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How To Lose Weight (almost) Effortlessly

Hey it’s that time again.

Let me tell you about a hypothetical set of twins. On a beautiful spring afternoon, ten years ago, twenty nine year old twins were at the park with their families. They were very much alike. Both were in love with their husbands who adored them back. Both were personable, successful, educated and had desire to live a full and happy life. Both had a child, each was five years old. There was just one thing that was bothering them both.

On that beautiful day both were getting winded playing with the children, for they were both around forty pounds overweight. After some soul searching and some talking they both decided to lose the weight.

After a year they were both successful. Each had exercised, each had embraced healthy eating, and each had lost the forty pounds. But there was a difference.

Fast forward to today. One of the twins is now fifty pounds heavier, often unnecessarily feeling shameful, and is down at the bookstore browsing the diet section looking to start yet another diet.


The other is loving being active, has kept the weight off and doesn’t think about it anymore. She’s spending her energy on living life and having fun. She’s planning a trip to Italy with her daughter. She’s free.


What made the difference

Have you ever wondered, as I used to, what makes this kind of difference in people’s lives? It isn’t always a native intelligence, or talent, or dedication. It isn’t that one person wants success and the other doesn’t. It isn’t the best diet plan either.

The difference is that successful people adopt permanent, stress free behaviors that become habits. The people that don’t succeed are the ones that are always on a program, on another diet, never making permanent changes.

What happens when you diet? The diet ends. Which is only good for someone selling you another diet book, or their “special foods”, but it is not good for you.

That’s why I’m writing you today, to help you end the dieting madness and become lean for life, and to make you an offer that I think you’ll like.

A weight loss program like no other

We’re unique, our program is the only program that combines the following:

  • Habit based. There are a lot of people and programs talking about being habit based, but they don’t teach you how to master them. We’ve all tried to do something every day and it didn’t work. We teach you how to actually make your habits work with our science based 4 step process.
  • Evidence based. Every part of our program is research backed. We focus on nutrition obviously, but just as important is the psychological aspect of change.
  • Proven to work. We’ve coached thousands successfully to lose tons of fat. Many online programs are coached by people that haven’t actually coached before.
  • Suitable for you. For our habit based system to be the best program out there we needed to be confident it was good enough to work for everyone. It had to work for busy executives, stay at home moms, elite athletes and everyone else. It did. Cross country skiing, gold medalist Chandra Crawford used our habit based system to stay in shape for years. Other Olympians too. I bet you would have thought that Olympians get special treatment? Their needs are indeed different but the coaching system is the same for everyone.
  • Risk free. There are no contracts, you pay month to month. You will go until you decide to stop, or you graduate from out system.
  • Easy. To work in real life our system has to be as stress free as possible. And it is. You won’t be burdened with weird point systems of tracking, weighing your food for the rest of your life, or anything like that. You’ll learn easy habits.
  • Empowerment. By the time you are done with us you won’t ever need to have a coach again. You’ll be able to master any habit, not just nutrition habits, and you’ll understand your own unique nutrition needs.
  • Each habit is tailored to your specific needs. Other habit based programs give everyone the same habit and it is up to you to do it. This doesn’t work for over half the people. With us the habit gets scaled to your level.
  • Support, not competitiveness. Often other coaches will assume that you being in a group is all the support that you need. It isn’t. We built our program to ensure that you get the support you need, every single day. It comes from your coach, and your peers. We encourage collaboration, not competition.
  • You learn to trust your body. To make success permanent we capitalize on your best resource, your body. We’ll teach you to know exactly how much to eat and when, without counting calories. You’ll learn to use your body signals appropriately to remove the guess work.
  • Hunger won’t be a problem. To make you as comfortable as possible we’ve researched a ton about hunger and satiety. Every part of our program reflects the latest research in appetite and satiety regulation; we’ve spared no detail because we want you to be as satisfied as possible.
  • Eat the foods you like. Unlike diets we don’t eliminate foods, or use restrictive rules. You literally can eat whatever you choose, we’ll never judge your choice. Instead we teach you how to be flexible and still succeed.
  • Motivation stays high. We’ve all started something full of motivation only to have it fizzle. There is science to motivation and our program maximizes it. Part of that is the high level of autonomy that you’ll have. We support and guide you, but you are the one in charge of your plan.
  • Right focus. We focus on behaviors, not on outcomes. Outcomes are great, we all want to achieve those goals, but the research shows us that focusing on them is less successful than focusing on the daily behaviors. Our program always focuses on the habits and the behaviors needed to stick to them. We’ll keep your efforts productive by funneling your energy into actions.
  • Right exercise. There are a ton of myths about exercise. How much, what type, etc.? While we don’t give individualized exercise plans (that would cost way too much), we guide you towards programs that work. It turns out that most people think they have to do way more than what they actually do, to lose weight

Our Fall Offer

Our one on one coaching program is currently $97 to sign up and $197 per month. In a twelve month period you would spend $2461. We created the group coaching to do better than that. We want to make it as affordable as we can to get permanent weight loss as effortless as is possible (our mission).

For this fall, we’re making the most affordable offer we can: you can join our October 5th small group cohort, for only $127 a month, with no contract. That’s a savings of $937 over private coaching, over a year. That’s $1437 less than a popular online program that has over 300 clients for each coach. With us you get much more personalized attention.

Plus, we went a step further, if you want to pay upfront for 6 months, you can save an additional $180

We will sell out, act first and ensure that you get your spot. Click the button below to go month by month at $127

You don’t have to, but if you want to save more, click this button to pay six months in advanced at only $97 per month.

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For a long time you could vet someone’s grasp of nutritional science by their statements about artificial sweeteners. This single polarizing topic was a fairly reliable way to separate People Who Can Read a Scientific Paper from people who get their “nutrition expertise” from blogs and the health food store. I used it like a litmus test that detected pseudoscience believers. The more fanatical and pushy a person was about convincing me aspartame would kill me, the less credibility I gave them.

I’m not saying people who choose to not consume zero-calorie sweeteners are by any means fools; it’s the exaggerated and ill-informed fear mongering that rubs me the wrong way. We all know that zero calorie sweeteners are not essential or beneficial, and it’s just common sense that if you don’t like taste you shouldn’t eat them. (Same with bananas or liver or collard greens, if you hate them, don’t eat them. Duh.)  But people who referred to zero calorie sweeteners as “poison”  or “toxic”, or vehemently warned you that aspartame will give you cancer if you even brush the packet with your fingers… they were pretty easy to write off as people I did not want to bother discussing science with. Because there was no credible data to substantiate any health risk. But that’s changing, slowly.

And while extreme fear mongering over any food still leaves me with a personal distaste, I have to admit my own stance on artificial sweeteners is changing as more data comes to light about their effects in the human body.  Cliff’s notes: there’s still no reason to believe that artificial sweeteners or stevia will give you for cancer, lupus, or make you grow a third arm.  But there is evidence that stimulating sweet receptors without providing calories does do something. In particular, artificial sweeteners may raise blood sugar or worsen insulin insensitivity.

Zero Calories, but not Zero Impact

Artificial sweeteners’ efficacy in aiding weight loss has been questionable for some time. While most studies have shown that using no-calorie sweeteners helps people consume fewer calories and lose weight, (Blackburn et al., Kanders et al., Raben et al., Zheng et al., Rogers et al.) there have been several studies which indicated that people who consume the most artificial sweeteners are also at greater risk for gaining weight or becoming obese. The obvious trouble with interpreting these data is the potential for reverse causality (people who are overweight or concerned about their already-rising weight would naturally be more likely to drink diet soda or try Splenda in their coffee). Further, the cognitive impact of consuming non caloric sweeteners may be to dis-inhibit food intake. Perhaps moral licensing is at work: because someone has the diet coke, they choose the larger fries.

In this case, to remove some of the psychological confounders, I think animal studies are more appropriate that looking at humans who are AWARE of whether they are drinking Diet Coke or Coke. We humans do an awful lot of thinking and rationalizing.

Animal experiments have supported that artificial sweeteners have effects on metabolism and health that are not just psychological. Rats given artificial sweeteners have shown less ability to regulate food intake based on the calorie content (Davidson et al.). Rats normally display increased body temperature and physical activity following a sugary meal. However, animals which have become accustomed to artificial sweeteners do not respond to a sugary meal with the same responses (Swithers and Davidson). This lower energy expenditure leads to increased weight gain, compared to consuming sugar. Feijo et al have also demonstrated that rats given yogurt sweetened with saccharin or aspartame gain more weight than rats eating yogurt sweetened with glucose.

So as an occasional Diet Coke drinker, am I making it harder to keep my weight down? I guess the question is, compared to what? Compared to drinking sugar-sweetened drinks I am certainly better off with non caloric beverages, since sugar sweetened drinks have been consistently linked to obesity, weight gain over time, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. But compared to if I only drank water, there is a chance that being accustomed to non-caloric sweeteners does mean some slight effect on my body, and I am glad to be aware of that.

No-calorie sweetener habituation may reduce energy expenditure following a sugary meal. As mentioned above, animals burn more energy after having a high sugar meal, in part due to their body temperature rising slightly. After dissociating sweet tastes with high calorie intake, this effect disappears. But it only happens if the user is accustomed to sweet tastes not being associated with calories. In the real world, most humans would not be having just one or the other: sometimes they’d have sweet sugary things, sometimes sweet non-sugary things. So it’s very difficult to predict how this might play out in humans. Additionally, human experiments have shown that whether a person is habituated to artificial sweeteners or not impacts their appetite response to sweetness: those who avoid artificial sweeteners have an appetite increase with a sweet preload (a sweet drink before a meal), whereas those habituated to diet drinks don’t. So in that respect, it’s possible that getting used to Diet Coke might help you eat less and not feel “extra hungry” at the first taste of something sweet.

Frequent consumption of no-calorie sweeteners may induce changes in gut bacterial populations (Pepino et al.) but then again, it might not (Frankenfeld et al.) This area needs a lot more research before we can draw conclusions, or determine how much sweetener needs to be consumed to have an impact. A 2014 paper by Palmnas et al. reported on experiments in which rats were given either water or water with aspartame (dosed at 5-6 mg/kg, the human equivalent of 2-3 diet sodas per day for 8 weeks). Some rats in each condition were kept on standard rat chow, while others were given a high fat diet known to make them obese. Aspartame-consuming rats took in fewer calories (17% and 25% in the standard and high fat groups, respectively) and had a lower bodyfat percentage on the high fat diet, however they had higher fasting blood sugars, higher blood sugars after eating, and showed less insulin sensitivity (both diets). Aspartame-fed rats either were not clearing glucose from the blood stream as efficiently, or insulin was not having the same efficacy in shutting off hepatic glucose output. The mechanism remains unclear.

The rats did have changes in their gut bacterial populations, but the aspartame appeared to actually protect against some of the changes that occurred with the high fat diet. It has been proposed that shifting gut flora could induce insulin insensitivity by producing more of the short chain fatty acid propionate, which circulates to the liver and provides substrate for gluconeogenesis. In simpler terms, if your gut bacteria make more propionate, your liver can turn that propionate into glucose and your blood sugar could be elevated. More experimentation is needed to clarify if this is actually what’s happening, because everything you eat impacts your gut flora, not just sweeteners. Whether you own a cat or dog, drink coffee, or are vegetarian will change what populations of flora you have more or less of.

In 2014 Suez et al. published research in the prestigious journal Nature detailing experiments by which mice given the maximal daily dose of saccharin recommended for humans developed insulin resistance. But even more interesting, the researchers showed that the insulin resistance could be transferred to germ-free mice by fecal transplant. This is provides strong support for the hypotheses linking gut bacteria to the development of insulin intolerance.

This isn’t just an issue with aspartame, or saccharin, because all the non-caloric sweeteners stimulate the sweet taste receptors, not only in mouth, but elsewhere in the digestive tract. Stimulation of sweet receptors increases the synthesis and activity of intestinal glucose and fructose transporters (Mace, et al.)  Acesulfame potassium and sucralose are approximately equal in their ability to increase glucose absorption, with saccharin being somewhat less, but still significantly elevated. Therefore, it’s possible artificial sweeteners raise blood sugar by increasing how fast we can absorb glucose into the bloodstream from a meal.  This effect has been shown with sucralose in obese humans (Pepino et al.) However, other studies have found that the same effect does not happen in lean, healthy humans (Ma et al., Ford et al., Brown et al., Wu et al. 2012, and Wu et al. 2013.)

What Does it All Mean?

In light of this knowledge, what does that leave a person to do? My personal advice would be the following:

  • If you are well and healthy and have no weight or blood glucose issues, and currently consume artificially sweetened food or drinks, aim to keep your intake moderate and consider reducing if it’s possible to switch to an unsweetened version of the food/drink. Personally, I am finding I enjoy club soda just as much as diet soda, and am having that more regularly when I want a fizzy thirst quencher. I’ll still drink a couple diet sodas a week I suspect, but this new awareness does give me motivation to dial it back a touch.
  • If you have high blood sugar or type 2 diabetes, I’d recommend making an effort to reduce artificial sweetener intake, rather than thinking of it as “unlimited”. As for how much to reduce it, I cannot say precisely. If you make one change, not drinking diet soda will take out the biggest source of non-calorie sweeteners for most people. Using packets of sweetener can help you have less (a can of diet soda will have the equivalent of about 10 packets of sweetener, so cutting out one soda a day would mean a big decrease, compared to cutting out the 2 packets in your coffee and sacrificing enjoyment of your java.)
  • If you struggle with losing weight, and feel hungrier after eating sweet foods, consider reducing artificial sweetener intake to see if it helps. It’s also important to reduce sugar intake if it’s high, since that alone can contribute to your difficulty. Not all people seem to experience this effect though, so if you feel like sugar-free items satisfy your cravings and don’t increase them, they might not be a problem for you.
  • What I’m not advising: using sugar instead. Adding sugar to your diet is a step in the wrong direction if you’re trying to optimize your weight, blood sugar and metabolic health.


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Have I really tried EVERYTHING?


I think I’ve tried it all. But then I think to myself, have I? I am thinking I want to do group coaching, but is it just another diet like the dozens I did?  Can you tell me what the process would look like? There is a coach there and are we getting guidelines, structure? Hints, habits? Maybe this is something I have NOT actually tried. I mean, I am scared to change. There is a whole psychological thing happening, and I think maybe a group environment, taking it ONE DAY at a time will help. I just really need help. Thanks, K.

Hey K! I don’t think you’ve tried anything like this before, because no one does exactly what we do. Our program is built around promoting your autonomy and ability to make decisions, teaching you evidence-based nutrition habits and psychological skills (instead of food rules), connecting you with real people every single day to share the journey with, and accountability to yourself, an expert coach, and a group. Our clients tell us all the time that this is refreshingly (sometimes mind-blowingly) different from everything else they tried.

If you haven’t tried changing the relationship you have with food, you haven’t tried it all. If you haven’t tried self-trust and understanding to change your ways, you haven’t tried it all.

To give you a better idea of how Small Group Coaching operates: Every 2 weeks a new habit lesson comes out by email, and everyone is working on the same thing. You’ll be a group with 6-9ish people (we shift group size based on activity so it’s not overwhelmingly busy nor a ghost town in each group) and you all will start each habit by checking in on the forum to make a plan for how you’ll do this the next few weeks. If you need to make it a touch easier or scale it up because you’re already pretty good at it, we’ll help with that. Then you practice each day doing your habit, marking it off in your own private habit tracker (you can use a spreadsheet we provide, or a phone app, or a paper notebook, it’s for YOU to practice accountability to self) which is crucial for long term successful maintenance.

There is a head coach for each cohort, this next one starting October 5th is headed up by Coach Kara, who is our most experienced group coach. Kara will be there every single day in the forum, to respond to questions, keep the conversations going, invite people to help and work as a team, and generally BE THERE. If you have a very private matter, you can also email her personally.

We do a webinar a few days into each habit to bring it more to life, answer live questions and generally discuss and have some fun. There will usually be 3-4 coaches on that.

Other coaches do stop in the forums from time to time, me most of all, I’d say I get in there 2-5 days a week. And we have 4 amazing mentors, who have completed our coaching programs and are experienced and helpful supports to the main coach

So on your end: expect to practice a new habit every two weeks, to get help as much as you need it for it by forum and email, to listen to and watch a few coaches’ takes on it in a webinar every 2 weeks. Expect psychological support and emotional management discussions too in the forum, no “DO THIS.”  We are behavior change experts, not slave-drivers.

What is NOT going to happen: No meal plan that tells you what to eat. No mandatory one size fits all workout program. No supplements to take. No foods off limits. No public weigh ins. No weighing at all if you don’t desire to. No before and after photos in your skivvies. No contest.

Hm, anything else I can explain for you?

If you are in the Lean Habits Community Facebook group, feel free to ask in there for people who did small group coaching, and people will pipe up with their thoughts! If you want to grab a spot, the information and signup page for the group coaching is here (scroll down past the one on one coaching info), it’s at the bottom.

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How to Listen to Your Body for Weight Loss

Today’s article comes from my client Janna. We have been companions on this journey, and it’s a marvelous one to recap. – Georgie

The diet industry is great at selling tools and gadgets designed for weight loss support. The trouble is, even when these items seem to work, they can create dependency issues, making weight maintenance a daunting (and often expensive) task. Additionally, many people find that strategies relying on external measures like calorie counting and heavy restriction are unsustainable in the long-term.

So consider this: what if you discovered you already had everything you needed to lose weight and maintain a lean body? What if you already owned the ideal tools to develop a pain-free way to achieve leanness without counting calories, popping pills, tracking every macronutrient, eating “diet meals” or missing out on your favourite foods?

Learning to trust your body

If you’ve always depended on external tools and resources for leanness, learning how to rely on your body for weight loss cues is incredibly liberating. When you practice lean habits, you’ll learn how to achieve a level of leanness that is just right for you.


Here are a few of my top tips for zeroing in on weight loss:

Honor Thy Hunger: Feeling hunger for 30-60 minutes before you eat is wise. Pushing it beyond that deliberately, on a regular basis, is often going to work against you. If you want to get better at stopping when satisfied, honoring your hunger within an hour of it showing up helps.

Test your hunger hypothesis: The next time you feel hungry, consider what most appeals to you. Sometimes cravings or thoughts about eating can signal that we are actually bored, sad, tired, stressed out, or looking for a diversion. Consider starting a conversation with a friend or colleague. If you can’t stomach the idea of eating any veggies or fruit that you would normally enjoy, consider holding off your meal by 30 – 60 minutes to see how you feel later.

Calibrate your comfort levels with mindfulness: Learning how to eat just enough means you stop eating when you’re satisfied. Listen to your body at each meal and note when you feel satisfied and the results over the next hours and days. Do you get uncomfortably hungry before your next meal, or do you feel overly full for hours? Are your pants fitting more loosely? Try regular mind-body scans to better understand your relationship to food.

Be flexible and have fun learning this new skill – every meal offers an opportunity to become more aware of our appetite signals and understand the impact our feelings have on how and why we eat. There are no “wrong” choices in this process because every choice you make offers you an experience to build on. Tuning your body into weight loss mode can take time, but consider the benefits:

  • Feeling relaxed – even joyful – about eating
  • Eating whatever you want to
  • Never counting calories again
  • Truly enjoying social situations (without stressing about food)
  • Having more time to spend on what really matters to you

Establishing habits is just a starting point to help you develop your own sense of what works best for you. You might find that tolerating some hunger late at night is well worth the benefit of fitting into clothes. Or you might decide that a bedtime snack helps you sleep more soundly and prevents you from getting hungry. Best of all, you may notice that trusting your own hunger signals gives you the confidence to experiment with new meals and relax around food at holiday gatherings.

Janna profile 2013

Janna Stam is a long-time One By One coaching client and loves the freedom that lean habits have introduced into her life. She is a professional writer and lives in Toronto, Canada.

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My New Favorite Bar


 Truly Tasty Blood Sugar Management


I rarely do product reviews, but when I’m genuinely enthused with a product so I like to make a special mention of it. I also think this could be a great find for my clients and readers who suffer from reactive hypoglycemia, or blood sugars swings due to diabetes. [This is a totally uncompensated and original opinion. I make a living coaching, not reviewing stuff :) ]

I like a protein bar now and then, as a sweet treat. I recently discovered Extend bars, and I was really impressed. I never saw them until recently because they are over near the “diabetic stuff”, not with the other bars. But wander over there, and you’ll find them at a lot of pharmacies.

Here are 5 things I liked about them:

  1. Most importantly, they taste really great! The mixed berry was my favorite and chocolate caramel ones were delicious too. I didn’t like the Cookies N Cream flavor as much, but the other two were actual treats I could definitely enjoy. I like a little something sweet each night, and an Extend bar has been perfect. I would definitely buy these as a portable food option for when I’m traveling, and the berry one I could even eat at breakfast to save me from hotel breakfasts which always seem to be light on protein.
  2. They have fewer calories than a lot of other protein or nutrition bars, but are quite satisfying due to a great macronutrient breakdown (the mixed berry bar has 12 grams of protein, 3 grams of fat and 5 grams of fiber, in a 150 calorie bar, that tastes good! I tend toward having a square or two of dark chocolate most nights, but if I’m a bit hungry and not just wanting the sweet taste, I’d prefer these for filling me up a lot more than chocolate.
  3. They control blood sugar for hours. For someone who is diabetic or prone to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) these bars would be an excellent product to try for helping with blood sugar management. The secret? Uncooked cornstarch. Yeah, that powdery white stuff you might have a box of in your pantry? It’s one of the slowest-digesting carbohydrate sources you can possibly consume.People with glycogen storage diseases (a medical cause of dangerously low blood sugar) and endurance athletes (who may have blood sugar lows during racing) have long known that mixing some cornstarch in water was an effective way to keep blood sugar stable for many hours, without the spike and crash that happens from consuming straight sugar.But how appealing is cornstarch in water? Um, not as appealing as a tasty, crispy bar if you ask me. If your blood sugar is prone to peaks and valleys, you know how it can leave you feeling awful when it bottoms out. The cornstarch trick (5 g of cornstarch swirled in water) is an option, but you might find that like me, you prefer a tastier snack.
  4. They have no added sugar and are gluten free. While I can eat gluten freely, a lot of people can’t or choose not to.
  5. Lastly there has been research published in peer-reviewed journals on the efficacy of these particular products in stabilizing blood sugar so the label claims aren’t just claims. They’re backed up. Hype is everywhere, but with me, evidence goes a long way and these have it. If you’d like to check out some of the studies for your own reading, see the three below for starters. I’ve uploaded the full text papers to dropbox.

Link 1: https://www.dropbox.com/s/c01v1rhqnndboqt/Extend%20Bar%20Research%203.pdf?dl=0

Link 2: https://www.dropbox.com/s/hlf07g4x8eq1tqq/Extend%20Bar%20Research%202.pdf?dl=0

Link 3: https://www.dropbox.com/s/7ktlurt8p2fsvg6/Extend%20Bar%20Research%201.pdf?dl=0

If you’d like to pick up some for yourself try your pharmacy. If not, look online. The first link is the Where to buy page. The second link is for the Canadian store page.

Let me know what you think if you give them a try. I haven’t tried all the flavors yet, so let me know which you like.

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