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We all know people (if we’re not one ourselves) who have dieted and exercised for years only to see little change on the scale.

Common sense tells us that not all diets are good for everyone, and if you’ve been reading my past newsletters, you know that not all exercise is good for every body all the time.

The good news is you can discover your body type and figure out which methods of eating and exercise will work for you.

I have studied with Dr. Carolyn Mein, D.C., author of Different Bodies, Different Diets, as well as Dr. Diana Schwarzbein, M.D., author of The Schwarzbein Principle Book II. I am a certified Schwarzbein practitioner and have used her information for years.

The key questions to ask yourself are:

1. Do I have a damaged metabolism?

2. What is my underlying body type?

I have learned from Dr. Schwarzbein how to determine whether or not you have a damaged metabolism.

If you have a damaged metabolism, you may be having a very hard time trying to achieve your ideal size because either you are insulin resistant and/or you have burned out adrenal glands.

If you have a damaged metabolism with insulin resistance and/or burned out adrenal glands, then the usual prescriptions for eating less and exercising hard and fast probably only make you sicker, fatter or injured without actually making you much slimmer.

Dr. Mein’s work is also important because it acknowledges the fact that each of us has an underlying body type that responds best to certain ways of eating and exercising.

Drawing upon 20 years of experience in chiropractic, acupuncture, clinical nutrition, bio-nutrition and applied kinesiology, Dr. Mein has devised a system of 25 body types, each named by the dominant gland.

For each type, she recommends foods to eat when healthy, as well as programs to follow to lose or gain weight, including recommended types and time of exercise.

In the field of nutrition, one of the most important concepts is biochemical individuality.

For example, if you are a Gallbladder type, you may gain weight if your fat intake falls below 30 percent of your total diet. Medulla types bulk up with conventional exercise – unless they work out for three hours a day.

Others who consume typical diet fare like raw veggies and cottage cheese find the weight coming off their upper body but slowly accumulating around the hips and thighs.

Thyroid types gain if they eat fruit two times a day or more. You can discover your type based on the actual shape of your body, especially where you tend to gain weight. All clients with specific health challenges can ask me for a referral to a trained nutritionist.

How Does Body Typing Work?

Since your body type is something that you are born with, it has a “blueprint” for how you gain weight and what you must do to take it off.

Most people can stay on conventional diets only a week or so before their body chemistry begins to rebel.

Dr. Mein’s thesis is that food your body is not able to digest or metabolize well ends up stored as fat. Pancreas types, for example, tend to store their fat in flabby arms, while other types who are challenged by carbohydrate metabolism tend to develop big bellies.

By knowing your body type, you can improve your appetite, or help curb the tendency to eat certain foods at times when they are not supportive.

Dr. Mein says there are five body types that must exercise regularly, even if weight loss is not a priority – Adrenal types, Lymph types, Nervous System, Eye, and Thymus types.

Understanding ourselves on this purely physical level can give us tremendous insights into other aspect of our lives. For example, I am a Lymph body type – I need a minimum of one hour of exercise every other day to meet my need for constant mental and physical stimulation. No wonder I teach yoga and qi gong and help others with their physical fitness!

Of course, studies show that the most effective way to lose weight and to keep it off is by eating right and exercising. But do you know when the best time for you to exercise?

Many types do best in the morning to get their sluggish metabolisms fired up for the day – especially Pancreas and Spleen types.

While weight training builds the lean muscle mass on which 75 percent of our metabolim is based, some types, such as the Skin body type, may see very little muscle definition no matter how hard they train due to their body chemistry. Others get best results with yoga or Tai Chi.

The bottom line is that the more you understand your metabolism and your original body type, the more empowered you are to give your body what it needs.

Help me lose weight? Sure! Just get to know yourself a lot better.

This is an adaptation of an article that first appeared in my newsletter in 1998.