April 6

Turning 40 #1a

Ever since I turned 40, less than three weeks ago, I’ve been hearing many pieces of (sometimes unsolicited) advice and opinions on what turning 40 is supposed to mean, and what I should expect in the next ten years.

These views are sometimes contradictory, so it shows me that people have different experiences when it comes to aging. I’ve listened to them, put them in a little corner of my mind, but have not incorporated all of them. I ask myself: is this person projecting their experiences or do they have something valuable for me to know?

A new co-worker I met is 45. He’s got the body of a marathon runner and looks trimmer than most 30-year-olds. After a few relationships that were too intense too quickly, and turned sour, he’s wised up when it comes to falling in love. “I used to get in way over my head and fall in love quickly. Now I’m taking my time!”

My hairdresser is 49. When I first met him, he had the “silver fox” look, which I thought looked great on him. But he’s someone who started going gray in his 20s, so he was never comfortable with this look. He’s tall and handsome, and his skin looks quite youthful. One day he got tired of the gray hair and dyed it. Now it’s hard for me to imagine him with gray hair. He’s dating like crazy but (so he says) will be 100% upfront with the women he meets about whether he thinks it’s going to work long term or not. So he has a high dating turnover. My first thoughts: I don’t want to have to go through that at 49! Oh, and he advertises that he’s 45 on dating sites…

Regarding health, I got many pieces of advice. From a few people, I heard “When I turned 40, my metabolism slowed down.” A few people told me that they started gaining weight more easily after 40. “I never had abdominal fat before!” At the same time, I met people in their late 40s who did not seem to have that problem.

I have a few great friends who are about 20 years older than me.

A close friend told me that turning 40 is the hardest. “I think the challenge is that when we come out of our 30’s and regain consciousness if you allow me to phrase it this way, we have two big emotions going on at the same time. We are craving and almost desperate to have what we don’t have yet, or to improve upon what we already have. We want want want…….and yet, we are almost desperately afraid too. Afraid that we’ve run out, or will run out of time, money, energy, opportunity; you name it. And yet what we need to do most is SLOW down and really think things through. It’s hard.”

My mom told me that she wasn’t a good place in her life when she turned 40. That’s when I realized that my parents got divorced at 39! She lost both of her parents after that while raising two teenagers. Tough years! I can appreciate that.

Another friend in his 60s recalls fondly the time when he was 41. “I was 30 pounds lighter. My hair was black. I had a mustache. I was FREAKIN’ YOUNG.”

Many people said — that 40s are the best. “You’ve worked out all the bugs in your 30s so you can now focus on enjoying life!”

I often heard that your 20s are for exploring, your 30s for consolidating your skills, networks, relationships, your 40s for thriving in your career and relationships, and hopefully if you’re in a good place by your 50s, to focus on enjoying your life! Although, it surely makes sense to enjoy life AND keep learning at any age.

One thing that stands out for me among all of this seemingly contradictory advice is this: now that you’ve made some mistakes, focus on what works and grow in the direction that you want!

I feel that my 30s were exciting and fun. I took lots of risks, made plenty of HUGE mistakes, learned new things about myself and made big progress in my life, but in the manner of three steps forward, two steps back.

Some of the efforts that seemed pointless in my 20s and 30s are paying off. I paid more attention to my diet and health than most people of my age, and now I find myself with a BMI of 22.5, normal blood pressure, no health issues and in reasonable, although not great, shape.

One thing that I’m glad I worked out in my 30s is my diet. The food experimentation was necessary to find what works, but it’s not something I could keep up for the rest of my life. It’s good to experiment, but once you’ve found what works, it’s about sticking with it! And my current diet works best for me regarding health, digestion, and energy.

One thing I had trouble focusing on in my 20s and 30s is exercise. I worked out on and off, but I never found a program that I stuck with for extended periods of time. I made many mistakes, suffered injuries from exercising the wrong way, had to take time off working out and had trouble finding a routine that worked for me.

After a couple years of learning from those mistakes, I think now that I have found what the problems were and how to work out in a way in a sustainable way, improving weak areas and strengthening the good ones.

One piece of advice that I heard is that when turning 40, there’s “no time to mess around.”

Or to put it in another way: don’t rest on your laurels.

How you live in your 40s will determine how you will spend your 50s, 60s, etc. This statement applies to the financial, health and relationship realms. Keep building and strengthening your social networks. Get on the program with exercise and diet. And save!

I’ve met people who did not seem to worry about any of this stuff. They simply got along with their lives. Some of them were happy, and some of them were not in a good place. Because of their attitude of “going with the flow,” they didn’t end up where they thought the river would lead them!

It’s all a question of perspective, but I found it interesting to write those thoughts and share them with you this morning.

Do you have any thoughts on turning 30, 40, 50 you’d like to share?

October 5

The public view of saturated fats and heart disease is rapidly changing, thanks to paleo bloggers and the media that have been riding the wave of attention of a few new studies on the link between cholesterol, saturated fats and heart disease.

From Chris Kresser's Website

From Chris Kresser’s Website

For example, if I type in “saturated fats and heart disease” in Google, I get a number of provocative titles by various authors, in addition to medical research:

  • New Scientific Analysis Confirms Saturated Fats Have No Link to Heart Disease (Mercola)
  • Confused About Fat and Heart Disease? This Study Explains Why (Time Magazine
  • New study puts final nail in the “saturated fat causes heart disease” coffin (Chris Kresser)

What all of these articles are referring are a few meta-analysis observational studies where no link was found between heart disease and saturated fats, going against the current wisdom.

For example, a 2009 study stated:

A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD.1

So what should we think of it?

It seems the public has responded with enthusiasm to this confusion by eating bacon and butter with the same reckless abandon.

The video below by Dr. Michael Greger explains why there is confusion.

The video gets a little complicated but it is 100% worth the watch. In summary:

  • Hundreds of studies have been done to without a doubt prove that saturated fat intake is the leading cause of increase in LDL “bad” cholesterol. These studies were done in a laboratory setting where the scientists had 100% control over the diet prescribed to people. Randomized control trials have also confirmed this.
  • Observational (epidemiological studies) CANT find this link because of highly variable factors in individuals that are difficult to spot in these studies.
  • Control-feeding experiments are different and PROVE that saturated fats raise cholesterol levels.
  • Observational studies don’t have the POWER to prove such a correlation.

The paleo community has embraced these new observational studies (funded by the meat industry) because they prove their point. However, they completely ignore the overwhelming body of evidence that implicates the role of saturated fat in heart disease.

It proves again that “people love to hear good news about their bad habits.”

July 1

Many articles have been written about the dangers OF a vegan diet.

Many of the points made in those articles are valid and need to be raised. They’re also blown out of proportion and taken out of context.

Eating an unbalanced vegan diet can lead to some health problems related to deficiencies. However, deficiencies are not a very common problem compared to diseases of excess.

We live in a world of abundance. By far, the biggest problems we face are caused by eating too much of the wrong foods rather than not enough of the right foods.

That being said, the human psyche is wired to worry about lack rather than abundance. As we evolved on this planet, the biggest danger we faced was famine. That’s why we like fatty foods.

When a group of early humans came across extremely rich fatty foods, those who ate them survived. Our brains are programmed to like concentrated sugars and fats. This program worked well in the context of a world where those foods were rare and helped us survive by providing the calories we needed, when few calories were available.

In the world we live in today, we experience the opposite problem. Yet, we still worry about lack.

  • Are you going to get enough?
  • Are you sure you’re going to be okay?
  • Are you sure you’re not going to run into deficiencies?

Those are the types of questions we get asked by our parents, nutritionists, and so on. Does this diet contain every nutrient? Are you sure you’re getting all your vitamins? Are you sure you’re getting all of your protein?

The Dangers of a Vegan Diet

I purposely use the word “vegan” because it’s a little offensive. A vegan diet applies to plant-based diets in general. The word “vegan” implies more of a life philosophy, but it is actually the proper term to describe a diet that does not contain any animal protein.

Plant-based is more politically correct, but it implies that the diet could have a lot of plants in it while not being completely vegan. Let’s stick with the word “vegan” for now because it describes a diet devoid of animal protein.

Are there any dangers to following such a diet?

Well, if you’re getting enough calories from fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans (with a little nuts and seeds for Omega 3s), then the dangers are quite limited—in fact, widely exaggerated.

B-12 can be a problem. B-12 is found in animal products, but that’s because it’s made from bacteria and we don’t live in the type of environment where we get exposed to unwashed foods and fecal matter and other nasties. So, we take a B-12 supplement. Most vegans know that they have to take a B-12 supplement and do. Not a big deal.

What about vitamin D? Vitamin D is contained in animal products, but vitamin D is not specifically a product made by animals. Vitamin D is not specifically a product that we have to get in animal foods. It is made by our bodies through sun exposure. Granted, if we don’t get enough sun, we could run low on vitamin D and eating certain animal foods could be beneficial, but whether you take the vitamin D from an animal or from a supplement, the end results are the same. Running low on vitamin D is not a vegan problem per se.

What about Omega 3s? We’ve heard that we must eat fish for Omega 3s, but where do the fish get their Omega 3s? Plant foods; namely algae. Are vegans low in Omega 3? No lower than anyone else. The human body can make its own DHA and EPA from other Omega 3 fats that are found in plants. Still, some people have concerns that they’re not getting enough Omega 3s. In that case, you can take a supplement of Omega 3.

Finally, we have the question of protein, which has been a debate in the nutrition world for a long time and is still being advocated as an important part of our diet. Vegan diets contain plant-based protein and there are many advantages to consuming proteins from plants rather than animals.

Recent research by Italian researcher, Dr Luongo, found that a lower protein diet, in general, is the best for cancer prevention.
Vegan diets contain almost the same percentage of protein (by calories) as omnivorous diets. The big difference is that the protein is coming from plants, not animals. And no credible research has ever shown that consuming plant proteins leads to health problems. In fact, quite the contrary.

Vegans get plenty of protein, more in fact than what is recommended, as long as they eat a wide variety of foods from the categories I mentioned previously. If you get enough calories from those foods you will get enough protein, even the foods we typically don’t associate as protein sources. For example, brown rice and even green vegetables.

We have a few nutritional concerns regarding the vegan diet, which is normal because the human brain is wired to worry about deficiencies.

But let’s ask a more important question. What are the dangers of NOT eating a vegan diet — in other words, of NOT eating a diet that is largely plant-based? I think those dangers are much, much bigger.

One can run low on B-12, and fix the problem almost instantly if it is discovered early.

However, when we create other problems in our health such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, they are much harder to reverse.

Diets rich in animal protein have been linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and a wide range of other health problems.

To me, the two things that are most worrisome and lead me to prefer a vegan diet are heart disease and cancer.

  • Heart Disease: The scientific consensus is that saturated fats in our diets raise our cholesterol levels, and high LDL cholesterol levels create hardening of the plaque in the arteries, leading to heart disease. This is an established scientific fact. I know, I know… you’ve heard differently via blogs and diet books. But think about who you should trust: a blogger or dedicated scientists that have painstakingly researched this issue for decades? A paleo blogger or a cardiologist like Dr. Esselstyn that is actually getting results actually reversing heart disease?The bottom line is that we know for sure that elevated LDL levels cause heart disease. They are one of the most identifiable causes of heart disease and diets rich in animal protein DO generally raise LDL cholesterol levels in most people.
  • Cancer: This is actually a little scarier. This idea that animal protein drives cancer growth isn’t just shared by a few lunatic researchers, but is becoming more widespread in the scientific community, especially with the latest research done on fasting by Italian-born Dr Longo. This is also the view of Dr. T. Colin Campbell, an actual biochemist and other of over 300 scientific papers. Oh but wait… His China Study also has been “debunked” by a bloggerI will admit however that the case for “animal protein driving cancer grown” is a little less solid that that of heart disease. But I certainly don’t think it’s a coincidence that all long-lived cultures of the world eat a plant-based diet (in most of these cultures, meat is a “treat” or a “condiment” but never a main part of the diet.).

I’m not going to review other potential health problems caused by animal products, as this has been covered extensively in many excellent books by respectable authors. In fact, that’s not even the point of my article.

The point is that the so-called “dangers” of a vegan or plant-based diet are largely overblown. But because our brain is wired about deficiency, we tend to worry about those “dangers,” instead of worrying about the potential health cost of not ditching animal products.

June 11

How to Listen to and Understand Great Music

Filed under Blog by Frederic Patenaude

I listen to a lot of audio books. I get them on Audible. I really love audio books because you can listen to them everywhere.

I probably “read” more via audio books than regular reading. Why? Because audio books can be listened to while you’re washing dishes, cleaning your house, getting up in the morning, going out for a walk, sitting on a train, etc.

Audio books are great, but sometimes can be disappointing. Not every book lends itself to an audio format. Sometimes you’ll listen to an audio book and think to yourself, “I should be reading this because I can’t remember all of this or this is too abstract. I need to see the concept on paper.”

I sometimes listen to audio novels, but mostly I listen to nonfiction information. Because I started doing some book reviews, I thought it would be a great idea to also review some of my favourite audio books, and they’re not going to be all about natural health.

I want to start with one that’s related to a big passion of mine: music. We love different kinds of music but I think most people are somewhat curious and interested about “classical music.”

For a lot of people, classical music is kind of mysterious: dead composers playing music of dead composers. The music is timeless even though it may have been written 200 years ago. Can we say the same about the popular artists of today? I don’t think so.

Classical music can also be intimidating. It’s complicated and it can be boring if you always listen to the same stuff. It’s much more than background music. To really enjoy classical music, you really have to understand why this music was written, what was going on in the artist’s mind when he wrote the music, and what is the structure of the music. It’s a language, and if you understand the language a little better it will make more sense.

Where to Start

I cannot think of a better way to get into the wonderful world of music than through Professor Robert Greenberg’s courses. He’s an amazing teacher and entertainer who’s produced a series of courses by the Teaching Company. These courses normally sell for $100 or more. I’ve been coveting the courses for a long time, and when I saw that they were available on Audible I jumped on the opportunity.

If you can get an audio book for $10 or $20 when it’s worth $100 or more, it’s a great deal. These courses are totally worth it. I’ve been really dedicated to them and there’s one that I would recommend to start with: “How to listen to and understand great music.”

I think music can really touch your soul and improve your life if you let it. This program by Professor Greenberg is not a book converted into an audio book, but a series of lectures that were recorded. Therefore, they’re much more lively and entertaining.

This program was meant to be listened to as an audio book. It’s a survey of the entire world of western concert music from its very start in ancient Greece to modern days. It goes into all the history of music, the different forms of music and how they’ve evolved.

It’s quite fascinating and it’s a topic that could be incredibly boring if taught by most other musicologists. Professor Greenberg is an amazing exception. He’s so entertaining that you’ll literally want to listen to it just for his jokes, his metaphors and his stories. He’s got quite a talent to entertain, but his knowledge is also deep. He’s quite a master at taking complex subjects and making them understandable.

If you’ve ever thought about getting into classical music but you have no idea where to start, or you already enjoy music but you’d like to learn more, there’s really no better place to start than this course. Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “What does this have to do with natural health and alternative therapies, which is usually the main topic of this website?” Well, again, I think music has tremendous power. This is my belief, to enhance our lives, lower our stress levels, and just make us happier people. That’s why I will not hide my passion for this and I want to share it with you guys through some reviews of music and books that I’ve found useful.

Get a trial subscription at Audible so you can download this book today for free.

May 29

The Healing Power of Music

Filed under Blog by Frederic Patenaude

Can music influence our minds to the point of recovery healing?

I think it’s entirely possible, and this is because listening to music can be like meditation. You’ve gone to yoga and heard soft music in the background, or to a massage therapist and they put soothing music on; that’s because it helps the meditation aspects of yoga and massage therapy.

Music can have a positive influence on your blood pressure, can lower your heart rate, and reduce your stress hormones (such as adrenaline and cortisol).

In one German study, music was found to help patients that were undergoing cerebral angiography. The doctors from Hanover Medical School’s Department of Neuroradiology were monitoring stress hormones, heartbeat and blood pressure. The patients that weren’t exposed to music showed rising levels of stress hormones in their blood, and those exposed to music remained stable. Blood pressure was lower in the group listening to music.

One dentist that I know plays classical music in his office to relax his patients as they undergo surgery.

Of course, whether this works depends on what kind of music you’re listening to. For music to have a soothing effect, it needs a more regular beat—a beat that matches your heartbeat—to induce relaxation and lower stress. This is why baroque music and some forms of classical music are used for this purpose.

Musician David Binanay now runs a nonprofit organization called “Music over Mind,” and they perform free music at hospitals for people suffering from mental illness.

Binanay himself used music to help his recovery from a psychotic episode, and his experience was so powerful that he was driven to start his nonprofit organization. He says, “It has been an 80% turnaround from complete loss to total rebirth. I feel like I’m a better person than before my illness.”

Music has also been used to reduce pain. At the Cleveland Clinic, the use of recorded music to patients after surgery saw a fourfold decrease in post-surgical pain.

Basically, it comes down to the fact that music can help lower stress levels and also trigger pleasure centers in the brain.

Listening to music that you love stimulates the same areas of the brain that trigger pleasure through humour, tasty food, and so on. For that reason, I don’t think you necessarily need to listen to classical music to enjoy the healing effects of music. You just need to listen to music that you love. If you listen to music with regular rhythm that closely matches your heartbeat, you’re going to enjoy additional benefits.

Can other types of music have the opposite effect—trigger aggression, feelings of depression and anger?

I did have that experience when I was a death metal fan. Death metal is a form of extreme heavy metal where the lyrics are growled and screamed. The music is faster and more aggressive with guitars that are tuned lower. It’s a very fringe kind of music that was popular in the 90s.

I never really noticed the effects of that music on my mind because I kind of grew out of it naturally. I remember a few years ago, around 2009, I got back into death metal for a little while because I watched a documentary on the history of heavy metal and it kind of reminded me of my days as a teenager. This is music that has a lot of power and I kind of got a little bit addicted to it; enthralled by it. After a few months, I noticed it was really contributing to making me feel low or even depressed.

The same thing happened in my early 20s when I went through a phase of listening to Pink Floyd’s The Wall. This is very melancholic music. I remember feeling so sad and low, but I didn’t make the connection until a friend pointed it out. “Maybe it has something to do with the fact that you’ve been listening to The Wall over and over again for the past few weeks.” And I thought, “Maybe.” I quit listening to that music and the feelings went away.

I think any kind of music that makes you feel relaxed, makes you experience joy, can have healing effects. Maybe you don’t take the time to listen to the music, or you don’t know what to listen to, or you’re looking for something new.

Let me share one piece of music that has an interesting history.

It’s the Second Movement of Beethoven’s Quartet in A minor Opus 132 — his 15th Quartet and this is the 3rd movement. It’s a piece that Beethoven wrote after recovering from a serious illness. He feared he almost died from an intestinal disorder that happened during the winter of 1824. He wrote this movement as a Holy Song of Thanksgiving of a Convalescent to the Divinity in the Lydian Mode, also known as the Heiliger Dankgesang. This is a very personal piece of music that he wrote as a personal “thank you” to his God.

He viewed the music with a tremendous positive quality that is truly remarkable. He wrote it in the Lydian Mode. For those musicians out there, you might be familiar with it as it is a medieval mode of music. Sit down at the piano and play scales on white notes only starting from F. From F to F, on white notes, you’re playing the Lydian Mode. Beethoven knew that the Lydian Mode had a particular significance because it’s the brightest mode. He felt it was the most positive scale to use for his composition.

I’m posting below this particular piece, and I think that this piece has healing powers. If you listen to it understanding the history of why it was composed, hopefully it can bring you peace and joy.

For an amazing musical journey, get this CD: 71CRMs4927L._SX522_

April 23

The Hidden Power in Music

Filed under Music by Frederic Patenaude

A lot has been said about the Mozart Effect.

A while ago, researchers found that when students listened to particular piano sonatas by Mozart, they performed better on subsequent tests. This led a generation of parents to buy classical music and play it to their children, hoping that it was going to help develop their brains.

Bach and Mozart are the favourite composers for this particular purpose. It’s been found that while the Mozart Effect helps your concentration, it does not necessarily make you smarter.

However, there is undeniable power in music.

I believe that music can be used for a number of purposes: to feel better, to concentrate, to expand your mind, to heal, to find depth within yourself, to express yourself, to discover beauty and perhaps to develop your brain, too.

How can we listen to music in such a way that we unlock its powers?

Let’s talk about what type of music first.

I believe any type of music has its unique power. Rock music, jazz music, flamenco, pop, heavy metal… they all have their place and they all can be used effectively to boost your energy, to enhance your mood and to touch the sublime.

I love all kinds of music, but I spend most of my time listening to what could be considered “classical music.” I did study music for a number of years and this was my initial choice of career; it’s been a part of my life ever since.

There’s something about the music of the great composers that really touches me, and to me it seems that there’s just more there to explore than in any other type of music.

Let’s talk about the music of the great composers. How can you unlock its powers? It’s clear that the great composers were inspired.

Bach was a deeply religious man and he lived in a time when the expression of music was considered the expression of God; that you not only fulfilled God’s wishes by praying, but also by composing and playing music. His deeply religious views led him to compose music of amazing beauty, music that will never be outdated. There is hidden meaning and power in Bach’s music.

Take, for example, the Goldberg Variations, a series of musical variations that he wrote for Count Goldberg, who was an insomniac. Bach’s music is based on a cycle of expanding canons. Each canon occurs after three variations. The first canon represents unison — perhaps the moment before the big bang? It’s unity – purity. And then, the second canon represents the splitting of the cells, or the breakaway point. Each canon explores a new aspect of the soul — a distance from “home” and what it represents. Am I getting too philosophical here? Just listen to it and you’ll be touched by it, without having to know why.

While there is unbelievable complexity behind this music—more than just pretty notes—we can sense this on a subconscious level; that’s why this music has been around for so long and has never waned in popularity.

Take, as an example, the Prelude to Wagner’s Opera, ‘The Rheingold,’ where a single chord is repeated, ever expanding harmonies to symbolize the process of the creation of the world. No music has ever been written that so accurately represents this image of creation.

How can we all get the meaning of the music from those great composers? Let me give you a quick way to get started:

  1. Listen to the same pieces several times. Listen to it at least five or six times; the music will unlock its secrets the more you listen to it.
  2. Don’t just listen to the music as background music. Also take some time, maybe before going to bed, to listen to the same pieces. Don’t do anything else. It’s okay if you fall asleep during that time, but as you get more familiar with the music you’ll be able to follow it better.
  3. Learn about the piece you’re listening to. If you’re interested in music, I highly recommend Dr. Robert Greenberg who recorded several amazing courses on music. The most important one: How to Listen to, and Understand Great Music (which you can find on Audible). This course walks you through the entire history of Western music and enables you to understand it. When you know more about the history of a particular piece, the composer, why he composed it, etc., music becomes more than an assemblage of pretty notes. You feel that these people were real. They wrote the music for a reason.

I guarantee that if you listen to some of the great pieces of music in this way, you will unlock several of its powers. It can enhance your life in a way that you never thought was possible.

Favourite Pieces

I like to recommend some of my all-time favourite pieces of instrumental music. I like to keep this list very simple with only the three main composers: Bach, Mozart and Beethoven.

  1. Bach: The Goldberg Variations and The Brandenburg Concertos. These are sublime pieces by Bach and they pretty much represent his art at its highest level. You can never get tired of listening to these pieces. There’s just so much in them.
  2. Mozart: the three operas: Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cosi Fan Tutte. Mozart liked to say that he was an opera composer, who made a living writing piano concertos and who also wrote and played music with his friends.
  3. Finally, our good old friend, Ludwig van Beethoven. We’re familiar with his symphonies, but I think his most profound music would be his string quartets. This is not beginner’s music. Don’t start here, but once you feel ready there’s literally exhaustively amazing and powerful music in Beethoven’s string quartets.
April 5

If you found the most beautiful island in the world would you tell others about it or would you want to keep the location of this paradise to yourself?

I recently discovered the most beautiful beach and place in the world, for me at least. I remember sitting on the beach and telling my friend, “I’m not telling anybody about this place.” But I’m going to tell you about it today!

Some simple pictures taken with my phone camera, without any editing:




After reading a number of books on the South Pacific, I really wanted to experience living in a remote location for a week or two and really feel this slow rhythm of life that can be experienced only on a remote island.

Now there are different types of islands. Most of us are familiar with high islands that are created when a volcano erupts over the sea and then cools down and then as the volcano starts to fall into the ocean or creates valleys. This creates the geography of the islands that we know and love, like the islands of Hawaii, which are volcanic islands with one volcano as we know is still quite active on the big island of Hawaii.

Islands have a life-cycle like people, but their life-cycle is in the millions of years. Coral reef will form around many islands and when that happens the middle part of the island or the volcanic part of the island, the dead volcano itself, will start to fall into the sea at a very slow but steady rhythm.

This is accentuated by tectonic plates and their movement. The first stage of this type of island is the typical island that we know like Maui and so on.

Then, if a coral reef forms around the island, the next stage might be an island like Bora-Bora where a lagoon is formed around the island but the lagoon itself is surrounded by a coral reef where islets form. Eventually, this happens:


In Polynesian language these islets are called motus. If an island like Bora-Bora continues its life-cycle eventually the island itself will fall to the bottom of the sea and all that will be left is the lagoon, the coral reefs and some of the motus.

An atoll looks like this:


An atoll is the last stage of a coral reef volcanic island and it is a unique place in the world.

I’ve always been fascinated by atolls. I didn’t even know what they were until my first trip to French Polynesia.

In French Polynesia there is an archipelago called the Tuamotus with over 70 different atolls and each of them is unique. From Google maps:


Atolls themselves have a unique kind of life because very little grows on these motus. You have coconut trees and breadfruit and other kinds of vegetation but plenty of life, lots of birds.

It’s an incredible thing looking at an atoll lagoon and seeing how much life is happening at any one time. There are dolphins, sharks, turtles, whales, every kind of sea life imaginable.

The feeling that you get when you’re on a motu and an atoll is incredible. You really feel like you’re at the end of the world. You might walk from one side, the lagoon side, to the ocean side in just a few minutes. It can be a hundred, two hundred meters wide, and that’s it. Sometimes the villages will be organized around a road. Sometimes there are no main roads, no cars. It depends on the population of the atolls.

The atoll I visited is called Fakarava. This is a beautiful atoll known for its scuba diving.

I discovered that an amazing guesthouse or as we say in French, a pension, is situated on the southern side of the motus where there are no roads.

It’s far from the village so in order to get there you have to first fly into Tahiti and then take another one hour or so flight to Fakarava and then take a boat, which is going to take an hour and a half to get to this point of the atoll, the southern part of the atoll where the pension, Raimiti, is located.


In the pension, inside of the bungalows, there’s no electricity, only gas lamps. It is sort of a Robinson Crusoe experience.


However, there is electricity on the premises themselves, provided mostly by solar energy; on the restaurant side and inside of the reading area and so on. There’s no Internet either, but cell phones do work. For me it was not only an escape away from the modern world, so to speak, but also a digital detox  – just you and the ocean and the quietness of it all.

My “Digital Detox”

I’ve been wanting to get away from the Internet for a long time, but I don’t think I’ve ever done it for more than one or two days at a time, even while on vacation.

I think the last time I completely disconnected from more than one or two days of was in 2008, and every time I tried to to disconnect a found myself extremely bored and just unable to to do it or missing that connection.

You want to text somebody, you want to tell them how it’s going. You want to check what’s going on elsewhere.

Instead, I spent a lot of time listening to the sounds of the ocean, reading, listening to music, chatting with people, and of course enjoying the lagoon.  You can always meet new people that are coming in.

At first I was going to bed around 10, 11, and then I just started falling asleep at 9, and getting up before 6.

It seems like at some point when you remove all the distractions that your body requests some of the sleep it’s been missing for a while.

I felt an incredible sense of relief. There’s so much more to life than being connected and getting a Google answer whenever we need one.

We lost this habit of waiting. When I was younger, I used to order books in the mail and because I lived in Canada, they would take weeks to arrive.

Now we have Amazon, Prime shipping, two day free shipping, and Kindle books can be had instantly.

The same for movies. We used to have to drive to the Blockbuster or similar establishment to rent movies and DVDs and then return them. Now it’s all Netflix and downloadable movies.

When you add wait to your vocabulary something else can fill the void during the wait.

Boredom is another concept that we associate with negative things.

“I’m bored.”

“There’s nothing to do.”

We’re used to filling all of our time with exciting things that we tend not to get bored too often.

I rediscovered the joys of boredom.

Every time I ask people who lived on Fakarava: “Don’t you miss the big city? Don’t you get bored here?”

And they always looked at me with this puzzled look on their face. “Bored? Why? I have everything here. It’s so beautiful. What when I go back to the city I miss it. I miss this.” And they point at the lagoon and the immensity of the ocean with the beautiful colors and I understand them.

Life can be simple. But the more complex it gets, the more we need to fill every minute of our time with something increasingly exciting and interesting.  We forget how the little things can be fulfilling, like having an afternoon to yourself or listening to the sounds of the ocean.

If you ask me, “Would you have stayed longer? Are you eager to get back?”

To be honest, I would have stayed a lot longer than a week.

A part of me was eager to get back, but it’s only the part that wanted to tell others about this experience.

At the end of the trip, I felt like the island had shared something important with me — the atoll way of life started to become part of me.

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So what are your thoughts? Have you ever done an Internet “detox”? Have you discovered any benefits from it? Share them below in the comment section.

February 19

Healthy looking skin is something that almost everybody desires.

Your skin, along with being the largest organ of your body, is typically the first thing people notice when they see you. Considering it covers you from head to toe, healthy skin means more than just a healthy complexion.

Check out this video today where Dr. John McDougall discusses the correlation between diet and the health of your skin, specifically acne.

In it you’ll learn:

  • Why the health of your skin affects much more than just how it looks.
  • Why it is that many people today still don’t associate their diet with having anything to do with acne or their skin health.
  • Which study has been falsely credited as proving that diet has no effect on acne.
  • How the standard Western diet many people around the world eat changes the production of hormones in your body and why these imbalances cause issues in the skin.

Many people around the world experience skin problems, and it certainly can cause a greater impact on their health and wellbeing besides just how their skin looks.

Your skin is important and deserves the right diet and circumstances to look it’s best!

What have been your experiences with acne, skin conditions, and your diet? Let us know in the comments below!

February 17

I started experimenting with my diet back in 1996, and ever since I’ve been searching for the healthiest, yet most practical way to eat and live.

I first went on a very strict (and confused!) natural hygiene diet. From there I began making my way into raw foods and experimenting with various types of raw food diets.

After that I experimented with cooked foods again, then back to raw foods, and have since been fine-tuning my diet to find the ideal.

There was a time when I wouldn’t have touched a piece of bread with a 10-foot pole, but was perfectly fine with gorging myself with fancy raw recipes and avocados, just to make sure that I wouldn’t awaken my “cooked food cells” and stayed raw.

There was a time when I did everything in my power to eat the freshest, best organic raw foods there was, yet was not feeling the vitality or mental clarity I had before I was even a vegetarian.

There was a time when I binged on all sorts of cooked foods I had sworn never to eat again, out of the frustration that the raw diet was not working for me, and the shame I had for not having succeeded.

I now look back at these difficult days and realize that all of this turmoil was unnecessary. I worked things out using the empirical approach — that is to try everything out in order to come to my own conclusions. This is a time-wasting technique, but it did allow me to truly learn these things for myself. 

In that process, I learned that:

  • The means is not the end. Being a raw-foodist for example, is not the point. We shouldn’t focus on that.
  • We have to keep in mind what we’re doing this for. In that search for the perfect diet, we’re doing this to be healthy and enjoy life more — not to achieve an “ideal.”
  • Willpower is not enough to maintain, we need knowledge too. You can have the willpower to climb 10,000 stairs, but why waste so much energy when there’s a lift that will take you to the top in no time? Using the lift is like utilizing proper knowledge.

My Introduction to Rawdom

In 1996, I was 20 years old and quite easily impressed by what appeared to be logical or scientific information.

The piece of advice that I came across when I first heard of the concept of raw eating seemed logical, but proved to be quite misleading to others and myself. It went something like this:

“Eating raw foods is the most natural way to eat. All that you have to do is follow your instincts and eat as much as you want, as long as you are eating fresh raw fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds.”

Impressed by the simplicity of this system-less-system, I embarked on a journey that led me through deep nutritional imbalances.

But first, the advice worked. I packed my fridge with fruits and vegetables and was eating all day long. I didn’t know about recipes or durian. I ate lots of food and went through a quite intense period of detoxification. I went through it and was feeling mostly good, even though I was still struggling with cravings. My will was as strong as could be and I was ready to be a raw-foodist for life and change the world along the way.

The next part of my journey took me to California, where I discovered raw food recipes, an exciting world where all my repressed cravings could express themselves again.

Pizza, chocolate cake, and pasta were back on the menu again. All raw of course.

I was eating lots of fat, lots of raw food recipes, and lots of fruit, and I was just not feeling right.

More Misleading Advice

Two new pieces of raw food lore would prove to be fatal for me. The first was, “Anything raw is better than anything cooked” and the second, “it’s probably detoxification.”

So I kept eating and eating and kept saying to myself: “well, it’s raw.” I kept feeling bad and kept saying to myself: “it’s probably detoxification.”

The Raw-Food Movement

Since then, the raw-food movement has been changing the way that it’s presented and many of the ideologies behind it.

Yet many raw food books are still filled with made-up facts, bogus science, anecdotal evidence that just isn’t relevant to everybody.

One person says that eating fruit will make you sick; the other one says that you should only eat fruit.

One says that eating oil is bad for you; the other one recommends that you should eat lots of oil.

Here are a few false statement made by raw-foodists I’d like to clear the air on once and for all.

“Cooked food is toxic.”

Statements like this are what tend to give the raw food movement a bad name.

Cooking food doesn’t immediately turn it into something toxic. If this were as true as some people say, no one would be alive!

It is true that certain methods of cooking, such as frying and barbecuing, create many carcinogenic substances in the process.

But claiming that all cooked food is toxic is just silly.

“Anything raw is better than anything cooked.”

Reality check: Many raw food meals prepared at most raw restaurants do not fall in the category of “healthy food.” Many of them contain unnecessarily high amounts of salt, oils, and spices.

The fact that a food is raw doesn’t make it necessarily healthy. There is more to a healthy diet plan than just eating raw, just as there is more to health than just eating.

“Fruit is bad for you.”

Most raw-foodists are living on such a high-fat diet (often more than 60-70% fat) that they can no longer handle fruit anymore. It has been proven that high-fat diets decrease insulin sensitivity (the effectiveness of insulin in carrying sugar to the cells), and thus raise blood sugar levels.

So those living on high fat a diet, that is most raw-foodists, will inevitably experience more blood sugar swings when they eat fruit.

Thus, the myth has spread now that fruit is not very healthy and that we should all aim at eliminating or reducing the quantity of fruit in our diet.

Fruit is definitely one of the healthiest (and most palatable!) raw foods you can eat.

So whenever you hear a bold statement that is the contrary of all common sense, such as “fruit is not a healthy food” — don’t take it for cash. Study the facts first and decide for yourself.

Raw Food Hype

The raw food diet has become more and more popular over the years. Celebrities are now jumping on board; raw food restaurants are popping up in most major cities, the media is talking about it, and articles have been published in many magazines and newspapers.

Raw-foodists usually rejoice when they see another article in the mainstream about the raw food diet, yet many of the time the message being conveyed to the masses really isn’t the healthiest one.

Many of these articles start by quoting raw-foodists (mostly out of the context) expressing statements such as “cooked food is poison” or “cooking kills your food,” then they go on to talk about all the movie and pop music stars who are supposedly into it, they mention raw gourmet cuisine and raw-restaurants, and then conclude the article with a few nutritionist bashing and scoffing at the whole theory.

There is more validity and merit to the raw food diet than just a passing phase for the media to take advantage of or for celebrities to temporarily hop on board with!

“Raw Food” Means Really Raw

Raw foods are fruits and vegetables in their natural state, not dehydrated for hours and turned into crackers, raw cookies, and cakes.

Prepared raw foods can still have a place in a healthy diet, but it really isn’t what the whole prospect of eating raw foods is really about.

A plate of steamed broccoli is closer to being a natural food than a raw cheeseburger or raw cake sold at a raw restaurant somewhere.

Eating raw is about filling our bodies with an abundance of natural vitamins, minerals, organic water, fiber, and all the nutrients needed to meet our needs, both for energy and maintenance. Time and time again, these needs are met the best with foods that are in their freshest, most natural form.

Beyond Fanaticism

If you are 100% raw and feel wonderful and someone comes along to tell you that what you are doing is killing you, I recommend you don’t waste any time discussing it. Just go along with your life and let them think what they will.

If you are eating 50% raw and feel great and some annoying raw-foodist comes along and just, “can’t believe that you don’t eat 100% raw” — just forget them too. You are here to eat and do what makes you feel your best, not rise to the expectations of others around you.

What are you doing this for anyway? Because you want to call yourself a raw-foodist or a vegan? Hopefully not!

Hopefully, you are eating and living the way you do because it’s what feels right to you and allows you to look and feel your very best.

Eating raw is not the end-all, it’s simply a means to get you where you want to go.

What have been your experiences with raw-food-fanaticism and everything in between? Let us know in the comments below!

February 12

All around the world you’ll find people in varying degrees of health. While most health-enthusiast tend to get down specifically on the U.S. and other western countries, other countries are increasingly becoming more and more “westernized”.

They’ve begun to abandon their traditional diets, typically based on starches, vegetables, fruits, and smaller amounts of meat, in favor of the more western approach: lots of meat, animal products, and processed foods.

Yet it’s surprising to find that many people, even those in modern western countries, simply aren’t aware of how profoundly their diet impacts their health, and instead are concerned about other unfound health hazards.

Check out this video today where Dr. Milton Mills gives a presentation on why exactly there are so many sick people in the world and how that can be changed.

You’ll learn:

  • How many people actually die per year from diet-related diseases in contrast to how most people fear they will die.
  • Why more children in the US are put on behavioral-disorder medications every year.
  • How a high intake of meat and animal products has been linked to depression and other psychological disorders in children.
  • What people can do to shift their focus to the things in their lives that really do impact their health and as a result live long, happy lives.

Dr. Mills points out several important points when it comes to the importance of prioritizing our health. Many people spend hours every week talking and worrying about things that ultimately do very little to negatively impact their health.

Many of those same people are more afraid of being eaten by a shark than experiencing bad health from their poor diet, too.

Considering that there are so many things in the world that you “could” be afraid of, it’s important prioritize what actually impacts you and then taking control of the things that you do decide.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!