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Category Archives: Experiences

2015 Clean Up: Week 1 is All Done!

As promised, I’m back to give an update on how the first week of my three week intensive cleanse went. I guess the first point is that I survived! Yay, me! Apart from 5 cherry tomatoes, I was 100% perfect! Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

So, what did I notice in this first week…

1. My worst sugar cravings happened on the first day

The kind of crazy you feel when you are craving sugar, HARDCORE!

The kind of crazy you feel when you are craving sugar, HARDCORE!

Yes, I had them all week. Cravings for sugar, fried foods, dairy and pastries. I persevered with only minimal amounts of whining, but that first evening was the hardest part of all. Suddenly at around 8 p.m. it’s like my body woke up and was like, “Hey, uh, I didn’t get any sugar today…hello? HELLO!!!!! FEED ME SUGAR NOW!!!” Or, maybe it was my brain saying it, I’m not sure but I definitely knew it was being said! I even had dreams of gorging myself on cakes and cookies that night, the whole time racked with guilt over what I was eating.

2. Water, water and more water

I drink a lot of water, but after a few days it was like my body was reset from always hungry to always thirsty. I’ve often read that we get our signals crossed on this and I feel like this particular cleanse is uncrossing those wires because I can’t get enough water, my body is constantly telling me to drink more. Not too long ago I could go hours without a sip, now I need that water bottle next to me at all times and I regret when I go somewhere without one.

3. The first week is EXPENSIVE!

Yes, in the long run I will be saving loads of money because I won’t be going out to eat…at all, but I had to purchase many ingredients that aren’t a normal part of my pantry in order to have healthy options for the length of the cleanse. If anyone is thinking of doing the Alejandro Junger “Clean” cleanse and use his cookbook “Clean Eats”, I would say make sure that you have an extra $150 budgeted for that first shop, because you are going to need it! Of course, after that it is much less expensive and will cost you your usual budget, plus a wee bit more if you aren’t accustomed to buying organic.

4. Yawn!!!

I was pretty tired the first couple of days, but I’m gradually finding that I wake up more easily in the morning, provided I got a good night’s sleep. For a long time, I’ve been one of those people who can get that solid 8 hours of sleep and still wake up tired. This week, when I got a solid night’s sleep of 7 hours or more, I woke up more refreshed than usual. I won’t say I sprung out of bed like a bad Viagra commercial, but there was more alertness and dare I say…more pep, than I would usually have.

Those have been my biggest observations so far, though definitely not the changes I’m feeling. My moods have been fluctuating, as well as my bathroom habits, but we’ll get to those.

What are some of the biggest changes you’ve noticed in yourself the first week of a major dietary shift? Did they disappear after some time or did they stay with you the whole time ?

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Spring Cleaning Your Most Important Home, Your Body!

It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down to write a blog. Big changes in my life, mostly having to do with my work situation and living situation. No apologies though, I did what I had to do and unfortunately that included skipping out on blogs for some time. But I’m baaaaaaaack! You may commence with the applause! 😉

We’re a few days in to May and a lot of people have been, or will soon be doing some spring cleaning of their homes. The sad truth however, is that most people won’t be taking care of the most important home of all…their bodies! I know I’ve been neglecting mine lately, allowing stress to overpower me and I’ve created a toxic state for myself. Well, no more! Today is the first day of an intense three week cleanse program for me. It also happens to be the first time in my life that I’ve been looking forward to a cleanse!

Lately, I’ve been feeling sluggish and although it’s spring and I want to be outside, I’ve been so tired I haven’t been out  nearly as much as I should be. Knowing what I know about the importance of vitamin D, it’s a vicious circle! Part of this also has to do with some liver pain I’ve been experiencing. When you don’t have liver’s sidekick Cap-i-tan Gall Bladder, it’s easy for this organ to get overwhelmed. So, I’ve dusted off a book that I’ve had for some time in order to help me. “Clean” by Alejandro Junger

I’ve tried to do this cleanse before, which consists of clean eating, removal of many common allergen foods, juicing morning and evening, with a solid lunch…but I wasn’t motivated, or prepared. This time, I am so ready! Using recipes from Junger’s cookbook “Clean Eats” and a few of my old standbys, I’ve created a 10 day meal plan, right down to the snacks. “But I thought you said it was a 3 week cleanse?” I hear some of you say…I know, I know, I just wanted to test a few new recipes first and then I will create the last 11 days of the meal plans.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you have to do a cleanse as intense as the “Clean” cleanse, but committing to something as simple as eating clean for 7, 14 or 21 days can really help your body out. Not to mention prepare you for bathing suit season! Wink!

So, if that appeals to you but you don’t want to go out and buy a book to read to do it, here are a few tips to spring clean your body.

1. Drink Water…a TON of it!

Water is so important to your body for so many reasons. If you aren’t drinking enough you are making your body work harder than it has to. Part of my initial Year of the Detox was increased water consumption and I haven’t looked back! Unless you have a medical condition, drinking too much water will not be a problem.

2. Eat Clean

What does that mean, eat clean? Basically removal of any processed foods from your diet and anything that you already know your body has trouble digesting. My mom knows she can’t handle cheese, but she sometimes indulges and has rigorous, porcelain consequences. Just don’t do it. You can resist it for a few weeks. Also, try to eat organic as much as your budget allows.

To give you a short list, you’ll want to avoid:

– sugar

– gluten/wheat

– dairy

– red meat

– alcohol

– soy

This list is very, verrrrrry basic. If you look at any cleanse book in your local bookstore or library, you’ll see that often the list is much more extensive.

3. Make a Plan

As I said, I made a plan and I’m sure that making a plan contributes to better completion rates of a cleanse. When you have your meals planned and your grocery lists written, you’re more likely to succeed and less likely to cheat!

4. Get Moving!

You might feel a little off at the beginning of a cleanse, maybe even flu-like or weak, but as soon as you feel able, get moving! Exercise is a very important part of health, even during a cleanse.

5. Recruit Your Health Team

Who is going to help you through this cleanse? Who will keep you accountable? I’ll show you who is on my team, and you may want to consider speaking to a naturopathic or family doctor before you embark on your cleanse, especially if you have a pre-existing condition.

My Team

My husband – Chef Extraordinaire, Partner and Accountability Watch Dog

Adele Stratton – Nutritional Advisor and Integrational Manual Therapist at Phoenix Rising Healing Centre

Andrea Portillo – Personal Trainer and Kick-Ass Motivator at Visualize Fitness

Freyja – Walk Companion, Wiggle Expert and Actual Puppy Dog…there’s nothing more motivating to go outdoors than those sad, sweet eyes staring at you until you cave!

6. Take Some Supplements

With the help of your nutritional advisor, whoever that may be, make a list of supplements to help your body through the cleanse and cover anything lacking in your diet during the cleanse. I, for example, will have to up my B12 intake as I am removing red meats. You might also want to consider taking fibre and a good probiotic. If you’re interested in a more intense cleanse, look at taking an herbal cleansing kit, but talk to your doctor first.

So, with all that in mind, take a few days to plan your cleanse. Come back, let me know which cleanse you are choosing to do, if any. Do you have any great clean eating recipes you’d like to share? I’m all ears!

My Yummy meal for day one! I LOVE fiddleheads!

My Yummy meal for day one! I LOVE fiddleheads!

Changing Labels and Your Health

Although I made some headway with my detoxing in 2012 and limiting my wheat intake in 2013, I have still gained weight. Sigh. I am currently at the heaviest I’ve ever been. I’m not only heavy, I’m also what I would consider ‘dangerously’ out of shape. No, I don’t have trouble walking up stairs or anything, but man, if the zombie apocalypse hit tomorrow I would not be running for long!

I also have trouble with my knees, lower back, feet and movement in general. ‘Try Yoga’, I hear those yogis calling. Yes, I’ve tried that. ‘Try walking’, I hear others in perfect chorus. Yes, I’ve tried that as well. The truth of the matter is, I need help. In the past few months, I’ve come to realize this and I’ve sought it out.

Firstly, I knew that even when I was at my healthiest, I still subscribed to certain labels of myself that have not changed. These labels still haunt me to this day. With the help of an alternative practitioner, on my blog I affectionately call, ‘My Adele’, I have delved into some of these labels. She has been trained in hypnotherapy and we used this to look at the more prominent labels I have put on myself. The exercise was to take these labels, erase them and replace them with a more positive one.

The first label was ‘SELFISH’. When I told my husband this, he was flabbergasted. To him, I am one of the most selfless people he knows, but that doesn’t matter…this is about the way I see myself. I’m not sure why I’ve taken on this label. I can be as simple as something I was told as a child and internalized it. I took this label, erased it and replaced it with the word  ‘SELFLESS’.

The second label I came upon was ‘UNDESERVING’. This one I already knew about. I often feel like I don’t deserve the happiness and love in my life. I had been working on this for the past year, so when I read the label during my session it was no surprise. This label I changed to ‘DESERVING’.

The third label I read was ‘GUILTY’. This is the second one I already knew about. In the past, I’ve felt guilty about everything. My husband gives me a hard time because I apologize all the time. Sometimes it got so bad I would apologize and he would say, “For what?”. Often, I would not have a good answer. I took that label and replaced it with ‘FREE’. My thinking was that in affirmation writing, you don’t want to write the negative word within your affirmation.

The last label I was able to change was a triple-threat. Three words were attached to the same ‘bottle’. The three were ‘FAT’, ‘SICK’ and ‘UNHEALTHY’. I had been trying to detox, get healthy, lose weight and all while carrying these labels internally. Talking about pushing a boulder up a hill! I changed that one to ‘HEALTHY’.

Now that I have my labels changed, I am ready to start a new journey. I have also retained help from a personal trainer named Andrea Portillo of Visualize Fitness. Andrea specializes in dealing with people who have injuries or physical issues that make it difficult for them to get fit on their own. I have been avoiding the gym lately because a big part of me is terrified hurting myself. With Andrea’s help I am going to rebuild my strength and regain my fitness. Wish me luck!

What labels do you have that you should change? What would you replace them with?

my new labels!

my new labels!

Women’s Health: Am I normal down there ?

I’ve talked a lot about overall health, in how it relates to systems that both sexes have. Now, I’d like to take some time and talk about us…the girls! It seems such a taboo subject to discuss, which I suppose makes it all the more important to get out there. I’d like to become more familiar with my body and its female bits. Over the next few posts, I’m hoping to educate myself and anyone who is interested in learning more about their bodies.

Why, at the age of thirty, do I suddenly have the need to know more about me and my bits? I recently got a bit of a shock. I thought I knew a lot about my body. While I may know slightly more than the average person, I do not know as much as I thought I did. Although my husband and I won’t be trying for a family for a little while, many of my friends and acquaintances are producing offspring like it’s going out of style. There are babies EVERYWHERE! This reproduction bonanza got me wondering about my own capabilities. At the suggestion of a friend, I bought the book “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler, MPH. Well…was I in for a surprise.

Turns out, I’m NORMAL.

You may laugh, but I actually cried. All these years, I thought there might be something a bit off. Why? Two words my female friends: cervical fluid. Ick, I know…ick. But so important to understand. I thought there was something off. You know, those days when you are extra slippery…or extra dry. It was always changing and I didn’t know why, or that it was completely normal.

So, what is cervical fluid?

Cervical fluid is the fluid that comes out of you are certain times in your cycle and can change consistency, as well as colour. I’m not referring to ‘discharge’, which sounds more like your vagina has a cold and hence those times you need a doctor to look you over. I’m speaking of the fluid that tells you that you are fertile. Basically, what seminal fluid is to men, cervical fluid is to women. Men are always fertile and ready to go, so their seminal fluid is always present. If you remember back to that awkward highschool, sex ed seminar, women go through cycles of fertility. Therefore, our fluid is present when we are at our most fertile.

Here is a chart that gives you an idea of a menstrual cycle, but involving your cervical fluid:

borrowed from plannedparenthood.org

borrowed from plannedparenthood.org

Cervical fluid can range from sticky, to creamy or slippery, which is also often described as eggwhite. A lot of women are self-diagnosing themselves when they get to this point in their cycle with a yeast infection or something of the like. Before you rush out to buy a Monistat kit, read on. When you have slippery cervical fluid present, that is often when you are at your most fertile. So if you are avoiding producing a mini-me and you aren’t on the pill, it is very important to either abstain or to use protection during this time. You see, we produce our cervical fluid to make the passage for the sperm easier. It serves to coat the way and make the pH more tolerable. If you have unprotected sex during this time in your cycle, it’s like giving the sperm the FastPass at Disney World so they can get to the end of the line faster. Unless you are planning for an addition to the family, watch out. It doesn’t guarantee your pregnancy, but it certainly ups the odds for it.

cervicalfluid

I hope that all the women who read this, already knew all about their fantastically normal cervical fluid…however, I do doubt that. My secondary hope then, is that you’ve just learned about it and realized, ‘Hey, I’m NORMAL!!’ I highly recommend that you continue your education about your ‘nether region’ by reading “Taking Charge of Your Fertility”. Whether you are like me, on a quest for knowledge, avoiding the baby bump for now, or actively trying to start a family. It is incredibly full of knowledge that really, should have been taught to us while we were in highschool. We might have been totally grossed out, but we would have at least been grossed out and informed.

Just to get an idea, I’d love it if you could participate in a poll on the subject. All anonymous of course 🙂

Don’t be a douchebag, you have the power to do something

Last week was a really crazy week for me. On top of it being wedding season, I had an audition in Montreal, a wedding, a wedding show and apparently the universe thinks I’m an animal rescue agent. On Thursday morning, before my audition, I was taking Freyja (my dog) for a walk. On the way down to the park, I heard some noise coming from someone’s yard. I took a quick look and decided that it was probably just a cat in the yard. On the way back, past the house, something told me I needed to take note. Then, I heard some noises again. I walked over to the green bin ( compost bin provided to residents in the City of Ottawa), lifted the lid and was shocked by what I found.  A poor, little baby raccoon was trapped inside the green bin. It had not been closed properly and he had managed to get in. However, that was not the most shocking part. The little guy was covered, head to tail with rotting filth and maggots. It was quite obvious that the owners of the bin hadn’t cleaned it in quite some time. I tied my dog up a little ways away from the bin and began knocking on doors. Would you believe it was the first time I left the house on a walk without my cell phone?

I knocked on the door of the green bin owner first, no answer. Two neighbours down on each side of the street, no answers. Finally, an older couple driving by saw me and I waived them down. They had a cell phone and we attempted to call City of Ottawa. We were on the phone for over 1o minutes and could not get through. Eventually, they had to leave and I was left to continue to try and help this poor guy. I was on a tight schedule, having to leave for Montreal soon, but I was determined to get him some help.

I ran home, dropped Freyja off and grabbed my phone. It was a hot day on Thursday and it was getting hotter by the minute. Finally after forty-five minutes worth of calls to City of Ottawa, emergency services and the Ottawa Humane Society, I was transferred to someone who could help. Once the agent assured me someone was on their way, I felt a bit of relief. As I hung up, a man in his twenties emerged from the house. He was smiling in a goofy sort of way as he walked towards me.

“Do you know you have a baby raccoon in your green bin?” I asked.two of the rescues

“Oh, ya. My mom found it this morning. She gets up early and saw him in there.”

My heart sank. The house owners/tenants KNEW he was there. They knew for hours! I came to find out that at least two people knew this poor baby was in their green bin and did NOTHING to help him. When I asked why they had done nothing, he said he was scared of it and didn’t really know who to call.  I was completely disgusted. The man stayed with me until the rescue truck came, making lame attempts to comfort me like offering to spray the bin with Febreeze…I nearly punched him. Once the raccoon was on his way to the rescue centre, I rushed my way to Montreal, arriving in the nick of time for my audition.

On Saturday, on my way to shoot a wedding, I came upon a seagull in the middle of the road. If you live in Ottawa, you know how busy Carling Avenue can be. I stopped my car, turned on my four way flashers and scooped the obviously injured seagull up in a blanket. I could not bring him to the rescue centre, so I put him under some bushes on the side of the road. Onlookers in the retirement residence just stared…people continued to drive and walk by. As I drove to meet my bride, I frantically called around getting information. They wouldn’t come pick the bird up, so I called upon a friend to go and rescue him. Luckily, he was able to find him and bring him safely to the bird rescue centre.

Then, on Sunday after a long day in Cornwall at a bridal show, my husband and I took Freyja out to run her in our parking lot. It was dark and had been raining, so we didn’t want to take her far but it was obvious she needed to run a bit before bed. Outside, Frey took off after a pigeon. It struck us both as odd when the pigeon didn’t fly away. Freyja, not expecting to catch up to the bird, didn’t know what to make of it either. He flapped his wings, but almost looked too tired and dazed to take off. So, we got him into our cat carrier, kept him overnight and I brought him to the bird rescue centre the next day when they opened.

I am incredibly upset to say that the raccoon and the seagull both did not make it. The pigeon is still being treated, but the prognosis is not good. I’m sending him healing thoughts.

What astounds me is the complete lack of action taken by the people involved. The first and worst of the three is the raccoon’s case. Upon retelling the events, I’ve heard a lot of people call the man and his mother stupid, but I don’t think that is accurate. Intelligence had nothing to do with it, it was a lack of compassion. They didn’t care what happened to the raccoon. Even a child, upon finding a creature in need, can do something to help it. They obviously didn’t want to take responsibility for their disgusting green bin and the damage it had caused this living being. If their green bin had been in a better state, I could have just tipped it over and set him free. Because of the filth and maggots, the rescue center said they could not save him.

As for the seagull, it took a while of lane changing and slowed traffic before I came upon him. I can only guess that at least fifteen to twenty cars drove by him before I stopped. The seagull was obviously in agony and no one did anything to help. Not to mention the myriads of retirees and workers at the retirement home who just watched the scene play out. It took me literally forty five seconds to get the seagull off the road and out of harm’s way. My friend and new hero, drove twenty minutes to come and find the bird afterwards. I can understand in the case of the pigeon, his problem was a little more masked, but the seagull was in obvious distress.

This is my plea to readers. If you see an animal or person in distress, DO SOMETHING to help. Even if you’re not sure what to do. Call someone, anyone, even if it’s 911. (Though as Marcia rightly states below, 911 should be reserved for human emergencies below). They might get mad at you, but at least you’ve done something to try and help. If you’re not sure whether or not the person or animal needs help, investigate. It takes thirty seconds of your life and could save theirs.

You’re too busy? Not an excuse. NEVER an excuse.

You’re nervous or scared to do so? Take precautions, ask for help from someone else, it’s still not an excuse. You can always call someone better equipped to deal with the situation.

You’re not sure what to do? Not an excuse. Again, call someone. I flagged down an old couple I didn’t even know.

My plea to residents of Ottawa and other areas that use green bins. Keep them clean! That raccoon would be alive today if they had only kept their green bin clean. Keep it securely locked. If you find wildlife trapped inside, don’t be a douchebag, DO SOMETHING.

I’d like to extend my thanks to the older couple who stopped to help me and my friend Peter Whittaker who heard of a creature in need and took action. Also, I send thanks to the people of both the Ottawa Humane Society and the Wild Bird Care Center for the caring and compassion that they demonstrate every day. You can donate to either of these fine places, see details on their websites.

Phone numbers to remember for Ottawa: Ottawa Humane Society – 613.725.3166   Wild Bird Care Center – 613.828.2849

The family you choose

A little over a week ago, I lost my uncle. Some may ask the question which side of the family he was from and that is where the question gets interesting. He was technically from neither side, he was just my dad’s best friend. I’ve purposely taken the ‘just’ out of the previous sentence, because it is inaccurate. The word ‘just’ implies that he was only my dad’s best friend, but that is not true, he was so much more. My dad and Jeff had been friends since they were little boys, growing up in the same town, getting into the same trouble. Eventually, they grew into men and traveled across the US in a car for weeks, having only one tiff over a parking spot. As most men do, they each started their families, marrying women that they were head-over-heels for. As it would turn out, my dad had two daughters but my Uncle Jeff and Aunt Heather could not have any children of their own. That didn’t stop them from loving me, my sister and our three cousins like blood. My dad and Jeff were closer than some brothers ever get. They kept each other’s secrets and over forty years of at least weekly breakfasts in adulthood, they never ran out of things to talk about. There are marriages that don’t fair nearly as well, or last nearly as long.

My dad and his best friend, Jeff (right).

My dad and his best friend, Jeff (right).

Just because someone isn’t your family by blood, or a legal document that can be revoked as easily as it was made, does not make them any less your family. Your family is who you choose to share your life with. I feel so blessed to have a husband that understands the very meaning of this. His best friend is more of a brother to him than his own flesh and blood brother. They talk more often and share more love than a lot of brothers do. I’m also lucky to have a sister that I consider one of my best friends. That doesn’t happen very often. I would stay in touch with her even if we weren’t bonded by blood and family. We understand each other and I would do anything for her.

Although Jeff didn’t have any children of his own, I know of five girls that will miss him for the rest of their lives and mourn him like he was family.

I had a dream the other night where Jeff spoke to me and told me, “It will be ok, shorty.” He used to call me that as my six foot frame towered over his much shorter stature. When I told him I loved him, he said “I know, kid, I know.” The last thing he said to me before I awoke sobbing into my husband’s arms was , “Tell Dougie I love him.” Dougie is what my uncle used to call my dad. Whether it was my brain trying to reconcile what had happened, or something far more powerful, I felt I obliged to tell my dad about the dream. The message really touched him. For truly, my dad has lost a soulmate. Someone he had known and loved forever. I can’t imagine what that must feel like.

So, I put forth to you, everyone who reads this blog, to tell someone today that you love them. Whether it is your chosen family or blood family, tell them how you feel. Our time is so fleeting here and you don’t know if you’ll ever get the chance to say it again.

As I finish up writing this, I’ve just received news that my husband’s mother has been rushed to the hospital. We don’t know what is wrong but thinking back, I can’t really remember that last time I saw her. Was it Christmas? Was it that long ago? Luckily, an errand brought my husband to her house only two days ago. He said she was so full of life and excitement. I’ve lit a candle for her and I will be sending loving thoughts to her side.

If you think you have all the time in the world, you may be right, but you also may be wrong. So why take a chance? Even if it’s a text, a quick phone call, a little note you drop in the mail…don’t be embarrassed and don’t let time be an excuse.

To the memory of my uncle Jeff, rest in peace and I’ll miss you.

 

UPDATE: My husband’s mother is alright. She fainted after her blood pressure dropped. The doctors think it was due to stress but say she should be fine. What a relief.

Wheat is totally inGRAINed in my life

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup (Photo credit: Kevin H.)

Imagine if you were from an Asian cultural background and you had to remove rice from your diet. Sounds nearly impossible, right? That’s what I’m feeling right now. I had been doing very well removing wheat from my diet until I got sick last Friday night. I’ve been battling a combination of bronchial and sinus infections ever since. I have noticed that since I’ve adopted a more hydrated attitude, I do get sick less often and when I do, it is over more quickly. Thank the detox for that! However, when I’m not feeling well, I really notice how I waiver back on to wheat.

On Saturday, I didn’t feel hungry at all. I was coughing, sneezing, boucing from warm to cold and food was the last thing on my mind. Until my husband asked me what I wanted to eat for dinner. The only thing I could think of stomaching was Lipton chicken noodle soup and some saltine crackers. Once I started to eat, I felt so comforted I was able to carry on a conversation with my husband’s best friend and even watch a little tv with them. Before that, I had been lying in bed, hoping to pass out.

Our comfort foods are usually chicken noodle soup when you’re sick and saltine crackers when you are nauseous. When we’re depressed, we turn to cakes and cookies. Hard to avoid wheat in all these things. My ‘detoxed’ brain was saying that I should be drinking some nice, fresh juices to load myself up with nutrients and fight off this sickness. I still think, ‘Why didn’t I do that?’ But even the thought of having them instead of my soup made me queasy. Wheat is so ingrained in our lives, it is hard not to fall back on old habits, especially when in crisis.

I’m not going to beat myself up over this. The little germies that waged war on me all week have done a good enough job already. Craving something comforting when you feel vulnerable to the extreme is only natural. It just made me stop and wonder about how heavily wheat has factored in my life. How emotionally attached I am too it on some levels. It is like the culinary equivalent of a hug from your mother when you aren’t feeling well.

What did your mom give you when you were a kid with a cold?

I wonder what mothers feed their sick children in Asian countries…maybe I should try somma that!

Tanning beds, vitamin D and Quebec

English: Woman uses a tanning bed.

English: Woman uses a tanning bed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About a year ago, I was driving in Montreal and I heard an ad on the radio. It was someone from a tanning salon, enumerating the virtues of using a tanning bed. They said something to the effect of, “Look great! Feel great! Help up your vitamin D during the winter months!” I couldn’t believe it! They were actually touting the ‘health’ benefits of using tanning beds.

The reason that I bring this up today is because I heard on the radio this morning that Quebec has legislated an age limit on the use of tanning beds within the province. I think that is fantastic. If I were less informed about the risks of using tanning beds in regards to cancer risks, I would have thought it was a great idea to get some extra vitamin D. While there is evidence that specific types of tanning beds can help us Canadians up our vitamin D levels, it is my opinion that the risks far outweigh the benefits. If you do decide to use tanning beds to get some vitamin D, make sure you do your research.

Make sure the tanning salon bed puts out UVB. That’s done with medium-pressure lamps. High-pressure lamps only put out UVA, which will not make any vitamin D. With UVB rays, you won’t get a burn, you won’t even get much of a tan, but you’ll get lots of vitamin D.” – Dr. Holick, (cbc.ca)

Considering that the tanning salon that was advertising on the radio was also talking about the wonderous glow you would have after the sessions, I doubt they were using UVB rays in their beds. It’s a tough time to be a consumer out there, reading between the lines when the lines are so skewed.

Quebec is putting a ban on use of the beds for anyone under the age of eighteen. This follows suit with many other provinces and countries who have already initiated similar age bans. Ontario (yay us!) and British Columbia are planning to do so as well. Studies have shown that the risk of getting skin cancer is significantly increased when people below the age of 25 use tanning beds, so we may be able to decrease the risks in many teens.

“…people who used tanning beds were 67% more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 29% more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma than people who never used them. This risk was highest among people who started to tan before their 25th birthday.” (Webmd.com)

The good ole Nova Scotians are doing even better, their age ban starts at 19 years of age. Unfortunately, there is still the fact that most people have no idea that tanning beds can be bad for them, so many people will flock to the salons as soon as they are of age.

It is unfortunate for us Canadians, and many residents in the United States, that we suffer from a big loss of vitamin D in the winter time. Some people might think that going outside in the winter time with their faces exposed will help them produce some vitamin D. The amount of D your face produces is minute and a recent study shows that even if you were completely uncovered, it wouldn’t matter.

Above Atlanta Georgia [in latitude], you can’t make vitamin D in your skin in the winter time. We did a study involving Edmonton residents. For six months of the year, they were unable to make vitamin D in their skin. Stand naked outside from the time the sun rises until it sets, freeze every appendage on your body and you will not make vitamin D.” – Dr. Holick, (Cbc.ca)

Thank goodness we’ve disproved another health reason for winter nudists! Hee hee. My vitamin d source of choice is just to use a good supplement. For more information about how much you should be taking in oral form, see my Vitamin D blog entry.

Do you use tanning beds? Have you ever asked about UVA versus UVB bulbs on one of your visits?

No more wheat for me!

I am a big believer in the view that everything happens for a reason. I think there was a reason that my friend brought the book “Wheat Belly” to my attention. A reason as to why I appeared on Rogers Daytime Ottawa the same day as Dr. Beauchamp, who was promoting the Ottawa Health and Wellness Show and her key note speaker, Dr. William Davis. Why the couple I had booked for a wedding meeting the same day as the show canceled and why I was reminded of the show a few hours later via radio announcement. It was all to get me to the presentation by Dr. Davis on his book, “Wheat Belly” and the innumerable reasons why we should not be eating wheat.

Now that my initial year of the detox has come to an end, I was looking for something else to continue my journey. I am happy that I was able to commit to the challenges that I put into place for myself. I am also happy with the changes I feel in my body. I am a little disappointed, however, in the lack of weight loss I was expecting. Although my exercise track record hasn’t been stellar, I still get moving almost every day. Except for the month I went without sugar, it still crops up in my diet occasionally, but no where near the amounts consumed on average by people who are obese. So, why am I still considered obese according to the BMI? Something felt incomplete about my detox…

Myself and Dr. Davis, author of "Wheat Belly"

Myself and Dr. Davis, author of “Wheat Belly”

After having seen Dr. Davis speak, I have a feeling it may be due to my wheat intake and blood sugar levels. Even when I was working out 6 days a week and at my healthiest weight, I still had a little belly. I barely ever had sugar, junk foods of any kind, and still I couldn’t lose that extra bit of pudge around my middle. I did eliminate refined grains in my anti-inflammation month, but I did not read every label to make sure there was no wheat in everything I consumed. Perhaps that was my mistake?

I won’t get in to all the research about wheat and what it does in this particular blog. I would like to finish Dr. Davis book and have a better grasp on the knowledge before I start to share it with the world, via Internet. Sufficed to say that I am going to go wheat free and see where that takes me as far as all this built up fat stores. As I’ve previously mentioned, belly fat is NOT GOOD. I truly believe that I was able to release a lot of toxins with my Year of the Detox and form some better habits, but I need to focus more on my unhealthy weight now. The journey starts tomorrow.

Have you ever gone wheat free or are you currently wheat free? What differences did you notice?

12 steps towards a healthier 2013

Sunrise on Phu Chi Fa

The sun is rising on a New Year!

Wow!  A whole year of detox, completed! I couldn’t even fathom this moment when I started last year. Twelve months seemed like an eternity, yet here we are. I will be updating the blog with the quantitative measures of my success once I get results back from my doctor. However, as we head in to 2013, I wanted to share what I believe to be the top 12 steps you can take in bettering yourself and your health this coming year. Now that all the Christmas cookies have been eaten and you’ve had your fill of libations for awhile, let’s get back on track. Twelve months of detox has taught me many things, but here are what I feel are the twelve most important things, in no particular order.

1. Drink more water

Sure, sure. Everyone always says to me, I drink so much water. I thought I did, too. Until I kept better track of it and found out I was embellishing a tiny bit. Apart from the air we breathe, there is nothing more important to our survival than water. The more, the better! Most of us are walking around dehydrated like crazy! Dehydration can cause some scary things…trust me. If you make only one change in your life this year, let drinking more water be it.

2. Move your body

I am, by nature, a very sedentary person. I find no issues sitting and watching movies all day. After making movement more important in my life, I found it became something I craved. I no longer wanted to sit all day. Even now when I have a ‘veg’ day, I get up and stretch every hour or so. Your body was made to move, especially since you need movement for your lymphatic system to function. Even if it’s walking to the corner store a few times a week, or some yoga for ten minutes in the morning. Every little bit helps!

3. Eat more raw food

I find this especially hard to do in a Canadian winter. My body wants foods that will warm me from the inside out. Now that I’ve incorporated more raw foods into my diet as a whole, I really feel a difference when I go more than a day or two without having any. Your body needs enzymes that are found mostly in raw foods because it can only produce some of them itself. Do yourself a favour and have a salad before your hearty beef stew, even if it’s a cold night.

4. Find out what your vitamin/mineral deficiencies are and take supplements

The reason I don’t blanket statement this suggestion by telling you to take a multivitamin is because, depending on your personal factors, you may only be lacking a few things from your diet. Go, see your doctor and ask them to run some blood tests to see where you are low in or high in for that matter. Once you have a clearer picture of your health, then you can start taking the right supplements. You may be suffering from a deficiency that you aren’t even aware of. Catch it now and turn your health around!

5. Learn the different names for ‘sugar’ and read those labels

Sounds so simple, so hard to do! As I discovered during my detox, sugar is lurking in many different places under many different names. If you learn them and check your labels, you have won half the battle. The other half is your will power and only you can choose victory. Educate yourself about the products you are buying and you will be a smarter, healthier consumer!

6. Buy organic…REAL organic

Yes, it is more expensive but it is so worth it. This past summer, we bought organic berries and the taste alone was worth the extra bit of money. Just watch out for ‘greenwashing’. As buying organic becomes more and more popular, companies are finding ways to dupe consumers into spending more money on products that appear more natural. Using the colour green or having the word ‘organic’ in the name are just some of the ways that shoppers are being tricked. Check the labels, find out if they are truly living up to their image.

7. Clean with vinegar

Yes, there are hundreds of different cleaners out there. Many make claims of being environmentally friendly, but I have yet to find a single product as environmentally friendly and versatile as good, ol’ vinegar. Not only that, but it is incredibly cheap as well! Save your cleaning product money and buy more organic foods!

8. Chew your food MORE

Yes, we all chew our food to some degree but many of us hoover down our meals without enough breakdown. Your mouth is a vital part of your digestive process. Give your saliva time to help with the breakdown and your whole gastrointestinal tract will thank you for it!

9. Take an omega supplement

I know I said to get tested for what supplements you are lacking in before setting up your vitamin regime, but this is one of the ‘gimmies’. Omegas are powerful anti-inflammatory supplements and rather than tell you all the foods you should be avoiding in order to cut down your inflammation, I would rather you add this to your regime. Especially if you don’t eat a lot of fish!

10. Stay away from products with added ‘fragrance’ or ‘perfumes’

I could write hundreds of tips for what to avoid when putting things on your body, but if I tell you just one, stay away from scented products. Unless the label clearly states that they’ve used no added fragrance or only fragrances from essential oils, there could be many different chemicals lurking under that name.

11. Try juicing

Juicing isn’t for everyone and it is hard to do in the colder months, but there is no better way to get those nutrients in such a bio-available format. If juicing seems like a huge effort, at least try to buy your juices from the refrigerated section of the store. They are less likely to have added sugars and preservatives. Also, the enzyme content will be higher.

12. Write affirmations

Affirmations are a great way to attract the things you want into your life. Whether it’s a state of being or a physical thing, affirmations are a very effective way to reach those goals.

As you head into a new year, turn over to a new chapter in your life. One in which you are healthy and happy. Not only will you be benefiting yourself, but all those around you.

Do you have any suggestions for 2013 that will help people better there lives? Have you tried them? Are you planning on trying them this year?

Happy New Year everyone!