An Inspiring Guest Who Eliminated Cravings

June 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Health Articles

image: Aran Goyoaga

One of our retreat guests inspired our team so much that I want to share her story with you all.

In 1982, she was 5’5” and weighed 230 lbs. Being overweight was causing her some depression and low self-esteem.

One day, in 1982, she was sitting on the subway, eating a chocolate bar, and thinking about how she desperately needed to lose weight.

Suddenly, in a moment of clarity, she looked at the chocolate and realized that junk food certainly wasn’t helping her lose weight. In that moment, she resolved to stop eating all types of dessert altogether, and see what happened. She didn’t change anything else – just eliminated sugar.

Amazingly, she stuck to it: she hasn’t had a drop of sugar since that day in 1982. For 28 years, she has been ‘sugar sober’.

What is wonderful is that she didn’t set out to cut out sugar for life – she just took it one day at a time.

When we hosted her, she was as slim as can be – not too skinny, but absolutely within her normal BMI range.

The other guests were curious when she declined all raw desserts that were offered – she simply explained that she treats herself as a recovering alcoholic would treat alcohol – not one drop.

“Don’t you miss desserts?” they’d ask. “Not at all – I don’t even notice it. I much prefer being healthy and happy.”

The thought of cutting out sugar completely can be scary when we’re starting a new cleanse. However, every single person I know who has cut out sugar or junk food reports:

  • After 1-2 weeks, cravings vanish
  • They have a higher level of happiness
  • They can enjoy the smell of tempting foods without needing to eat them
  • They are infinitely happier this way than experiencing mood swings which sugar contributes to

To learn more about how to kill cravings, have a look at our 3-part series here:

Playing Chess Burns Calories

February 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Health Articles


There’s a brilliant new talk on by Stanford Professor of Neurology Robert Sapolsky on the uniqueness of human beings.

Among other smashing revelations, he shares a different way to burn calories:

Playing chess.

Or, for that matter, exercising the brain.

“… [with] chess masters in the middle of a tournament, they are going through six to seven thousand calories a day thinking. [They are] turning on a massive physiological stress response simply with thought and doing the same thing with their bodies as if they were some baboon that’s just ripped open the stomach of their worst rival — it’s all with thought.”

Of course, these competitors play for full days, so playing one game of chess will not burn thousands of calories.

Engaging your brain more often will help to burn up some marginal fat:

  • Tackle analytical problems at work
  • Read about game theory
  • Learn a new language
  • Do a crossword puzzle

Announcement: We’re going to be speaking at the Toronto IamYoga studio about Burning Fat at Work on March 3rd, 2010. We’ll be sharing the podium with a Team Canada athlete who will talk about Olympic Workouts. The cost is $10, or $5 if you are an S-Drive member. Sign up here.

10 Health Myths Debunked

October 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Health Articles

myths copyThere’s so much confusion in the health sphere. Here’s our take on some of the biggest misconceptions out there.

1.    Myth: Just wash & moisturize, and your skin will look great

There is a direct connection between the health of your skin and what you put in your mouth. The more strain is put on the large processing units of the liver & kidneys through an unhealthy lifestyle, the more it shows up on your skin, since it’s also an organ used to eliminate unnecessary waste.

Sugar, alcohol, fat, junk food, and dairy all contribute to poor live health and poor skin. Eating a healthy diet to relieve the burden off the liver would help.

  • Eat a whole foods diet high in greens, vegetables and low-sweet fruit
  • Cut out sugar – even agave, honey, maple syrup, and high sweet fruit
  • Drink plenty of clean water and eliminate caffeine
  • Take a probiotic daily for 1 month
  • Eat liver-supporting foods: dandelion, rosemary, nettle & milk thistle

Your skin might get worse before it gets better, but that’s just your body using all elimination channels to kick the toxins out of your body. It may sometimes take up to a year, but once your diet is clean, your skin will follow.

2. Myth: If I just restrict my calories, I’ll lose weight

Although it’s important to manage calories, it’s much more essential to watch your sugar intake. An excess of glucose (sugar, which comes from bread, rice, pasta, honey, maple syrup, and high-sweet fruit) is one major cause of fat storage, so minimizing glucose will significantly help your weight-loss battle.

It’s also extremely important to engage in weight training and engage in long periods of moderate cardio, as they are the most effective exercises to burn fat.

There is a growing tribe of people who believe that old emotions are stored in cells, and dealing with those unresolved memories can help to shed weight. There are numerous examples (Brendan Bays, Philip McCluskey), but Deepak Chopra is the authority on this topic.

3. Myth: Alcohol is good for you

“Binge drinking alcohol is like sending a halt-all-processes memo to your liver,” advises Mogelonsky.

Your body recognizes excess alcohol as a result of binge drinking as a poison, so the brain signals the liver to stop processing any food and only focus on dealing with the alcohol, since it’s such a threat. As a result, the liver prioritizes processing alcohol first, which would lead to a higher likelihood that more food recently eaten will be stored as fat.

Alcohol is also high in sugar, and consumption leads to accelerated aging, sugar cravings, and weight gain.

Finally, alcohol is highly acidic; the body leeches minerals in order to neutralize it the acid and maintain a slightly alkaline state.

Although many studies have praised alcohol for its anti-oxidant and cholesterol-reducing benefits, eating fruits and vegetables can provide the same or superior result.

4. Myth: Wrinkles and gray hair are permanent.

There are always strong genetic factors associated with aging, however, it is possible to prevent and mitigate some signs of age.

In the raw foodist community, it’s common to meet folks who have “before” photos that look older than their “after” shots. View these articles on wrinkles and gray hair to learn more.

5. Myth: All fruit is good for you

Yes, fruit has amazing nutrients that are highly beneficial. Just don’t binge on high-sweet non-organic fruit, such as bananas, dates, and mangoes.

An overabundance of sugary fruits without a balance of low-sweet fruit and greens can lead to a weaker immune system, since the body uses its mineral stores to neutralize high-sugar, low-nutrient (i.e., non organic) foods.

Lower-sweet fruits include:

•    tomatoes
•    avocadoes
•    cucumbers
•    green peppers
•    lemons & limes
•    apples
•    berries

The high sugar content also fuels sugar addictions and lends to a weaker immune system, according to Dr Brian Clement PhD ND.

6. Myth: There is no cure for diabetes

If you still believe that diabetes, cancer, and other life-threatening diseases are a permanent death wish, I urge you to watch this trailer on a documentary that shows proof that the opposite is true.

7. Myth: There is no cure for depression except for meds

We conducted a poll in April 2009 of 100 raw vegans, and found that 35% of those people had reported “elimination of depression” as a benefit of “going raw.”

Further, 70% of respondents reported an “improved outlook on life” as a result of switching their diets.

For years, Gina Silvestri was chronically depressed, suicidal, and taking 6 medications. When she ‘went raw’, she lost 110 lbs, and her depression lifted – she is now happily self employed and helps others overcome their depression.

8. Myth: You should take a multivitamin every day

A few studies have come out recently to suggest that multivitamins have little to no effect over the long run. In fact, one long-term study found that they can actually be harmful when too many supplements are taken. It’s much healthier to just get the vitamins from your food – so eat an orange instead of popping a vitamin C.

9. Myth: Milk does a body good

Dr T Colin Campbell PhD grew up on a dairy farm, believing that milk was essential. He spent his career studying the link between nutrition and cancer. At the peak of his career, he wrote The China Study, which the New York Times called the “grand prix of epidemiology research.” He found that casein, the main protein found in milk, “turns cancer on like a switch.” Abstaining from drinking milk, and consuming any form of animal protein, halted the growth of tumours in their tracks.

10. Myth: We need animal protein because we’re omnivores

Our bodies break down protein into amino acids, and then re-assemble those amino acids into the proteins that our bodies need. There are thousands of different proteins that our body uses, not 1 universal ‘protein’ that aids all bodily functions.

It’s actually more energy efficient to consume the straight amino acids and have our body assemble them into the proteins we need.

Amino acids are highly abundant in raw fruits, vegetables, greens, and seeds. Once they are heated above 110F, they are denatured, and harder for the body to utilize. The irony is that those who consume much animal protein and not enough raw produce become deficient in amino acids.

Foods that Help Burn Fat

July 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Health Articles


How Fat is Stored in Our Bodies

Storing fat boils down to “excess.” Simple carbohydrates, sugar, and starches are all converted into glucose in the body. After a meal, as blood glucose rises, the pancreas responds by releasing insulin, which signals the body’s tissues to take up surplus glucose.

Suppose you’ve just had a meal containing a piece of bread, baked potato, chicken, and dessert. You’ve ingested simple carbohydrates, starches, fat, and sugar. Glucose flows through the bloodstream, to the liver, and is then allocated for your body’s energy needs at that moment. Excess glucose is linked together, stored as glycogen, and sent to the muscles and the liver for short-term storage (4 to 6 hours). However, the glucose continues to enter the system. The next step is that the body stops using fat for energy, and diverts its attention to the excess glucose, leaving fat to circulate in the blood until picked up by fatty tissues and stored there. However, glucose continues to overload the system. When the muscles and liver are at capacity for glycogen, the liver has no choice but to handle the excess glucose by breaking them down into small fragments and assembling them into durable, long-term energy storage components: fats. These are released into the blood and deposited into fatty tissues. Fat cells may also take up glucose and convert it to fat directly.

How Our Bodies Burn Fat

Burning fat is an elementary concept when the fundamentals are understood. Fat is a unit of energy storage. When the body needs energy, it unlocks its energy stores (fat) to satisfy its immediate needs. How can you get your body using energy? Movement. The underlying way to eliminate fat is to minimize the amount of excess glucose taken into the body, and maximizing the amount of energy expended through exercise.

Weight training is a more effective way to burn fat longer-term than cardio because the tears made in muscles during training need to be rebuilt after the session is over, thus requiring additional energy from the body even when idle. Anaerobic exercise (cardio), rather, burns short-term stores of energy in the form of glucose.

Regulating meals, balancing the insulin levels, and eating complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes) will also help to facilitate the fat-burning process.

Foods that Support the Fat-Burning Process

1. Foods low on the Glycemic Index

Although this is still a theory, there is much evidence to support eating foods lower on the Glycemic Index, such as fruits, vegetables, beans and grains in order to minimize the amount of insulin released after a meal. The reason why this theory is not fully proven yet is because a multitude of factors contribute to the spiking of insulin in the body: the time of day that the tests are taken, body size, weight, blood volume, etc.

2. Foods with high nutrient density

Our bodies receive a signal for satiety, or “fullness”, not only when we’ve consumed enough volume, but when we’ve consumed enough nutrients. This is critical. This is one of the reasons why the obese will report feeling constantly hungry: their bodies have not received enough nutrients yet, and need to continue to signal the brain to find food to satisfy this.

The highest nutrient-dense foods are organic sprouts, organic dark leafy greens, organic grasses (wheatgrass, barleygrass, etc), ideally grown in soil that has been enriched with as many trace minerals as possible (70 to 90), as opposed to the most common type of fertilizer, NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium).

This way, the body will be less likely to crave excess food, and thus store fat.

3. High-fibre foods

Fibre, when viewed through a microscope, resembles a tiny sponge, and its function is just that: it can absorb up to 300 times its size in toxins to expel from the body. This is key because any toxin, pathogen, or “foreign invader” that the body does not know how to assimilate, will be stored within fat cells. Imagine that your body has a mind of its own: either it can allow the toxin to float around in the bloodstream and potentially kill you, or it can wrap it in fat and keep it away from the vital organs.

Stewart Skinner, a 5th generation pig farmer in Guelph, Ontario, puts it best: “As for changing pig weights, it is usually carried out by changing fibre levels. If we need to get our sows to slim down, we will up the level of “filler” in the diet (higher fibre). When sows get ready to give birth, they need to bulk up a little bit, so we feed a ration that replaces high fibre with more energy (corn).” That’s poetry to our ears.

Fibre is cellulose, which is a plant’s way of storing glucose (starch). Our bodies lack an enzyme needed to digest cellulose, so it passes through our system. Celery is highly abundant in cellulose, along with broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, swiss chard, and spinach.

4. Dark leafy greens

Greens adhere to heavy metals and toxins locked in our fat cells, and are highly efficient at mobilizing these toxins out of our bodies. This allows our body readier access to fat stores when it’s time to be burned, so greens are an excellent food to consume to enhance this process.

5. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is essential in the process of creating cartinine, a substance which turns fat into fuel.

Dr Mehmet Oz and Dr Michael Roizen reported a study recently where two groups of participants were observed while exercising on treadmills. The group which did not have adequate levels of vitamin C burned 25% less fat than the group that did have adequate levels of vitamin C. To learn more about how much vitamin C you should be getting, view this accompanying article.

6. Green tea

Green tea contains catechins, an anti-oxidant which helps break down fat and lower insulin levels. A Japanese study found that after 12 weeks of drinking the equivalent of 6 bags of green tea every day, the men reported a drop in body fat and body-mass indexes.

7. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is also a source of catechins, which lower insulin and help the body to catabolize fats. However, sprinkling the spice on dessert foods or sugary breakfast foods will not do any good – view a healthier recipe for apple crumble at the end of this article.

8. Hot chili peppers

Hot peppers contain capsaicin, which helps to suppress appetite. In another Japanese study of 13 women, those who ate breakfast foods with chili ate less calories later on at lunchtime.

9. Grapefruit

Phytochemicals in the fruit help to decrease insulin levels. The Florida Department of Citrus conducted a study in which participants were fed 1 serving (half a grapefruit), 3 times a day, for 12 weeks. On average, participants lost 3.6 pounds without altering their diets or exercises.

Take this with a grain of salt, since the sponsors obviously had a stake in positive results.

Digestion is Paramount to the Process

If food is improperly digested, our bodies have no choice but to store the leftover food as fat. Use these strategies to make sure your digestive tract is operating at an optimal level.

1. Food combining

If food is improperly combined in the stomach, it could lead to fermentation in the gut, and undigested food.

  • Fruit must be eaten alone, away from all other food groups.
  • Melons must be eaten away from everything, even other fruit, because they begin to break down at a faster rate.
  • Proteins and grains should not be eaten at the same meal.
  • Dairy should be eaten separately.
  • Vegetables can be eaten with anything, except for fruits.
  • Leafy greens can be eaten with virtually anything, including fruits.

2. Probiotics

A good quality probiotic, made by growing the bacteria on the same culture that comes from our gut, will add “good bacteria” to your system, which will help to digest food. If the probiotic is not of this nature, it will most likely pass right through your system.

Probiotics also help improve mineral absorption, meaning that you’ll be closer to satisfying your body’s cravings for nutrients.

A brand that we use at home and recommend would be the Natren Healthy Start System (we earn no money from this recommendation).

3. Soaking nuts and seeds before eating

Nuts and seeds serve the same function in nature: they are both seeds at the core of the plant with the intention of spreading its genes. Contained in the seeds are high amounts of nutrients. Specifically, seeds are spread by animals consuming the fruit, passing the seed among fertilizer, which allows it to become another mature plant. Seeds contain inhibitors, which protect the nutrients from being absorbed into the animal’s body.

Soaking raw nuts, seeds, and grains in water will remove these inhibitors. The duration of time depends on the nut, but afterward, the nutrients will be much more readily available for assimilation into the body.

3. Having strong stomach acid (HCl)

Strong stomach acid will allow your body to digest and absorb nutrients more readily. Unfortunately, after years of poor diets, most people have weak HCl. This can be rebuilt either by taking HCl pills, or simply by consuming greens, especially blended in shakes or juiced.

4. Having a high amount of enzymes

Enzymes are a type of protein that performs thousands of functions in the body. A primary function is the digestion of food. Enzymes are highly abundant in all foods until they are heated over 118 F or 48 C. Once they reach this tipping point, they are denatured, or destroyed.

Eating as much raw foods as possible will help to restore your stores of enzymes, and aid digestion.

Dispelling Myths

The following foods have been touted as popular fat-burners, however, there is insufficient scientific evidence to say for sure that they are effective.

  • Apple-cider vinegar
  • “Negative-calorie foods”, such as celery
  • Thermogenic foods, such as ice water


1. Green Shakes

  • Blend together your favourite fruit with any type of dark leafy green (kale, spinach, dandelions, romaine, beet tops, collard, parsley, etc), and pure water.

2. Vitamin C Salad

This salad is absolutely packed with vitamin C.

  • Kale
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Red bell peppers
  • Celery
  • Broccoli florets
  • Avocado
  • Onions
  • Pinch salt and pepper
  • Lemon juice
  • Cayenne pepper

3. Raw Sushi Rolls

  • Using raw nori paper, roll together avocado, julienned celery, green onions, and julienned bell pepper.
  • Serve with Nama Shoyu (unpasteurized soy sauce).

4. Raw Apple Crumble – tastes just like the real thing

  • In a food processor, pulse raw shelled sunflower seeds, dates, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla.
  • Chop up an apple into fine pieces and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  • Combine together in a bowl and serve.

5. Blondies

This is not a “fat-burner,” but it’s much healthier alternative to other desserts, and will store less fat while giving you your sugar fix.

  • In a food processor, blend together raw shelled sunflower seeds, dates, salt, vanilla, and a tablespoon of cold-pressed coconut oil.
  • To turn it into a “brownie” by simply adding 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder.
  • Form into balls or squares and serve.

Good luck!

Photo Credit: Stephan Wurth

Sleep 1 Extra Hour, Lose 10lbs – Really

June 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Health Articles


Glamour magazine recently put 7 of their readers, who were sleeping an average of 6.5 hours per night, on a strict diet of 8 hours of sleep per night for 10 weeks, and all of their guinea pigs reported weight loss – without having to change what they ate, or the amount they exercised.

A doctor swore to the editors that he could prove that getting enough sleep does help people burn fat, and here are the results:


The women also reported having less cravings, more energy, seeing flatter stomachs and seeing their love handles shrink.

It has to do in part with the hormones that are (or aren’t) produced in your sleep – the more your body clock is disrupted, the more these hormones are impeded of doing their jobs.

Less sleep means an increase of gherlin, the hormone that makes one want to eat more. It also means a drop in leptin, the hormone that gives us the signal to stop eating when full. Also, during sleep, our brains secrete a significant amount of growth hormone which helps our body break down fat for fuel. If there’s not enough, our bodies store the extra fat.

Give it a shot – you have nothing to lose, except for a few pounds.

Read the full article here


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