Archive for November 2010

12 Simple Moves to Wellness

The 12 Moves to Wellness

Winter may not yet be official, but there is no question that year-end is quickly approaching. Many of us feel overwhelmed by our to-do lists and do not want to add more to that list with New Year’s resolutions or other such self-imposed undertakings. Being a fan of simplicity, I’ve composed a bit of a song. You’ll probably recognize the format as “The 12 Days of Christmas”, so go ahead and sing it! Or skip to the end of this article to read about the steps and why they are helpful.

For my 1st move to wellness my doctor said to me,

Drink lemon water in the morning.

For my 2nd move to wellness my doctor said to me,

Eat a real breakfast and drink lemon water in the morning.

For my 3rd move to wellness my doctor said to me,

Laugh at yourself, eat a real breakfast, and drink lemon water in the morning.

For my 4th move to wellness my doctor said to me,

Try something new, laugh at yourself, eat a real breakfast, and drink water lemon in the morning.

For my 5th move to wellness my doctor said to me,

Be here, right now!

Try something new, laugh at yourself, eat a real breakfast, and drink water lemon in the morning.

For my 6th move to wellness my doctor said to me,

Sit on the floor.

Be here, right now!

Try something new, laugh at yourself, eat a real breakfast, and drink water lemon in the morning.

For my 7th move to wellness my doctor said to me,

Take the stairs, sit on the floor.

Be here, right now!

Try something new, laugh at yourself, eat a real breakfast, and drink water lemon in the morning.

For my 8th move to wellness my doctor said to me,

Make things fun, take the stairs, sit on the floor.

Be here, right now!

Try something new, laugh at yourself, eat a real breakfast, and drink water lemon in the morning.

For my 9th move to wellness my doctor said to me,

Be inspired, make things fun, take the stairs, sit on the floor.

Be here, right now!

Try something new, laugh at yourself, eat a real breakfast, and drink water lemon in the morning.

For my 10th move to wellness my doctor said to me,

Be enamoured by your breath, be inspired, make things fun, take the stairs, sit on the floor.

Be here, right now!

Try something new, laugh at yourself, eat a real breakfast, and drink water lemon in the morning.

For my 11th move to wellness my doctor said to me,

Set an alarm to go to bed, be enamoured by your breath, be inspired, make things fun, take the stairs, sit on the floor.

Be here, right now!

Try something new, laugh at yourself, eat a real breakfast, and drink water lemon in the morning.

For my 12th move to wellness my doctor said to me,

Get acupuncture, set an alarm to go to bed, be enamoured by your breath, be inspired, make things fun, take the stairs, sit on the floor.

Be here, right now!

Try something new, laugh at yourself, eat a real breakfast, and…

Drink water lemon in the morning!

1. Drink water lemon in the morning

Lemons are rich in vitamin C and citric acid. Adding it to warm water and drinking it first thing in the morning helps stimulate the liver to produce bile which aid digestion. The vitamin C helps stimulate your immune system and promote the healing of connective tissue, bone, and cartilage.

2. Eat a real breakfast

As you may have already notice, “breakfast” can be broken down into the words “break” and “fast”. So, breakfast breaks the fast that you have been on (unless you are a late night snacker!) since your last meal before bedtime. Many know that breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day, but many of you still don’t eat a good breakfast. Coffee is not breakfast and coffee and a slice of toast barely qualifies. A good breakfast will consist of protein, good fats, and complex carbohydrates. Go to my blog for my favourite breakfast, hot quinoa cereal. (http://www.activetcm.com/blog/2010/11/28/my-favourite-breakfast/)

3. Laugh at yourself

There are times when being serious is important. But sometimes we take things too seriously when it would be okay to laugh or at least take things in with a lighter mood. Being able to laugh at ourselves takes the pressure off a bit. We can’t be perfect and some things will always seem to challenge us. I like the Q-TIP mentality: “Quit Taking It Personally”. So use a Q-TIP and stop nitpicking yourself.

4. Try something new
We’ve all been on autopilot at some point in our lives. You get to work and then realize that you don’t recall any of the journey. Routine can be good. But too much routine, too much structure, too much sameness is just that…”too much”. You needn’t turn your world upside-down to try something new (though you could choose to if it suits you). Perhaps it’s as simple as taking a different route to work, going to that new restaurant that you’ve been meaning to check out, or even brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand. Doing something new will stimulate your brain and keep the world fresh for you. 

5. Be here, right now

Trying something new has another benefit. We tend to be more present in the moment when we are doing something new. That makes sense because we have to focus more on something when we don’t know it well. Well, one benefit of being present, being here at this moment, is that we are more likely to be happy. So, if you would like to be happy, be present.

6. Sit on the floor

One of my yoga teachers, Chris Duggan (the one who inspired me into a regular yoga practice www.chrisduggan.net), told me that when he asked one of his teachers what he thought would be the best pose for his knees and hips, he was told to sit on the floor. You might have thought he’d say pigeon pose or something to that effect. But no. Sit on the floor. It sounds simple, but it makes sense. Many populations spend a lot of time sitting on the floor and their elders move very well. They can squat, they can bend, they can sit on the floor, and even more, they can come to standing after sitting on the floor.

7. Take the stairs

It’s easy to take the escalator or elevator, but it uses the wrong kind of energy. It doesn’t use your energy. Climbing or descending the stairs powers up your legs and improves your cardiovascular health. Don’t have time to go to the gym often enough? Take the stairs. The rain made you leave your bike at home? Take the stairs. You’re feeling stressed and frustrated? Take the stairs. The exercise will give you a boost of endorphins, feel good hormones.

8. Make things fun

Just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down. Mary Poppins said so. I’m not recommending you take a spoon full of sugar to help you do whatever you don’t like to do, but you get the idea. I hate housework. So, when it’s time to dust I call a friend and talk and dust. Need to vacuum? I dance and vacuum (thankfully with no one able to see me!). Dishes? Crank up the music and sing! I was inspired to write about making things fun and about taking the stairs because of this wonderful idea that someone had and put into action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGpmhWXfHdM

9. Be inspired

And, speaking of inspiration, check out this 91 year old woman who is competing in track and field events and has been doing so since she was 77! http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/28/magazine/28athletes-t.html?_r=1&src=twt&twt=nytimes

10. Be enamoured by your breath

Another yoga teacher said this in class. I’m enamoured with this quote. In yoga we are often reminded to pay attention to our breath. It is an essential part of yoga. But this description just made me think about my breath differently. Being enamoured by your breath is a more passive form of loving your breath or focusing on your breath. It feels more like the breath is in control of the mind. The breath is so entrancing that your mind can’t help but focus on it. And we all know how important our breath is. So, breathe deep and be enamoured by your breath.

11. Set an alarm to go to bed

Many of us set an alarm to get up in the morning. Without that alarm we may sleep in and miss appointments or be late for work. But how easy it is to let time slip by us as we stay up too late and consequently do not get enough sleep. So, why not try setting an alarm to go to bed? When that alarm goes off, shut off the light and close your eyes.

12. Get acupuncture

Have pain? Digestion off? Sleeping poorly? Feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed? Tired? Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine may be able to help you. But, what if you’re feeling well? Do you need to wait until you’re sick before you get treatment? No, absolutely not. In fact, the ideal way to use acupuncture and TCM is to get regular check ups and treatments. That may be once a month or with a change in the seasons. Prevention is key!

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My favourite breakfast

Acupuncture

My Quinoa Breakfast

That used to be waffles or pancakes or french toast. Well, maybe I do still like those things! But, both my taste buds and my stomach love something healthier, hot quinoa cereal. Quinoa is a wonderful grain-like seed. It is a complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids, and it is a good source of fibre, magnesium, and iron.

Cooking quinoa is very simple. Soak 1 cup of quinoa in water for 15 minutes (or for 5 minutes in hot water if you want to speed things up). Rinse the quinoa with water and drain it using a fine mesh strainer. Put the strained quinoa in a pot with 1 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 tsp of salt. Bring water to a boil. Turn heat down to simmer and cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and leave to sit with cover on for another 5 minutes. I usually double with recipe and freeze extra for future easy use.

For the breakfast quinoa:

  • 1 cup of cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup of almond milk (you could choose rice milk or soy milk or cow’s milk as you wish)
  • handful of pumpkin seeds
  • small handful of dried cranberries or goji berries other dried fruit
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • honey or maple syrup if you wish

Cook on stove on low to medium heat until liquid is mostly absorbed, stirring often. Serves 2. Sometimes I’ll make more than I need and refrigerate or freeze the extras for a faster breakfast when I need.

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Yoga day 12 of 40

I had hoped to blog every day of my 40 day yoga challenge. Had also hoped to blog every day about my 2-week cleanse. The bad news is, I didn’t accomplish either of those tasks. Simply not enough time in the day. The good news is that I have kept my commitments (thus far) to both yoga and the cleanse. Today is day 12 for yoga and day 7 for my cleanse.

I knew what I was to expect with my cleanse as I’ve done them before, so I’ll write more on that in a separate blog. I’m a relative newbie to yoga though. I only regularly started doing yoga at the end of September and just a couple of days before the start of it decided spontaneously to do Semperviva’s 40 Day Yoga Challenge. I had no idea what to expect from that.

All I had thought is that yoga would be good exercise. My gym had just closed and I was frustrated to not be able to find another gym that I liked. I figured yoga would be worth doing, but didn’t feel then that it would be enough. I was used to getting a lot of cardio activity and felt I would miss that. Surprise #1 was that I don’t.

Not that I don’t get a cardio workout. I do. My favourite classes are Vinyasa Power Flow and if you do enough Vinyasas you can feel your heart pumping. I also tried a Kundalini class and loved it!

I love that I feel stronger. Flexibility and balance are traits that I normally feel pretty confident with as I used to be a figure skater. Where I had felt weak is in upper body and core strength. When I started, I could not cycle through Chaturanga Dandasana. The first time I did it, I realized that I could get stronger. And quickly too. I also used to dread bridge pose and the wheel. Today was the first day those poses felt good! And, to do a headstand again–something I haven’t done since I was a kid–feels amazing, like playing kid again.

But, then I remember being told, “If you can’t get into the full pose, it doesn’t matter. And, for those of you who can get into the full pose, it doesn’t matter”.

This is where yoga really changes you. A friend of mine who has been doing yoga for years asked me if I have been transformed yet. Has yoga changed my life? If he would have told me it would before I started this journey, I would have laughed at him. But, now…when he asked me this question, I said “yes” right away, though I wasn’t clear how. It’s so powerfully subtle that you may have to pause to think about it.

For me, it’s these moments of clarity, of being really truly in the moment, of profoundness, that I finally am starting to understand. I’m a competitive person at heart, so to take that out and just try to move and breathe and focus and feel the moment without attachment to the outcome…it’s new to me. And, if it takes my yoga teacher using quotes from Yoda for me to get it, as happened today, so be it.

The funny thing is that for me (so far) the biggest challenge has not been scheduling the classes in to a busy day. That has been a challenge, but even when I go in tired, I leave feeling revived, so I know it’s going to be worth the effort. My biggest challenge now is that I don’t have enough outfits to do yoga every day, so I’m having to do laundry way to often!

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How clean are you?

Today is day 2 of my 14 day cleanse. And day 7 of my 40 day yoga challenge. The cleanse is to help detoxify my body; the yoga is helping detoxify my mind.

Some of my friends have thought me crazy to make both of these commitments, especially at the same time. Even just a few months ago I would have agreed. But it’s actually not nearly as tough (so far) as I had thought it would be. Here’s one reason why. Check out this picture of the inside of my fridge.

cleansing detoxification foodOne of the biggest challenges is food planning and prep. Here’s the good news, after I help my patients (including myself!) sort out ideal foods to eat and which to avoid or limit, Luisa of Cooking Journeys does a consult to create a meal plan and can also even buy, prepare, and deliver the food! So, there’s my fridge full of my first week of cleanse foods (minus the milk, that’s my husband’s). Not only does it make it easier, but I’ve learned a bunch of ways to create new healthy meals and snacks. Did you know you can make kale crisps that are super yummy, very nutritious, and easy to take when you’re on the go? I didn’t know that until today.

If you’re interested in doing a cleanse that is, dare I say…enjoyable, as me.

And, the yoga? How easy has it been to commit to doing yoga every day? So far I’ve been to every day, but I won’t kick myself (though my flexibility to be able to do so is improving!) if I miss a day or two. The hardest part of that so far hasn’t be to go to yoga–because I’m loving the Vinyasa Power Flow and Kundalini styles–but the increase in laundry!

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Alternative flu shot

Are you looking forward to a fall or winter flu? I doubt it! But, flu season is on its way! And so is the flu shot, which will contain the infamous H1N1 swine flu and 3 other viruses.

According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, 43% of Americans won’t get the flu shot this year, one-third of moms won’t vaccinate their kids, and 28% of health care workers said they didn’t plan on getting the flu vaccine this year.

The main reasons why people are opting out are that they believe that the swine flu epidemic was over-hyped last year, they have a concern over side effects, a concern about the safety of the flu shot, and that they don’t believe it works anyway.

Here’s another interesting piece of information:

"It makes it appear that Canadians who got flu shots for the 2008-09 winter were somewhere between 1.4 and 2.5 times more likely to catch the pandemic virus [i.e.H1N1] last spring than people who had not been vaccinated against seasonal flu."

The link is still unclear, but offers up some very interesting questions.

So, should you get the flu shot or not?

That is really up to you. But there are more options. You could look for an “alternativeflu shot”,  such as Pascoleucyn or Engystol, both homeopathic-like (i.e. low dose, though not no dose) natural remedies. These can be  injected by trained and qualified practitioners. I’m excited to say that this year I’m offering that to my patients.

This “alternative flu shot” does not need to be an either-or choice. Even if you do also choose to get the conventional seasonal flu shot, you can still also choose to get this one. The conventional flu shot protects against only specific viruses chosen for the year. The alternative flu shot improves immune function as a whole. It stimulates a general immune response. For some, this one shot will help them for 3-4 months. Others with weaker immune systems may need more support with booster shots and perhaps oral supplements to help keep the “bugs” at bay.

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