The chest pains were bad. Certain that he was suffering from a heart attack, Francisco Torres, MD, rushed himself to the emergency room. At first, doctors agreed, but further testing revealed that rather than having a heart attack, he was "deconditioned," meaning in poor physical shape. Frightful as it was, the incident was the beginning of a new life.
"I made a decision," says Torres, author of Dr. T's Drop the Fat Diet: 12 Steps to a Leaner You Forever. And he quickly began to transform his health and his medical practice.
At the time, Torres' specialties were pain management and nonsurgical treatment of joint and spine disorders. Like most doctors, he wasn't well educated in nutrition and fitness. He had struggled with his weight since childhood, and was 30 pounds overweight and far from fit at the time of his attack.
Torres began studying lifestyle medicine in earnest, and began eating and exercising in a new way. "In three months, I had a six-pack" he recalls. His weight dropped from 210 to 169 pounds, and his body fat dropped from 35 to 9 percent.
Since then, he has helped many of his patients transform their health too. The most important lessons he learned:
- Identify why you want to change and make a commitment to do what it takes.
- Sugar is the enemy-avoid it in foods and drinks.
- Instead of eating low-fat foods, eat lean protein; green and multicolored nonstarchy vegetables; and healthy fats such as olive, coconut, and flax oils.
- Alternate high- and low-intensity aerobic exercise, and regularly do weight training.
"This is not a diet," says Torres, "It's a lifestyle."