6 New Year’s Resolution Hacks

So a new year has arrived and like so many others, you’ve probably decided that this year is going to be the year to stick to your New Year’s Resolutions. If year after year you have found your dedication to your resolutions wavering a few weeks in, you’re not alone (myself included). In order for you to stick to your goal(s), consider these 6 things:

1. Do you have a specific action plan? This involves setting small goals and having a plan in place when you may be tempted by those left over holiday goodies. Don

‘t just think about your goals and plan, write it down. When we write down our goals this increases our conscious awareness and tells our subconscious that this is important and to pay more attention to it.

“I am going to eat healthier this year” or “I am going to lose weight” are very general goals and can set you up for failure from the get go. Instead break it down into smaller, more manageable goals. For example, if you want to commit to eating healthier you may want to start with one particular meal of the day. Maybe focus on making breakfast your healthiest meal, and perhaps only start with 2 days/week. So, rather than trying to make each entire day full of the “right food choices”, which can wear on your willpower fast, focus on one meal at a time.

2. Is your motivation for change intrinsic or extrinsic? Consider the deeper meaning in why you want to make the change. Change is hard for all of us but if you can be clear on what you value most and how your commitment to better health aligns with your purpose it will be much easier to avoid temptation and stick to your new habits in the long run. Perhaps your choice to lose 15 lbs is so you can have the energy to play with your grandchildren and show them good health, rather than just looking good for your high school reunion.

3. Track your progress. Whether it’s weekly or monthly, looking in your rear view mirror and being able to see how far you’ve come can help maintain and increase motivation especially when you feel like you aren’t succeeding.

4. Realize that slips are not failures but part of the process of change. Change is friggin’ hard! and accepting that you will have good days and bad days is critical in order to avoid sabotaging your goals completely when you have fallen off track. When you have tracked your progress, you can look back and celebrate the successes you’ve made along the way and use that as leverage to pick yourself up and dust yourself off and get back on your resolution horse.

5. Add a new healthy behaviour rather than ripping out an unhealthy one like a weed. It’s well known that it is far easier to introduce new healthy behaviours rather than stopping old unhealthy habits. These new changes overtime can take up the space where an unhealthy habit lies, and help you feel better and more motivated to continue improving yourself.

6. Have a buddy system. Share your goals with someone you trust and who will cheer you on when you are feeling discouraged. Having a social support system is a proven way to keep us on track. When you publicly declare your commitment to a certain goal, your commitment is strengthened. When you have an ally and you’re feeling weak, you have somebody to talk to and who understands you. If you’re not feeling motivated that day, they can help motivate you and celebrate your successes with you along the way.

Have you decided to make this year a healthier one in body, mind, and spirit? Book a complimentary discovery session to find out how we can work together to help reach your goals.

Cheers to your best year yet!

#NewYearsResolutions #goals #weightloss

Prevent Colds and Flus with 6 Simple Strategies

The weather has been beautiful but don’t let that fool you, cold and flu season will be in full swing soon enough. Are you protecting yourself? Here are some simple ways to keep your defenses strong during the upcoming months:

1. TEAS: Nutritive teas are full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to keep your defenses high as well as an easy way to keep your fluid intake up to support your detoxification systems.

  • Rose hips—full of that powerful antioxidant vitamin C
  • Stinging nettle—contains lots of vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium and vitamin C, just to name a few. It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine properties making it good for allergies, arthritis, and skin conditions such as eczema
  • Elderberry— has anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects, making them popular for strengthening the immune system

2. SUPPORT YOUR GUT HEALTH: about 80% of your immune system is in your gut so it is important to take care of this defense system on a daily basis. Incorporate pre- and probiotic foods on a daily basis

  • Prebiotic foods—jerusalem artichoke, hemp seeds, avocado, flax seeds, dandelion greens, garlic, onion, leeks, asparagus
  • Probiotic foods—kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, fermented vegetables, miso, yogurt

3. EXERCISE: Exercise can boost your immune system by increasing your circulation and relieving stress. Increased circulation allows antibodies to travel throughout your bloodstream faster, making it easier for your immune system to fight off an illness. Get at least 30 minutes daily of movement and the best exercise is the one that you will stick with!

4. MANAGE STRESS: It’s something we cannot avoid but we can do small things to help manage it. Chronic sleep deprivation can significantly impair our immune system

  • Take a 5 minute time out and take some deep breaths. Try exhaling twice as long as inhaling to engage that parasympathetic nervous system (“rest and digest”)
  • Left nostril breathing is great for those who are stressed and anxious, it will help you calm right down. It’s also great for those who wake in the night with a racing mind.

Here is a 3 minute youtube video to show you how https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psuV0G3aLQk

5. SLEEP: at least 7-9 hours nightly and make sure you practice good sleep hygiene habits: sleeping in a dark and quiet room, avoid screen time at least 1 hour before bed (tablets, phones, computer, TV), avoid caffeine in the afternoon. The half life of caffeine is 4-6 hours so if you have a small cup of coffee with about 200mg of caffeine in it at 2pm then at 6pm you have 100mg and at bedtime you will still have 50mg of caffeine in your system which can affect the quality of your sleep.

6. HYDROTHERAPY: Water is extremely healing and a simple trick you can do is hot and cold showers. I know it doesn’t sound fun but your body will get used to it. At the end of your shower do a short alternation of hot and cold. As your body adapts you can increase the intensity. Just alternative 3-5 times in a 3:1 ratio of hot to cold ie: 30 seconds of hot and 10 seconds of cold, and be sure to end on cold. The alternating temperatures help to improve your circulation and therefore help to get those germ fighters around your body to ward off any attackers. You will also feel energized for your day!

Remember, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding or on certain medications such as blood pressure, blood thinners or diuretic pills, some herbs may not be safe. Always consult your naturopathic doctor for the safest and best advice for YOU

#coldandflu #sleep #healthprevention #fall #nutrition

Is wine good for my heart?

Is wine good for my heart? I get asked this question a lot by my patients. And the research is mixed, as it is for our beloved coffee! One day it’s good and the next a new study says it may not be. That’s because we are all different. Our physiology is different. How our body metabolizes is different. So there isn’t a straight answer here, but I can share a few things that I do know. Although red wine (not white) is NOT a health elixir, it does have some health benefits owing to the polyphenols in it. One in particular you may have heard of is resveratrol. Resveratrol which is found in the deeply pigmented skin of red grapes does have some wonderful health benefits:

  • It acts as an antioxidant preventing free radical cell damage leading to chronic diseases and cancer
  • It can help to lower inflammation
  • Helps prevent diabetes
  • Helps prevent cognitive decline
  • Helps to reduce heart disease risk by reducing inflammation and clotting

(HACK: thick-skinned grapes have higher levels of resveratrol like in a Malbec)

There is research that shows it can reduce hsCRP levels which is a marker of inflammation and can significantly raise your risk for a heart attack (FYI, a very cheap test that I routinely run with my patients). But keep in mind, there are better ways to lower inflammation than drinking wine so you can’t use that excuse for your habit 😉 Resveratrol is not only found in red grapes but also in deep purple coloured fruits like blueberries and blackberries as well as raw cocoa powder. Although there may be some health benefits to drinking red wine, if you are struggling with any of the following conditions, you may want to re-evaluate your relationship with it and reduce the time you spend together:

  • perimenopause/menopause– It can worsen those dreadful ‘tropical moments’ – by affecting the body’s temperature and cooling systems wine can exacerbate hot flashes and night sweats
  • insomnia, unrefreshing sleep – wine can interfere with the production of hormones that help with sleep, it can disrupt deep sleep, and increase trips to the bathroom, leaving you feeling less rested in the morning
  • Anxiety or depression – alcohol acts as a depressant in the body, but also can disrupt blood sugar and can lead to dehydration triggering symptoms that can exacerbate anxiety like headaches, fatigue, increased heart rate
  • gas, bloating or any digestive concerns – wine, and alcohol in general can muck up your gut and oral bacteria and messed up bacteria can contribute to more inflammation and heart attacks, so you may want to consider a probiotic

Remember, moderation is always key but that does NOT mean a few glasses throughout the week with dinner and more on the weekends.

So, for those of you who are considering working with me to reduce your risk of a heart attack, rest assured you can still enjoy your wine but I will help you to choose wisely 🙂

Elevating your heart health,

Olivia

References:

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-alcohol-affects-quality-and-quantity-sleep

can still enjoy your wine but I will help you to choose wisely 🙂

6 Heart Disease Risk Factors You Don’t Know About

We all know and often hear about the traditional risk factors for heart disease: smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, hypertension, and poor diet. However, there are a number of factors which can increase your risk considerably which are much less talked about.

Conditions in Pregnancy

Conditions such as hypertension in pregnancy and gestational diabetes or impaired glucose control can significantly increase your risk for heart disease and heart attacks later in life, EVEN IF you now have normal blood pressure and blood sugar. Pregnancy is like a stress test for women, and can unmask metabolic issues you may not have otherwise known. Having these conditions impair the endothelium, the delicate lining of the arteries, which regulates blood pressure, inflammation, and clotting. Its damage to this protective lining that sets people up for heart disease later in life…even 25 years later!

The good news…eating a healthy diet, exercising, getting the appropriate tests, and managing other risk factors, mitigates your risk.

Sleep Apnea

There are several types of sleep apnea but obstructive sleep apnea is the most common. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when your throat muscles relax and block your airway during sleep. This happens intermittently and is associated with loud snoring that is punctuated by periods of silence. Sometimes people wake gasping at night which settles relatively quickly within a few breaths. And sometimes people with sleep apnea actually think they sleep relatively well.

When breathing stops throughout the night, and this can happen hundreds of times, it places a significant amount of stress on the body which can persist throughout the next day. Sleep apnea contributes to high blood pressure mediated through signals coming from the brain to increase blood flow when oxygen levels drop.

Most people think that those with sleep apnea are overweight, however, this condition can occur in those that are thin and healthy, and it also increases in women after menopause.

What you can do: if your partner complains of loud snoring or you are feeling extremely tired and sleepy during the day, ask your doctor about getting a sleep study.

Depression

Depression and heart disease are a two-way street. Those with depression have been found to have higher levels of inflammation and for those suffering from depression, it makes it harder to engage in heart- and mental health-protective behaviours such as exercise, socializing, eating healthy, or quitting smoking. Those that have depression have worse outcomes after a heart attack.

Living with depression is hard. But know that there is help out there. The first step is recognizing you are struggling and asking for help. You are loved and deserve to feel your best.

What’s good for the heart is good for the mind.

Poor Gut Health

Hippocrates said “all disease begins in the gut”.

The gut is home to trillions of bugs that interact with the food we eat. This is called the microbiome. They produce waste products, some good and some not so good, influencing our weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, mental health, and inflammation-all risk factors for heart disease.

Your microbiome is like a finger print – it is unique to you and can influence your susceptibility to disease. We do a lot of things that mess up our gut ecosystem: eating highly processed foods, little fibre and plant foods, and take certain medications like acid blocking medications and anti-inflammatories. And antibiotics are like an atomic bomb to our guts! If we tend to our inner community by feeding it a variety of plant based foods, fibre, fermented foods, and less animal products we can influence our heart health through a healthier gut.

Hypothyroidism

The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped gland located at the base of your neck and responds to signals from the brain to release thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones play an important role in your overall health and feeling your best, and have a direct effect on your heart health in a number of ways.

Thyroid hormones effect the contractility of your heart, in other words how strong your heart is contracting to pump blood forward, it effects your heart rate and regularity, it effects the tone of your vascular system, impacting blood pressure and it also impacts your LDL levels by affecting receptors that take up LDL from the circulation. Thyroid hormones also prevent LDL oxidation which is a process that turns LDL into a very damaging molecule that significantly contributes to plaque buildup in the arteries leading to heart disease.

Gum Disease

Do you suffer from bleeding gums, deep pockets, or cavities? Have you been diagnosed with periodontal disease or treated for oral infections? Then you are at risk for heart disease.

Poor oral health has been linked with heart disease and significant increased risk for heart attacks due to unchecked inflammation.

The good news is that you can actually get tested to find out if you have too many bad bacteria residing in your mouth and get appropriate treatment.

#healthyfood #heartdisease #highbloodpressure #hypertension #sleep #healthprevention #depression #mentalhealth #guthealth #digestion #thyroid #riskfactors