Transcript: This is David Brower with your 20-minute podcast and our special guest today is Dr. Lewis Meline out of Spokane. He’s a medical doctor, an expert in nutrition and exercise beginning his education in nutrition and exercise over 40 years ago. At that time he was in the Air Force and like many other military personnel as well as civilians for that matter he was overweight, very out of shape and being like that bothered him enough where he had to figure out what to do. And that was the start of your journey, right Doc?
Dr. Meline: Yes, that’s correct.
David Brower: By the way, thank you for your service.
Dr. Meline: Thank you and thank you for having me on your show. I think you have some great information for your listeners today.
David Brower: Yeah, I’m excited about it. One of the things we were talking briefly before we went on the air is really how much maybe desensitized is a good word about diets and all that kind of stuff. I don’t know, what are your feelings on that?
Dr. Meline: Yeah I think what I see is people are becoming desensitized to it. This idea of being overweight and weight loss and nutrition, this has been going on for decades. And all these diet programs, I know of at 115 or 20 diet programs that are out there and I haven’t even done a search for them. These ones I just stumbled across.
David Brower: Right.
Dr. Meline: There’s thousands of supplements and things of people promoting every day that this is going to make you lose weight and stuff and people have tried these things and they’ve just become disenchanted. Nothing is working and they just think well this is just another one of those things that’s coming along and it’s not going to do anything for me.
David Brower: I think one of the … we’re all looking for the silver bullet and there’s no such thing, right?
Dr. Meline: Exactly. You might as well be looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
David Brower: Right. Yeah, and you probably have much more luck with the pot of gold actually.
Dr. Meline: At least have as much luck.
David Brower: Right. So you book Lies Exposed!: The Truth About Diets, Supplements, Weight Loss and Exercise. I mean that spells it all. That means a lot of research about a lot of really important topics to people that need to bet back in touch with those topics if they’ve lost their way, right?
Dr. Meline: That’s correct. And the big thing is, like I said, there’s so many things out there that they’re enticing people to do this or that in order to lose this weight and be healthy. One thing that people I think kind of pulls them the wrong way is they think the science has nailed this. That there is some magic chemical that’s going to come along that it’s going to allow them to sit on the couch and watch TV and have the exact weight they want and be perfectly healthy. They can eat whatever they want and that’s just not reality.
David Brower: Yeah. Well that burst my bubble that’s where I’m at. But no, that’s right. I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s everywhere. If you see Oprah pushing weight loss with Weight Watchers and you see Marie Osmond pushing Nutrisystem and those are the two that are spending tons and tons and tons and tons of money. But like you say, there’s hundreds more out there trying to compete for your insanity I think.
Dr. Meline: Yeah, it’s all a matter of they want to do something to get a return from it. They’re not doing that just because they’re nice people and they want to make you healthy and they’re glad they can help you.
David Brower: Right.
Dr. Meline: They have a program they want to sell you and make some money with. At the same time they want people to be successful. If nobody on Weight Watchers ever lost any weight, they would go out of business. The same with Nutrisystem. But the thing people don’t realize is what they’re doing is they’re making you eat less so that you’re not consuming as many calories so eventually you will consume few enough calories that your body will have to consume it’s fat for energy. So they’re forcing you into this cycle and that’s essentially what all of the diet programs do. They put you on some eating plan that forces you to eat few enough calories that you’ll lose weight. And most of them are geared towards rapid weight loss. In other words, people are impatient. They don’t want to wait for two to three years to lose 50 pounds. They want to lose it now.
David Brower: Yeah, we are in that microwave immediate gratification kind of world aren’t we?
Dr. Meline: Yeah. And what they don’t realize is over the years they developed severely poor eating habits. Eating is very much a habit just like smoking or anything else. You won’t think it’s a habit but you develop eating habits just like any other habit. And breaking away from those habits is very stressful. One of the big failure of the … well there’s two big failures of the diet program.
One, they put you on some diet that includes foods that you probably don’t really care for that much. Or at least not the way that they’re prepared. But you’re willing to put yourself through that because they’re promising you that you’re going to lose all this weight very rapidly. And it’s revealing. And you get on the program. You say this is great. You start to lost to lose some weight and you’re feeling pretty good about it but at the same time you’re very stressed because all of the things that you enjoy eating, these habits that you developed, you can’t engage in. And it causes a lot of stress.
And over time … and a few people make it to their goal. They get to the end where they get the target weight but most people along the way experience too much stress and anxiety or loss of their previous habits and they fall right back into them. Just like people stop smoking. How many people can stop smoking just on the spur of the moment?
David Brower: Yeah I quit 100 times I think.
Dr. Meline: Yeah, that’s I like to say. [inaudible 00:05:14] I can quit anytime I want. I’ve done it thousand times.
David Brower: Right. And I think what you’re saying if I understand you correctly is the stress comes because you feel like you’re depriving yourself, right?
Dr. Meline: Yeah. And you have these habits. Just like say you have a habit of eating chocolate and chocolate is a lot of people’s favorite candy or sweet and can’t say that I don’t eat my share too. I love chocolate. But you have to take it in stride. But if you were deprived of that chocolate and all of a sudden say, “Well you can’t have any more chocolate for six months because you’ve got to lose some weight,” you start craving it. And it’s not just chocolate but there’s many foods we crave. You have certain food you like to eat when you come home from work. There are certain beverage you like to drink and these diets are forcing you to remove yourself from all of that. So the stress from doing this is very intense.
The flip side of that is they don’t teach you how to eat appropriately. You don’t learn what is healthy food and how to eat from that [inaudible 00:06:14] your needs so you’ll go how should you be eating, and these sorts of things. They don’t teach you that.
David Brower: And when you get done with those particular programs like that, it’s no wonder that people balloon back up and gain their weight and sometimes even more because they get back into their old habits or that comfort zone.
Dr. Meline: And that’s exactly right. If you think about it, it was those old habits that caused the problem in the first place.
David Brower: Right.
Dr. Meline: If you fall back in those habits, the same thing is going to happen. If you shoot yourself in the foot, and it heals up, if you shoot yourself in the foot it’s going to hurt again.
David Brower: Right. Yeah.
Dr. Meline: But they keep doing this over and over again. They try supplements. Supplements don’t work. They try this this diet but it doesn’t work. They try that diet but what they really need to know is the truth about this. What is the truth about the diet plans and the supplements? And to put it all in a nutshell is they just don’t work. They’re just not going to do anything for you in the long run.
David Brower: Yeah. I had my physical day before yesterday and my blood work all came back great. My doc was happy and I was happy. I rescued me a dog a few months ago so now I’m walking my 10,000 steps a day. But I’m still overweight. And so he says, “Well you’re doing a lot of the right things but dude you got to work on portion control.”
Dr. Meline: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well there’s a little bit more to it than that.
David Brower: I would think so.
Dr. Meline: First off, physicians are notoriously bad at advice for nutrition and exercise. For one thing, physicians are not taught nutrition in medical school. So unless they’ve gone out of their way to make a special effort to learn about nutrition, they really don’t know much about it.
David Brower: Yeah.
Dr. Meline: And another thing is exercise. They even know less about exercise. Again, unless they’ve gone out and really learned something about exercise and I’m not talking about just going out and I become a bicyclist and so now I know all about bicycles and gear and riding a bicycle. But you really need to understand the underlying physiology of exercise and they don’t really know anything about that either.
So when a physician tells you, “Yeah, cut back on your portions and do more exercise,” that is a clear indication that they know absolutely nothing about it because first off, they didn’t ask you what you were eating.
David Brower: Correct.
Dr. Meline: And so if you’re just cutting back on portions of food that is very nutritionally poor, you’re not doing anything but cutting out calories. You’re not improving your nutrition.
David Brower: Well yeah, if I cut back from three donuts to one, you know?
Dr. Meline: Yeah. You cut back on calories you might lose some weight but you’re [inaudible 00:08:37]. And one thing I was going to bring up it’s very interesting. You went to your doctor and got a clear bill of health. But how many people do that or you hear about these stories. The guy goes in and gets his physical and yeah you’re fine, you’re in great shape. Then he walks out and has a heart attack and dies in the hallway.
David Brower: Right.
Dr. Meline: It’s because there’s really no way to measure health. You can measure blood work, you know look at different things in the blood and you can yeah those are all normal. You can take your blood pressure and these sorts of things. Yeah they’re all normal. But it doesn’t tell you anything about how healthy you are.
David Brower: Right. Is there a way to tell how healthy you are?
Dr. Meline: No, there’s really no way to tell how healthy you are.
David Brower: That’s what I thought.
Dr. Meline: That’s one of the ironies of this. Well how healthy am I? Well I don’t know. So the only thing you can do then is treat your body the best you can. Eat the best food. You can make yourself as nutritionally healthy as possible. And then if you can … a lot of people can’t. They have some physical disability or whatever that keeps them from really strenuous physical exercise and that’s okay. But you need to do as much physical exercise as you can. Our bodies are really designed to work. People say well you know I walk up and down the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Well okay, that’s fine but you’re only dealing within things that your body’s capable of doing easily.
David Brower: True.
Dr. Meline: And so your body doesn’t like to keep anything around that it doesn’t need except for fat. We’re designed so that when we eat excess your body saves that because who knows when the next famine’s coming, so you need to store up as much fat as you can so that you can survive the next famine. Well, conversely, if your body has a lot of excess stuff like you have a lot of extra muscle that you’re carrying around and the machinery that supports that muscle, now you’ve got to have all this energy to support that but if you’re not using that energy for anything, your body gets rid of that. It gets rid of the muscle fiber. It doesn’t get rid of the fibers but it gets rid of the muscle out of the fibers to shrink down. Well it does get rid of the fiber. It doesn’t get rid of the cells is what I meant to say.
So if the fibers go away, the machinery that supports those fibers goes away, your body just doesn’t need it. So it’s rid of it. So whatever daily activity you’re engaged in, your body maintains that because you need that for your daily activities. But over time as you’re less and less active, your body sheds more and more of that. And you say, “Wow, I used to be able to run up the stairs, now I have to walk.” Well that’s because you didn’t maintain that. You just told your body you needed that ability to run up the stairs.
And so it got rid of the extra machinery that you needed to run up the stairs. So how do you get that back? Well you have to tell your body you need it. And you can’t just do it once. Okay, I’m going to run up the stairs today and then I’ll be set. Okay, you ran up the stairs and you told your body I need this energy but you only needed it once so your body’s like well I really don’t need to add anything because that was just a single burst and we got through it and we’re okay. You have to tell it continuously, “I need more energy. I need more strength. I need this ability to do whatever.”
Well how do you do that? Well, you can go to the gym or you can go out and do something in your home or outside, whatever it is. But you have to stress your body beyond what you want to be able to do. So if you want to be able to run up the stairs, you probably need to do some strengthening exercises to make your muscles stronger. You need to run up and down the stairs all the times so you keep reminding your muscles, yes, I need this. Then your muscles build more fibers. It’ll build the machinery it needs to produce that energy that you’re telling it you need.
David Brower: That’s like friends of mine. In fact my wife and a couple of good friends of ours love to ski. And living in Colorado that makes sense. But what they do prior to the ski season is they do exactly what you’re saying. They do a different kind of core exercises I guess for a lack of a better term to get their legs, their body, their arms, everything in skiing shape so that when they hit the slope, they have an opportunity of having a good time instead of just walking out there cold and trying it.
Dr. Meline: That’s an excellent idea. It would be even better if they stayed in shape all year round.
David Brower: Right. Right.
Dr. Meline: I describe this physiological fitness in my book. It’s first more important to be nutritionally fit. Because if your body’s not nutritionally fit and you’re demanding all of these things of it, how do you expect it to function appropriately?
David Brower: Sure.
Dr. Meline: You may have plenty of energy. You may eat plenty of carbs or whatever you have that gives the energy, but your body needs the vitamins and minerals, the things to go along with that that it needs to carry out these chemical reactions it’s trying to do. And so if you’re demanding more out of your body, and not providing it nutrition that it needs to do that, you may even actually hurt yourself.
David Brower: Well it’s not unlike driving a muscle car at 110 miles an hour with a quarter of a tank of gas and you ran out of gas just as you’re headed towards a light pole, you know?
Dr. Meline: Yeah. Yeah, no it’s definitely nutrition that’s got to be first. So I look at, it’s kind of two parts. First is nutritional health and that’s the most important. That’s why people who really can’t get out and exercise and exercise vigorously or whatever, that’s okay. Do as much as you can. But make yourself nutritionally fit as you can be. And then the flip side of that is the physiological health. And that’s what comes from the physical stimulation. That’s when you’re making those cells function the way they’ve been designed to function. You’re making your body work the way it was designed to work together. And so it takes both parts to be really truly healthy.
David Brower: Does your book walk a layman, nonmedical person, been through every diet on the planet, does your book walk a person like me through how to do that, what all that means and how to be successful?
Dr. Meline: Yeah. When I first started this adventure, when I first started 40 years ago, I was in the same boat as everybody else is. Like you said, I was overweight and really out of shape and nutritionally in poor health. And so that really bugged me a lot and that got me started on this quest. So I was just like everybody else. I was trying diet plans. I started weight lifting because I appreciated people who were strong and so I wanted to have more strength rather than just play basketball or something. So I headed down that road. And then that led me into body building and all the supplements stuff they take and you’re doing all that stuff.
After doing this for a number of years, I eventually discovered that there’s times when you can afford the supplements and times you can’t. It just kind of depends on your situation. I noticed that during the times that I couldn’t afford the supplements I was doing just as well as the times I was taking the supplements. So I started thinking well what were these supplements doing for me? I can’t tell the difference and I’m spending all this money on these supplements and when I’m not.
And then I got to a point I got a chance to go to med school. I thought oh this is wonderful. I’m getting into med school and they’re teaching me all this wonderful nutrition, I’m going to figure this all out. Well that was a big disappointment. I didn’t learn anything about nutrition in med school. So, that left me on my own to just dig into it and figure it out. But really after you look into it there’s really non-basis for any of the supplement stuff. It’s pretty much all make believe. So I started thinking well I’m going to write a book where I’m just going to show everybody exactly … I’m going to take all these supplements and show all the research. I had a two-foot pile of research sitting on my and I’m going to show them exactly why this stuff is wrong.