Archive for January, 2014

The 7 Things I Did To Lose Weight Without Dieting

January 14, 2014

In 2001 Jon Gabriel weighed 409 lbs. He’d tried almost every popular diet available without success. Not only did he fail to lose weight—he was steadily gaining. Overweight, overworked and unhappy, Jon was ready to give up.

Then on September 11th 2001, Jon received a wake-up call. He was scheduled to fly from Newark to San Francisco that day, and it was only by chance that he was not on the United Airlines Flight 93 that was hijacked by terrorists and crashed in Pennsylvania with no survivors.

Jon realized that life was a precious opportunity not to be wasted. He realized that his weight would eventually kill him and decided to do something about it. Over the next two and a half years, Jon lost over 200 lbs without dieting, pills or surgery. He also stopped feeling stressed and overworked and started living the life of his dreams. His book The Gabriel Method is an international best seller, translated into 14 languages, with over 350,000 readers worldwide.

Here is Jon’s story…

Back in 2001 I weighed more than 400 pounds. I tried every diet I could think of to lose weight. I even worked face to face with the late Dr. Atkins for two months, and after charging me thousands of dollars, the best he could do was yell at me for being so fat.

Every diet I tried ended up the same way. There would be a whole list of foods I wasn’t allowed to eat. I’d follow the diet to the letter. I’d lose a little weight through sheer brute force and willpower. Then there would come an inevitable point when I couldn’t take it anymore and I’d have a huge binge. Whatever weight I had lost on the diet would come back in a matter of days, and a week later I’d be 5 pounds heavier than when I started the diet. This pattern of losing 10 pounds and gaining 15 pounds started in 1990, until by September 2001 I reached my peak of 409 pounds.

Then I had turning point. On September 11, I narrowly missed being on UAL flight 93. That experience left me feeling like I was living on borrowed time. Here I was, killing myself working in a high-stress Wall Street job that I hated, and the universe had just given me a second chance.

So I decided to get off of the dieting roller coaster once and for all, and I resolved never to diet again. Instead I was going to try to figure out why my body seemed to be forcing me to gain so much weight. I decided to find out what I could do to get it to want to be thin again. Armed with a solid background in biochemistry from the University of Pennsylvania, I spent 12 hours a day researching everything I could about the hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters and chemical massagers that cause weight gain.

I learned that losing weight sustainably isn’t about counting calories, but about creating the proper hormonal environment in your body that’s conducive to weight loss. Since stress and emotional issues can cause an unfavorable hormonal environment, the issue needs to be addressed from a mind-body perspective. We need to take a holistic approach that looks at our psychological and emotional life, as much as what and when we eat.

Over a two-and-half-year period I lost 220 pounds, without dieting. I’ve been the same weight now for over 10 years and I still don’t diet. I eat whatever I want, whenever I want.

These were the keys to my transformation:

1. I stopped dieting and started nourishing my body.

I learned through my research that my body was chronically starved for certain key nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, live foods and high-quality proteins. I made sure I gave myself as much really high-quality nutrients as possible. If I wanted junk foods like candy, chips or pizza, I would eat them whenever I wanted, without hesitation. Eventually I lost my taste for all junk food as my body learned to prefer high-quality, nutrient-dense foods.

2. I healed my digestion.

I discovered that one of the reasons why I was so badly starving for nutrients is that my digestive processes were compromised, so I was unable to effectively extract the nutrients from the foods I was eating. Digestion problems can also cause inflammation and the inflammatory hormones put our bodies into fat storage mode. I started eating lots of fermented and cultured foods, and taking probiotics and digestive enzymes in order to normalize my digestion.

3. I got a CPAP machine for my sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a condition that affects many overweight people. It creates a hormonal environment in the body that encourages weight gain by causing elevated cortisol levels, which leads to junk food cravings and insulin resistance. Sleep apnea is easily treated with a CPAP machine. The machine blows air into your nose and mouth to keep your windpipe open, so you can sleep through the night without problems.

Most people who have sleep apnea don’t even know that they have it, although the people they live with would know, because people with sleep apnea snore very loudly. It turns out I had one of the worst cases of sleep apnea that my sleep study technicians had ever seen. From the moment I got the CPAP machine I started having more energy and less junk food cravings. And the weight started to melt away for good.

4. I started using mind-body practices to reduce stress.

Just like sleep apnea, stress causes elevated levels of cortisol and inflammatory hormones. These hormones lead to constant cravings and put your body into chronic fat storage mode. Many people don’t realize how important it is to learn how to reduce stress. I began meditating and visualizing every morning, which I found to be extremely effective for reducing stress.

5. I created a much more sustainable life.

I also lowered my expenses, moved to a more affordable house and started growing some of my own foods. My life felt much more sustainable and I felt calmer and more supported. I loved knowing that anytime I was hungry I could go into the back yard and eat something fresh and full of vitality. The stress hormones where no longer coursing through my system, wreaking havoc and turning my body into a fat storage machine.

6. I worked through some important emotional issues.

Some people feel safer with extra weight on their body. It’s as if the body actually uses weight as a buffer from the world. I was in that situation and I knew I had to address the emotional issues that were making my body feel unsafe. I started doing visualization practices that helped to resolve past traumas and to get my body to feel safer in letting go of the weight.

Over the years I’ve found that 65-70% of the clients I work with are using weight as a form of protection. I call this “emotional obesity”. When you work through the issues that are causing emotional obesity and break the association that fat equals safe, the body is much more willing to let go of the weight. After I broke this association and the weight no longer served its purpose – that is, the armor of fat no longer made me feel any safer – the weight all but went away.

7. I detoxified my body.

After I had lost about 180 pounds I started doing a lot of research about toxins and how the body processes and deals with toxic chemicals. It turns out the body uses fat cells to store excess toxins. I realized that the last 40 excess pounds that my body was holding onto was because it was a storehouse for accumulated toxins. I started living what I call a “detoxifying lifestyle”. Basically, I started flushing my body with lots of alkaline liquids, like water with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, green juices, super greens and lots of salads and sprouts. That did the trick, because I lost the last 40 pounds much more quickly than I lost the first 40 pounds, so the rate of my weight loss continued to accelerate to the very end.

Taking a mind body approach that nourishes the body and reduces the physical, mental and emotional stresses that cause weight gain is the most sensible and sustainable way to lose weight. I’ve now worked with tens of thousands of people in 60 countries teaching this approach and we’re getting amazing results.

People who have spent a lifetime of yo-yo dieting have now lost weight – 50, 100 and 200 pounds, without dieting by following this exact formula.

About the Author

Let’s Talk About Your Thyroid

January 12, 2014

About Your Thyroid

The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the base of the neck just below the Adam’s apple. Although relatively small, the thyroid gland plays a huge role in our body, influencing the function of many of the body’s most important organs, including the heart, brain, liver, kidneys and skin. Ensuring that the thyroid gland is healthy and functioning properly is vitally important to the body’s overall well-being.

How Your Thyroid Works

Excerpted from The Harvard Medical School Guide to Overcoming Thyroid Problems by Dr. Jeffrey R. Garber, published by McGraw-Hill.

Think of your thyroid as a car engine that sets the pace at which your body operates. An engine produces the required amount of energy for a car to move at a certain speed. In the same way, your thyroid gland manufactures enough thyroid hormone to prompt your cells to perform a function at a certain rate.

Just as a car can’t produce energy without gas, your thyroid needs fuel to produce thyroid hormone. This fuel is iodine. Iodine comes from your diet and is found in iodized table salt, seafood, bread and milk. Your thyroid extracts this necessary ingredient from your bloodstream and uses it to make two kinds of thyroid hormone: thyroxine, also called T4 because it contains four iodine atoms, and triiodothyronine, or T3, which contains three iodine atoms. T3 is made from T4 when one atom is removed, a conversion that occurs mostly outside the thyroid in organs and tissues where T3 is used the most, such as the liver, the kidneys and the brain.

Once T4 is produced, it is stored within the thyroid’s vast number of microscopic follicles. Some T3 is also produced and stored in the thyroid. When your body needs thyroid hormone, it is secreted into your bloodstream in quantities set to meet the metabolic needs of your cells. The hormone easily slips into the cells in need and attaches to special receptors located in the cells’ nuclei.

Your car engine produces energy, but you tell it how fast to go by stepping on the accelerator. The thyroid also needs some direction; it gets this from your pituitary gland, which is located at the base of your brain. No larger than a pea, the pituitary gland is sometimes known as the “master gland” because it controls the functions of the thyroid and the other glands that make up the endocrine system. Your pituitary gland sends messages to your thyroid gland, telling it how much thyroid hormone to make. These messages come in the form of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).

TSH levels in your bloodstream rise or fall depending on whether enough thyroid hormone is produced to meet your body’s needs. Higher levels of TSH prompt the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormone. Conversely, low TSH levels signal the thyroid to slow down production.

The pituitary gland gets its information in several ways. It is able to read and respond directly to the amounts of T4 circulating in the blood, but it also responds to the hypothalamus, which is a section of the brain that releases its own hormone, thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH). TRH stimulates TSH production in the pituitary gland. This network of communication between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the thyroid gland is referred to as the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis (HPT axis).

When Things Go Wrong

The HPT axis is a highly efficient network of communication. Normally, the thyroid doles out just the right amount of hormone to keep your body running smoothly. TSH levels remain fairly constant, yet they respond to the slightest changes in T4 levels and vice versa. But even the best networks are subject to interference.

When outside influences such as disease, damage to the thyroid or certain medicines break down communication, your thyroid might not produce enough hormone. This would slow down all of your body’s functions, a condition known as hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid. Your thyroid could also produce too much hormone sending your systems into overdrive, a condition known as hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid. These two conditions are most often features of an underlying thyroid disease.

When considering thyroid disease, doctors ask two main questions: First, is the thyroid gland inappropriately producing an abnormal amount of thyroid hormone? And second, is there a structural change in the thyroid, such as a lump—known as a nodule —or an enlargement—known as a goiter? Though one of these characteristics does not necessarily imply that the other is present, many thyroid disorders display both.

Out of Gas

Sometimes the thyroid can’t meet your body’s demands for thyroid hormone, even though TSH levels increase. As your body slows down, you may feel cold, tired and even depressed. You may gain weight, even though you’re eating less.

There could be a number of reasons why your thyroid is not performing well. For example, if your body isn’t getting enough iodine, your thyroid can’t make enough thyroid hormone, but it will try to respond to rising TSH levels by working harder and harder anyway. This can cause your thyroid to become enlarged and develop into a goiter that looks like a protrusion or large swelling in your neck. Goiters used to be common, but they have become much less common in developed countries because of iodine-fortified foods.

In other cases, your thyroid comes under attack by your body’s own immune system. Normally, substances called antibodies protect you from dangerous bacteria and viruses. But in this condition, known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, your antibodies mistake your thyroid for a foreign invader. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis involves the presence of two types of antibodies called antithyroid peroxidase (anti-TPO) and antithyroglobulin (anti-TG) antibodies. These antibodies play a role in the destruction of the thyroid by the immune system. Over time, your defenseless thyroid, inflamed and scarred, surrenders and fails. Ailments like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis that result from an abnormal immune response are called autoimmune diseases. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is but one form of thyroiditis —an inflammation of the thyroid—that causes hypothyroidism.

Revved Up

Sometimes your thyroid keeps churning out more thyroid hormone, even when your pituitary gland completely shuts down TSH production, a clear signal that your body has had enough. Yet the thyroid appears oblivious to the lack of signals and continues to produce too much, pushing your metabolism into overdrive and speeding up your body’s processes. This is hyperthyroidism. If you’re hyperthyroid, your pulse may be racing, you feel irritable and overheated, and you have trouble sleeping. You may lose weight in spite of a good appetite and experience anxiety and nervousness. As with hypothyroidism, you may develop a goiter; in this case, your thyroid enlarges because your thyroid is working so hard overproducing thyroid hormone.

A toxic multinodular goiter is to blame for hyperthyroidism in many people over 60 years old. This occurs when the thyroid enlarges and develops nodules, which are essentially lumps of thyroid cells that form as part of the thyroid. Nodules may develop on the outer surface of the gland where the doctor can feel them during an examination. If they develop inside the gland, however, they may not be apparent to the touch. Nodules throw off communication between the thyroid and the pituitary gland because they independently produce thyroid hormone and do not depend on TSH to produce hormone.

A type of single nodule, called a solitary toxic adenoma, causes hyperthyroidism in the same way—by producing thyroid hormone at its own whim, regardless of the messages from the pituitary gland.

Not all nodules cause thyroid imbalance. There are different kinds of single nodules that can range from the size of a pea, or even smaller, to the size of a plum, or even bigger. Most are completely harmless and don’t affect thyroid function in the least. These include fluid-containing nodules called cysts and adenomas, which are solid but equally harmless. A very small percentage of nodules are cancerous. Cancerous nodules do not directly affect thyroid function and therefore do not cause an overactive or underactive thyroid.

Another cause of a revved-up thyroid is Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease that is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism in the United States. As with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, antibodies attack the thyroid, but in this case they stimulate the thyroid to overproduce thyroid hormone. The kinds of antibodies present in Graves’ disease are known as thyrotropin receptor antibodies (TRAb), including one kind known as thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulins (TSIs). They work by mimicking TSH, attaching to the TSH receptor on the thyroid gland and confusing the thyroid into producing too much hormone.

In addition to symptoms of hyperthyroidism, some people with Graves’ disease develop thyroid eye disease. Its features vary from case to case and may be characterized by swollen, bulging, red eyes; widely open eyelids; and double vision. In its most severe form, diminished visual acuity may be present.

Frequently Asked Questions

How common is thyroid disease?

Thyroid disease is more common than diabetes or heart disease. Thyroid disease is a fact of life for as many as 30 million Americans – and more than half of those people remain undiagnosed. Women are five times more likely than men to suffer from hypothyroidism (when the gland is not producing enough thyroid hormone). Aging is just one risk factor for hypothyroidism.

How important is my thyroid in my overall well-being?

The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormone, which controls virtually every cell, tissue and organ in the body. If your thyroid is not functioning properly, it can produce too much thyroid hormone, which causes the body’s systems to speed up (hyperthyroidism); or it can create too little thyroid hormone, which causes the body’s systems to slow down (hypothyroidism).

Untreated thyroid disease may lead to elevated cholesterol levels and subsequent heart disease, as well as infertility and osteoporosis. Research also shows that there is a strong genetic link between thyroid disease and other autoimmune diseases, including types of diabetes, arthritis and anemia.

Simply put, if your thyroid gland isn’t working properly, neither are you.

How do you know if you have a thyroid problem?

First, you must understand how to recognize the symptoms and risk factors of thyroid disease. Since many symptoms may be hidden or mimic other diseases and conditions, the best way to know for sure is to ask your doctor for a TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) test, a simple blood test to verify your thyroid gland’s condition. Also, take a minute and perform a self Neck Check. And because thyroid disease often runs in families, examinations of your family members and a review of their medical histories may reveal other individuals with thyroid problems.

What are some of the reasons to consider a thyroid evaluation?

  • Family history: A familiar place to look for thyroid disorder signs and symptoms is your family tree. If you have a first-degree relative (a parent, sibling or child) with thyroid disease, you would benefit from thyroid evaluation. Women are much more likely to be thyroid patients than men; however, the gene pool runs through both.
  • Prescription medications: If you are taking Lithium or Amiodarone, you should consider a thyroid evaluation.
  • Radiation therapy to the head or neck: If you have had any of the following radiation therapies, you should consider a thyroid evaluation: radiation therapy for tonsils, radiation therapy for an enlarged thymus, or radiation therapy for acne.
  • Chernobyl: If you lived near Chernobyl at the time of the 1986 nuclear accident, you should consider a thyroid evaluation.

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Fifteen things YOU can do to be healthier this year

January 7, 2014

Lose weight. Eat better. Finally get fit. The grand ambition (not to mention blind optimism) of New Year’s resolutions also makes them near-impossible to achieve. In a bid to improve our odds of success, we called top health and fitness experts for more manageable goals. We asked them: ‘What is one thing people can do to be healthier this year?’ Here is what they said.

A pickle a day

At one time, fermented foods were common with every meal. Research has now shown that fermented foods are full of good germs that improve our overall health. By bringing foods such as sauerkraut, kimchee, kombucha, fermented sausages, fermented vegetables (pickles and garlic), cheeses, yogurts and of course, probiotic beer and wine back into our diet, we can live better in a natural and delicious way. Eat, drink and be germy!

Jason Tetro, Ottawa-based microbiologist, author of The Germ Code

Don’t drink your calories

While liquid calories are often delicious, they are undoubtedly the lowest hanging fruit of weight loss. If weight’s a concern, there are no health benefits available from liquids that you can’t get from far more satiating solids. Your goal with liquid calories is simple. Drink the smallest amount you need to like your life. Putting this another way – don’t drink your calories unless you love them.

Yoni Freedhoff, obesity expert, family physician, author and assistant professor at the University of Ottawa

Relax your mouth

Right now, you are clenched. In fact, you don’t even know you’re doing it. Unclench with me, right now: Simply drop your lower jaw from your upper jaw, let it hang like those heavy metal mouth-breather dudes in Grade 12. You’ll rock relaxation.

Bif Naked, international recording artist, activist and cancer survivor based in Vancouver

Try a revolutionary ‘new’ treatment

There is a superexpensive new drug coming out. It reduces heart disease by 60 per cent, cancer by 27 per cent, Alzheimer’s by 50 per cent and arthritis by 47 per cent. It’s now our best treatment for fatigue and low back pain. It cures a third of erectile dysfunction, and cuts anxiety and depression by 48 per cent. People even lose weight on this stuff … Okay, it’s not new or expensive or even a pill. It’s walking. If I had to pick one thing, I’d say movement is the best medicine.

Mike Evans, staff physician at St. Michael’s Hospital, associate professor of family medicine and public health at the University of Toronto

Put down the device

My No. 1 tip for families with young kids: Make a designated mobile phone- and screen-free time every evening. That means for 30 minutes absolutely no phones, tablets or TVs are allowed to be on. This time should be spent doing something that your child chooses – maybe reading together, walking the dog, playing a game or just catching up.

Jeremy Friedman, chief of pediatric medicine at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto pediatrics professor

Stop doing situps

Stomach crunches shorten your torso, round your shoulders and encourage forward head posture, which you certainly don’t need more of in your life with all the hunched-over sitting you do each day. Crunches also put downward pressure on the pelvic floor, which is never good news and they will never flatten your tummy.

Kim Vopni, pelvic floor expert and post partum doula in Vancouver

Go To Bed
Good-quality sleep keeps your appetite hormones in check, cools those inflammatory chemicals that promote heart disease and cancer and keeps your waistline trim. A recent study in the American Journal of Science showed that a good night’s sleep is like clearing your neurological cache. In other words, sleep clears out the clutter. So aim for 7 1/2 to eight hours of shut-eye a night for these benefits.

Joy McCarthy, holistic nutritionist and author of Joyous Health: Eat & Live Well Without Dieting

… But set your alarm

Wake up at the same time every day. The timing of our sleep and waking is conducted by a master clock. One of the best ways of allowing this master clock to do its job beautifully is to rise at the same time each day, seven days a week. Not only does this encourage the best sleep, it also aligns and strengthens other body rhythms, such as our hormones, appetite and mood. There’s nothing like it.

Judith Davidson, sleep expert and psychology professor at Queen’s University

Enjoy your food – slowly

If you spend less than 60 minutes a day eating – you are eating too fast. It takes at least 20 minutes for your gut to tell your brain that you’ve eaten. Paying attention to what you are eating, chewing and savouring each bite, eating without distractions, such as driving, phone calls or texting, goes a long way to reduce overeating. Vegetables, fruits and complex carbohydrates all take more time to eat than prefabricated processed foods.

Arya Sharma, chair in obesity research and management at the University of Alberta


Take seven minutes each day to focus on your breath. Slowing down to six breaths per minute for seven minutes is enough to calm the nerves and allow our bodies to physically recover. Let’s face it, there are so many things that we should be doing to live healthier lives that it often feels overwhelming.

Jennifer Heil, Olympic gold and silver medalist in freestyle skiing and fitness advocate

Clean up your kitchen

Make 2014 a year of clean eating on a plant-based whole-food diet, minimizing foods that have been processed, sprayed with pesticides, genetically modified or adulterated in other ways. In the words of Hippocrates: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Jennifer Pearlman, staff physician at the Menopause Clinic at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto

Shake a leg

Move regularly and you’ll think, sleep, work, play and even love better. Move every day for as little as 15 minutes and the rewards are even greater. How great? How’s reducing your risk of some types of cancer by up to 50 per cent? So swim, walk, run, shovel snow, do yoga, play golf, it doesn’t matter what it is as long as it gets you moving.

Greg Wells, assistant professor at the University of Toronto and associate scientist of physiology and experimental medicine, the Hospital for Sick Children

Strap on protection

If you are younger than 44 in our country, death by trauma is your No. 1 stalker. So, listen up: Protect your brain by wearing a helmet, slowing down on the slopes and playing safe in general. Winter snow activities are great but wouldn’t it be better to be able to come back to them next year?

Charles Tator, neurosurgeon and brain and spinal chord injury prevention expert, Toronto Western Hospital

Invest in yourself

Remember: Health is wealth. I retired from Olympic sport this year and subsequently fell out of my daily fitness routine. I was prioritizing generating financial wealth over looking after my health. I finally recognized this as the source of my underlying – and at times overwhelming – unhappiness, and recommitted to a daily dose of physical activity. I’m happier, more productive, and most importantly, more engaged with my children. What could be a greater source of wealth?

Simon Whitfield, Olympic gold and silver medalist in the triathalon

Take it outside

Go for a noontime walk outside, especially in winter. Why? You get at least five times as much light as the brightest office (even on dark, stormy days). You get exercise (well, at least some activity). And you avoid big lunches (or at least have less time to eat). All of which helps your mood, memory and weight.

Raymond Lam, professor of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia and director of the Mood Disorders Centre, UBC Hospital

Article sourced from

Joren Cull for The Globe and Mail


Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Souffle Frittata

January 2, 2014

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week - Souffle Frittata