A Journey of Discovery

Image of Healthy Transformations - A Journey of Discovery

I’ve been heavy my whole life. I’ve bowed down before the bread and potato gods repeatedly for 50 years. And I’ve paid the price with my health, my energy and my happiness.

When I attended a Healthy Transformations information session, I was intrigued enough to sign up on the spot. I was honestly tired of doing the same things over and over and seeing the same depressing results. I felt like this was my last hope.

Eating In The Box

For the last three months, I’ve been “eating in the box” – a TON of greens and veggies every day, a moderate amount of protein and a general avoidance of the things I used to base my meals around: processed carbs. 

And the results have been worth it! I’ve dropped 30 pounds already, and that made moving easier. I’ve started riding my stationary bike and have racked up over 50 miles, a little at a time. 

I Feel Like I’m Being Rewired

I feel like I’m being rewired: I look forward to eating salad as the centerpiece of my meals. I routinely turn down my husband’s homemade bread – not because I have to, but because I’ve done the math and the satisfaction of eating it isn’t worth trading my success. Last week, I voluntarily consumed a salad with kale in it. Kale. Nature’s misfit toy. A plant so indestructible that even the SNOW can’t kill it.

It Isn’t Just About Following a Meal Plan

The program isn’t just about following a meal plan, though. We also work on modifying the mental patterns that form the habits of a lifetime. I’m learning to:

  1. Name the emotions that used to drive me to eat seconds (or thirds)
  2. Recognize the cues that trigger me to desire unhealthy foods – and change the routine to get the same “payoff” in a healthier way
  3. Redefine words like “treat” or “indulge” to separate them from food

It’s a Year-Long Journey

It’s a year-long journey, which seemed insane at the beginning, but I get it now: the program takes that amount of time to ensure that the new eating behaviours have become the new normal, while at the same time, ensuring we understand cravings, emotional eating, and ways to keep ourselves on track when we stumble or when life gets hard.

The Group Setting Has Been So Helpful

And the group setting has been so helpful: sharing successes reinforces that we can each achieve great things. Every program session begins with the victories we’ve achieved, and I’ve felt so supported by the group when I share mine.

If you’ve been on the fence about making changes, or investing in your health, I’d advise you to embrace the possibilities that Healthy Transformations opens. They aren’t selling quick-fixes to your health, based on dodgy science. 

Healthy Transformations is the real deal! 

Marie Davis is Director of One Day Web Group, an online marketing agency that produces amazing websites, email and digital marketing campaigns. Her go-to salad contains mixed greens, grape tomatoes, cucumber, pumpkin seeds, olive oil and too much vinegar. She still distrusts zombie kale.

My Weight Loss Story

https://youtu.be/F2pr7N1S-Ho

Hello, hello, it’s Christopher Lawrence with the HealthyTransformations.ca program here in Calgary, Alberta, and I am coming to you to talk a little bit about my story and my journey with weight loss and reducing inflammation. Holy crap, it’s been a journey. I’ll keep it brief, though, because some of you might be wondering like, what does this guy know about it? Well actually, I was working in corporate Calgary in a company that was amazing but just not a good fit for me, and extremely stressed out, extremely depressed, and 50 pounds heavier than I am now, what? Yeah, so if I had done this video 10 years ago, my face would have looked like a big pink balloon, although everything kind of looks a little blue right now, the sun is kind of setting. So, it was a bit of a journey, and a lot of it had to do with stress reduction, but nothing kind of replaces, you know, really supports weight loss like fixing food, and that’s what the Healthy Transformation’s program is all about, so. By the time I started the Healthy Transformation’s program with Dr. Mike Breen, we co-founded it together, I had already lost most of that weight, but, I had another 10 pounds to lose so I actually lost that 10 pounds with the first group that we facilitated. And it’s been a heck of a journey.

I’d like to tell you that it was a straight line, I went straight from being this much to this much and reduced inflammation and everything went perfectly, I’d love to tell you that, but I would be lying, it has not been a straight line. Even today I still struggle a tiny little bit in certain situations where it’s like, maybe I find myself just binging on junk food for an evening or something and I always feel like crap after. It’s not about being perfect, but it is certainly about increasing your average-ness of eating correctly. What I can say is that with time and reinforcement and acute self-awareness and practice and practice and practice, never perfection, perfection, perfection, with those things, I have been able to maintain my weight loss for more than five, well actually probably closer to eight years now, time is flying by, and you know what? I am not getting any younger, at least chronologically. Physiologically, I think I’m way younger, I can do things that I couldn’t even do five years ago and 10 years ago because my health is so much better.

Anyway, I don’t know if that offers any support or information to you, or motivation is what I meant to say, but please do reach out if you have any questions. Dr. Breen and I just love to encourage each other, each other, we like to do that, too, we love to encourage people and each of you to have success on whatever journey you’re on, so. Christopher Lawrence, Certified Master Coach Practitioner, HealthyTransformations.ca, thanks for tuning in. See ya next month.

Obesity, Weight Loss and Weight Gain

Hello, folks. Dr. Michael Breen here speaking on the healthytransformations.ca website. I just wanted to make some comments, brief ones, about the phenomenon of weight loss and weight gain I guess is part of that. Overweightness and obesity is plaguing the Western, the industrialized, the industrialized world and in fact, it’s plaguing a great deal of the world right now. Data on overweightness and obesity is consistently reporting that greater than 50% of the population in many, many countries is either overweight or obese meaning that if you are of normal weight that you’re actually in the minority which is a very, very unusual kind of consideration. What’s important to note is that overweightness has been mismanaged to a very great extent for a long period of time. A whole model of weight gain or weight loss being the management of calories has been demonstrated to be in fact incorrect. It’s called the energy balance model and it’s been shown to be incorrect at best and in fact harmful at worst in many circumstances. Recidivism which is the rate of weight loss and then gaining weight, weight gain again based upon behaviors is remarkably high and it’s because the model actually doesn’t work. Truly, weight gain is the consequence of inflammatory phenomena that take place in the body. We now see weight gain, overweightness and obesity as actually one of the symptoms of an inflammatory phenomena much like the symptoms of chronic disease, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease. These things are all bunched together and weight gain is part of that. In fact, fatty liver disease is now being bunched into this category as well.

 

So what’s really important for people who are dealing with weight related issues is that they actually get the very best advice that they can on how to manage this stuff and the management is really by an anti-inflammatory dietary program. The Healthy Transformations program that I run along with Christopher Lawrence is really focused on addressing that particular problem. That is what we do. I invite you to stay on this website, look around a little bit. That’s healthytransformations.ca and find out what you can about weight gain, weight loss and whether it relates to your circumstance and then when that’s the case, please reach out to us. We have workshops that we run. We have a few more to do in December here of 2019. Our program starts in January of 2020 and we’ve helped dozens and dozens of people lose weight and lose it for long periods at a time. So healthytransformations.ca.  Reach out, we’d be happy to help.

 

Community / Influencer

https://youtu.be/GeFspTwi5kE

Why am I wearing a parka? Christopher Lawrence with the Healthy Transformations Program. Dr. Breen is not with me, but I bet he’s wondering why I’m wearing a parka indoors. Actually, I’m gonna go hang out with some friends in a few minutes, friends that I really like, who I surround myself with, who are really supportive, and sometimes they challenge me too much. Kyle, if you’re watching this, you’re not a good person. But what does that have to do with Healthy Transformations, weight loss, changing food behaviors, and food related behaviors, and food habits, and that kind of thing? Well, actually, I thought this was a perfect opportunity to do a video, perfect opportunity to do a video, enunciation matters. I thought it was a perfect opportunity to make a video because I was reminded about how important it is to surround yourself with the right community. When we talk about weight loss, reducing inflammation, all of that happens through eating correct food. It’s the eating the correct food sustainably for the rest of your life, that can be a bit of a challenge. So, one of the ways that we do that is we look at all aspects of your environment.

So, what are some of the aspects of environment that we want to, does it look like I’m floating on the ceiling right now? Yeah. Wooo. What are some of the aspects of your environment that you want to pay attention to? I’m just gonna talk about one today, but that one is about community and culture. So, certainly who we hang out with, influences what we eat. If we go out, think about this for a second, if we go out with a group of friends, and the first person orders a salad, the people after that might also order a salad. You know, and that sometimes happens, that sometimes doesn’t. I know that lots of folks have changed their mind about what they’re gonna eat, based off of what somebody else ordered. Where I see this mostly happen is at dessert. If the first person says that they don’t want dessert, mostly everybody else does too. So if you’re like, “I need to be the first person, “cause if everyone else has dessert, “I’m gonna have dessert, so when they come and ask, “I’m gonna say I don’t want any dessert.” And you just kinda cut everybody else off. Chances are, they’re probably not gonna order dessert either. The funny thing is, sometimes we can say no to dessert, but then our friend gets it, they bring two spoons anyway. “I didn’t want dessert, dammit! “Why’d you bring two spoons?” But now I feel compelled to try it, and you know, sugar’s like crack for some of us. Not me. So it can be a little bit challenging to stay away from.

So, the idea is that you surround yourself with people who like to eat healthy, when you can. And you become an influencer and a leader when you’re making choices. And this is one of the key ways that we can adjust our environment. Kinda cool, right? And then you become a little bit of an influencer in a super subtle way, and it can have a massive impact on your friends and family. Folks, Christopher Lawrence, healthytransformations.ca. I don’t know what that means, it’s some symbol that people do. I’m just excited about life! Okay, guys, Christopher Lawrence healthytransformations.ca, we will catch you in the next one. Please do reach out to us if you have any food related questions. Dr. Breen and myself are here to help!

Food Causes Acute Inflammation

Hello folks, Dr. Mike Breen here at HealthyTransformations.ca and the Healthy Transformations Program. Just wanted to give you another little video posting or video blog about another concept that is really foundational to understanding the Healthy Transformations Program and particularly how food can be the most powerful tool in restoring the healthfulness in many people, yourselves perhaps, who are suffering from ill health and other kinds of problems. The principle is how is it that inflammation is actually caused by sugar? Well let’s go back to a little bit of a drawing, a little bit of a graph here. What I’m gonna draw is what we call a blood sugar curve and what that is, is if a person was exposed to a single exposure of sugar, it could be a chocolate bar. It could be a can of pop or something like that, and presuming that they hadn’t had any sugar for a long period of time, or what we call a fasting blood glucose test. They’re not done that much anymore, but they used to be quite popular. You’d get a curve that was like this. So blood sugars are on here and this is time across the bottom. So the blood sugars as a consequence of being exposed to a sugar dose here would rise up like this then they would come back down to a lower point. So pretty typical. These are kinds of curves that are in every single physiology text book that every medical doctor, chiropractor, naturopath, osteopath, nurse has ever studied.

How is it that the blood sugars go up? Well that’s just from the absorption of the materials. How is it that in fact it goes down? That’s in response to insulin. So insulin would have a curve, and this is not exactly 100% accurate, but insulin would rise. And as the insulin rises it actually initiates an effect. There’s a time delay here, which would drive the blood sugar back down. And as the blood sugar goes down then the insulin secretion from the pancreas goes down as well and things go back to normal. Now typically this would take somewhere between 90 minutes perhaps or two hours or something like that. Again, when we were looking at these things in our textbooks we saw that this was normal function. And yet, just because the body can do that doesn’t mean that it ought to do that. This is actually a very stressful thing for the body as it turns out. Having blood sugars rise this rapidly, actually and having insulin that is commenced right with that actually drives what’s called the acute inflammatory response.

So when you eat foods and you drive insulin up, inflammatory influences take place. Now the interesting thing is that the acute inflammatory response, and how would you know what that is? Well if you’ve ever been bit by a bee or you’ve got a sliver in your foot, or something like that again, you get soreness and you get redness and you get swelling. That’s an acute inflammatory response, but it happens in our body just the same as it happens outside of our body, and it happens in response to the consumption of food. The interesting point is this, the inflammatory response doesn’t take 90 minutes to two hours to resolve. The inflammatory response goes up and acute inflammatory response will last from 12 to 72 hours. So what’s important about that is that each time we consume a sugar we’re going to produce an acute inflammatory response. If we only ever ate one chocolate bar or one pop and then we didn’t do it for weeks or months on end, then it wouldn’t be a big deal. But the majority of people don’t do that. They’re actually consuming sugars on such a regular basis that in fact we get a curve that looks more like this. A person wakes up. They have something that’s sweet. They wait for a while. They have something else, some cereal. Then they’re having timbits perhaps at work, and then they’re having a big fat sandwich, and this is a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the message. What goes along with this are insulin responses that basically mimic the blood sugar levels and then this is an acute inflammatory response followed by another, followed by another, followed by another, and people do this day after day week after week, month after month. They do it throughout their lifetime, and as a consequence you get an inflammatory effect that actually goes on for life. And that’s what produces chronic diseases, that exact phenom. You want to learn more about that sign up for our work shop at the Healthy Transformations Program or get in contact with Christopher Lawrence or myself. We’d be happy to let you know more about it.

Make The Easy Choice

https://youtu.be/YBJBEONM0us

Hello, team, Christopher Lawrence here with HealthyTransformations.ca. I’m wearing my sweater ’cause it’s a little bit chilly in my house. My spouse likes to keep the temperature at minus 17 in winter and minus 20 in the summer. So I’m cold. But that’s not what we’re here to talk about today. What we’re here to talk about is what I like to call make the easy choice.

So what this is about is when we are faced with a food craving, especially in a cultural situation, the, it’s so easy to give into that. And this isn’t about eating 100% correctly, 100% of the time without making any mistakes ever, forever, for the rest of your life. Although, I have met a couple of people who are pretty close. I’m not one of those people. So what do we do instead when we’re trying to change our food habits and work on behavioral modification for our food, maybe it’s also exercise, anything health-related? We wanna implement something called make the easy choice. So I’ll give an example. During the holidays, during the holidays, sometimes when I’m around family, when I say sometimes, I mean a lot, when I’m around family, I can find it very difficult with all of the spread of food. Like there’s food on the table all the time, nonstop, so it’s really easy to overconsume and get too much of even the right kinds of food. And it’s really easy to overconsume on the kind of food that might be incorrect for my body and my physiology, which would be anything with sugar. You too, just in case you were wondering. So it’s really easy to overconsume on that stuff. But so then, what do you do when you’re in that situation? Well, here’s what I do. It’s really hard for me to make the decision when it’s in front of me and I’m already hungry and it’s sitting there and it still smells good. I mean, I’m not gonna lie. Like, you know, some smells for me, it’s like I have no desire anymore, it smells gross to me. But some smells, they still get me and I want that food, even if I don’t even feel hungry. So where’s the easy choice in that case? Well, in that case, I might actually bring my own food, which I have done before. I’ve got a new salad, which for me is a traditional Christmas salad. It’s got some cranberries in it. It’s very, it’s, I don’t know, it’s just, it’s lovely. And so I might bring some of my own food and say, “That food over there, I’m not allowed to have,” because that’s a statement that works for me. You might also use, “I’m choosing not to have it,” or, “It doesn’t support my health,” or, “It’s not in line with who I wanna be,” or, “It’s not in line with my value system.” That food isn’t for me. This food is for me, right? And so that has helped me before. And even if I can’t bring my own food, even that kinda thinking seems to help.

I also try to fill up with the main meals. So I’ll make sure that it’s like, okay, with the main meal, this will eliminate my need for dessert because I’m gonna make sure that I get everything I need with that. I also play with timers. Like, I’m not gonna eat for 2 1/2 hours. And when that 2 1/2 hours comes up, I’m gonna grab a small or reasonable sized handful of nuts. And those are all easier choices for me than walking in without a plan. So the easy choice in that case is walk in with a plan. Walk in with my own prepared food. Walk in having already selected the kinds of food that I’m gonna eat that day. That’s an easy choice. I gave another example of this in another video where I talked about if I get gas on Friday nights, I am probably going to get a bag of chips on that Friday night. So the easy choice is to get gas on a Thursday morning or a Wednesday evening, some time of day that isn’t a trigger for me. Why are Friday nights a trigger for chips when I’m at the gas station? I don’t know. But they are. So instead of overanalyzing that and freaking out about it and saying, “What’s wrong with my stupid head,” I just say, “You know what, that’s just the way “that I’m built right now.” And I could overanalyze that and try to change it, which would be going against the grain of a habit that’s been there for probably close to 20 or even 30 years. Can you believe that I’m 40? ‘Cause I can’t. And you better not either believe that I’m 40. Anyway. Yeah, so, you know, where’s the easy choice? And the easy choice might be getting in front of where that behavior happens. That’s where the easy choice is.

So I hope that’s super helpful. Oh yeah and one more tip. Sometimes the easy choice for me is actually doing meal prep. If I get all of my meal prep done, you know, the night before or a couple of days before or even for the whole week, which is rare for me, I tend to do it a day or two in advance, but if I get it all done, then that’s the easy choice. And when that food is prepared, I feel compelled to eat it. ‘Cause I’ve got a plan, I don’t want it to go to waste. It’s really hard for me to stray from it actually. So that works for me. It’s an easier choice to come with a plan and prepared food than it is to, you know, kinda walk into my workday maybe, walk into the office and not have a plan for food and kinda just wing it. That is never good news with me. Some of you are perfectly fine with that. Not me. I use it as an excuse to eat garbage. And then I feel like what? Garbage. And then my body hates me because I’m treating it like garbage. Okay, that’s enough of that. Thanks, folks. Hopefully that was helpful. You can check us out, HealthyTransformations.ca.

Testimonial from Peter P

“I joined the Healthy Transformations program partly to lose some weight but mostly to help with ongoing health issues, like high blood pressure that I wanted to reduce naturally rather than with prescribed medications. The program, Dr. Breen, and Christopher were very helpful in increasing my knowledge about the effects that what I eat has on my health. Now, I have no doubt about what I should be eating and if I am ever in doubt I know that I can reach out anytime, even after the program, for some additional support. I’m happy to say that I have been able to reduce my weight, my blood pressure, inflammation and the glycemic response in my body, largely due to the Healthy Transformations program. Having this knowledge has greatly impacted my food choices and continues to have positive benefits every day.” ~ Peter P

Do You Know The Glycemic Index?

Hello folks, Dr. Mike Breen here at healthytransformations.ca. Just another video blog here about some information that is really important to understand as it relates to using food to drive healthfulness in your life and the principle I’m gonna talk about right now is called the glycemic index. The glycemic index has been around for quite a long time, developed in the 1970s, the University of Toronto, Canadian phenomenon which is quite interesting. And the glycemic index is actually a scale that represents the concentration or the density of sugars that are in carbohydrates. So, the glycemic index does not have anything to do with fats nor does it have anything to do with proteins. It’s a scale that measures the sugar concentration in carbohydrates. It’s a scale that goes from 0 to 100. At the top end of the scale, glucose was given the arbitrary number of 100, and so foods are measured in terms of their sugar density relative to this glycemic index. Now, it’s a very confusing thing if you go to these glycemic sites, and there’s lots and lots of them, you can look up a particular food and it’ll give you the number, the glycemic index. But it doesn’t give you any kind of references to the types of foods that are categorized in the glycemic index.

So, let me do this really quickly. If you can imagine a ladder with a bunch of rungs, maybe five rungs, the bottom rung at the bottom of the glycemic index is the category of vegetables. And then the next rung up the ladder is the category of fruits and then the next rung up is the category of legumes. The next rung up from that is the category of grains and the next rung up from that is the category of starches. So generally speaking, there’s overlap that exists between these groups to a certain extent, but for the most part that’s the orientation of the glycemic index. So, the lowest foods on the glycemic index fit into the green leafy vegetables and other forms of vegetables, the non-starchy vegetables. The next group up would be the fruits and as I said the legumes, the grains, and the starches.

What’s happened in our culture is that a significant amount of dietary patterning has lead to the consumption of very high-density carbohydrates, so the starches like potatoes and like rice and the grains which is all forms of bread and pasta. And these kinds of foods represent the bulk of the carbohydrates that are consumed. Then, if we see that in fact these are the high-density sugars, we wonder why in fact we have issues with blood sugar regulation in our culture and the answer is right in front of us. Because the majority of the foods that we eat are very, very high in the glycemic index. So, the Healthy Transformation’s program takes the opposite approach. We shift the consumption to the bottom end of those ladders to the bottom two rows, the vegetables and the fruits. And simply by emphasizing those foods as the primary volume that you consume, you control a whole bunch of stuff, particularly blood sugars. And then secondarily to that, control inflammation by way of reducing insulin production. It’s really quite remarkable. Healthytransformations.ca, look us up. You might be interested in coming to the workshops if they’re available or reaching out to Christopher Lawrence or myself. We’d be happy to meet with you.

 

Testimonial from Anny P

“I joined the healthy transformations program hoping to reduce inflammation, lose weight, and take control of my overall health. Immediately, I was able to adapt to the program and integrate it into my lifestyle. The food was delicious and I felt results much quicker than I expected, not only in my health but my overall well-being and mindset. My mom and I did the program together and our strengthened understanding of the physiological, philosophical and behavioural components of overall nutrition have been incredibly meaningful in our lives. I would absolutely recommend this program to anyone who wants to enhance their understanding of nutrition and strive towards a more positive relationship with food! ”  – Anny P

Bugs In Your Gut

Word Count: 635 words Approx. Reading Time: 2.5 – 3 minutes reading time

It may sound like science-fiction to many, but your gut bacteria may have more of an influence than we think. A recent study involving mice and microbiomes shows a link between our gut bacteria and appetite, showing that what we eat today has a future effect on our cravings and hunger tomorrow!

Bugs in our Gut

Our guts are immensely complex systems that contain many species of bacteria; in fact, bacteria genes outnumber human genes by 100 to 1!  Many gut bacteria manufacture special genes called peptides that can regulate and influence hunger. An interesting study shows that people who desire chocolate have a different microbial breakdown, despite eating identical diets. Another study shows that mice raised in a germ-free environment prefer more sweets and have more sweet receptors. While more research is needed, this shows how important the food we choose to consume is to not only our overall health but also our craving and food tastes.

But, Our Brains Too?

Scientists have long known that microbes live inside us. Still, it is only recently that science sees a connection between our mental health and microbiome and the role it plays in diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and autism.

Evidence shows that the bacteria in our stomachs influence our minds, also contributing to depression and isolating feelings. Scientists discovered differences in the amygdala, a region that is responsible for processing social emotions, between mice and germ-free mice. One study shows that mice that were given fecal transplants from depressed humans also became ‘depressed,’ giving up when captured much earlier than the control mice, showing how our gut microbiomes influence our mental state.

Additional studies show that children with autism have different patterns of microbial species in their stool, signifying that there is a link between our stomachs and our minds. As much of the studies have yet to prove cause and effect fully, more research is needed. Still, scientists are confident that bacteria play an essential role in our mental health.

What’s Next for Research

Doctors hope to continue to gain a better understanding of how our microbiomes influence our brains to treat psychiatric and neurological conditions better and clear up some of the misconceptions about the science. More clinical trials are needed to assess the influences guts have on various conditions.

What Can We Do About It?

Understanding how an ecosystem of microbes impact our stomachs and our overall health is an important step in educating ourselves to the importance of diet throughout life. As we are germ-free when we are born, our gut bacteria are influenced by the environment and what we consume. This means that we can change our microbiomes, reducing inflammation and positively influencing our mental health.

What You Can Do to Alter Your Microbiome

Well, studies show that one of the most important factors in reducing disease and improving the gut microbiome is diet. Good thing it is one of the most accessible factors that you can control in your life. Understanding the adverse effects a western diet has on your health and gut is vital to both your physical and mental health. A study of mice shows that after just 12 weeks of a western-style diet made them both obese and diabetic, doubling their weight – only 12 weeks! Their colons were dominated by pro-inflammatory bacteria, and their entire bodies showed signs of inflammation. Do you still want that bowl of Cheetos now?

The Bottom Line

Our guts play a more significant role in our overall health than we had known. With more attention to our diets, we are able to positively change our microbiome. By eating a diet rich in leafy greens, lots of vegetables, and removing packaged and processed foods, your gut will thank you, and it looks like your brain will too

Christopher James Lawrence is a Co-Founder of the Healthy Transformations Program with Dr. Mike Breen.  He is also the Chief Value Officer and Founder of Change My Life Coaching and Co-Founder of Change My Business Coaching — a fast growing whole-life, leadership and business coaching company, and the only one of it’s kind.  He is also the author of “Go Beyond Passion: Discover Your Dream Job”.  Christopher is a Certified Master Coach Practitioner (CMCP), trainer and facilitator, and a passionate public speaker that truly cares about the success of each and every single person he comes into contact with. You can reach him here.