Interviews / August 16, 2012

Christine Lydon, MD

By Charles Platkin, PhD

Her innovative diet and exercise regimen featured in her book, Ten Years Thinner, emphasizes healthy eating from protein, carbohydrate, and fat sources and demands only twenty to twenty-five minutes of hand-weight exercises a day. Dr. Lydon currently devotes herself to writing and speaking about weight management, disease prevention, and nonpharmaceutical alternatives for increased longevity.

Name: Christine Lydon

Birthday: July 19, 1966

Location: Rochester, NY

Diet Detective: Hello Christine, I can’t believe all you’ve accomplished — you really are an example of a renaissance woman. But I’m sure you’ve heard that before! What motivated you to work in the area of nutrition and fitness? Was there a specific event or situation that inspired you?

Christine: Thank you! And believe me, given my politically-incorrect approach, I’ve run into enough roadblocks to appreciate that compliment very much. My continued involvement in this industry is out of sheer stubbornness — and ego! When I see multinational corporations getting rich by selling lies that only make people sick, all I want to do is fly in like a superhero and save the day!

Diet Detective: You went to medical school, and I’ve heard so often that medical doctors learn so little about nutrition, fitness and health prevention — is that a myth?

Christine: That’s no myth. The first two years of medical school provided an invaluable foundation — that’s when you learn the basics. Without a fairly comprehensive understanding of biochemistry, physiology, and anatomy, not to mention the scientific process itself, it would be impossible to correctly interpret emerging research in the areas of metabolism and exercise physiology. It’s the final two years of medical school when you’re actually working on the wards, learning how to treat patients. That’s when the mammoth influence of the pharmaceutical industry takes over and the whole idea of “prevention” gets wiped from the collective consciousness. We were never taught about prevention — and I believe that was a deliberate omission. Everything I’ve learned about nutrition, fitness, and preventive medicine, I learned after graduating from medical school.

Diet Detective: You offer quick results in your book — why the rush?

Christine: There’s no rush, that’s just how the program happens to work. Ten Years Thinner has the dual advantage of providing fast, dramatic results, in a healthy, sustainable manner.

Ten Years Thinner is not just about weight loss; it’s about fat loss. This is not a fad or a magic bullet that will cause your weight to plummet by ten pounds in the first two or three weeks, just so you can regain it all in the months to follow. Unlike other popular diet programs that contradict human physiology, Ten Years Thinner harnesses natural processes that transform your body into the healthy, energized, fat-burning furnace it was born to be.

The cornerstones of Ten Years Thinner lie in stabilizing your physiological equilibrium and building a symmetrically-balanced muscle base. These two processes work synergistically to stoke your internal furnace so that it becomes a full-time fat incinerator.

Think of your body as the most brilliantly designed machine in the universe. It wants to run clean. It wants to burn fat around the clock. It feels good when things are working properly. This program simply provides the tools and fuel that your body needs to function according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Diet Detective: You also promise, “Slimmer hips, firmer thighs, flatter abs, more defined arms, and clearer, younger-looking skin in just six weeks.” Do you really think that is medically possible without completely changing your entire life? It seems like so many empty promises that publishers write on book covers to sell books.

Christine: I don’t just think it’s possible — I know it’s possible! I’ve seen it over, and over, and over again with my test subjects. But don’t take my word for it, check out the testimonials page of the Ten Years Thinner web site. Look at the before and after photos. Read the testimonials. In fact, I’d be happy to provide you with a list of names and contact information of former test subjects. These are people who lost weight two, three, and four years ago and have kept it off. The most compelling promotional tools at my disposal are the actual people who have tried the program!

Diet Detective: Can you explain the rationale behind the dietary guidelines?

Christine: The organization of the dietary component of Ten Years Thinner is based on anthropological data and cutting edge research in the areas of immunology, physiology, and metabolism.

During the first three weeks (phase 1), the reader adopts a meal plan that includes anti-inflammatory foods, including antioxidant-rich fruits, leafy vegetables, nuts, legumes, seeds, fish, poultry, eggs, game, and organically raised livestock. The second three-week phase adds limited amounts of dairy, soy, potatoes, dried fruit and fruit juice, grain-based carbohydrates, high glycemic and processed foods, feedlot meat, and dark chocolate. During the third and final “maintenance phase,” alcohol is reintroduced along with a weekly cheat meal during which he/she can eat and drink whatever their heart desires. Throughout each phase, readers are advised to follow a supplementation regimen that includes the omega-3 essential fatty acids lacking in contemporary diets.

This multi-tiered organization serves a dual purpose. First, it helps to reestablish physiological equilibrium by combating insulin resistance — the number one inflammatory process contributing to weight gain, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. And second, it permits an objective self-evaluation, providing individuals the opportunity to identify particular foods to which they may be sensitive so they can reduce or avoid their consumption in the future.

Diet Detective: You claim that your 25-minute workout delivers equal or better results than one that takes three times as long. How is this possible? Can anybody do it?

Christine: Exercise physiologists are now proving experimentally what I’ve known empirically for years — namely that the most efficient way to induce progressive (and permanent) fat loss is to elevate metabolic rate around the clock— an endeavor best accomplished through a combination of resistance training and intense, short-duration exercise. Resistance training builds muscle, and a little muscle goes a long way toward increasing metabolic rate, caloric expenditure, and fat burning. Likewise, brief intervals of intense exercise induce a hormonal response that raises resting metabolic rate and increases overall fat burning for up to two days.

And yes— the Ten Years Thinner exercise routines can be performed by almost anyone. As long as you can climb a flight of stairs without pain, and lift your arms over your head, you should have little difficulty doing the routines. The 20-minute beginner workout routine permits even previously sedentary individuals to train for fast, visible results. The more strenuous second phase routine has a built-in mechanism to allow for a lifetime of gradual, progressive improvements in conditioning and fitness. The optional third phase routine can be used as a stepping stone to more physically demanding activities like sports or as a training adjunct for competitive athletics. No matter what the phase, two pairs of light dumbbells are the only exercise equipment you will ever need.

Diet Detective: What do you think is the one most important thing that makes or breaks a diet/fitness program?

Christine: Long-term sustainability.

Diet Detective: Do you think that women need to exercise and train differently then men? If so, how?

Christine: No, I don’t think women need to train differently than men.

Diet Detective: In your book you talk about how no gym is needed. I’m wondering, does that mean that you don’t think weight / strength training is critical? Can you explain?

Christine: That’s not what I mean at all. What I mean is you don’t need to join a gym, spend a fortune on exercise equipment, or devote your life to the human hamster wheel to see rapid, dramatic improvements in your physique. The Ten Years Thinner routines are built around light resistance training that can be done just about anywhere, anytime, and by anyone. In less time than it would take to watch your favorite sitcom, you can get a safe, balanced, full-body workout that harnesses several physiological principals to accelerate fat loss, build strength and stamina, and endow you with a youthful posture and a toned physique.

Diet Detective: How do you get someone motivated to stick to a fitness program?

Christine: That’s tough to do. I’m convinced that motivation must come from within. But when people see and feel results, they are automatically motivated to stick to a fitness program.

I believe the reason that most people find it hard to stick to an exercise program is because the vast majority of exercise routines that are compact enough to fit into their busy schedules are inefficient for promoting appreciable changes in body composition or health. In addition, most exercise programs are tedious and boring. Who in their right mind would bother investing their limited time and energy into doing something they may not particularly enjoy, especially when the promised rewards are so completely exaggerated?

In contrast, the exercise program described in Ten Years Thinner embodies sustainability because it actually does deliver the promised rewards with a minimal time commitment. It also improves your fitness level as it teaches you how to exercise efficiently. Hence, if you have the time and inclination to take up a sport, join an exercise class, or begin a weight-lifting regimen, you will have at your disposal both the necessary conditioning to undertake more physically-demanding activities, as well as the requisite knowledge to structure your training so that it best supports your health and physique goals.

Diet Detective: In all your years of training what do you consider the best non-weight related exercise (e.g. lunge). Can you also explain how to do the exercise?

Christine: Interval training, consisting of all-out sprints (95-100% MHR) for as long as you can sustain the pace (45-60 seconds in a well-trained individual) followed by two to three minutes of moderate-intensity activity (or until HR has recovered to 60-70% MHR) and repeat. Twenty to thirty minutes of running, swimming, cycling, skating (etc.) intervals will provide a vastly superior workout to doing any of these activities at a moderate, sustained pace (60-80% MHR — i.e. the “aerobic zone” or “target HR”) for 90 minutes.

Diet Detective: If you could only do one strength training exercise (using weights) what would it be?

Christine: A compound, multi-joint movement that utilizes free weights to challenge the full motion range of as many muscle groups as possible — a wide squat (holding two dumbbells) combined with a bicep curl followed by an Arnold Press.

Diet Detective: What is the worst strength training exercise for women? Or one that is the most frequently done incorrectly?

Christine: Ab exercises using a Swiss ball.

Diet Detective: What’s your favorite “junk food” — I realize that you don’t believe there are any “junk” foods — but indulge us?

Christine: I never said there weren’t any “junk foods”, I just said there weren’t any bad food groups. We evolved eating plenty of healthy animal protein, healthy fats, and healthy carbohydrates. Unfortunately, the healthy, whole foods that comprised our genetically-perfect diet have been largely eliminated from our contemporary food supply in favor of grains, processed foods, dairy, and feedlot meat. There are lots of crappy foods that humans were never physiologically-designed to eat and would do best to avoid as much as possible. My personal favorite is tiramisu.

Diet Detective: What’s your favorite healthy breakfast?

Christine: Dinner leftovers. Or a frozen fruit, yogurt (plain), and whey protein smoothie.

Diet Detective: What do you consider the world’s most perfect food?

Christine: Any meal that combines lean protein, healthy fat, and fruits and/or vegetables is a nutritionally “perfect” meal. An example — chicken kabobs with peppers, onions, tomatoes and mushrooms, generously basted in olive oil and herbs de provence.

Diet Detective: Who do you respect most, or who motivates you?

Christine: Brilliant, passionate, funny people and truth seekers, people who don’t bury their heads in the sand in the face of adversity. My heroes are Oprah, John Irving, John Stewart, and Stephen Colbert.

Diet Detective: If you had to choose a specific song or band to get you excited for your workout, what would it be? What other songs are on your iPod ?

Christine: I have fairly eclectic (and not terribly sophisticated) tastes in music — I think I like one song from every band that ever existed. Stuff that currently spins through my iPod includes a lot of Queen, Blink 182, and Jimmy Eat World.

Diet Detective: What do you do to reduce stress/relax/center your mind? Do you participate in an organized relaxation activity such as yoga, meditation or tai chi?

Christine: I read novels. I also write novels — though I have yet to sell one!

Diet Detective: What’s the most bodacious chance you’ve ever taken?

Christine: Graduating from Yale Medical School with six figures in student loans and then quitting my orthopedic surgery residency.

Diet Detective: What was your worst summer job?

Christine: Being an orthopedic surgery resident.

Diet Detective: Define failure.

Christine: Accepting defeat. Diet Detective: What’s the best book about health that you’ve read? (aside from your own)

Christine:The Anti-Inflammation Zone by Barry Sears, Ph.D. and The Paleolithic Diet by Loren Cordain, Ph.D.






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