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Forget Thigh Gaps: Healthy Is The New Beautiful!

Strong Is The New Skinny

Greetings from sunny California!

My husband and I take two trips out here per year to the Los Angeles area to be with friends and there is always something new to see. Today I spotted a billboard that I really liked. It showed athlete Marsha Tieken-Christen working out with the message “Strong is the new skinny.”

I’d like to go even further and say “Healthy Is The New Beautiful.”

I was horrified to discover that the concept of a “thigh gap” has somehow become a fitness goal that is furiously circulating in social media, particularly in the athletic community. I’m not sure where that idea came from, but from a doctor’s perspective, the idea of trying to achieve “thigh gap” is absurd. The distance between your upper legs is determined by the shape of your pelvis. The inner part of you leg is composed of muscles. In order to create space – those muscles would need to atrophe, which would also mean reducing your lean muscle mass.

A thigh gap or reduction in size of any body part is not a health or fitness goal.

Please direct your attention to the photo I have posted above. I love this portrait shown in the HuffPost this week because it displays an incredible diversity of female body and bone structure. It is crucial that both women AND men realize their full potential within their OWN bodies instead of trying to achieve the shape and size of others. It seems that most people inherently understand the concept “Every BODY is Different” but are continually blinded by the efforts of advertisers and media tycoons to paint us “the perfect body of society”. For those of us struggling to see through the difference, take a long hard look at that photo again. It is true that all those Olympic women are in the best shape of their lives – but their size, shape and structure are unique and cannot be copied.

Even before Scarlett O’Hara squeezed into a whalebone corset in “Gone with the Wind”, women ( and men too) have felt pressure to achieve certain specific body ideals. It’s well known that if Barbie was a real woman, she’d have measurements of 39-18-33. It’s important to jettison the arbitrary body ideals. As far as the “thigh gap,” for example, most young women need to strengthen their inner thighs to better protect their knees from ligament and cartilage damage. Older women with knee arthritis, every pound of extra weight puts 4 pounds of pressure on the knee joint, so staying at a healthy weight is crucial.  More importantly, strengthening, NOT WEAKENING the inner thigh muscles adds more protection for our bodies.

Evolve your personal fitness goals to be realistic and support your health as well as the activities you enjoy.

These portraits above show us a range of what is healthy and beautiful. These women are fit and powerful and at the peak of their sports. Try to imagine yourself at the peak of your health and fitness for your body type, your age, and your goals. Be realistic about ways you can work towards health and fitness goals for your body and your life. No matter what, a big part of this is maintaining lean muscle mass.

Never mind the gap or anyone else’s arbitrary rules.

Dr. Nolfo


We KNOW how to BURN FAT!!!!

We just got a great new tool here at Stony Creek Internal Medicine & Wellness: a state-of-the-art body composition analyzer! It is going to help us help our patients and wellness clients track their percentages of lean muscle mass, body fat and body water. It even differentiates upper vs. lower body muscle mass. This machine is no bigger than a bathroom scale, yet it super-charges our ability to help our patients formulate individual goals for health. You don’t even need to get undressed, just take off your socks and shoes and socks! Just today I used it to help a patient make a decision about whether to start testosterone. 


Here are some things it can do:

1) It will help me tell me when some of my older patients lose or gain weight if it’s water loss or muscle they’ve lost. 

2) I can help my athletic patients with their goal of safely putting on more muscle.

3) Our Ideal Protein patients sometimes have a week with no weight loss, but body measurements and now percentage muscle mass will show progress in other and maybe even more important ways. 

Here’s a chart showing healthy body composition by age:


Once we calculate your baseline, how can you increase lean mass and decrease fat?

There are many ways

Exercise can increase your muscle mass and it also causes the release of adrenaline, that will promote lipolysis (breakdown and metabolism of fat). A low carbohydrate, low fat diet that puts you in even mild ketosis will cause your body to use its stored fat as fuel. But you definitely need to have high quality protein on such a diet so your body doesn’t break down muscle for fuel.  That is how our Ideal Protein program improves body composition.

There aren’t really fat burning foods per se, but certain foods will promote fat burning (a little) and they WON’T HURT:

Caffeine can (transiently) accelerate metabolism. 

Green tea can help increase fat metabolism (a little) due to a compound called EGCG .

Hot peppers (jalapenos, etc.) contain capsinoids that may help metabolize fats (a little). 

Coconut oil has medium chain triglycerides that may enhance fat burning.

So while there may be no miracle fat burning foods that defy the laws of physics, adding the above might help! So:

This weekend hit up a farmer’s market for some local hot peppers.

Live near my office in Branford CT and want exercise? Go to the Hammonasset Festival this weekend and see the Native American dancers! There’s usually audience participation.


Whatever you do, enjoy life this weekend!

Dr. Emily Nolfo

A Weightloss Testimonial from Sherry B!

Happy Friday Health-Lings!

We’d like to share with you this fabulous thank you note we received from one of our wellness clients, Sherry B from Connecticut! She lost a remarkable 26 pounds in just under 3 months! Sherry B’s results are not typical – in fact, with our program, our patients lose an average of 2-6 pounds per week if they follow the program correctly. The sky is the limit: we design our wellness and diet programs so you can GET WELL and STAY WELL!

Read how Sherry accomplished her goals here:

“As a working mother of 3 boys, I needed a weight loss program that worked, but was also easy to follow. I decided to try Ideal Protein after seeing the success that some of my friends had enjoyed by following the  program. I liked the convenience of the Ideal Protein food packets as well as the flexibility the program  offered. From day one, I was able to enjoy the same vegetables and proteins that I served my family for dinner. This made staying on track much easier. At the weekly check-ins [at Stony Creek Internal Medicine and Wellness], John [Moniello] always offered me helpful pointers and encouragement that were crucial to keeping me focused. I lost 7lbs in the first week and after 8 weeks, I had surpassed my goal of losing 20lbs. I had tried other diets in the past, but never enjoyed the level of success that Ideal Protein offered me. I would recommend Ideal Protein to anyone who is serious about getting healthy and losing weight.  – Sherry B. “

If you would like to join up with us in your quest to get healthy – whether its designing a new healthy lifestyle for yourself or helping you attain your weight goals, please click here to fill out our FREE consultation form! We promise to get back to you right away with some solutions on how to achieve your wellness goals.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Dr. Nolfo

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