John Oliver Bitch Slaps the Sugar Industrial Complex

For years & years & years, health nerds like me have used websites like this to:

  1. inform the public about the health problems caused by the over-consumption of sugar, and
  2. shame the processed food industry into cutting back on added sugars

And for years & years & years, most “normal” people never heard our tiny online cries from the health & fitness wilderness. The fact is, no one likes to be told that everything we eat is bad for us…especially from a bunch of health nazis with six-packs and personal trainers.

But recently, the mainstream media has (finally) caught on to what us health nazis have been saying…that processed foods loaded with extra sugar (and chemicals & crappy fats) are really, really bad for us.

And it’s not just the news networks and the documentary filmmakers. It’s political comedians like John Stewart, Stephen Colbert & John Oliver…

And this is fantastic news for the health of the nation…and really, really bad news for processed food producers who pump loads of extra sugars (and chemicals and crappy fats) into their products.

Because when a guy like John Oliver can…

  1. make you laugh out loud, while
  2. getting you really pissed off at the Sugar Industrial Complex (aka Big Food…aka the people who sell food in boxes with lots of ingredients that no one can pronounce)

…you can bet that a lot more “normal” people are going to get the message.

And as they say, laughter is the best medicine.

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A Technological Revolution for Health and Fitness Nerds

Quick post for all you fitness nerds out there.

Today is the day that I finally get my greedy little hands on a Push Strength workout/fitness tracker. As an early indiegogo supporter, I am one of the first people to have one of these bad-boys and because I love y’all so much, I am going to share the wealth.

Starting tonight, I am going to use my Push Strength band to start testing:

  • The real-world effectiveness of different exercise tools – machines vs free weights vs bands vs body-weight
  • The real-world effectiveness of different training routines
  • The real-world effectiveness of different exercises – pistol squats vs bodybuilding squats vs power squats

And because I love all my fitness friends, I will be sharing all that glorious data here at Health Habits.

But that’s not all….

Later this month, I will be meeting with the CEO of Tell Spec to discuss when I can expect to get my grubby paws on one of the beta units as well as organizing a series of amazing tests with all the other beta testers.

For those of who who don’t already know, Tell Spec uses a handheld scanner in concert with a learning algorithm and a cloud-based database to create a tool that will tell you exactly what is in the food you eat…or don’t eat.

At present, the “TellSpec BETA identifies calories, macronutrients (fats, protein and carbohydrates) and a limited number of ingredients all at reasonable concentrations in food”. And while that would be cool enough, it’s going to get way, way cooler.

As us beta-testers start scanning different foods, we are building the database, pushing the algorithm to evolve…and improving the scope & accuracy of the technology. This means that by the time TellSpec is ready for sale to the general public, it will be able to tell you exactly is in those chicken mcnuggets you scarfed down for lunch.

And while that is amazing enough for us health nerds, what it also means is that the entire processed food industry is going to be in for a rude awakening. Instead of having to deal with a small group of health nuts trying to spread the gospel of healthy eating, they are going to have to deal with a LOT of normal Moms & Dads who are going to be pissed off with the crap they are being sold.

pink-slime-jon-stewart-2

And if that wasn’t cool enough, the Tell Spec could be a actual lifesaver for all those kids with serious food allergies. Instead of trusting labels, kids armed with a Tell Spec scanner can make sure that that nut-free cookie is actually nut free.

How cool is that?

Stay tuned…the technological revolution for us health nerds has just begun.

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Children, Health, Politics, Toronto, Woonerfs and a whole big pile of BS

Back in the olden days of my youth, the kids on my block used to race home from school, throw their schoolbooks onto the floor , run back outside and play sports until it was too dark to see and/or someone’s Mom started yelling at everyone to go home for dinner.

So why is it that I never see any kids playing outside anymore?

Maybe it’s because:

  • all the parents are freaked out that their kids will be abducted or run over in front of their house…
  • or the kids are inside playing video games and/or texting their friends…
  • or that cranky neighbour on the block keeps complaining to the city about the noise made by kids playingand the city decided that it’s better to shut up a cranky old SOB than to have our kids out in the fresh air getting some exercise.

road hockey canada

It’s not as if we have a childhood obesity problem….

  • Oh yeah, we do have a childhood obesity problem.

It’s not as if rates of childhood type-2 diabetes have skyrocketed….

  • Oh yeah, rates of childhood type-2 diabetes have skyrocketed.

It’s not as if exercise helps our kids live healthier lives, reducing rates of obesity, diabetes, depression, anxiety….

  • Oh yeah, exercise does help our kids live healthier lives, reducing rates of obesity, diabetes, depression, anxiety

obama-basketball

It’s not as if exercise helps our kids score better grades at school….

  • Oh yeah, exercise does help our kids score better grades at school

It’s not as if exercise helps our kids develop emotional & social skills while reducing symptoms of ADHD….

  • Oh yeah, exercise does help our kids develop emotional & social skills while reducing symptoms of ADHD

healthy-kids health fitness healthhabits

It’s not as if the value of unstructured play amongst their peers has been scientifically proven to be superior to organized sports in terms of physical, emotional & mental health….

  • Oh yeah, unstructured play amongst their peers has been scientifically proven to be superior to organized sports in terms of the physical, emotional & mental health of our kids.

It’s not as if the cost of organized sports is becoming too expensive for more & more families….

  • Oh yeah, the cost of organized sports is becoming too expensive for more & more families

It’s not as neighbourhoods in which adults & children create social ties (via pick-up sports or other activities) are perceived as better & safer…potentially increasing real estate values.

  • Oh yeah, neighbourhoods with a sense of community are universally perceived as better & safer.

rink - skating outdoor

So why is it that instead of encouraging our kids to be physically active in their neighbourhood, city bureaucrats elect to play Grinch and confiscate their portable basketball net?

Seriously…this is no joke. Police in Ohio literally stopped a bunch of kids from playing hoops in front of their house, dragged away their portable basketball net and fined the adult owner…even after the owner offered to move the net.

How’s that for Serve & Protect?

But that’s not the end of this sad story.

As videos of this type are wont to do…it went viral…with the local news media running it over and over and over, making the police and lawmakers look like total jackasses.

And because no one likes to look like a jackass….when it came time for the net owner to have her day in court, the prosecutor dismissed the case….hoping that the problem will go away and that the tv people will move on to another story. Which it did 😦

And it’s not just in Ohio. Earlier today, I was talking to a Mom in my hometown of Toronto who had a similar story.

She was recently told by the city that she had to remove the portable basketball net that she put up for her kids and their neighbourhood friends….or the city would fine her and remove the net.

And what reason did the city use to demand the removal of the basketball net from the edge of her residential cul-de-sac?

Because it was a danger to garbage collectors.

Sure, they can navigate around parked cars and avoid piles of snow in the winter, but a portable basketball net…that’s a whole different story.

Obviously this is total BS.

And according to my Twitter pal, the real story is that an alleged neighbour, who allegedly works for the city, allegedly complained that the kids were allegedly making too much noise.And because all bureaucracies favor nepotism over common sense, the basketball net had to go.

(see how I avoided a lawsuit by using the word allegedly…smart huh?)

But wait, let’s forget about the BS story about the garbage collectors…what about the children? We all “know” that city streets can be dangerous. And a lot of us believe that city roads were built for automobiles and that kids (or adults) have no business being on the road in front of their house?

IMHO, that is another pile of BS.

One of the fastest growing concepts being used by city planners all around the world, known as the living street or woonerf, is based on the idea that city streets aren’t the exclusive domain of the automobile and that by using a variety of methods…

  • Streets are often built at the same grade as sidewalks, without curbs.
  • Cars are limited to a speed that does not disrupt other uses of the streets (usually defined to be pedestrian speed).
  • To slow down drivers, the street is set up so that a car cannot drive in a straight line for significant distances, for example by placing planters at the edge of the street, alternating the side of the street the parking is on, or curving the street itself.

…drivers are forced to pay attention, slow down, and not treat residential street like main arterial roads. And I think we can all agree that a cul-de-sac should never be confused with a main arterial road.

And while there are still a bunch of city bureaucrats in Ohio & Toronto who have declared war on kids playing hoops or road hockey in front of their homes, there are some brave souls in city government who see the concept of living streets as one to investigate.

While Holland has thousands of woonerfs, Toronto is about to get our first.

Just think, maybe in a few years, Toronto’s elected officials & it’s bureaucracy will see the benefit of:

  • slowing down drivers on our residential streets…
  • allowing our kids to play pick-up street hockey games with their friends…
  • and even getting us old folks outside to sip coffee and chat while watching our kids grow healthy & strong

Then again…maybe it’s better that our residential streets are turning into racetracks and that our kids are growing up fat and unhealthy.

(Apologies for that last sentence…writing this article got my inner Norma Rae worked up)

What would my inner Norma Rae do next?

Toronto is in the midst of an election campaign. On October 27, we go to the polls to elect a new Mayor and a gaggle of councillors, As such, now is the perfect time to give the candidates an opportunity to look like a defender of children and a slayer of stupid bureaucracy.

Here’s what I propose.

And if you can’t do any of that…organize a big road hockey game for this weekend and send me an invite 🙂

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LEPTIN

Is Leptin Gene Therapy the Future of Weight Loss?

Every year, millions of “weight loss” dollars are spent by pharmaceutical companies in the search for a drug that can prevent and/or reverse obesity. And every year, billions of “weight loss” dollars are spent by consumers on supplements, gym memberships, pills, potions & lotions.

Unfortunately, every year…almost all of that money is wasted as obesity rates creep higher & higher…pushing up the number of people with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, etc.

But what if instead of looking for a drug or a vitamin or a diet or a workout…the solution to obesity was genetic therapy?

  • What if there was a way to reverse obesity, type 2 diabetes, etc thanks to a combination of leptin genes and a “safe” adeno-associated virus delivered to you via an IV injection?
  • What if researchers were already working on this?
  • What if the research has already seen success in lab mice studies?

Would that get you excited about a scientific cure for obesity & it’s related lifestyle diseases?

Assuming you answered yes to the above question, I will continue with a brief overview of the science for all you weight-loss geeks.

LEPTIN

A Very Brief Overview of the Science

  • Researchers use adeno-associated viruses as a vehicle to deliver leptin into your body
  • The virus/leptin combo is injected into test subjects (mice) via an IV
  • The nonpathogenic virus infects the host’s cells with the leptin gene
  • The expression of the leptin gene is played out over a long period of time
  • Unlike a direct injection of leptin into the host’s brain, the adenovirus delivery method circumvents the “normal” leptin resistance feedback loop

Allowing for a sustained drop in appetite, a sustained drop in food consumption, a sustained drop in body-fat, reduced blood sugar levels, reduced triglyceride levels, improved glucose tolerance, etc, etc, etc…

What does this mean to YOU?

Unfortunately not very much right now. All of this research is being conducted on mice…meaning that you shouldn’t expect to get an anti-obesity injection from your doctor anytime soon.

Still, as a health & fitness nerd, this science is pretty darn cool. If you think so too, pass it on.

Public interest via social media, means more attention via mainstream media, which means an increased chance that someone / some company with deep pockets will fund additional research.

And additional research can’t help but speed up the process and maybe, just maybe…we’ll have a safe & effective treatment for obesity & it’s related diseases.

And that is pretty darn cool too.

Reference

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How many BURPEES does it take to burn off 1 grande-sized Pumpkin Spice Latte?

Here at @HealthHabits, I like to try and answer the big questions that have been plaguing mankind since the beginning of time.

  • Where do we come from?
  • Where do we go when we die?
  • How many burpees does it take to burn off 1 grande-sized Pumpkin Spice Latte with whipped cream?

Today, we’re focusing on the PSL…

Note:

It takes a “fit” person approximately 10 minutes to do 100 burpees. That means, burning off the calories in just one grande-sized Pumpkin Spice Latte will take Mr. or Ms. Fitness 34 minutes of non-stop burpee action.

34 minutes of this…

burpees

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10 Ways to Burn 1 Pound of Body Fat – Vol. 4

Welcome to the fourth edition of 10 Ways to Burn 1 Pound of Body-Fat.

The following list will highlight different physical activities and tell you how long they will take to burn 500 calories….which is a convenient number because a pound of body fat is 3500 calories and there are 7 days in the week.

And if my Grade 3 math skills are still up to date, 500 calories burned  x 7 days in the week = 3500 calories burned per week = 1 pound of body fat burned off per week.

And that’s pretty cool. So, here we go….

THE LIST

Zumba

  • It will take the average American Male (191 lbs) 62 minutes of Zumbafying to burn 500 calories
  • It will take the average American Female (164 lbs) 72 minutes of shaking her booty to burn 500 calories

zumba

To find out how long it will take YOU to burn 500 calories…

  • take your weight (ex 200 lbs),
  • divide by the average American weight – male or female ( ex 200 lb male / 191 lbs = 1.047),
  • and multiply the result by the average time that I calculated (ex 1.047 x 62 mintes = 65 minutes)

Exercise List

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The Journey from Fat to Fit

Every January, bookstore shelves groan under the weight of the hundreds of brand-new weight loss/diet/exercise/nutrition/snake-oil books.

And every January, millions of people…unhappy with their bodies…spend bazillions of dollars…in the hope that one of those books will contain some magical insight that will allow them to transform their bodies from fat to fit…without having to sweat…eat spinach…or lever their butts off the sofa.

Unfortunately…

The journey from fat to fit is never going to be that easy.

  • You’re going to sweat.
  • You’re going to eat healthy.
  • And you’re going to stop spending every night on the couch watching tv and/or playing XBox.

But in return, you’re going to…

And to help you get there, I have put together the “From Fat to Fit” roadmap…

Consisting of a series of 4 meta-steps, this DIY infographic will make your transformation from fat to fit simpler, faster and much, much, much more effective….I promise.

TheJourneyfromFattoFit

Step 1 – Follow a plan

I don’t really care which plan you follow.

  • If you want to combine an Atkins diet with a yoga routine, go for it.
  • If you want to become a Vegan who does Crossfit, go for it.
  • If you want to count calories and do exercise videos at home, go for it.
  • If you want to join Weight Watchers, perform EFT tapping, go to AquaFit classes with the little old ladies at my gym, go for it.

In my 20+ years as a personal trainer, I have helped people transform their bodies using all sorts of different plans. In my experience, finding a plan that works best with the client’s lifestyle is infinitely more important than the plan itself.

And science finally agrees with me.

According to researchers at McMaster University, all diets work…if you can stick to them.

Conducting a meta-analysis of 48 randomized clinical trials of branded diets – Atkins, Weight Watchers, Zone, Jenny Craig, LEARN, Nutrisystem, Ornish, Volumetrics, Rosemary Conley, Slimming World and South Beach – Mac researchers found that any weight loss differences between these popular diets are minimal and likely of little importance to those wanting to lose weight.

What was important for weight-loss success is the ability of people to stick with the diet.

  • People who stuck with the diet, lost weight.
  • People who didn’t…didn’t.

What this means to you

This means that instead of following the latest & greatest weight loss program, find a program that works best with YOUR current lifestyle.

  • How much time do you have for exercise, meal prep, etc?
  • How much money can you put into the program?
  • What kind of foods do you love/like/hate?
  • Do you prefer group activities or are you a lone wolf?
  • Do you like lifting weights & sprinting or would you rather go for a walk with your dog/spouse?

Be picky. For the plan to work, we NEED it to be a custom-fit it to YOUR lifestyle.

It’s like buying a new pair of shoes. No matter how awesome they look on the shelf, if they don’t have your size, you’re not buying them. 

Step 2 – Cook & eat real food

Back in the olden days, Moms taught their daughters how to shop for, prepare and cook complete, nutritious & yummy meals from scratch. Aside from the obvious gender role sexism, this was a great thing for the health, wealth & appearance of the whole family.

And it’s going to be a great thing for you too.

  • Cooking real food costs less than frozen diet meals
  • Cooking real food costs less than diet-delivery meals
  • Cooking real food lets you modify meals to fit perfectly with your tastebuds
  • Cooking real food will give you complete ownership of your plan and will make you proud of yourself
  • Cooking real food gives you control over the quality of ingredients
  • Cooking real food gives you control over calories
  • Cooking real food gives you control over macro & micronutrients
  • Cooking real food teaches you a skill that you can give to others (kids, friends)
  • Cooking real food can be a very calming, zen experience…helping to reduce day to day stress
  • Cooking real food for friends & family is great for expressing & receiving love…and that’s a heck of a great feeling
  • Cooking real food means no more artificial flavors & colors
  • Cooking real food means you can invent new recipes and try new flavors
  • Cooking real food means that your kids will learn how to cook real food, eat healthy, be healthy, be fit

And that’s just off the top of my head. There are so many more benefits to learning how to cook like Grandma did.

Luckily for you, Youtube has a ton of “How to Cook” instructional videos. Here are a few to check out.

Step 3 – Non-Workout physical activity

On the infographic, I ask the question: After dinner, are you more likely to go for a walk, or sit on the couch and watch tv?

If you answered sit on the couch and watch tv, I am 99.99% sure that you will never achieve your weight loss goals.

There are two reasons why I believe that:

  1. Sitting on the couch at night watching tv (or playing XBox, or surfing the net, or some other form of inactivity) means more calories consumed via snacking & less calories burned as you sit on your keester. Over time, this caloric sabotage is going to make a major difference in your body transformation.
  2. Being inactive during your “leisure time” means much more than just calories in : calories out. It is a symbol that bleeds into the rest of your life, sabotaging your food choices and influencing your decision to skip your early-morning workout or replace your home-made healthy breakfast with a muffin from Starbucks.

On the flipside, being physically active (walking, cycling, cleaning the house,etc) after dinner is guaranteed to have a positive impact on your body transformation.

  • In addition to the calories burned and the snack foods not consumed, going for a walk with your spouse/kids/friend is hugely beneficial to your mental and emotional health.
  • As well, this “non-exercise” exercise has a sneaky way transforming your overall point of view towards leisure time. Watching becomes doing. Instead of staring at a screen, shared experiences become the new normal. The entire family becomes more active and interactive.

Step 4 – What do you do when stress hits?

Nothing wrecks a healthy diet faster than a crappy day at work…or a sick kid…or an overdue pile of bills…or some other emotional catastrophe.

While your logical mind is calmly & rationally telling you how important it is to stick with the plan and eat healthy…your out of control emotions are screaming at you to wolf down a dozen donuts, an extra-large pizza and a six-pack of beer.

Can you guess who is going to win that argument?

Without a pre-existing plan to handle life’s rainy days, your weight loss / getting healthy plans are going to take the occasional beating from your emotions.

Here are a few techniques for controlling your emotions when life punches you in the face

Note: All of these techniques may seem different but they all work on the same principles:

  1. They distract you from the emotional thoughts
  2. They prevent you from obsessing & bring you back into the present moment
  3. They give you time for the emotions to die down & your conscious mind to regain control

My advice: find something that works best for you & your unique lifestyle

  • If you’re religious…pray
  • If you carry a smartphone with headphones…load it up with meditation or brain wave entrainment mp3s
  • If you don’t buy into this new-agey, crunchy-granola stuff…drop to the floor and do push-ups & ab exercises until you are a sweaty mess.

The how is irrelevant…all we care about is short-circuiting your emotions & regaining conscious control of your mind.

Conclusion

Getting lean, fit & healthy isn’t rocket science.

  1. Find a plan that works for YOU
  2. Cook real / healthy food
  3. Increase your “non-exercise” physical activity
  4. Learn to control your emotions

And feel free to contact me with questions (Twitter / Facebook) if you need to chat.

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Truvia is NOT Stevia…but it is a fantastic insecticide

Wait a second. How can Truvia be safe for me to eat and yet it kills fruit flies like Dexter Morgan on crystal meth???

According to study authors Sean O’Donnell and Daniel Marenda, “during an examination of the effects of commonly used non-nutritive sweeteners on the longevity of Drosophila melanogaster (aka the Fruit Fly), they discovered that erythritol, the main component of the sweetener Truvia, was toxic when ingested by fruit flies as compared to similar concentrations of nutritive sugar controls (sucrose, corn syrup) and other non-nutritive sweeteners.”

  • In their study, they found that fruit flies raised in tubes containing Truvia (see above), lived for an average of 5.8 days.
  • The average fruit fly lives 45 to 60 days.

They also found that Truvia-fed flies had difficulty in climbing up a small vial, indicating impaired motor function.

The problem, the team discovered, lies in an ingredient present in Truvia but not in the other six sweeteners: erythritol, a commonly used food additive approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

This is the same erythritol that has been found to be safe for rats, dogs, humans, etc in previous studies referenced by the fine people at Coca-Cola and Cargill.

What does all this science this mean???

  • If you’re a fly, this is bad news.
  • If you’re a human who hates fruit flies buzzing around the bananas on your kitchen counter, it’s good news. According to the science, we now have evidence that erythritol baits could be used as effective insecticide against fruit flies.

However, if you’re a consumer of food products containing Truvia, you have a choice to make.

One of the core assumptions of modern toxicology is “the dose makes the poison.” Drinking a glass of water is good for you – Drinking a barrel of water is toxic to you. Conversely, the most acutely lethal toxin known to science is the botulinum toxin – the same toxin used millions of times around the world to get rid of wrinkles.

Based upon this assumption (and the safety studies mentioned previously), Erythritol, and by extension Truvia, is…

  1. Safe to humans
  2. Deadly to fruit flies

However, not every scientist in the world believes in the infallibility of “the dose makes the poison.”

  • Some scientists question whether doses that are “safe for human consumption” are equally safe for babies in the womb.

For example, this study found that a dose of atrazine (a commonly used herbicide) 20,000 times lower than the lowest level known to affect adult frogs caused 20% of tadpoles to become hermaphroditic in adulthood.

And it’s not just the effect of toxins on our little frog babies. Not all toxins follow the “normal” monotonic curve in which the response to a dose of toxin increases with the size of the dose. Some toxins respond as per the non-monotonic curves pictured below.

For example, this study found that lower doses of BPA (bisphenol A) can have larger impacts upon the proliferation of prostate tumors in adult male humans than higher doses. Weird but true.

At the end of the day, what does all of this mean to you???

  • Should you buy and consume products containing Truvia and/or Erythritol?
  • Should you buy and consume products containing Truvia and/or Erythritol if you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant?
  • Should you buy a jar of Truvia and leave it open in your kitchen to kill fruit flies?

Me?

  • I would rather drink water
  • If I had to choose a calorie-free sweetener, I would choose stevia over Truvia
  • I would also advise all potential parents to follow my lead.

What about you?

  • What do you think of the research?
  • Do you consume Truvia?
  • Will you continue to consume Truvia?

Reference

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How to Get a Tan Without Risking Skin Cancer

  • You know that you look better with a bit of a tan.
  • But, you’re worried about getting skin cancer.

What would you say if I told you that there is some pretty solid science showing that a diet high in fruit and vegetables is more effecting at improving skin colour than suntanning?

The study, published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior showed that (Caucasian) people who eat lots of fruit and vegetables have a more golden skin colour thanks to the high levels of carotenoids.

Most widely known for their presence in carrots, carotenoids are a type of antioxidant that helps reverse the oxidative damage we incur in our daily lives. In particular, carotenoids have a powerful effect on our immune and reproductive systems.

Lead author Dr Ian Stephen said: “We found that, given the choice between skin colour caused by suntan and skin colour caused by carotenoids, people preferred the carotenoid skin colour, so if you want a healthier and more attractive skin colour, you are better off eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables than lying in the sun.”

Dr Stephen suggests that the study is important because evolution would favour individuals who choose to form alliances or mate with healthier individuals over unhealthy individuals.

We should note that while this study looked exclusively at Caucasian faces, it may be true that a study of other racial groups would produce similar results.

Previous studies have shown similar preferences for skin yellowness to be found in an African population.

For more info on this study;

If you want to participate in future studies regarding health & beauty, check out The Perception Lab.

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The Best Tasting Fruit You Have Never Tasted

What do you think of when I say the word – FRUIT?

If you’re like the vast, vast majority of North Americans, you are now thinking of…

  • Apples,
  • Bananas,
  • Oranges,
  • Grapes,
  • Watermelon,
  • Strawberries, or
  • Peaches

And that’s okay.

There are lots of reasons why the fruits listed above are North America’s most popular.

  • They taste great.
  • They’re portable.
  • And they have transitioned well to industrial farming techniques.

However….after 40-something years of crunching apples in the fall, slurping watermelon in the summer and blending up berries & bananas in my smoothies year-round, my taste-buds started to become bored with the Top 10 fruits & vegetables.

Luckily for me, the solution to my gustatory ennui was a brisk 20 minute walk down Spadina Ave to Toronto’s Chinatown and it’s vast array of produce vendors and exotic fruits & veg.

Luckily for all of us, if you can’t find the following fruits in your hometown, there are a LOT of online produce peddlers who will pack & ship fresh produce direct to your door. As I have access here in Toronto, I haven’t ordered online and as such, can’t recommend any particular vendors.

Note: This list of my favorite fruit will continue to grow as I try & fall in love with new products. Whenever I add a new fruit, I will re-post the article. If you want to be updated, sign up for an email subscription to the blog and you will get new article updates.

Alright…here we go….introducing the best tasting fruit you have never tasted. 

Durian

durian fruit health nutrition healthhabits

Some of you have already heard of Durian fruit. More specifically, you may have heard about how Durian smells like:

  • rotten onions,
  • pig-shit,  
  • vomit,
  • skunk spray,
  • turpentine,
  • raw sewage,
  • gym socks, etc.

Seriously…this thing is so stinky, it has been banned from hotels and public transportation systems all over Southeast Asia.  But the taste more than makes up for the odor. Durian fruit offers a taste that is unlike any other thing I have ever eaten in my entire life. 

A taste that was best described by a British naturalist named Alfred Russel Wallace way back in 1856:

The five cells within are silky-white, and are filled with a mass of firm, cream-coloured pulp, containing about three seeds each. This pulp is the edible part, and its consistence and flavour are indescribable. A rich custard highly flavoured with almonds gives the best general idea of it, but there are occasional wafts of flavour that call to mind cream-cheese, onion-sauce, sherry-wine, and other incongruous dishes.

Then there is a rich glutinous smoothness in the pulp which nothing else possesses, but which adds to its delicacy. It is neither acid nor sweet nor juicy; yet it wants neither of these qualities, for it is in itself perfect. It produces no nausea or other bad effect, and the more you eat of it the less you feel inclined to stop. In fact, to eat Durians is a new sensation worth a voyage to the East to experience. … as producing a food of the most exquisite flavour it is unsurpassed

Because of the stink, I don’t eat Durian as often as I like.

To make life easier (and to keep my wife happy), I prefer to head down to Chinatown and have it prepared for me in one of the nearby restaurants. That way I get all the yummy flavor and don’t have to deal with the prep or the stinky leftovers

Next Page – Sugar Apple (aka Sweetsop and/or Custard Apple)

More best tasting fruit you have never tasted.

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Warning Labels on Sugary Drinks – good idea, bad idea???

Last Friday, California’s State Senate Appropriations Committee voted (5-2) to pass a measure requiring distributors of bottled or canned sugary drinks to put a warning label on their beverage container.

SB1000 would require a warning label to be placed on the front of all beverage containers with added sweeteners that have 75 or more calories in every 12 ounces.

Not too surprisingly, America’s soda pop producers were not amused. The California Beverage Association issued the following statement.

“We agree that obesity is a serious and complex issue,” the group said in a statement, calling the proposed bill “misleading” claiming that “just 6 percent of calories in the average American’s diet come from soda, fruit, sports and energy drinks, compared with 11 percent in sweets and deserts. Moreover, it said most calories are consumed in the form of fats, oils and starches in food”.

Translation: We agree that our product is crap and directly contributes to obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, heart disease and cancer, but…we’re not as bad as the guys who sell candy bars, potato chips, pizza, etc.

What happens next?

  • SB1000 requires a majority vote of the full Senate before it can become law. That vote is scheduled to occur in the next two weeks. In the meantime…
  • Supporters of the bill (California Medical Association, California Center for Public Health Advocacy, the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, the California Black Health Network and supporting Senators) will issue public statements supporting the bill and it’s health & financial benefits.
  • Critics of the bill (California Beverage Association) will defend their position on health promotion, question the effectiveness of warning labels and raise the issue of potential job losses due to the cost associated with placing warning labels on their products.

Will the Bill become Law?

Who knows?  Going up against the processed food industry is no easy task. Pepsico and Coca Cola have lobbied and defeated previous labelling and “soda tax” bills in states across the nation.

Still, proponents of the bill are hopeful. California’s Democrats hold a super-majority in the Legislature and are traditionally more supportive of this type of motion.

Will the Warning Labels Have Any Effect?

Once again…who knows?

In a recent study,  researchers concluded that if the USA had adopted cigarette package warning labels in 2012 (when Canada enacted tobacco labelling legislation), the number of adult smokers in the USA would have decreased by 5.3–8.6 million by 2013….meaning that there would have been 5.3–8.6 million Americans with a reduced chance of dying from lung cancer.

Health warnings on cigarette packages saved lives in Canada and would have saved lives in the U.S. of A. And that sounds like a pretty darn good return on investment.

So….is it really such a jump in logic to assume that health warnings on sugary drinks would also reduce consumption of said sugary drinks…thereby improving American rates of insulin resistance, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, cancer???

Are all Warning Labels equally effective?

After looking at Canada’s gnarly anti-smoking images, I started wondering if California’s proposed sugary drink warning label….

…will be as effective?

Warning Labels on Sugary Drinks

Will a text-based warning be as effective as pictures of cancerous lungs and impotent cigarettes?

Methinks that California’s legislators need to go back to ye olde Photoshop drawing board and bedazzle their warning labels.

Let’s see if we can come up with something better

Warning Labels on Sugary Drinks

Nothing like a little parental awareness (guilt?) to help spark better shopping habits.

Somehow, I doubt that Pepsi will re-work their logo to create this custom sugary drink warning label.

If morbid obesity isn’t a strong enough warning, how about neuropathic foot ulcers and leg amputations???

obesity-warning-fruit-juice

There is nothing like a juice box full of chemicals & high fructose corn syrup to show that you don’t give a shit about your kid.

What do YOU think?

  • Are warning labels on sugary drinks a good idea?
  • Is a text-only label as effective as labels with scary pictures?
  • Can you come up with any better labels?
  • Would you like to see these labels where you live?
  • If so, would you be willing to email your gov’t representative RIGHT NOW and tell them that you want warning labels on sugary drinks?

Reference

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Weight Loss is 99% Mental, 1% Physical

  • Every year, hundreds of new diet / weight loss books hit the shelves of your local Amazon…promising that they have discovered the elusive secret to rapid & permanent weight loss.
  • Every year, thousands & thousands of desperate people plunk down their hard earned cash to buy one (or more) of these masterpieces of weight loss literature.
  • Every year, 97.2% of those good people are left disappointed, overweight and yet strangely hopeful that the next diet book they buy will work as advertised.

And if the diet books weren’t bad enough, the internet is chock-full of experts, gurus and weight loss motivators telling you that weight loss is…

abs are earned in the kitchen (1)

Too bad they are 100% wrong. Because…

Weight loss is 99% Mental…1% Physical.

99% mental because until you gain control of your mind, emotions, feelings, urges, etc…all of the diets, exercise programs, supplements, lotions, potions and notions are 100% useless.

Weight Loss is 99 Mental

So….how do you gain control of your brain, emotions, feelings, urges, etc?

That’s where it becomes interesting.

Over the past 20+ years as a personal trainer and tireless student of scientific research, new age-y techniques and real-world success stories, I have come to realize that, like a snowflake, each of us has a unique mental & emotional state. A state created by a combination of genetic inheritance, adopted parental habits and all of the stuff that has happened to us during our time on planet Earth.

What is this stuff that am I talking about?

Your stuff is made up of all the traumatic experiences that you have ever had, all the advice you’ve been given, books you’ve read, meals you’ve ate, tv shows you’ve watched, arguments you’ve had, images you’ve seen, songs you’ve heard, friends you’ve had, enemies you’ve hated, people you’ve lusted after, clothes you couldn’t fit into, etc, etc, etc…

All of this stuff gets mixed & mashed together to create a big bunch of unconscious habits that have shaped the person you are today. And for the purposes of this article, let’s assume that that person is overweight and looking for a way to drop some pounds.

How does that person…

  • overcome all of their unconscious programming?
  • take control of their thoughts, emotions, feelings, urges??
  • and transform their body from fat to fit???

 

That IS the billion dollar question.

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Who do you trust with your health?

Who do you trust with your health?

  • Do you trust the food provided to us by Mother Nature/God/Natural Selection?
  • Or do you trust the processed food executive whose job depends on you eating more deep-fried GMO corn covered in pink slime and processed cheese food?

pink-slime-jon-stewart-2

Who do you trust with your health?

  • Do you trust the reassuring tv voice (I’m not a real doctor, but I play one on tv commercials) urging you to buy their latest pill for fixing your blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, wonky erection, etc?
  • Or do you trust the family doctor who sits down with you, looks you dead in the eye and tells you that you need to make some unpleasant life changes…even if you’re going to get pissed off?

Who do you trust with your health?

  • Do you trust the celebrity diet guru/celebrity trainer/celebrity doctor who promises a miracle plan/workout/supplement?
  • Or do you trust the “real-world” nutritionist/trainer/doctor/friend/stranger at the gym who tells you that getting healthy is a lot of hard work…and then proceeds to tell you why?

Who do you trust with your health?

  • Do you trust late-night infomercials?
  • Or do you trust scientific research?

Who do you trust with your health?

  • Do you trust the people peddling MLM weight-loss shakes on social media?
  • Or do you trust the guy/gal who brings a big tupperware of healthy food for lunch every day?

Who do you trust with your health?

  • Do you trust the part of yourself that looks for an easy solution to getting healthy & fit?
  • Or do you trust the part of yourself that knows that healthy & fit doesn’t come easy?

Who do you trust with your health?

  • Your answer

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Springtime: Time for Cleansing?

Ahhhhhhh, the first day of spring.

The time of year when we say goodbye to snow and parkas and snow and cold and snow….and turn towards the ugly truth that hibernating for three months has resulted in a few extra pounds of body-fat.

For us northerners, this period of winter-hibernation is pretty natural. Kinda like a bear.

Unfortunately, unlike our ursine friends, you (and I) don’t have the ability to slow down (and speed up) our metabolisms as the seasons change. As a result, homo sapiens need to take some external steps to un-do the damage caused by a winter of sloth and comfort eating.

And because this physique neglect is fairly universal in cold-weather climates, spring-time presents an annual opportunity for health/fitness/nutrition companies peddling products designed to help us reverse the effects of our winter sloth.

Unlike the January onslaught of diet books, spring is dedicated to cleansing.

What is cleansing?

According to Wikipedia, cleansing is alternative medicine “approach that claims to rid the body of “toxins” – accumulated harmful substances that allegedly exert undesirable effects on individual health in the short or long term. Detoxification usually includes one or more of: dieting, fasting, consuming exclusively or avoiding specific foods (such as fats, carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, juices, herbs, or water), colon cleansing, chelation therapy, or the removal of dental fillings.

According to my naturopath, nutritionist, osteopath, alternative medicine pals, cleansing is a practice where you…

  1. Reduce stress on your body by dieting, fasting, colon cleansing and/or eliminating “stressful” foods
  2. Supporting your physical body via herbs, vitamins, minerals, etc
  3. Supporting your mental/emotional/spiritual body by meditating, praying or any other practice that helps you become more conscious of yourself.

Note – most mainstream cleansing programs focus on the diet and supplements. Probably because it’s hard to package meditation and/or prayer in a box. Kidding aside, step #3 can be quite personal and is pretty hard to sell to a mainstream audience. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. It can be as simple as sitting still for 5 minutes a day and paying attention to your breath.

Still Interested in Cleansing?

Before you run out to the health food store and buy a cleansing kit, lets take a close look at what makes a cleanse a cleanse so that you can better understand what type of cleanse works best for you.

Part 1 – Reducing Stress on Your Physical Body

This aspect of cleansing is all about taking a break from your normal patterns of eating, drinking, inhaling, etc. This means…

  • Eating less food – dieting and/or fasting
  • Eating healthier foods – reducing processed foods, reducing harder to digest foods (animal protein), supplementing with vitamins, mineral, herbs, etc to give your body all of the “stuff” it needs to be as healthy as possible.
  • Drinking healthier drinks – say yes to water and tea – reduce or say no to booze, dairy, coffee, energy drinks, soft drinks, etc.
  • Stop smoking (tobacco, etc)
  • Clean out all of the junk you have collected in your colon via a colonic or an herbal/fibre cleanse. I know it sounds gross, but there is a lot of data (scientific & non-scientific) linking leaky gut syndrome to a whole host of inflammatory conditions. And while there is little scientific proof backing up the efficacy of colonic cleansing, I have spoke with far too many people who speak highly on a colon cleanse to dismiss it out of hand. The idea is that you clear out a lot of the residual “stuff” that can line the walls of the colon possibly leading to leaky gut/diverticulosis/etc.

Note: There is no science backing up the claims being made by proponents of colonic cleansing. However, there is no science indicating that an herbal cleanse can cause you any harm. This treatment modality is 100% up to you.

Part 2 – Heal Your Physical Body

In Part 1 of a cleanse, you are removing “harmful” substances, foods, habits from your life. In Part 2, you are giving your body an abundance of healing nutrients to supercharge your body’s ability to maintain perfect health.

We’re talking vitamins, minerals, enzymes, high ORAC fruit & vegetables (whole & supplements), healthy oils, herbs and lots and lots of water.

Note: A lot of cleansing kits focus on supplements designed to support liver function as the liver’s main job is to filter junk out of our bodies. And while supporting liver function makes sense to me, I prefer to take a more wholistic view of the body. The liver doesn’t work in isolation. Your kidneys, lungs & skin also play a role in removing toxins from your body. If we’re cleansing the entire body, shouldn’t we support the entire body.

Part 3 – Supporting/Cleansing Your Mental/Emotional/Physical Body

You won’t find any mention of Part 3 in any cleansing kit you pick up at your local health food store. And I won’t be offended if you skip this part of the article altogether.

But…if you’re going to all the trouble of dieting/fasting/colon cleansing and popping supplements to help your physical body operate better…can’t you find a few minutes in the day to make yourself a little bit calmer…a little bit happier…a little bit less stressed out???

You’re ready to start cleansing…now what?

  • Start by deciding if you want to buy a “cleansing kit” or you want to DIY it. It’s up to you and your personality. Some people do better following a pre-set program (buy a kit at the health food store, buy a cleansing book, do the Master Cleanse, etc) while others would rather come up with a plan that fits THEIR lifestyle and personal likes/dislikes.
  • Know that all cleansing plans are offering some combination of Parts 1 & 2 that I outlined above. All of them. The Master Cleanse reduces calories, keeps water consumption up and claims that the lemon & pepper cleanses your system while the maple syrup provides necessary nutrients. The Cleanse-in-a-box kit from the drugstore tells you to cut calories, eat your veggies and pop their pills with lots of water. What they are telling you to do is very simple. They make their money selling you the associated products/services. Don’t be fooled into thinking they have some secret knowledge.
  • Now that you have looked behind the wizard’s curtain and understand what makes a cleanse a cleanse, take a look at a bunch of cleansing products. Do they make sense to you? Do they jive with your lifestyle? Do they cost too much money? Do you need all the bells & whistles. Be critical. Use that big homo sapiens brain of yours.
  • Find a friend to cleanse with you. Misery loves company and it is easier to stick to a cleanse if someone else is doing it with you.
  • Pick a start date and an end date. Get everything prepared for your start date. If you’re not prepared – food, supplements, tupperware, etc – you’re gonna fail.
  • If you fail to complete your full cleanse, don’t worry about it. However long you stuck to the plan did some good for your body. Be proud of that….and then get ready to start the cleanse again. You can do it.

GOOD LUCK

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Finding Your Fitness / Fat Loss Fingerprint

For over 26 years, I have been helping people transform their bodies…melting body-fat, getting stronger, getting fitter, getting healthier, etc.

During that time, I have employed about a bazillion different strategies…meal plans, supplement protocols, training programs, mind-body techniques, psychological counselling, pharmaceuticals…the list goes on and on and on.

While most of those techniques were “borrowed” from other trainers, medical professionals, workout buddies and scientific research, the most important part of my education came from the people I worked with.

Because no matter how effective my transformation programs are, as soon as you introduce the human element into the equation, all bets are off.

What works for one person almost never works with the next victim/client.

There are so many factors at play – physical, mental, emotional, social, financial, legal and of course genetic/epigenetic.

Unlike an exact science like physics and chemistry, transforming an adult human being from this….

fitness fat loss

… into this, is not as simple as…

fitness fat loss(Diet #1 + Training Program #2) x (Motivation / Peer Pressure) = Successful Physique Transformation

Like our fingerprints, all of us are unique. Each of us has…

  • A unique genetic makeup
  • Unique life experiences
  • A unique social life
  • Unique belief systems
  • A unique knowledge base
  • Unique financial resources
  • Etc, etc, etc…

And because of this uniqueness, applying a one-size-fits-all solution to a complex problem like permanent fat loss is usually doomed to failure.

Like our fingerprints, we are complex…full of unique loops, whorls and arches.

So….before you run out and spend some cash on the latest diet book, weight loss supplement or fitness program, I want you to stop, take a long hard look at yourself.

Will this one-size-fits-all solution fit YOUR fitness / fat loss fingerprint?

NOTE: I hope this article didn’t discourage you. While I truly believe that physique transformation can be complicated at times, it isn’t rocket science. If you’re having trouble getting yourself in shape, there are lots of great people out there with the knowledge of what needs to be done. Renting their knowledge, confidence and support may cost you some cash up-front, but the pay-off at the end is definitely worth it.

It’s the same reason I don’t try to do my own car repairs. I need my car for work and I suck as a mechanic. 

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Is There a Genetic Cause for Binge Eating?

Before we dive into all the scienc-y goodness of a potential genetic cause for binge eating, I want to address all the people who believe that…

  • Obesity isn’t genetic, and…
  • Obesity is as simple as calories in vs calories out, and…
  • Fat people use genetics as an excuse for their slothful behaviour

Here are the FACTS….as I see them:

  • There is a link between obesity & genetics.

Prader-Willi syndrome is caused by a gene missing on part of chromosome 15. Normally, your parents each pass down a copy of this chromosome. Most patients with Prader-Willi syndrome are missing the genetic material on part of the father’s chromosome. The rest of patients with this condition often have two copies of the mother’s chromosome 15.

The genetic changes occur randomly. Patients usually do not have a family history of the condition.

This doesn’t mean that all cases of obesity are due to genetics. All it means is that there is a confirmed link between obesity & genetics. Whether this current study will establish another link and expand our knowledge of human obesity is yet to be determined.

  • Obesity is not as simple as calories in vs calories out.

A growing body of scientific evidence + over 20 years of helping people get fit has led me to believe that obesity is due to a messy combination of genetic inheritance, eating too much food, eating the ‘wrong’ foods, eating at the wrong time of day, peer pressure, environmental conditions, advertising, etc, etc, etc….

And even if obesity was as simple as calories in vs calories out, it isn’t simple to get people to live the rest of their lives counting calories…thanks to all that peer pressure, environmental conditions, advertising, etc.

  • Fat people quite often use genetics as an excuse for their obesity.

Just like the rest of us who also blame our shortcomings on outside influences. If it isn’t over-eating, it’s over-drinking or over-smoking or over-screwing or secretly being addicted to the music of Justin Bieber. We all BS ourselves. That’s part of being human.

And even if we find that there is a genetic cause for binge eating, that doesn’t mean we will find a “cure”. Obesity isn’t a simple condition with a simple solution…IMHO.

Anyway, them’s the facts as I see ’em….for now. Future science may prove me completely wrong. Let’s try to keep an open mind and we might just find a solution to our weighty problem.

Let’s Get Back to the Science

In this latest study, Dr. Kelly Klump used “two strains of rats, numerous cans of vanilla frosting and a theory to move one step closer to finding a genetic cause for binge eating.”

“Based upon our previous research, we know that binge eating is influenced by genes, but we have been unable to identify in humans which genes contribute to binge eating. With this research, we decided to study two different strains of rats instead of humans,” Klump said. “Unlike humans, animals do not have the cultural, psychological or psychosocial risk factors for binge eating, so they are simpler to study. A rat could care less what it looks like.”

  • Dr. K used two strains of rats (23 Wistar females, 30 Sprague–Dawley females, 30 Sprague–Dawley males) to determine if one/both/neither strain was prone to binge eating.
  • For two week, the rats were fed their normal ‘rat chow’ along with intermittent feedings of vanilla cake frosting.

“We only gave the rats the vanilla frosting every other day because that mimics human binge eating habits,” said Britny Hildebrandt, a grad student in the Klump lab.

What did they find?

  • Dr. Klump et al found that the rate of vanilla frosting binge eating was much higher in female Sprague-Dawley rats.

Wistar females and Sprague–Dawley males had similar responses to the frosting and were classified as binge eating resistant…unlike the female Sprague-Dawley rats…who were classified by Dr. Klump as binge eating prone.

What does this mean & where do we go next?

According to Dr. Klump, “now that we know that the female Sprague-Dawley rats are prone to binge eating, this helps narrow the scope of the thousands of possible genes that could contribute to this disorder. We can now study the strain to identify the genes that might contribute to the disease.

From there, we can map these genes in humans. If we can narrow down to 20 or so genes, then we are one step closer to finding an effective treatment for binge eating.”

Of course, all of this science is going to take time. Even if they find a treatment for binge eating, it’s going to be years from now.

Just enough time for current binge eaters to stop BS-ing themselves and look for ways to help control their own binge eating tendencies….even if their genetics are fighting against them.

Reference

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Junk Food and the Free Market

I wrote an article today for the Medium.com site. Here’s a little taste to whet your whistle. Click through if you want to read the whole enchilada.

An article in today’s Daily Beast (How Washington Dooms Millions of Americans to Premature Death by Nicholas Freudenberggot my brain spinning about food, obesity, junk food, diabetes, the free market, corporate responsibility, politics, personal responsibility and how all this ‘stuff’ has come together to create an epidemic of lifestyle disease.

In his article, NF brings up a number of interesting facts:

  1. Chronic diseases cause 7 out of every 10 deaths in the United States
  2. 49% of Americans have one or more chronic diseases.
  3. In the United States, tobacco, alcohol and diet cause more than 1.2 million annual premature deaths from heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and other conditions.
  4. Chronic diseases account for $3 of every $4 spent on healthcare—about $1.5 trillion annually in the US of A.

So, how is it, that with all of this available data, the US spends less than 10% of total healthcare funding on health promotion / disease prevention?

  • Is it because public health campaigns don’t work?

Nope….while cases of diabetes have increased 176% in the last 30 years, it is estimated that 8 million ‘premature deaths’ have been prevented thanks to anti-smoking PSAs combined with increased taxes on tobacco products.

Public health campaigns can work…if they are well designed, well funded and receive government support.

So why isn’t that happening?

To find out the answer to that cliffhanger of a question, click through to the full article on Medium.com

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Use Your Mindset to Lose Weight, Get Fit and Be Healthy

Why do some people seem to lose weight easily while others fail year after year?

  • Is it genetics? Money? Willpower?

While it’s true these may play a small part, there’s something else that has a much larger role.

  • It’s mindset.

And yours may be holding you back.

In this article, we’ll explore the science behind your mindset and underlying philosophy, and show you some proven ways to take action to improve it–so you can finally use your mindset to lose weight, get fit and be healthy.

What Is “Mindset”?

  • Mindsets are beliefs about yourself and your most basic qualities.

Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, who wrote a book called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, says there are two different types of mindsets: fixed and growth-oriented.

People with a fixed mindset think talent alone creates success. When faced with a challenge, they tend to take the easy way out to avoid failure and embarrassment. This is a psychological principle known as self-handicapping.

People with a growth mindset believe they can improve their abilities and create successes by working hard, practicing, and learning. They take on challenges even at the risk of failing. They embrace failure because they know they’ll learn valuable lessons from it.

mindset health healthhabits

How Mindset Affects Your Health

Research shows your mindset can profoundly impact your life—especially your health. Here are several studies that prove it.

In a study published in the journal Psychological Science, hotel cleaning crews were told that the work they do (cleaning hotel rooms) is good exercise and satisfies the Surgeon General’s recommendations for an active lifestyle. Subjects in the control group were not given this information. Four weeks later, the first group perceived themselves to be getting significantly more exercise than before. As a result, compared with the control group, they showed a decrease in weight, blood pressure, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio, and body mass index. Mindset alone caused physiological changes in their body.

In another study published in the journal Health Psychology, participants were divided into two groups. Each group received a 380-calorie milkshake but one group was told they were drinking a 620-calorie “indulgent” shake and the other was told they were drinking a 140-calorie “sensible” shake.

The researchers then measured participants’ levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates your brain to increase appetite.

Those who thought they drank the 620-calorie shake experienced a dramatically steeper decline in ghrelin after consuming the shake. The study authors concluded that “Participants’ satiety was consistent with what they believed they were consuming rather than the actual nutritional value of what they consumed.”

In other words, your mindset about a particular food can affect your hunger and levels of fullness. If your mind tells your body you’re drinking a “skinny” shake, you won’t feel as full. You CAN use your mindset to lose weight, get fit and be healthy.

Finally, in a study published in the journal Clinical Psychology Review that looked at the science of optimism, researchers found that an optimistic mindset can lead to better health outcomes too—optimistic people tend to be healthier on average.

How to Change Your Philosophy and Mindset

So the science clearly tells us that your mindset can have a dramatic impact on your health. The question is, how do you change a mindset that may be holding you back?

This is what Dweck suggests in her book:

Step 1. Recognize fixed mindset thinking.

Even if you have a growth mindset, that pesky little fixed mindset voice will sneak its way in once in a while. You know … the one that produces these types of thoughts:

  • “I have bad genes, there’s no way I can lose that much weight.”
  • “What if I fail?”
  • “I don’t want to embarrass myself.”
  • “I don’t have the willpower to stick with a healthy diet.”
  • “I’m just not as smart/lucky/talented.”

When this happens, simply recognize and accept it. Then do this …

Step 2. Reframe negative, fixed mindset thinking with a growth mindset voice.

Once you recognize a fixed mindset thought, you have a choice: believe those negative thoughts … or reframe them. For example:

  • No excuses this time … I’m getting started.”
  • If I fail, it’s okay. Great accomplishments don’t happen without risk.”
  • Forget diets. I’ll take it slow and making eating healthy a lifestyle.
  • If I don’t know how to do something, I’ll learn.

Step 3. Take action.

Once you reframe a fixed mindset thought, the next step is to take action.

Here are some strategies that will help you:

1. Write it down. One of the most effective ways to improve your philosophy and mindset is to keep a journal or planner. Use it to capture your thoughts, plan your day, and track your goals. For example, here’s what I do:

  • At the start of every day I write a positive quote at the top of my daily planner (today’s quote is “Life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it”).
  • Next, I write down everything I plan to do over the course of the day to accomplish my goals (for example, “Write new blog post, network with 3 people, lift weights for 45 minutes, find recipe for healthy dinner”).
  • Then, I evaluate what I accomplished at the end of each day.

Writing things down feels good, and it’s proven to help you cultivate positive mental and physical changes in your body. In one study, participants wrote for 20 minutes each day for three consecutive days about either a positive life experience or a control topic.

Three months later, the students who wrote about positive experiences had improved physical health and higher levels of focus—just from writing about it. That’s powerful stuff. If you want to change your mindset, write.

2. Embrace learning. We all consume massive amounts of information every day. You have a choice whether that information helps you or holds you back. Checking your Facebook page 10 times a day may be mindless fun, but what if you spent that time reading books that helped you cultivate a growth mindset?

I recommend Mind Is The Master by James Allen, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, and Make Today Count by John Maxwell. Even if you don’t like to read, buy audio books and listen to them while you drive. Imagine the impact those books and others you’re interested in can have on your mindset over time.

3. Take calculated risks. Whether you want to start your own business or get in the best shape of your life, ask yourself this question: will you be better off by never starting or by taking a chance and risking failing?

It’s an easy answer. Embrace failure. Because it will give you the most valuable feedback in the world. The foundation of the growth mindset is the ability to learn from your failures and become a person who continuously improves.

On Carol Dweck’s website, she says, “Although people may differ in every which way—in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments – everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”

In other words, your mindset is like a muscle: the more you use it to both learn and focus on positive thoughts, the stronger it becomes.

Dream big but start small. Focus on your mindset first and you will open doors to anything and everything you want to accomplish in life….perhaps starting with losing weight, getting fit and being healthy.

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5 Ways to Wreck Your Workout

Every January, millions of hopeful people flock to health clubs in a desperate attempt to get fit/healthy/sexy/etc….

And as a personal trainer, fitness research geek and multi-decade gym junkie, I feel that it is my duty to shine a light on some of the ways newbies are wrecking their workouts.

#1 –   Doing Cardio Training before Resistance Training

Most people that join a gym have similar goals…losing body-fat, getting healthier, getting fitter, feeling better, etc.

If that sounds like you, you need to stop doing your cardio training before your resistance training. Doing cardio before resistance training will…

  • slow down your body-fat reduction,
  • slow down or prevent any strength gains,
  • prevent improvements in energy system performance,
  • do nothing to maximize your cardio-vascular function,
  • and wreck your workout.

Here’s how you should organize your workouts:

  1. Short (5-10 min) joint mobility warm-up
  2. Resistance training
  3. HIIT and/or Cardio-vascular training
  4. Joint mobility & flexibility training

Joint Mobility Warm-Up 

Starting your workout with short joint mobility warm-up is a good idea for a few reasons.

  • It physically warms up your muscles, making them more flexible and less prone to injury
  • It causes your joints to be lubricated with synovial fluid, helping them move smoother, preventing injury.
  • It transitions your mind-body from your real-world problems into a “it’s time to workout” mode. This may seem inconsequential, but trust me…it isn’t.

Sample Joint Mobility Protocol

Joint Circles – Starting with the ankles and moving all the way up to your neck, gently make circles with all of your joints – 10 revolutions each joint in each direction

Dead Bug – Push your lower back into the floor and articulate your arms & legs as in the video. 1 set of as many reps as possible with your lower back pushed into the floor. When your back starts to arch…STOP. This warms up your core muscles and establishes a quick mind-body connection to some very, very important muscles.

1 Arm Swing Snatch – 25 reps per arm  – Dumbbell or kettlebell – choose a light weight – the goal is to warm-up. After the swings, just about every muscle in your body should be nice and pliable and ready for the rest of your workout.

Resistance Training

The type of resistance training you perform depends on your goals. Strength, size, endurance, looking good naked, etc.

The main reason you should perform resistance training before cardio is that resistance training requires a higher level of intensity than cardio training and as you fatigue, your ability to perform at a high level of intensity is the first thing to go.

And if you perform your resistance training in a fatigued state, you are going to wreck your workout, miss out on the weight-loss benefits, miss out on strength-building benefits, and lose out on the energy-system boosting benefits, etc.

HIIT and/or Cardio Training

Whether you perform HIIT or longer duration/lower intensity cardio training or some combination of the two depends on your training goals.

Joint Mobility & Flexibility Training

You have lots of options here…

If you want to learn more about mobility training, I suggest you check out the work of Kelly Starrett and/or Jill Miller. Smart people who make complex stuff simple.

#2 –   Drinking Gatorade while doing Cardio

Unless you are putting in 60 minutes+ of hard, sweaty cardio training, you don’t need the sugar calories found in Gatorade and other sports drinks. You do need water…but you don’t need Gatorade.

In fact, drinking sugary sports drinks minimizes one of the great benefits of of exercise…improved insulin sensitivity.

What is insulin sensitivity…and why should you care about it?

Insulin sensitivity describes how sensitive the body is to the effects of insulin. Someone said to be insulin sensitive will require smaller amounts of insulin to lower blood glucose levels than someone who has low sensitivity.

In short, being sensitive to insulin is good….being insensitive is bad and is a sign that you are on your way to developing type 2 diabetes.

Exercise, Insulin Sensitivity & Gatorade

Lots of research shows us that cardio exercise makes your body more sensitive to insulin. What happens during exercise is that your body pulls stored sugars out of your muscles & liver to fuel your activity. And for most gym-goers, you have more than enough sugar stored in your body to get you through your workout. (that’s why you don’t NEED Gatorade…unless you are a serious cardio athlete)

Post workout, your sugar-depleted muscles are going to be screaming for sugar. And when you chug down a post-workout protein smoothies or make yourself a meal at home, your muscles & liver are going to take priority over most other body processes.

And this is good…because it means that your muscles are going to get all the nutrients they need to recover faster from your workouts.

Takeaway Message – Unless you are a serious cardio athlete, don’t drink a sugary sports drink during your workout. You will perform just as well, recover faster, while getting leaner, stronger, fitter…faster.

#3 –   Training Chest & Biceps 3x per Week

This message is for all the young guys who think that getting a buff chest and jacked biceps is going to make all the girls swoon.

It won’t. You’re just going to wreck our workout, plus…

  • All the other guys think you’re a poseur, and
  • Your arms & chest would grow faster if you started training smarter.

What does training smarter mean?

  • Train your entire body…not just your beach muscles
  • Get stronger through your core & legs…and you will be able to handle heavier weights over your entire body.
  • Remember that training your back also trains your biceps at the same time

#4 –   Believing that Lifting Weights Will Make a Woman Look Like a Man

You would not believe how many women believe that if they start lifting weights, their body with morph, grow and swell into this…

…when in reality, after years of lifting weights, eating tons of protein & nutritional supplements, favourable genetics and a lot of sweat & hard work, fitness model Jamie Eason looks like this…

…not exactly very manly.

The truth is that you are already lifting weights.

  • Every time you stand up from a chair…you are lifting weights.
  • Every time you go for a walk…you are lifting weights
  • Every time you pick up your kid…you are lifting weights

And you don’t look like a man.

As the old adage says, the poison is in the dosage. If you choose to lift weights like a bodybuilder, eat huge like a bodybuilder and inject steroids, growth hormone & insulin like a bodybuilder, you might end up looking like a bodybuilder.

But…if you lift weights in an intelligent manner, eat in an intelligent manner and take a few crucial supplements, you will probably end up looking fitter, healthier, stronger and sexier than ever before.

#5 –   Expecting Immediate Results

Diet experts around the globe will tell you that to lose body-fat, you need to eat less calories than you consume. Referencing two of the laws of thermodynamics, they say that if you eat 500 fewer calories than your body requires to function, your body will free up 500 calories of stored body-fat to make up the difference.

And if you do that every day for a week, you will lose one pound of body-fat by the end of the week.

Unfortunately, as logical and scienc-y as that sounds, it doesn’t work in the “real world”.

The human body is a beautifully messy piece of work.  Two identical twins with identical bodies can follow the exact same diet & exercise program and get totally different results.

And while that seems totally unfair for the twin who isn’t seeing results, that’s real life. Transforming your body is going to require a process of trial and effort.

  • Find a nutrition/training program that has a good track record and seems to fit nicely into your lifestyle.
  • Give it your best for a month.
  • Evaluate how it worked for you.
  • Give it another month or try a new plan
  • Evaluate how it worked for you

Repeat over and over and soon enough you will become an expert on what works for your body.

Health_Habits_AvatarR1 - my face

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Your Unconscious Mind is Making You Fat

There I am.

  • Sitting on the couch watching NHL playoff hockey at the end of a long day.
  • The wife offers me some of her potato chips.
  • I decline

I’m a personal trainer dammit, and personal trainers don’t eat potato chips.

Fast forward 20 minutes…..

I am now sprawled out on the couch…..totally immersed in the game…..screaming at the referees for blowing another call….and absent mindedly reaching over and grabbing a handful of potato chips out of the bag…and then another…and then another

your unconscious mind is making you fat

WTF!!! What just happened?

I don’t eat potato chips….seriously. So what happened? Where did my will power go?

I’ll tell you what happened.

  • When my wife first offered the chips, my conscious mind did a quick pro/con calculation and decided to take a pass on the salty/greasy delight.
  • Soon after, my conscious mind became fixated on the hockey game.
  • Soon after that, my unconscious mind snuck behind the back of my conscious mind, and by using a mixture of sensory inputs, old memories, emotions, brain chemicals and hormones, managed to hijack my body and convince it that eating those chips was suddenly a great idea.

Damn you unconscious mind!!!.

  • This is a big reason why diets fail.
  • Your bad habits live in your unconscious mind.
  • Your bad habits have built up powerful connections within your mind and body.

And if you let your unconscious mind run the show, you WILL return time and again to your old habits…your over-eating, under-exercising, making you fat kind of bad habits…

Next PageThe Unconscious Mind…and why it loves making you fat…

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The Truth About Feminine Fitness

A long, long time ago, women’s workouts meant aggressive arm circles, bouncy stretching, and hundreds of step-touches. We got crazy flexibility, ceaseless endurance, and if our diet lined up properly, a lithe, slender body (just like Jane Fonda).

Fast-forward to today’s savvy women and we’ve graduated to wanting a lean, strong body. “Fit” and “skinny” aren’t synonymous anymore – we want a healthy, bullet-proof physique (and gorgeous muscle definition wouldn’t hurt)….aka the NEW feminine fitness.

If you’re still caught in the cardio-only rut or listening to celebrity trainers who admonish us to “never lift heavy weights” lest it make us “bulky,” read on to see what women’s workouts should look like today.

jane fonda workout

The New Paradigm

The updated heavy hitter in fat loss, health, and fitness is, without a doubt, strength training. I’m not talking about bodybuilding here, and you don’t have to be an athlete to strength train. You most certainly don’t have to be a guy to strength train, either!

Experts and scientists now agree that while the right nutrition and cardio-respiratory training are important to health and fat loss, strength training is the third most critical component.

In case you’re wondering, you definitely won’t become the She-Hulk of your neighborhood if you lift weights heavier than three pounds (or 100!). Women have much less testosterone than men and we have to work hard to build even a small amount of muscle. Even then, we can never build muscles as big as guys unless we’re juiced up on steroids – not likely in your case, I’m betting.

This may surprise you, but strength training helps me express my femininity. Being strong and fit is an important way I define myself. And it’s not an exaggeration to say that strength training has increased my self-confidence in ways I can’t even begin to explain.

Take a look at how strength training is a smart strategy for your body and mind.

Burn Mega Calories

If you’ve ever done a strength-training circuit, you know it can get your heart pumping. Squats, lunges, chest presses, bent-over rows, and shoulder presses back to back without rest is a major calorie burner!

Not only that, but strength training burns calories when you’re not exercising, too. This “afterburn” effect results when your muscles are busy repairing themselves after a good, heavy lifting session.

Since muscle is metabolically active tissue that burns fat even when you’re at rest, strength training increases your metabolism. This means the more muscle, the more fat burning!

Rock Functional Strength

You don’t have to be a bench-pressing beast to benefit from increased strength. Even lifting moderate weights can make you feel stronger and fitter for everyday activities like carrying your kids, pushing the lawnmower, or changing a tire.

Stay Youthful

We can stay strong and active into old age by integrating resistance training into our routine. One study at McMaster University showed that strength training actually reversed the effects of aging by changing tissue at the cellular level in healthy senior citizens [1].

It’s important to understand that unless we counteract it, losing muscle mass is an inevitable part of aging. Feminine fitness weight training helps us stay strong and mobile instead of becoming injured and inactive (which almost always leads to weight gain, too).

Since women are especially susceptible to bone loss, resistance training is also a must for stimulating growth in our bone density as we age.

Look Hot

Of course, when you’ve been strength training awhile, along with eating nutritious foods and managing your caloric intake, you’ll see muscle definition pop on your arms, abs, and legs. Feeling good about your body might be your top motivator, and that’s perfectly fine, too.

I used to have the flattest behind around – affectionately (or not) known as a “mom butt.” But doing heavy squats, lunges, kettle bell swings, and hip thrusts completely transformed my backside into one I am truly proud of (shake it!).

The benefits of feminine fitness strength training don’t stop there – try increased energy, better sleep, improved posture, and yes – even greater flexibility.

Let’s Go!

Getting started with strength training is easier than you might think. If you’re a beginner, I recommend checking out the articles here at Health Habits, my beginner’s guide, and “The New Rules of Lifting for Women,” by Lou Schuler.

Simply keep three things in mind and you can’t go wrong:

  1. Your top priority will always be impeccable form.
  2. You will keep progressing as long as you continue to add weight.
  3. Allowing your muscles to recover is just as important as your workouts.

Enjoy the benefits of feminine fitness strength training, and I’ll see you in the weight room.

About the Author

Suzanne Digre is a NASM-certified personal trainer who coaches clients online and in-person. With over 15 years of lifting experience, Suzanne writes at workoutnirvana.com, where she shares her passion for strength training and clean eating.

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9 out of 10 Dentists Recommend the Paleo Diet

I am a huge fan of the Paleo Diet style of eating. It’s focus on fruits, vegetables and animal protein is in my opinion, the absolute best way for human beings to eat.

And based upon the explosion of Paleo cookbooks and websites over the past few years, I am not alone in that belief.

Luckily for us Paleo dieters, that explosion in popularity has led to a lot of amazing chefs turning their skills toward creating Paleo-friendly meals that would put a smile on the face of the snobbiest of food snobs.

Unfortunately….a lot of those recipes, while tasting amazing, are modifying the “original” Paleo guidelines to a point where some of the health benefits are being lost.

paleo brownies
Paleo Brownies

And it’s not just my opinion. It’s SCIENCE.

A new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows us that a diet of starchy “100% Paleo” foods led to high rates of tooth decay in a group of our ancient hunter-gatherer ancestors.

Up until now, all of the archaeological/anthropological research indicated that it was the advent of farming that led to human dental disease. And it’s this transition from hunter-gatherer to farming that is central to the entire Paleo diet.

This new research “shows widespread tooth decay occurred in a hunter-gathering society in Morocco several thousand years before the dawn of agriculture.” And while these findings don’t cast doubt on the Paleo “farming causes problems” theory, it does show us that not all Paleo-approved foods are perfectly healthy.

The Science

During an archaeological dig in Taforalt, Morocco, researchers “analysed 52 sets of adult teeth from hunter-gatherer skeletons dated to be between 15,000 and 13,700 years of age.” Based on the archaeological findings, we know that:

  1. These early humans had not adapted to an agricultural lifestyle. They were hunter-gatherers…the original Paleo dieters.
  2. Their diet consisted of “the systematic harvesting and processing of wild foods, including sweet acorns, pine nuts and land snails.”
  3. This reliance on fermentable carbohydrates “is a key factor in the initiation and progression of dental disease.”

How bad were their teeth?

We’re not talking Austin Powers bad, but the researchers found evidence of decay in more than half of the surviving teeth with only three skeletons showing no sign of cavities.

Professor Nick Barton of the Institute of Archaeology at the University of Oxford, and a co-director of the excavations at Taforalt, said: ‘This study reveals for the first time that at both ends of the Mediterranean, hunter-gatherers had started to eat a variety of different foods and were becoming more settled long before the advent of farming.

Dr Isabelle de Groote from the Natural History Museum said: ‘These people’s mouths were often affected by both cavities in the teeth and abscesses, and they would have suffered from frequent toothache.”

What’s wrong with sweet acorns, pine nuts and land snails?

If we’re talking about macronutrients, micronutrients, enzymes, phytochemicals, etc…. absolutely nothing. These are three very healthy, Paleo-friendly foods.

However, as lead researcher Dr Louise Humphrey said: “A reliance on edible acorns as a staple food could account for the high prevalence of cavities in the teeth found at Taforalt since eating fermentable carbohydrates is a key factor in the initiation and progression of this disease.

The acorns may have been boiled or ground to make flour; and cooking the acorns would have added to their stickiness. To make things even worse, abrasive particles from grindstones contributed to rapid tooth wear so that cavities started to form on the roots of the teeth.”

And since our Moroccan ancestors didn’t have access to a tooth brush or fluoride toothpaste, they started getting cavities, abscesses, toothaches and oral infections.

All because they learned how to make acorn flour crepes stuffed with sauteed pine nuts and escargot. mmmmmmmmm good

What does this mean to Paleo Dieters?

  • It means that ALL starchy, sticky foods can lead to disease…even if they are made with Paleo ingredients.
  • It means that eating Paleo isn’t just about ingredients. How you cook / process those ingredients is important…if you are eating Paleo to improve your health
  • It means that Paleo brownies, breads and muffins shouldn’t make up a regular part of your Paleo diet…especially if you aren’t diligent about the brushing and flossing.

What should you take away from this article?

  • The Paleo Diet is still the best thing you can do for your health & waistline (IMHO)
  • After eating starchy/sticky foods (Paleo or not), you need to floss & brush
  • Boiling, steaming, poaching, broiling, microwaving,  stir-frying and no-cooking are your healthiest cooking (and non-cooking) methods
  • Even if you eat sticky Paleo baked goods, 9 out of 10 dentists recommend the Paleo Diet…and we can bring that number up to 10 out of 10 if you cut back on the Paleo brownies and eat an apple instead.

Reference

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Look Younger, Be Healthier, Be Happier, Live Longer…with Blue Zone’s Dan Buettner

Today’s post is a bit of a departure for Health Habits.

Instead of me rambling on about how you can look younger, be healthier, be happier, live longer, I am going to post a Twitter Chat that I just had with one of my own personal health & fitness experts –  Dan Buettner, founder, author and CEO of Blue Zones

For those of you unfamiliar with Dan and/or his work promoting lifestyle habits associated with Blue Zones around the world, Blue Zone is a concept to identify a demographic and/or geographic area of the world where people live measurably longer lives.

The concept grew out of demographic work done by Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain, who identified Sardinia’s Nuoro province as the region with the highest concentration of male centenarians. As the two men zeroed in on the cluster of villages with the highest longevity, they drew concentric blue circles on the map and began referring to the area inside the circle as the Blue Zone.

Note – In an effort to introduce you to some of the people that I am influenced by, I will be posting more of these Look Younger, Be Healthier, Be Happier, Live Longer articles in the future. Some will follow the Twitter Chat format, others will be more of a traditional Q & A.

If you want me to interview someone in particular, feel free to leave a comment.

Okay…here’s my chat with Blue Zone’s Dan Buettner.

Want to be healthy? Be friends with active people

Playing , socializing and fitness are intertwined in my life.

I love people and I love moving, and it makes me happy when I can combine the two.

What makes it even better is that if you have friends that are active, chances are you’ll be more active, and if you want to get healthy, that’s a beautiful thing.

Being active with friends is a great way to passively maintain your commitment to moving. Any number of friends of mine will call on a Sunday morning and tell me a few people are going out for a game of shinny in an hour. I’m so in. There’s nothing better than a bunch of grown ups skating around getting sweaty.

Two weeks ago my cousin texted me and said she was going cross country skiing and asked if I wanted to join her. It was a last minute impromptu excursion. I quickly packed up my skis and met her at the trail. We laughed as we fell down constantly (it’s early in the season, we’re finding our ski legs!) and we raced against each other on the straight aways. At the end of the trail we both collapsed, laughing, sweating and catching our breath.

This fall, my French Boyfriend built me my own custom mountain bike (swoon!) and we spent a lot of time trail riding around rural Manitoba. Cycling is totally his sport and he’s coaching and motivating me to improve. I was determined to improve my time every week. We’re playfully competitive with each other, it’s fun and a great way for us to connect.

This is how I enjoy spending my leisure time. It’s not an effort to set these activities and routines up, they just happen organically when you surround yourself with the right people.

Start the trend with your own friends and family. Arrange a skate on the river or a tobaggan trip to Assiniboine Park. You might be initially met with some groaning but after the fact, I guarantee that everybody will say, “that was fun, why didn’t we do that sooner?”

And who knows, next Sunday they might call you to go and play some hockey. It has to start somewhere.

So…..who wants to go skating this weekend?

About the Author:

In addition to being a Twitter friend of mine, Lindsay Hamel is a awesome personal trainer from Winnipeg, Canada.

If you want to train with her or just talk about fitness stuff, you can reach her here on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or at her website.