Yoga Therapy

Over five years ago, a good friend introduced me to Jill Miller and Yoga Tune-Up as a way to help alleviate my chronic neck and shoulder pain. She gifted me my first set of therapy balls, which you can see have been well used.

Jill is offering a free Three Day Tune Up: 3-Day Tune Up Mini-Program. You can choose an area to focus on, and will have a video delivered each day. You don’t need therapy balls to participate (although they are fantastic). A couple of tennis balls and a sock will do.

 

CALM

As I’ve already discussed why sleep is SO important, I’ll keep this post short. I wanted to share a supplement that helps me with sleep: CALM.

I take it almost every night, and I find it helps me feel more relaxed, fall asleep faster, and have a more restful sleep. You can find out more at naturalcalm.ca.

Detoxification

Today’s episode of The Body-Mind Connection discussed toxins in our environment: how to minimize our exposure and how to help our bodies detoxify. This is a key to good health, assisting us in avoiding or recovering from what Dr. Hyman calls FLC (or Feel Like Crap) syndrome.

Now here is the thing. Having experienced a prolonged and severe case of FLC in my thirties, which led to months of conventional medical testing and my exploring just about every alternative therapy you can think of, I know how easy it can be to get overwhelmed by this topic. You can find yourself wanting to have all of your fillings replaced before moving to a (mold free) cabin in the mountains where you will live off of the land. Not very realistic for most of us.

Don’t despair. There are many things you CAN do.

After watching today’s video, I recommitted to

  • drinking lots of clean, filtered water
  • exercising
  • reducing my consumption of large fish (like tuna)
  • avoiding processed foods
  • buying organic versions of the “Dirty Dozen”
  • including anti-inflammatory foods like yellow onions, garlic, ginger and turmeric
  • taking supplements to repair my digestive tract and help with detoxification
  • checking the ingredients in my beauty products
  • putting my phone on airplane mode at night

This may seem like a long list, but I am doing most of these things already. I introduced them one at a time, and now they are part of my regular routine.

What is one thing that you can do today?

The Body-Mind Connection

“What you do to your body, you do to your brain.” I signed up to watch and learn from this documentary-series by Dr. Hyman. I have been following Dr. Hyman for a while. I love his focus on functional medicine.

I am passionate about helping people improve their physical, mental and emotional health. Because of this, it is important to me to stay up-to-date on discoveries and innovations that ensure we are living our BEST lives.

I have no doubt that what I learn in the next week or so will be reflected here. Stay tuned!

Invest In You!

It can be difficult to change long-established habits on your own.

I love this quote from Dr. John Kenworthy: With a habit, you get rid of the H, and you still have “a bit”. You get rid of the A and you still have “bit”. Then you get rid of the B, and you still have “it”. The trick is to get rid of the I, and focus on the “T“.

T is for team, and having a coach be part of your team helps to ensure that you are successful.

I love working with clients to help bring about positive change. A good coach can share advice and strategies, help you stay focused and accountable when you are challenged, and celebrate your successes with you. You are worth that investment.

Habit Change

Habit change takes time. Most research suggest that it takes at least 21 days to form a new habit, but I like to use the 21/90 rule when working with clients. The first 21 days is about introducing and practicing the new habit, establishing it, and then we continue to do it for another ninety days, enabling the habit to become a permanent lifestyle change we don’t even have to think about any more. That’s what good health is about: not quick fixes – lasting change. 

The other thing I believe when it comes to habit change is that if you really want to form better habits, you have to start with really, really small changes. With food, for example, I often have my clients start by counting chemicals, not calories, avoiding foods that include complicated chemical names, or other ingredients they would prefer to avoid. Each week, we slowly build on this foundation. In this way, change becomes manageable and even fun. When we try to change everything at once, it is easier to become overwhelmed and give up.

Finally, having support is crucial to meeting your goals. While this could be a partner or friend, there are advantages to working with a coach. As a certified coach, I am trained to understand the behaviours that promote habit change. Even just a few sessions can help you examine and set attainable goals or address the obstacles that may be getting in your way.

Making the changes that you want takes time and commitment, but you can do it. Remember that no one is perfect. You will have occasional lapses. Be kind to yourself. When you eat a cookie or miss a workout, don’t give up. Minor missteps on the road to your goals are normal and okay. Commit to recovering and getting back on track.

If you are ready to change. Get in touch!

Tart Cherry Juice

Recently, my favourite beverage in the evening has been a splash of tart cherry juice in sparkling water with lots of ice. In addition to being refreshing, there are many health benefits to be gained from this drink.

  • It is rich in nutrients.
  • It can reduce muscle soreness after a workout.
  • It can help increase melatonin levels, leading to better sleep. (It works for me!)
  • It is anti-inflammatory, and may reduce symptoms of arthritis.
  • It may support brain health.
  • It can lead to modest reductions in blood pressure.
  • Early studies indicate that it could help lower weight, belly fat and blood cholesterol levels.

Give it a try. Just make sure that there is no added sugar in the juice you purchase.

Health and Lifestyle Coaching?

While out for dinner with friends the other day, I was asked, “What exactly do you do?” I always love having a chance to discuss this as there can be some confusion about what a Health and Lifestyle Coach is, and why people might choose to work with one.

As a certified Coach, I use a personalized, integrative and collaborative approach – emphasizing self-care and habit change. Rather than focusing on just one element, like a Personal Trainer might look at exercise or a Nutritionist at diet, I examine all life factors (nutrition, physical fitness, weight, stress, sleep, environment…) in order to help improve my clients’ health.

As a master of habit change, I offer the resources, support and accountability to help shift behaviour to healthier habits. My clients develop a deeper understanding of the foods and lifestyle choices that improve their energy, balance and health, and learn to implement lasting changes.

Why might you want to work with a Coach?

  • If you don’t know what to do, or how to get started, you may need a Coach. I can provide a system, resources and support.
  • If you know what to do, but you don’t do it, you may need a Coach. I can provide accountability. Basically, I will do anything I can to make you do the things you don’t want to do, so you can have what you want.

Need help? You just need to ask. Go do it!

Heart Health

February is Heart Month in Canada. Heart disease is still one of the leading causes of death in North America (for both men and women). There are certain risk factors that can’t be managed like age, gender, family history and being post-menopausal. Fortunately, we can all reduce the other risk factors with simple lifestyle changes. Many factors are interrelated, so by making a change in one area, you will help others.

  • Smokers have more than twice the chance of having a heart attack as non-smokers. Exposure to second hand smoke also increases your risks, so try to maintain a smoke free environment.
  • Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol causes raised blood pressure, another risk factor for heart disease. It can also damage the heart muscle. If you choose to drink, the recommended intake is one drink a day for women, and two for men.
  • Being overweight puts significant strain on your heart. It also worsens other risk factors like diabetes and high blood pressure. A healthy diet and exercise plan can help you lose weight and lower your chances.
  • Even mild to moderate physical activity can reduce your chances of heart disease. Aim for 30 minutes a day, most days of the week. Exercise will help with blood pressure and body weight.
  • Millions of people in North America have high blood pressure, making it the most common heart disease risk factor. Exercise, diet, weight, and alcohol consumption all impact blood pressure, so making positive changes in these areas is important.
  • By eating a heart healthy diet you can lower your risk of obesity and high blood pressure. Avoid fast food, processed food, refined carbohydrates, refined sugar, and excessive salt. That still leaves lots of delicious options to explore. Check out the recipes on this site.

We can know what we need to do to improve our health, yet struggle with taking the steps required. This is when a health coach is invaluable. I can provide the resources, support and accountability to ensure you are successful.

Are you interested in talking about your health goals and how I can help you?
If so, I’d like to offer you a 30 minute discovery session. Get in touch!

Pets and Mental Health

I have two furry family members: a fourteen year old bichon-poodle cross (Ruffles) and a one year old chihuahua-shiba inu cross (Marvin). The stories of how these two joined us are amusing, but the shortened version is that I believed my daughter (both times) when she said that it would be her dog, and she would walk it, and feed it, and…. This may sound familiar to some of you. Nevertheless, Ruffles and Marvin are part of us now, and we love them.

Now, clearly, Ruffles and Marvin are adorable, but that isn’t the only thing that they have going for them. It turns out that your pet can reduce stress, anxiety and depression. How?

  • Pets can promote exercise and social interaction. Three times a day, regardless of the weather, Ruffles and Marvin go for their walk. Often, while we are out in the fresh air, we meet with other dogs and their owners. While the dogs say hello, my neighbours and I will chat.
  • They can give you a sense of security. Marvin may be small, but he has a big bark! There is no way anyone could come close without him letting me know.
  • Pets offer a distraction. When you’re feeling stressed, anxious or depressed, it is easy to get caught up in negative thoughts. When Ruffles brings me a toy because he wants to play, I am pulled out of my rumination and into the present moment.
  • They are good company. I don’t live alone, but I still appreciate the enthusiastic welcome I get when I arrive home. I also love having a little leg warmer cuddled up on me while I watch television on these cold winter evenings.
  • Pets increase feel-good hormones. Serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin (which combats the stress hormone cortisol) are released when you interact with your pets, and petting your dog for 15 minutes can also reduce blood pressure.

If you don’t already have a pet, I’m not suggesting that you run out and get one. There are many things to consider, including the time and expense involved. But if you do have one (or more), an extra treat may be in order.

Diabesity

Diabetes has been on my mind recently. My mother was diagnosed with Type 2 a few years ago, and my younger brother was just diagnosed. Because I have a family history (one risk factor), and I am over 45 (another factor, although, sadly, many young people are now being diagnosed with Type 2), I have to get my blood work done annually. I am happy to report that so far I am fine.

There are several other risk factors for Type 2 diabetes, including obesity, a poor quality diet (highly processed, sugar filled foods), and a sedentary lifestyle. In fact, obesity is the number one risk factor, leading to the creation of the term “diabesity”. Clearly a poor diet and little exercise would contribute to weight gain.

The bad news is that having Type 2 diabetes opens you up to many serious health problems:

  • cardiovascular disease
  • eye diseases
  • kidney damage
  • nerve damage
  • foot problems
  • skin problems
  • teeth and gum problems
  • mental health issues
  • weakened immune system
  • sexual dysfunction

The good news is that studies have shown that losing just 5% of your body weight significantly reduces your risk of Type 2 diabetes.

A healthy diet and regular movement will help you get there. If you need additional support and accountability, GET IN TOUCH!

Go To Bed!

Did you know that sleep is as important to your health as exercising and eating well? In fact, it’s amazing just how much getting enough sleep can do for you. It can help in…

  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • reducing inflammation that is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and arthritis
  • improving memory, concentration and productivity
  • increasing creativity and academic and athletic performance
  • enhancing immune function
  • lowering stress and risk of depression

Although how much sleep is needed varies by individual, there are recommendations organized by age.

  • Older adults (65+): 7–8 hours
  • Adults (18–64 years): 7–9 hours
  • Teenagers (14–17 years): 8–10 hours
  • School children (6–13 years): 9–11 hours

There are several things we can do to help ensure a good night’s sleep.

  • establishing a regular, relaxing bedtime routine
  • keeping the bedroom cool
  • having a comfortable mattress and pillows
  • making sure the room is dark
  • exercising during the day
  • avoiding stimulants like caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime
  • avoiding alcohol – which disrupts sleep – close to bedtime
  • avoiding heavy, rich, fatty, fried or spicy dishes right before bedtime
  • shutting down all technology an hour before bedtime

Doing the right things to improve your sleep is known as sleep hygiene. My sleep hygiene is excellent, except for…. Technology: I read books on my iPad. E-books are easy to store, travel with, and, to be honest, there’s that immediate gratification thing. One click and the book is mine. Reading before going to sleep can help reduce stress and enhance your rest, but not if it’s on your phone, iPad or computer. All that blue light interferes with the production of melatonin, a chemical needed for sleep. It also makes us feel more alert, and is apparently used in places like factories to help night workers.

So, an obvious solution would be for me to switch to “regular” books, which I love. I have a pile on my bedside table waiting for me. But what about all those great electronic titles? My solution was to purchase a pair of yellow tinted glasses. Both yellow and brown tinted glasses work great for blocking the blue light.

I have prescription glasses that I wear all of the time, so I needed to find tinted glasses that would fit over them. These (affiliate link) work really well and are inexpensive. In the meantime, I am working toward no technology an hour before lights out.

Date Night?

When we think of “Date Night” we probably think of… well, night, and we likely imagine a decadent dinner out with our significant other, or an evening at the movie theatre, including a large popcorn and a soda. Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy both of those things. (Not the soda. That stuff is REALLY not good for you.) But dating can also involve activities that not only allow us to spend time with our loved ones, but are also good for our overall well-being.

First of all, we can agree that Date Night doesn’t have to take place at night. Right? It can happen at any time of day. My husband and I enjoy working out together. To make sure that, that workout gets done, we take an early (as in 6 a.m.) class. Shout out to Studio IPF: Inner Pursuit Fitness! Here’s a picture after our circuit workout this morning. If we weren’t fully awake when we arrived, we certainly were at the end of class!

Don’t we look happy (and sweaty).

Other ideas…

  • go dancing
  • take a cooking class or cook dinner at home
  • go for a walk or a bike ride
  • get a couples massage or give each other a massage
  • play a board game

I’m sure that you can come up with some great ideas of your own. I’d love to hear them!

Stress

While a certain amount of stress is normal (and even healthy), long-term, chronic stress can have a serious impact on your emotional and physical health.

Emotional Symptoms of stress can include:

  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • and depression

Physical Symptoms of stress can include:

  • low energy
  • headaches
  • insomnia
  • upset stomach
  • and frequent colds

Stress can affect our cognition, leading to forgetfulness and an inability to focus. It can also negatively impact our behaviour: trying to cope using food, alcohol, drugs or cigarettes.

One quick thing you can do to counteract stress is to give someone a good hug. This has been shown to release oxytocin, which may reduce anxiety, cardiac stress and depression. Give a friend, partner, family member or pet a hug. It will benefit you both.

If you would like to receive more easy tips to reduce stress, please fill in the form below and have them delivered to your inbox.

Take Baby Steps

One reason people fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions is that they try to change too much at once and quickly become frustrated and overwhelmed. I have certainly been guilty of this. In addition to losing a few hibernation pounds before heading off on vacation, a quick glance at my vision board will show that this year I am hoping to add strength training, meditate, do yoga, take up running, declutter, work on my finances, manage stress, eat healthier, get more sleep…. Whew! Even thinking about trying to do all of these at once is so intimidating that I might give up before I even start. Instead, I have learned to break my goals down into manageable, baby steps.

This is a simple and effective strategy. The success I feel when I achieve one, small goal gives me the motivation to add another. I already shared how making your bed every morning may lead you to tidy out your sock drawer. Replacing one can of soda a day with a glass of water may lead to other steps to reduce sugar in your diet. Give it a go, and if you find you need help to break your goals down, please contact me.

Make Your Bed

You may be wondering why I have included a picture of my made bed today. Well, that’s just it. My bed is MADE. One of the things I am focusing on this year is relieving stress in healthy ways. Believe it or not, something as simple as making your bed in the morning can help.

  • It sets the tone for the rest of the day, giving you a feeling of accomplishment that you take with you as you head out the door.
  • It is an infectious act, which might lead you to tidy up other areas, like the top of your dresser.
  • All that tidying up will mean less clutter, and a tidy space is very calming.
  • Finally, there is nothing quite so blissful as ending a long day by climbing into a freshly made bed.

This one little thing can make a big difference. Give it a try!

Hydrate

One of my goals this year is to drink more water. During a busy day, I often forget. I even take a huge water bottle with me to work, but I might as well use it to do bicep curls because I rarely remember to sip from it. At least that way it would still be contributing to my health.

There are SO many benefits to making sure you are hydrated. I’ve included just a few.

  1. Weight Loss. Did you know that clinical studies have found that people confuse thirst for hunger about 35% of the time? The next time you feel like reaching for a snack, have a glass of water first.
  2. Glowing Skin. Drinking enough water helps with skin elasticity and prevents dryness and dullness. Who doesn’t want a smoother, more youthful complexion?
  3. More Energy. Dehydration causes fatigue, so that afternoon slump that leads you to the vending machine or coffee pot could be alleviated with a glass of water.
  4. Better Brain Function. Staying hydrated will improve your mood, concentration and memory.
  5. Improved Digestion. Water helps your gastrointestinal tract break down food properly and promotes regular bowel movements.

Now, having a water bottle with you is actually a great tip for improving hydration. It just hasn’t worked for me… yet. What has helped is using an app to track my intake. There are many free apps available. I am using My Water Balance: Daily Drink Tracker & Reminder. The free version allows me to track water, coffee and tea. The optional upgrade would allow me to track other beverages.  I asked for reminders, and at first, I have to admit, that I found them a little too frequent and slightly annoying. However, using the app has really improved my water intake. Who knows? Maybe I’ll soon be emptying that water bottle.    

 

 

 

One Big Domino

I have just come across the One Big Domino theory, and it makes a lot of sense to me. It suggests that we identify the one big thing we can do, or big change that we can make, that will make everything else easier. By knocking down this Big Domino first, you will open up possibilities in 2019 that will amaze you!

A Big Domino could be reducing your sugar intake. The many benefits you would receive from making this change could include…

 

  • less inflammation and joint pain
  • less bloating and gas
  • weight loss
  • reduced cravings
  • decreased appetite
  • high and stable energy
  • improved mood (more focus, less depression)
  • removal of stubborn belly fat
  • clearer skin and less wrinkles
  • decreased risk of diabetes, stroke and heart attack

What could your Big Domino be?

Vision Boards and Goal Setting

Yesterday, I had the pleasure (along with talented art teacher Lisa Chase) of hosting my first group workshop around Vision Boarding. I usually work with individual clients, so this was a new experience for me.

What is a vision board? It is a collage of images (photographs, magazine cutouts, pictures from the internet, drawings…) and words (inspirational quotes, thoughts…) that represent your goals. Once created, it should be put somewhere you can see it every day: on the bathroom mirror, the fridge door, the nightstand….

I believe that every goal has four different parts: the what (goal), the why (reasons for wanting to achieve the goal), the how, and the finish line. For me, it is the why behind the goal that is most important.

I work on goal setting with my clients at our first meeting. It can take some time to figure out exactly what you want to accomplish in the next 3, 6, 9 months or year. There are a number of tools I use to help my clients get clear on what they want.

We then spend some time focusing on the whys around those goals. If the reason why is not strong enough, it is less likely that you will follow through. Knowing your why helps you to stay motivated.

From there we can create the how (an individualized plan that fits your lifestyle – with resources and support) to get you to the finish line

As part of the process I use, a vision board could be made before we explore the what – as a visual brainstorm, or after we have determined the how – to act as an anchor: something to help keep your goals in mind and motivate you.

Want to get started? Recently, as part of my professional reading, I came across this acronym from Kathleen Hall, founder and CEO of Mindful Living and The Stress Institute, that I just love.

Serenity – Exercise – Love – Food

I used this as an idea generator at the beginning of the workshop. What do you need to take good care of your self? Here’s what I came up with:

Level Up Your Life

As the end of the year approaches, it is natural for us to reflect on the past 365 days to see what was accomplished and what wasn’t, and to set our intentions for the new year. This is something I do at least a couple of times during the year. I think of it as levelling up, a phrase also used with gaming, and there are several parallels. In both life and gaming, you start at one level. You face challenges, and through trial and error, hopefully gain new knowledge and skills which allow you to move to the next level.

I use the same approach I share with my clients: First I start with a self-assessment. Next, I create my goals. Finally, I track my personal growth and keep myself accountable. I have mentioned vision boards before, and after I had taken some time to determine my goals, I spent a few pleasant hours searching through magazines for words and images, and cutting and pasting. I am really pleased with the result, which I have placed in a prominent location, so that it can act as an anchor.

The reason why HABITS are central to my vision board is because I know that it is only through replacing habits that no longer serve us with those that will help us thrive that we can create permanent change and live our best lives. As a health and life coach, I am a master of habit change: helping clients make healthy lifestyle choices. My approach is individualized, as I believe that one size does not fit all. I believe that small accomplishments and a one-day-at-a-time approach are integral to success. I also provide accountability, something all of my clients have said is valuable.

Declutter Your Relationships

I’ve posted before about the benefits of decluttering our physical environment, but those benefits can also be gained by decluttering our relationships. We are significantly influenced by the people around us. Spending time with people who are constantly complaining, leaves me feeling drained. Sometimes, putting a positive spin on a negative comment, or changing the topic can help. If it doesn’t, I will consider having a conversation about how the negative talk is impacting both of us (more stress, weaker immune system…). Failing that, I will remove myself. I make it a priority to surround myself with positive people who make me feel happy and energized.

Take some time to evaluate your relationships to see which ones are having a positive or negative impact on your health and happiness, and then make any necessary changes. You are worth it!

Take Care Of Your Self

What is self-care?

It is anything that we purposely do in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. It is something that replenishes us… something we enjoy doing. It isn’t something we do just once. It is consistent use of many tiny self-care activities.

It is really easy to put ourselves at the bottom of our priority lists. We either feel selfish for wanting to take time for self-care, or we believe that there just aren’t enough minutes in the day. But it is important for us to take time to do the things we enjoy. It allows us to relax, refocus and recharge, so we can live our best lives and be our best for others.

While we can’t add hours to the day, we can re-evaluate our priorities and practice time management. For example, I used to visit the grocery store daily. Now I plan meals a few days in advance, shop once, and do some meal preparation on the weekend so that things come together quickly. This has not only saved me time, but also money.

Decide how you want to spend your “Me” time. Remember, it should be something you enjoy doing, not feel you should do. So while getting up early to fit in exercise is something that I love because it puts me in a great mood and gives me energy for the rest of my day, that might not be your choice.

Once you have created a self-care list for yourself, commit to spending at least 15 minutes a day on you. YOU are worth it!

The Importance of Social Connection

I was inspired to write today’s post by a recent phone call, late in the day, from my next door neighbour, inquiring if I could spare a cup of flour. Moments later, her daughter showed up, measuring cup in hand, and we made the exchange. I was both surprised and delighted when her daughter again arrived at my door, within the hour, with three, still warm, banana chocolate chip muffins. They were delicious!

This got me thinking about how fortunate I am to have good neighbours. We take care of each other: feeding pets, collecting mail, putting out the trash, watering gardens, dropping off, checking in….

Social connection is really important to our emotional and mental well being: including lowering our levels of anxiety and depression and strengthening our immune system. While we may make time to exercise, eat well, and get enough sleep, we sometimes forget the connection piece.

Connection doesn’t have to involve your neighbours. Perhaps it is a volunteer group you are part of, a running group, or an online community. As long as you feel supported, you are reaping the benefits. Look for opportunities, that work for you, to create those connections.

I will finish with a recipe for Mini Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins. It’s not my neighbour’s, but one I use all the time from The Kitchen Magpie. I have used both walnut oil and avocado oil with good results, and it makes 24 muffins if you want to share….

 

The Benefits of Decluttering

I’m sure that I’m not the only one with THE DRAWER: the one you put things into when you’re in a hurry or aren’t exactly sure where they should go, promising to get back to it later. But then…. Out of sight, out of mind. Well, this weekend, while searching for my Fitbit charger, I was forced to confront that drawer. Below are its contents, sprawled across our kitchen table.

I was intimidated, not only by the thought of tackling this mess, but also by the sudden realization that there were likely many, many more spots in the house that needed my attention. In the past those feelings might have caused me to just shove everything back in and walk away, but I am learning that small steps, over time, make lasting change. I focused just on this drawer, for fifteen minutes, and was left with what you see below.

And, in case you are wondering, I found my Fitbit charger.

 

The health benefits of decluttering include

  • reduced anxiety
  • better sleep
  • increased productivity and creativity
  • more free time
  • improved relationships
  • and… finding lost treasures 😊

 

You don’t have to tackle everything at once. Set aside a few minutes each day, play your favourite tunes, and you’ll soon have your home in order.