This is a leap year, so February 29th is kind of like a bonus day.
Do you often think that you don’t have enough time to do the things you need to do or want to do? Well, this year you have an extra 24 hours, so what will you do? Here are some healthy things to do in Vancouver on “bonus day” (or any day, if today’s already booked up).
5 Healthy Things to Do in Vancouver
Take a hike. Sometimes when we’re stressed to the point of wanting to tell someone to “take a hike,” the best thing we can do is take our own advice and take that hike ourselves. Of course Vancouver is close to many wonderful hikes, including those on Cypress, Seymour, and Grouse mountains. If those seem too challenging or you just don’t have the time for those ones, there are several more local (and flatter) walking options, including of course the Stanley Park seawall, Pacific Spirit Park, Lighthouse Park, Burnaby Mountain trails, and one of my fave nearby ones, the False Creek seawall. Some of those are also great cycling options.
Shop for healthy ingredients. If you want to be healthy–and really, why wouldn’t you want that–then you’ll need to make some healthy food choices. First, you’ll need to figure out what you want to make. For some healthy recipes, check out my blog (search “recipe” when you go to my blog) or recipe page, my chef friend’s blog Cooking Journeys, web search what type of nutritious food you’d like to make, or dig out your recipe books or magazines. Right now I love my slow cooker. Doesn’t take too long to make delicious food, and I usually have lots of leftovers. We have so many places in Vancouver to buy healthy food, from Choices and Whole Foods to small markets and local stores like Greens Market and Pomme Market. Even our big chain grocery stores are recognizing our wish for organic, local, and healthy food options. And then there are the farmers markets–gotta love those!
Eat out right. Don’t have time to make a healthy meal? No problem, there are a ton of healthy eat-out food options. I don’t eat out much, so perhaps you can chime in via the comments section to list your faves. I like Heirloom, Nuba, and The Naam. I also like to get a pick-me-up from The Juicery Co.
Do something helpful. If you’ve volunteered for a worthy cause, you know that you feel good about it. But did you know that the benefits may go beyond a simple temporary “I done good” sensation? Studies have shown that donating our time through volunteering helps us ward off loneliness and depression, allowing us to feel more socially connected. Another potential benefit is a lower likelihood of having high blood pressure. That’s huge because hypertension contribute to heart disease, stroke, and premature death. So, giving your time away actually may help you have more time! There are many worthy causes in Vancouver and surrounding areas. I love animals, so I volunteer for Furbearer Defenders. I’ve worked with my friend’s wonderful organization, Beauty Night. And, I’ve done talks for the David Suzuki Foundation. If you’re not sure what you would like to do or how to find out how you can help, check out this online resource Go Volunteer.
Treat yourself well. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is based on the foundation of wellness care and illness prevention. If you are not well, it’s important to address those aspects of your health to get to the source, not just mask them with medications or ignore them. If you are well, it’s important to do what you can to stay well. I recommend seasonal tune-up treatments or monthly treatments (depending on your particular needs) to help you limit the amount of time you spend in pain, tired, depressed or anxious, bloated, or struggling with other health issues. Come in for a TCM and acupuncture tune-up!
What do you recommend for healthy things to do in Vancouver (or anywhere, for that matter)?
Healthy Habits Instead of New Year’s Resolutions
I find that there’s an aversion to the idea of New Year’s resolutions. It seems that the thought of failure is linked with resolutions like peanut butter is to jam or like healthy eating is to bland foods. Of course, sometimes those things are linked. But sometimes they aren’t. I prefer almond butter with jam. And of course I know and enjoy lots of healthy foods that are delicious too!
What I prefer to think of, however, are long term healthy habits. A habit is something you do without having to think much about it–“something that a person does in a regular and repeated way.” And, because of that, bad habits are hard to kick. But good, healthy habits can also be hard to kick, making us more successful at achieving our goals.
Have you tried something before without success? Why not try again, maybe with a slightly different approach.
Try Something Different
Every January, I get a bit restless. Throughout the year I intersperse hiking, cycling, snow shoeing, and SUP yoga into my routine. But I often feel like “kicking it up a notch” when the year’s number changes. In other Januaries I tried Crossfit, training for Tough Mudder, bootcamps, and return to step classes (my old fave). I liked some things about those activities, but I always feel a pull to return to my yoga practice.
This year I decided to see if any new healthy habits for exercise would stick. First I tried working with a trainer one-on-one. On the first workout she. Kicked. My. Butt. Can’t say I liked it. But the 2nd and 3rd sessions I felt stronger. It’s good to have someone help you evaluate what you’re doing, and I’ve recognized some areas of weaknesses that I can continue to build up.
The other thing I tried was a Moksha hot yoga class. I’ve tried Moksha before, as well as Bikram’s. I didn’t much like them then, but I thought I’d try it again. Nope. Too hot. Too stuffy in the room. Too hard to breathe, as a result. But the first 15 minutes (I went early) of lying in the heated room did loosen up my muscles from the trainer’s workout.
Though I likely won’t continue with these two particular healthy habits for 2016, it was well worth giving them another shot. For one, I re-iterated in my mind that I really like my usual form of fitness (body and mind) through yoga. I was restless. I am at peace again.
For another, it’s good to challenge oneself. Not that yoga doesn’t challenge me. It does. But doing something different brings another kind of challenge.
Tweak What You’ve Tried in the Past
And, here’s the last reason why trying something again can be beneficial. Maybe this time it works.
My friend was advised to do a nasal saline rinse. He told me that he had a horrible experience with that in the past. He had used a neti pot to pour water into one nostril. It didn’t come out the other nostril. It stayed stuck somewhere in his sinuses, he told me, leaving him with a horrendous headache. I suggested he try a “nasal irrigator” called Nasaline–what looks like a big syringe with a silicone tip at the end. Because the device allows you to push the fluid in a manner you control, instead of relying on gravity, I find it is stronger in its effect.
It worked! Had he avoided trying it again–same basic premise with a different approach–because of a past bad experience, he never would benefited from this easy solution.
What Healthy Habits Can You Try Anew?
Maybe you go to the gym, do yoga, eat lots of veggies, meditate, go for a daily walk, or come in for acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine tune-ups regularly (you should, you know). Or maybe you just make sure to brush your teeth after meals. Regardless, pat yourself on the back because you have some healthy habits you have maintained.
Now, are there some areas that could be improved upon?
If you are having trouble finding ways to make your healthy habits stick, ask me. I may know a technique, a person, a device, a simple tweak that will work better for you.
I didn’t participate, but I applaud those that did the Vancouver Sun Run this past weekend. It took dedication and training to be able to get out there and enjoy it. Some, unfortunately, are now injured and sore. Some had to skip the event due to injuries acquired leading up to the big day. Some injuries are unavoidable and fluke. Others could have been predicted—overtraining or undertraining or improper preparation.
I don’t like to run. I will run, if I have to—like if I’m late for yoga class or running away from doing chores. Growing up, I chose figure skating, volleyball, dance, and diving; not soccer, basketball, or track and field. But, though the specifics of training regimens changes based on the sport or activity, there are some basics that can be followed for any activity.
1. Pick a training routine that you can do
I usually make at least one mistake in pushing myself too hard when I start a new activity. My head says yes; my body says no. I nearly threw up during my first Crossfit-like class (they tell me that’s normal, but don’t believe them that it’s okay…it’s not ok to vomit when you’re exercising). I banged up my knee and sprained my finger trying to compete with the best Grouse Grind climb time of a 20-something fitness trainer I know. I even strained my hamstrings doing 40 straight days of Vinyasa power yoga when I was brand new to yoga.
So, do as I say, not as I have done—I’m getting smarter about this, I swear I am.
Build gradually when you start a new activity. It’s fine—and admirable—for couch potatoes to pursue a goal of doing a marathon, but the process needs to be paced.
2. Get the basics
Though some high level athletes do advertise for junk food companies, athletes know that getting the right nutrition is key to a good performance. It should come as no surprise that whole foods and lots of veggies are good, while synthetic ingredients and processed foods are not.
Get your zzzzzzs. Sleep-time is when your body does much of its healing and repair. Sometimes pain and injury can interfere with a restful sleep. If that’s the case, then make sure that your healthcare provider addresses that. An easily absorbed magnesium supplement may help relax your muscles enough to relieve some tension and help you drift off. To find out how Melissa officinalis and other herbs can help with sleep, check out my blog here, “Melissa Helps You Sleep.”
3. Treat and prevent
Don’t wait until your pain becomes chronic before you get treatment. Acupuncture, biopuncture, Chinese herbs, and supplements can help speed your healing time by decreasing inflammation, relieving muscle spasms and tightness, and improving local circulation.
Even better, try preventing injuries by planning ahead. In addition to proper training, support your healthiest self so that you can more quickly recover, even if you do overdo it. Tomorrow my article on acupuncture pre- and post- event comes out in 24 Hours Vancouver, so pick up your copy, look for it online, or wait for me to post it as my next blog.
Now, get up and get active!