an exercise physiologist and researcher, coldly and matter-of-factly tells the truth about weight loss: "Two-thirds of people in the United States are significantly over-weight. When did it become okay for men to carry around bodies that look like fire hydrants and women to shake like bowls of jelly when they walk?" she asks rhetorically. Continuing, she stresses, "A healthy diet costs less and tastes better than a high-fat, nutrition-poor diet of fats and fried foods. I see no excuse for going more than a few pounds over your ideal weight."
Dr. Morris frequently consults and collaborates with physicians, designing and administering exercise programs for men and women who meet the clinical standards for morbid obesity. "If you meet the clinical definition of obesity, you must regulate what you eat, when you eat, and how you eat. You must dedicate all your mental and physical resources to reducing your weight, and you must rule-out failure as an option," she says. "Most of all, though, you must lose weight with a doctor's supervision, because you can destroy your digestive and immune systems with fad diets and fasting."
Dr. Morris only reluctantly endorses weight loss drugs, because they create as many health risks as they control. "I see the reasonableness of prescribing mild amphetamines for the first few weeks of an overweight person's weight loss program. I cannot agree to more than twenty-one days of drug therapy except in the most extreme cases."
What about the vanity pounds?
For people just a few pounds over their ideal weight-"the vanity pounds," as the experts say-Dr. Morris relents a little bit, agreeing that a rigorous diet does not matter nearly as much as a good exercise program. She offers three strong recommendations:
- Green your plate.
Dr. Morris is a self-proclaimed "salad advocate." She says that fresh fruits and vegetables should "cover your plate at every meal." She suggests adding fresh fruit to cereal and yogurt at breakfast, eating plenty of salads at lunch, and complementing every entrée with steamed vegetables at dinner.
- Modify your exercise.
Dr. Morris endorses "any and every kind of strenuous daily exercise," qualifying her endorsement with the caution, "but it must work all your major muscle groups, building strength rather than bulk; and it must have a considerable cardio-vascular element." She points out that strength training must focus on "high reps with only moderate resistance. Yes," she concedes, "you want to build your muscle mass for the sake of elevating your metabolism, but you burn more calories and gain more usable strength when you follow swimmers' example-hundreds of repetitions to build endurance and burn calories in addition to building power." She also believes that cardio-vascular exercise must take precedence over strength training. "I love yoga and Pilates," she admits, "but they do not elevate your heart rate. You cannot get healthy and lose weight unless you elevate your heart rate."
- Rage against the machines.
Dr. Morris admits that elevators, escalators, cars, and machines of all kinds are marvels of modern technology, but she steadfastly advocates doing everything with your muscles instead of a motor. "Purposely park your car in the space furthest from the entrance and then walk all the way to your office," she demands. She also insists on taking the stairs instead of "riding the machines," and she declares a decided preference for moving around over sitting and relaxing during your breaks at work. "You should stretch and move and get your blood pumping," she urges. "You can get a great workout or satisfying walk in fifteen minutes; don't waste them."