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Category Archives: musings

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!

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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?

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.

Scrooge or Cratchit: It’s your choice everyday

As part of my emotional and stress detox, I’ve been ending my days by writing in my journal five things that happened that day that I am grateful for. It is by no means a new concept, but I actually wonder why more people don’t do it. My husband and I have been expressing gratitude for having each other in our lives, every night for over four years now. It is a great way to reconnect at the end of the day and remind ourselves that, no matter what, our relationship is the most important thing in the world to us.  Now, I extend that outlook on my entire day. Ya, crap happens. Ya, it will happen almost every day. But if you go to bed thinking about that, it will just surround your whole mind and energy in that blackness. How can you expect to have a sound sleep and wake up the next day with a good feeling? You really can’t.

I know, it’s hard. We get so caught up in the drama of our lives! It’s so easy to focus on the crap. But does that mean that it is okay to focus on it? Absolutely not. Since I’ve been doing the gratefulness exercise, I notice a lot more of the resistance the people around me are having to it. Even when my day isn’t going so well, if someone asks me how I am, I’ve chosen to answer, ‘Great!’. A lot of people start answering my statement with myriads of their own problems. Almost as if they are trying to douse the light of my happiness. I’m not perfect either, I still give in to those lower vibrations occasionally, but I feel it happening less and less.

I’ll tell you a story, that happened to me only a few days ago. I’ve had to take a part time position in retail at the mall this Christmas season. The moods of people vary greatly during this time of year. From the overjoyed and bubbly, to the overwhelmed and snippy. An older man came up to our cart and when the other woman working approached him, asking if she could help him.

“I don’t want nothing!” He scowled. Obvious grammatical error aside, the waves of negativity were just rolling off of him.  I don’t know what possessed me, but I turned to him and replied,

“Oh, just here for the free smiles, eh?” and flashed him the biggest smile he’d probably seen in years.

“No, no. I don’t even want those neither. I don’t want anything from anybody. I’ve seen real people and they aren’t worth it. When you get to be my age, you won’t be smiling anymore! I guarantee you!” Though I was completely taken aback by the negativity, my years of improvisational skills didn’t fail me now.

“Well, my grandmother smiled right up until the day she died and I will be, too.” I said, matter of factly.

My Nana - team Cratchit member.

My Nana – team Cratchit member.

“Oh ya.” He said, sensing the challenge. “Did your grandmother live through a war?”

“Yes sir, she actually went to work in an artillery factory.” I replied.

“Well, I had those things come at me in the war!” By this point, he was much less belligerent but still trying to make his point.

“Well, it’s because of my grandmother that you had something to fight back with.” I smiled. Then, the oddest thing happened. The old man just started laughing and smiling, with the sound of genuine amusement at the edges. He tipped his cane to me, turned and left. The woman I was working with was amazed. She couldn’t believe I got him to leave with a smile, after such a rocky beginning. As many of us do, she started making excuses for the man. Like, how some people have just seen things in their lives that they just can’t get over. Honestly, I don’t fully buy that. Yes, atrocities such as war, rape and abuse are things that can heavily affect someone. Yes, you are allowed to be upset, have rage towards it and be haunted by it. I hope never to be visited by war in my lifetime and I am beyond grateful to all the men and women who stood up for our country and our allies in their time of need. But does that mean you take one experience and allow it to jade your entire outlook on life, for the rest of your days? Really, it’s your choice.

I am reminded of Viktor Frankl. He was a psychologist who was imprisoned in a concentration camp during the war. He wrote about the state of the prisoners in the camp, his observations and the like. His ultimate conclusion was that even in times of great suffering, life still has meaning and even the suffering itself has meaning.

“A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way—an honorable way—in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, “The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory.” – Viktor Frankl

So, Viktor Frankl took this dehumanizing experience and found the good in it, inspiring all those around him. In my opinion, good choice. Cratchit-grade, in fact! Meanwhile, the random old veteran that I’ve met has chosen to focus on the worst part of his life and transpose it onto the entire population. He goes around looking for people to bring down to his level and quash the light around him. In my opinion, a very bad, Scrooge-rated choice.

At the end of my day, one of my gratitudes was: The chance to make an old, war veteran smile and maybe have a better day because of me.

Coming into the Christmas season and the new year, take a real look at where your head is at the end of the day. Do you need to make a shift? I say, join team Cratchit!

When did I get so old?

It’s Friday night, I’m home. Yes, it’s true that would be the case at 8:30 on most Friday nights of my life. The difference is, tonight I have no plans to go out. None at all. In fact, I’m so tame I’m actually making maple pumpkin butter as we speak. Suddenly it occurred to me that only a few years ago, I’d be showering or doing my hair. Getting ready for the adventures that await in the night. Right now, I’m exhausted! A full day of work, come home, clean and do some headshots for someone and then do some dishes while I make pumpkin butter. I can’t even remember the last time I went dancing with friends! What happened?

I’m not suggesting that I would like to go out every Friday night, but I’m only thirty, I should go out once every couple of months. After this month, I think I will endeavour to go out every three months on a Friday night. Maybe it will keep me young. 🙂

Oye! It's Friday!

Oye! It’s Friday! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My Birthday Wish

Yesterday, it happened. I turned thirty years old. It is the start of a new decade and I hope to continue on my path to better my health. My husband took me out for some AYCE sushi, so delicious. Obviously I ate too much. Hmm…I’m going to have to work on that. After that we just spent a relaxed evening at Chapters, surrounded by so many gorgeous books and I may have spent some money. But I held back, I REALLY did!

A few things have happened in the past few days, all leading up to an observation my husband made while we waited in line at the checkout. We turned to see the face of bullying‘s latest victim, Amanda Todd, on a magazine in the stands. He pointed her out and we both talked about the story of the man who was fired after posting some negative comments on the Internet about her. As someone who was bullied myself in high school, I can only imagine and cringe at what it must be like now that bullies have access to social media sites. People hide themselves in anonymity and the worst part of them is ‘type-vomited’ out on to the page without a second thought. They aren’t opinions, they are judgements that people who are insecure hand-out without thinking about who they may hurt. Although some people do verbally or physically call out others and publicly bully them, social media allows the numbers of bullies to grow. It’s easy to make fun of people you don’t even know while you are sitting at home in front of your computer.

Our conversation extended to people doing the same things to celebrities. Apparently, there are people posting online about how fat they think the singer Adele is. Some have even gone as far as commenting on how stupid and ugly they think her child is as well. Really people? Whose business is it to tell someone else that they are fat and what kind of monstrous human being says a baby is stupid and ugly!?! Those are not constructive criticisms, they aren’t even opinions, they are judgements. Worse, they are the judgements of small minded people who would rather pick out perceived flaws in others than to take a serious look at themselves.

My birthday wish? Maybe my wish is that the people who posted negative comments about Amanda Todd, hiding in anonymity on the Internet, would have to sit down with her mother and say those comments to her face while being broadcast in their community. Look someone’s mother in the eye and tell them you’re glad their fifteen year-old child is dead and leave still feeling good about yourself. I dare you. Along with that, I might wish that we could track down one of the people who called Adele’s baby ugly and stupid. Let’s call a press conference at their home and talk to them about how ‘fantastic’ it was that someone pointed this out to us. Obviously, the people making these comments are experts of child psychology and pleasing facial aesthetics. Right?  Then let’s have some psychologists come and give that person an IQ test. Even better, let’s have Tyra Banks whip in there and tell them how they rate as far as looks go. That girl has sass that would put most cyber bullies to shame!

So, are those truly my birthday wishes? A part of me does agree with them, wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, that part of me lives dangerously close to where my own potential, cyber bully might reside. ‘Why not?’, you might ask. Here’s why. A few days ago I was appearing on Rogers Daytime Ottawa, not for the Year of the Detox, but for a fundraising event I’ve put together. One of the other segments on the show was a father and son author team. They’ve written a book called, “Empowered Youth“, published by Hay House, which may have been where I spent some of my book money last night. Hee hee. During the segment, the son, Michael Eisen, was talking about how he was bullied when he was younger. I am a firm believer that bullies are suffering themselves and that is why they bully in the first place. What he said next though, was something I had never thought of before. He said that if we all worked on our self-esteem, then bullying would not be as rampant. If we all loved ourselves, we wouldn’t feel the need to lash out at others. To judge them. To belittle them. If we were bullied, our strong sense of self love would carry us through the experience. I’m not saying that we would come out completely unscathed, but if our self esteem and self love were strong, the damage would be minor. My lower self aches to call out all the people shrouded in anonymity on the Internet, as they judge people from afar, but that does not serve to help them better themselves or to better ourselves either.

After their appearance, I had the chance to talk to the father, Jeffrey Eisen. For a long time, he and his son did not have a good relationship. He was always telling him what to do, trying to tell him how to be better. Then, as the father started his own journey towards betterment and spiritual awakening, his son took notice. Eventually they were on the path together and look what they’ve accomplished so far! Don’t work on others, work on yourself, the people who come along on the journey are the ones you want to be with anyways.

My true wish is that we could all find a way to love ourselves enough not to feel the need to judge and hurt others.

One of the suggestions Michael Eisen had was to find three things we like about ourselves and write them on a piece of paper, every day for seven days.

Well, here it goes.

1. I like my sneezes. They are cute and make other people smile.

Happy Birthday to me!

2. I like my hands. My fingers are long and for some reason, my pinky sticks out when I’m holding a drink.

3. I like the colour of my eyes. Sometimes green, sometimes blue, with little yellow flecks in them.

How about you? Will you help my make my birthday wish come true? Write down in the comment box three things you like about yourself, for the world to see.

Inflammation and the diet connection rant

You know how things come into your life at the time you need them most? Well, it just so happens that all my research about diets and inflammation, as well as the rest of my Year of the Detox is coming in really handy right now. My dad

The original Fruitopia logo

The original Fruitopia logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

has been having osteoarthritis problems in his wrists lately. Really, really bad ones. His left wrist was swollen, almost to the point of not being able to move the fingers. Painkillers weren’t helping and the pressure cuff he was wearing made it only marginally better. I made an appointment for him with my integrational therapist, Adele. She identified the source of the inflammation as there being too much yeast in his system. Now, I don’t mean to ‘get down’ on the medical system, but every doctor he had been to see just wrote him a prescription for stronger drugs. Now he has been slowly eliminating foods that feed yeast from his diet and has already, in just two weeks, started to see a marked improvement. Adele said with the overabundance of yeast that he has, it will take months to get him back to normal. But the fact that we are now treating the cause and not just trying to control the symptoms is a fantastic start.

The reason I added ‘rant’ to this blog title is because I am not really quoting anything I’ve researched, just listing off my opinion. As I read more and more about the inflammation connection to many of the diseases our bodies suffer, I really think people should start being more educated about what their diet could be doing to them. Many people don’t have a clue what is healthy and what isn’t. I was at the mall the other day trying to eat healthy while out, getting some greek food. Over near the A&W stand, I overheard a grandmother talking to her grandson saying that he had to choose something ‘healthy’ to drink with his meal. “Pop isn’t healthy.” , she said knowingly. “Fruitopia!”, He yelled. To which his grandmother responded, “Okay, that’s healthy.” Now, I don’t think A&W has fruitopia, but I didn’t stay long enough to find out what the end choice was. The point is, Fruitopia, while it sounds like it might be healthy is not really a “healthy” choice. Just because it has the word fruit in it. Fact is, it has 32g of sugar (8 tablespoons) in one can. The only health benefit it has is vitamin C. Healthy, grandma? Healthy? You’re at A&W for crying out loud! If you want your grandson to eat healthy, taking him to a fast food restaurant is your first fail. Your second fail comes as you convince not just him, but yourself that something like Fruitopia is a healthy choice for a child. Your third fail comes from the mixed messages you send to him, allowing him to eat french fries or whatever else, then acting like it is balanced by the fact that he is drinking a healthy drink. I’m not saying kids should never be allowed fast food. I think that occasionally it is fine, as long as it’s kept in strict moderation. The problem that I see here is the mixed messages that parents/grandparents are sending their kids when it comes to nutrition.

The major problem with calling out this issue is that, let’s face it, the average person has limited understanding when it comes to nutrition. Things are categorized by good or bad. Companies take advantage of this by naming products with health buzzwords like the ‘fruit’ in Fruitopia. Now, I’m not putting all the onus on companies either. We as consumers should educate ourselves if our health is important to us. As shows like Dr. Oz play, more books get published and the Internet is updated with health news on a daily basis, we have no excuse NOT to inform ourselves.

The other problem I see is the medical system. Though I’ve never attended medical school, I also think nutrition and its effects on the body should be more of an in depth study for all doctors. The doctors I’ve had experience with know little about nutrition past the Canada Food Guide. The ones that do have done their own research into the matter. It’s true that we have other health care providers that are more informed on these matters, such as naturopaths, nutritionists, dieticians etc. But it is rare I hear, “My doctor referred me to this nutritionist for my…” unless it has something to do with their weight or dietary deficiencies. My dad had been taking pills and pills, the more he hurt, the higher the dose he was given. They were treating the symptom, not the cause. I don’t blame the doctors, they are just working with what they were taught. The medical education system should really pay more attention to the health wisdom that has been around for years that revolves around nutrition.
And that is my rant for today. Wow, I had more to say than I thought I did! How about you? Anything to say on the matter? Any personal stories you’d like to share?

End of month 7 check in

Today is the last day of July, hence the last day of ‘Month 7: Eliminating Environmental Toxins’. In a perfect world, I could have spent the whole month at a lake, never using any chemicals and being away from the heavy amounts of car traffic passing by my door every second. Alas, my life deck doesn’t hold that in the cards right now so I did my best. I walked when I could, which wasn’t very often as it was incredi-hot this month in Ottawa. I used products that were phosphate and phthalate free. I would have loved to be able to use only the vinegar, baking soda and lemon for everything, but I didn’t plan my time well enough for that. Shame on me. I was going to write a whole list of reasons for this, but what is done is done. I still have time to improve on that one! I did use only vinegar, baking soda and lemon on my day to day cleaning though, so yay me! Wahooooos!

Obviously I haven’t really noticed a change in my health from a month of using more natural products, but I did notice a better feeling emotionally. When I use products I know are safer for the environment and myself, I get a sense of pride. I’m not poisoning myself, my family and the world around me. A little bit of mental detox is certainly better than nothing.

This month has been relatively easy on me, but I’m afraid I slipped right back into the sugar pit. Gah! It was so hard to climb out over the month of June. I had really trained myself to stop eating those sugary treats. I have very little will power and as soon as the month was over, my husband started buying those sugary treats again…I’ll admit, I bought some myself. He has an incredible sweet tooth and living with the mirror of your sweet toothy self can wreak havoc on your will power. Tomorrow is a new day, though. I will cut them out again. 100%. It’s too hard to say yes sometimes and no on others. This is excellent timing as I have a bridesmaid dress that’s a bit snug on the waist. Tee hee. Don’t worry Amy, it’ll fit, I promise!

If only Freyja were the goddess of sleep…

I am loving my new puppy. She is adorable, does really well with most of training (still some potty kinks to work out) and at night she sleeps in her crate. The only problem is an 8 week old puppy’s bladder is not very well developed.  Every three hours or so through the night, the whining to go out begins. It’s not so bad when my husband is here, he takes her out. But he had to go to Toronto yesterday for a show and won’t be back until late tonight. That meant Mommy was in charge of the night time, pee runs. My problem isn’t Freyja though, it’s my own brain. My brain that has a thing about once I’ve reached a certain level of awakeness, to keep me up for a few hours to ponder what I’ve just done and other things it thinks I haven’t thought enough about during the day. My husband is somehow able to climb back in bed and be asleep in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. It is something I’ve observed in most men. My husband is also a morning person. Another quality we do not share.

However, I have been getting more exercise. Yesterday, though I was exhausted from shooting a wedding for most of the day, I came home and took Freyja out for her walk. She can’t be made to go without just cause I’m a bit tired and sore. Afterwards, I felt pretty good too. Happy to have gone out with my girl and happy that I made the effort to go out even though I was tired. Now, if only Freyja was the goddess of sleep…or powerful puppy bladders. Doubt any of the mythologies had one of those. Wonder what he would have been called…I’m gonna go with Urinos. He he he.