Health

Speak up and be the light

Hi friends,

I know this is primarily a health and wellness blog. But it’s a platform, and as a person with an audience and representation on the internet, I feel I need to use it to share my thoughts about what’s going on in our world right now.

While I was blissfully running the SeaWheeze Half Marathon over the weekend, horrible things were going on in the southern United States. Horrible things are going on everywhere all the time to both humans, animals and the environment, but it seems geographical space and less media attention allows us to distance ourselves from it enough we can go on to live our lives, happily making our avocado toast and going to yoga class and farmers markets and such.

When I returned home from my Vancouver running weekend, I spent some time getting caught up on what was going on. And after watching this disturbing video on Facebook from VICE, I felt I had to get going on contributing something to the conversation. You see, as Chrissy King rightly pointed out on her blog, my “role as a fitness professional goes far beyond exercise and nutrition.” My goal is to aid my clients and audience with overall health and wellness, which includes emotional health and wellness. And as Chrissy points out, “you cannot simultaneously help women (and men) with their fitness and wellness while remaining silent on issues of racism and the events that occurred in Charlottesville this weekend. Unless of course, you are only here to serve white clientele. In that case, I guess you can.” (more…)

What DNA testing can tell you about your health

This past November, I decided to do some research on my family tree for Christmas gifts. I bought the AncestryDNA kit, which happened to be on sale for about $70 at the time, and a one year subscription to Ancestry.ca so I could access historical records and their extensive database of user-created family trees.

What I discovered was definitely worth the cost and time spent poring over records, photos and information. The DNA test told me I’m 91% Great British (Scottish/Welsh/English), with a little bit of Italian/Greek, Scandinavian and European Jewish. I also found out my 6th great grandfather John MacColl was a key witness in a famous murder trial in Scotland in 1745, and was featured in the novel “Kidnapped” by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson (author of “Treasure Island”). (He was described as “a ragged, wild, bearded man, about forty, grossly disfigured with the small pox, and looked both dull and savage.” Sounds like we’re related, alright!) I also found out my 4th great uncle Hugh MacColl was a logician and wrote a few novels, which are on Amazon for sale.

I was also able to connect with a distant relative on my mom’s side who has the MacColl family bible from the 1800s, and another relative in New Zealand who sent me a ton of information and photos of my 3rd great grandparents on my dad’s side, who immigrated to New Zealand from England in the 1800s and owned a sheep farm that’s still around today. (more…)

Why I’m still diligent about tracking exercise and nutrition

One of the best things about logging and tracking your progress – be it keeping a personal diary, bullet journaling, logging workouts or tracking nutrition – is looking back at certain points in time when you remember feeling at your best (or at your worst) to see what was going on so you can either disrupt or adopt certain habits and behaviours.

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The secret to getting up and getting sh*t done each and every morning

I’m sure we’ve all had mornings when we hit the snooze button on our iPhones a million times instead of getting up and out of our warm, cozy beds to face the day.

Maybe you’re just tired and you’d rather grab an extra 10 minutes of sleep instead of getting up to make a nutritious breakfast for yourself, opting for something less nutritious on the go instead. Or maybe the warmth and comfort of your bed is much more appealing to you than going for a chilly morning run. Or maybe you’d rather go back to dreamland than face the hard tasks you need to accomplish that day.

I’ve had those mornings, but thankfully they’ve been few and far between. I make my breakfast and lunch the night before to ensure I’m always fueled, and promise myself to exercise after work if I really don’t feel like getting up an hour earlier that morning.

I always manage to keep that promise. I think I’ve only missed 3-5 workouts this year due to illness.

So what’s the secret to getting up and getting sh*t done each and every morning, no matter how unpleasant it might be? (more…)

Could akrasia be getting in the way of your health goals? Here’s how to overcome it

akrasiaFirst off, you might be thinking, akrasia? Is this some new sensitivity associated with gluten? Is it slowing down my metabolism so I can’t lose weight? Is it causing leaky gut syndrome so I’m retaining water and feel bloated all the time? Is it altering my thyroid and messing with my hormones?

Here’s the definition of akrasia from the Oxford Dictionary:

a·kra·sia
əˈkrāZH(ē)ə/
noun: Philosophy
noun: akrasia; noun: acrasia

  1. The state of mind in which someone acts against their better judgment through weakness of will.

So, in other words, this state of mind:

I think I’ll sleep in rather than get up and go for that run I planned to do because my bed is cozy and warm and it’s cold and gross outside, even though I know running will make me fitter and boost my mood.

Or

Might as well eat this whole bar of chocolate/extra piece of pizza/bag of chips because it’s delicious and I’m feeling stressed, and this helps make me feel better right now… even though I’m trying to cut back on sugar/salt/fat to try to lose weight so I can be healthier and have more energy to play with my kids. (more…)

8 tips to help you have a happier, healthier holiday season

8-tips-to-help-you-have-a-happier-healthierWith American Thanksgiving/Black Friday this week and Christmas too not far behind, you’re no doubt starting to experience that familiar holiday feeling: Stress.

Standing in line at Wal-Mart to get that Lego Star Wars kit for your 10-year-old; spending hours on hold with UPS trying to track down that package you ordered from Amazon early (because you were trying to beat the rush) that’s been shipped to the wrong address; hitting up grocery store after grocery store trying to find baking supplies for those thoughtful homemade gifts you’re planning to make (apparently everyone had the same gift idea); and trying to find the time to whip up a different appetizer to bring to each of the seven holiday parties you’re invited to over the next several weeks… it’s exhausting.

And let’s not forget about the guilt you’ll feel after mindlessly inhaling all the delicious holiday baking available at said seven Christmas parties (and the leftovers coworkers bring into the office after the weekend) and not being able to get to the gym because you have baking to do, decorations to put up, and Christmas parades to attend. (more…)

It’s time to woman up and stop apologizing

Seeing the world from a new perspective

Seeing the world from a new perspective

Imagine you’re in a meeting at work and your boss compliments you in front of your coworkers on the stellar job you did getting a project together. Do you:

a) Smile and look embarrassed
b) Say, “Well, so-and-so actually presented it, so really he deserves the credit.”
c) Say, “Well, it was really a team effort.”
d) Say, “Thank you.”

I’m pretty sure I’ve done all of the above except D. An not just in work situations.

Receives compliment on attire: “Oh, this dress? I think I got it on sale at Old Navy.”
Receives compliment about hair: “Yeah but it’s so dry — just look at my split ends!”
Receives compliment about writing: “Oh yeah I just do it for fun, hardly anyone reads it.”
An activity is suggested that I don’t want to do: “Sure, yeah, whatever you want to do.”
Someone says something I don’t agree with: Silence

I am the ultimate conflict-avoider. I do it at work and in my day-to-day life. I apologize, I bend, I push aside my opinions to make sure everyone is happy and likes me. I’m agreeable and highly sensitive. Although being a highly sensitive person is an excellent human trait — especially now in our current culture where we need more people to consider the health of our planet and the other organisms that live on it — it can get in the way of being our true, authentic selves sometimes.

Authenticity is scary for a conflict-avoider. It means we need to show up and be real. Be honest. Let our true selves be seen. (more…)

Monthly Goals – August Recap

Where did August go? Why are the leaves turning brown already? Why are there Christmas decorations at Costco?? I’m not ready for tall boots, layers, infinity scarves and pumpkin spice lattes. I don’t even like pumpkin spice lattes!

I definitely prefer warmer climes, and as soon as I noticed a smattering of dry, yellow maple leafs on the trails near my house, I started researching our next tropical vacation and decided we needed two weeks this time.

Fall, you sure are pretty but please go away.

Fall, you sure are pretty but please go away.

The only good thing about fall — aside from the prettiness of the leaves when they just start to turn, not when they look all dead and brown on the trail — is that marathon day is just around the corner, and October has the perfect race-day temperatures. No more of this running for 3+ hours in 28 degree heat. Although I love the warmth, even I have my thresholds. (more…)

Product Review: HUM Nutrition supplements

Although the majority of us probably DON’T need to waste our money on vitamins and supplements to be healthy human beings, some of us — like female endurance athletes who live in Canada, are vegetarian, have poor circulation and wacky hormones (*cough* me) — might need to take supplements to support their health to help them continue to do the activities they love.

HUM Nutrition review

 

Because I run marathons, work out six days a week and don’t eat red meat, my doctor suggested I take zinc and magnesium (since I sweat pretty much every day) and iron (I’m borderline anemic but my levels have improved quite a bit with supplementation). And because I’m female with a problematic gut, my doctor also suggested I take calcium (when I don’t eat yogurt), a probiotic for my gut health and vitamin D in the winter.

These are the essential vitamins and minerals I need to add in daily (depending on my diet and the time of year) to support my health so I can keep running marathons and doing other active things I love as recommended by my doctor. And I suggest you also visit your doctor FIRST if you’re not feeling your best to see if you might be lacking in an essential vitamin, mineral or nutrient before buying up the supplement store. (more…)

All diets and fitness programs are wrong. Some are useful.

All models are wrong, some are useful.If you’ve been entrenched in the health and fitness industry for awhile, either as a professional or as an enthusiast, you probably already know that there is no single diet or exercise program for everyone. Following a paleo diet and doing CrossFit might yield fantastic results for one person, but might not be the best program for another (even though said Paleo-CrossFitter might try to convince you otherwise).

Aside from external factors influencing our overall health and fitness level (such as proximity to a gym or rec center or outdoor parks; availability of fresh fruits and vegetables; finances to afford new running shoes or home gym equipment, etc.), us humans are privy to myriad intrinsic factors that can determine whether or not a diet or exercise program will give us the results we’re after. Intrinsic factors, such as genetics, hormones, physiology and movement patterns, past injuries and what generally floats our boats (I’d rather go for a trail run than attend a hip hop dance class, just sayin’), are unfortunately harder or completely impossible to change. And although I think we know we have to work with what we’ve got to become the best version of ourselves, we’re never quite satisfied with that and constantly play the comparison game, hoping to find that magical solution that will transform our bodies into the taught and toned fitness “celebrities” we see enjoying their #greensmoothies and admiring their #gainz in the mirror on Instagram.

I keep seeing everyone post about The Whole 30 Diet and the author of that book looks like a model, so I want to do it, too. That guy on Instagram who’s super jacked always posts pictures of Poptarts and ice cream and talks about IIFYM — I want to try that diet, too. That one blogger quit sugar and dropped a ton of weight, I’m going to quit sugar, too. Even though I’m marathon training and LOVE carbs, I’m going to cut them about because someone on Twitter raves about their high-fat, low-carb diet and how it’s great for running performance and I want to be a better distance runner, too. (more…)

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