May 30 2016

Diets do work


You may be under the impression that diets don’t work, but they do work. Just about all of them.

If you want to lose weight, and don’t care about the effect on your health or anything else, then any diet will do. Pick one there are so many to choose from.

The Cookie Diet… really. Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Breatharian Diet – that’s right, all you do is breath. The KE diet, where you can only ingest food through a feeding tube. Dukan, Beverly Hills Diet, Israeli Army Diet, Junk Food Diet – you know the one where you only eat sandwiches from Subway – Juice Fasting, Master Cleanse, Blood Type Diet, Paleo, Warrior, Zone… I could go on.

If you want to lose weight, and don’t care about the effects on your health or fitness, it doesn’t matter how you do it. Proven, once again, with a new study by the Obesity Society. They found that people eating prepackaged portion-controlled meals lost more weight than people making their own choices.

We aren’t very good at making choices, too often we choose more rather then less.

The real problem with diets is that they are temporary, not that they don’t work. They weren’t made to last. The diet industry knows this. World wide, the weight loss business is worth US $586 billion dollar.

But, there is also some good news. Less people are on a diet. In the last 20 years, less women report being on a diet and Weight Watchers (the market leader in weight loss) has had declining sales for the last two years. Sales of low calorie foods have dropped. According to Weight Watchers CEO Jim Chambers, consumers want a “holistic approach” they want to eat healthier and exercise more. 

Yes, people do want to eat healthier and you don’t need a diet to do that.

Change your mind, change your health,


Apr 4 2016

How to lose weight.


How many times have you failed? I can’t count the number of times I have failed. If I started thinking about it too much I would go back to bed and maybe get up sometime next week. I believe that one of the reasons we don’t succeed is there is too much noise. Too much information, too many distractions, too much room for not giving it your best shot, for not making a decision, for overwhelm.


Let’s take weight loss as an example.

Most people fail at weight loss, not because they can’t lose weight, but because they are fed the belief that it is a quick fix, that it is next to impossible, that it is a secret. But, it is not. It is a matter of changing our habits and that is difficult. Change often takes more than one try, or many changes, tried a number of times, until you figure out what works best for you.

Maybe you have heard some of this before? Eat 6 small meals, eat only 3 meals, don’t eat after 8:00 PM, always eat breakfast, always eat before you are hungry, only eat when you are hungry, count calories, watch your portion sizes, eat slowly, be mindful.  

What works? All of them.

It doesn’t matter which one you chose as long as you chose one and do it. But, that is the problem. With all this noise it is easy to get distracted into thinking we are “doing” it when really we are not. We are surfing the edges, but not committing. Only eat well and watch your portions on weekdays and you eat whatever all weekend long? Decide to track your eating patterns, but never actually write anything down?  Because, you know, “I’ll remember it”. Never really prepare and end up eating convenience foods more times than not? Decide to lose weight, but never change your eating patterns, or what you buy or how you cook? The result is the same.

Nothing has changed, so you don’t either.


Why? Because a series of decisions you make through the day drains your willpower and we are inundated with messages to eat. Eat cheap, fast, convenient foods. Messages to eat more food, not less. And it’s working. And it isn’t just you, but you can change it.

On April 1st, and this is not an April fools joke, the number of obese people outnumbered the underweight for the first time in history.

20% of the the world’s obese population, 118 million people, live in 6 countries. English speaking, high income, countries. Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, UK and USA. People that live in these countries get the most messages about eating, eating all the time, anywhere, everywhere. 

The research, published in The Lancet, suggests that ‘new policies that can slow down and stop the worldwide increase in body weight must be implemented quickly and rigorously evaluated’. 

Maybe. But, I wouldn’t wait for that to happen because food is a business. Businesses are in it to make money, encouraging people to eat less means making less money. So you can see where the problem lies in the policy option. 

What can you do?

You can lose and maintain your weight. This is something I know for certain. Let me give you some examples. In the last year these are some of the people I have helped lose weight. People just like you. People with busy lives, jobs, kids, commitments.

The common factor is their desire for change. And that is the critical component. If you are comfortable with the way things are then changing is not worth it. If you are not comfortable then you will change.

Karen, is a mother of two and her husband works out of town. She was tired of being too big to play with her kids, with being unable to move comfortably. She purchased some exercise equipment, since she can’t afford regular childcare, turned her garage into a gym,  she exercises when her kids go to bed. She walks with them. She arranges for the neighbour to watch them on Saturdays so she can go to an exercise class. All of these options seemed impossible when we started, but slowly she started trying a few of them and now she exercises for mental and physical health. She decided to reduce processed foods. Eliminated most of the junk from her kitchen,  only eats one square of chocolate a day instead the whole bar.  She lost 30 pounds between September & December and hasn’t gained any weight back. 

Steve, mid 50s, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and high blood pressure, on 5 different medications. Wants to live past his retirement. Now weighs the same as when he was 25 years old. Off all his medication. Decided to go to spinning classes. Now he has a road bike and goes to the gym 4 times a week. Decided to not eat anything out of a package at work. Committed to drinking more water. Only eats dinner, no snacking before or after. Had to buy new belts because he could step in and out of his old ones.

Dave, was admitted to hospital because of his weight. Decided he wanted to live instead. Makes all his own meals now instead of eating out. Exercises 4 days a week and walks for all his errands. Monitors his food intake. Has lost 75 pounds and still working on a little more.

Mike, his wife was expecting their first child, he decided he wanted to watch his child grow up. Started only grocery shopping with a list, read all the labels, pre-made his lunches, used his lunch hour for a workout and ate his lunch as snacks throughout the day. Started walking after work. When his wife delivered their son he had lost 30 pounds and even with the new arrival has lost another 10 since. 

Ricki, mother of 4, full time job, husband works full time. Was tired of not being comfortable in her clothes, feeling out of breath all the time, couldn’t get up a flight of stairs without stopping. Started by substituting water for pop and reading food labels. Wanted to start to run, went out with her kids on their bikes while she started a walk/run program. Thought her family wouldn’t make any changes when she began. Her kids don’t drink pop anymore, they read all the labels when they go grocery shopping and tell her “Mom, we shouldn’t be eating this.” She lost 40 pounds, got a new job. Ran her first 5 km and is signed up for a 10 km. She says that the best change has been her kids.  That they have changed what they eat because they wanted to help her. She thinks she has given them the gift she never had when she was young.

You don’t need a policy to change your health. If you live in one of those 6 countries, most likely you are educated and have a regular income. You may need help. You may need guidance or support. You can get those things, but the one thing you can’t get from someone else. The one thing that matters more than any other? The desire to change. That comes from you. 

Young active woman doing yoga on mountaintop, facing away from camera.

I can tell you it can be challenging, it can take time and you will fail, more than once. But you can do it. I see it everyday. It’s the reason I keep trying, every time I fail. I think of all the people I know that have been successful in their personal journey. All the obstacles they have overcome, and it reminds me that I can do this, and so can you.

Change your mind, change your health,




Mar 30 2016

The way to age faster.


Feeling old? A little worn out? Maybe you should try exercise. It can prevent aging. Really. Recent research at the Mayo Clinic has proven that an unhealthy diet and no exercise speeds up the aging process.


Eating poorly and not exercising increases cellular senescence and age related conditions in mice. Senescent cells are ones that contribute to disease and the aging process. Mayo Clinic researchers found that exercise prevents senescent cells from accumulating and even has a protective effect against an unhealthy diet. The researcher shows that aging at a cellular level can be accelerated, or prevented, depending on your actions. Proving that aging isn’t just something that happens to you, but can be influenced with regular exercise and a healthy diet.

Exercise is so important in slowing down the accumulation of senescent cells that even when mice were being fed a typical processed food diet of high saturated fat, cholesterol and sugary drinks were better off when they were able to exercise.

Heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases associated with aging can be modified with regular exercise. Regular physical activity, and it doesn’t have to be extreme, along with a healthy diet can reduce the effects of aging and keep you feeling young for a long time.12472637_10153535072053581_8775281482592496630_n

Get active to stay young.

Change your mind, change your health,



Mar 23 2016

Are you one of the 3%?


Less than 3% of American adults practice the 4 healthy lifestyle behaviours that protect from disease. 

The four habits are moderate exercise, proper nutrition, a recommended body fat percentage and not smoking. These four basic habits are critical to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, many types of cancer and diabetes.

The economic cost of not practicing these 4 habits?


Ellen Smit, author and associate professor at Oregon State University says,

“The behavior standards we were measuring for were pretty reasonable, not super high.This is pretty low, to have so few people maintaining what we would consider a healthy lifestyle. This is sort of mind boggling. There’s clearly a lot of room for improvement.”

If you are on of the 3% congratulations! That is the kind of wealth that money can’t buy. If you are not, pick one habit you would like to change.  Only one, start small, it takes time to make a new habit. You may not see the benefit immediately, but every healthy choice adds up.

Change your mind, change your health,




Mar 21 2016

Not fit for consumption


Almost 60% of the North American diet consists of ultra processed foods. Foods that contribute 90% of all added sugars to the average diet.

Ultra processed foods consist primarily of salt, fat, sugar, flavourings, emulsifiers and additives. These foods have almost no real food ingredients. They may be derived from whole foods, but are primarily cheap ingredients processed from foods; high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, cosmetic ingredients are the most common. 

These foods are calorie dense and nutrient poor. Foods that contribute to chronic, preventable diseases. 

Food processing is classified in three ways:

Minimal processing, which does not significantly change the nutritional profile of foods, such as drying, parboiling or pasteurizing, like unsweetened dried fruit, nuts, or frozen vegetables

Semi processed, means that the whole food has been altered by extracting substances, adding enzymes, or refining them, such as turning whole grain rice into white rice, or making corn syrup from corn.

Ultra Processed, which combines several semi-processed ingredients. The five most commonly eaten foods in the United States are all ultra-processed: sugary soft drinks, cakes and pastries, burgers, pizza, and chips.

The main reason that foods are ultra processed is to create foods that have a long shelf life. These foods are high in calories, easy to eat and heavily marketed. And we are buying it.


Almost 80% of foods purchased in 2012 were highly processed, ready to eat or ready to heat, foods. Replacing one highly processed food with whole foods could save a lot of calories, reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease while improving your nutrient intake with one meal.

Change your mind, change your health,



Jan 18 2016

Can’t sleep? Maybe it’s your diet.


Can’t sleep? Maybe it is your diet.

Eating foods high in saturated fats, sugar and low in fiber results in less restful and restorative sleep.


A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine shows that what you eat has an effect on the quality of your sleep. Researcher Marie-Pierre St-Onge, PhD, stated

“Our main finding was that diet quality influenced sleep quality. It was most surprising that a single day of greater fat intake and lower fiber could influence sleep parameters.”

Sleep is critical for health and in the prevention of chronic disease. When people ate foods with higher fiber content they fell asleep sooner and spent a longer time in deep sleep.


A downward spiral?

Other research has found that when people sleep less than 7 hours they spent more time eating and drinking. Researcher Gabriel S. Tajeu, DrPH states that

“The association between short sleep and obesity risk is well-established and short sleep is associated with more time spent in secondary eating and, in particular, secondary drinking. This potentially suggests a pathway from short sleep to increased caloric intake in the form of beverages and distracted eating and thus potential increased obesity risk.”

Restorative sleep is critical for good health and one way to improve the quality of your sleep it to eat high fiber, low fat, low sugar foods before going to bed, like Noodles with Tofu and Broccoli

Change your mind, change your health,


Dec 16 2015

Exercise won’t help you lose weight


I often hear people say they can’t lose weight because they don’t have time to exercise. Guess what? It doesn’t matter if you can exercise or not, weight loss is not about exercise. There are many fantastic reasons to exercise but, weight loss is not one of them.

Exercise doesn’t work very well if you want to lose weight. Think about it, 30 minutes on the treadmill you might burn 300 calories. How long does it take to eat 300 calories? Minutes? Less? One tall, non fat, Peppermint Hot Chocolate at Starbucks has 300 calories. One cinnamon raisin bagel, a small muffin or a peanut butter cookie at Tim Horton’s has 300 calories.

Exercise keeps you healthy and it is also critical for maintaining your weight. When researchers reviewed the results in the National Weight Control Registry, a data base of over 10,000 people who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off, 94% of successful losers exercise (mostly walking) at least an hour a day. Exercise also helps to prevent regaining weight, especially abdominal fat. Abdominal fat is its own health risk, contributing to metabolic disruptions and heart disease.

There are also other great reasons to exercise.

Exercise improves your brain health. Regular exercise changes your brain, increasing the size of your hippocampus, the part of your brain responsible for memory and learning. Exercise improves connectivity in your brain. Children that exercise regularly have improved concentration, vocabulary and sleep patterns.


Exercise reduces the risk of many diseases. A 20 minute walk daily reduces the risk of early death Exercise helps to regulate blood sugar, reduce blood pressure and alleviate stress. Exercise improves life expectancy by 4.5 years.

But, it is not a great weight loss strategy.

Want to lose weight? What you eat has more to do with your weight. Want to improve your health? Eat well and exercise. If you want to keep the weight off,  exercise. If you want to be as healthy as you can be, exercise, exercise, exercise and eat well.

Change your mind, change your health,



Dec 14 2015

The one thing you need to know about weight loss


There is one thing everyone neglects when they try to lose weight. Although you are probably not going to lose weight in the next few weeks, it is the season of eating and indulging. But, after that comes January, the season of repentance and regret. It also the season of resolutions and the number one New Year’s resolution is to lose weight.


To be successful you might want to focus on something besides diet and exercise. Only 8% of the millions of people that make weight loss their New Year resolution stick to their goals. Why? Because they don’t focus on this one critical component of weight loss. We focus on food, exercise and deprivation.

In a survey by Orlando Health, 31% said that the reason they weren’t successful was due to lack of exercise, 26% said it’s what they ate, 17% thought it was the cost of a healthy lifestyle and 12% thought their biggest challenge to successful weight loss was the time commitment. It is none of the above.


90% of people miss the critical factor in successful weight loss.

Our emotions.

Diane Robinson, PhD, a neuropsychologist and Program Director of Integrative Medicine at Orlando Health says,

“Most people focus almost entirely on the physical aspects of weight loss, like diet and exercise. But there is an emotional component to food that the vast majority of people simply overlook and it can quickly sabotage their efforts. In order to lose weight and keep it off long term, we need to do more than just think about what we eat, we also need to understand why we’re eating.”

We use food to comfort, celebrate and reward ourselves. The key to successful weight loss is to understand our emotional connection to food and then view it as nourishing.  

You can change your relationship with food by using these these three steps to identify an emotional connection to food and be a successful loser.

  1. Keep a food diary to track your intake and your emotions.
  2. Identify foods that make you feel good and why you want to eat it.
  3. Before you eat, ask yourself “Am I hungry?” If the answer is no, think about your reason for eating.

There is nothing wrong with celebrating and enjoying food, but don’t ignore the emotional connection when you want to change a habit.


Change your mind, change your health,


Nov 2 2015

Everything in moderation

3081ce9bfa35d187545604147063d091f792749d13115ba870333dbc398b8b0cThe food industry and dietitians often say, for a healthy diet “everything in moderation”. Maybe not. Last week when the World Health Organization issued a statement on the link between processed meats and cancer it seemed like everyone was saying it.

But, now there is proof that people who eat the smallest range of foods have the healthiest diets. Researcher Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H., dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston. The results suggest that in modern diets, eating ‘everything in moderation’ is actually worse than eating a smaller number of healthy foods.”

After studying more than 6,800 people, over 10 years, those with the most diverse diets had the biggest waist circumference. Waist circumference is an indicator of metabolic health. Those with the greatest diet diversity had 120% increase in their waist circumference over 10 years.

Higher diet quality, eating less types of foods but of higher quality, was associated with a reduced their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 25%.

spaghetti-asparagus-628x363Researchers were surprised by the findings that diet diversity means an increase in eating less healthy foods. This shouldn’t really be a surprise; if you will eat anything, there is always something to eat. In fact they found that those with the greatest diet diversity ate the most processed meats.

Change your mind, change your health,




Apr 13 2015

Never too late to change your health.

Diet can reduce your risk of cancer, even later in life

100 years ago the New York Times reported on a study of 4600 cancer cases, it found that eating less animal foods reduces the risk of cancer. The people in this study reduced their risk even when they changed their diet later in life. We know this works the other way too,  that people who move to North America and to the Standard American Diet (SAD) increase their cancer risk.  For example, Japanese people have a 50% lower risk of cancer than people in the USA until they move to North America.


The World Health Organization(WHO) reports that all high income countries have double the rate of cancer than low income countries. Stating that the most important risk factors for developing cancer are smoking, unhealthy diet, physical activity and alcohol consumption.


Recently Angelina Jolie had preventative surgery to reduce her risk of cancer, but for the rest of us, that don’t carry the same risk factors as Angelina, can we prevent cancer with less drastic measures? According to the World Cancer Research Fund proper diet, physical activity and weight loss could prevent 30% of all cancers.

But, what kind of diet works best? Dr Neal Barnard and colleagues show in “Applying the precautionary principle to nutrition and cancer”.


The cancer prevention diet is one that mostly avoids animal products. They show that regularly consuming animal products increases your risk of dying of cancer by four times, for men drinking two glasses of milk per day increases your risk of prostate cancer by 60%. Women that follow a plant based diet reduce their risk of cancer of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer by 34%. Add soy foods, such as tofu, to your diet and you can see comprehensive benefits. Soy foods improve the health of your blood vessels, lower LDL, the bad cholesterol, for men reduces the risk of prostate cancer and for women reduces the risk of breast cancer.

You can never reduce your risk completely, but you can minimize it with a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables,  being active and maintaining a healthy weight no matter when you start.

Change your mind, change your health,