Richard G. Petty, MD

The Integrated Approach to Maintaining a Healthy Weight

Regular readers will have noticed that I have been posting much less than usual over the last couple of months. It is not that I have run out of things to say (!), but I have been working on some new projects that I shall be telling you about fairly soon.

There has also been something else that I had not planned to talk about until a conversation that I had a couple of days ago. I mentioned in passing that I had noticed that my weight had crept up a bit over the last couple of years, but that I had identified the reasons, corrected it, and lost twenty pounds over the last eight weeks. I was immediately surrounded by people wanting to know the secret. Well it’s no secret. It is a series of techniques that I, and people that I have trained, have used with thousands of people over the last thirty years. Then I realized that this secret had somehow not got as much coverage or publicity as it should have.

The other day I was talking to someone who has had some legitimate concerns about her weight for over ten years. She has tried every fad diet going, and has spent a fortune on books, tapes and courses. All to no avail.

I asked her, “Why do you keep falling for these fad diets? They are the nutritional equivalent of get-rich-quick schemes!”

“But there must be an answer somewhere,” she replied.

Well, she was half right: there is an Answer that is based on impeccable scientific research, and has been validated with tens of thousands of people. But it is not a fancy diet, supplement or exercise plan.

The first point is that we never recommend, “dieting” to get healthy. You get healthy so that your body can keep you do the work that it was designed to do. And that includes keeping you at your ideal weight.

Humans participate in multiple relationships, from our cells to our soul, and from the smallest atoms to the largest galaxies: we are connected to all of them. Weight problems invariably imply an imbalance in one or more of these relationships. We are more than physical bodies. We are also psychological, social and spiritual beings who are engaged in these multiple relationships. And the quality of these relationships is essential to our well bring.

The approach that we have used for three decades is very precise and consists of two parts.

First is the Plan: a series of steps that involve the re-integrations of your body with your mind, your relationships, the subtle systems of your body and your spirituality. Part Two consists of a series of “Rescues and Re-starts.” Anybody who has ever tried a weight management program knows that it is easy to fall off the wagon. There are times when things happen. You are tempted to miss an exercise session or to eat something that your body does not need. The beginner’s mistake is to respond by feeling bad, becoming disheartened or having someone reprimand you. Those are all a waste of energy. The smart thing is to have a series of sixty-second strategies that rescue you and start you on the Plan.

The first step is to treat you body so that you are ready to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Remember the “hidden” causes of weight gain:

  • Stress
  • Salt
  • Pesticides
  • Viruses
  • Intestinal bacteria

It can he hard to rid ourselves of all of these, but we can certainly reduce the effect that they have on us.

There may be other physical factors that contribute to weight problems. One that has recently attracted some publicity has been the idea that some people have a “leaky gut” – and increase in intestinal permeability – that allows them to absorb toxins that should stay out of the circulation. I have a friend and colleague who, starting in the early 1980s, did a ton of research on intestinal permeability in illnesses like alcoholism, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis and schizophrenia. I also did a study of intestinal permeability in migraine, which was negative. There certainly are ways in which intestinal permeability can be increased: alcohol, allergies and some drugs will do it. But so far the evidence that increased intestinal permeability is a common cause of weight problems or other symptoms is not good. That could always change: that is what science is all about: testing falsifiable hypotheses and changing models, practice and recommendations if the evidence changes.

After attending to the physical side of weight maintenance, we go on to recommend some simple psychological work. As I said at the beginning, if your brain thinks that you are trying to kill yourself by starving to death, it will sabotage you: millions of years of evolution have designed you to stay alive and to put on weight whenever possible. So we it is essential to understand and work with those psychological mechanisms from the very beginning.

But it is not enough to simply change your thinking: much of your behavior is driven by unconscious, preconscious and subconscious “thoughts.” We also have several sets of emotional systems that drive our behavior. What’s more, there are separate sets of habits and automatic behaviors that we need to identify and deal with. We also have to deal with the effects of certain foods on your moods and perceptions: countless eating plans have failed because nobody considered that a person might be sensitive or allergic to some foods, or that changes in diet can have a big impact on the way in which our brains function. When we work with all of them the results start to come in very quickly.

We also have to deal with the social aspects of weight: have you been stigmatized because of weight? Have you been sabotaged by people around you, or family members? Do you or your family use meal times to socialize? Do you constantly eat out? There are a huge number of social issues that can mess with healthy eating. Ignore them, and it will be nearly impossible to achieve your aims.

We then also work on any disorganization or blockages in the subtle systems of the body, as well as the spiritual aspects of health and wellness.

It may sound odd to talk about spirituality when considering weight management and health, but they are inseparable.

It is only after we have done all of those things that we look at the precise composition of your diet, tailored to your age and gender. Just as important as what you eat, is when you eat. The way in which you exercise, stretch, breath and sleep can be as important as what and when you eat, and each has to be carefully tailored to the individual.

On a future occasion I shall explain exactly how your can work with each of the five systems of you body – Physical, Psychological, Social, Subtle and Spiritual – to create and maintain vibrant health and a radiance that at the moment you can only dream about.

That’s a promise!

“I don’t eat junk foods, and I don’t think junk thoughts.”
–Peace Pilgrim (a.k.a. Mildred Norman, American Peace Activist, 1908-1981)

“He that takes medicine and neglects diet, wastes the skill of the physician.”
–Chinese Proverb

“Give the body the attention it deserves, but not more. When you cultivate the attitude that you are the body, the body will demand from you more food, more variety in food, more attention to appearance and physical comfort.”
–Sathya Sai Baba (Indian Spiritual Teacher, c.1926-)

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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