We heard from four incredibly wise and informative doctors on Saturday morning.
9 am The Secrets of Sleep, Dr. Charles Czeisler of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
After a bad losing streak on the road, the Portland Trailblazers called in Dr. Czeisler for some expert sleep advice. When NASA needed to develop sleep protocols for astronauts, they called Dr. Czeisler. We were honored to hear him speak today.
Three Sleep Tips from Dr. Czeisler:
1) Consistent timing of sleep is just as important as the number of hours you sleep at night. Go to sleep at the same time each night and your body will figure out how to fit in its two essential sleep cycles: the deep, long-wave cycle and the REM cycle. Czeisler recommends sleeping for seven hours a night.
2) You should stop using screens two hours before bed. But if you must keep them on, use software and apps that minimize blue light. Apple’s IOS uses Night Shift, which should be set to the Sunrise/Sunset mode and Most Warm. You can download f.lux for Windows and Shade for Amazon devices.
3) Alcohol interferes with sleep, as wine takes three hours to metabolize and each shot of hard alcohol takes about an hour. Solution: Day drinking?
10 am The Hunger for Weight Loss, Dr. Tom Lavin of Surgical Specialists of Louisiana
Dr. Lavin performs 15-25 laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy surgeries a week. Over the past decade, this simple procedure has replaced complicated, less-effective, and life-threatening treatments like stomach stapling of yesterday.
Three Truths from Dr. Lavin:
1) For many people, diet and exercise won’t work. Our bodies create a set point for a weight and fights to maintain that. Western lifestyles that foster poor diet, inadequate sleep, high stress levels, and limited mobility cause us to become overweight. Many medications also cause weight gain. Our set point becomes too high and our body doesn’t realize it. When we start to diet, our bodies slow down our metabolism and send super-charged signals for cravings and hunger, making it extremely difficult to lose weight.
2) A laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, recommended for people needing to lose 60–100+ pounds, removes about 85% of the stomach and takes about 45 minutes. Afterwards patients have no hunger or cravings.
3) Stress is always going to be a part of life, you have to find a way to deal with it.
12 pm Nutrition for Optimal Health, Dr. Linda Lee of Johns Hopkins Medicine
Dr. Lee, a renowned gastroenterologist, gave us a window into how complicated our gut biomes are. Doctors know how the bacterial communities in our gut form, but as far as classifying individual gut biomes, “it’s a crap shoot.”
Three Food Facts from Dr. Lee:
1) Seventy percent of adults have some degree of lactose malabsorption. Be aware when consuming dairy and notice its effect on how you feel.
2) Red meat fosters the development of certain bacteria in your gut and increases risk of heart disease. Eating one piece of red meat about the size of a deck of cards a week is fine. Marinating meats before grilling the to reduce the amount of char you ingest is also healthier.
3) Eat a wide variety of foods to keep your gut community diverse. Following a Mediterranean diet and/or a low-glycemic index diet are both healthy choices. If you need help with portion control, try Weight Watchers.
12 pm Moving Your Way to a Healthier Heart, Dr. Erin Michos of Johns Hopkins Medicine
Cardiologist Dr. Michos practices what she preaches. She schedules her workouts like important appointments that she can’t miss, takes walking meetings with colleagues, and breaks up long periods of sitting by taking laps in the hallways at work.
Three Fitness Tips from Dr. Michos:
1) Consistent moderate activity like fast walking, climbing stairs, weight training, and dancing can have greater health benefits than occasional vigorous activity like running, circuit training, and aerobic classes.
2) For good cardiovascular health, commit to at least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity five times a week OR at least 25 minutes of vigorous activity three times a week.
3) Sitting is the new smoking. Consider the 20-8-2 rule. For every 20 minutes you sit, stand for eight, and move for two. Set reminders on your phone or computer that ping you to move.
Four speakers shared during Friday’s morning sessions.
9 am Managing Stress like an Olympic Athlete, Dr. Jeff Nalin, Markus Rogan, Luke Salas of Paradigm Malibu
Dr. Jeff Nalin, psychologist and founder of adolescent treatment center Paradigm Malibu, set the tone of the day. With health and wellness goals, the ball is in our court. Whatever is holding us back, whether it’s physiological or psychological, we should be empowered to be our best selves.
Nalin describes many of the depressed teens arriving to his program as “a cork stuck in a volcano.” Adults get this way too; you know the feeling. If we don’t have a process to relieve regular anxiety, we either explode, check out, or distract ourselves. Nalin suggested looking for these “hot moments” and facing them. Working through emotional material instead of ignoring it or medicating it brings real change. Nalin’s colleague Markus Rogan reminded us that “we will not grow tired of creating anxious situations for ourselves.” It’s not the anxiety but how we move through the anxiety that makes the difference.
Elite athletes face extreme anxiety before competition. Former professional baseball player Luke Salas described the process he honed to remain calm in the face of a 95 mph pitch. In the on deck circle before he went up to bat, he would remember to trust his training. The self-talk inside his head reminded him that he had the ability. “I knew I can do everything as a hitter and still strike out,” he said. “I can’t control everything, but I can control who I am and who I want to be.” Each of us can find a process of our own to face our fears and conquer them.
10 am Weekend Warrior Workshop, Dr. Elizabth Metzkin of Brigham and Woman’s Hospital; Brian Mackenzie, Gabby Reese, Laird Hamliton of XPT Extreme Performance Training
Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Elizabeth Matzkin discussed injury causes and prevention during her workshop for weekend workout warriors. Compared to elite athletes, novice competitors are at higher risk for injury because they overestimate their abilities. Matzkin suggests using the 10% rule to know how much to safely increase workouts. Going all out is dangerous if you are not in shape for it. Big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton, also on the panel, added, “In a world of instant gratification, we need patience.” Be realistic about your level of fitness and where you want to go. Hamilton shared his secret to a long, fit life: “Find out what you have fun doing and go do that.”
11 am Back to the Future: New Horizons in Spinal Health, Dr. Najeeb Thomas of Surgical Specialists of Louisiana
Dr. Najeeb Thomas of Surgical Specialists of Louisiana discussed the latest research in his field of spinal health. He’s now one step closer to his goal of using stem cell injections to rebuild human spines. Stem cell therapies recently tested in rabbits have successfully restored spinal disk heights. He’s in process with the FDA, but was honest about the cost and difficulty of that process. He plans to begin testing the therapies on humans in Japan as soon as next year.
12 pm The Longevity Lifestyle, Dr. Gary Small of UCLA Health
UCLA’s Dr. Gary Small helped everyone face their fears about memory loss. Right now medicine can only do so much, so our lifestyles need to bridge the gap. Doctors are looking for disease modifying treatments for Alzheimer’s, but so far only medication to help with symptoms is available. Small’s book Two Weeks to a Younger Brain gives many examples of ways to take action. His tips include playing memory games, exercising regularly, and practicing good nutrition that incorporates Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants into the diet. Search for the #HWSummit hashtag on Twitter to read the most memorable quotes from Small’s lecture.
The conference kicked off Thursday afternoon with an intense workout led by an elite athlete.
3 pm HighX Training with Gabby Reece
On the lawn behind Montage Deer Valley, former professional volleyball player and model Gabrielle Reece set up her HighX workout circuit. Reece stood in the center of the lawn with dozens of dumbbells and Kettle bells surrounding her like the sun. She turned the music up and started counting off reps and correcting movements among our class of 20. “Station 12: Straight-leg deadlift and upright row; alternating front lunge,” read the sign at one of my workout stations. By the sixth 30-second rep of said exercises, my limbs quit. I blame the altitude, and various forms of torture with names like Superman and Prisoner Squats that had been underway for the past 45 minutes. “Great job girls,” Reece called. “Just 10 more seconds.” I rowed a little higher. Then Reece’s husband, big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton, shot me a you’ve-got-this look. I lunged a little deeper and shifted my focus to the fresh air and surrounding mountain views.
4 pm Workout Recovery Breathing with Brian Mackenzie
After the workout ended and I downed a third bottle of water. Brian Mackenzie, who co-founded fitness company XPT with Hamilton and Reece, asked our group to lay down on the grass in the shade. (Yes sir!) He explained a routine of taking consecutive, very deep breaths to raise oxygen levels and lower CO2 levels to drive out inflammation. Laying down, he said, is the easiest way to breathe because the spine is neutralized and the diaphragm is accessible. By the time I sat back up, I did have more energy. When’s dinner?
6 pm Welcome Cocktails
On the patio for cocktails, I ran into the cofounder of Paradigm Malibu, Jeff Nalin PSYD. Nalin takes in adolescents ages 12 to 18 for depression and other physiological issues. He’s speaking this weekend about anxiety. I’m interested to hear how he applies what he sees daily in his young patients to what adults with similar issues need.
7 pm Welcome Dinner with Keynote Address: Human Genomics and the Future of Medicine by Craig Venter
During dinner, keynote speaker J. Craig Venter blew everyone away. He discussed the recent advances in genome mapping and how far imaging technology has come in the past two years. His Human Longevity center, with locations in La Jolla, Mill Valley, and Singapore, provides one of the most comprehensive health exams in the world. (Cost: about $25,000) Talk of detecting cancer as soon as it appears, creating custom vaccines for individuals, and preventing dementia years before its onset made me start dreaming about the advancements I’ll see in my lifetime. “This decade will be revolutionary in science and medicine,” Venter predicts.