By Chet Yarbrough
Written by: John J. Ratey, MD
Narrated by: Walter Dixon
Crash dieting and the brain compete for control of one’s established weight. Per Doctor John Ratey, your first crash diet will undoubtedly help lose weight. However, when weight is regained, the same diet will not be equally successful.
The brain automatically triggers weight conservation with a second crash diet because it signals body starvation. The third, fourth; etc. crash diet will increasingly be unsuccessful. Ratey’s point is that weight loss success requires cooperation from the brain. Ratey suggests the key to that cooperation is exercise.
Ratey is not expecting everyone to become an athlete but that some exercise regimen, whether walking, biking, or climbing stairs will offer numerous benefits for weight maintenance, mental function, and psychological health. Ratey does not discount the importance of a healthy diet but food binges, foggy thinking, and states of depression or anxiety can be scientifically ameliorated by exercise. Ratey goes so far as to suggest exercise is medicine for health.
An inference from Ratey’s research is that obsession with body image interferes with human health. As history shows, the svelte image of modern models is a reversal of what was considered beauty in earlier centuries. The substance of health is a combination of proper diet and exercise. In most cases, Ratey implies body weight and health will stabilize with healthy eating and moderate exercise. Ratey acknowledges genetics and medical maladies may interfere with that conclusion, but not change its efficacy when coordinated with medical consultation.
Part of one’s frustration with Ratey’s conclusion is dependence on what is called a proper diet. It seems with each new study; some approved foods slip to the bottom of the “good food” pyramid, while some formerly “bad foods” move up the pyramid; i.e. chocolate for example.
The overriding value of Ratey’s book is the conclusion that exercise is a key to mood, memory, and learning. Numerous control experiments support Ratey’s argument. Exercise seems more for the brain than the body. Every day should be an exercise day. Ratey notes that pregnant women that exercise have been found to have healthier babies than those who, in earlier days, were counseled to rest and relax.
Exercise does not have to be a fixed regimen but walking rather than driving to the store, when close to home, is a beginning. Replacing TV time with household chores is part of an exercise regimen. Keep moving. Ratey suggests “Even 10 minutes of activity changes your brain.”