Harvard, belly fat, and your brain

A surgeon friend of mine was operating on a patient and right in the middle of the surgery, with on open chest right in front of her, the tech that was at her side fumbled an instrument.

Without missing a beat she turned to the tech and said, “You have to slow down to speed up.”

This story has stuck with me for years. Literally for over a decade. The advice is so solid, but what does it have to do with getting rid of belly fat and feeling great?


Mindfulness. Maybe you’ve heard the term. It’s been getting thrown around a lot lately. Basically it’s paying attention to what’s going on at any given time and as the hippies say, “living in the moment.”

Why is important? Because it fixes the biggest problem we have in our health: stress. And it’s stress, both directly and indirectly that keeps the fat on the belly.

Directly, stress affects how we process fat and where it goes.

Indirectly, by affecting how motivated we are to make good choices – go exercise and eat right, or sit on the couch and eat ice cream.

Here are some major symptoms of a life without enough mindfulness:

  • You can’t remember what your day was like when it’s all done – just one giant blur.
  • You want to make good health choices but you’re too overwhelmed to do anything at all.
  • Oh so much to do! So much! Always got something to do. Now!
  • You’re on your phone and email and text and Facebook all the time – even when you’re out with friends and family.
  • You can’t pay attention and your brain is all over the place.
  • You can’t unwind. There’s always something on your mind.
  • It’s all work. Work at work. Work at home. Work on the brain all the time.

Take a break and try and absorb this amazing piece of wisdom, and then find out to fix this problem.

So what to do what to do…? Here are three things you’re going to have to figure out. If you’re like the vast majority of my patients:

  • You aren’t paying attention. You aren’t being mindful.
  • You’re too attached to your tech.  Your email, your social media, your notifications
  • You’re doing too much. And getting less done because of it.

Of course these things are easy to write in an email, but can be much harder to implement – especially when everything around you is screaming, “Speed up! Now! Faster! Where are you and why haven’t you answered my text?!!!?!”

Just remember two things:

We put a man on the moon long before we had email, texting, and Facebook. It’s ok to take a break. Your world won’t explode.

You’re the surgeon. Your life and your health (and your belly fat) are your patient that you’re operating on. You better “slow down to speed up,” or else your patient might be in big trouble.

Here’s a link to some Harvard research:


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