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The Hormone Boost

The Hormone Boost

How to Power Up Your Six Essential Hormones for Strength, Energy and Weight Loss
also available: Hardcover
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The conversation that started me down the Hormone Boost path made me realize how many people these days fit into a “just okay” mold—a way of existing from day to day that isn’t awful but sure isn’t great, either. Perhaps you feel the same way. When I stopped and really thought about it, I realized this shouldn’t have come as a surprise. In my practice, I hear from people all the time—all day, every day, in fact—about what they want more of, or what they want to improve. There’s a lot of common ground in these discussions, and chances are good that you’ve had the same thoughts from time to time (or maybe more often). This, then, is where we begin: with the biggest and most important areas in need of a boost.

How ’bout a Boost of These?.?.?.

While there is an almost endless supply of areas in our daily lives that can be improved, the following seven are the ones that crop up most often in the discussions I’ve had about well-being.


Regular sleep and regular exercise combined with a thoughtful diet should be sufficient to give anyone the energy they need for a busy life. The thing is, if we’re not getting the right kinds of sleep, practicing the right exercises or eating the right foods, we can wreak havoc on our energy levels without even knowing it. If part of how you’re managing your days right now requires the assistance of regular caffeine intake or high-sugar foods or an afternoon nap, you’ll be interested in The Hormone Boost’s plan to power up your energy by targeting the specific hormones and habits that affect it most intensely.


Being strong isn’t just about being able to open the pickle jar without special implements or assistance. It’s also about creating the optimum conditions for your body to take care of itself and move freely through the world. Whatever your limitations are (in terms of health, work or mobility), a stronger body will improve your energy and quality of life. It can even make sitting at a desk for several hours more manageable, and allow you to burn more fat while doing it! Strong bodies also age more gracefully and recover from illness and injury more quickly. We’re not able to get any younger, but we can always get stronger. The Hormone Boost plan will show you how.


We might not notice our memory gaps in this always connected ultra-digital world. Can’t remember a celebrity’s name? You can IMDB it. Worried about forgetting a new contact’s number? Put it in your smartphone. Never before have we had so many devices stand in for memory. As a result, unsurprisingly, our memories are not as strong as they used to be. (I once nearly drove myself crazy trying to remember an actor’s name—and I refused to look it up online. It took me three days but I trusted that her name was in there, and sure enough, it was: Reese Witherspoon. Boom.) It’s impractical to disengage completely from all of your devices and external reminders, but you can give your memory a genuine boost by attending to the hormones that give it strength and longevity. Quicker, more intense memory recall is part of a strong, active brain—and it supports your mental acuity.


It’s hard to be healthy and energetic and fit without metabolic support. As I mentioned previously, I went through an intense struggle with my metabolism after graduating from university, and again six years later, after naturopathic medical school. During both periods, my strict diet and rigorous exercise sessions failed to help me lose weight or keep it off. It was during those times that my hormonal health concerns forced me to realize that the formula calories in – calories burned = weight loss was by no means complete. Hormones are the body’s powerhouse; the processes they drive sustain every aspect of health and fat-burning potential (a.k.a. metabolism). Boosting your metabolism means augmenting your capacity to generate and use energy—and that is naturally connected to your health, energy and fitness levels.


Regardless of your size or style, you should be confident. Full stop. The people I am most drawn to are those who just seem entirely comfortable with themselves—people who own their worth, who wouldn’t trade places with anyone. This is what I wish for all of my patients and friends, because it can make such a massive difference in every area of your life: professionally, personally (especially in intimate relationships), physically. Confidence walks with a straight back and long strides and a general peace with the world. Balancing your hormones, especially those discussed in this book, will allow you to generate confidence in your sense of surety and comfort with your body, your life and your relationships.

The twenty-first century has brought with it an amazing number of quick fixes and surface shortcuts—and we rely on them to make our lives easier in countless ways. Too often, though, we don’t stop and think about the challenges this reliance is creating. Take hand sanitizer. While effective in the immediate biological sense (e.g., after using the toilet), its prevalence is making it harder and harder for our bodies to build up their own immunities. Ditto for antibiotics, which, when overprescribed, compromise our ability to fight off seemingly minor viruses and bacteria. I’m not suggesting you swear off sanitizer entirely or avoid a doctor’s prescription, but I invite you to explore what a hormonally boosted immune system can do. If the metabolism is the body’s powerhouse, the immune system is Neighborhood Watch: it monitors comings and goings and does its best to ensure you’re safe. A hormone boost to the metabolism increases not only its efficacy but also your overall safety.


Boosting your mood has a more subtle impact, in some ways, than boosting your metabolism or immune system. A mood boost won’t necessarily help you lose a few pounds or fend off the flu that’s going around. But our moods are pervasive, and they have the power to change our perspective, our schedule and our interactions. Wake up in a bad mood? You might swear at the thought of hard-boiled eggs for breakfast and grab a croissant instead. Have an unexpectedly tense confrontation with a client or colleague? You might “treat” yourself to a beer as soon as you get in the door, to help unwind after that adrenalin-inducing conversation. When you’re in a good mood, you are more patient (you’ll walk home rather than jump in a cab), make better choices (cheerfully crunch that salad—and those abs!) and attract the good energies of others (that stranger you bumped into at the produce stand just happens to be a trainer at your local gym and invites you in for a free session). Boosting your mood will have a thousand small positive effects in every area of your life.

The Hormone Boost has been diligently researched and designed to boost every part of you. We’ll explore each boost area and its corresponding hormones thoroughly, unpacking the science behind hormonal health and tracing the connections between what we do and how we feel. I’m also thrilled to be able to share with you some amazing successes from my practice; they demonstrate just how important hormonal health is in all areas of your life. And each chapter will leave you with my recommendations for boosting the hormones that are integral to powering up your body, your mind and your fat-loss efforts. Specifically, we’re going to focus on a group of hormones I’ve come to think of as “the fat-loss six.”

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Peace, Love and Fibre

Peace, Love and Fibre

Over 100 Fibre-Rich Recipes for the Whole Family
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From “Fibre 101, or How to Get an A+ on Your Colonoscopy”
Years ago, one of my comedy buddies in my touring company at Second City was diagnosed with colon cancer. After he was finished treatment, a wild and crazy party was organized to celebrate. He spoke that night about the power of the colonoscopy and early detection and urged us to take part in a large study on colon cancer being held in Toronto. I wanted to be a part of the bigger picture and help science, so I immediately signed up.

Weeks later I was interviewed to become a volunteer in the study. I was so nervous—I mean, what if I didn’t pass? How pathetic would that be? What if the self-proclaimed Queen of Fibre got rejected for a study on poop, bowel function, and GI health? That would be an insult to my belief in the power of fibre.

Fortunately, or so I thought, I passed that test and was given a poop bucket to take home with me. The subway was really crowded that day; I had to stand holding the bar and a yellow poop bucket labelled “Hazardous Waste.” I knew people were staring, but I proudly clutched that bucket all the way home. I was helping science! I felt incredibly virtuous. The deal was, you pooped into the bucket and called a hotline, and a poop collector would come to your house within a specific time to ensure the poop was fresh, then rush it back to the lab.

Weeks later, after my colonoscopy prep (one of the most explosive preps known to man—enough said!), I showed up at the hospital only to be told that I had arrived one week early. Despite my begging, cajoling, crying, guilt-tripping (“I’m participating in a colon cancer study for the betterment of mankind!”), and, in one of the lowest-of-the-low moments of my life, throwing down the “I’m on TV” card, the receptionist was a rock and wouldn’t budge.

I was instructed to come back in several months so I could go through the whole shebang again. I quietly left the building, hat in hand, and did not submit myself to another colonoscopy prep until I was 50. Fortunately, this time I got the date right, had the colonoscopy, and received an A+. The doctor told me I had the most beautiful colon he’d ever seen, and apparently, he’d seen a million of them—he seemed close to 100 years old. I’ve considered having this carved on my tombstone:

Here lies Mairlyn Smith:
She had the most beautiful colon ever seen.
Signed, The Unknown Centenarian Colon Doctor
You too can get an A+ on your colonoscopy by eating healthy, back-to-basic foods that include fibre-rich vegetables and fruits, berries, whole grains, nuts, seeds, pulses, and fermented foods, as well as going for a walk every day and drinking enough liquids to keep your GI tract happy and moving. It’s never too late to start adding fibre-rich foods to your diet. This is the main reason I decided to write this cookbook. Although eating a lifetime of high-fibre foods is great, adding them to your eating style as of today is the best news your body will have heard in ages. Think of it as an investment in your retirement health savings plan. The sooner you start adding to it, the better. Your body is going to be on the winning end, pun intended.

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Hormone Power

Hormone Power

Transform Your Diet, Transform Your Life
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The Complete Eye Health and Nutrition Guide
tagged : nutrition, diets
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Heavy Flow

Heavy Flow

Breaking the Curse of Menstruation
also available: Paperback
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I was, somewhat ironically, in health class when it happened. I didn’t even have to look to know what was happening — the telltale warmth spreading from between my legs told me exactly what I needed to know.

My pad was leaking.

I excused myself from the classroom, tucked a fresh pad into the sleeve of my sweater and stealthily inspected the chair I had been sitting on to make sure there was no blood on it. Thankfully, there was not — my classmates were still talking about the girl who stained a chair the term before. I shuffled my way to the washroom, keeping my legs tightly crossed to avoid another gush of blood and any further leakage.

Sure enough, I had soaked through my pad and stained both my underwear and my jeans. I changed into a fresh pad, but the damage was done — the blood was visible on the outside. Mortified, I spent the rest of the day with my winter jacket tied around my waist. While the bloodstain had been concealed, the jacket-around-the-waist trick was pretty much like sending out a bat signal to every other student in my school that my pad had leaked.

Does this sound like a familiar story? I’m sure anyone reading this book has a period horror story of their own; whether it’s the classic leaky pad in middle school, a bloodstain on the sheets of a new lover’s bed, or a tampon rolling out of your bag at the most inopportune time. Having someone know you’re on your period — or worse, actually seeing the blood evidence — is embarrassing.

Or maybe your period horror story doesn’t have to do with a bloodstain, but the pain that is often experienced with menstruation. Period pain is real pain, and it’s estimated that it affects anywhere from 70 percent to 90 percent of people who menstruate.

That’s a hell of a lot of “bad periods,” a term that Meghan Cleary, founder of the aptly named resource website, defines as “a condition enshrined in mystery, myth, cultural shame, taboo and clinical gender bias.”

Never mind bad periods: all periods are enmeshed in the same issues. Full stop.

Despite all our advances as a species, menstruation is something that remains a relative mystery for many humans. We can put a man on the moon, yet almost half of the world’s population is suffering on a monthly basis, often in silence, because of a perfectly natural bodily function. Menstrual cramps are the most common gynecological problem in adolescent girls and are the leading cause of short-term absences from school and work.

In a 1978 essay for Ms. magazine, Gloria Steinem mused that if men could menstruate, “Congress would fund a National Institute of Dysmenorrhea to help stamp out monthly discomforts.” Steinem adds that if men could menstruate they would brag about how long and how much, and menstrual products would be free. For anyone who has ever had a period, the essay is hilarious, but it’s also a bleak commentary on the ways in which menstruation is used as a tool of the patriarchy.

More than forty years later, Steinem’s missive is still relevant.

No such pain institute has been founded, and the options for managing period pain and other related symptoms are still limited — and many have to spend years convincing doctors to take that pain seriously.

We live in a culture that seems to have no taboos left, yet period shame still persists. In a world where the minutiae of our lives are live-tweeted, posted to Instagram, and enshrined online, we wouldn’t dare update our status to “menstruating.”

And menstrual products certainly aren’t free. In fact, quite the opposite — for some they can be downright expensive. The “feminine hygiene” industry brings in about $15 billion in sales worldwide; that figure doesn’t include pain medication and other sundries related to menstruation. There are many people around the world who simply cannot afford to purchase pads or tampons, or don’t have access to them in remote areas, relying instead on rags, grass, newspaper, scraps of fabric, or even cow dung to manage their flow. These found materials are itchy, unhygienic, and unreliable. Rather than risk the shame of having their menstruation exposed, many girls and women simply stay home from school and work.

It’s nothing short of a human rights violation. If that sounds extreme, the United Nations Human Rights Council says the same thing in no uncertain terms: “The lack of access to adequate water and sanitation services, including menstrual hygiene management, and the widespread stigma associated with menstruation, have a negative impact on gender equality and the human rights of women and girls.” (emphasis mine)

During my career as a nutritionist, I’ve developed an interest in menstrual cycles from a health perspective. Although I had a lifelong interest in reproductive health, even sewing my own pads and making zines about toxic ingredients in tampons while I was in high school, I was almost thirty before I learned about how my menstrual cycle really worked and that it was a vital sign, both a promoter and indicator of good health. It wasn’t until I was in nutrition school that I was presented with the idea that period pain wasn’t “normal.”

As a feminist, I see that menstruation is a complex issue that transcends physiology. The more time I spend writing, reading, and researching menstruation, the more I recognize just how far the influence of the menstrual taboo reaches. It’s entwined with feminism and patriarchy, gender and the rights of trans people.

Follow the red thread and you will uncover how the medical system’s paternalistic, “doctor knows best” approach has not just ignored, but denied the pain of so many for centuries and has literally failed women by leaving them out of medical and drug trials because controlling the menstrual cycle is, well, hard — 80 percent of the prescription drugs pulled from the U.S. market between 1997 and 2001 caused more side effects in women than in men.

Go a little further and you’ll see how menstruation is a sister to the conversation around hormonal birth control; cousin to female sexuality, fertility, pregnancy, and abortion. It’s about what we as a society think is okay to do to female bodies.

Menstruation intersects with capitalism, the illusion of consumer choice, and the role that product manufacturers have played in shaping the mainstream conversation around menstruation, for worse and for better.

It is at once a political issue, a cultural issue, a class issue, and a public health issue. Our attitudes toward menstruation mirror our discomfort with seasonality and change, death and renewal. It’s underpinned by centuries of shame and taboo, fear and reverence, misunderstanding and symbolism.

No wonder they call it “The Curse.”

Yet, I believe the curse can be broken.

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Eat Real to Heal

Eat Real to Heal

Using Food As Medicine to Reverse Chronic Diseases from Diabetes, Arthritis, Cancer and More
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