Top tips for getting you motivated to EXERCISE!

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We all know that exercise has so many benefits for our body, our mind, and our spirit. So why is it sometimes so hard to just do it?! Here are some reasons why you might be struggling to make exercise a priority and ways to handle them.

Start Small

“You must give at least 110% or it is not worth it” – I have this problem sometimes. I call it my all or nothing attitude. It makes me think that if I’m not putting in maximum effort then, I’m not going to get any pay off. So why bother right? Wrong! Just 10 or 20 mins every other day is better than nothing at all. Actually, over-exercising can cause as many if not more problems, especially if you are someone who is struggling with burnout, fatigue, or hormonal imbalances. If your schedule is already quite full, or maybe you are new to incorporating exercise, it is okay to start off with small amounts of exercise that you can manage and build from there. It does not have to be all or nothing.

Look after You!

You are busy with family, friends, work, kids, etc.  But is everyone else a priority but you? Are you saying yes to everything and then not finding the time or energy to fit in activities that restore you? When over-committing is at the root of your lack of motivation to exercise, it might be time to chat with someone who can help you pinpoint what you are telling yourself about your own needs. Why are you struggling to put YOU first? The reality is that when you run yourself into the ground doing everything for everyone else, you won’t have much to give. If you take care of your own needs first, you will have so much more energy to offer when you do decide where to invest it.

Unfortunately we all have limits to what we can manage and if you are loading yourself up to the degree that you can’t add in the things that will actually make you healthier and more productive then it is time to re-evaluate.

You Are Worth It!

Do you have a poor self-concept? If you struggle to see yourself as a valuable person with gifts to offer, you are less likely to partake in activities that will make you stronger and empower you. Maybe you take on too much responsibility for others because you are hiding behind low self esteem.  Instead, see yourself as worthy of the effort and time that is a necessary step on the path to health.

Make Exercise Fun

Finding an activity that is enjoyable – It’s important that exercise be fun! When you think of exercise, you may get a visual of slogging yourself off to the gym and pounding out some weights. For some this is fun but for many, this is more of a chore or a duty. Find an activity that you enjoy, that gets you moving and that will help motivate you to go out and do it. If you think about the thing you want to try and it creates more stress in your body just thinking about it…then don’t do it! Pick something else, something that gets you excited. That way, you’ll be setting yourself up for success.

If you are struggling to make exercise a priority and need a little support don’t hesitate, contact us now and start your journey to a healthier you!

Heartburn and Acid Reflux – What’s really happening in your body?

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When it comes to heartburn and acid reflux, we have commonly been told that our stomach has too much acid that is creating uncomfortable and painful symptoms. The truth is that it is often not an issue of too much stomach acid.  So what’s really going on and how do we get to the root of the problem?

At the first sight of food, we typically start to salivate. If we prepare the food ourselves, we salivate even more as we smell the food we are preparing. Once we sit down to eat, our digestion has been primed and those gastric juices that are such a crucial part of digestion have increased and are ready for the work of breaking down our food. Hopefully, we also chew our food thoroughly which again makes the job of the stomach easier too. Unfortunately though, many of us today don’t prepare our own food, we don’t actually sit down to eat, and we definitely don’t take our time and chew our food. We also don’t always make food choices that support our body’s natural healthy processes.

Given these factors, when we eat on the go or we are stressed or we make poor food choices, our digestion is not primed to do the work. Gastric juices are not really flowing in excess because they haven’t been signaled to start flowing. Our stomach in this case is producing very little stomach acid. So then how does heartburn and acid reflux become as issue?

When you eat, food passes down the esophagus and into your stomach. At the lower end of the esophagus is the lower esophageal sphincter or LES. After food passes through this sphincter, it is supposed to close and prevent food or acid from moving back up into the esophagus. When the stomach acid production is low, the LES is not signaled to close. So it remains open, allowing stomach acid and/or food to move up into the esophagus.

Typical go-to treatments of these symptoms are over the counter antacids like TUMS or prescription proton pump inhibitors like nexium, prilosec, or prevacid. TUMS are basically calcium carbonate with sugar, food additives and coloring. The calcium carbonate is not necessarily so terrible but you do need to know when and how much to take for it to actually help improve your digestive symptoms and not just cause more harm.  TUMS are definitely NOT a long term solution.

Proton pump inhibitors are a class of medication whose main action is to reduce the production of stomach acid. This often does relieve symptoms because you are no longer producing stomach acid AT ALL so there really isn’t anything to flow up into the esophagus and cause burning.  However, the complications that arise as a result of this are many and varied. One common symptom that I see in my practice when a person is or has been on PPIs is fatigue because they are now also lacking in a variety of essential nutrients. The body can’t absorb what is being eaten because the food isn’t being properly broken down.

Now that you have a better understanding of the problem, what can you do about it? You can start by adding a few key foods to your diet such as pure, raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar, cabbage juice or sauerkraut, or high quality unprocessed salt. Taking 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar in a large glass of water daily is going to help increase production of stomach acid.

Cabbage juice or sauerkraut is another strong stimulant for your body to produce stomach acid so taking a few teaspoons of either of these prior to meals will boost digestion. The salt (Himalayan is a good one) will provide your body with the necessary ingredients for making stomach acid while adding necessary trace minerals to your diet.

One last thing that I often advise people to help improve their digestion is to breathe! Just before you eat, STOP, close your eyes and give yourself a couple seconds to take 2-3 deep belly breaths. Just doing this simple action can have a tremendous benefit on your ability to digest your food, among so many other amazing benefits.

If you are suffering with heartburn or acid reflux, I strongly recommend trying some of these suggestions. Remember we are always here to help you if you are unsure where to start or maybe you have already tried some of these suggestions and it was not enough. There are many options in our toolkits to help address heartburn and acid reflux naturally and get your digestion working properly again, even when it seems nothing can be done! Give us a call 403-237-6866 or schedule a free 15 minute meet and greet and learn more about how we can help.

Sugar, Sugar, Sugar

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Sugar is everywhere! It’s in our ‘healthy’ fruit juice, yogurt, salad dressings, and BBQ sauces. There are only 2 items on the MacDonald’s menu that do not contain sugar!

Sugar now exists in 74% of packaged products. Most people don’t realize how common it is because there are 61 different names for sugar. Some of the less recognizable names found on packages include: barley malt, dextrose, maltose, rice syrup, beet sugar, cane juice, carob syrup, evaporated sugar cane. Ultimately, they are all just sugar, and all cause detrimental health effects. When we ponder sugar from vegetables or fruit, consider that they are surrounded in fiber. The fiber will help slow the absorption of the sugar and therefore it has a less aggressive impact on the body. A good source of protein is another factor that can help lower the absorption of sugar.

In the 13th century one pound of sugar would have cost the equivalent of 360 eggs today it is the cost of two eggs. The influx of added sugar also came when the low-fat revolution began, fat was removed from foods, sugar was then added to make it taste palatable. Without fat and sugar, the processed foods tasted terrible. Then breakfast cereals became known as healthy breakfast alternatives to eggs and bacon. Little did everyone know the ‘healthy’ low fat/no fat version was worse for them, containing up to 6x the amount of sugar as their full fat counterpart. Yogurt is one of the health foods that I like to challenge, a leading brand of yogurt contains 7 tsp (29 grams of sugar) per serving . This exceeds the recommended daily amount of sugar. Daily sugar intake recommendations by the American Heart Association are no more than 100 calories (6tsp- 25grams of sugar), and complete avoidance until 2 years old.

As a result of the abundant amount of sugar in our diets, sometimes unknowingly, we have developed sugar addiction. This isn’t completely our fault as not only is it a secret additive in so many foods but we physically can’t control ourselves. Take it from these rats. A study conducted in Bourdeaux, France demonstrated that rats given the choice between sugar and cocaine would choose sugar 94% of the time!!

Our gut health is another important consideration when it comes to sugar addiction. Yeast is an opportunistic organism that can flourish on a high sugar diet. When there is too much yeast existing in the gut, sugar addiction becomes even greater. With that being said, we have to understand the impact sugar is having on us.

Here are 6 reasons to lower sugar intake or just get rid of it:

  • Disease: There have been countless studies showing increased sugar consumption linked to obesity, diabetes, tooth decay and heart disease. Sugar increases triglycerides levels in the blood, hardening arteries and increasing risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease.
  • Skin: Sugar binds to protein and fat during digestion creating advanced glycosylation end products (AGES), these are free radicals that can cause blemishes, reduce collagen and elastin in the skin causing wrinkles and loss of elasticity.
  • Immunity: Sugar has a depressive action on the immune system by decreasing the activity of immune cells then also feeds bad bacteria and viruses.
  • Nutrient depletion: Sugar inhibits mineral absorption, throwing the mineral balance of the body off. Sugar also decreases B vitamins because they are required to metabolize sugar and carbohydrates.
  • Blood sugar regulation: Sugar causes spikes in blood sugar then drops shortly after causing us to be hungry and experience mood changes. This also causes inflammation throughout the body and brain.
  • Fatty Liver: Fructose one of the most common forms of sugar, can only be metabolized by the liver. If there is too much in the body, it will build up and be stored as fat leading to non-alcoholic fatty liver.

 

If you would like to find ways to fight sugar cravings and limit your sugar consumption, come and see us at Effective Health Solutions. Together we can decide if you would benefit from gradual decreases or a “cold turkey” approach.

Give us a call or book your free consult NOW to become sugar-free and healthier.

Top 10 tips for Optimal Heart Health

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Since February is heart month, I thought it would be very fitting to talk about optimizing heart health. Here are my top 10 natural ways to improve your heart health:

  • Reduce your sugar intake.
    Believe it or not, sugar is a more significant contributor to increased risk of heart disease than dietary fat. Sugar causes a rapid rise in your blood glucose which then increases insulin output to balance this out. This insulin release promotes fat accumulation in your body and makes it more difficult to get rid of that harmful belly fat that has been shown to significantly increase risk of major heart disease.
  • Ensure you are getting enough high quality omega-3 fats in your diet.
    Research shows that Omega-3 fats (whether from fish or supplements) have a protective effect on cardiovascular health. They also contribute to the reduction of triglyceride levels and inflammation in your
  • Replace harmful trans fats with healthy fats such olive oil, butter, avocado, pastured eggs and coconut oil.
    Ensure that you are using your fats correctly. For example, make sure that you are consuming your olive oil raw. Cooking with olive oil causes the cholesterol in the olive oil to oxidize which can contribute to unhealthy cholesterol balance in the body. Coconut or avocado oils are a much better choice for cooking.
  • Improve your gut microbiome with fermented foods.
    Poor oral health is an indicator of increased heart disease risk. By improving your gut health, you increase the healthy bacteria that can flourish in your mouth. Great examples of fermented foods are: sauerkraut, kefir, tempeh, kombucha, etc.
  • Ensure you have adequate vitamin D levels.
    Vitamin D can play a role in preventing formation of arterial plaque. Ideally you are doing this naturally through appropriate sun exposure. You really only need to be out long enough to have your skin turn the lightest shade of pink which is not damaging to the skin. For some this can happen in minutes, beyond that point your body does not make any additional vitamin D and the continued exposure only causes potential harm and damage. The best time of day to get out is between 10 am and 2 pm when the sun is at its peak. Even on overcast days, get outside to take in natural light as much as possible.
  • Make regular exercise a priority. Even if it is as simple as a 15-20 minute walk every day, it can make a huge difference in your health, energy levels and sleep quality.
  • Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol excessively. 
  • Ensure you are getting deeply restorative high quality sleep and plenty of it. A naturopath can provide you with a variety of natural choices and habits to dramatically improve your sleep quality.
  • Incorporate a regular breath practice into your life to help manage your stress.
    This simple method can have an immediate lowering effect on blood pressure when practiced for as little as 5 minutes.
  • Lastly, it is also very important that we are able to freely give and receive love. Without love in our loves we are left feeling empty and lonely. We are at our best when we feel supported by those most important in our lives and when we feel well enough to be able to give back that same support so make it a priority to give and get regular hugs as this is one very effective way to share love.

If you are struggling to find the time, motivation, or information to make any of these suggestions a regular part of your life,  reach out to your naturopathic doctor to help you determine what is stopping you from living your best life.

If you are ready to take the next steps and move forward with natural heart health choices, call us today or book an appointment now.

Intention and Personal Growth

When you let go of what you are, you become what you might be

I’m not really one for setting resolutions with the new year but I do believe in setting goals and intentions. What’s the difference? It’s probably mostly semantics but I feel that when most people set resolutions they, for example, go from being a couch potato to aiming to be in the gym every day or consistently every week. When they don’t stick to this, they give up. The odd person accomplishes this but most of us do not and would not. It’s like setting yourself up to fail. This does not help us grow and develop.

Goals are easier to set in increments as opposed to one big shebang one time per year. These are usually practical, attainable things. They help us stay focused on where we wish to grow.

Intentions on the other hand (at least for me) are something you can set for periods of time but are not as specific. They are more like the things you want to feel or give. They leave the door open for a variety of possibilities so that the universe can conspire in your favor to bring to your life what you need aligned with what you want to feel. As cliche as it sounds, it then becomes more about listening to your heart, not your head, and creating the space.

Last New Year’s Eve I got home after being out with some friends and I wrote out my intentions for 2016. I had completely forgotten what I had written until one day I was cleaning up my clipboard on Word. I opened it to see what it was. I want to share it with you because when I read it again I was absolutely floored by what was there and how it has transpired in my life over the past year. It has most certainly helped me on my path of personal growth and development. Here’s an excerpt of what I wrote:

“For 2016 I wish for more comradery and good, relaxed times with friends. I wish for further peace and calm. Natural highs and excitement that come from healthy endeavours like interesting new courses or trips or business expansions or bonding with friends/new loves or simply the joy of watching kitties or puppies. Dear divine make this year the year where I am able to settle into myself and my life and allow the richness that comes from connectedness to pour forth. Help me accept love and give equally as much of it. Help me deepen this peace within so that it may emanate out from me and help others feel more at peace too. Use me for your greatest good and allow me to know when I need to set a healthy boundary and say no so that I am free to say yes where it is your will. Make this the year where I leave the past behind and walk confidently into the new without any baggage knowing that I am free to follow your lead. Make this the year where my focus is loving me and my relationship with you above all else. Taking care of myself and my needs is my number one priority along with treating myself with tender loving care, the utmost respect, feeding myself healthy foods, exercising my body and my mind, taking breaks when I need to and just quietly listening to what I need and fully respecting that. Make this the year that I allow myself to receive all the abundance that life has to offer me. Make this the year that I remember to put love, joy, peace and gratitude first.”

It has definitely been a process of unveiling over the course of the year because I can be stubborn so I had to learn some challenging lessons to get out of my own way. There were also a few tests I had to pass to convince myself that I was really going to sustain these changes. This didn’t all transpire in the ways I thought it would (as I find is often the case) but it was very much in the ways I needed and I am so very grateful to have come across this again to be reminded about how important is to know where you are headed but also to set your ego aside and allow the divine to do its’ work in your life. It is so much easier and freer this way. You might end up surprised when you incorporate this little ritual into your life at how much more you will grow. I encourage you take the time for you this New Year’s to decide what your intention will be for 2017. I will surely be doing it again.

Guidelines to Improve Health for You & Your Family

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Improve your family’s health by following the guidelines below:

  1. Make sure you get the best nutrition available, i.e., organic, whole foods. Avoid processed foods. By doing this you will prevent an increase of further toxicity with heavy metals, pesticides, flavour enhancers like MSG, color additives, GMOs, preservatives and chemicals.
  2. If you are going to eat bread, choose sourdough bread over yeast bread to prevent the binding of zinc and magnesium to an insoluble complex with phytic acid and to enable the assimilation of nutritional zinc and magnesium. Since whole wheat sourdough bread is often very heavy, it would be better to start with lighter sourdough bread.
  3. Drink pure filtered water without copper or other toxins.
  4. Avoid the use of the microwave for all food and drinks; avoid also as much as possible plastic containers and packages.
  5. Avoid sugar as much as possible, sweets in general and artificial sweeteners. It is poisonous to the intestines and pancreas and several other tissues. Sugar also inhibits the production of EPA and DHA , both omega-3 fatty acids that are of crucial importance to the brain tissue.
  6. Provide a quiet and peaceful environment for you and your family, eliminating excess stimuli such as TV, gaming systems and computers.
  7. Make sure you are well grounded to the earth. Static electricity may give rise to both emotional/mental disorders and physical complaints. Synthetic clothing, insulating shoes (rubber or plastic soles) and synthetic floor coverings should therefore be avoided. Walk barefoot as much as possible. Eliminate all electric appliances in the bedroom such as electric alarm clocks, TV, computers or audio equipment. Turn off Wi-Fi during the night (and day).
  8. Ensure a healthy sleeping environment for you & your family.       A healthy bed should not contain any metal. If possible, have your child sleep facing north or east. A dark room is important for the production of melatonin (sleep hormone).
  9. Avoid antibiotics since they impair intestinal flora and consequently increase underlying problems. In case of infection, opt for naturopathic solutions.

How to Go Gluten Free

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For many people, part of their health journey requires healing the digestive tract, which can mean avoid gluten for periods of time. Going gluten-free can be a challenge at first…stick to simple choices at the beginning, until you start to navigate the ins & outs of gluten containing food. It is always best to focus on eating whole foods that are found in nature (as opposed to processed foods). Continue reading

Are you Itching for Spring? – Natural Solutions for Allergy Season

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The flowers are starting to bloom…and the birds are singing once again, finally! Slowly, as the temperatures rise, we transition into the new season with recurrent optimism of a long winter’s end.

Aaaah-aaaah-CHOO…that’s the common sound we hear of springtime allergies interrupting our enjoyment of the warming season. Allergies are commonly associated with hayfever with its typical symptoms including cough, fatigue, headache, itchy eyes, nose, throat, skin, runny nose, sneezing, congestion, watery eyes. In addition, allergies include chronic afflictions such as sinusitis, food allergies, eczema, post-nasal drip, asthma and the list goes on. Continue reading