Sunday, November 8

Book: Apples & Pears

Would you believe that a woman's future health is written in her body shape? This is what Dr. Savard hopes her reader would buy into after reading her book: Apples & Pears: The Body Shape Solution for Weight Loss and Wellness.
This book is organized into 3 parts namely
1.About body shape
2.Medical Issues related to the type of body shape – metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, inflammation, heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, varicose veins, stress and depression.
3.Solutions – in terms of diet and exercise program

The book explains how and why different body shapes benefit from customized diets, exercise regiments, medications, menopause therapies, psychosocial interventions and lifestyle changes. The aim of the book is to change the way women and their physicians perceive their bodies and understand their disease risks. It is also to empower women with relevant knowledge so that they can take necessary actions to transcend their biology. Body shape apparently is the most powerful predictor of a woman's future health. All women's bodies can be categorized as either "apple-shaped" or "pear-shaped" depending on where you are most likely to gain weight. The former tends to have her weight collects around the middle while the latter collects weight around the hips, buttocks and thighs. The differences are not merely in terms of physical appearance as they are related to differences in our physical chemistry, hormone production and sensitivity, metabolism and even personality.

It is an interesting read and I certainly gained new knowledge which I hope to translate into actions. The book is well-written and reader-friendly. At the end of chapter, she listed some action items which I thought is neat. I shall summarize what I have learned in bullet points.

  • Determine if you are "apple-shaped" or "pear-shaped" by using waist-to-hip ratio (WHR).
  • If your WHR is equal or less than 0.8, you are a "Pear". Higher than 0.8, you are an "Apple"
  • Fats are not created equal. There are 2 types; subcutaneous which means “under the skin” and visceral, “pertaining to the soft organs in the abdomen.”
  • The former, while unsightly, is harmless. Some of it may even protect us from disease. For example, they have been shown to increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and help maintain a steady balance of triglycerides in the blood
  • Excess visceral fat can be dangerous. It is more metabolically active than subcutaneous fat and most of what it does is harmful to the body. It decreases insulin sensitivity, increases triglycerides, decreases levels of HDL cholesterol, creates more inflammation, and raises blood pressure – all of which increase the risk of heart disease.
  • In general, apple-shaped women are at greater risks for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, endometrial cancer, stress and irregular menstrual cycle while pear-shaped women are at greater risks for osteoporosis, varicose veins, low-self esteem, poor body image, tendency for eating disorder and menopausal symptoms.
  • There is no “better” or “worse”, there is only what you are. And your body shape is not your fault. Learn to take charge by leading a healthy lifestyle.
  • Measurements of waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio are more predictive of future disease than weight.
  • Start measure your health by changes in the waist circumference and WHR.
  • Bodies are constantly changing throughout our lifetime. Nature seems to determine to make apples of all of us.
  • All children start out apple-shaped, and boys remain as one. Once the hormones of adolescence hit, girls can either remain apple-shaped or become pear-shaped.
  • For many women, bearing children changes the contours of their bodies forever.
  • Human body is not designed to give up weight easily – its survival mechanism wants to retain as much weight as it can.
  • Very low-calorie dieting is not the best choice for lasting weight loss. You may take off pounds very quickly but you'll also regain them in short order.
  • 25% solution – if you want to lose weight and keep the weight off without slowing your metabolism, restrict your calories by no more than 25%.
  • Eliminate 25% of what you usually eat will achieve this goal.
  • Pay attention to what you are eating. Recognize hunger. Eat only when you are hungry.

If you're not familiar with exercise and healthy diet, part 3 of the book provides a good introduction. Personally, i did not find it as useful compared to the earlier chapters. The most important thing in my opinion is to be mindful of one's health and lead a healthy lifestyle by eating and resting well, exercise and engage in meaningful relationships. On the whole it is a good book and I will recommend it to those who are looking to improve their health. I do wonder what happens to women who may fit a category based on their WHR but exhibit the opposing characteristics. For example, a "pear-shaped" woman who may have irregular menstrual cycle (which according to the book this problem belongs to an "apple-shaped" woman. Unfortunately, it was not addressed.

More reviews here. I tend to agree with E.Nocco's review.

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