David Shmukler took a potentially life-ending event and made it life-changing.
Six years ago, the Kennett area chiropractor was jogging at Anson B. Nixon Park when he realized his left leg was dragging.
When he returned to his office on Union Street a short time later, his condition had worsened.
“I went to speak to my secretary and all that came out was a whooshing sound,” he said. “I tried to walk it off, but … next thing I know the ambulance is there.”
It was then that he realized he was having a stroke – technically a cerebral hemorrhage – which came as a shock to the relatively healthy 48-year-old.
That diagnosis lead to weeks of painful rehabilitation at Temple and Bryn Mawr. Within three weeks, Shmukler went from being unable to bathe and feed himself to jogging in the parking lot.
“I put it to a combination of good care and I was just so locked in to getting better,” he said.
Six months later, Shmukler sank into depression for the first time in his life. As he explored options, Shmukler studied up on neuropsychology and the “plasticity” of the human brain, which is essentially its ability to reprogram itself.
“I came to the conclusion that if I could change my thoughts, I could change my emotios and rewire my brain,” he said. “And so, I was able to come out of it with no drugs.”
Eventually, Shmukler took those experiences and turned them into a philosophy that in turn became a book
“For me, the whole point was to say, hey if I can come back from a pretty serious thing, you can change your behaviors and rewire yoru brain and develop healthier eating habits,” he said.
He was also inspired by a visit to the west coast, where a lifelong friend was working out daily but was still losing weight slowly.
“I asked him what the problem was, and he said, ‘Dave, you can’t out-exercise your fork,’” he said. “But, we thought, you can outsmart it.”
The result, “Outsmart your Fork: A mindful guide to permanent weight loss,” gives the readers tips on how to do just that, by developing mindful habits and being more self-aware.
Smukler said the book is gimmick-free, instead foicusing on taking people from mindless unhealthy habits and turhjing those around for the better.
“It’s a case of doing it for so long that it’s just a habit –it doesn’t take will power,” he said.
The book outlines a 10-week program, which he said is a scientifically proven length of time fo rpeopel to develop new habits.
It’s also right about the cutoff for when most people give up on a new routine and fall back on bad habits.
Breaking that cycle through self-awareness, Shmukler said, is the key to success.
It’s not a diet book, Shmukler said, but it is filled with tips on adjusting behaviors.
“The whole thing is about developing awareness. Stress can sometimes make you do things you’re unaware of,” he said.
Instead, the book presents guidelines for a lifetime of new and healthy habits, Shmukler said.
“With these tips, you can start the ball rolling,” Shmukler said. “If you don’t develop self-awareness, with 24-hour McDonald’s and Wawa’s, it’s going to be very difficult.”
The book is available at Shmukler’s Kennett office, or online at Amazon or www.outsmartyourfork.com.