Excerpt: 'How the Rich Get Thin'

ByABC News via GMA logo
January 3, 2006, 6:22 PM

Jan. 4, 2006 — -- Why does it seem like fabulously wealthy women are also always fabulously thin? Park Avenue diet doctor Jana Klauer reveals weight-loss secrets from her new book, "How the Rich Get Thin."

You can read an excerpt from "How the Rich Get Thin" below.

You can never be too rich or too thin.
-- Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor

The Upper East Side of Manhattan is one of the most exciting and dynamic places in the world. It is also one of the areas of highest concentrated wealth in the world. The people who live in the elegant apartments and town houses in our neighborhood have a lifestyle defined by long working hours, hectic schedules, and the pressure of always looking their best. They are under constant time constraint juggling work, deadlines, meetings and social obligations, domestic and international travel, plus personal commitments. Time is a very precious commodity in New York City, and not something to be wasted. Park Avenue people are constantly in a hurry to get to the next appointment, to conquer the next rung on the social ladder, and to achieve another professional success. They work hard, they play hard, and they demand the best of everything.

Men and women who have arrived at the pinnacle of success want to look and feel fabulous once they get there! Their occupations and social circles require that they "look the part." They strive not only to be chic; they want to be fashionably slim. But the excessive hours of working, high-profile entertaining, and abundance of the best foods also contribute to an expanding waistline. They don't plan for the midafternoon hunger by tossing a piece of fruit or a container of yogurt into their briefcase or Hermès bag, so by dinnertime they arrive at a restaurant famished and dive right into the bread basket; they postpone an exercise session until the end of the day instead of scheduling it for the first thing in the morning (a time when the session cannot be interrupted or forgotten); they cut their schedules too tight so that taxis are taken for distances that could easily be walked. In effect, it is an accumulation of time misspent that makes their weight gradually creep up.

For my patients to enjoy what they have worked so hard for, they must change their behavior and realize the truism that life and health are gifts. The magnificent mind and body that provided them with the good life can become old before its time if not treated with respect. By approaching eating and exercise with the same discipline that characterizes the rest of their lives, their excess weight is lost, and a vibrant, youthful appearance is regained.

What Is the Park Avenue Mind-Set?

People who can afford to live on Park Avenue (or in other upscale areas) exhibit certain recognizable character traits. Because residence in this prime area is so valued, these traits are also associated with financial success. They tend to be highly competitive, always in a hurry, impatient, status conscious, and they want to be noticed. They are often preoccupied with work. These traits are true for both males and females.

Women who are not working outside of the home and are married to successful men with the Park Avenue mind-set are often just as driven. These women often belong to charitable groups and raise millions of dollars for worthy causes they are passionate about. In fact, many organizations would not be able to exist without the tireless work of these dedicated women. However, there is an expectation that they have to look perfect at all times. There is an intense competitiveness to looking fabulous at this level.

Since the 1960s reign of such New York socialite icons as Slim Keith, Doris Duke, and Babe Paley, dubbed the "beautiful people" by Diana Vreeland, the beloved editor of Harper's Bazaar and Vogue, the rich have been considered the great influencers of fashion, style, and culture. As Wallis Simpson, the American-born Duchess of Windsor, once said, "You can never be too rich or too thin." The Park Avenue princess lives, dresses, and dies by this motto. And she may unknowingly sacrifice her health to do so. While it may be true that you cannot really be too rich, you most definitely can be too thin. By maintaining a dangerously low weight to fit into sleek designer fashions, a woman may eliminate vital nutrition. The items that I find lacking most commonly in such people are dairy products and sufficient protein. In some cases, such extreme dieters are fighting a never-ending battle with a body type they were born with, instead of eating sensibly to sustain the health of the body they have.

How Your Body Type Affects Weight Gain

Your body type is determined largely by genetics, over which we have no control. William Sheldon, M.D., first developed the concept that everyone is born with a certain body type. Dr. Sheldon outlined three basic body types: ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph.

The body type that you were born with is the body type that you will have for life. It is one of your physical characteristics, just like your eye color. If your goal is to keep yourself in the best of health, by avoiding excess weight, exercising daily, and maintaining correct posture you will look fabulous whatever body type you possess.

Body Types

Ectomorph -- slim, lithe, long-limbed: Gisele Bundchen, Cindy Crawford, Chris Rock

Mesomorph -- athletic body, muscular: Gabrielle Reece, Katie Couric, Sarah Jessica Parker, Mark Wahlberg, Andre Agassi, Kristi Yamaguchi

Endomorph -- round, voluptuous: Queen Latifah, Danny DeVito, Roseanne, Dr. Ruth, Azzedine Alaia

Do You Need a Medicine Cabinet Makeover?

I have heard some pretty amazing stories from patients about the lengths they have gone to in order to lose weight: fad diets, smoking, laxatives, and even stimulants like amphetamines and cocaine. Losing weight by any of these methods can result in a disruption of the body's chemistry. While people may lose weight by such means, their health declines and they end up looking worse and worse.

Unscrupulous medical professionals, especially via the Internet, give ready access to a variety of dubious medications promising weight loss. Many of my patients have previously tried unsuccessfully to become thinner by taking such "miracle" pills and potions only to find that the drugs were sabotaging their health. Thyroid stimulants, diuretics, nervous system stimulants, and the like can take a strong mind and body and turn it into a medical emergency: Unnecessary thyroid medication will cause bone loss and arrhythmias. Diuretics are dehydrating and put a strain on the heart. Stimulants cause an increase in both blood pressure and heart rate. Yet I have seen many patients who, out of desperation, have resorted to these means.