How to Meditate For Faster Weight Loss

How to Meditate For Faster Weight LossI consider myself an expert at meditation because after 15 years of meditating regularly I estimate I’ve meditated over 5000 times.

Here is a simple process for introducing the regular habit of meditation into your own life…

1. Find Your ‘Special Space’

In psychology there is a type of associative learning known as “classical conditioning”, which describes how a behavioral response can become associated in your mind with a neutral stimulus.

For example, when your mother called “dinner time”, you’d soon be at the table eating food and as a result of eating food, your mouth would be salivating and your digestive enzymes flowing.

Your mother yelling “dinner time” is a neutral stimulus and the first few times you heard it your body had no response.

However, overtime you would begin salivating and producing increased digestive enzymes just at the sound of mother calling “dinner time” because your mind and body have learned that neutral stimulus from your mother is always immediately followed with you eating food.

In fact, she could have been a little mean and yelled “dinner time” even though she’d not prepared any food at all and you’d still start salivating because your response had been classically conditioned to occur with the neutral stimulus of her calling “dinner time”.

When you understand this is how your mind works, you can use it as a powerful tool for forming new habits.

Let me explain how it applies here…

Find a place in your house which is private and comfortable that you will be happy spending regular time for the practice of meditation.

Get the lighting right, arrange your cushions for maximum comfort, whatever it takes to get you relaxed (without falling asleep).

This is going to be your ‘special place’, where you meditate each time. After you have been meditating frequently for a few weeks, you’ll have classically conditioned yourself to immediately begin relaxing just by going to your special place.

And when that happens, you’ll find you are able to go into a deep state of relaxation very quickly.

2. Set the Tone

  • Turn off the TV
  • Put on some meditative music (or not, whatever you prefer… I prefer silence)
  • Burn some incense if you like (I don’t)
  • Shut out the rest of the world by closing the window or door

Do whatever it takes to help you easily enter a deeply relaxed state.

3. Assume the Position

I sit upright with my back against something for support and my legs folded in front of me with my hands in my lap, palms facing up.

Often in images of people meditating you’ll see they are sitting upright with no back support. Let me tell you that position becomes very difficult to maintain without slumping forward with a tired sore back after a few minutes, especially if you are a beginner at this.

Take my advice and lean against something. If you can’t fold your legs in front of you then just sitting with feet on the floor is fine.

Don’t lay down because you’ll sleep, which is not what we want to achieve here.

Once you have found a comfy position, use it every time for the same classical conditioning benefit, that is, just assuming the position will begin your descent into deep relaxation.

4. How Do You Think About Nothing?

The most important advice I can give you here:

“Don’t pressure yourself”.

By that I mean, meditation is a time of ultimate relaxation and self-acceptance so there is literally NOTHING you have to do.

Just be, relax.

Here are a few suggestions to help you get into a state of relaxation:

  • Focus on your breathing: breath in calm, soothing and relaxed energy; breath out the stress and worry
  • Imagine walking down stairs where each step downward you take brings you into a deeper state of relaxation
  • Loosen your grip on your thoughts: when you feel a thought coming into your consciousness, let go the urge to focus on it. There is no resistance involved, just let the thought wash by without your attention

5. Meditation With a Purpose

I usually devote some of my meditation to:

  1. Giving thanks and appreciation for the many wonderful things in my life
    • Even if you think your life sucks, there is still plenty to be happy for:
      • Thanks for the eyes to read this
      • Thanks for the food I ate this morning
      • Thanks for the air I’m breathing
      • Etc, it’s very easy to find things to be thankful for
  2. Giving energy to the things I want.
    • I imagine very clearly, already having the things and circumstances I want in my life.
    • I don’t imagine the process by which they will occur because I leave that to the wisdom of the universe… I’m sure there are many more ways the things I want can come to me than I can imagine so I don’t place any constraints by imagining it must occur ‘one way’
    • I’ll repeat that, NEVER imagine the process by which you get the things you want, only the end result of having it
    • So I suggest you devote some of your meditation to imagining yourself thinner and extremely happy about the way you look

6. Frequency and Duration

I suggest you meditate about 3-5 times a week, daily is great if you really enjoy it.

You will find with meditation that more you do it, the deeper the state of relaxation you achieve and the faster you achieve it. I’m making this point because if you meditate too infrequently you‘ll find your sessions much less satisfying and much less effective.

When I go a week without meditating, it will take 2-3 meditations before I’m able to go into the same deep place I find so peaceful and rejuvenating.

Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day but also, don’t take it so easy on yourself that you go without meditation altogether, despite having the intention to do it.

Try to meditate for a minimum of 10 minutes, any less and you are not giving yourself the chance to really achieve a deeply relaxed state.

You may find the first few times you meditate that you’re restless and not really getting to relax… that’s fine and completely normal.

The first time you strapped on snow skis you didn’t slalom down a black diamond run, right? Well meditation will also take practice, but the good news is you’ll be good at it quickly because deep relaxation and inner-peace is a very natural state for a human being.

As you get better at meditating, extend the sessions… no need to pressure yourself to stay, just go longer if you are enjoying it.

I personally meditate for about 20-40 minutes and the longest I have ever meditated is about 1hour 45 minutes. It may sound impressive but I’ve read about 12 year olds in India that can meditate for 8 hours straight!

SIDE NOTE: There is a young man in Nepal, called Ram, that at the age of 15 sat under a tree to begin meditating and did not move for 16 month.

When I say “did not move”, I mean he did not eat, drink, sleep or use the bathroom for 16 months.

Word got around and soon pilgrims from all over were coming to see him because they believe he is the re-incarnation of the Budda (he’s known as Budda-Boy but says himself he is not the re-incarnation of Budda).

I heard about him when I saw a Discovery Channel documentary where a western film crew went to investigate if the story is true. At the end of their filming, the crew released this statement:

“After 96 hours of filming, Ram has defied modern science by continuing his meditation and remaining alive.”

Eventually he disappeared into the jungle because the throngs of pilgrims were disturbing his meditation. Most recently he was found meditating in a specially created 7’x7’ underground bunker to avoid being disturbed.

The last time he was seen publically was in 2008 when he addressed 400,000 pilgrims over a 12-day period, at age 18…

You can do a Google search on ‘Budda Boy’ to learn more about him.

7. Make Your Meditation a Ritual (Especially for First 30 Days)

Research published in a 2009 edition of the European Journal of Social Psychology by Lally et al has shown that the more you repeat a new behavior in the first 30 days or more (up to 66 days) the greater chance you have of it becoming a new habit, so for the next 30 days try meditating every day.

Meditate in the same place, sitting in the same position, at the same time of the day… what I’m saying is make it a ritual.

Now I’m not saying ‘make it a ritual’ for religious or philosophical reasons, I’d never lay that on you… I’m saying ‘ritualize it’ because research shows that you are more likely to continue the behavior if it is ritualized (done the same way, in the same place, at the same time, every time).

Stick with it and the pay-off is your brain will quite literally form new neural pathways, making it much easier to continue with the new habit.

Meditation and Fat-Burning

How Can You Survive Without Meditation?

Meditation and Fat-BurningI’ve been meditating regularly for many years and quite frankly, every time I go more than a couple of weeks without meditating, I struggle to understand how the rest of the world manages to cope with daily life with no meditation at all.

I think the real answer to that question is they don’t. Most people struggle through life to some degree and often the stresses they experience manifest in their lives as relationship problems and their bodies as illness or physical distress.

Irritability, headaches, dissatisfaction, moodiness, depression, tiredness, forgetfulness, aches and pains, illness, disease, skin problems, weight problems, aging… all these complaints and many more are associated with chronic stress.

I think it’s crazy almost no one meditates. It’s my prediction that in a few generations from now meditation will be the norm rather than the exception because of its scientifically proven effectiveness in improving both academic and athletic performance and in managing the daily stresses of a busy life.

Famous People That Meditate

Need more convincing?

Here is a list of some of the most amazing humans to have lived and still living that use meditation as a way of life:

  • Albert Einstein
  • Thomas Edison
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Nobel Prize for Physics winner Aage Neils Bohr
  • Mahatma Gandhi
  • The Dalai Lama
  • Philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Bruce Lee
  • George Harrison (Beatles)
  • Father of Taoism, Loa Tzu
  • Famous psychologist Carl Yung
  • Confucious
  • William Shakespeare
  • Jesus Christ
  • Buddha
  • Krishna

There are also many celebrity meditators:

  • Steven Seagall
  • Richard Gere
  • Tina Turner
  • Tiger Woods
  • Madonna

Meditating to Stay Young (Stress Makes You Old)

It’s widely accepted that people who meditate regularly appear younger than they really are.

I’ve been meditating now for 15 years and everyone I meet is shocked to hear I’m over 40. Most people presume I’m 30-33 years old.

When I was a kid I looked old for my age, at 20 most people thought I was about 25.

So if you do the math, in appearance I’ve aged only 5 years in the past 20 years. Haha… while that’s probably not the reality it’s what I like to tell myself.

But jokes aside, the truth is I look quite a bit younger than I am and I truly believe a lot of it is due to the regular de-stressing I’ve given my body over the past 20 years via meditation.

Stress ages you because cortisol, the hormone of stress, results in collagen loss in your skin and when your stress is chronic, your cortisol levels are permanently high resulting in extensive collagen loss in your skin. When collagen decreases in your skin, your skin falls into the areas where the collagen has been depleted… a.k.a., wrinkling and premature aging.

Stress Management and Weight Loss

Stress Management and Weight LossWe’ve already established that weight loss is hastened by proper stress management. You absolutely MUST be doing something to manage your stress. If you’re not, you are making life unnecessarily difficult and confusing, and your weight loss a bigger struggle.

Even worse, you are aging your body prematurely AND turning it into a fat-STORAGE machine. So, ideally, you should be doing something to de-stress at least a few times a week.

 

Effective Stress-Management Activities

These activities are effective at stress management:

  • Meditation – this is the most effective stress management tool I have ever used. In my opinion EVERYONE should meditate
  • Breathing exercises – I do these when I being my meditation
  • Exercise
  • Painting
  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi
  • Gardening
  • Walking
  • Listening to calming music
  • Journaling (important you focus on the good in your life and don’t use your journal to complain about life)

Ineffective Stress-Management Activities

While the following activities maybe be enjoyable and fun to do, they are NOT effective at stress management:

  • Talking with family or friends
  • Shopping
  • Watching TV
  • Listening to death metal or other hardcore music
  • Smoking
  • Drinking
  • Partying
  • Playing video games
  • Reading trashy novels or fashion and gossip magazines

What makes a Good Stress-Management Activity?

The only true escape from stress is your inner peace.

By this I mean the activity you choose to manage your stress should pull your ‘presence’ into yourself and not out.

For example, when you sit alone and listen to peaceful music with your eyes closed, you can shift your consciousness so you become less aware of your outer environment and your consciousness becomes more of an inner experience.

Within all of us is a connection to the same deep pool of wisdom and peacefulness that is totally accepting of who you are, profoundly calming and soothing to your psyche.

Since this is the real goal of stress-management, I don’t do activities that ‘kind-of’ create an environment where this can happen, like listening to peaceful music. Instead I very deliberately go to this inner place of self-acceptance and tranquility via meditation because it is the most direct route.

By turning away from outer distraction and allowing a peaceful transition to this inner place you are revitalized and your energy field is cleansed of the disturbances that result from stress. And in that process, I lost the weight I wanted to lose, and kept it off!

Powerful AffirmationsAnd Losing Fat Are Interconnected, Part 2

The Caveat For Creating Your Own Affirmations

Powerful AffirmationsAnd Losing Fat Are Interconnected, Part 2The previous article talked about what affirmations are and the scientific evidence supporting their efficacy. In this article we talk about how you can create your own affirmations and start harnessing that efficacy for yourself. Following soon is a list of daily affirmations for you to begin using.

It’s not important you use exactly these for all time, in fact, I encourage you to create your own so that you can speak directly to yourself in a language with which you resonate strongly.

However there is a caveat…

…unless you are an experienced practitioner of affirmations, I suggest you begin with the examples I’ve provided here and once you experience the changes in yourself and therefore have a clearer understanding of what is happening, then you can try creating your own.

I say to do it this way because it would be perilous to repeat daily affirmations that are detrimental to your self-image or self-esteem and if you have no experience with them, it is possible you may create affirmations that do just that.

How to Do Your Daily Affirmations

Every morning, before you leave the house for the day or begin your tasks for the day, allot some time for saying your affirmations.

Follow these simple steps:

  1. Stand in front of a mirror and take a moment to smile at and greet yourself with love.
  2. Look into your eyes and feel a connection with your inner-self
  3. Speaking directly to your inner-self begin saying your affirmations
  4. Repeat them up to 5 times each
  5. If you can find the time, repeat steps 1 to 4 in the evening

List of Daily Affirmations

1. Confidence

  • I’m very secure and super confident in my abilities to accomplish my goals because I’m an amazing person that can do whatever I put my mind to.

2. Self-Esteem

  • I love and accept myself unconditionally because I’m a wonderful person that is full of love and goodness.

3. Self-Image

  • When I walk into a room, everyone is drawn to my self-confidence and beauty because the beautiful love I feel for myself shines from my body and from my smile and radiates throughout the room and the world.

4. Happiness

  • I’m incredibly happy and satisfied with my magnificent life because every day, everywhere I look, I see wonderful things flowing effortlessly into my life for which I feel immense gratitude and happiness.

5. Healthiness

  • Everyday, in every moment, I find it very easy to love and care for my body by making healthy choices because I love my body and choose to treat it with love and respect.

6. Weight Loss

  • I’m super excited and overflowing with joy and gratitude because every day my body becomes thinner, healthier, stronger and more beautiful.

7. Prosperity

  • Prosperity flows easily to me in many forms from places expected and unexpected, every moment of every day.

Use affirmations in your daily journey of weight loss – they allow us to see that our journey is not a struggle, but a path of self-discovery and healing. Keep that in mind as you picture the slimmer, sexier you that you are on your way to becoming!

Powerful Affirmations And Losing Fat Are Interconnected, Part 1

Affirmations are a type of constructive self-talk.

Powerful Affirmations And Losing Fat Are Interconnected, Part 1You write an affirmation specifically to help you get to the self-belief you’re aiming for but unable to achieve in an instant thought. So over time, with daily repetition of your affirmations, you begin to ‘believe’ the affirmation. The ideas become part of your ‘identity’ and you begin to experience the benefits that come with being the person that believes those things about themselves.

My Personal Story

Affirmations are incredibly powerful tools for really improving the way you see and feel about yourself and we’ve already discussed the importance of a strong self-image and self-esteem in successful weight loss. In my own life I used them to take myself from depression to a high achiever during my twenties.

I had been kicked out of 2 universities for failing, I was not on speaking terms with my family, had moved away from all of my friends and was broke and unemployed. Most of my days were spent smoking pot and feeling sorry for myself.

It was not a good scene.

I had no self-belief and no self-esteem, those important energies were crushed under the false feeling I had of inadequacy and that I was a “loser”.

However, I knew from looking around me at the many happy people going about their lives that there was certainly a better way to live, I just had to discover how to get there.

I stumbled across a book that used affirmations to improve how you feel about yourself. While at the time I thought the idea of saying nice things to yourself everyday as a means of improving my state of mind and spirit as a bunch-o-bull, but I had nothing to lose so gave it a go.

After only a week or so of using affirmations something began to happen. I did not even notice myself, it was the people I knew that began to comment I was looking better, I looked more confident, I was more assertive.

Encouraged but still not convinced I continued with my daily affirmations. Eventually, saying my affirmations become one of my favorite times of the day.

Looking into your eyes in the mirror and saying very positive, constructive and uplifting things about yourself on a daily schedule is amazingly, amazingly powerful.

To make a long story short, I went from unhealthy, broke, unemployed, depressed ‘loser’ to university graduated professional that cared and treated himself with love and respect. Every aspect of my life improved, DRAMATICALLY.

While it can’t be said it’s due 100% to the affirmation, I will say with confidence the affirmations were key components to my transformation, especially in gathering the early momentum.

Now almost 20 years later they are still a tool I keep at-the-ready in my bag-o-tricks for when I want to shape my self-image and self-esteem to a place I’m not yet able to achieve in an instant thought.

Please try affirmations yourself; to skip over them would be missing a grand opportunity and loss of a leverage point for achieving your weight loss goals.

Scientific Evidence Affirmations Work

There is a lot of evidence that thoughts directly affect the function of your body, not in some kind of mystical way that we can’t explain, but in real measurable changes.

I’m not suggesting there isn’t also something going on we can’t explain yet, because knowing how powerful affirmations are I’m sure they allow us to tap a source of energy which is available to all of us but utilized far less than is available.

For the more skeptical among us, let’s focus more on what science has been able to observe and measure when it comes to validating the positive effects of affirmations.

Thoughts (and therefore affirmations because affirmations are ‘deliberate-thoughts’) have been shown to have 2 direct affects on your body.

1. Affirmations Change Your Brain and Body Chemistry

  • Cathy Chapman, Ph.D., LCSW says in her book, Strengthening the Immune System: ‘If you are someone who thinks sad, angry or negative thoughts most of the day, you are weakening your immune system. The chemicals in your body which fight off infection can be clinically shown to decrease.’
  • Lauren Robins, MS, LMT says: ‘Within 20 seconds, the chemical composition of the body is altered by a thought, having an acid or alkaline effect on our body… As we persevere on limiting negative thoughts, our nervous system sends chemicals to muscles; our physical body contracts and thinking becomes foggy.’
  • Dr Joseph M Carver, PhD, says: ‘Thoughts change brain chemistry… our thoughts changing neurotransmitters on a daily basis. We feel what we think! Positive thinking works… what we think about a situation actually creates our mood.’
  • Dr. Joseph Dispenza says: ‘Our thoughts have a direct connection to our direct level of health. Thoughts make a chemical. If you have happy thoughts then you’re producing chemicals that make you feel happy. It you have negative thoughts, angry thoughts or insecure thoughts, those thoughts make chemicals to make you feel how you’re thinking… There is sound evidence that our thoughts do matter.’

2. Affirmations Change the Physical Structure of Your Brain

  • As if referring specifically to affirmations, Dr. Joseph Dispenza also says: ’We always replace those old patterns with a greater ideal of ourselves. If rehearsed mentally, we will grow new circuits in the brain, the platform in which we stand on to execute a new level of self.
  • Affirmations expert, Danea Horn says: ‘Discoveries in 20th century neuroplasticity have demonstrated that the physical reality of our brain has been formed from our past experiences and can change based on new input’.

The above are only a small handful of the many scientific papers and opinions from respected scholars, which provide strong scientific evidence of the efficacy of affirmations.

In conclusion to this article, here is just one more piece of evidence, which shows very conclusively the extraordinary power of affirmations.

  • A study from the University of Colorado, published in the Science journal, found African-American middle school students had improved grade averages as a direct result of practicing daily positive affirmations. But possibly the most promising result of the study is how long the positive effects were experienced because even 2 years after the study had ended, these children still had higher grade averages than before they did the affirmations study!

Goal Setting And Weight Loss

Scientific Research Proves Goals Increase Performance

Goal Setting And Weight LossIn his published research article titled, “Goal Setting and Task Performance: 1969–1980”, E. Locke compiled a review paper of many different scientific studies on goal setting, which had taken place over an 11-year period. He found that in 90% of the studies, performance was improved by goal setting when compared to no goal setting.

In other words, you have a much better chance of getting the body you want if you set some goals.

Don’t Set a ‘Weight-Loss-In-Pounds’ Goal

I know it’s tempting but don’t set a specific ‘weight loss in pounds’ goal because this type of goal doesn’t indicate your body mass composition.

Muscle is twice as heavy as fat so if you are losing fat AND gaining muscle the scales may not have even budged (or in my case could even show you’re heavier) despite a considerable improvement in appearance.

So you can become discouraged despite making great progress in your appearance.

I think I have to admit to myself you’re probably still going to be checking your weight anyway so at the very least you MUST also use one of the following measurements to track your progress.

(PS. Don’t check your weight every day, once every 2 weeks or once a month is better. Biggest Loser contestants only check their weight once a week and they work on fat loss all day every day).

4 Better Methods For Measuring Your Fat Loss Progress

  1. Set appearance goals. Taking a look in the mirror and then returning everyday to check your progress is not accurate and research has shown that many people (especially woman) often perceive their body as being fatter than it really is. Instead, take ‘before’ photos and then periodically take ‘after’ photos and objectively compare them.
  2. Record tape measurements of your hips, waist, things, arms etc.. all the places you want to lose fat and then create a goal measurements for each or a goal total.
  3. Pinch the skin on your belly, your thighs, your waist… wherever you’d like to lose fat and record how much you are able to grab because reducing the size of how much you can pinch is a good goal. Use fat calipers if you have them, otherwise use your hands and a camera. More instruction on this later
  4. If you have clothes at home that don’t fit anymore, you can make fitting into them a goal. Or if you’ve been overweight so long you don’t have any ‘small’ clothes anymore, you can make your goal fitting into a smaller size than you currently wear.

The Structure of a Goal

Effective weight loss goals have these characteristics:

  1. Specific: Know exactly what body goals you want to accomplish with all the details
  2. Measurable: Make sure you can measure your progress
  3. Attainable: Your goal must be realistic but there is no harm in really pushing the limits… all that is necessary is you believe it’s attainable
  4. Time-Sensitive: Decide how long you are giving yourself to achieve the goal
  5. Confident: Be definitive and confident; say the goal like you are sure it’s going to happen. Use phrases like “I will..”, “I’m going to…”, “I plan to…”, “I intend to…”. DON’T use “I want to…”, “I wish…” or “I’d like to…”

Example of an INEFFECTIVE Weight Loss Goal

“I want to lose weight”

This goal is ineffective because:

  • It is not specific
  • It has no timeline
  • No mention of how it will be measured
  • Not a confident statement of success

Example of an EFFECTIVE Weight Loss Goal

“I will lose a total of 12 inches from the combined 12 measurements taken from my bust, chest, waist, hips, thighs and arms by [date here].”

This goal is effective because:

  • It’s specific
  • It has a timeline
  • It’s measurable
  • It’s attainable
  • It’s confident

Other examples:

“I intend to fit into a size 12 dress by [date here].”

“I’m going to wear my old favorite size 10 jeans out for a night on the town on [date here].”

“I will proudly wear a 2-piece bikini to the beach on the first day of summer this year.”

“I will look amazing and beautiful in my size 8 wedding dress on my wedding day on [date here]”.

The ‘Catch-22’ of Goal Setting

Each of your goals can be thought of in 2 ways:

  1. Feeling great about progressing toward it, having it, achieving it
  2. Feeling depressed about not progressing toward it, not having it, not achieving it

So it’s important you use your goals to inspire you to achieve success, not remind you of your lack of success.

Can you see the distinction?

Think about it because it’s an important understanding… if you don’t get it there’s a strong chance your goals will only discourage you rather than uplift you.

How Important is it to Achieve Your Goals?

If you don’t hit your goal, don’t take that as a sign of failure.

Goals are less about hitting the exact mark you aimed for and more about propelling you to a result much better than you could have achieved without them.

Many goal experts say you should set goals that would be incredibly difficult to ever accomplish because the higher the goal the higher the level of success you achieve. In fact, there are even experts that believe you should NEVER reach your goals.

Whatever the stand on goal-setting, research has proven that keeping your goal constantly in your frame of consciousness and awareness is what allows you to achieve better results than if you didn’t have a goal at all. Don’t take your goals lightly!

Where Else Do We Get Obesogens?

The three main sources of the obesogens you’re exposed to are from:

  • Bisphenol-A (BPA) – found in the lining of cans used for canned food and in plastics with recycling codes 3 and 7
  • Organotins – biocides found in conventionally (non-organic) grown fresh produce
  • Phthalates – found in personal products containing plasticizers like nail polish, shampoo, lotions, perfumes, etc., as well as plastics like PVC

How Do I Avoid Obesogens?

Now that we have identified the main obesogens sources as:

  • Highly processed soy products
  • High fructose sweeteners (not true obesogens)
  • Hard plastics
  • Biocides (eg. Pesticides) and
  • Phthalates

All we need to do is avoid them right?

Where Else Do We Get ObesogensWell, yes but our food chain is so dense with them, it will be difficult if not impossible to avoid them altogether.

Even domestic water sources in major cities have been found to contain obesogens.

So what do you do?

Answer : Avoid them the best you can.

Below are the principles for avoiding obesogens, I’ll let you decide to what degree you want to follow them. Do I follow every principle… “No” but I do

Principles for Avoiding Obesogens

  1. Highly processed soy products: Don’t consume them of course. However, soy oil is used in many products you’re most likely not aware of so you need to get in the habit of reading the ingredient label of everything you buy. That should be a standard practice anyway.

  2. High fructose sweeteners: These are mostly widely used in packaged drinks like cans of soda and fruit boxes. Stick to water, natural squeezed-before-your-eyes juices, green tea, herbal tea and limited caffeine drinks.

    But don’t stop there, HFCS is used in just about every packaged or processed food you can imagine, so limit your consumption of those and again, read the labels.

  3. Hard plastics : Don’t drink or eat from plastic containers and store your food in glass, metal or ceramic containers with foil or wax paper instead of plastic containers and plastic wrap and don’t microwave or dishwasher plastic bowls, plates and containers because both increase the degree of leeching. Limit your consumption of canned foods.

  4. Biocides (eg. pesticides and herbicides): Eat only in season fruits and vegetable that are locally grown. This ensures they have not been treated with chemicals to preserve then or ripen them off the tree as they are exported from another distant part of the country or world.

    And if you want to really do it properly, only buy organically grown, which although sounds “new-agey” is actually not new-age but instead the way we ate for the first 2 million years of our existence. It’s only in the past 100 years we’ve taken to spraying poisons all over our foods.

    It only takes 5 days of eating an organic diet to reduce levels of pesticide based obesogens to almost undetectable levels in your body.

    I understand we can’t all afford ‘organic’ foods because they tend to be more expensive, but buying locally grown and in season shouldn’t be too hard. Just find your local growers market and get your fruit and veg there.

    Now the same goes for your animal proteins. Try, if you can, to buy meats that come from animals that were free to walk about and graze the meadow enjoying the foods nature intended in preference to animals raised in pens, knee deep in their own manure and living on a diet of corn and soy.

  5. Phthalates : Don’t drink from the hose! Phthalates are in PVC so avoid storing water in PVC containers. Also, try buying cosmetics that are made without phthalates.

  6. Filter your water : Add a carbon based filter to your faucet or get a carbon filter pitcher because the USDA Pesticide Data Program found 54% of domestic water tests contain pesticides.

  7. Eat lean meats : Most obesogens are fat soluble so fatty meats are already higher in obesogens AND most meats available in the supermarket are wrapped in PVC plastic wrap which leaches phthalates into the fat of the meat… yet another reason to avoid fatty meats.

High Fructose Corn Syrup – It’s Everywhere

High Fructose Corn Syrup – It’s EverywhereHigh-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a very common food sweetener and preservative. HFCS is made by changing the sugar (glucose) in cornstarch to fructose — the type of sugar typically found in fruits.

The resultant fructose is then mixed with corn syrup (100% glucose) to achieve the desired sweetness.

HFCS extends the shelf life of processed foods and is cheaper than sugar so it has been used increasingly since the 1970s. It’s also pleasant tasting so proves to be a good additive for reduced fat foods because its sweetness compensates for the flavor lost when fat is removed.

You’ll find HFCS has become a popular ingredient in many sodas, fruit-flavored drinks and a myriad of other processed foods. In fact, I think you’ll be downright astounded at how pervasive its use is (they’re in almost every processed food you can think of!).

HFCS also parades under the guise of these different terms on the ingredient list:

  • Isoglucose
  • Iso Glucose
  • Maize syrup
  • Glucose-fructose syrup in the UK, and
  • Glucose/fructose in Canada

As your about to discover, HFCS is terrible for your weight and your health for a bunch of different reasons.

But I want you to be aware it’s not only high fructose sugars made from corn you need to avoid. Any high fructose sugar made from any plant should be avoided. Here is a list of other high fructose sugars to avoid:

  • Inulin
  • Chicory
  • Fruit Fructose
  • Agave syrup
  • Agave nectar (agave is touted as a healthly alternative to sugar but its fructose levels can be up to 93% compared to about 57% in HFCS)

Statistics on HFCS Consumption

According to a 2008 USDA Dietary Assessment of Major Trends in U.S. Food Consumption report, the use of HFCS in the diets of all Americans increased a mind-blowing 10,673 percent in the 35 years from 1970 and 2005 (in 2005 the average American ate 59 pounds of high fructose corn syrup).

This scary statistic is made possible by the fact processed foods now account for more than 90 percent of the dollars Americans spend on our meals.

All this means HFCS is now the #1 source of calories for Americans… an artificial highly processed sugar made from corn!

Just a single can of soda contains about 40 grams (1.4 ounces) of HFCS. And it’s so cheap, fast food companies are able to super-size you with very little additional expense to them.

USDA Food Guide Dietary Guidelines recommends no more than 8 teaspoons of added sugar per day (not including sugars occurring naturally in fruits, vegetable and grains). But the average American in 2005 ate 30 teaspoons of added sugar, mostly HFCS.

That means, an adult on a 2000 calorie per day diet is getting 24% of their calories from added sugar – that won’t end well!

What’s So Bad About HFCS?

High fructose corn syrup is closely associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus (adult onset diabetes).

Processed fructose found in HFCS is highly lipogenic (converts easily to fat in your liver) compared to other sugars, so high consumption of HFCS causes increased fat levels in your blood.

This is because the processed fructose found in HFCS does not follow the same chemical path as other sugars when processed by the liver. When other sugars enter your liver a decision is made of whether to:

  • Convert to glycogen and store in your liver and muscles
  • Or convert to glucose and burn as energy
  • Or convert to fat and store in your fat cells.

But the processed fructose found in HFCS does not follow this path and instead bypasses the first 2 steps and converts directly into fat.

When HFCS consumption is very high, which it is for most Americans, your body fat increases, your blood fat level also becomes high and the floodgates to a host of problems, including obesity, are opened.

More specifically, studies have shown the disruption of normal lipogenesis (fueled by too much processed fructose) leads to insulin resistance, which we discussed at length earlier makes you obese and at risk of diabetes.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism as early as 2004 showed high processed fructose meals decrease circulating leptin, the hormone secreted by fat cells which suppresses appetite, and therefore HFCS contributes to weight gain and obesity.

Another effect of HFCS is nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). A 2008 research paper published in the Journal of Hepatology concluded “excessive dietary fructose consumption” contributes to NAFLD.

We already know from earlier discussion liver dysfunction is common in obesity, even being overweight but not yet obese has been shown to stress your liver. And when you liver is stressed it becomes less efficient in the processes necessary for maintaining a healthy weight AND a healthy body.

High fructose corn syrup, it seems, snuck up on us all these years when the food industry was developing into the processed foods giant it is now.

Are You Addicted to HFCS? Are You Sure?

In a scientific paper published in The Bariatrician in 2009, Dr. Lustig MD says:

Similar to ethanol, through direct stimulation of the central nervous system “hedonic pathway” and indirect stimulation of the “starvation pathway”, fructose induces alterations in central nervous system energy signaling that lead to a vicious cycle of excessive consumption, with resultant morbidity and mortality.

In short, he’s saying HFCS is addictive. You want more and more and more!

This is a major concern for all of us because not only is HFCS:

  • Addictive
  • Converts to fat super easily
  • Causes high blood fat levels which contribute to heart disease
  • Causes insulin resistance and obesity
  • And causes non alcoholic fatty liver disease,

…it’s also in just about every processed or packaged food you can think of!

That’s scary!

I could go on and reveal more horrors about HFCS but hopefully I’ve said enough to convince you to avoid it as best you can.

Obesogens, The Fat-Making Chemical (Part 2)

Obesogens Affect… You?

Obesogens, The Fat-Making Chemical (Part 2)Bruce Blumberg PhD, the scientist that coined the term “obesogens” says there is still no evidence that obesogens are causing obesity in adults, but he also points out this science is still very new.

We may only be a few scientific research studies away from discovering a conclusive link between obesogens and adult obesity (such a discovery may have even been made since I wrote this book).

In the meantime, Bruce Blumberg PhD recommends a policy of “better safe than sorry”.

And for American adults born after World War II, they may already be suffering the consequences of prenatal exposure to obesogens, that could include you.

The obesity epidemic is worse in the USA than any other country in the world. And we discover, the citizens of the USA also have the highest exposure to obesogens both prenatally and during their lifetime than any other people in the world.

At the moment, the average American consumes 10-12 different pesticides each and every day. And 9 of those are identified as EDCs!

And 93% of all Americans test positive for the obesogen Bisphenol-A (BPA)… more on specific obesogens soon.

Considering there are over 3000 approved food additives and many thousands of different chemicals used in biocides and pesticides and many thousands more used in plastics and other food packaging, we can expect that many more obesogens are yet to be discovered.

In short, everyone is most certainly exposed to some degree of obesogens.

Obesogens From Soy

“Isn’t Soy Good For You?”

Soy has a reputation for being a good heart food and providing other health benefits. However, due to the evidence of recent studies, the American Heart Association (AHA) Nutrition Committee no longer recommends eating soy to lower cholesterol because we now know it has to be consumed in unrealistic quantities for only modest lowering of LDL cholesterol.

Soy protein on the other hand is a very high quality protein for a vegetable, is similar in quality to animal protein and therefore a healthy alternative to meat because of its high fiber and polyunsaturated fat content.

But don’t be fooled into thinking the mention of ‘soy’ means it’s good for you because most likely it’s not soy protein but instead a highly processed soy oil.

Estrogenic Obesogens in Soy

I mentioned earlier that soy is now used to make baby formula and that it contains 2 naturally occurring obesogens called genistein and daidzein.

Those 2 obesogens are estrogenic, meaning they mimic the female hormone estrogen.

When your estrogen levels are high, you have decreased capacity for building muscle, but an increased capacity for storing fat. That’s a formula for easy weight gain but a lot of difficulty losing it. Not to mention high estrogen levels are linked also with breast and uterine cancer.

You may be thinking you don’t eat soy products so it’s not really a concern for you but you’d be surprised how much soy you are actually eating because it’s in so much of the food we eat nowadays.. more on that in a moment.

Soy, Isoflavones and Your Thyroid

Soy is very rich in isoflavones.

Isoflavones act as phytoestrogens in mammals, meaning they mimic estrogen (the estrogenic obesogen, genistein, which we discussed above is an isoflavone).

But not only do they mimic estrogen, they also inhibit the production of thyroid hormone and for this reason are also called goitrogens because when thyroid hormone levels become low your thyroid may enlarge to compensate (goiter).

Now before I go on I need to temper this discussion with a balanced assessment. There is still no conclusive evidence that soy disrupts thyroid hormone production, however we need to keep in mind the companies behind ‘soy’ are giant multi-billion dollar behemoths with arguably the power to influence popular media and sway opinion.

The Chinese have used soy for 5000 years so it can’t be all bad, but here’s the difference and what you can use as a rule for choosing which soy products you eat:

Historically, soy has been eaten as the unprocessed bean or in fermented forms like tofu and soy sauce.

So if you enjoy eating soy and want to keep it on the menu, stay away from processed forms like soy milk and soy oil and opted instead for the more traditional forms.

What Foods Contain Soy?

Soy has become one of the largest crops in the US because it is cheap, easy to manage and very easy to process. The food industry has developed methods for processing soy to the nth degree and found many new ways to incorporate it into the food you eat for the simple purpose of increased profits via lowered costs.

The majority of soy you eat is most likely in the form of soy oil found in cookies, chips, pizza and many more.

Go to the kitchen and check the labeling of some of the packaged and processed foods you have in your pantry and I think you’ll be surprised.

For a more extensive listing of commercial foods containing soy, look here: http://www.neisd.net/foodserv/HTML/documents/FoodAllergens13Jan09.pdf

Indirectly you are also exposed to soy because livestock raised for the dinner table aren’t eating grass in the meadow as nature intended anymore. Instead the beef, pork and poultry you eat are raised on an unnatural diet of soy and corn (and hormones, antibiotics and other nasties).

Even farmed fish are raised on a diet of soy and corn. Is that natural? Yeah right! I don’t think so.

Obesogens From Corn

While corn doesn’t contain any specific obesogens and none are made from the processing of corn, there is some evidence to suggest that a processed corn sugar may actually create sugar cravings in your brain.

Obesogens, The Fat-Making Chemical (Part 1)

Obesogens, The Fat-Making Chemical (Part 1)Obesogens are chemicals that disrupt the normal hormonal balance of your body in such a way that leads to an increased propensity for obesity.

Obesogens are a subclass of chemicals called Endocrine Disrupting Compounds (EDC) (a.k.a. endocrine disrupting chemicals), which act like hormones in your endocrine system.

The majority of EDCs make their way into your body via the food you eat.

 

Obesogens enter the food chain and your body from a number of different sources including:

  • Synthetic hormones fed to livestock and other animals raised for human consumption
  • Herbicides and pesticides sprayed on the grains, fruits and vegetable we eat
  • Naturally occurring chemicals found in soy
  • Plastic compounds found in our food packaging
  • And chemical additives used in processed food

What obesogens do:

Obesogens confuse your body. They send false messages, prevent other messages from being sent and cause some of your genes to turn off and others to turn on.

In short, you don’t need them in your body and you definitely don’t want them in there either.

The actions of obesogens include:

  • Mimicking human hormones
  • Blocking others
  • And even changing the action of genes

Specifically, obesogens act to make you gain weight and become obese.

Should I seriously consider obesogens something to worry about?

Consider these US statistics:

  • Roughly 1 in 3 American adults are obese, not just overweight, but obese.
  • If we expand the statistic to include the overweight it’s actually 2 in 3 (67%)!
  • In the past 25 years, obesity amongst adolescence (12-19 years) has more than tripled from 5% to 17.6%
  • For 6-11 year olds obesity rates have almost tripled from 6.5% to 17%
  • Obesity in 2-5 years olds has more than doubled from 5% to 12.4% (http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/)

Remembering early on in this series of articles we discovered:

  • Americans spend $192 million PER DAY on weight loss products but official statistics show 95% of people will FAIL to maintain weight loss

So we must consider there are many other factors at play other than just calories and exercise.

Hopefully you agree managing your self-image (mind) and self-esteem (spirit) are 2 of the other factors we need to nurture for successful weight loss, like I show you soon.

But how can we explain this statistic:

  • Obesity in infants under 6 months has risen 73% since 1980! (Harvard School of Public Health, 2006)

These babies are only drinking breast milk and baby formula and at 6 months no babies get much exercise so the normal reasons for obesity don’t apply.

So why?

New research is showing that obesogens can trigger precursor cells (cells that have not yet been designated a role in the body and still have the potential to be any kind of body cell) to become fat cells.

So because of obesogens for example, precursor cells that were destined to become connective tissue cells, are triggered by the obesogens to become fat cells instead.

Exposure to obesogens also lowers your metabolism and triggers your body to hoard calories as fat.

Babies are exposed to obesogens circulating in their mother’s blood while still in the womb and then from the hard plastic bottles they drink from (containing the obesogens called bisphenol A) and even the soy-based formula they may be drinking (containing the naturally occurring obesogens called genistein and daidzein).

Scientific Findings From The Experts:

In 1997, Dr Baille-Hamilton published an article in the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, in which she mentioned there seems to be a correlation between increasing obesity rates and the increasing use of pesticides and plasticizers over the past 40 years.

While it was an unfounded claim at the time, it sparked the interest of other scientists and subsequent studies began to show there is indeed a relationship.

Scientists in Japan were able to show in a lab dish that some of the chemicals used in hard plastic baby bottles actually cause prefibroblasts (cells destined to become connective tissue cells) to change and become fat cells instead.

Since then several more studies have shown that prenatal exposure to obesogens increases the likelihood of infant obesity.

This is very new science and research is continuing but there is enough evidence accumulated now for The Endocrine Society to make the following official scientific statement regarding EDCs:

“The rise in incidence in obesity matches the rise in the use and distribution of industrial chemicals that may be playing a role in generation of obesity suggesting that EDCs may be linked to this epidemic.”