7 Secrets to Hitting Your Reset Button
A psychological perspective on Dr. Michael Roizen’s "Do-Over."
Posted Apr 12, 2015
Dr. Michael Roizen is the Medical Director of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute and the four-time #1 New York Times bestselling author of RealAge and the YOU series that he co-authored with Dr. Mehmet Oz.
In his latest book, This Is Your Do-Over: The 7 Secrets to Losing Weight, Living Longer, and Getting a Second Chance at the Life You Want, Roizen takes us on a step-by-step transformational journey to a new way of living and practicing wellness. Yes, he coaches you on simple practices for losing weight and getting physically healthier—but he also offers the tools to empower you to realize a psychological makeover.
While teaching a wellness class for physicians, I developed a list of 15 techniques, strategies, and principles that enhance resilience. Many of these steps correspond with positive psychology principles of increasing happiness, and it turns out that the seven Do-Over secrets embody these positive psychology and resilience ideologies.
Here are Dr. Roizen’s 7 Prescriptions:
- Build a Buddy System: A “buddy” can be your friend, spouse, family member, or even a paid coach. Buddies provide power, inspiration, knowledge, and support. Buddies also keep you honest and on track, providing a sense of accountability. There are several reasons that buddies are beneficial—including the fact that you often take on the habits of those nearest to you. Positive and social psychology studies have shown that you frequently begin to embody the characteristics of those with whom you spend the most time. This may be through peer pressure or a desire to fit in, or because your mirror neurons are driving you to be alike. The social and emotional support buddies provide is seen in lower blood pressure, better sleep, and a greater capacity to conquer addictions. And people who have a significant “support” person also have greater longevity. As Dr. Roizen describes, the most effective anti-addiction drugs cure only about 3-5 percent of cravings. Adding a buddy has a profound effect; increasing that number to 35 percent! Research shows that buddying up increases your “tend and befriend” hormone oxytocin. It just so happens that this is the same feel-good neurohypophysial chemical responsible for feeling passion, intimacy, and a sense of community. Yes, buddies will help you attain your physical goals as well as provide the psychological enhancement and fun that energize you as you achieve them. Looking for the right buddy for you? Hear inspirational stories and find out more on Sharecare.
- Devotion to Motion: When you lose weight, you decrease your risk of diabetes and heart disease. It stands to reason that there is a benefit to being in better physical condition. You should therefore start an exercise program. As Dr. Roizen explains, there’s a lot more to this story. Getting your physical Do-Over involves walking 10,000 steps every day and doing some resistance training. Walking isn’t just the cure-all for every physical woe, however, time spent walking is also time not spent smoking, drinking alcohol, eating things that we shouldn’t, or sitting on the couch watching TV. Physical benefits of walking include decreasing insulin resistance (preventing diabetes) and lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers. Walking also enhances immune function, liver function, kidney function, and sexual function. Fortunately, the psychologic and emotional benefits are just as great. Exercise increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which helps the survival of existing neurons and aids in the growth of new neurons and synapses. This is especially prominent in regions like the hippocampus, cortex, and basal forebrain — areas important for learning, memory, and reasoning. In addition to the increase in brain cells, moderate walking enhances blood flow to the brain to make you smarter. Exercise significantly improves mood, positive affect, self-esteem, and coping, while reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. Studies have shown that exercise may be more effective than some prescription medications (with fewer side effects) for treating depression!
- Better Plate than Ever: Transforming your body back in time involves shifting your eating habits. Healthy eating means eliminating certain “food felons” from your diet (I won’t go through the list of food felons — you can read the book to find out what they are). One of the most important points in the book appears in this chapter. “We simply have two choices each day: 1. Make excuses 2. Make something happen.” As those of you who read my blog regularly know, this is my mantra. Whether it is being applied to food choices or other lifestyle choices, you have control over your actions (or inactions). As Dr. Roizen shows, “you can’t just 'exercise off’ a bad meal.” Certain foods alter proteins, fat deposition, and sugar metabolism; the results of which are cardiac issues, diabetes, obesity, and cancers. That’s the physical. How about the psychologic and emotional aspects? Food plays a vital role in the development and prevention of specific mental health issues like schizophrenia, depression, ADHD, and Alzheimer’s. There’s a greater reporting daily mental health problems for those not eating fresh fruit or fruit juice daily, compared to those that do not. This is also true for fresh vegetables, salads and organic foods. Those eating more unhealthy foods, such as chips, fast foods or processed snacks, report a higher incidence of mental health issues including depression, stress and anxiety. Having adequate amounts of essential fats, complex (not simple) carbohydrates, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals will help you achieve a balanced mood, decrease stress, promote feelings of well-being, and give you long-lasting energy (more than 5 hours from a bottle).
- Form a Habit: This prescription focuses on breaking addictions. Addictions, like cigarettes, alcohol, and certain foods, are harmful physically because of the trauma and injury they cause to our bodies. Breaking these addictions allow you to reset your chronological clock and get your Do-Over. Addictions are harmful psychologically because we have given up control to something other than ourselves. Your self-esteem, confidence, mood, and well-being incur damage. Dr. Roizen reminds you that even if you might have a genetic predilection to becoming an alcoholic, whether you become an alcoholic is completely up to you—and at the same time, you cannot (and should not expect) to do it on your own. Asking for support, being compassionate with yourself, and creating a network of accountability is at the heart of breaking even the most challenging of dependencies. This process, as challenging as it is, can become empowering, enlightening, and energizing. Bad habits and addictions occur through unintentional brain rewiring. The good news is you can intentionally become the neuro-electrician and do some rewiring again to incorporate good habits. These good habits provide a far more lasting and healthy “high” than the deleterious “high” from unhealthy addictions.
- Stress Solutions: Dr. Roizen takes you through a mini-medical school course on all of the different ways stress adversely affects your body. It’s important to remember that what is distress for some, might be eustress (healthy stress) for others. Stress is not intrinsic or implicit in the event or the thing that we’re experiencing. It is how we interpret and react to the event that defines whether or not it is a stressful attack or a challenging situation. The list of physical problems caused by stress is amazing. Everything from diabetes to heart disease, stroke, inflammatory bowel, and cancer. Most of us have ways that we feel help us relieve stress — some are effective, others, not so much. When you feel stressed out do you exercise, yoga, get a massage, cook, garden, have sex, sit in a quiet room, meditate, go for a walk, take a bath, or play with the dog? No matter how you achieve it, de-stressing releases feel-good neurochemicals such as dopamine. Reducing stress not only helps you achieve a physical Do-Over, but it will also improve your ability to cope with all of life’s challenges, improve your mood, decrease general symptomatology and enhance your overall feeling of well-being. The solutions that Dr. Roizen suggests for reducing the frazzle — things like meditation, yoga, and breathing, are also fabulous strategies to enhance happiness and positivity.
- Love in Your Life: Yes, research shows that having a loving, monogamous (not monotonous) sexual relationship has enormous beneficial effects on your lifespan and your overall health. People who are frequently intimate have greater immunity, less heart disease, more balanced hormone levels, lower blood pressure, improved sleep, and a lower risk of some cancers. Making love with your spouse or significant other also has many psychological benefits. As Roizen correctly suggests, our main sexual organ is the brain. When you are in a loving relationship, your oxytocin levels rise. Since men are from Mars, the rising oxytocin levels heighten arousal. Whereas on Venus, oxytocin helps women feel more secure. The increased oxytocin levels helps you feel empathy and form stronger bonds with those you are close to. Sex helps boost your mood and self-esteem, relieve stress, providing a calming effect, and acts as an antidepressant and pain reliever. Yes, frequent sex can be a fulfilling pathway to happiness.
- Explore and Engage: This prescription is about finding your purpose in life and then pursuing it passionately. As I’ve written previously, the secret to achieving goals is to have a “why” attached. The "why" is your personal life mission. This is what will keep you going when times get tough. This is what gives life more meaning and improves your resilience. People with a powerful sense of purpose are more likely to maintain and achieve an active state of health. Having a sense of purpose correlates with improved engagement and satisfaction in your family and career. The recommendation to “Explore” is also important in positive psychology. In fact, it has been suggested that exploring (i.e. creativity and widening our social circles) is one of the teleological reasons for the existence of positive emotions (The Broaden and Build Theory by Barbara Fredrickson). You are in control of your ability to develop intrinsic motivation by the choices you make. To achieve your Do-Over, Roizen suggests surrounding yourself with positive, optimistic people, practicing mindfulness, volunteering, showing gratitude, and being kind for no reason. This is a part of the successful formulae for living a life of happiness and positivity.
Dr. Roizen’s This Is Your Do-Over may appear to be another guide to better physical health. Fortunately, it is even more than it purports to be: If followed with purpose and passion, it is also a manual for positive mental health, happiness, and wellbeing. As Mike Roizen told me, “Engaging in and enjoying the 7 Do-Over deeds in this book resets your chronological clock to a younger age and resets your mental state to a happier place.”