Sunday, September 25, 2011



By Monika Tarkowska-Carter, CPT, LWMC, HLC 2
                 Dr Daniel Amen and me at the IDEA World Fitness Convention

In the last couple of posts I talked about two famous people. Today I want to talk about someone who may not be as famous, but who has been changing people’s lives for quite some time. I had the pleasure of meeting him at the recent IDEA World Fitness Convention where he gave a standing- ovation presentation to an audience of 5000 health and fitness professionals. His name is Dr. Daniel Amen.

Dr. Amen is a psychiatrist and a neuroscientist, who has shown in his research and his clinics that aging of the human brain can be reversed with a combination of healthy diet and exercise. He is the author of two best-selling books: “Change your brain, change your life”, and “The Amen Solution. The Secret to Being Thinner, Smarter, Happier”. He runs clinics in Newport Beach, CA and San Francisco, CA and will be opening two more in Washington, DC and New York, NY shortly. Dr. Amen walks the talk. He is slim, fit, and full of energy. He exercises regularly and insists on eating a healthy diet no matter what the occasion. He was just getting ready to leave for a vacation in Spain, with his suitcase full of healthy snacks, in case the typical Spanish fare of fried foods was all that was available. His beautiful wife is also involved in spreading the results of his research by coaching people in healthy nutrition and teaching them how to cook in a brain-healthy way. She also has a DVD on the subject.

As someone who has been in the health and fitness industry for 20 years, I have my own observations on how diet and exercise affect us. I have had enough time to experiment with myself and learn from my clients, as well as my family and friends. I have always believed that proper nutrition and regular exercise is responsible for a lot more than keeping one slim and attractive looking. It helps us function at our best; it gives clarity of mind and makes focusing easier; it gives us energy, it keeps us healthy; it gives us clear and healthy looking skin, it brings confidence and high self-esteem; it prevents many diseases; it slows down aging; it allows us to enjoy life more fully and be more active participants in it; etc., etc. Considering the profession I am in, I obviously know how much diet and exercise affect our physical health. I have also been familiar with some studies of how lack of proper nutrition and exercise impacts the brain and its susceptibility to certain diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s, but until now I was not familiar with studies showing that brain damage or changes caused by unhealthy lifestyle are actually reversible. Dr. Amen shared with us some success stories as well as slides of actual brain changes, many of them following a fairly short period of a specifically designed healthy diet plan and regular exercise. Had I not seen them myself, I would have argued that these were not changes that were possible to make in such short periods of time, with such seemingly simple means. Not only did his patients lose weight, normalize their blood numbers, reverse diabetes and decrease their risk of many diseases but it almost looked as if the brain repaired itself. Some of the slides showed people who are well known personalities in America. These stories are real.

No story, however, is more real than that of Steve Nicander who, following Dr. Amen’s diet plan, lost close to 400 lbs. Steve used to weigh 638 lbs. In his worst moments, when contemplating suicide, he couldn’t even get upstairs to get his gun. His life did not show much promise, until he read Dr. Amen’s book. Steve was there in front of us – 5000 fitness professionals who gave him a standing ovation. Choked up with emotion, his hand on his heart, he bowed to us in deep appreciation - a truly changed man. In a way, he reminds me of both Jack LaLanne and Apolo Ohno. They all showed tremendous resolve to achieve what they wanted in order to make their life better and healthier. All three met with different challenges and road blocks, yet all found the inner strength and motivation to push their body beyond what many never could.


(I had the pleasure of interviewing Steve about his amazing journey to health and will be sharing this interview on the blog.)

To learn more about Dr. Daniel Amen and his work, please visit his website at: You can also join him on Facebook at: The Amen Solution or Dr. Daniel Amen. You can find his books on or by going to the above mentioned website.

Stay tuned for my interview with Steve Nicander, “The Incredible Shrinking Man”, coming next.

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