Wendy Oliver-Pyatt, MD: Fitness and Food, Your Healthy Evolution

Evolving into a healthier, fitter, new you

By Wendy Oliver-Pyatt, MD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Live Events Transcript
Event Date: Oct. 16, 2003

Dealing with plateaus; eating for hunger, not emotional need; removing stress from your food and fitness goals -- our guest Wendy Oliver-Pyatt, MD, author of Fed Up: The Breakthrough 10-Step No Diet Fitness Plan, helps us pull it all together. Dr. Oliver-Pyatt joined us on Oct. 16, 2003.

The opinions expressed herein are the guest's alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Moderator: Welcome! Our guest today is Wendy Oliver-Pyatt, MD, author of Fed Up! and director of the Center for Hope of the Sierras. She will answer your questions about putting together a new food and fitness attitude for a lifetime of good health feeling good about yourself. Welcome Dr. Oliver-Pyatt.

Oliver-Pyatt: Thanks for having me.

Member question: I am ready to start a healthy lifestyle, but my spouse practically lives at McDonald's. How can I get him to start with me and if he doesn't want to, how can I avoid all the temptations that are around my house?

Oliver-Pyatt: Your question is probably familiar to other members and so I'm very glad that you did ask this. Just as it would be unhelpful and possibly hurtful if your spouse were pressuring you to either lose weight or get fit, which often leads to retaliatory eating or exercise resistance, so, too, is it unfair to expect our significant others to do and want at all times those things that may be important to us.

Certainly making your needs known and sharing with those you love your new approach is a positive step; however, they may or may not wish to participate with you as you make your changes. If your spouse chooses to eat fast food consistently, this will provide you with an additional opportunity to really work out your relationship with fast food.

You used the word tempted to describe how you felt about this food. I would encourage you to then focus on step four of Fed Up! regarding experiencing, trusting, and enjoying hunger and satiety, and indeed, when you are hungry and McDonald's is what you're hungry for, to sit down at the table, lie your food out before you, relax, and absorb and appreciate the presence of the food you're able to eat. Rather than seeing the food as a temptation that is off limits, you can focus on whether or not you're hungry and truly what you are hungry for. Is it really going to always be the Big Mac? Maybe yes, maybe no. But until you and Big Mac have worked out the tension, it will be difficult to achieve a relaxed state of mind.

Oftentimes people who are chronic dieters believe themselves to be gluttons who can't be trusted and who want too much. This reinforces in our minds the idea that we must diet and follow somebody else's rules. Remember, long-term health relies on a relaxed relationship with food. What I mean by health is fitness of body and mind, recognizing that the two are connected.

Perhaps after eating a Big Mac four or five days in a row, it may not have so much power over you. This relies, of course, on your eating the Big Mac in a mindful way, where you are experiencing the act and the sensation associated with feeding your body.

Member question: Will there be place for us to go if we want to get support once class is over?

Oliver-Pyatt: Thanks for asking. I periodically provide seminars based on availability of time and interest. Please feel free to email me or visit my web site for updates.

Moderator: And of course we have lots of lifestyle, food, and fitness message boards here at WebMD. You can exchange questions and comments with other members there, or ask our message board experts for their advice.

Member question: Plateaus -- some are terrible! If I'm faithful to exercise and diet, and patient when these happen, what's a reasonable time to keep reassuring myself that all is OK? I've had some occasions where for a month I've had neither weight loss nor any extra stamina/strength during exercise, at least as far as I could determine.

Oliver-Pyatt: What is our alternative to learning how to wait? Is it going back on another diet? Is it deciding you're going to take on a harsher exercise routine? We are constantly inundated with thoughts and ideas about quick fixes. We hear statements like, "Lose a dress size by next week, be 60 pounds lighter by Christmas." Where does this lead us? To an expectation that decades of dieting and weight cycling should be resolved in a few weeks or months.

Let's recall that your body reacts to the semistarvation caused by dieting by going into survival mode, slowing its metabolism, and even holding on to water. Even when you wise up and stop dieting it can take a very long time to reset your metabolism. Also, you need time for your body and mind to recover from the stress of dieting. Dieting is traumatic. It does place enormous stress on your body, as well as on your mind. Every time you diet you invest energy, pride, and self-esteem in the effort. All of this stress plays a toll on us.