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A recent survey by the National Weight-Loss Registry confirmed what many of us have suspected: of 800 Americans who have kept off 30 pounds or more for at least one year, just 4 percent have used some form of diet pill.

 

Scarcely a week goes by when I don’t talk with a client who isn’t struggling from secret cravings they feel unable to control. If this describes you, don’t feel alone: a conservative estimate calls 4 out of 10 Americans “addicts” – with abused substances including sugar, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and prescription drugs – not to mention illegal drugs. After so many clients kept asking me about natural alternatives with no side effects, I did a little research. The answer: Adequate protein, including adequate L-glutamine.

 

L-glutamine is what’s called a conditionally-essential amino acid – meaning that under extreme stress, including heavy exercise, the body needs more.

 

For years, L-glutamine has been one of the top bodybuilding supplements because it helps build muscle. Dr. Julian Whitaker argues that taking 2 grams a day stimulates growth hormone, which retards the effects of aging. Other studies have found that college students given L-glutamine voluntarily reduced their consumption of junk food, and alcoholics given the supplement without their knowledge voluntarily reduced their drinking by more than 70 percent. Emily Kane, a naturopath, says that taking between 4-6 grams a day in divided doses on an empty stomach stimulates the body’s production of natural antidepressants – the endorphins and enkephalins. My book, Healing Depression, talks about amino acids for treating depression, including GABA, an amino acid made from L-glutamine that reduces anxiety. Dr. Eric Braverman says that GABA reduces appetite and balances blood sugar, improving our ability to metabolize carbohydrates.

 

Work Out, Get Smarter

 

One of the biggest misconceptions at institutions of so-called higher learning is that jocks are dumb. Now comes none other than Princeton University with a new report: lifetime physical activity can actually grow new brain cells in the hippocampus. Further, the brain protein that increases brain power is naturally increased with regular physical activity. How did the brains at Princeton figure that out? Dr. Holly Cline found that NR2B, a brain protein that improves learning and memory, is naturally increased when the body is physically active. Thinking of skipping your workout? What a dumb idea!

 

Less Dairy=Gorgeous Legs

 

One of the more dramatic turnarounds I’ve seen over the past few months has been in Norma Bingham, who has been training with me 2-3 times a week and once a week coming to power yoga classes on Wednesdays.

 

Two months ago, Norma asked me what she could do to improve the appearance of her thighs, which had been a life-long source of frustration. Most of us have challenge areas, and this was hers – no matter whether she gained or lost weight, her thighs refused to budge.

 

Then, two months ago, we discussed Dr. Carolyn Mein’s body-type system. As many of you know, I highly recommend finding out your body type – it can mean the difference between months of failure and faster success. Dr. Mein says that many women who have intractable thighs are eating too many dairy products. Ms. Bingham, a vegetarian, had been eating low-fat yogurt daily, but decided to give up dairy and see what happened. “I’ve seen a very, very quick change,” she said. The other improvement: Eating six little meals a day instead of three big ones. “I’ve been able to stop craving chocolate – that was a big one for me,” she said.

 

If you want to look as great as Norma, follow her advice: “Drink lots and lots of water. I get my protein from soy products. And keep moving – keeping active makes you feel young!”

 

Great Glutes: 5 The Secret to a Better Behind

 

The results are in: The American Council on Exercise says that these are the top exercises for firming and toning your gluteals:

 

1. Squats – with or without weights 2. Lunges 3. Walking up hills 4. Jogging or running 5. Stair climbing

 

I am certified in Freestyle Training for women, a blend of compound exercises that was developed to train female ice athletes – women who had to have very strong lower bodies, but still look good in a tutu.

 

Freestyle focuses on compound movements like squats and lunges, which 1) raise the heart rate, so that strength training becomes an aerobic workout 2) develop sleek lines in the body and 3) improve whole-body balance and coordination.

 

“While even the most novice exerciser knows, deep down, that spot reducing is an impossibility, many still cling to the hope that it may one day be possible.” – The American Council on Exercise

 

Are Your Drugs Making You Fat?

 

Gaining weight and don’t know why? You may want to check your medicine cabinet.

 

Weight gain is a common side effect of many medications, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers. The top culprits: steroids like prednisone. Antidepressants amytriptilline and lithium were second on the list. The cholesterol drug Inderal and similar drugs called beta-blockers were also found to have this side effect. If you have been gaining weight and are on any medication, you might want to refer to the Physicians Desk Reference in any public library to see if your drug is causing you to gain weight. My book, Healing Depression, contains an entire chapter on commonly-prescribed drugs listed in the Physicians Desk Reference as causing depression. Find out for yourself how better food choices and exercise can improve your health without drugs.