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Category Archives: Information

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!

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MRKH and the vagina stigma

I came across this story today and it blew my mind. A girl in the UK, name Jacqui Beck,  spent 17 years of her life believing she was normal, only to find out that she didn’t have a vagina. If you’d like to read the original story, follow this link to the Daily Mail – online. The girl suffers from a fairly rare condition called MRKH or Mayer-Rokitansky-KĂźster-Hauser syndrome. The syndrome is characteristic of a woman who is missing her womb, cervix and vaginal opening. Although it is classified as rare, according to the Daily Mail, a case presents once in approximately 5,000 women.

MRKH diagram via neovaginasurgeons.com

MRKH diagram via neovaginasurgeons.com

So, you may be wondering why this story blew my mind. Although it has been said that it is hard to diagnose, which I agree can cause issues, I find it upsetting that she didn’t find out until she was seventeen. The typical age of diagnosis is 15-18 years old, and often these women find out for the first time when they try to have intercourse. The only reason Jacqui found out about her condition was a statement to her doctor in passing that she hadn’t started her period yet. I wonder if there was more educational material available to girls, if they would be more aware of their bodies? I know that while I was embarrassed to sit in sex ed class, hearing about my body, I also craved more information. Perhaps if more time was spent educating girls about their bodies, it would encourage exploration without judgement. This exploration could have led to an earlier diagnosis. Also, I ponder if there may be a higher incidence of this syndrome than reported. The 1 in 5,000 women statistic is based on diagnosis in newborns.

I was very pleased, to stumble across a Facebook page in support of women who suffer from this condition. Although surgery is an option to remedy this problem in most women, the psychological scarring must still remain. Especially for those girls who find out while trying to have intercourse for the first time. In a society where we strive for normalcy, the last thing these women want to feel is different. I also want to commend the young girl on who the story was written for coming out in public about her issue. I hope that it will inspire other girls to learn more about their bodies.

I really, truly believe that we as a society are failing to educate girls about their bodies. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, there are aspects of my female functions that I did not fully understand until I was thirty. Those functions are normal functions and they were not presented to me, so I can imagine how hard it would have been for Jacqui to even remotely think something was off having such a rare condition. If I am blessed to have a girl, I want her to understand how marvelous her body is. When she is old enough to understand, I want her to be taught about her cycles and the inner workings of her reproductive organs. Now, I’m not so deluded as to think I will be the teacher for all these things, but I will be open with her. I will answer any questions she has without judgement and if I don’t know the answers, I will find them out. When she is ready, I will book a visit with a gynecologist so that if there is something she is too embarrassed to ask her mom, she can ask them.

In closing, I’d like to relay a story posted in my personal feed on Facebook. Someone I know has a daughter in kindergarten. While doing some arts and crafts, her and her friends were putting string in their laps and laughing. During this play, her daughter used the word vagina in front of her peers. The teacher was there to hear her daughter utter the word and called dear mommy to discuss it. Now, it’s not like she used the word out of context, or a slang like va-jay-jay, pussy or my personal favourite, bajingo. Her daughter used the word in context and without a derogatory nature. Why such a big reaction to the correct use of the word? Because it was ‘vagina’. How crazy is it that there was such drama! I can see perhaps, from the teacher’s perspective, that the other children going home to households that sugar-coat female body parts may have repeated it and upset their parents. I still think it is ridiculous. Let’s try and remove this stigma about female genitalia and its function. Let’s start by using the proper words with our children, right from the beginning.

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

7 things I learned in Nepal

If you regularly check in to YOTD, you may have noticed a long hiatus has just occurred. No, I’m not ignoring you! I promise! I just happened to have been on a life changing trip to Nepal. I left for three weeks, two of which I spent volunteering to build a school. I’d been fundraising for over a year and when it finally came time to go, I’ll admit I was nervous. I’d never been to a developing country before in any of my travels. I was bracing myself for some intense culture shock and while some did occur, I ended up spending most of my time just feeling so grateful to be there. I also made a conscious decision to gather lessons from my interactions and observations of the wonderful Nepalese people. Not everyone gets a chance to go to Nepal, so I thought I would share these experiences with you.

1. Be happy and greet people with a smile

If your first instinct as to why this is my first lesson is that I’m a North American saying we should be happy for who we are and where we live, you’re only half right. We are so blessed to live in countries with modern amenities and civil rights movements, that while many would argue are not perfect, EXIST. However, that is not why the lesson of happiness came to me. It came to me because every day, in every circumstance while in Nepal, I saw smiles. I saw warmth. I saw a willingness to help others with no other motivation than the deed itself. Greeted by smiles in a village that has not seen many white people. People of all ages holding their hands infront of them in the Namaste position and welcoming us everywhere we went. I saw fairly large families living all together in small, clay huts that projected nothing but a happiness to be together and to be sharing the day with us. While they don’t have everything, they are happy and grateful for what they do have. Isn’t that the key to happiness?

Upon my return to Canada, I watched a documentary called “Happy” which was narrated by an author I enjoy, Marci Shimoff. Research has found that the people of Kolkata, India are just as happy, if not more happy than many North Americans. I’ve seen it.  It amazes me that people who we would consider destitute have a level of happiness that some North Americans never achieve.

Smiling Nepali women

Smiling Nepali women

2. Always ask for more

Walking the streets of Thamel, the more touristy district of Kathmandu, you will know exactly what I am talking about. The vendors here are AWESOME at this concept. They always ask for more than what they are willing to take for a product. Who knows, maybe they will get more than what they will accept! This is a great thing to do in life, in general. Ask for more than you want, you never know, you just may get it.

3. Walk and bike everywhere

While walking down from the hilly home of the Kopan monastery, my friend Adele and I came across this young, local boy. He was fifteen years old and we asked him for directions to the Boudha Stupa. Instead of just pointing a vague direction, he actually walked with us over an hour to get us there. Not only that, he walked us right into the Stupa compound and began to tell us everything he knew about it. He was our own personal tourguide delivered to us by Karma! Everywhere you turn in Nepal, there are people walking or biking to their next destination. When you ask someone from Nepal how far something is, you need to specify if you mean by foot, bike or car. No wonder you’d be hard pressed to find obesity in this country!

This is Sanam, our Karmic tourguide!

This is Sanam, our Karmic tourguide!

4. Accidents happen, don’t take it personally

We live in a society so ready to place blame. We need insurance to mitigate every little accident that occurs. I’m not suggesting we abolish insurance, but since we have it, why do people get so bent out of shape over the little dings we get in life? While we were traveling in  Nepal, one of our drivers happened to be following a rickshaw a little too closely and when it stopped suddenly, the driver bumped it. Turned out the rickshaw had a little piece of metal sticking out further than most do, on its back. So what happened? The rickshaw driver got out, looked at it while a small crowd of Nepali men gathered around. He told the driver to back up and helped to navigate him around his rickshaw. No major damage was done, so the attitude was, “I’m alright, you’re alright, let’s move on with our day.” There was no yelling and screaming, no dramatic arm waving. Obviously the driver didn’t mean to hit his rickshaw and there was minimal damage so why get bent out of shape over it? I doubt this occurrence would have gone over so smoothly in Canada, where we are supposed to be polite beyond all reason. So the next time something is done by accident to you and you aren’t actually hurt, take a breath and deal with it calmly.

5. Take a nap

In the Dang province, where we spent most of our time volunteering, most of the people there lead simpler lives. They live in smallish houses with their families and many of them tend fields or animals to feed themselves. Often, they get up very early to get work done before the heat of the sun comes into play. While we were there, one thing I noticed was the amazing ability of Nepali people to sleep almost anywhere. Then there was me, who got all of three hours of sleep on a thirty hour flight path! According to research done in the past few years, the Nepali have it right! If you want to know more, visit information on napping and productivity via Inc.com. Sometimes, we could all use a nap.

Can you see my napping friend under the tree?

Can you see my napping friend under the tree?

6. Carpool, there’s always room for one more!

While I’m sure many would agree that the motor vehicle safety practices with regard to passenger numbers in Nepal can be less than desirable, they have the right idea. Nepali people will give everyone they know a ride if they can. Cars, trucks, rickshaws are all stuffed to capacity as they go from destination to destination. If you drive to work, is there someone that you could share a ride with? If you are going on a trip, is there someone headed that way that you could give a lift to? Friendly bit of advice though, Canadian police will definitely stop you if you have some friends hanging off the back of your vehicle. Please, don’t tell him that I put you up to it!

7. Give your children responsibilities and don’t hold on so tight

I have my masters degree in childhood education, I babysat for years and I know a lot of people with kids. Though I won’t generalize to everyone, many North Americans are a little over-protective of their children. They coddle them and some spoil them to within an inch of their lives. More and more, educators are seeing children coming through the system being so incredibly self-entitled that they are almost impossible to discipline. The blame gets passed around from teachers, to schools, to television, to diagnoses of disorders that must explain why the children are behaving the way they are. I saw many children in Nepal. They had chores to do, they were driving cattle, they were taking care of younger siblings. Things that the majority of our population would never dream of letting our children do. Children walking around by themselves with no adult supervision in sight. Sure, there aren’t a lot of gangs and guns running around rural Nepal (now that the civil war is over)…but there are rhinos and wild boar! While I think that we are privileged enough in our culture to have more of the notion of ‘childhood’ available to us, I also think that many of our children are over-coddled. I may be stepping on the toes of parents everywhere, and my sister-in-law’s favourite expression “You don’t know what it’s like to have children.” is ringing in my ears, but I’ve seen it! I’ve seen children with more responsibility to themselves and their families. They still find time to play, they still smile and have fun. So while I don’t expect even myself to make my children work nearly as hard the children of Nepal do in every day life, I will remind myself over and over of what I saw there. I will try to remember that my children are capable, little, human beings and hopefully, I won’t hold on so tight when it is my turn.

Myself and some very happy Tharu children!

Myself and some very happy Tharu children!

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?

Expensive knowledge, vegetarians and heart disease

Vegetarianism

Vegetarianism (Photo credit: Marius!!)

I’ve been doing more reading than writing lately, life has been all over the map. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Now that my detox is over, I admit, I’ve lost some momentum. Forgive me?

I was reading an article summarizing some findings of a study done in the UK about the health of vegetarians versus meat eaters. If you’re interested, the article is located at theatlantic.com , if you’d like to take a look. Basically it tells us that vegetarians have a lower risk of many health issues.

RESULTS: The self-proclaimed vegetarians had a 32 percent reduced risk of both fatal and non-fatal heart disease, accompanied by lower blood pressures and cholesterol levels, as compared to non-vegetarians. They consumed, on average, more cheese, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and less milk. ” – theatlantic.com

I tried to gain access to the study itself because I had a nagging question, however the journal in which it was published wanted me to pay $40 USD for temporary access. As much as I want to inform myself and all my readers…$40 USD? Ya, I don’t think so.

My question was this, did the authors of the study take into account that part of this correlation may simply be due to the fact that vegetarians tend to be more conscious of their health overall? Think about it. The vegetarians that I know, most of them anyway, are much more concerned with having a balanced diet. They actually need to make sure they are getting the proteins that they require for their bodies to survive. It’s not like McDonald’s is serving lentils with fries, so if they eat fast food, they’ve often lost the opportunity to feed their need for non-meat proteins.

I completely agree that for the most part, especially in North America, we eat a LOT more meat than we need to. Absolutely. I’m sure the UK also has their fair share of over indulgent carnivores.  However, I wonder if they re-did the study with more attention to the type of meat eaters they selected and the type vegetarians they selected, if they would find the same results. For example, what if they screened participants to find meat eaters that ate lots of vegetables and had similar physical activity habits to the vegetarians. Wouldn’t that be more informative? Their group participation size is impressive, certainly, but often I find the quality of study participants more impressive than the quantity.

Just a little food for thought.

Having said all this, I do believe that a diet rich in vegetables and non-animal protein is very healthy. Vegetarian or not, you can reduce your risks of many ailments by upping these enzyme-rich parts of your diet. If you choose your meat from places that don’t use antibiotics or hormones and you don’t overdo it, it’s my opinion that the health disparity shown in this study would shrink dramatically.

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!

7 tips on how to write effective affirmations

Affirmations are a way to attract something that you want in your life, a manifestation if you will. This manifestation doesn’t have to be of something concrete, it can be for an emotional state, an encounter, anything that you desire. Several years ago, I went through a depression. My life wasn’t where I thought it should be at that time, I was overstressed and overworked. We’ve all been there, but this time was different. I had a little ‘break’. During this time, I was living at home and my mom gave me a set of CDs by Bill Nasby called ‘ The Path to Deliberate Creation‘. At first, I didn’t want to listen to it. Eventually, I gave in because I didn’t want to fight about it either.  Bill’s voice and years of experience chipped away at the shell of depression I was encased in. I began to realize that my inaction and marination in a low vibration wasn’t going to do me any good. Crawling out of there was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my entire life. Anyone who has ever suffered from a depression knows what I am talking about. I don’t care how long it was, the feeling of crawling out into the light is fantastic.

One of the things I used to deliberately create my new reality, as suggested by Bill Nasby, was to write affirmations. Now, as I understand it and from my experience, it is extremely important to actually write your affirmations. You see, there’s this little part of your brain that lives solely to smack down new ideas. Some call it ‘ego’, others liken it to a little demon in the brain that squashes anything that your internalized habits say is wrong. For example, if you are overweight and have been for some time, your ego has created that identity for you. When you are trying to lose weight and you simply say aloud, “I am skinny.”, your little ego demon replies, “No, you’re fat.” Simple as that. By writing your affirmations, you bypass the home of that little, dream-squasher and enter the information you want to internalize through a different, cerebral route. Some people might disagree with me on this, but my experience has been that written affirmations are much more powerful than spoken ones.

Now that you know that you need to write your affirmations, what are you going to put down on paper? Here are some tips to help you write more powerful affirmations.

1. Always write in the positive state.

So, if your health is something that bothers you and you’d like to affirm yourself into a better state of health, you will not write “I am never sick.” Saying that focuses on the state of being sick. You would instead say, “I am always in perfect health.”

2. Always write in the present.

Do not affirm that you “will be” or “will have” something. That is affirming a state of not having what you desire yet. You wish to affirm in the present so that you live like you already have what you want. Never “I will be rich”, but rather, “I am rich.” The more you write it, the more you will believe it and draw wealth to yourself. This is not to say that you should go out and live a lifestyle you cannot afford so that you ‘believe’ you are wealthy, but eventually you may see a turnaround in your financial state, or whatever else you were affirming.

3. If you can, attach an emotion to your affirmation.

For example, if one of your goals or intentions in the upcoming year is to tone up your body, do not simply write, “I have a toned body.” Put a little OOMPH into it! ” I absolutely love my toned body and everything contributes to this perfect result.” Doesn’t that sound much more inspiring!?! Writing with an emotional or joyful intention is much more powerful.

4. Write your affirmations in a comfortable language for you.

If flowery words with lots of syllables has never been your style, then don’t use them! If you’re more like me and crave fantastically constructed sentences that coat your mind with their honeyed sweetness, then use them! Remember, these affirmations are for you and you alone. No one else ever has to read them, so don’t write to impress. If you are always searching for words to make more impressive affirmations then it becomes a chore. One you are unlikely to continue.

5. Write your affirmations every day for at least 30 days.

There’s no hard and fast rule about when you write your affirmations. Some suggest that your mind is most receptive to them upon waking up and right before bed, but you will have to play around with this and find what works best for you. However, you definitely need longevity to the process. Writing affirmations for a few days and then stopping will not help you to manifest anything. Make your affirmations a part of your daily routine. I like to write my affirmations at night, right before bed, repeating each one three times. If you are just starting to write affirmations, I would limit the number to about three affirmations per day with no more than twelve words a piece. If you feel comfortable upping the number of affirmations or words, do so at your own pace.

6. Print your affirmations rather than using cursive.

A lot of people find that their writing style is not legible. Printing however, is another story. It may take you longer to do, but think about how you first learned to write. You printed! You learned to print in a time when your little, ‘ego demon’ probably didn’t exist. I find printing to be a much more effective means of internalizing affirmations.

7. Speak your affirmations aloud as you print them.

I’ve never seen this suggestion in any of the ‘self-help’ books, but I really find it amps up the power of the affirmations. My mind tends to wander when left to its own devices. Anyone who has played an instrument knows, that when you are rehashing the tune that you have played over and over, your fingers just take over. Your mind can wander and most importantly, your little ‘ego demon’ has a chance to get his idea-squashing racket out for a game. Say your affirmation aloud as you write, this will help you focus all your attention onto it and not on what you are going to wear tomorrow to work. Even you just say it under your breath, you will hep to hone your mind.

Writing affirmations is a fantastic way to help you manifest your goals and desires. It helped me crawl out of a depression and, by the end of that year, I met my future husband. That’s quite a turnaround, if I do say so myself. So, if you want to give your New Year’s resolutions some added spark, start working on your affirmations. I’d love to see some affirmations you are thinking of using in the comment box below. Please share!