What Makes Challenges, Challenging?

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“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” – Neale Donald Walsh

Oftentimes, I tell my students that feeling balanced fluctuates from day-to-day. It would be nice if we woke up one morning to realize that we have arrived at balance. Unfortunately, balance is not static. In every facet of our lives there are always going to be different challenges affecting our balance, to provide us with an opportunity to grow and challenge ourselves.

We tend to grow and learn at the outer edges of our comfort zone. If we always stayed within that ‘comfort zone,’ never took any risks and saw the challenges that we face as obstacles, not opportunities, then we are just asking for more challenges. We will remain stuck in familiar patterns and never step outside ourselves to see that there is so much more to experience outside our self-imposed limitations. We want to remain safe, but safety does not mean holding on for dear life. I see it in my practice and with my friends everyday, and I understand how hard it is to see it in ourselves.

In the book Illusions by Richard Bach, there is a story about creatures who clung tightly to the twigs and rocks at the river bottom, because clinging and resisting the current was their way of life. It was what everyone did and what they had learned from birth.

One creature decided that he was tired of clinging. “Though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of boredom.”

We need to be fearless when challenges present themselves, even if that means getting out of our comfort zone and trying something new. Trust that it is all part of the journey.

What challenges us?

It’s often the fear of the unknown that causes us to feel stressed and doubt our ability to handle challenges. We often feel defeated because of our limited perception of our abilities. We feel that the challenge is bigger than we are. Look at any successful business – it didn’t become successful without it’s challenges and difficulties. If we gave up every time a challenge came our way, we would never move forward or realize our dreams.

How many times have you created a whole scenario or drama in your head around a challenge, and then realized it wasn’t real?  Was it something from your past creeping into the present, an old record we play when feeling challenged in any way? We can either keep repeating the same behavior, creating the same result, or have the desire to do things differently this time around. You can use the past as a way to empower your present. Sometimes we need to observe ourselves, almost from a distance, and be grateful for this insight. As each limiting behavioral pattern rises to the surface, we can kick its ass! Why not challenge them and find another way to see things? When things don’t work out exactly how we planned, we are challenged to be creative and come up with another approach. Remember the expression, ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’. When you work hard for something, you will appreciate it so much more.

So, how can we relate this to our health challenges? Have you ever noticed that every challenge we face and overcome, comes with a blessing in disguise? Maybe the challenge is an opportunity to get healthier while unlocking our inner strength and fortitude. We always have a choice.

Let’s say that your goal is to lose weight. You use language such as “I hope”, “I can’t promise”, “I will try”, “not sure I can”; lots of excuses rise to the surface as a defense mechanism. You doubt your ability from the start. Part of you is hanging on, and the other part doesn’t believe that you are up to the challenge. Then the memories of your past attempts and failures seal the deal, becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your attitude and perception are created by you, not by your circumstances. You always have a choice. You can start out feeling defeated or you can choose to see the blessings and use this experience as an opportunity to inspire and motivate others, especially those facing a similar challenge. Remember, anytime you experience personal growth you help others around you in some way.

It is said that, ‘the greater the struggle we have in our lives, the greater the victory.’ That is why we have challenges; the opportunity to rise to the occasion, and the lessons that we ultimately learn, give our accomplishments their true value. The more we can overcome, the greater the sense of accomplishment and joy we can ultimately feel.

© 2016 Ara Wiseman. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

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Recurrent Miscarriages – 7 Life Lessons I Took Away From My Experience

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Written by Lisa Marie Brennan

I can still recall how nervous I was as I sat in a cramped psychic’s room in Salem, Massachusetts, during the steamy summer of 2008. I don’t typically believe in such things, but thought I’d give it a shot as I had some questions I wanted answered. And we were in Salem, after all – the town of witches, magic potions, and all things supernatural.

“Will I have trouble conceiving a child?” I asked him, my voice barely above a whisper. The psychic smiled and looked down at his Tarot cards. “I see four babies,” he said happily. “And your first will be a boy.” I leaned back and breathed a sigh of relief. Four babies was a lot (more than I wanted, truthfully), but at least I was in the clear for when we wanted to start a family.

Too bad I didn’t think to ask him whether the babies in his visions were dead or alive. In the next year and a half, my husband and I suffered through three miscarriages, one after another. The fourth pregnancy was finally a miraculous live birth, and I delivered my beautiful baby boy, just as predicted.

Historically, the topic of pregnancy and infant loss is something we don’t talk about in society. We wait until that 12-week “safe” mark has passed to share the news with family and friends, so if a loss does occur, the suffering is done in painful silence.

But pregnancy loss happens more often than we think. A recent Calgary study determined that a woman has a 30 percent chance of miscarrying if she has a baby at age 30 and a 50 percent chance if she has a baby at age 40. With women having babies later than decades ago, those numbers are pretty alarming.

I hope to break the taboo and speak openly about my experiences. Here are some life lessons I wish I could have known before suffering such tremendous losses. Would it have made a difference? Would the hurt have been less? Perhaps not. But at least I would have been armed with better information.

1. It’s Okay to Grieve

Whether you suffer a pregnancy loss at 6 weeks along or 20 weeks, the feeling of loss is great. All the hopes and dreams you’ve imagined for your expectant baby are suddenly dashed. Your grief will be real, so allow yourself to wallow in it for a bit until you feel stronger emotionally. Grief is a normal process and includes a shifting of emotions, including shock/denial, guilt, anger, depression, and, finally, acceptance.

I felt quite devastated after my first loss. I was close to 12 weeks, and even had an ultrasound picture that was proudly posted on the fridge. As far as my husband and I knew, our little “tadpole” was healthy and growing nicely.

When I began spotting and we had a second ultrasound just days later, the technician rather coldly told me she couldn’t find a heartbeat and just left the room. I felt as numb as the cold steel table I was lying on. I wish she had let my husband in the room so we could experience it together. I shakily got up from the table and left, knowing I had to break the news to my family. I cried, but cried mainly in private and did not allow myself to openly grieve.
2. Take Unsolicited Advice with a Grain of Salt

This is a tough one. Advice from loved ones is always well-intentioned, but may not be what your grieving mind needs to hear at that moment. Phrases such as “God intended it to be this way” or “don’t worry, you’ll have another baby” are good in theory, but offer no real comfort.

All I took from that at the time was that God intended to take my babies from me, over and over again. And that somehow, babies are considered as replaceable as toys. Not only did it rock my faith for several years, but it made me feel worse.

The most tactless comment I received was in the ER, after having my third miscarriage. The male nurse taking my blood looked at my chart and realized I was no newcomer to the land of pregnancy loss. He put his paper down and said to me, “Perhaps it’s time you looked at adopting.” Those words stung. Logically, he was absolutely correct, but the timing was horrible.I recall looking at him square in the face and saying, “I’m not ready to give up yet.”

Instead….

The best thing is not to offer advice at all. Just let the grieving person know you are there to listen, first and foremost. Not everyone wants you to fix the problem by using age-old sayings that hurt more than they help. More often than not, she is looking for someone to hear her, and when she is ready, she will talk about her feelings. Or, even spending time with the person doing enjoyable activities may be exactly what she needs to get her mind off things.

3. Recognize When You Need to Seek Additional Help

People grieve differently, and it’s perfectly natural to need help beyond what your partner/spouse can give you. The bond between a pregnant woman and her unborn baby is great. When that bond is broken, the feelings of despair and helplessness may become overwhelming and start to interfere with work, home life, and friendships.

Understanding and mutual experience can be astonishingly relieving.

This extra support can come in the way of a face-to face or online support group, where you can meet other mothers who have experienced the same type of loss. Or, one-on-one counseling with a professional may be a better option to help you work through overwhelming feelings of grief.

Remember that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Rather, it takes great courage to recognize you need some extra help. A great part of me wishes I had sought counseling at the time, but I didn’t. I felt needing counseling meant I couldn’t cope and I did not want people to think less of me. It’s a dangerous way of thinking that prevents many people from getting help.

4. Wait to Conceive Again Until You Are Ready (Really Ready)

The urge to jump back in the game and start a family may be strong after suffering a loss, but give your body and mind a chance to heal. The further along you were when you lost your baby, the longer you’ll need to give yourself before trying again. Growing a baby is hard on the body and is truly a hormonal roller coaster. And if you had to go through labour, or a D&C (dilation and curettage) procedure, your body needs the rest.

It took a while to admit this to myself, but conceiving can become a bit of an obsession. I felt the need, after the first loss, to “prove” to myself that I could be like any other woman and do what God intended for me to do. After all, my paternal grandmother had 10 kids. How hard could it possibly be?

As a result, I jumped back into things long before I was ready. People kept telling me that “almost everyone” suffers one loss and it likely wouldn’t happen again. I believed this to be true and was pregnant again just two months after my first loss. Getting back into things too soon made me emotionally unprepared to deal with the second loss at six weeks along.

5. Understand the Fertility Tests You May Have to Undergo

In order for pregnancy loss to be considered a medical “problem,” a woman has to have three losses or more. Once you hit that magic number, your doctor may order some tests.

One is a more intensive ultrasound called a sonohysterogram that examines the uterus and ensures it is a healthy environment for a baby to grow.A saline solution is inserted into the uterus so problems such as polyps, fibroids, and other uterine abnormalities can be better detected. It can also determine if your uterine lining is thick enough for a fertilized egg to successfully implant.

Additional Tests

Genetic testing on DNA can also be done to determine if there is a genetic cause for your infertility. This kind of testing is advisable if you have a family history of a particular disorder, such as cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia.

Another non-invasive test is called Day 21 testing that checks the levels of progesterone a woman produces on day 21 of her cycle. A low Day 21 progesterone level suggests the cycle was anovulatory (no egg was produced). If no egg is produced, pregnancy cannot be achieved.

6. Learn How to Feel “Normal” Again

For as much as I love to be my own unique person, sometimes you just want to feel “normal.” It is important for women to have that sense of normalcy when they are going through physical and emotional trauma, such as pregnancy loss. That may be achieved by doing things they love, being with people they love, or even spending time with children. It can be the next best thing to having your own child.

In my case, spending time with children hurt rather than helped, as it was a constant reminder of what I didn’t have.

Craving Family Outings

I wanted to be like those normal mothers I saw at the park, joyfully pushing their babies in their strollers. I stared longingly at families at the Toronto Zoo, and wondered if I’d ever have a child to show the tigers and lions to.They seemed so happy and I wanted their lives so badly. Everywhere I went I saw families with children, and I couldn’t get away from it.

I didn’t want to be just another statistic — another woman grouped in the recurrent pregnancy loss category who had “unexplained infertility.” I wanted someone to explain to me what was wrong and to fix it. The doctor warned me that I may have to go through many more losses to get to my desired goal, and I was prepared for the long haul.

7. Don’t Let Anxiety Take Over Your Next Pregnancy

When I became pregnant for the fourth time, I was filled with anxiety. Instead of feeling happy, I felt like I was having a breakdown. I was terrified to go to the bathroom in case I spotted. Spotting can be an early sign of a miscarriage and was the case for all three of my losses.

I would hold my urine for hours until I was in so much pain and then worry that the pain I experienced was a sign the baby was dying. I drove myself and my husband crazy, quite literally. It made it almost impossible to enjoy the wonderful things that were happening inside my body.

Fearing Ultrasounds

I recall doing multiple ultrasounds in my first trimester at the fertility clinic my husband and I had gone to. Before, during, and after each ultrasound I’d cry. I’d shake on the table and repeatedly ask the technician if she saw a heartbeat. Then I’d insist that he or she print a picture – even at five weeks along – as proof that the baby was in fact growing. I am quite sure I was not a favourite patient of theirs.

My fear of a fourth loss was great, and the longer I was pregnant, the harder I knew it would be to break my bond with my unborn child.

Pregnancy loss at any stage can be devastating, and the most important lesson I have taken from my experiences is to talk about your feelings. Talk about what happened and your unique experience, as I’ve just done. If more women felt comfortable doing so, they’d realize they were not alone in their grief. Not by a long shot.

Lisa Marie Brennan is the co-author of the published book “Chronic Heartburn” and writes mainly about nutrition and health-related topics. A self-proclaimed foodie, she enjoys spending her time experimenting in the kitchen whipping up unique recipes.

To contact Lisa: lisabrennan79@yahoo.ca.

 

 

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How I Learned Happiness

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Written by Breanna Pegg

 

The story of how I discovered the way to live a truly happy and joy-filled life began on December 30, 2013. I was driving towards a bridge in my hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan when I lost control of my vehicle. My car began to fishtail out of control and I crashed into the left side of a barricade, which sent my car to the opposite side. It took just a few seconds to go from one side of the road to the other, but these were the longest and hardest seconds of my life. The snow piled up against the barricade created a ramp and I knew my car was about to go off the bridge and crash into the river below. I thought my life was about to end and there was nothing I could do about it.

My car dropped 40 feet down, into the river below. I blacked out during the plunge but I came to and remember feeling relieved and happy to be alive. I noticed that my windshield had a small hole in it, so I knew I could escape the vehicle before it sank. I tried to punch the hole bigger but I was not strong enough, so I kicked the hole until it was large enough to crawl through. I pulled myself out of my car and sat on the hood of my floating vehicle until it sank into the river. I then lowered myself into the freezing water and swam to the edge of the ice.

My hands were bleeding from attempting to break the windshield. I swam despite my fractured clavicle from the impact of the seatbelt. I swam despite the fact that it was minus forty degrees Celsius that day. I swam despite the fact that I was wearing full winter gear. I managed to swim to the edge of the ice and pull myself up out of the water.

I crawled along the ice to the edge of the riverbank as the emergency personnel arrived. The first aid on the side of the river was the beginning of my physical healing journey with Western medicine, but more extensive treatments soon followed. Surgery, chiropractic, massage, and physical therapy became a large part of my life. These were all aimed at fixing my broken bone and combating the effects of the whiplash I experienced from the impact. Unfortunately, my injuries encompassed so much more than my physical self.

After a few months, it was clear to me that my healing was not going according to plan. I was still in constant pain and my team of health care providers had no answers for what was going on. Structurally and mechanically everything seemed just fine, but they were unable to diagnose where the sudden sharp pains shooting down my arm were coming from. They didn’t know why I was unable to complete my back-to-work program. I was failing physically and my body wasn’t giving answers as to why this was. The chronic pain and not knowing where it was coming from had me spiral down into a depression. How could I be only 24, yet be so incredibly broken? I wished so badly that my life could simply go back to normal; that I had never been involved in that accident.

I made a commitment to myself that I would do whatever was necessary to become pain free. I made a secondary commitment to myself as well, deciding that if the pain didn’t go away, that I would learn how to live a happy life with the pain. In the beginning, I had no idea how to do this.

These commitments were the spark that sent me on a complete and total healing journey of my mind, body, and soul. Over the months that followed I changed many things and made discoveries about myself and about life in general. I began by changing my diet and becoming as healthy as possible. I quit my casual smoking habit. I started practicing yoga every morning and evening to ease the stiffness in my body. I began Tapping (EFT) for pain relief and started using essential oils.

In one of the yoga videos I practiced, the instructor said, “when we love ourselves, we heal ourselves,” so I dedicated myself to a self-love practice. This made me shift from thinking thoughts such as, “I hate my left shoulder. It causes me so much pain and doesn’t work the way it is supposed to” to thoughts such as, “I love you left shoulder. I know you’re just trying your best to be a shoulder. It’s not your fault you’re injured.”

I realized that there was no need to be hard on myself because I was constantly trying my best. All anyone does is try their best. This allowed me to let go of judgment. I no longer judged myself for not being perfect. I no longer judged others for not being who or what I thought they should be.

I also learned what it truly means to live in the moment; to not worry and stress about what may or may not come to be and to let go of that which I cannot change. I realized that everything happens for a reason and the car accident I was involved in went from being perceived as the worst thing to happen to the best thing that has happened. It truly is amazing how when we change the things we look at, the things we look at change.

I discovered what it is that genuinely makes me happy and I was able to connect to my life’s purpose and start following my path, rather than the path that I thought I should be on. I started listening to my intuition rather than trying to use my mind to build a life that society deems as successful. I realized that I matter, that my happiness matters, and I can choose to be my own best friend or my own worst enemy.

All of these inner changes and realizations ended up having a large impact on my external life. The chronic pain faded into the background of my life and my body now feels amazing. I ended a seven-year relationship and became single rather than engaged. I decided to go on a three-month solo Europe trip instead of buying a house. I made the decision to leave behind my career as a Registered Nurse and pursue a career as a Holistic Health Practitioner. The list of changes can go on and on because the physical manifestations of my inner work are truly endless. It is amazing how inner work will always result in amazing external changes.

I am now 25 and I see life out of a totally different lens than the 23 year-old who crashed her car off a bridge. I am so incredibly grateful for all I have learned. My transformation has given me life connected to a joy that comes from within. I choose to follow my bliss. Connecting to my inner self has led me to move from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to Toronto for the year in order to take schooling in holistic health. I now ride the tide of life rather than trying to control it and I wouldn’t have it any other way because life is chaos filled with both highs and lows. Life becomes truly magical when we learn to enjoy and appreciate the lows just as much as the highs. For when we do this, the greatest lows can be transformed into the most magnificent highs.

Breanna Pegg is Registered Nurse and is studying the holistic health practitioner program at Transformational Arts College. She loves horse back riding, yoga, reading and snow boarding. She plans to move back to Saskatoon, start her own business while working as a nurse part time. She wants to help bridge Eastern and Western medicine and be an advocate for using both modalities harmoniously together.

To contact Breanna: breannapegg@gmail.com

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Are you Constipated?

Written by Natalia Hnatiw

Chances are that most of you are constipated to some degree. Did you know that the average 45-year-old person has about 10lbs of built up fecal matter in their colon? That’s a lot of poop. This lack of elimination can largely be blamed for years of inadequate water and dietary fiber intake, as well as the predominant SAD (Standard American Diet) that many people adhere to. Other factors that lead to constipation include drug use, iron supplements, environmental toxicity, lack of exercise and stress. It’s no wonder that the majority of us constipated.

Are you under the perception that Everybody is different, and there is no set “normal” when it comes to passing stool? If you’re eating three regular meals a day, you should be going three times a day. If you’re going less than that you’re constipated, plain and simple. Not eliminating as much as one should leads to a buildup of toxins in the body that have nowhere to go, and these toxins simply circulate throughout the body. The sad fact is that many people are constipated their entire lives and think it’s normal. The way your poop looks is also very important in determining how healthy you are. Here’s a chart to put it in perspective: http://www.healthworks.my/infographic-shit-poop/

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The Many Problems of Constipation

The interesting thing about the colon is that it is a reflex organ, meaning that each section of the colon corresponds to a different part of the body. Did you know that the majority of migraine headaches are caused by a toxic colon? Over 90 percent of all human illness and disease begins with a congested colon, which is why it is so important to keep ourselves clean.

Constipation can lead to many conditions including:

Anxiety

Appendicitis

Body Odor

Bowel Cancer

Bronchitis

Depression

Diverticulitis

Fatigue

Gas, bloating

Halitosis (bad breath)

Headaches

Heart problems

Hemorrhoids

Hernia

Indigestion

Insomnia

Irritability

Liver spots

Lower Back pain

Malabsorption

Obesity

PMS

Skin, hair, nail problems

Varicose veins

So what can you do to keep yourself regular while decreasing the risk of any of the above conditions? The first thing I tell my clients is that they need to drink enough water and eat fiber-rich foods. Sounds simple enough. Fiber is important because it gets things moving, but if you’re not drinking enough water, it can have the opposite effect and clog you right up. On a side note, how much water should you be drinking? The average person should drink about 2-3 liters of filtered water every day, depending on their weight and activity level. If you’re eating a well-rounded diet that is predominantly fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, you’re probably getting the allotted 25 to 40 grams of fiber that is recommended for optimal health.

If you are still having trouble, you could be low in magnesium. This important mineral relaxes the muscles in the intestines and helps stimulate peristalsis in the colon. Magnesium also attracts water in the colon, which helps to soften stool and makes it easier to pass. I recommend supplementing your diet with magnesium glycinate as it is the most absorbable. If you are still experiencing irregularities, there a certain herbs and fiber supplements that can help normalize the process.

Colon Toning and Cleansing Herbs:

Cascara Sagrada is one of the most popular colon cleansing herbs used today.  It contains the compound anthraquinone that works as an herbal laxative. This herb also helps to stimulate bile production in the liver, which speeds up the removal of toxins from your system. However, there are some adverse effects with cascara that you need to be aware of. According to the United States National Library of Medicine, use of cascara in the recommended doses for a limited period of time has been associated with a few side effects, most of which are mild and transient. With longer term use of high doses of cascara, there have been several cases of liver damage.

Slippery Elm is an all-purpose herb that is beneficial for the entire intestinal tract. It is very effective for both constipation and diarrhea. This amazing herb normalizes the stool while it soothes, coats and heals the lining of your intestines.

Turkey Rhubarb, traditionally used in Chinese medicine, also contains anthraquinone which promote bowel movements. This herb also contains tannins, which relieve diarrhea and reduce inflammation in the colon.

 Colon Friendly Fibers:

Psyllium contains a category of fiber called mucilage. When mucilage enters the digestive tract it absorbs water. It then swells, making the stools in the colon bulkier. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day while taking any fiber supplement. If you don’t, you run the risk of obstructing the colon and making your constipation worse.

Ground flax and chia seeds are both soluble and insoluble fibers and are very soothing to the digestive tract. Want proof? Just add a little water to them and wait a few minutes. They turn into a gel solution that glides easily through the body and helps with colon cleansing. Flax and chia also contain healthy fats, which are important for regular bowel movements and overall health.

What about bran? I know some of you may be under the impression that bran is the best fiber out there, but that is only because it has been heavily marketed as such. How many of you eat All-Bran cereal on a daily basis and still experience digestive/intestinal issues? Bran is actually the leftover waste from the processing of wheat. It is low in nutritional value, and as a fiber supplement, does more harm than good. It is an irritating roughage that can cause damage to the intestinal lining. Bran also contains phytic acid which can leach minerals from the body, including calcium. This is definitely a fiber you want to avoid.

What’s as important as the frequency of your bowel movements is the ease in which you move your bowel.  If you need to push or strain, then something is wrong, it should be easy and not too messy. Pay attention to any changes in your bowel habits. Anxiety is one of the causes of colon problems, because we are hanging on to things when we are anxious and tightening up our body.  Start to implement the suggestions above to have healthy bowel movements!

 

 

 

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Steps to Health

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Written by Ara Wiseman

  1. Become more mindful of your thoughts. If you are thinking negative thoughts, remind yourself of the things you are grateful for. When you are grateful you can’t be miserable! Studies have shown that negative thoughts can lead to compromised health and shortened lives. The power of our mind and emotions influence the overall health of our body by affecting our immune and nervous systems.
  1. Find your passion and do what you love. What you are passionate about is often your purpose. According to Wayne Dyer, “Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life.”
  1. Manage your stress. Try journaling, go for walks in nature, practice deep breathing exercises and eat nutrient rich foods.
  1. Pay more attention to your posture. If your neck is leaning forward or you are hunched over, the quality of your breathing will be impaired, affecting your overall health. Yoga helps to keep your body in proper alignment.
  1. Have a raw salad every day with lots of vegetables and dark leafy greens. Kale, spinach and collard greens are all packed with antioxidants that help fight free radical damage and inflammation.
  1. Start juicing on the weekends. Play around with different combinations using beets, carrots, dandelion, parsley, kale, collards, celery, apples, lemon, cilantro, ginger and anything else you can think of.
  1. Have a fresh fruit smoothie everyday. Add 1tbsp of sunflower lecithin for improved brain function and cellular health.
  1. Cut down on animal protein. Start by having one or more vegetarian days per week.
  1. Switch to organic dairy products and reduce your overall dairy consumption.
  1. It is best to buy organic, especially when it comes to the fruits and vegetables that have the highest pesticide residue levels according to the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 chart. (See chart at http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/clean_fifteen_list.php)
  1. Incorporate beets and celery into your salads and meals. Beets help to relax blood vessels and improve oxygen efficiency. Celery is helpful for blood flow.
  1. Have three Brazil nuts a day for optimum selenium intake.
  1. MSG, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, isolated soy protein and aspartame are all neurotoxins that affect the brain. Avoid these at all costs!
  1. Avoid using vegetable oils. When you heat these oils they oxidize and become rancid and the oxidative damage ages us. Coconut oil is the safest oil to heat because its unique makeup is resistant to high heat cooking. You can use olive, flaxseed or hempseed oil for salads.
  1. Heal Your Gut. Take probiotics daily to help your digestion and improve the balance of healthy bacteria in your colon. This will reduce inflammation and boost your immunity.
  1. Start adding fermented foods to your diet. Eating fermented foods restores the intestinal flora balance by feeding your gut the beneficial bacteria it needs. Try foods such as natto, tempeh, miso, sourdough bread, kimchi or sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), kefir (fermented milk) or poi (fermented, mashed taro root).
  1. Incorporate Omega-3 fatty acid into your diet. It is found in ground flaxseeds, hempseeds, chia seeds, raw walnuts and green leafy vegetables and is important for healthy, youthful skin.
  1. Your skin absorbs everything you put on it. Be mindful of the type of products you use, especially the ones you apply on a daily basis. Whether it’s personal hygiene or cleaning supplies, read the labels and choose natural brands.
  1. Get into the routine of dry brushing and rebounding every morning to get your lymphatic (immune) system moving.
  1. Studies have shown that incorporating a spiritual practice, such as believing in something outside ourselves and having faith that everything is happening for a reason, has been shown to increase longevity.
  1. Stress causes inflammation and premature skin aging, so you want to do whatever you can to de-stress your mind and body. Set aside some time for yourself every day. Practice meditation, exercise or take a bath. Aromatherapy with lavender essential oils is a great stress-reliever, and your skin will thank you.
  1. Infrared saunas relax your muscles and help your skin eliminate toxins that may be contributing to wrinkles.
  1. Listen to your body. If you are experiencing symptoms such as headaches, constipation, acne/rashes/eczema, trouble with your memory, brain fog, pain or lack of energy, you have an imbalance. Book a nutritional consultation to address any imbalances you may be experiencing. Your health is your wealth!

 

 

 

 

 

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Back to School

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Written by Natalia Hnatiw

Whether you’re a student or a teacher, the transition from summer vacation to a regular schedule and heavier workload may cause you to place less focus on your health and wellness. Putting diet and exercise on the back burner can quickly catch up to you if you don’t pay close attention…the “freshman fifteen” is not solely for new college students. Here are some tips to keep your body and mind healthy all year round.

NUTRITION

Learn proper portion size. To avoid eating too much of even the healthiest foods, keep track of how much you’re consuming. The proper amount of whole grains can range from 1-2 cups, depending on your size and activity level. Meat servings should be about the size of a deck of cards, while a serving of nuts and seeds is only about ¼ cup. Fibre-rich nutrient dense foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables, can be eaten in unlimited amounts.

Eat breakfast. Whether you’re rolling out of bed at noon or up at the crack of dawn for class, make sure you start your day with a balanced meal comprised of healthy carbs, protein, fat and fibre to keep your blood sugar stable and your energy high. A good example would be organic oats with ground flax, raw nuts and seeds, topped with fresh fruit.

Pack a lunch. It can be easy to cop out and head to the cafeteria or a nearby fast food spot in between classes, but your body and your wallet won’t be thanking you in the long run. Save your health and your money by making your own food and taking it with you. Prepare dishes like hearty soups and stews in bulk and portion them out for the next few days to save time. Cook a big pot of quinoa and add your favourite veggies and healthy fats like nuts and seeds and you’re set for the next several days.

Eat variety. It can be easy to eat and prepare the same foods everyday, but to get all the essential nutrients your body needs it is important to eat a variety of foods. The easiest and most economical way to do this is to eat seasonal and to shop at a local farmers market. Don’t be afraid to try new things and experiment with new flavours.

Make it convenient to eat right. Stock your fridge and pantry with healthy foods to ensure they are the first things at hand when you get hungry. I always carry Lara Bars and apples or bananas with me in case I get hungry or am too busy too have a proper meal.

Drink enough water. Drink enough water to hydrate your brain and body. Drink at least 1 litre of pure water for every 40 pounds of body weight. Drinking enough water can help boost your concentration and keep you from overeating. The easiest way to make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day is to bring distilled or filtered water with you wherever you go.

Limit caffeinated beverages. Caffeine is the world’s most popular psychoactive drug. Avoid all caffeine sources within 10 hours of going to sleep, including coffee, tea, green tea, chocolate, and caffeinated soft drinks. Instead, drink decaf, herbal tea or water.

Limit alcohol consumption. College students are known for their partying, but there’s no easier way to pack on the “freshmen fifteen” and deplete your adrenals than by drinking empty calories on a regular basis. Plus, hangovers are not a good idea when you have papers to write and classes to attend. If you do choose to let loose once in a while, make sure to properly hydrate and supplement with B vitamins.

Supplement. Even if your diet was perfect, it can still be difficult to ensure you’re getting (and retaining) all the nutrients your body needs. Investing in a good quality multi-vitamin and probiotic is a good idea to cover your bases.

EXERCISE

Stretch first. Help yourself avoid injuries by stretching each time you exercise. Simple stretches before and after you work out or engage in physical activity can help keep you active and pain-free.

Head to the gym. Most schools provide students and staff with gym facilities they can take advantage of for free. Head to the gym in between classes or first thing in the morning, whenever you can fit it in.

Ride your bike. Instead of taking the bus or driving to class, try biking instead for as long as the weather allows. This will give you some exercise and save you money on gas or transit.

Play a sport. One way to get yourself motivated to exercise is by joining an intramural team or playing recreational sports through your school. Get active and have fun at the same time.

Incorporate different kinds of exercise in your routine. If you only stick to one kind of workout it can be easy to get bored and lose interest. Incorporate strength training, cardio and yoga into your routine to make it well rounded and fun.

Bring a friend. With someone else relying on you to show up, you’ll be much more likely to make the effort to work out. Working out with a friend can be a good motivator and fun.

SLEEP

Get a full nights rest whenever you can. While the amount of sleep each person needs varies, most people need 7-9 hours to feel fully rested. While this may not be possible every night, try to sleep a full night whenever you get the chance.

Take naps. If you have the time during the day, a short nap can do wonders for your energy levels. Just make sure not to nap for too long or too close to bedtime.

Don’t work in bed. Working in bed can make getting to sleep harder. Keep your workspace separate from your sleep space.

Stick to a schedule. With different classes and work hours each day it can be hard to stick to a schedule, but keeping sleep times consistent from day to day can greatly improve your chances of getting a good night’s sleep.

Understand that lack of sleep can have a big impact. Lack of sleep doesn’t just make you cranky, it can also reduce your ability to concentrate and to excel at class, or anything you do, so try to get as much sleep as you need.

Create a bedtime routine. If you have trouble falling asleep at night you can help yourself by creating a routine that will let your mind and body know that bedtime is approaching and that it should get into sleep mode. After a few weeks of practice, this should help you fall asleep when you need to.

Keep your room dark and quiet. Try to keep your room as dark, quiet and cool as possible. This will signal to your body that it’s time for bed and will help you get to and stay asleep.

STRESS

Understand you can’t do everything. While you might want to go to class, work, play a sport, and participate in clubs and social activities, the reality is that sooner or later you’re going to get run down by trying to do too much. Focus on doing the things you truly need to or love and forget about the rest.

Give yourself a break. If you’ve been working steadily for hours, give your eyes and mind a chance for a rest by taking a break. Meditation is a great way to calm your body and mind. You will come back feeling more refreshed and ready to go.

Give yourself plenty of time. It’s easy to put off starting on a big project or studying for a test until the last minute. You’ll be much less stressed out, however, and will likely do better if you give yourself more time to work on it. Time management skills will make everything, from getting assignments done to managing work, a lot easier.

Spend time with friends. It is important to maintain strong relationships. There are few things that can cheer you up like being around the people you value the most. Even if you find yourself too busy to spend quality time with your friends, a simple text or phone call can make all the difference.

Regularly spend time in nature. Take walks in the woods and along natural bodies of water. Keep plants and fresh flowers in your home and office. Walk in the moonlight. Nature helps by bringing about calm energy.

 

 

 

 

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Eat Your Way to Beauty

anti-aging face

Written by Natalia Hnatiw

The strive for beauty may seem like a vain one, but in reality, the way you look on the outside says a lot about the state of your health on the inside. Do you have brittle nails, dull, dry hair or flaky skin? These are all signs that you may not be getting the nutrients you need for your body to repair itself. And in short, this could be aging you faster than you may like. No one wants to get older, but aging slowly and gracefully is definitely the better alternative.

How you take care of your body, and the types of foods you choose to put in it will directly affect the way you look and age in the long run. You may not think that your daily bad habits (ie. smoking, drinking, eating processed foods, etc.) are affecting your skin right now, but ten years from now, you may regret it. You’re never too young (or too old) to start an anti-aging protocol. Our bodies are very forgiving, constantly renewing themselves. Don’t worry; you don’t have to give up all your vices, or at least not all at once. Did you know that when you make small changes over a longer period of time, you’re more likely to succeed and maintain those changes?

You can start by looking at the food you are putting into your body. Are your choices nourishing you? Food is supposed to give us energy, not take it away. How you begin your day will be a good indicator of the choices you will make later on. If you’re used to your daily cup of coffee with milk and sugar and a muffin on the side, I can guarantee that a couple hours later, you will probably feel less than energetic.  Low blood sugar equals poor will power when it comes to less than healthy food choices.

If you want your skin, hair and nails to look good and youthful, you also need to be drinking enough water. I cannot stress the importance of hydration in any healthy lifestyle regime. Water not only hydrates you, it also flushes the toxins out of your body. In the morning, your body is still in its eliminative phase. Always start your day with a large glass of water, maybe a squeeze of lemon juice. Then have your coffee, or better yet, a freshly pressed green juice– this will offer you the right nutrients to make healthier food choices later on in the day because your blood sugar is stable.

Remember, small changes lead to big results. I’ve compiled a list of foods that you can begin to incorporate into your diet. Start by introducing one new food each week. Variety is key. If you are interested in a personalized anti-aging meal plan, you can contact Natalia at www.arawiseman.com

Anti-Aging Additions

  • Pineapple
  • Papaya
  • Berries (such as blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries)
  • Cherries
  • Pomegranates
  • Artichokes
  • Dark green leafy vegetables (such as kale, spinach, and collard greens)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Avocados
  • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Raw cacao
  • Green tea

 

 

 

 

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Anti-aging Tips

anti-aging-foods2

Written by Ara Wiseman

  • Your skin is you body’s largest organ— the earlier you start to take care of it, the easier it will be to maintain its youthfulness later on in life.
  • Health is wealth. Make sure your priorities are set straight. How much money you are willing to spend on your car or wardrobe versus your health is a good indicator of your priorities.
  • Eat a plant-based, organic diet. Conventional produce is generally ridden with herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals that pollute the body and contribute to premature aging.
  • Get enough sleep (8 hours a night); this is the time when our bodies repair themselves. Lack of sleep will make you look and feel tired. One of the first places sleep deprivation shows up is on the face, with dark circles and bags under the eyes.
  • Relax. It is important to reduce your stress, as it will definitely age you.  Stress and worry cause frowning, and over time the muscles in the face actually conform to that movement. That is why smiling is important.
  • Stress will make you fat! When you are under stress your cortisol levels go up, stimulating your appetite. When people are stressed and worried they don’t eat properly and tend to exercise less, drink more caffeine and as a result don’t sleep well. This definitely has an effect on your skin and appearance. You can worry yourself to wrinkles.
  • Develop a personal stress management plan like meditation, deep breathing exercises, tai chi, yoga, music, journaling, massage, a warm bath etc.
  • Young-looking, vibrant skin depends a lot on good circulation. Get moving: exercise increases circulation, calms the mind and keeps you young!
  • High-glycemic foods (white foods such as rice, pasta, bread, and processed sugar) trigger the body to produce insulin, which leads to insulin resistance and inflammation.
  • Watch your sodium, as too much salt causes water retention and shows up on your skin as puffiness.
  • Ensure a minimum of 25 grams of fiber, 5–10 servings of fruits and vegetables (raw and lightly steamed vegetables for enzymes, vitamins and minerals) every day. Fiber keeps you regular and helps with the elimination of toxins in the body.
  • Saunas help relax your muscles and help your skin eliminate toxins that may contribute to wrinkles. Take a cold shower following your sauna treatment to help revitalize your skin.
  • Drink 2 liters of water every day (preferably distilled or filtered). Dry skin can be a sign of dehydration.
  • Don’t fear fat. We need fat in our diets in moderate quantities. Omega 3 fatty acids (the ones most people are lacking in their diet) are very important for healthy, youthful skin.
  • Allergies and intolerances put stress on the entire system and can manifest themselves in the skin as eczema, acne and rashes.
  • MSG, hydrolyzed vegetable protein and aspartame are all neurotoxins that affect the brain. Avoid these at all costs!
  • Every minute, your skin sheds 30,000 skin cells; every 28 days, your skin completely regenerates itself: a whole new you!
  • Vitamin A treats sun damage and cellulite; Vitamin D reduces spots and growths; Vitamin E protects against sun damage and skin aging; Vitamin C is needed to regenerate Vitamin E. The best place to get these vitamins? Eating whole foods!
  • Alcohol contributes to aging skin by dilating small blood vessels in the skin and increasing blood flow near the skin’s surface. Over time, these blood vessels can become permanently damaged.
  • Heating oils causes them to oxidize and become rancid. Oxidative damage ages us! The only exception is coconut oil because it’s unique makeup makes it resistant to high heat cooking.
  • The two main things that cause pre-mature wrinkles are UV light from the sun and smoking. Both these things can be avoided. If you smoke, QUIT! If you’re an avid tanner or beach bum, avoid over-exposure and invest in a good sun block.
  • It’s not the SPF number that matters when looking at sun blocks, it’s the type of SPF you’re using; stay away from the chemical sunscreens and look for natural zinc-oxide based sunblocks: Aubrey is a good brand.
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Healing

heart

Written by Ara Wiseman

This month our focus is on heart health. Researchers have found that most heart attacks occur between 8-9 o’clock on a Monday morning. Many illnesses are manifested from emotional discord, unresolved issues, stress, unhealthy thoughts, actions and choices, including our day-to-day food choices. The healer is within each of us. The problem is that most of us have lost this intuitive connection and need to reconnect to this intelligence. We live in an external world and look to external sources for everything. External sources are only there to remind our body to reconnect to this inner healing wisdom. In some cultures, the traditional healing system focuses on enhancing and cultivating the healer within.

For some reason we haven’t been taught this knowledge and have been led to believe that we are helpless victims who need to run to the hospital emergency department and take antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and other “anti” drugs. Disease is rooted in the belief that we are incomplete. When you are overworked, stressed, addicted to caffeine, sugar, recreational drugs or alcohol there is a cumulative effect both mentally and physically. Habitually just going through the motions keeps us from living a life of greater meaning.

Somewhere along the way we have lost the faith in our body’s ability to heal. The medicine we need comes from our food, not from medications made in a lab.

Health is about what you put into your body and what you release or let go. It is a state of mind and an inner knowing that no matter what challenges come your way you have whatever you need inside to deal with them. In our culture, when something goes awry or we are facing some type of challenge, we search externally for the cure or solution as opposed to searching within and finding the source.

Oftentimes we attach toxic emotions to experiences in life, which become memories, or seeds, such as shame, regret, feelings of abandonment, low self-worth, etc. These seeds take root and begin to sprout and grow, ultimately leading to health and relationship issues.

In order to heal, you need to become aware of the toxic emotions or patterns attached to the memories, or stories, you carry around with you. Once you identify these emotions, you need to go to the seed level and dig up the roots that are keeping you stuck and limiting your potential. Attention leads to intention and if your intention is to change, your attention is expanded towards opportunities that support that change. Doors open when other ones close. In order to change we need to change our routine and add nourishing things to our life. You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine. Did you know that you have healed yourself millions of times since birth through the body’s natural healing system? It is never too late to make changes. Your body is forgiving and renewable.

It’s not so much which road you take, it’s the baggage that you carry with you that determines whether your experiences will be positive or if the same lessons will have to be repeated until you empty your suitcase, becoming aware of and dealing with the issues you have been carrying around with you.

Bodywork, yoga, meditation, infrared sauna therapy, nutritional counselling and dealing with any imbalances, whether biochemical, hormonal or due to a nutrient deficiency is a good place to start. When there are imbalances it is hard to not search externally for relief.

When a client comes to see me, it’s not just about food. Food is the effect, but what is the cause? What is causing you to feel tired and lethargic, unhappy, stuck, stressed? Why are similar patterns repeating themselves over and over again? What seeds have been planted, are they deeply rooted and are they overtaking your inner garden?

A friend of mine once said, ‘why does my story have to be sad, why can’t it be a happy story with a wonderful lesson?’ The amazing thing is that every minute is a chance to turn it all around. Why not focus on the lesson and extract the positive, learn from it and move on. Next time you are pruning your plants, imagine that the dead leaves are the negative stories we hang onto that need to be removed. The flowers and deep green leaves are the beauty we have in our lives. There is a vast sea of potential realities that you can be experiencing right now. Begin by seeing the beauty in this moment. Look around. Everything right now is perfect.

Breathe deeply and let it all go.

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Heart Health and Happiness

heart-cholesterol

Written by Natalia Hnatiw

Your heart is one of the most important organs in your body. Without the heart pumping blood and life force to your organs, they would not be able to function. Since February is Heart Health Month, and with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I think that it’s fitting to give our hearts the acknowledgement they deserve by doing things that keep them healthy.

What Keeps the Heart Happy?

Love! This may seem a little obvious but it can also be the most overlooked. Our hearts are made to love, truly and purely. When we love ourselves, we are able to love others. When we give with open hearts, the world opens up to us with endless opportunities.

Follow Your Heart: There is a reason why we are told to follow our hearts, it is where our intuition lies. When we feel joyous and excited about something, it is our hearts telling us that we are on the right path. When we feel dread or anxiety, or when our hearts actually hurt, it is a warning sign that what we are doing is not resonating with us and we need to re-evaluate our current situation.

Eat the Rainbow: It’s no surprise that we have to eat healthy to feel healthy and happy. No foods make the heart happier than nutrient dense, fresh fruits and vegetables. They vibrate at the highest frequency and thus, when consumed, keep us at a high frequency. They are also high in fibre, which helps to keep both our cholesterol and blood sugar balanced. Choose plenty of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage for a heart-healthy diet. Some of the best leafy greens to choose include romaine lettuce, green leaf lettuce, spinach, collard greens, and mustard greens. As for heart healthy fruit, citrus can be the most beneficial. Eating fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits can make a big impact on your cardiac health. Overall, it’s important to have a lot of variety when it comes to filling your diet with fruits and vegetables. A colourful diet means you’re adding plenty of nutrients to your body.

Exercise: Like any other muscle in our body, our heart needs exercise to keep it happy and healthy. Exercise, especially the kind that increases our heart rate, is one of the best ways to keep our heart young and functioning optimally. Even things like brisk walking or taking the stairs can be beneficial in the long run. Remember that every bit counts. Skipping, stationary biking or hula hooping are fun ways to incorporate exercise into your daily life.

Manage Stress: Stress can have detrimental effects on the body and increases the risk of heart disease. Stress has a negative impact both on blood pressure and cholesterol. Minimizing our daily stressors can be challenging, therefore it is often more important to change the way we perceive stress, as it is our perception of it that can do the most damage. Unresolved emotions become stored in our body and when we do not resolve them, they manifest into health problems. If you are running late for something and there is nothing you can do about it, simply accept the situation and make a point of leaving earlier next time. Incorporating down time into your life, where you can focus on yourself, is also important. We need to find balance in everything we do. While we sometimes feel that we need to always be giving, we also need to be willing to take what we need and not feel guilty about it. So relax!

The Not-So-Sweet Truth About Sugar and Your Heart
While cardiologists have long warned patients about the dangers of a diet high in sodium and saturated fats, sugar has only recently been added to the list of dietary dangers. While I can go on and on about the negative affects that sugar has on our bodies, I will leave it for another article of its own. Here I will simply address the effects of sugar as it pertains to the heart.

A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that consuming increased amounts of sugar, especially in processed foods, can lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (good cholesterol) levels, while increasing triglyceride levels and (the bad) low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. This is because elevated blood glucose levels raise blood pressure and heart rate and interfere with the proper function of blood vessels, subsequently increasing the risk of heart disease and other heart problems down the line.

The Challenge
So which is the most harmful dietary danger, sodium, saturated fat or sugar? Does it really matter? In my opinion, if you are eating a predominantly plant-based diet, with organic animal protein used sparingly, while avoiding anything that comes in a box, you should be fine. It’s when we consume “foods” that have a closer relation to plastic than to something edible, that we begin to see problems. I think that we intuitively knew this at one point, but have been so bombarded with advertisements and media telling us what we should buy and what we should eat, that we have become so removed from nature and what real food should be.

So my challenge to you this Heart Health month is to stop and think anytime you’re about to eat something, and ask yourself, “How is this food nourishing me?” And if you can’t come up with an answer, maybe it’s time to rethink your eating habits. Remember that small changes over time can have the biggest impact. So if it’s cutting out the soda, decreasing your meat consumption or switching to organic produce, every little bit counts on your wellness journey.

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