Friday, January 30, 2009

Gym Tax???

I just heard some very disturbing news. Governor Paterson and the New York Legislature are considering imposing a sales tax on health club dues and services (including personal training) to make up for New York State's budget deficit. How shortsighted is that thinking? Are they not aware that we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic? One out of every three children in this country is either overweight or obese. Do they know how much money is spent on obesity-related health expenses in this country? More than 10 million American children are overweight, leading to an annual health-related cost of 117 billion dollars. Studies show that obesity-related health costs will total 860 billion dollars by 2030. Is this really the wisest way to save money?

Governor Paterson has talked extensively about the medical and economic importance of healthy lifestyles and is proposing an "obesity tax" on non-diet, sugary sodas and advocating a "Healthier New York". Therefore a tax on health clubs is directly in opposition to this goal. The State should be encouraging, not discouraging, memberships to health clubs to stem the obesity epidemic and promote good health.

Here's how you can help - visit today to quickly and easily tell your lawmakers to oppose this proposed tax.Thanks in advance for participating. I will update you as the details unfold.

* Special thanks to LIFT gym for providing the link to

Thursday, January 29, 2009

"Mom, am I fat?"

How do you respond when your overweight child asks if she is fat? Do you sugarcoat the truth and tell her she is perfect? Do you go for the hard love angle and tell her that yes, she is fat? I would advise for something in between.

It is not easy to talk about something as sensitive as weight, particular with a pre-teen or a teenager. Parents must walk a fine line between acknowledging the problem and promoting self-confidence.

Children know they are overweight. And if you don't mention it, their peers certainly will! If you pretend everything is fine, your child will learn that her weight is a shameful topic that can't be discussed. She will then try to lose weight with her own methods, usually by starving herself or binging. These are the children who are most at risk for disordered eating. Studies show that if you acknowledge and treat an overweight child in a sensitive manner, you actually decrease the risk of disordered eating!

Ideally, the conversation would go something like this...

"Mom, am I fat?"
"What makes you ask that, honey?"
"The kids on the playground called me names today."
"Well that is not nice. But maybe we would be healthier if we did learn to eat better. We could all use to revamp our diets." Notice how I have chosen to say 'we' could be healthier and 'we could all use to...' This sounds less accusatory and alerts your child that you are both in it together. I have also turned it around to be about health and eating better rather than about fat or thin. This way, even a thin parent can have this conversation. Most thin people I know could eat healthier if they tried. "Why don't we try to make some changes together. We can learn how to eat right and we can start getting more active. Would you like that?"

I have had many parents call me after this conversation, worried that they said the wrong thing. Often, the parents responded with, "Don't be silly. Of course you are not fat. You are beautiful." And then they want to know how they can help their children. It is better off not to lie. If your child demands an answer to the question, I would say...

"Fat is such a nasty word. You look good but you might be healthier if you weighed a little less. Let's work together to learn to eat better and exercise more." Notice again that I didn't say 'you would look better if you weighed less'. It is important to focus the discussion around health- not around looks. Again, bring it back to the 'we' as soon as possible. And always end the discussion with next steps... "Why don't we go online and look at some websites about healthy eating." "Let's call the pediatrician and see if she has any suggestions." "Let's go to the supermarket and pick up some healthy foods so we can get started right away."

Good luck. And if you are still nervous about broaching the subject with your child, feel free to call my office (516-801-0022) or e-mail me ( for more advice.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The family that eats together...

New studies prove what we all believed to be true: children whose families eat together tend to be happier and healthier. The importance of the family meal has now been proven.

Science daily magazine revealed that teens who regularly eat meals with their families are less likely to drink and smoke. In fact, a study of middle school children followed over five years showed that girls who regularly ate meals with their families were half as likely to use alcohol/drugs than girls who did not regularly eat meals with their families. The research also shows that children who regularly eat with their families are closer to their parents than children who do not.

The beneficial effects of the family meal are vast. These children are also less likely to be overweight or obese. And family mealtime is a great opportunity to reconnect with your children. Discuss their day. Ask them about their friends. Find out what is happening in school. In other words, GET INVOLVED!

Notice that I have been referring to family mealtime and NOT family dinnertime. Contrary to popular belief, the family meal does not have to be dinner! I often work late nights but I try to eat breakfast with my children in the mornings. That is the time that I find out what is going on in their lives. And we always have Saturday lunch, Sunday brunch and Sunday dinner together. Even with my busy schedule, I carve out time to eat meals with my kids. It is important to have that uninterrupted time for conversation!

So sit down with your kids and enjoy a nice meal. The benefits are immeasurable.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Wrap vs. Pizza: Which is a better choice?

I went to a birthday party with my son this morning. While the kids were being entertained by a 'mad scientist magician', the moms sat around a table, eating and chatting. Finally, lunch was served. The options were wrap sandwiches (turkey and cheese or roast beef and cheese) or pizza. All the moms took wrap sandwiches. They looked at me with horror as I picked up a slice of pizza. I laughed... "You do know that this slice of pizza has fewer calories than those sanwiches you are eating, right?" Apparently, they did not.

Look at the nutritional information for the wrap. Note that this doesn't include the sandwich meat or the cheese. The information is for the wrap bread itself.

Wrap: 320 calories, 8 g fat, 53 g carbs

Now look at the nutritional information for a slice of pizza.

Pizza: 250 calories, 10.5g fat, 54.8 g carbs

Surprised? So were my friends. One slice of pizza has fewer calories than a wrap sandwich.

Bon Apetit!



Friday, January 23, 2009

Tips for helping your child stick to an exercise program.

The only thing harder than getting your child to start an exercise regimen? Getting them to stick to it! Here are some tips to help.

1. Set up an exercise schedule.

These days, kids are used to being tightly scheduled. A typical child's schedule includes music lessons, religous lessons, tutors, and homework. Why not squeeze some exercise in there? For example:

Mon: school, piano lesson, 45 minutes exercise, dinner, homework

Tues: school, religous school, dinner, homework

Wed: school, free time for playdate, 45 minutes exercise, homework

Thurs: school, religous school, dinner, homework

Fri: school, tutor, 45 minutes exercise, dinner, homework

Sat: tennis lesson

Sun: day off from schedule!

Make sure the exercise is as an important part of the schedule as school and lessons.

2. Be flexible...

It's Friday afternoon and your daughter really wants to have a sleepover with her friend. You know that she won't exercise if you let her. What do you do? Let her have the sleepover and reschedule the exercise session. Tell her, "You can have the sleepover today but we will make up the exercise session on Sunday." That way you allow her to have her fun without getting her weekly exercise off track.

3. Make it fun!

Exercise does not have to be a chore. Pick activities that your child truly enjoys. Tennis, jumping rope and bouncing on a trampoline can all be great forms of exercise. Wii Fit is another great exercise option. Try to think outside the treadmill!

4. Exercise with friends.

Everything is more fun when done with a friend. Have your child pick an exercise buddy and let them get fit together. They can keep each other on track while making the experience more enjoyable.

5. Buy a few exercise accessories.

You don't need to break the bank to have some workout equipment at home. Consider a rope ladder that you lie on the floor and do running drills on. A small, individual-sized trampouline is also quite inexpensive. You may also invest in a step for step aerobics. Consider buying your child some new exercise clothes so they feel excited to put them on and get moving!

6. Don't start by running a marathon.

The easiest way to get a child to hate exercise is to push them too quickly. Take it slowly and build up. Remember, if your child doesn't enjoy the exercise they will soon give it up.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Habits of Naturally Thin vs. Successful Dieters

I just read a very interesting article that I wanted to share with you. The study looked at the habits of the naturally thin, successful dieters, and failed dieters. The study was from Consumer Reports and looked at 21,632 people.

Group 1: 'always thin', never overweight.

Group 2: 'successful dieters', people who now weigh at least 10 percent less than they did at their heaviest and have been at that lower weight for at leat 2 years.

Group 3: 'failed dieters', people who would like to lose weight but still weigh at or neaer their lifetime high.

Only 3% of the 'always thin' group said that they never exercise and eat whatever they want.

The study shows that the eating and exercise habits of the 'always thin' group was the same as the eating and exercise habits of the 'successful dieters'. Both groups said that they regularly eat healthy foods, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and routinely stay away from excessive dietary fat. Both groups also watch their portion sizes and follow a regular, vigorous exercise plan.

It seems that the only advantage the 'always thin' have over the 'successful dieters' is that those habits seem to come a bit more naturally to them, according to Consumer Reports.
"When we've compared people maintaining a weight loss with (those) who've always had a normal weight, we've found that both groups are working hard at it; the maintainers are just working a little harder," Dr. Suzanne Phelan of the California Polytechnic State University and co-investigator of the National Weight Control Registry, which tracks people who have successfully maintained a weight loss over time, noted in a Consumer Reports press statement.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tips to cut costs at the supermarket

The recession is causing us all to watch our bottom lines. It is true that healthy foods often cost more than junk foods. Read on for some suggestions to help you keep your supermarket bills in check.

Look around your house before you head to the market. Make three shopping lists: what you need immediately, what you will need soon, and what you definitely don't need. When you get to the supermarket, buy the items that you need right away. Then consider your list of items you will need soon. Any of them on sale? If so, buy them now. If not, wait until next week. You never know when a sale will pop up. Do not buy the items that you definitely do not need.

It is diet and wallet sabotage to shop hungry. Hungry shoppers fill their baskets with all kinds of non-essentials. Make sure to have a healthy snack before heading out the door.

Instead of pre-packaged foods, buy bigger containers and make your own single servings! For example, buy a large barrel of pretzel rods and portion them into small baggies at home. Consider going to a wholesale store for your non-perishables.

Fruit can be reasonably priced when it is bought in season. Each season offers delicious produce options. Take advantage of nature's natural variety!

If fresh produce is too expensive, consider frozen. Frozen produce has almost all the same vitamins and nutrient as fresh.

Many supermarkets offer coupons. Clip the coupons and save them until you need the item. Coupons can help you save lots of money.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Obese in the US now outnumber the overweight

The obesity crisis is getting worse and worse! A new report states the the number of obese individuals in the US now outnumbers the number or 'merely overweight' individuals. Congratulations America. Something must be done before every American is considered overweight or obese.

Where can we start?

1. New York City now requires most restaurants to post calorie information for all food offerings. The calorie information must be at least as visible as the price information. This law should be generalized to the entire United States.

2. I love the idea of an obesity tax. Let's make unhealthy foods more expensive. And let's try to lower the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables. Maybe fruits and vegetables could be tax-free. The government could use the money from the obesity tax to offset any lost tax money from fruits and vegetables.

3. Serve ONLY healthy foods in schools. Get rid of all vending machines. Lose the cookies, cakes, and other junk food. Stick to lunches that are nutritious. Do you know that many schools serve mozzarella sticks and nachos for lunch? Let's get rid of all of that stuff and turn our schools into healthy havens.

4. Let's put more money into school physical education programs and after school athletic programs. Nowadays, the money for school athletics goes to the elite athletes who are good enough to play on the sports teams. None of that money is used for the chubby, non-athletic student who needs it the most! We should take the emphasis off of competitive sports and start building non-competitive sports leagues for those students who are not currently physically active.

5. Limit child-targeted advertising. The average child sees 40,000 commercials a year, mostly for high-fat, high-calorie foods. The reason companies spend so much money on child-targeted advertising? Because it works! These commercials prompt children to crave these unhealthy foods. Remember when commercials for alcohol weren't allowed on TV during certain hours? Let's do the same for child-targeted junk food commercials.

These steps may seem severe but they are necessary. Without intervention, our country is going to eat itself to death.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Eat a food you hate!

Eat a food you hate...

I recently read this advice on Twitter and I love it!

Eat a food you hate... Why? Because taste is a learned process. Many people believe that you either like the taste of a certain food or you do not. But actually, taste develops over time. In fact, it often takes ten to fifteen times of trying the same food before you actually learn to like it. So when you eat a food you hate, you are training your taste buds. Before long, you may actually enjoy it!

I found this with brussel sprouts. My mother loves brussel sprouts. Growing up, she made them often. And although to this day she insists it is not true, she always forced me to eat my brussel sprouts. I didn't have to eat all of them but I did have to try them. At that time, I resented it. Even now, my son and I joke about how much I hate brussel sprouts. But the other day, I was served brussel sprouts at a dinner. I took a bite and to my surprise, I loved them! I even ate the entire serving. My son, Zachary, couldn't believe it and he agreed to try them also. He didn't like them but we are not giving up hope!

I don't believe in forcing kids to eat foods they dislike but I do believe in the 'two bite rule'. Insist your child try two bites of each food you put in front of them. If he/she doesn't like it, he/she doesn't have to eat more than two bites. But the next time that food is served, the 'two bite rule' still applies.

Eat a food you hate and you just might wind up with a food you love!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Treadmill Routines for Kids Age 8+

Too cold to walk outside? That doesn't mean that your child's fitness regimen needs to chill until Spring. That treadmill gathering dust in your basement can be safely used by a child (age 8+). Just be sure to get your child's pediatrician's approval before starting any new exercise regimen.

To begin, make sure your child is wearing a supportive pair of sneakers. Start the treadmill at a very slow pace so your child is walking comfortably. Do not go too fast or your child may fall down. You can SLOWLY increase the pace until your child is at a brisk walk. Then, choose from the following three workouts.

Workout One: Steady does it...

Keep your child at one pace throughout this workout. Make sure your child is walking fast enough; if your child is not breathing heavily and sweating, increase the pace. Ideally, your child will be unable to speak fluidly in complete sentences. The goal is to walk at this pace for a total of 45 minutes. Work up to this slowly. Start with 5 or 10 minutes and increase the length of time by 5 minutes every day or so.

Workout Two: An uphill battle...

Begin your child on a flat incline and have him/her walk at a brisk pace (as above) for 5 minutes. Then slowly increase the incline on the treadmill. Do this slowly. Increase by 0.5 every 2 minutes until you reach a maximum incline of 4 percent. (If this level of incline is too difficult, back off by 0.5 until your child is able to keep up. As the incline gets higher, you may need to lower the speed slightly. Adjust the treadmill so that your child is working hard but is able to tolerate it.) End the routine with 5 minutes at incline 0.

Workout Three: What goes up must come down...

This workout is an interval workout. You will be frequently adjusting the speed of the treadmill. Begin the workout with your child walking at a brisk pace for 5 minutes. Then increase the speed so that your child is either walking very quickly or jogging for 1 minute. Then lower the speed so that your child is walking at a reasonable pace for 3 minutes. Alternate between 1 minute at a fast pace and 3 minutes at a reasonable pace until your child has been working out for 35 minutes total. End the workout with 5 minutes at a reasonable pace.

A reminder: check with your doctor before trying this workout! Do not attempt these exercises without your doctor's approval.

Not sure how to teach this to your children? Go to to learn more. Our interactive website launches next month!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

10 quick tips to save calories...

1. Order grilled instead of fried. Avoid the word 'crispy'!
2. Ask for food cooked without butter, oil or mayo. If it can't be cooked without them, ask for as little as possible.
3. Avoid tuna salad. Order turkey instead or make your own tuna at home with low-fat or fat-free mayo.
4. Take your own snacks to the movies. You can pop your own 94% fat-free microwave popcorn at home and save over 500 calories from the movie theater oil-popped popcorn.
5. Avoid creamy or cheesy soups. Stick to red or chicken broth-based soups instead.
6. Be wary of salad dressing. Just because it has lettuce doesn't mean it is healthy. Instead of regular dressing, try fat-free dressing or some balsamic vinegar!
7. Always order the 'kiddie-size' version, when possible. Kiddie-size items usually contain at least one normal adult serving.
8. Serve dinner on smaller plates. You will trick your body into thinking you ate more than you did!
9. Skip regular cuts of meat. Go for extra-lean cuts whenever possible.
10. Limit yourself to one trip to the buffet table. Try to avoid seconds!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mommy, how calories are in my sandwich?

The other night my three-year old daughter asked me how many calories were in her turkey sandwich. I was part horrified and part pleased. I couldn't help but wonder if maybe I had taken things too far. Sure, I want my kids to be aware that some foods are healthy and some are not. But calories? Hmmm...

I like my patients to think of food in terms of colors, not calories. Green light foods are the healthiest. Red light foods are the least healthy. And yellow light foods fall in between. There is certainly no harm in that.

But thinking in calories may be too much. Limiting total calorie intake is clearly necessary for weight loss. But not all calories are equally nutritious. For example, the calories in an apple are not the same as the calories in a few Hershey's Kisses even if they add up to the same total number. So it's not enough to just consider how many calories... you have to consider the type of the calories as well.

I would rather kids think about food quality and appropriate portion sizes. Of course, an overweight child should monitor how much they are eating to facilitate weight loss. In my program, I suggest how many green light foods should be eaten at each meal and snack. If they want a yellow light food, they must give up two green light foods. And red light foods are limited to twice a week.

So, in answer to Danielle's question about her sandwich, I replied, "Honey, a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread is a very healthy food. Don't worry about calories. Just try to make healthy choices and eat green light foods." To which she responded, "okay!" Simple enough!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Nature Deficit Disorder

I recently read an article about a movement in New Hampshire called "No Child Left Inside". The movement is from the New Hampshire Children in Nature Coalition. They have coined the phrase "Nature Deficit Disorder". Basically, our children are not spending enough time outside (in nature) and are suffering. Children who spend time outside tend to be more active and much thinner. Most outside activities are fairly active: hiking, biking, playing on a swingset. Kids who spend a lot of time outdoors burn off excess energy and are more relaxed than those who shun the outdoors. They are calmer and do better in school. The benefits of taking your children outside are many. Don't let the cold weather scare you off. Bundle your kids up and send them hiking. Literally. Go to a botanical garden and admire the winter landscape. Teach them to enjoy nature's beauty. Start today.

Enough with the celebrity diets!

It seems everybody is talking about celebrity diets. Enough already. I don't think that information helps anybody. I bet it would be much easier to lose weight with a personal trainer, a private chef and a personal assistant. Plus, who has time to work out two hours a day? And most of these celebrities use very unhealthy methods. Detox cleanses? Please...

There is no secret to losing weight. Eat less. Exercise more.

My thoughts on the latest diets advertised by Us Weekly and their appropriateness for kids:

The Fresh Diet: High priced meal delivery system based on the Zone philosophy (40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% healthy fat).

Even if you have the cash for this, it doesn't teach you or your child anything about nutrition and making healthy choices. Once you go off the program, you will likely gain the weight back because you haven't learned anything. Plus, your child can't go to playdates and eat with friends. This may work for Paula Abdul, but it is definitely not a child-friendly option.

The Eat-Clean Diet: No sugar, white flour, alcohol and processed foods.

I don't know how long anybody could last on this one. Can you imagine sending your child to a birthday party on this plan? This could never work for a kid. And I don't really think this could work for an adult. It is too restrictive. How about going for moderation instead of total deprivation? Nicole Kidman and Halle Berry are on their own with this one!

Eating in the Raw and The Raw 50: No food cooked above 116 degrees.

Umm... I don't even know what to say about this one. The logic is supposed to be that the uncooked foods contain more enzymes, which may help you lose weight. There is absolutely no science backing this up. How could anybody eat this way for more than a day? I probably couldn't even do it for a day. Demi Moore, Carol Alt and Alicia Silverstone must have more (unnecessary) discipline than I do. No thanks! And I am not even going to address the suitability of this for kids. It's just too ridiculous.

The 5-Factor Diet: Low-glycemic index carbs, low-fat protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Follow it 6 days a week and splurge on day 7.

This is the most reasonable of the lot but is still too restrictive for kids. Children would definitely not be able to eat anything from the school cafeteria and would have a tough time on playdates. Plus kids (and adults) can do major damage on their binge, I mean splurge, day. I would rather teach consistent moderation than six days of deprivation with one day of binging. I guess that Kate Beckinsdale, Eva Mendes, and John Mayer are sure to keep their splurge days in check.

Skinny Bitch in the Kitch: Vegan diet (no animal products, including fish, chicken, and dairy), no caffeine, and no simple carbs. Also no calorie counting.

Well, even the name tells us that this is not appropriate for children. Kids, teens, (and adults) need protein and this diet limits most of the palatable protein choices. Not many kids are content eating beans, nuts, and tofu at each meal and snack. Plus, where is the calcium coming from? Natalie Portman and Pamela Anderson must be eating lots of green, leafy veggies or they will have issues with osteoporosis in the future!

Let's stop this trendy fad diets. Watch portion size, make healthy food choices, and exercise.

Not sure how to teach this to your children? Go to to learn more. Our interactive website launches next month!

You do not need to give up entire food groups to lose weight.

Friday, January 9, 2009

We have managed to make sushi fattening!

Americans have the ability to take any healthy food and bastardize it into something fattening. We have even managed to ruin sushi.

I had a patient in my office, discussing which types of foods she likes to eat. I was thrilled when she mentioned that she loves sushi. After telling her that sushi is a particularly healthy type of food, I asked her which types she enjoys most. "Oh, I eat everything," she began. "Shrimp tempura rolls, spicy tuna rolls, Philadelphia rolls and Spider rolls." Each of those types of rolls is unhealthy in its own way! Shrimp tempura rolls are fried. Spicy rolls of any kind are made with mayonnaise. Philadelphia rolls contain cream cheese. And Spider rolls are also fried. Hmmm... not one of these rolls is nutritious.

Why have we created these unhealthy options? Sushi should be fish on rice. It's even better when served on brown rice! Don't order your children sushi that contains these fattening ingredients. Instead, opt for rolls that include combinations of fish, cucumber, avocado, and other vegetables. Refuse to order anything tempura, spicy, or with cream cheese. And give brown rice sushi a chance. Brown rice contains fiber which helps to keep your children feeling full longer! They probably won't even notice the difference.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Top Ten Least Healthy 'Salads'

Top Ten Least Healthy 'Salads': in no particular order

1. Taco salad- The beef, cheese, and sour cream make this a calorie nightmare. And that is before you add on the shell!

2. Tuna salad- Tuna itself is great... but the mayonnaise ruins it!

3. Potato salad- Carbs and mayo- not a great combination.

4. Caesar salad- Caesar salad wins the marketing prize. For some reason, everybody thinks it is healthy. But it is horrendous. The dressing, the cheese, and the croutons all add up to a disaster.

5. Chicken salad- Again, the mayonnaise makes this a nutritional no-no.

6. Any type of Crispy salad- Crispy equals fried. Enough said.

7. Macaroni salad- A white starch and mayonnaise. Not a healthy ingredient to be found!

8. Shrimp salad- I suppose this is the best of the worst. Still, not a great choice.

9. Cobb salad- Blue cheese, eggs, and bacon. Can you feel a heart attack coming on?

10. Egg salad- One of the worst!

Now- let's try to make these into healthy meals.

1. Taco salad- Skip the beef and order chicken instead. Hold the cheese and sour cream. Instead, ask for a small amount of heart healthy guacamole and lots of salsa! And definitely don't eat that taco shell!

2. Tuna salad- Use tuna packed in water, not oil. Instead of regular mayonnaise, opt for fat-free or low-fat mayonnaise and use it sparingly!

3. Potato salad- There isn't much you can do with the potatoes, but you can use fat-free or low-fat mayonnaise.

4. Caesar salad- Pass on the cheese and croutons. If possible, use a fat-free Caesar dressing. If that is not an option, ask for the dressing on the side. Mix a small amount of the dressing with balsamic vinegar (not vinegarette) to dilute. Use this mixture sparingly!

5. Chicken salad- Fat-free or low-fat mayonnaise will drastically reduce fat and calories!

6. Any type of Crispy salad- Order your protein grilled instead of fried. Your heart will thank you later.

7. Macaroni salad- Use a whole grain pasta and fat-free or low-fat salad dressing.

8. Shrimp salad- I am sure you can guess this trick... fat-free or low-fat salad dressing.

9. Cobb salad- How about using egg whites and turkey bacon? Also, try a fat-free blue cheese dressing, if possible. If not, quickly dip your empty fork into the dressing before spearing the lettuce. This gives each bite a small burst of flavor without all the calories and fat.

10. Egg salad- Egg whites and fat-free or low-fat mayonnaise. Voila! Your meal is healthy.

** Note that low-fat mayonnaise is not the same as light mayonnaise. Light mayonnaise has many more calories and fat grams and is not anywhere near as healthy.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Exercise for children

I had a great visit with a patient today. She is twelve years old and has already lost about 15 pounds. She has more to lose but is getting closer to her goal every day. Today we discussed exercise. She loves to dance! In fact, she takes about six dance classes a week (2 classes a day, 3 days a week).

This patient has tried lots of different exercise regimens. She sometimes goes on the treadmill. Other times she goes on her trampouline. But she always comes back to dance. It is truly her passion!

So we decided to base her exercise routine on her dancing. We determined that tap dancing is the most vigorous type of dance. When she is tapping, her heart is racing and she is sweating. So we decided that, instead of suffering on the treadmill, she would tap to her heart's content.

The patient (who asked that I keep her name confidential) aims to exercise five days a week. She takes her dance classes three days a week and taps on her own twice a week. She is getting the exercise that her body needs- and enjoying every second of it.

Tip for parents: Find an active activity that your child loves and try to base their fitness regimen around that. If they love soccer, have them do soccer drills for exercise. If they love jumping rope, let them do that for exercise. A child (or an adult) will only stick to an exercise regimen if he/she enjoys the activity. The more they enjoy the activity, the more they will exercise.

Monday, January 5, 2009


I just started referring patients to a new gym in Roslyn, called LIFT. And I am very impressed with it. First, I just love their catchphrase.

Lift: It's a lifestyle, not a competition.

How great is that? So many gyms get that wrong. I hate it when people are at the gym to show off. When I go to the gym, I just want to work out and relax. I can't stand it when everybody around me has their hair done and their makeup perfect. It's a gym- not a meat market!

But this is even more important for children, particularly overweight children. Overweight children need a place to exercise where they do not have to worry about being judged. And LIFT is just that place! It has a great, laid-back vibe. And the owners are always around, monitoring the gym and making sure that everybody is exercising safely. In fact, if they see that someone is performing an exercise incorrectly, they will stop what they are doing to go help the person. It is such a friendly environment.

My advice to parents who don't live near LIFT... shop around until you find a gym with a casual atmosphere. Don't bring your overweight child or teen to the trendiest gym in town. It is much better to find a smaller gym with caring staff. You don't want to have your child intimidated by exercise. Spend some time looking for the perfect gym. It is so very important.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The vacation is over...

Well, the vacation is over and tomorrow we all go back to work, school, or our regular routines. It is likely that many of you did not eat as well during this vacation as you had planned. Most people enter December with additional pounds hanging on them.

So, now what?

There are two mistakes that you do not want to make.

Mistake 1) Giving up. Don't get so overwhelmed by the extra pounds that you do nothing. Regardless of how much weight you gained over the holidays, you can still take them off.

Mistake 2) The starvation diet. It is tempting to try to starve the weight right off. That is the worst thing that you can do. Nobody can stick to a starvation diet without, well, starving themselves to death. And since you are clearly not going to do that, at some point you will give in and regain the weight that you lost (and then some). Even though the weight came on over a few weeks, you will not be able to (safely) take them off in just a few weeks.

The best thing to do is go back to basics. Eat a reasonable number of calories. Cut back on sweets. Increase your exercise. Eat mostly fruits, vegetables, lean sources of protein, and whole grains.

Don't try to lose it all at once. Slow and steady always wins the race.

And if you need help, by all means, give us a call at 516-801-0022 for more information on our weight loss program.

Good luck. See you at the gym!

Friday, January 2, 2009

My son put it perfectly...

Happy New Year everybody! I hope you all enjoyed your holidays without indulging too much. I will admit that I wasn't as good as I could have been but I am looking forward to getting back on track now that things are back to normal.

I did make a New Year's Resolution... I will blog more often. I know you all are reading this and checking it often- so I will make sure I get here more frequently.

I finished filming a segment for the 10 pm news on Channel 11 that will air tonight (do you like how I threw that plug in there?) and decided to treat my kids with frozen yogurt. They were thrilled when I walked in the door! We all sat down and began to eat. About one quarter of the way through, Zachary (my 6 year old) looked at me with such a sad look on his face. "Mommy", he said. "My tummy is telling me that I am full but I really want to eat this! What should I do?"

Well- isn't that the question that we all struggle with? We know that we are full but the food looks so good. What do we do?

I said to Zachary, "What do you think you should do?" He looked at me and said, "I should probably put it in the freezer and eat the rest tomorrow." "That's a great idea!" I told him. And that is what he did.

This is an important lesson to teach to your children. The next time you think that your children are eating because the food tastes good (and not because they are full), talk about it. Explain that our bellies hurt when we eat after we are full- and that it is not healthy. Tell them that they can save the yummy food for later. Always give them the option of taking food home so they don't think it is a now or never situation!

Wouldn't it be great if they could learn that lesson when they are younger so it becomes an ingrained habit? Start teaching your children healthy habits from a young age so that healthy choices become second nature!

And just so you don't think that my kids are perfect- as soon as we put his yogurt in the freezer, he turned to me and asked, "Now that I didn't finish the frozen yogurt, can I have a few Hershey's Kisses?" WHAT? "No," I answered. "That defeats the whole purpose!!!" I guess we all have more work to do!