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Working Out and Staying Motivated for 2009; Health and Wellness Expert Jillian Michaels Answers Fitness Questions; Fertility Problems: Could Your Diet Help?

Aired January 3, 2009 - 08:30   ET


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN HOST: Good morning, welcome to HOUSE CALL, the show that helps you live longer and stronger.
So, you've been splurging the last few weeks or you just want to get fit in 2009. Well, we've got some sure-fire strategies to help drop the pounds and get you back on track. Trainer Jillian Michaels is answering your questions on working out and staying motivated as well.

Plus, fertility problems. Could something as simple as your diet help? The answer's yes. And there's some real science as to why that is.

We start, though, with this. asked people for their number one health resolution this year. And exercising more was number one. No surprise there. It was good news for everyone on that front.

New research shows some surprising benefits of an exercise long thought to be too tough on the body, running. It was assumed that over time, running would be harmful to the joints, especially knees and hips, causing more injuries as you age.

But Stanford University researchers have found the opposite. They studied runners and non-runners for two decades and found when they compared the two groups, runners lived longer. And more surprisingly, there was no increase in injuries in runners. In fact, there was a delayed onset of disability. As I said, good news.

Now with that in mind, we have health and wellness expert Jillian Michaels with us here today. She's also an author. Her most recent book is titled "Making the Cut." I know you've seen her as a trainer as well on "The Biggest Loser."

Jillian, welcome to the show. Welcome to HOUSE CALL. We've been dying to get you on the show. Thank you.

JILLIAN MICHAELS: Thank you for having me. I've been dying to be on the show.

GUPTA: Happy new year to you. All the best in 2009.

MICHAELS: Happy new year to you.

GUPTA: Now, I got -- can we put up the book cover again? Just look at that book cover for a second again. You are totally, totally ripped again in this picture. It's amazing. You look great.

MICHAELS: Air brushing.

GUPTA: Air brushing.

MICHAELS: I have a great airbrusher.

GUPTA: It is a great book. I've read it. It's a great picture as well. But you know, part of the reason I was one wanting to point that out is because, you know, you've told me you didn't always look like that. That's where I wanted to start with you today. I mean, that's -- I think that's very inspiring, in fact, for a lot of people. How did you get from where you were to where you are today?

MICHAELS: Well, I got into martial arts as a young teenager. And it transformed my life as well as my body. And I realized that when you're strong physically, it transcends into every other aspect of your reality. So, through martial arts, I learned about eating right and making fitness fun and incorporating it into your everyday routine. And that was a critical part of how I got into shape.

GUPTA: We were soliciting a lot of questions from the e-mails and from our roving cameras as well. Let's take a quick listen to one of our roving camera questions.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do I fit in fitness with two jobs? I picked up a part-time job. Just trying to really fit it into the schedule.


GUPTA: I don't know if you could hear that well, but talking about lack of time. I'm sure a question you get all the time.


GUPTA: But let me take even it a step further and say, how do you pick exercises that are going to give you the biggest bang for the buck if you don't have that much time?

MICHAELS: Well, this is a problem that everyone deals with, including myself. And so, the key is high intensity training. If you only have 20 minutes to fit it in on your lunch hour or before you leave in the morning to go to work, make it intense so you burn more calories. The more calories you burn, the more fat you're going to lose. And that's key.

So, you want to combine cardio and strength training in something called circuit training. In essence, keep your moves going back to back. So, squats into push-ups, into leg extensions, into pulldowns. Keep yourself going. Lift heavier, work out hard and fast.

MICHAELS: And you know, when you say heavier, how do you sort of gauge how much is too much or how much is enough?

MICHAELS: Well, here's the idea. You want to lift as many repetitions as you can. I like to say right now, eight to 12 repetitions. More than that, I think, is unnecessary. And the minute your form is compromised, that's how you know it's too much weight. So, if you're reaching your eighth repetition and your form is a mess, drop the weight back down and go lighter.

GUPTA: That's good advice. You know, one thing we've talked about in the past, you obviously, have this television program, "The Biggest Loser." And one of the things -- and I've watched the show. It's great. You try and get these people to lose a lot of weight pretty quickly.


GUPTA: As a trainer, does that message sort of reconcile with your own philosophies and beliefs on how you get people, you know, to do this in a healthy way?

MICHAELS: Absolutely not. I call "The Biggest Loser" the Olympics of weight loss. So to me, the show is about overcoming adversity, seeing what people are really capable of doing and saying to America, hey, if this guy can lose 10 pounds in a week, you can lose 10 pounds in a month.

I would never -- not only is it not realistic, we have doctors on the show. Bob and I are there constantly supervising the contestants. They're never alone. And they're always in a controlled environment. So, I would never recommend for someone to do that on their own. A more moderate pace is perfectly acceptable. Two to four pounds a week, I think, is fantastic.

GUPTA: Good to hear you talk about that because I know a lot of people do watch the show and want to hear this advice from you.

Let's get to an e-mail now. We have Amy in California who writes this. "What is a healthy balance of cardio and resistance training?" Now, you talked about this a little bit with respect to people who have a lack of time.


GUPTA: But overall, cardio and resistance training, how do you sort of balance that?

MICHAELS: Well, to me, resistance training should be done no more than four hours a week. And the way I break it down is I train each body part twice a week. And I gave it two days of rest in between training.

So, for example, if I did chest, shoulders and triceps on Monday, I wouldn't do them again until Thursday. And the whole point here is to allow recovery time, because that's how your muscles make the change, is we make little micro tears when we lift weights. And then, we give them some rest. And they rebuild and they become leaner and stronger. So, no more than four times a week. Train each muscle two times a week and leave two days of rest in between training.

Now, cardio I consider gravy. And this is one of the things that we utilize on "Biggest Loser" to get those crazy numbers, is we incorporate four, five hours of cardio a day on top of their resistance training. Now, again, I would never recommend that for a normal person, but I would say if you have a little more time on your hands or you want to accelerate your results...

GUPTA: Right.

MICHAELS: ...add some extra cardio into your routine. And don't worry about overtraining or injury unless you're really going nuts, you know, like four or five hours a day, which most people will never do in their lifetime, nor do I recommend it.

GUPTA: We are jumping in the new year with Jillian Michaels. Please stick with us. Jillian, we're going to come back to you after the break. More of your questions for Jillian, including how to lose that hard to lose belly fat, of which I have none. Maybe a little bit.

But first, all those free pens and branded mugs from drug companies that you sometimes see in doctors' offices, well, they're going away. The surprising move by big pharma to scrap their giveaways. We got that in 60 seconds.


GUPTA: Welcome back to HOUSE CALL. Happy new year's everybody. Let's take a look at this week's medical headlines.

New research finds blood sugar could be linked to so-called senior moments. Researchers discovered the link while mapping activity in a region of the brain that is essential for memory. They found a decrease in brain activity among seniors who had elevated levels of blood sugar. The studies suggest that exercising to reduce blood sugar levels as you age could help prevent lapses in memory.

And no more free pens. New voluntary measures by the pharmaceutical industry will begin to eliminate the pens, mugs and other branded reminder products that are given to doctors by drug companies. The industry says that now only products that advance disease or treatment education are appropriate to hand out. The new measure is in response to criticism from doctors and activist groups that the products were influencing health care workers to prescribe newer, more expensive medicines.

HOUSE CALL is back in 60 seconds with more of your questions for trainer Jillian Michaels.


GUPTA: And we are back with HOUSE CALL, talking about getting fit and staying motivated in 2009.

All this month on HOUSE CALL, we're helping viewers tackle their health goals. Next week, we're battling smoking, then we're going to eat better, followed by tips for busting stress and ending up with how to stop overindulgence, especially in alcohol.

This week we're starting with getting moving. And with us is someone who we believe is one of the best people in the nation to talk about this, health and wellness expert Jillian Michaels.

Welcome back. Thank you so much.

MICHAELS: Thank you.

GUPTA: You obviously do a lot of things. You're one of the trainers on "Biggest Loser." You got a book out. You got another book coming out in April as well, is that right?

MICHAELS: That's right.

GUPTA: What's that book about?

MICHAELS: It's called "Master Your Metabolism." And it has to do with why your metabolism functions the way it does, how to reboot it, and make it work for you so you're burning as many calories as possible and you're living a longer, healthier, happier life.

GUPTA: Now, who doesn't want that?


GUPTA: A lot of questions as I mentioned. Let's go back to our roving camera and listen to this one.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like to know the best way to get rid of belly fat.


GUPTA: I don't know if you could hear that, but belly fat. And let me point out something that you already know. But for our viewers, belly fat, in particular, more so than fat located in other parts of the body is more associated with heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. So, this is something that people want to get rid of because it doesn't look nice. But also, it's a real health concern, Jillian.

MICHAELS: Couldn't agree with you more. And I'm going to say one thing. You cannot spot reduce fat. Your body is going to store fat in certain areas based on genetic predisposition and hormones. That's why most men will carry body fat only in their stomach because they're testosterone dominant. Women who carry it in their lower body are estrogen dominant. And you can't really manipulate your hormones to spot reduce. Therefore, you've got to burn fat overall.

Only way to do that is eat less, eat the right types of foods. Use common sense. Avoid processed foods and transfats and all of that junk. And then, work out. You've got to burn calories. That's the idea. Exercise is the number one form of preventive medicine. It's going to help you get off that belly fat. It's going to help you look better and feel better.

GUPTA: It does come back to the basics, doesn't it?

MICHAELS: It always does.

GUPTA: But we need the motivation. I think that gets us right to another e-mail question now. Lauren in Florida asks this. "What do you suggest to a person who has lost a bunch of weight but gets disillusioned when they hit a plateau?" Is this motivation, is this changing your workout, Jillian? How do you keep them going?

MICHAELS: I don't really believe in plateaus, actually. I think that what happens is people become apathetic. They've gone so far, and then they get lazy, they stop keeping track of what they're eating, their workouts become mundane.

I think you need to take a hard look at what you're doing or not doing. Keep a food journal. Go back, count your calories, make sure that you're still not overeating. Add some variety into your exercise regimen. Step up the pace. Run a little faster, run a little longer, try something new like kick boxing. Mix up your routine.

And if, in fact, you've tried all those things and none of them are working, then my best advice for busting a plateau is upping your calories by 10 percent, because it sends a message to the body that, you know, food the plentiful, you're not starving, you don't need to trigger the survival mechanism to slow your metabolism down. And those are my best tips. And a plateau shouldn't last more than a week if you follow that advice.

GUPTA: That's so good, because a lot of people, I think, especially this time of year and especially this, you know, with the new year and everything are thinking about this.

Speaking of tips, you were the star, I should say, of our Fit Nation summit. You were terrific at that and gave a lot of advice to a lot of people. And you also had five tips which we want to share with our audience now. What were they?

MICHAELS: Well, number one was putting yourself first. And I'm in particular addressing women with this. We always make time for everyone else. And it's like -- whether it's the neighbors or the family or the parents or the kids, we never put ourselves first. You have to take care of your own health mentally and physically. And then, you'll be better prepared to support your loved ones, your family, so on, so forth.

So, prioritize your own health and with wellness. Schedule it in. Make the time. People will understand. And ultimately they're going to thank you for it because there will be more of you to share with them.

GUPTA: That's good. MICHAELS: Then, you know, we're coming back to the basics. Number two is eat less and eat sensibly. I mean, obviously, if it doesn't come out of the ground and it didn't have a mother, don't put it in your mouth. And don't overeat. I mean, it really is going back to the basics. It's common sense when it comes to food.

GUPTA: Right.

MICHAELS: Number three, again, move more. Just incorporate more activity into your daily regimen. And I'm not the girl that's going to tell you it's OK to just take the stairs because it isn't. But if you just take the stairs and did a 20 minute workout video and maybe walked the dog later on that evening, the more activity you can incorporate and the more fun that you can make it, the better off you're going to be.

And then it comes down to mental health. Destressing. Taking time for yourself. And I think when it comes to people who have a lot of weight to lose or who are wrestling with other health issues or destructive behaviors, it really requires looking inside yourself and doing the harder work. And that might be getting some counseling, doing some therapy, building a support network for yourself. It's OK to ask for help. Ask for help. It's one of the best ways of getting well and moving forward in life.

And then last but not least, smell the roses. We take such little time to cultivate our passion and it really is a holistic approach to being well mentally, physically, psychologically, emotionally. Spend some time just enjoying your life and the fruits of your labor.

GUPTA: Jillian Michaels, I think you are one of the most sensible voices on this topic that we've heard in a long time. You are a health and wellness expert. We hope to have you back on the show. All the best in 2009 to you, my friend.

MICHAELS: Thank you very much. Happy new year.

GUPTA: Take care. Be good.

Now, sticking to your weight loss resolutions doesn't mean tossing out all the tasty snacks in your cabinet. We're going to tell you how some small changes can have huge results.

Plus, if you're planning to start a family, you're going to want to hear this. Certain foods can decrease your chance of getting pregnant. You heard right. We've got the details later in the show.


GUPTA: And we are back with HOUSE CALL. We're talking about ways to stick to your new year's resolutions today. If your goal is to lose weight, not to worry. Dropping pounds doesn't mean cutting out the foods that you might love. For bigger results, make smaller changes. That's the message.

Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us with some tips. Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Sanjay, the new year is upon us. And for many people, that means a resolution to lose weight. Many people have big plans to get fit, but you know what? A lot of doctors say you should actually have small plans. That small changes in your diet or small changes in your exercise regimen are actually a lot easier to keep, that you're less likely to give up come February or March or April.

So, let's talk a little bit about what small changes can do. If you eat 100 fewer calories a day, or burn 100 more calories a day, you can help stave off the one to two-pound weight gain that many of us do every year. For example, if you get a daily latte, what you can do is get a skim milk latte instead of a whole milk latte. That's 100 calories there. You're done.

Also, just take a 20-minute walk. That will burn you around 100 calories. And also, if you're going to sit down and you're going to eat a bowl of ice cream, instead of doing that, have a popsicle. That will save you nearly 100 calories.

Sanjay, sometimes it's these little changes that work a lot better than big changes -- Sanjay.

GUPTA: All right, Elizabeth, thanks as always.

And be sure to read more of Elizabeth's tips on small changes. It's on our website, patient.

Now, stay where you are at home. Up next, some new advances in fertility treatments that you're not going to want to miss. Stay with HOUSE CALL.


GUPTA: You're watching HOUSE CALL.

One in every eight couples experience infertility. That's a number to think about. But now a mix of new technology and back to basics advice is giving some couples new hope for having a baby.


GUPTA (voice-over): Maggie and Robert Wickard had a typical courtship, dating, vacations, finally marriage.

MAGGIE WICKARD, STRUGGLED TO HAVE A BABY: The next step for us was to start our family.

GUPTA: But Maggie was not ovulating regularly and Robert's sperm was unhealthy. They became a statistic. Experts say one in eight couples like them are trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant.

WICKARD: You have the hope and then you say, I don't want to hope that much because I don't want to be let down.

GUPTA: Science is changing all that.

ZEV ROSENWAKS, DR., NEW YORK-PRESBYTERIAN: There's been a virtual revolution and explosion in our knowledge and certainly in our ability to help millions and millions of couples.

GUPTA: Fertility experts set their sights on men, with new technology having a low, even no sperm count is no longer a problem. Doctors can extract it surgically and use one sperm to fertilize an egg. One sperm. Another in vitro fertilization method takes cells from the woman's own uterus and pairs them with the embryo before implanting it.

ROSENWAKS: We put the embryo on top of the mother's own endometrial cells. That's allowing that embryo to be in an environment that may be closer to what it sees in the body.

GUPTA: The results, say fertility experts, better pregnancy success, healthier babies.

Another revolution is happening outside the lab, a fertility diet based on a large study of Harvard nurses. It suggests healthy foods like beans, brown rice, nuts, vegetables, can affect ovulation positively. Unhealthy foods, that's right, they have the reverse effect. Sounds simple. There are some skeptics.

ROSENWAKS: One has to be careful that one doesn't oversimplify.

GUPTA: After all, pregnancy is a complex, coordinated process in the body. The Wickards finally did get pregnant.

ROBERT WICKARD, FATHER OF TWINS: It's amazing. Probably one of the most amazing days of -- in our life.

GUPTA: They had twins, and are expecting another pair any day now.


GUPTA: You know, there's no question that diet, nutrition and weight can have an impact on fertility. Research shows that fast acting carbs such as white bread, potatoes, sugar, and sodas, may decrease a woman's chance of getting pregnant.

Here's how we think it works. Carbohydrates can bump up your blood sugar and insulin levels. When insulin levels rise too high, they disrupt the balance of hormones needed for reproduction.

On the other hand, some foods can help fertility or trigger ovulation. Those include full-fat dairies, such as whole milk, ice cream, cheddar cheese, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. They all have a beneficial effect on insulin levels, which promotes healthy ovulation. Keep in mind, the fertility diet, of course, doesn't guarantee a pregnancy, but it can help.

Up next, we answer your questions in our "Ask the Doctor" segment. That's after the break. Stay tuned. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: It's time for my favorite segment of the show, you know that, "Ask the Doctor." a chance to get the answers to the medical questions that are on your mind.

Our first question from Kathleen in Alabama. She asks this. "Can you please tell me why the flu shot made my husband so sick?" He's in his 70s. He's had chills and a fever and had to go to his doctor to get medication."

Kathleen, thanks for writing. We get this -- we get a question about this topic all the time. I'm sorry to hear about your husband, first of all. And I can't make an accurate diagnosis without knowing his full medical profile, as you might guess.

Now, here's a possibility. He may have been exposed to the flu before he was vaccinated and didn't have time to build up immunity. Viruses in the flu shot are inactivated, which means they're no longer alive. And once you're vaccinated, it does take about two weeks to build up immunity. Think about that. The vaccine can cause some side effects like a low grade fever and soreness, but it cannot give you the flu.

Now, the best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot every year, especially if you're an adult over age 50, if you're a child 6 months or older, pregnant, if you have a chronic illness, and if or you're a health care worker. Hope you get your flu shot this season. Maybe you already did.

Unfortunately, that's all the time we have for today. Tune in next week when we're finding out how to stop smoking for good. So many people asked us about that. E-mail us your questions, your struggles, your successes.

Remember, this is the place for the answers to all your medical questions. Thanks for watching. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. More news on CNN starts right now.