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The Hormone Boost

The Hormone Boost

How to Power Up Your Six Essential Hormones for Strength, Energy and Weight Loss
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover
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Excerpt

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.

Energy

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.

Strength

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.

Memory

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.

Metabolism

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.

Confidence

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.

Immunity
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.

Mood

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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Design Your Next Chapter

Design Your Next Chapter

How to realize your dreams and reinvent your life
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover
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Excerpt

 
The GPS was not making any sense and the over­sized map was now a crumpled ball of frustration on the back seat of the rental car. We were lost. My hus­band was grumpy and I was frazzled. Hans made another turn and we bumped our way down another white gravel Tuscan lane that glared back at us in the midday sun. We were trying to find our way to a small, rural bed and breakfast where we would spend a few rare days alone together.

Around the next corner, a stooped old man was ambling along minding his own business. We stopped, I jumped out, unravelled the map and showed him the place we were desperate to find. His face lit up and to our astonishment he climbed right into the back of the car. “Avanti,” he shouted, thrusting his walking stick between the seats, and we set off, following his emphatic instructions.

Ten minutes later, we found ourselves in a rustic farm kitchen surrounded by the old man and his family. The table was piled with steaming dishes of delicious food and jugs of red wine, and children were everywhere. Amongst the Italian chatter, of which we understood little, a young woman introduced herself in English. “I am Marissa and this is my family and our farm,” she said. “I am sorry but my grandfather loves to pick up strangers, especially at lunchtime. Please stay for pranzo. He would like that.”

And so we stayed for pranzo (Italian for lunch). Before the meal ended, a gaggle of neighbours dropped by. Some of them joined us for coffee, and some made a feast of the leftovers. I wondered aloud to my husband if we had fallen upon a celebration of some sort. Marissa overheard me and told me that no, this was normal, it was always like this—Italians were a sociable people. That I did not doubt. I also thought that their sociability must be really good for them: the crowd looked happy, healthy and madly alive—including the five animated octogenarians among us.

Three hours later we were back in the car with clear instructions on how to find our B & B. As we drove away, we could not stop grinning. What had just hap­pened? That gathering had all the noise and energy of the parties I used to go to in my twenties. No wonder the Italians needed an afternoon siesta.

Two weeks later, I was back at work. The board­room at the television network always smelled of stale coffee. As the discussions droned on, my mind wan­dered back to that farmhouse kitchen. Everything about the experience had excited me. The family’s kindness and generosity had been overwhelming. They had wel­comed us, fed us and sent us on our way with arms full of their homemade goodies. They hadn’t been rushing anywhere. They hadn’t said, No, I can’t, I’m too busy. On the plane back from Thailand, I’d realized that I really did need to change my life. No more driving myself into the ground. I needed time to reconnect with my hus­band, my family and friends in a serious and sustained way. Now this simple Italian experience lit up in my head like a beacon.

Was Italy where I’d find my next chapter?

The spooky thing was that as soon as I’d admitted to my daily turmoil of discontent, I saw similar signs of dis­tress and longing everywhere. It’s like after you buy a new car—suddenly you notice the same model all over the place. “Look, he’s got one just like me, only in red. Hmnn, I like it in red.”

I was like a moth to the flame of change, drawn to stories of how others had transformed their lives after hitting adversity or burn-out or just plain boredom. Each was like a spur, prodding me on.
 
At my retreats I have now met hundreds of people of a variety of ages and from all walks of life whose heads are in a similar place as mine used to be when they arrive for a week at my villa.

Some are about to become empty nesters; their sadness is palpable. I remember the way one single mother put it: “I have a year left before my last one leaves home and the loneliness is already too much. I know it’s dramatic, but it’s like I have a black hole growing in my heart. My daughters have been my entire life for eighteen years. I am intensely happy for their futures but I cry for myself.”

Many have reached the point where they are just bone-tired with the daily commute and the same old routine. They are fed up with a work culture where being overloaded is the norm and being way too busy is the measure of success. Committing to a week in which they are able to step out of those roles lets one little question come to the surface: “What about me?”

Then there are those who have climbed the employ­ment ladder successfully, but now that they are perched at the top, they have begun to sway. “I was happy during the climb but the summit has left me wanting some­thing different. What do I do now?” Or “I’m at the top of my profession but each day has begun to feel like a car­bon copy of the day before.” There is nothing more deadening to the spirit than feeling like you have noth­ing left to learn.

Men are not immune to these same regrets and questions about whether what they’re doing has any meaning, either. My brother is only forty-seven, hand­some, lively and always young to me. He was the CEO of a major ad agency in New York but, around his office, he was known as the “old man.” He found it disconcerting when his young colleagues assumed they needed to explain a business concept to him. “It’s as if experience today means nothing,” he told me. “It just got tiring.” (He quit: more about that later.)

Life can be a series of blind curves, but there can be even wilder turns as we get older. I have heard the stories of women, unexpectedly and prematurely widowed, whose melancholy wraps them in a blanket of fear for their future. I also can’t count the number of women at the retreats who are dealing with the end of their marriage. One of them told me, “After the anger and tears I feel dead inside, dull and old.” This past summer I heard the cruellest story from one of our guests. “I woke up one morning next to my husband of twenty-eight years and he was staring at me,” she said. “Then he announced that I was past my expiry date and walked out for good.” I will never forget the way all the women in the group gasped in horrified sympathy when she said this.

So many women are troubled by less dramatic issues: lives that are full of obligation but lack joy. As one announced, after several glasses of Prosecco, “I feel like the passion for life I once had has gradually dripped away, like water from a leaky faucet. I try to tell myself that I don’t care, but I do care.”
 
Sometimes what troubles them is as simple as this: “I’m bored—bored with my life.” With so many wonders in the world, I think we are almost obliged to live every day as if it’s our last. But many people feel so trapped they’ve forgotten how to be amazed by life.

Our guests come to the Tuscan retreat to have a glorious adventure. But many, under the influence of the time they spend together, have felt comfortable enough and bold enough to admit that their life feels like it has come to a screeching halt. Where did all the excitement go? They spent decades with one main purpose in their lives—raising their children. This role has defined them. Now that those children have moved on, they’re left alone to face oversized question marks. Who am I when I don’t have to be a mother every moment of every day? What do I do now? Often these questions spark fear and despair. Not to mention guilt, a mother’s default setting. Trying to shake off that reaction was the subject of my last book, Not Guilty, a memoir on the (often really funny) chaos of being a working mother.

When I was on a publicity tour for that book several years ago, I had begun a speech on a small platform in a bookstore in front of about two hundred people. In the front row, I noticed a mother with twins who were fast asleep in a double stroller next to her.

No more than five minutes into a talk about mater­nal guilt that I thought was quite light and humorous, I heard crying. I glanced at the twins, but it was neither one of them—it was their mom. I tried to carry on, but her wails only became louder and finally I had to stop and ask her what was wrong. She managed to pull herself together enough to say that she, the mother of ten-month-old twins, had a terrible secret.

Oh no, I thought, what is coming next?
“Sometimes,” and here she started to cry even harder, “sometimes I like one better than the other!”

Before I could react, a smartly dressed elderly lady stood up at the back of the crowd and announced with a wide grin that she had seven children and most of the time she didn’t like any of them. The audience roared with laughter, including the young mom, who must have felt her guilt dissipate in an instant. I carried on with my talk, but I thought about this mother afterwards—and I’ve thought of her often in the years since.

Sometimes all it takes to get over that next hurdle is to understand that it’s normal to have these feelings, that everyone has such moments. We are not alone. This is something all the women who come to my retreats realize as they sit around a fire, wrapped in wool blan­kets under a starlit Tuscan sky, while the strangers around them spill out their hearts. Soon they find themselves sharing their own hearts too.

Instead of a Tuscan night around a fire, I hope in this book to offer you something almost as good! Also, over the years I have devised a list of questions for my guests to help them find the answers they seek. They don’t do this in public, and there’s no obligation on them to share their answers. But many of them have told me that facing these questions later, alone in their room, is a crucial first step to waking themselves up and remembering that life only runs one way.

So here are my questions. Grab a coffee or a glass of wine and find a quiet place away from other peo­ple . . . and away from your phone. I know it’s hard, but try to be in the moment. Remember what happened to me in that Thai sauna and be prepared for anything. Intense, personal scrutiny can inspire a sense of rev­erence and possibility, but it can also spark fear and sadness. Being honest with yourself almost always produces startling results.

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The Down Goes Brown History of the NHL

The Down Goes Brown History of the NHL

The World's Most Beautiful Sport, the World's Most Ridiculous League
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover
tagged : hockey, history, sports
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To Speak for the Trees

To Speak for the Trees

My Life's Journey from Ancient Celtic Wisdom to a Healing Vision of the Forest
edition:Hardcover
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