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Bringing Lifestyle Medicine to Black Women: Aajay Shah and Meryl Fury on PYP 484

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Meryl Fury, RN, and Aajay Shah, MD, have teamed up to fight obesity and chronic disease among Black women in America.

The statistics are horrifying: Black women live, on average, 4-5 years fewer than white women. Their rate of obesity is 55%, making them the most overweight demographic in the country.

And as women go, so go children; there's now an epidemic of childhood obesity that hits Black communities extra hard.

We began by talking about why; what is it about Black women that predisposes them to obesity?

The answer is complicated, because the question could just as well be phrased, “What is it about our society that predisposes Black women to obesity?”

Fury talked about historical circumstances that favored “curvier” women; from African cultures to the artificial selection of white slaveholders to the “natural” selection of maltreatment and malnutrition that rendered those with extra body fat more likely to survive. And the economic disparities that turn some communities into “food deserts” in which finding healthy food is literally impossible. And the marketing arm of the food industry. And well-earned distrust of the medical establishment.

So what to do about it?

Dr Shah shared his vision of medicine, one in which physicians are trusted partners and friends of their patients. One in which they have more than 6 minutes per visit to explore their patients' worlds and mindsets and obstacles and questions and goals. One in which they can get paid for proactive wellness rather than after-the-fact treatment of disease.

Those aren't empty words, either. Dr Shah has quit his lucrative cardiology practice to shift to lifestyle medicine. And as he's made the shift, he's (re)discovered the joy and spiritual power of practicing caring, compassionate, patient-centered medicine.

Rather than the mainstream model of “fighting” disease, Dr Shah now uses diet and lifestyle to make peace with disease. To collaborate with the body to restore health.

Throughout all their years of medical training, neither Fury nor Shah learned how to be a “healer.” Now they're both combining their valuable medical education with heart-based and lifestyle-based interventions, and loving their work. And considering that something close to 50% of MDs and 70% of RNs will experience burnout in their careers, that's remarkable.

Fury and Shah don't charge for their public education and advocacy. You can find them on Facebook and YouTube (links below). They're building this to scale; not for themselves, but so that others can duplicate and improve upon their efforts to bring the message and practical tools of lifestyle change to disadvantaged and marginalized and sick people everywhere.


Healthy Living with Dr Aajay Shah – wildly popular Facebook page

Plant-based Nutrition Movement on YouTube

Plant-based Nutrition Movement Facebook group

Healthy Living with Dr Aajay Shah on YouTube

Looking for Transformational Change?

You know how when you discovered plant-based eating, you basically went, “Holy shit, how come the entire healthcare system isn't totally embracing this as one of the most powerful keys to disease prevention and reversal!”?

That's how I feel now about a psychological approach to transformational change called “Memory Reconsolidation.” Few psychologists have heard about it, and when they do hear the radical transformations it can bring about in a very short time, they're often skeptical to the point of disbelief.

But I've added Memory Reconsolidation work to my own coaching, and can attest to its amazing efficacy. So much so, that I'm devoting the next year to mastering it, studying with the best clinicians and teachers in the world, and then introducing it into health coaching through my trainings.

Right now, I want to triple my coaching practice to get more and more opportunities to do this work. And I'm lowering my fees – a lot – to make it easier for people to work with me.

If you're interested in working with me (and willing to commit to a minimum of 2 months), click the link below to open the form in a new browser tab and I'll get back to you within 3 business days.

Yes, I'm interested in Memory Reconsolidation Coaching.

You CAN Change Other People!

Well, that's what Peter Bregman and I claim in our provocative book of that title.

What we really mean is, you can help the people around you make behavioral changes in their own best interests. If you think you're powerless to help people change, it's because you've been going about it the wrong way.

Discover our straightforward, replicable process here: You Can Change Other People.

Audiobook: Use the Weight to Lose the Weight

Listen to Josh LaJaunie and me narrate our latest audiobook, about how to start moving when you're obese.

It's $10, and Josh and I split it evenly 🙂

Tip Jar

This podcast is not underwritten by advertising, so I can experience complete editorial autonomy without worrying about pissing off the person paying the bills. Instead, I pay the bills, with your help. It's free for those who can't afford to pay, and supported by those who can. You can contribute to the growth and improvement of the podcast by clicking the “Support on Patreon” or “Donate” buttons on the right to help out.


The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website,


Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons – Kim Harrison – Lynn McLellan – Brittany Porter – Dominic Marro – Barbara Whitney – Tammy Black – Amy Good – Amanda Hatherly – Mary Jane Wheeler – Ellen Kennelly – Melissa Cobb – Rachel Behrens – Tina Scharf – Tina Ahern – Jen Vilkinofsky – David Byczek – Michele X – Elspeth Feldman – Leah Stolar – Allan Kristensen – Colleen Peck – Michele Landry – Jozina – Sara Durkacs – Kelly Cameron – Janet Selby – Claire Adams – Tom Fronczak – Jeannette Benham – Gila Lacerte – David Donohue – Blair Seibert – Doron Avizov – Gio and Carolyn Argentati – Jodi Friesner – Mischa Rosen – Michael Worobiec – AvIvA Lael – Alicia Lemus – Val Linnemann – Nick Harper – Bandana Chawla – Molly Levine – The Inscrutable Harry R – Susan Laverty the Panda Vegan – Craig Covic – Adam Scharf – Karen Bury – Heather Morgan – Nigel Davies – Marian Blum – Teresa Kopel – Julian Watkins – Brid O'Connell – Shannon Herschman – Linda Ayotte – Holm Hedegaard – Isa Tousignant – Connie Haneline – Erin Greer – Alicia Davis – Heather O'Connor – Carollynne Jensen – Sheri Orlekoski of Plant Powered for Health – Karen Smith – Scott Mirani – Karen and Joe Crabtree – Kirby Burton – Theresa Carrell – Kevin Macaulay – Elizabeth Rothschild – Ann Jesse – Sheryl Dwyer – Jenny Hazelton – Peter W Evans – Dennis Bird – Darby Kelly – Lori Fanney – Linnea Lundquist – Emily Iaconelli – Levi Wallach – Rosamonde McAtee – Dan Pokorney – Stephen Leinin – Patty DeMartino – Mike and Donna Kartz – Deanne Bishop – Bilberry Elf – Marjorie Lewis – Tricia Adams – Nancy Sheldon – Lindsey Bashore – Gunn Marit Hagen – Tracey Gulledge – Lara Hedin – Meg from Mamasezz – Stacey Stokes – Ben Savage – Michael K – David Hughes -Coni Rodgers – Claire England – Sally Robertson – Parham Ganchi – Amy Dailey – Brian Tourville – Mark Jeffrey Johnson – Josie Dempsey – Caryn Schmitt – Pamela Hayden – Emily Perryman – Allison Corbett – Richard Stone – Lauren Vaught of Edible Musings – Erin Hastey – Sean Owens – Sagar Naik – Erika Piedra – Danielle Roberts – Michael Leuchten – Sarah Johnson – Katharine Floyd – Meryl Fury – for your generous support of the podcast.


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