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Are You Already Struggling with Your New Year's Resolutions?

Aired January 22, 2005 - 08:30   ET


SANJAY GUPTA, HOST: Good morning and welcome to HOUSECALL. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Are you already struggling with your New Year's resolutions? Well, it's time to get with it. And we're here to help.

Our producer set out to find five people resolving to change their bad habits this year. There was a catch, though. They had to let us follow them with cameras for eight weeks through their ups and downs.

And on today's HOUSECALL, we're introducing you to our five participants and letting you know what kinds of advice they're already getting from the best experts out there.

Let's start with Harold Fricker. He's 45-years old, a father of two, and a former superathlete. He's let time and his waistline get away from him.


GUPTA (voice-over): Meet Harold Fricker. Is this the man we're profiling for the new you? Why would this man want to be part of our revolution? A top endurance athlete, triathlon and ultra marathon because now looks like this.

HAROLD FRICKER: Deep inside I'm still this fit person.

GUPTA: He begins each day with a morning run at 4:00 a.m., but with added baggage. His dog, the cat, and an extra 100 pounds. He's gained almost 13 pounds a year for 10 years.

Harold blames being married, having kids, and long work hours for his weight gain.

FRICKER: I felt that all of these first 10 years of having kids, that I always thought that it would be selfish, too selfish to take time for myself, but it's actually just the opposite.

GUPTA: He's an entrepreneur, a ski center manager, and a running addict.

FRICKER: There's no denying that I'm addicted to running.

GUPTA: His hourly runs burn about 1200 calories. So how can he be obese? We asked his doctor during the New You check-up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He eats too much.

GUPTA: He's also addicted to another high.

FRICKER: I'm a growing boy.

GUPTA: Harold's New You fitness and nutrition expert Joel Weinstein agrees.

JOEL WEINSTEIN, NUTRITION EXPERT: I don't know what you've been eating, but maybe a house.

FRICKER: And this was my drug.

WEINSTEIN: What's your drug now?

FRICKER: Right here.

WEINSTEIN: Is that what it is?

FRICKER: Right here. Why couldn't I just run more?

GUPTA: And we'll deal with those addictions next.

FRICKER: You know, not yet, Joel. Come on, get out of my face.


GUPTA: Hold on, Harold. Now is the time to make those changes. Here's your prescription for a new you straight from your doctor and your trainer.


FRICKER (voice-over): I'm going to be a shrinking boy.

GUPTA: Get ready, Harold, we've got the formula for a new you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He weighs 276 now and his goal weight would be 185 to 195 pounds.

GUPTA: Here's the doctor's prescription. Reduce his BMI, lower his cholesterol, lose one to two pounds of fat a week. And the trainer based his prescription on the doc's write-up.

WEINSTEIN: Quite a body you had, Harold.

FRICKER: Where did it go?

GUPTA: Get on an eating routine. No more skipping meals. Cardio three to five day as week. Weight training three day a week and get more Z's because lack of sleep can lead to weight gain, too.

GUPTA: About half of all adults break their bad habits within six months. The plans you're going to see today are made to be life long. You're not going to see any quick fixes, magic pills, or unrealistic goals.

Experts say the key to breaking those unhealthy habits are simple. Make a commitment and know that this will take time and effort. So don't try and do it on your own. Get support from your family and your friends to help you through those hard times.

Also, make sure that your goals are realistic. Harold is a great example, aiming to lose one to two pounds a week. Nothing dramatic.


GUPTA: Our next participant, Leigh Ann, is also try doing the same. Lose the weight and then keep it off. Reverend Leigh Ann Raynor is a busy minister, who relies on junk food and another bad habit, smoking. She does it to deal with the stresses of life, but she told us she's afraid she won't make it to retirement unless she makes some serious changes.


GUPTA (voice-over): meet Leigh Ann Raynor. It's a big year for Reverend Leigh Ann Raynor. She turn turns the big 50 and finally wants to make some changes.

LEIGH ANN RAYNOR, MINISTER: If I shrink as I get older, it's not going to be all that long before I look like Sponge Bob.

GUPTA: In her 25 years as a minister, Leigh Ann has packed on about 60 pounds, which she blames on two bad habits -- not exercising and being a junk food junkie. She has another bad habit, one she doesn't like to talk about -- smoking, a habit she says she can't tackle yet.

RAYNOR: I just can't do it. You know, I mean I can cut down, but I can't change my eating habits and start exercising and lose weight and completely quit smoking. I just know myself.

GUPTA: But breaking bad habits and starting good ones won't be easy for Leigh Ann, because she has a potentially dangerous heart condition.

RAYNOR: I get dizzy, I start sweating, my heart would hurt.

GUPTA: After years of misdiagnosis, doctors finally realize she had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. That's an excessive thickening of the heart muscle, which inhibits blood flow. This condition has kept her from exercising up until now. A new heart procedure and medication brought her relief.

RAYNOR: I've had almost no pain, almost no pain for the first time in 20 years. It's like a miracle to me.

GUPTA: So now Leigh Ann feels ready to start her New You revolution.

RAYNOR: If you think that I'm going to be on CNN and have Dr. Gupta say, "Unfortunately one of our five participants, Reverend Raynor gained 12 pounds"...


GUPTA: We spoke with Leigh Ann's cardiologist and internist to come up with plan to keep her on a road to wellness.


RAYNOR: I have a kitchen, but I don't spend a lot of time there.

GUPTA: Leigh Ann, to get you into your New You revolution, we're going to teach you how to eat healthy, Cooking 101 with a registered dietitian.

But there's more. You'll participate in a cardio rehab program. And four to five times a week, you'll do light exercise. Walking on a treadmill at no more than three miles an hour. That's because of your pre-existing heart condition.

Finally, we want you to tackle one more bad habit, your smoking. A counselor will help you get on the road to quitting.


GUPTA: Good luck, Leigh Ann. We'll be tracking your progress.

Coming up, a busy newlywed, late night eater, and weekend warrior. Her story after the break.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Getting ready for a new addition.

THEKLA: There are probably out there that have the same curiosity that I do. What do I need to do and what can I do? What's the best thing I can do?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Meet Thekla, a newlywed trying to do everything she can to get baby ready.

First, take today's daily dose quiz. How long did it take to pick up a new habit?




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before the break, we asked how long does it take to pick up a new habit? The answer, it takes about three weeks for a new habit to be hard wired in your brain.


GUPTA: As for breaking those habits, the experts don't have an easy answer, but say it can take much longer than three weeks, which could be why our next candidate is planning ahead.

Some may say that Thekla Fischer is a bit of a perfectionist, but it's that drive that brought her to the New You revolution.


GUPTA (voice-over): Meet Thekla Fischer.

THEKLA FISCHER: Hi, Todd, it's Thekla calling. I'm having some problems with some...

RAYNOR: Thekla Fischer may look like she has it all. She's a successful attorney.

T. FISCHER: I try to do my best at work. And that's probably the largest part of my life right now.

GUPTA: A newlywed, a New Yorker.

T. FISCHER: I'm a weekend warrior. I'll go on a Sunday to a yoga class and then go running afterwards and do nothing during the week.

GUPTA: She even enjoys exercise.

T. FISCHER: After this, I have to go back to the office.

GUPTA: But she wants one more thing.

T. FISCHER: We've been married for about six months. And we're really excited to have a baby fairly soon. I know we're moving a little fast, maybe by some standards, but I'm 33, he's 35. So - and I think we're just ready.

Thekla's husband Jason is in the Army and has been to Iraq. He's back in the U.S. now, but they're apart four days a week while he's on post.

JASON FISCHER, HUSBAND: So once we decided to get married, we didn't see any reason to turn away. So we've been practicing a lot.

T. FISCHER: People say that getting pregnant is really just a question about five minutes.

GUPTA: So why does Thekla need the New You revolution?

T. FISCHER: And maybe there's some adjustments that can be made before you get pregnant so that you're not dealing with a huge shock to your system to be really pregnant and change your eating habits and change your exercise routine and get your house ready and get your finances ready.

GUPTA: Thekla knows she has to make some major choices and changes, not to mention sacrifices.

T. FISCHER: There are trade-offs. There are also things that I think are missing in my life now that maybe this will bring to it.

GUPTA: Maybe a little more meaning to an already charmed life.


GUPTA: We've enlisted Thekla's doctor and pregnancy experts to put her on the right path. Here's their prescription for getting Thekla baby ready.


T. FISCHER: Being in peak physical shape would probably make it easier to bounce back.

GUPTA (voice-over): Thekla, we've got the New You revolution plan to get your life ready for a little bundle of joy and all that comes with it.

T. FISCHER: I usually work fairly long days.

GUPTA: We'll help you find time for regular exercise. We'll teach you which foods are good for your pregnancy, but one bad habit has definitely got to go.

T. FISCHER: I'll end up having a giant meal and then just falling asleep.

GUPTA: Experts will help you plan both emotionally and financially for the new baby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It makes life easier when you plan ahead when you really want the child.


GUPTA: From getting ready for a baby to getting ready for your wedding day. We'll meet Jonathan Karp. That's next up on HOUSECALL.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is really serious because I can't stop like without somebody else's help I think at this point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's he talking about? A common bad habit that most people try to hide. Also...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to be fabulous at 50. And I want to be fit at 50.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A big birthday and a big goal. Meet Sandra coming up on HOUSECALL.

But first, this week's medical headlines in the pulse.



DONNA HOGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Folic acid supplements are known to help reduce birth defects. But two new studies show that women who take the dietary supplement have a decreased risk of hypertension.

Researchers followed more than 156,000 women over eight years in two separate studies and found that those who took over 1,000 milligrams of foliate per day had a reduced risk of high blood pressure.

And the CDC says that a recent estimate of the increase in obesity related deaths was too high. The CDC report originally claimed that obesity deaths had increased by 100,000 since 1990. But the actual figure is closer to 65,000.

Researchers say that although the numbers have changed, the message has not, saying that poor diet and physical inactivity are still major risk factors for obesity related deaths.

Donna Hogan, CNN.



GUPTA: Welcome back to HOUSECALL. Jonathan Karp will be marching down the aisle this year. But before he can say his "I do's", he'll have to get his fingers ring ready, which is where we come in.

Jonathan wrote to us desperate for some help kicking a habit that millions of Americans try to hide.


GUPTA (voice-over): Meet Jonathan Karp.

JONATHAN KARP: Looking to follow up with you...

GUPTA: A typical workday for Jonathan Karp looks a little something like this. A few cold calls.

KARP: This is Jonathan Karp.

GUPTA: A quick glance at his lovely bride to be. More calls. And for lunch, a quick nibble on his nails.

KARP: Could be up to like 40 to 50 percent of the day. So my hands would be in my mouth. And I'd go through all 10 fingers like and enjoy them. You know?

GUPTA: Sounds like a funny habit. And who doesn't know a nail biter?

KARP: It's kind of like, oh, I bite my nails. And then, I'll be like yes, this hand. They're like oh no, you win. So sounds like, you know, if that were a competition or if that were in any way fixed, you know, I'd get a gold every time.

GUPTA: Except it's not a competition. It's a serious habit. Jonathan's nail biting puts him at high risk of infection. And a lifetime of biting could have damaged his nail bed for good. 28-years later, Jonathan looks back to see this one habit consuming him almost every day since he was a kid.

KARP: The hardest part is when you're consciously saying like I need to quit. And what happens is you start feeling these like little prickly spots.

GUPTA: The prickling, the nagging, the biting often happens in secret in his cubicle, at home when no one's looking, or in traffic on the way home.

KARP: I didn't want to bite, but I want to bite it. Keep futzing with it, OK?

GUPTA: And while it all seems like a joke, make no mistake. Those nails are getting in the way of his day-to-day life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm always just yelling at him on that.

GUPTA: His New You goal to curb the nail nibbling before his wedding later this year.

KARP: The nice nails. And they're right at the tip. You know, just that perfect white. If I see that, that's just like filet mignon.


GUPTA: This lifelong nail biting is probably rooted in something deeper than just habit. So we asked a psychologist and an expert in these types of issues to form a plan for Jonathan. Take a look.


KARP: You see me biting, just smack my hand right out of my face. And that can get violent.

GUPTA (voice-over): He tried everything to stop. Hot sauce on your nails. Bribery, even getting a slap on the hand. It's time for some new tactics.

First a psychologist will help you explore your habits. Step one, self-monitoring.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Save whatever he bites off, even if it's just skin and cuticle.

GUPTA: It may be the key to figuring out when and why you're most prone to biting. Step two, relaxation training. Acupuncture, meditation, even hypnosis. Two steps in eight weeks could mean a new you and a new set of nails.


GUPTA: Good luck, Jonathan.

Next up, her son is stationed in Iraq and she's caring for her grandchild. Meet Sandra Garth.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need all the potato chips and chocolate chips in the world, but it's not going to bring him back home right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stopping the cycle of emotional eating and keeping up with a toddler. Plus, if they can do it, so can you. Keeping face with our fab five. We'll show you how after the break.



GUPTA: Welcome back to HOUSECALL. If you're nursing an old injury or just looking for more options in your new training program, check out what our bod squad has to offer.


HOLLY FIRFIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If the high impact of your regular fitness program has you feeling weak in the knees, taking your workout to the pool can provide a refreshing change with the benefits of aerobic fitness, muscular strength, endurance and flexibility. And you don't have to be a swimmer to reap the benefits of working out in a pool.

Because water has about 12 times the resistance of air, exercising in it means you'll sculpt muscles no matter what direction you move.

Maintaining an upright position while in the pool will get your heart pumping, burn fat, and even strengthen your middle. Foam bar bells can make your arms or legs work harder when used underwater. Experts say the aquatic bar bells can also support weak joints, such as the hip or the knee during aquatic rehabilitation treatments.

Flotation devices that support the upper body will allow to you take your workout to the deep end, where you can challenge your body to work harder.

And while you may feel like a fish, remember, you don't have gills. So keep your body hydrated by drinking water before and after your workout.

Holly Firfir, CNN.


GUPTA: Holly, thanks.

The last of our participants might be looking into some water fitness herself. Sandra Garth, she's a grandmother, former fitness instructor, and self-confessed chocoholic. She's also celebrating a big birthday. She wants our help.


GUPTA (voice-over): Meet Sandra Garth.

SANDRA GARTH: Where are your ears? Can you show grandma your ears?

GUPTA: Sandra Garth loves being a grandmother and caring for her family and cooking some good food.

GARTH: There is nothing special about this bacon. It's just extremely unhealthy but it is so good.

GUPTA: It's not like Sandra doesn't know a thing or two about being healthy and fit. She used to teach high impact aerobics, but a few years ago arthritis put an end to her exercising, but not to her cravings.

GARTH: I'm a junk food junkie. I'm a chocoholic. I like everything that is not good for me. I -- greasy foods, fatty foods, sweet foods, salty food. You know, and I just have gotten lazy.

GUPTA: So this is just one of the reasons why she's joined our New You revolution. She has many more. She's reached milestone.

GARTH: I want to be fabulous at 50 and I want to be fit at 50.

GUPTA: Plus after raising five children, Sandra and her husband are parents once again to their grandson Shannon.

GARTH: Our second oldest son Casey and his wife Teresa are both stationed in Iraq. They're in Tikrit. And their youngest child Shannon, he's two, is with us. They have an older son Casey Jr.. he's five and he's in Detroit with Teresa's family.

GUPTA: She admits having loved ones in a war zone makes it hard to stick to a diet.

GARTH: I'm a stressful eater. I am an emotional eater. And that doesn't take away the fact. You know, I can eat all the potato chips and chocolate chip cookies in the world, but it's not going to bring them back home right now.

GUPTA: So Sandra wants to get fit for herself and set a good example for her family.


GUPTA: While in New York for the New You kickoff, Sandra finally hit the big 50. We rolled out a cake for her and for Harold as well, who turned 45 a few days before.

But don't think that they're cheating. With the help of our friends at "Cooking Light", they managed to have their cake and not sabotage the diet. One piece saves you 165 calories, 12 grams of fat and 10 grams of carbs as compared to a traditional fudge birthday cake.

But don't think we're letting Sandra just eat cake every day. We've teamed her up with her doctors and came up with a healthy diet and exercise program. A prescription for a new Sandra.


GARTH: I just fell off. And it's time to get back on the wagon.

GUPTA (voice-over: Well, Sandra, here's our New You revolution plan for you. Lose your bad snacking habits, be active again, and watch the excess pounds start coming off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I really want you to focus on is consistency and enjoying it.

GUPTA: With the help of an exercise physiologist, a behavior specialist, and a nutritionist from the University of Michigan, we're going to learn how to control portion sizes, exercise safely. You'll also be doing a lot of walking and resistance training.

All in all, try to move about 10,000 steps as day. And record your activities. That will help you form your new good habits.


GUPTA: And you can follow all of our participants and provide encouragement to them by logging on to Also on the Web site, ways to start your own New You revolution, advice from experts, and a health journal you can download.

Good luck to all of our participants as they work on breaking bad habits in 2005.

Also, make sure to watch next weekend. We're at the height of flu season. How are we doing? And how do we stand on a vaccine? Our guest is CDC director Dr. Julie Gerbening. This is your chance to ask the doctor in charge. E-mail us at That's next weekend, 8:30 Eastern.

Thanks for watching. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Stay tuned now for more news on CNN.


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